"On the shores of Lake Atitlàn" Top 5 Page for this destination Panajachel by toonsarah

Panajachel Travel Guide: 133 reviews and 294 photos

Lake Atitlàn

Panajachel is the largest town on Lake Atitlàn, where most visitors base themselves. It’s a lively town with a main street (Calle Santander) lined with craft shops and restaurants, hotels to suit most budgets, and easy access by boat to the other villages around the shores. And yes, it may be touristy and lack some of the authentic Guatemala culture you’ve come to see, but somehow here that doesn’t seem to matter.

Its “in your face” status as gringo capital has something of the same appeal as an English seaside resort – it may not be as pretty as that unspoilt bay just along the coast, but it’s fun, sociable and refreshingly unpretentious. And if it’s beauty you seek, the “loveliest lake in the world” (according to Aldous Huxley) is just at the end of the road.

Pana, as it is often called, was discovered by hippies in the 1960s, and you will still see plenty of slightly Bohemian-looking ex-pats on its streets, although those seeking a quieter Guatemalan lifestyle have moved on to one of the smaller villages around the lake.

And beyond Calle Santander there is still plenty of local colour too, especially in the streets around the pretty church.

Pana is also a great base for visits to the other villages around the lake, where Mayas still live much as they have done for centuries, proud to wear their local costumes and produce their traditional crafts.

We visited two of these, San Antonio Palopo and Santaigo Atitlàn, where we were able to compare the different styles of Cachikel and Tz'utujil attire. This area is 90% Maya, and 10% Latino, and despite how it may seem on Calle Santander, we gringos really are very much a minority too!

  • Last visit to Panajachel: Nov 2010
  • Intro Updated Dec 24, 2011
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Reviews (21)

Comments (9)

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Apr 27, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Even if I have been to Guatemala three times it has been short visits and I never made it to Lake Atitlan. For sure I have to visit it and the villages around one day. Excellent tips Sarah!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Mar 8, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    Another fine page from your Guatemala trip! Your lake photos are beautiful, and Pana sounds really nice even if it is the "gringo capital" of Guatemala.

  • sourbugger's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    stunning looking place. maybe 12 more years and univ scholarship - then i can afford to mgon !

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Jan 10, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    What a great place!.... I'd like to pay a visit to "the place where the rainbow gets its colours" some day...

  • Jan 4, 2011 at 10:47 PM

    i never made it to atitlan believe it or not - what a fail! the lake looks stunning! you have done some fantastic photos!

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2011 at 9:11 PM

    Great to hear you're out before breakie for photos w/great results I might add. Sounds like a cool little "gringo" paradise w/ great day trips to boot. How touristy can it be if you can get THAT fresh a cup of goat milk so easily. ;)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Lake Atitlàn from the road above Pana looks so beautiful. Lovely photo's as always Sarah. Your tips are always so helpful and appreciated. Nice page!

  • Trekki's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Ah great, more memories!!! The posada sounds like it was excellent, but I am still wondering why such places don't serve breakfast. But good to see you found delicious alternatives. Oh and the lake..... :-)

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    Sarah, nice to read your Panajachel page. It awakens my memories of my last visit. The first visit in the 80s is long ago and Pana was different, anyway less touristy.


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