Elevation: 1,500 m/ 4,922 ft
Gateway to Lake Atitlan
Panajachel, Guatemala Vacation Guide
Panajachel is the gateway to all of the small villages that surrounds Lake Atitlan, one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. This small town will give you breath-taking views of the three volcanoes that guard the lake: Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro.
In the 20th century Panajachel or Pana as it is called by locals attracted many tourists, but the number of visitors decreased during Guatemala's Civil War. Luckily, after war ended, tourists started coming back to the Guatemala and Panajachel was again one of the more popular destinations. This helped Panajachel's economy since it is based on tourism. Nowadays Pana is the busiest town on the lake and the gateway to explore the different cultures and traditions hidden around Lake Atitlan and the villages surrounding it.
Attractions and Activities
Pana is the most commercial town of the area. You will find a big concentration of hotels, restaurants, cafés and language schools. It also offers a lot of adventure activities to keep you busy during your stay. You can rent a Kayak to have an even better view of the lake's surroundings, go paragliding or visit Atitlan's Natural Reserve. This Reserve is a portal to the stunning Lake Atitlan and its amazing volcanoes; you can go hiking through a butterfly park, hanging bridges and coffee plantations. Create memories that will take your breath away.
Excursions from Panajachel to other destinations near by
Santa Catarina Palopo
Located to the south of Lake Atitlan, Santa Catarina Palopo is one of the magic towns that keep its traditions at its purest. In 2017 a colorful project was initiated to attract visitors from different places. This consisted in painting all houses and buildings based on the town's traditional "guipiles" (typical indigenous outfits). Don't miss the opportunity to know this town, its people, culture and handicrafts.
Santiago is the cultural destination on Lake Atitlan. This town still celebrates a yearly cycle of rituals. Santiago has a big amount of religious celebrations during the year and is best known for their beliefs in Maximon (The Big Grandpa). A Saint created by the Mayan priests back in the days; when visiting, the tradition is to light up a candle, smoke a cigar or give him a drink, always upholding respect.
This mystic town offers one of the biggest markets in South America. Every Thursday and Sunday "Chichi" prepares a big market for you to enjoy. Here you will find all type of souvenirs to bring a piece of Guatemala's traditions back home, plus locals are very devoted to their religion, so you will most likely experience a Mayan ritual during your visit.
Shopping in Panajachel
The main attraction of Panajachel is Calle Santander. This street is one of the most colorful areas in the country and is lined with restaurants, bars, shops and local handicrafts stalls. The beautiful Lake Atitlan is at the end of the street to give you the perfect landscape after shopping in this vivid area.
Museums and architectonical treasures
Museum Lacustre Atitlan
The Hotel Posada de Don Rodrigo hosts a very interesting museum with Mayan artefacts found deep inside Lake Atitlán, when the city Samabaj was discovered. This is an ancient Mayan city hidden in the bottom of the Lake, believed to be a place for ceremonies and rituals.
Art and cultural center. This place exhibits a collection of national and international work from painters and sculptures. You can also enjoy lectures, films, concerts and a nice coffee in their beautiful garden – “a must for art lovers and collectors”.
This house is Panajachel's cultural heritage. Was the first Hotel in town and now hosts an exhibition of antique photographs, a radio station and a Japanese restaurant for sushi lovers.
Location and Map
Located in the southwestern of Guatemalan Highlands, Panajachel is reachable by bus or car going through the Pan-American Highway and via Solala. An alternative route is the Ruta del Paisaje, which is very scenic and shorter, though is rougher because of the present highways conditions. Panajachel is located about 104 km/ 65 mi away from Antigua, and about 138 km/ 86 mi away from the International Airport of Guatemala (GUA).