The shimmering surface of Lake Atitlán and its backdrop of rugged volcanoes captivate travelers, while strong indigenous traditions provide insight into the unique blend of Mayan cultures here. Nearby, vast and vibrant Chichicastenango market is the place for people watching and picking up a souvenir or two, with brightly colored textiles, hand-made accessories and exotic fruits on offer.
The shores of Lake Atitlán are dotted with profoundly traditional villages, the main ones being San Antonio Palopó, Santiago Atitlán and Sololá, where Mayan languages are still spoken, and the typical clothes still worn by both men and women. While they all receive tourists, they still remain true to themselves and this unique mix of old and new makes for a fascinating and charming combination.
As well as the lake and its laidback atmosphere, a huge draw of the region is the village of Chichicastenango, which hosts a hugely impressive market. The best days to visit are Thursdays and Sundays, when locals flock here to display their wares, from tropical fruits, exotic herbs and medicinal plants to brightly embroidered cloths, hand made bags and beautiful flowers. For those who prefer outdoor pursuits, Lake Atitlán certainly doesn’t disappoint; Explore the area by kayak, bike, or on foot, tour a coffee farm, or even zip-line through the trees at the Reserva Natural Atitlán. A visit here is a truly special addition to a Guatemala itinerary.
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Santa Catarina Palopo, Guatemala
Best for: Culture
Previously a private estate but now an exclusive beautifully decorated hotel overlooking the startlingly blue Lake Atitlan and surrounded by breathtaking volcanoes and indigenous villages - one of Central America's most spectacular sights.
Near Panajachel, Guatemala
Best for: Culture
Hotel Atitlan has a superb location on the fringes of Guatemala's Lake Atitlan, with most rooms benefiting from the most spectacular views of the lake and volcanoes beyond. The hotel has 60 unique rooms and plenty of facilities to complement your stay.