Guatemala's South


Global Mark for Lago Atitlan : 14.72

Ratings by criteria (Lago Atitlan) : 

Charm Scenery Culture Tradition Market Relax Fiesta 


 5 5 2 2 3 5 3 3 14.00

Ratings by backpackers (Lago Atitlan) :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
23 96%(22) 96%(22) 100% 10 to 18 15.43

Description :
A relaxed village at 1562m, by the side of the 22 squared km lake described by the English writer Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful in the world, full of colorful souvenirs sellers and tourists buyers. 

Comments : This is the major connecting point to the lake and the other villages. If coming from the East, little choice therefore but to go... 

What to do ? Admire the panorama / Bargain hard your souvenirs ! / Say 'no gracias' a dozens of time / Walk the old part of the village (nice church) / Swim in the lake / Take a boat to a more peaceful village / Visit the great market of Solola (10km away, market on Tuesday & Friday), the biggest Maya town in the country, when men wearing a jacket with a stylized bat in the back can be spotted / Cycle down back to the lake

What you may not like ? The pushy sellers / Not bargaining hard enough (the starting price should be divided by at least two or three) / The population of dogs, sometimes very noisy / The ugly beach and rather dirty water / Not having much to do beside shopping, eating & surfing the web / Riding the bike the other way...

How long ? One day on arrival and/or departure. People who wish to visit the market of Chichicastenengo (and therefore need a bus) may however prefer to be based here. 

Where to stay ? Plenty of cheap and rather good places to stay. A few selection :

- In the North part, near the church, 5mn from the banks area : a bit far from the lake but some of the best bargains as little tourists. 

  • Hospedaje Villa Lupina, small street toward Hotel Montana, opp. the nice church / Room 30(1) or 40-50(2) / Free water, towel, etc. / Go there for the best deal in town, the charming green & clean setting, the nice comfortable rooms and the view from the terrace / What you may not like : plenty of dogs around
  • Hospedaje Dos Mercedes, Callejeon del Pozo, from calle de los Arboles / Sgl 15, Dbl 30 / A no thrill but acceptable place with a tiny garden and rather large (but empty) rooms. Opposite, Hospedaje Eli should offer the same basic conditions, with much smaller rooms. Boxers or kickers will find in nearby Hospedaje Pana a good place to train (Sgl 20, Dbl 30). 

- From the main Calle Real, going South toward the lake :

  • Casa Linda, Primera Calle Peatonal, an alley near the top of C. Santander (the main commercial street heading to the lake), on the left / Sgl 25, Dbl 40, w. shower 50 and 65 / Go there for the beautiful garden & clean atmosphere and to visit the rooms / What you may not like : nobody to show you around ?
  • Hospedaje Montufar (7620406), just after / Room 42(1) 54(2) big bed or 70 two beds / Nice garden and nice dog but a bit small and expensive rooms.
  • Hospedaje Santander (7621304), C. Santander, on the left / Room 36(1) 50(2), w. shower 40 and 80 / Go there for the very green & clean atmosphere, the hammocks and the correct rooms 
  • Hospedaje Mi Chosita (7622803), C. el Chali, first street east of C. Santander / Sgl 20-25, Dbl 32 / Go there for the cheap rooms and the orange tree in the garden but it is rather basic. 
  • Hospedaje Garcia (7622187), after the above / Room 32(1) 45(2) / Go there for the green, clean & comfortable atmosphere
  • Mario's Room (7621313), C. Santander, on the left / Sgl 35, Dbl 52, w. shower & towel 60 or 80 / Add. Q2 for HW / Free water / Go there for the nice setting and the comfortable clean rooms at a reasonable price / What you may not like : the messy terrace and dirty view from the rooms
  • Santa Elena Annexe, C de Febrero, on the right / Sgl 20, Dbl 40 / HW in the morning / A no thrill but acceptable cheap place. The original Santa Elena, in the North of town, off C. Real, isn't as good (messy) but it is cheap as well. 
  • Rooms Santo Domingo (7720236), continuing a bit to the west / Sgl 15, Dbl 27, Trpl 45, w. shower 55 or 80 / Add. Q3 HW / Go there for the relative isolation around a garden and the cheapest prices / What you may not like : it is basic and not spotless

Where to eat ? Plenty of restaurants caters to the tourist various tastes. A lot also offer excellent meal deals for around Q15.

Bank ? Numerous banks and a few ATM machines in town. Visa & Mastercard accepted. 

Internet ? A lot of places but basically the same rate : Q4 for every 15mn. 

Tel ? Rather expensive in town at Q10 per mn to Europe and Q5 for USA. 

Bikes ? About Q25-35 will get you a mountain bike for the day. Q150-180 will get you a motor for 8 hours. The cheapest deal were found in the north of the village, outside of the tourist war zone. 

Tourist office ? Moved down by the lake on C. Del Lago. Quite helpful as usual, at least if you have precise questions.

Exploring the lake ? It is possible to tour the lake in one day for Q50 (an 6 to 8 hours trip via San Pedro, Santiago & San Antonio) but spending a few nights in different villages is recommended. The villages are easily reached by boat only : it cost Q15 to San Pedro (every half an hour from 7 to 17) or San Marcos, Q10 to Santa Cruz and also Q10 only to far away Santiago Atitlan as it is a slow public boat (1 hour, regular departures until 4:30pm). If you want to pay the right price, do not buy your ticket from a tout but at the pier only.

 << Discover the lake

Leaving ?
- By road : To Chichicastenango, regular buses, in particular for the market on Thursday and Sunday (first bus recommended at 6:45). Q10. 1.5 hrs / To Chimaltenango (connection to Antigua for Q2.5), hourly bus from 7am to 3pm. Q15. 2 hours. / To Antigua, one 1st class direct at 7am. Q30. 2.5 hours. / To Xela, at 5:30, 6:30, 6:45, 7:30, 10 & 14. Q12. 2.5 hrs. / Other destinations include Guatemala City (Q20, 3 hrs), Cocales (2.5 hrs), Santa Catarina (30mn) and San Antonio Palopo (45mn).
- By boat on the lake : To San Pedro, speed boat every half an hour from 7am to 5pm. Q15 (but you will be asked for more). Pier at the end of Calle Del Embarcadero (for villages on the northern side incl. Santa Cruz, Q10, at 11:30, 12:30, 15:30, 16:30 & 17:30 and San Marcos, Q15) / To Santiago Atitlan, slow boat at 5:45, 8:35, 9:30, 10:30, 11, 11:30, 13, 15 & 16:30. Q10. 1 hour. Pier near Tourist Office (for villages on the eastern & southern sides + tours). 

The trip to Santiago Atitlan : SSSS / Q10 / 1 hr / Slow boat
This is a great way to start the day : a gentle one hour cruise on the beautiful lake. Enjoy !

Onward to Chichicastenango

See also the trip from Antigua