Aerial view of Panajachel town and Atitlan lake in foreground, Guatemala

Things to do in  Panajachel

Guatemala’s natural wonderland

Nestled on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, with stunning volcanoes as the backdrop, Panajachel is the place to be for a scenic escape in Guatemala’s Western highlands. It offers a paradise for adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, and cultural explorers alike, with its blend of natural beauty, indigenous culture, outdoor activities, and other things to do.

Top 4 attractions in Panajachel

Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

With its glistening blue waters framed by a trio of volcanic peaks and a fringe of lush greenery, Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) is surely one of Guatemala’s most stunning natural wonders. The deepest lake in Central America lies in an ancient caldera amid the mountainous landscapes of the Guatemalan Highlands.More


With quaint valleys, red-roofed houses, and cobblestone lanes in the highlands of Guatemala, Chichicastenango is perhaps best known for its enormous Thursday and Sunday market. You’ll find handmade pottery, medicinal plants, machetes, traditional clothing, and other items that pay homage to the area’s rich culture.More

Atitlan Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural Atitlán)

Located on the outskirts of Panajachel, the Atitlan Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural Atitlán) occupies a former coffee plantation that has slowly been reclaimed by Mother Nature. Nature trails take visitors into the canopy and wind past a waterfall and viewing platform, where it’s possible to spot tropical birds, spider monkeys playing in the trees or pisotes sniffing around for a bite to eat. The reserve also operates a butterfly garden, aviary, an herb garden and a small private beach.Perhaps the most popular activity within the reserve are the zip-line canopy tours, where visitors fly through the trees along eight different cables. There are two zip-line options, depending on how brave you’re feeling.For those who want to linger beyond a day trip, the reserve offers campsites and six guest rooms with private balconies.More

Santo Tomas Church (Iglesia de Santo Tomás)

Built during the 1540s upon the ancient foundation of a Maya temple site, Santo Tomas Church (Iglesia de Santo Tomás) is a Roman Catholic church in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. It remains a venerated holy site for people of both Catholic and Maya faiths and blends of the two. The stone stairs leading to the gleaming white Dominican church are reminiscent of those at ancient temple sites, and the steps have turned black from prayer sessions in which shamans waft copal incense and set purification fires. Inside, the church is adorned with offerings, everything from maize to liquor, and numerous candles, which have colors and patterns that correspond with those they've been lit for.More

All about Panajachel

When to visit

Panajachel is a year-round destination, but the best time to go is during the dry season, which runs from November to April. You'll enjoy pleasant weather with warm days and cool evenings, perfect for outdoor activities. If you prefer fewer crowds and lush landscapes, the rainy season from May to October can be a great time to explore the region, though hiking conditions may be affected.

Getting around

Getting around Panajachel is easy, as the town is compact and walkable. Tuk-tuks, small three-wheeled vehicles, are a popular and affordable mode of transportation. Be sure to confirm the price with your driver in advance. You can also rent motorcycles to explore the surrounding areas. For longer distances, frequent public boat services are available to visit nearby villages along the shores of Lake Atitlan (which is highly recommended), including Santa Cruz la Laguna, San Marcos, and San Pedro.

Traveler tips

The villages surrounding Lake Atitlan are the perfect place to discover Mayan culture in Guatemala. Bustling tiny towns like San Juan la Laguna are home to women’s weaving coops, coffee plantations, and traditional markets. Each location can be explored on organized tours from Panajachel, ensuring your cultural experience is respectful and authentic. Consider an overnight homestay or take a Mayan cooking class for a more immersive adventure.


People Also Ask

What are the top attractions in Panajachel?

Panajachel's top attractions include the Atitlan Nature Reserve, spectacular panoramic views from lookout points like Mirador de Calle and Mirador Ojo de Aguila, and the colorful Santander Street. The nearby Mayan villages of Santiago Atitlán and San Juan La Laguna are also popular destinations for visitors.

What is there to do in Panajachel?

Situated on Lake Atitlan, Panajachel offers travelers a wealth of water activities, including kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, free diving, and swimming. The surrounding lush mountainous terrain makes it the perfect destination for hiking, ziplining, and mountain biking. Immersive cultural experiences, like touring nearby Mayan villages, are also popular.

Is Panajachel safe for tourists?

Yes, Panajachel is generally safe for tourists. However, like any other travel destination, exercising common sense and taking precautions is important. Avoid walking alone at night in secluded areas, and keep an eye on your belongings. Get advice from locals or your accommodation on any areas to avoid.

Is it OK to swim in Lake Atitlan?

Yes, swimming in Lake Atitlan is possible, and water temperatures are pleasant year-round. However, it's important to be cautious, as the lake can have pollution and heavy boat traffic in certain places. It's recommended to swim only in designated swimming areas that are within sight of businesses or hotels.

How many days do you need in Lake Atitlan?

Three days is the perfect amount of time to visit Lake Atitlan. Spend one day enjoying the lake itself, the next day visiting nearby villages and experiencing local culture, and the final day exploring the surrounding terrain and nature. Basing yourself in Panajachel offers easy access to organized tours, rentals, and hiking trails.

What should I wear in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan?

Hiking enthusiasts should have light pants, a short sleeve shirt, reliable outdoor shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen. Shorts, tank tops, and dresses are all acceptable daily wear in Panajachel. Don’t forget your swimsuit, a light jacket for the evening and, if visiting in the wet season, a raincoat.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the top things to do in Panajachel?
What are the top activities in Panajachel?
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