Although the church is likely to be the first thing that catches your eye, don’t let it be the only thing that you see here. The village streets are unprepossessing and there are no buildings or architectural merit, but a stroll around them is a pleasant way of spending some time. Whereas near the church we found that local women were rather pressing in their efforts to get us to buy their handicrafts, as soon as we walked just a few paces away we discovered that we were left much more to our own devices. I don’t know if this was by some unspoken agreement (i.e. that the church is the place to sell) or whether it was just coincidence, but as we’re much keener on photography than we are on shopping, it was something of a relief.
You’ll need a zoom lens to capture candid shots such as these, and even then some people will spot you and hide their faces. It’s best to respect their wishes of course, and even a laughing face peeping from a colourfully woven cloth can make a great shot. Another alternative is to make a small purchase, in which case the women seem much more willing to tolerate the camera – and in fact some of my shots were taken when I joined a small group of other women who’d arrived on a boat just after we did. They were shopping, I was not, but I was able to take photos while they browsed.
Apart from admiring and photographing the costumes, there’s little else to do in the village itself. On either side paths lead along the lake shore, but at some height, and offer lovely views. We didn’t venture far but could see a small cemetery a little way along that would perhaps make an interesting destination if you want somewhere specific to aim for.
My buddy Ryan and I were only in San Antonio Palopó for about an hour, which was just enough time for a quick stroll around town and in the area around the church. My initial impression was of a place that was more traditional than the other villages and perhaps a little poorer. The locals were a little stand-offish although the women up near the church were fairly aggressive in trying to sell us their woven items.
If you want to stay in a quieter, more traditional village around the lake, this might be the spot. There aren't a lot of options, but there is a very nice place down by the water called Hotel Terrazas del Lago (telephone: 7621288, prices are relatively high at around 200-300Q). The views over the lake are great from here. There is also a simple, clean pensión (30-50 Q) owned by Juan López Sánchez near the entrance to the village.