Panajachel

Panajachel is Lake Atitlán’s most popular traveler town. Set along the northern shores of the lake, the setting is here is gorgeous—think blue water, forested mountains, and volcanoes. The town’s culture mixes North American, European and Central American influences.

Panajachel Best Things to Do

Hiking San Pedro Volcano, Guatemala
Hiking San Pedro VolcanoLake Atitlan

The San Pedro Volcano was declared a national park in 2006. The volcano is covered with tropical forests and takes about 4–5 hours to reach the summit along a well-maintained trail.

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Guided Tours
Hiking
Lake Atitlán Villages Half-Day Tour, Guatemala
Lake Atitlán Villages Half-Day TourLake Atitlan

Lake Atitlán is one of the most beautiful places in Guatemala. The villages that surround the lake are unique and fascinating. This tour takes you to three such villages—San Juan La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán, and San Pedro La Laguna.

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Guided Tours
Walking
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Area Guide

Panajachel was one of Central America’s main hippie hotspots during the 1960s and 1970s. Over time it has integrated into Guatemala’s mainstream tourism circuit, and these days is popular with Westerners and Guatemalans alike.

Prior to the arrival of travelers, Panajachel was a small Mayan village. Early in the Spanish conquest, Franciscans had a church and monastery in Panajachel—from here they launched regional conversion campaigns in other indigenous villages. Most of the old village is gone these days, having been taken over by fairly nondescript buildings. The setting here is spectacular enough.

Pana, as locals know it, is one of the most developed towns along Lake Atitlán. It has good accommodations, some of which are set just outside town, and a smattering of tasty restaurants. There are garden cafés where you can enjoy fresh fruit smoothies, as well as upscale options that serve excellent international cuisine. Pana is also a great place to shop for handicrafts. Stalls line Calle Santander, the town’s main street, and sell all manner of goods. Bargaining is encouraged.

During the weekends, residents of Guatemala City make their way to Pana to party. Appropriately, the city has a fair share of bars and dance floors. Some places have mellow bohemian atmospheres, while others host live bands and turned-up dance parties.

The Reserva Natural Atitlán is located just outside town. Set on a former coffee farm, this nature reserve offers travelers a number of attractions, including a butterfly farm, zip line, lakeside beach, waterfalls, nature trails, and hanging bridges. The trails here run through thick foliage and offer the possibility to spot monkeys and small mammals.

The lake and surrounding hillsides offer up all kinds of recreational activities. Pana’s public beach is fairly clean and fine for swimming. Kayaks can be rented and paddled out into the lake—try to avoid doing so in the late afternoon, when the winds known locally as Xocomil come blowing in.

Hiking trips can be arranged to the San Pedro Volcano or in the mountains surrounding town. Going with a guide is definitely recommended. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and rappelling can also be arranged.

Feedback From Travelers

Thanks to Leonel Azurdia!

- SHANTHI I, DEC 2019

Enjoyed the Atitlan tour and side visits. Again if we could add the quetzal visit that would be good.

- TIM C, NOV 2019

Lake Atitlan was a beautful place to visit. The morning view of the volcanoes surrounding the lake was very special. We enjoyed our trip across the lake to the two villages. Leonel gave us lots of information about the history and culture which we really appreciated. The local vendors were warm, friendly people and seemed genuinely pleased we were visiting.

- ARLENE M, SEP 2019