Panajachel Travel Guide

  • Panajachel
    by illumina
  • Things to Do
    by illumina
  • Things to Do
    by illumina

Panajachel Highlights

  • Pro
    Ken_Weaver profile photo

    Ken_Weaver says…

     Great Place to Relax and Enjoy the Color of Guatemala 

  • Con
    Hopkid profile photo

    Hopkid says…

     Lots of tourists; not much to see really 

  • In a nutshell
    Sue08080 profile photo

    Sue08080 says…

     a bit of paradise 

Panajachel Things to Do

  • Reserva Natural Atitlan

    This Nature Reserve is a little way back up the road towards Solola and down a side road. It is well worth a visit, whether for walking the trails through the forest and watching out for wildlife, or for the canopy ziplines - we didn't try the latter but it looked fun!Entry fee is 55Quetzals.The visitors centre is very modern and has a lot of...

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  • Calle Santander

    The hub of gringo life in Pana is Calle Santander. This long straight street links the older part of town with the lake and its whole length is lined with restaurants, bars, shops and handicrafts stalls, all aimed at parting the tourist from his/her money. But if that sounds like the last place you want to go, think again! The crafts are colourful...

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  • Museum at Posada de Don Rodrigo

    The Posada de Don Rodrigo has its own small museum, displaying Mayan ceramics and other artefacts found on the lake bottom. While the collection isn’t extensive it is attractively displayed and there is plenty of information in both Spanish and English. I learnt quite a lot about the different periods of Mayan history (pre-classic, classic and late...

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  • Early morning on Lake Atitlàn

    Lake Atitlàn is beautiful at any time, but an early morning visit is a must, especially if you are a keen photographer. As the day wears on the wind picks up and the surface of the lake becomes rippled, but for the first few hours after day-break the water is still and the reflections at their best. So grab your camera and head down to the lake...

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  • Reserva Natural Atitlan

    The reserva is a kind of nature park/arboretum. There are lots of plants as you walk through the paths and hanging bridges. There are also a group of spider monkeys who live here and there's a viewing area near the first bridge. A couple of nice waterfalls can also be viewed along the trail. I should state that the path can be a bit strenuous as...

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  • Stroll down Calle Santander

    The main drag in Pana is Calle Santander. It runs approximately 800 meters from the top at the intersection with Calle Principal (Calle Real) to the bottom at the lake. It is on this street that one will find many shops selling indigenous crafts, travel agencies offering tours throughout the country, lots of restaurants, food carts, and lodging...

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Panajachel Hotels

Panajachel Restaurants

  • Lake-front cafes

    Along the lake shore near the jetties where the boats dock are a series of bars and cafés on wooden piles. They all appear to be similar although we only ate in one so I can’t really compare. I don’t know its name, but it was one of the first you come to if approaching from the foot of Calle Santander or the point where the tuk-tuks park. The food...

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  • Pizza!

    This is a casual restaurant opening onto Calle Santander and serving Italian dishes, chicken and seafood, as well as lighter meals such as salads. It also has a pizza oven, and pizza was what we fancied that evening. We shared a medium chicken pizza, which was ample for the two of us (although if really hungry you might prefer the larger size). It...

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  • Coffee time

    Just opposite the top of Calle Santander on Calle Principal is this big barn-like space with a small counter serving excellent coffee, a few bookshelves selling second-hand books, and a scattering of furniture including some soft squishy sofas. It’s a great place to relax after climbing the main street and browsing all the handicrafts stalls...

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Panajachel Nightlife

  • Time for a night-cap?

    This little bar on Calle Santander became our favourite spot for a night-cap. It has great cakes if you feel the need for dessert (I can recommend the cheesecake!) and a good selection of drinks, both alcoholic and various coffee options. Be careful when choosing your drinks though – on the first evening we asked the woman serving to recommend the...

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  • Live Rock Music in Pana!

    Pana rock is one of the few places in Panajachel where you can catch a live band perform. The venue is intimate and really there ain't a bad seat in the house. Locals also say micheladas are the best here in Pana Rock Cafe. I don't know, I never did develop a taste for V8, pepper and salt with my beer. I guess it provides a boost of energy so you...

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  • Not hard to find some gringo characters

    I took this picture at a bar on Calle Santander. It's a little hard to spot since it's behind a wall. Once you get in, you'll be surprised to find an expansive outdoor seating area and a beach inspired outdoor bar, that just happened to be lined with some rather colorful travelers. If you're looking for good nightlife, you might be better off to...

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Panajachel Transportation

  • Boats on the lake

    The pleasantest way to travel from village to village around the lake, and for most of them the best way too, is by boat. There are two types of boat available – the public ferries and those for private hire. Naturally the former are cheaper but they don’t go to every destination (we couldn’t find one for San Antonio Palopo, for instance) and...

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  • Tuk-tuks

    Pana is very walkable, especially if just sticking to the main tourist area, but if you fancy a change or feel the need of a lift, a tuk-tuk is the answer. These auto-rickshaws seem to be in almost constant motion through the streets of the town – down Calle Santander to the lake, along a short stretch of lake-front, and back up the parallel street...

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  • Getting to Panajachel

    Panajachel was the second stop on our trip to Guatemala and we had pre-booked a transfer from Antigua with STP, the tour company whose praises I have sung on my Guatemala page. Actually, our planned second stop was Santa Catarina Palopo, a village a few miles from Panajachel, but when Jorge, our driver, picked us up from the hotel in Antigua he...

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Panajachel Shopping

  • Shopping for crafts

    Panajachel and the surrounding villages are rightly considered among the best places to shop for handicrafts. The high proportion (90%) of Maya living here, and the high numbers of visitors, combine to create a shopping frenzy! Naturally the quality of goods on offer varies, but it is generally good to very good, and with negotiation prices can be...

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  • Homemade Chocolates

    Dina's makes their own chocolate bars and truffles. They have milk and dark varieties, some mixed with different fruit flavors. They also have a collection of souvenir items but the real attraction is the chocolate. We bought a dark chocolate orange bar and it was to die for! Prices are very reasonable. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!

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  • Local Craft "Mall"

    There are many shops along Calle Santander that have locally made Mayan crafts. It is impossible not to see the brightly colored textiles, purses, bags, etc. This "mall" that extends off of Calle Santander is a collection of stalls with such items. If you aren't able to make it to the huge market in Chichicastenango, this is a good place to buy...

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Panajachel Local Customs

  • Milking the goats

    I don’t know if this is a regular local custom, but it’s certainly one that caught our eye! We were walking along Calle Santander quite early one morning when we spotted a young man ahead of us leading a couple of goats. Nothing too unusual there – but then he was hailed by a couple of salesmen from a nearby shop, upon which he stopped, took a...

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  • Xocomil

    Xocomil (sho-ko-MIL) is loosely translated as the "wind that carries away sin." Well sin must weigh quite a bit because this afternoon wind can get pretty strong. So strong that it can make traveling on Lake Atitlan rather treacherous. It's best to schedule your lake activities (e.g., kayaking, traveling by ferry) so that they wrap up by...

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  • Fresh Squeezed OJ

    In the mornings along Calle Santander and in other places throughout Guatemala, you will see vendors set up a table with a manually-operated fruit juicer. Naranjada is produced in a tall glass if you drink it right there or you can get it to go in which case they will put the juice in a plastic bag with a straw sticking out the top and the bag...

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Panajachel Warnings and Dangers

  • The Candy Caper

    As we walked about the tiny village of San Antonio Palopo, our friend gave my husband a bag of candy and suggested that he share it with the local children. He neglected to warn him of their enthusiasm!The candy disappeared in a flash and left us all laughing!

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  • Bogus Entrance Fee

    As we arrived at Panajachel, we encountered a policeman standing in the middle of the road. He waved us over. He said that there was an entrance fee to get into town. It was 5 quezales or about $.60. We argued it at first but paid eventually. When we asked the clerk at the hotel, he told us that the policeman just needed some spending money!

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  • Exercise Caution When Walking Around

    Panajachel is a relatively safe village, but not as safe as Antigua Guatemala. Exercise caution when walking around. You might encounter some drug addicts and/or drug traffickers at the lakeside. Don't show any interest (I assume you are not a drug addict!).

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Panajachel Tourist Traps

  • How not to rent a boat tour at Atitlan

    I took a van to Panajachel from Antigua and when we arrived we were swarmed by a horde of young men offering to be our guide . One of the guys said he was the brother of our driver. He said for $75 dollars each (there were 3 of us) he would take us on a private boat all around the lake to all the towns. We didn't have $75 and thought that sounded...

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  • Tourist minivans

    Live and learn. I usually took chicken busses, but for some of the twisty roads, I opted for the minibus, hopeing to avoid getting sick. anyway.. the prices varied wildly, seemingly to depend on how much money you look like you have. I paid 5 bucks for a bus that two older American companions paid 20 for. bargain hard. lie if you have to.. "thanks...

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  • Panajachel Hotels

    2 Hotels in Panajachel

Panajachel Off The Beaten Path

  • Another side of Pana

    At its end furthest from the lake, Calle Santander meets Calle Principal, and there’s an invisible but noticeable divide here between “gringo Pana” and “local Pana”. Although you’ll probably spend most of your time in the tourist areas, especially on or around the lake, it’s well worth taking a stroll into this other side of town, especially if you...

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  • Santiago Atitlàn

    If you only have time to visit one of the towns and villages on the shores of Lake Atitlàn, it should really be Santiago Atitlàn. Add to its beautiful setting nestled between two of the lake’s volcanoes, Toliman and Atitlàn; its selection of some of the best and most varied handicrafts in Guatemala; its fascinating history (both ancient and more...

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  • San Antonio Palopó

    San Antonio Palopó is one of the smaller villages on Lake Atitlàn and a visit here will only occupy a couple of hours but it’s well worth doing. The people here are Cakchiquel Maya, and if you visit Tz'utujil villages such as Santiago Atitlàn you’ll soon spot the differences in their traditional costumes. Whereas in the latter bright reds and...

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Panajachel Sports & Outdoors

  • Scenic Soccer

    While my friend and I shopped for ceramics our husbands strolled down the street and came upon a soccer game being played on a field beside the lake. The field was rough and unkept but the view of the lake was glorious. Much fun was had by all!

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  • Hiking/climbing

    You can hike around the lake and to the neighboring villages along trails that edge the lake. Keep in mind, however, that it will take some time. For example, to get to Santa Catarina Palopo, which is the closest village to the southeast of Pana, takes about 2 hours. Bring plenty of water and always hike with a partner or a group. You can also...

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  • Paragliding w/ Roger

    We asked a few people about paragliding over the lake and before long, we ran into someone who gave us a phone number. I called and ended up speaking to a French Canadian guy from Quebec City named Roger. Roger is quite a character and he's been living in Pana for years where he now has a wife and kids. We met him near the beach and caught a small...

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Panajachel Favorites

  • Lake Atitlàn

    Lake Atitlàn was said by Aldous Huxley to be the most beautiful lake in the world. I doubt that he had seen all of them, any more than I have, but it certainly has to be in anyone’s Top Ten. Lying a mile above sea level and ringed by mountains and three perfect volcanoes (Atitlàn , San Pedro and Toliman), its silvery blue waters are a...

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  • Don't Be Afraid to Bargain

    Bargaining in many of the craft shops/stalls in Pana is totally expected. When asked the shop/stall keeper will give you a price that is more than they are expecting to get. Don't be afraid to counter with an offer that is less than 50% lower than the initial price. Eventually you will arrive at a mutually agreed to price somewhere in the middle...

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  • Pana - beautiful

    I took this photo near the beach on Calle Santander. Panajachel isn't as picturesque and clean as Antigua Guatemala. It doesn't have Spanish Colonial architecture around every bend or a beautifully planned park and main square. However, instead of just one volcano like Antigua has (Agua Volcano), there are 3 within sight, San Pedro, Toliman, and...

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Explore Deeper into Panajachel
Best views in Pana?
Restaurants
Good veggie choice
Restaurants
Great spot for breakfast
Restaurants
Smart - but disappointing
Restaurants
Taste the local Pollo Pipian!
Restaurants
Panahachel to San Cristobal
Transportation
Baked Goods and Coffee
Restaurants
Ferry
Transportation
Fancy in Pana
Restaurants
A cafe that's open early
Restaurants
Dining with a View
Restaurants
Chicken Buses
Transportation
Tuk-Tuk (Taxi)
Transportation
Hot Dogs and Sausages
Restaurants
Street Food
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Good Italian
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View the Volcanoes
Things to Do
Comida Tipico de Uruguay
Restaurants
Walk around!
Things to Do
Visit the surrounding villages
Things to Do
Ceramica
Shopping
Luscious Crafts
Shopping
Through the Clouds...2
Things to Do
A ride through the clouds
Things to Do
German Art Shop
Things to Do
Wonderful Food at Reasonable Prices
Restaurants
The Floral Gardens of the Hotel Atitlan
Things to Do
Circus Bar.
Nightlife
Gifts Galore
Shopping
Making friends with Locals
Local Customs
Lake-centered
Local Customs
Great black bass
Restaurants
Ryan is right at home
Favorites
Various
Shopping
Kids
Local Customs
Boats
Transportation
Pickup truck
Transportation
Health conscious goodness
Restaurants
Haze/smoke
Warnings and Dangers
Choppy ride
Warnings and Dangers
Map of Panajachel

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