Our first 2 days at the lake, we stayed in San Pedro la laguna, a small village right at the shore. We found a nice and relatively cheap hotel with an awesome rooftop terrace and even a hot tub! You can pretty much walk everywhere in San Pedro or if you`re feeling lazy, there`s tuk tuks at every corner.
The place is overloaded with restaurants and bars and has a reputation for being the party village at the lake. To be honest, I didn`t feel like it was a place where everyone goes to get wasted. That`s what I had assumed in before-hand reading about it. I rather felt like it was a chilled, clean spot with a lot to do and a vibrant scene for everyone who wants to casually go out for drinks. Of course there is the one or the other really cheap booze place and also a party boat but the streets were very clean and I didn`t see any drunk people around.
For souvenirs I`d personally go somewhere cheaper as San Pedro is quite pricey after all. Especially compared to Xela (click here), where we had stayed before.
There are a lot of restaurants that offer access to their pier if you want to hang out by the water with a cool drink and something to nibble on. Just be prepared for the slightly higher prices than in the rest of Guatemala. Lago Atitlan is pretty touristy, there are a few language schools and tons of hostels around and you won`t find many locals in San Pedro. There are a few villages on the other side of the lake that offer a more Guatemalan experience, but if you`re there to enjoy the lake and to relax, San Pedro is the place to go.
After the two days we took a ferry boat to the other side of the lake to an even smaller village called San Marcos la laguna. It does have a reputation for being pricey, but also very bohemian with alternative yoga centres and spas around and a hippie flair, which sounded really cool.
We ended up staying in a hostel right by the shore with an awesome view of the surrounding mountains and volcanoes. After exploring San Marcos for another two days I have to admit it sounded way cooler than it turned out to be. Shocked by the overpriced restaurants and bars, we tried to live on local produce like self-made avocado sandwiches and bananas for most of the time. We felt there were a lot of people around pretending to be someone they`re not. If you ask me, there is that one type of hippie, the original one, who is so open, friendly and in a peaceful relaxed mood, happy and helpful, willing to share and in balance with nature and then there is the other type of hippie, the fake one, who thinks it`s cool to buy bohemian clothes and not care about anything with a “fuck everyone, I`m the coolest” attitude. And the second type is the one who can be found in San Marcos at every corner. I really didn`t like how they looked at each other, checking who is the cooler one and who wears the better clothes. Not sure if it was just me feeling like that or if it`s a thing there. However, San Marcos is a pretty place and the view over the lake makes up for anything. I still wouldn`t recommend actually staying in town, but rather going for a daytrip.
My highlight of our two days in San Marcos la laguna was the free morning meditation class the hostel offered daily. From 6.30-7.30am I was stretching, doing a bit of yoga and falling deep into meditation mood with the best view you could imagine. They offered free breakfast afterwards, however, coffee was not included, which really sucked. If I had to pick one thing I desperately need to survive, it would be strong, black coffee! Those who follow my Insta stories know what I`m talking about.
Lago Atitlan is probably one of the most expensive places in Guatemala, but it is worth going for 2-3 days to relax with a drink by the lake shore and get a massage at one of the many treatment centres. It was perfect after our 3 days of hiking from Xela all the way to Atitlan (click here) and we didn`t actually do much there other than relax and enjoy the sunshine and views.
There are a couple of options, including private shuttles, to get from the lake to Antigua. But the easiest and cheapest, I think, is taking the one public bus that goes straight from Panajachel all the way to Antigua without any bus changing required. It is a bumpy ride with the chicken bus, but still far more comfortable than changing like 3 times. There only is one bus a day, leaving around 10.30am/11am (cost: 36 Q p.p. / 3h ride) so you have to plan a bit and leave early unless you are staying in Panajachel already. Even though there are frequent ferries available from San Pedro and San Marcos, you never know how quickly they fill up and when the boat actually leaves the dock. So plan a bit of extra time. From the dock in Panajachel it`s about 5mins walking down the main road to get to the bus stop, locals can point out the exact stop as there are a few along the way. The ferry should cost anything between 20 and 30 Q, but not more than that. I usually bring coins or small notes so I don`t have to ask for my change and risk being ripped off, which I heard happens a lot.
I wasn`t too sad to leave after the 4 days at the lake and was majorly excited for what was next: Antigua and our language course!
Love, Jo ♥