Santiago Atitlán Travel Guide

  • With the captain
    With the captain
    by Bert_Pearson
  • Santiago from the lake
    Santiago from the lake
    by Bert_Pearson
  • Approaching the village
    Approaching the village
    by Bert_Pearson

Santiago Atitlán Things to Do

  • Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apostol

    This large church, dedicated to Saint James the Apostle, dominates the far side of the Parque Central, set back from it on the far side of an open space. It was built between 1572 and 1581, and has been restored and reconstructed several times after significant earthquake damage. It has three altarpieces representing the three volcanoes that tower...

  • Check out the market

    Towards the top of Santiago’s main street a left turn will take you to the market area. You can’t miss it – the stalls spill out on to the street and many traders simply sit at the edge of the street with their produce displayed on an upturned box or on a cloth laid out on the road itself. If you’re discreet with your camera you’ll be able to get...

  • Parque Central

    Beyond the market you will come to Santiago’s main square, called (like such squares in most Spanish colonial towns throughout Latin America) the Parque Central. Today it is a peaceful spot. A few old men dose on the benches, wearing their traditional short stripy trousers. Children play, tourists pause to eat lunch, and women sell handicrafts or...

  • Maximon - reservations

    I know visiting Maximon is THE touristy thing to do in Santago Atitlan, but I have some distinct reservations. 1. Housing Maximon and receiving a significant cut of the fees for picture taking etc is lucritive enough that there have been major battles over who gets the priviledge. There have been deaths over it. 2. Although the cult of Maximon grew...

  • Iglesia Parroquial Santiago Apostol

    Santiago's large church was founded in 1541 and the structure was completed in 1582. Along the side walls of the church are wooden figures. Each alcove contains a group that is dressed in a certain theme. The local women make the clothes and change them each year. There is what looks like a very old baptismal bowl carved from stone to the left of...

  • El Mirador

    The scene from this viewpoint is stunning for more than one reason. Below is the inlet of Lake Atitlan on which Santiago Atitlan is located. From the opposite shoreline one gets an incredible view of Volcan de San Pedro rising to an apex height of 3020 meters. Also below you will notice a cove protected by a point that juts out into the inlet. This...

  • Parque de la Paz

    In late 1990 a local leader was taken into custody by the Guatemalan army. Villagers grouped together to protest and demand his release. Eventually the soldiers fired on the group of protesters resulting in the death of 13 people including at least one child. A monument in the form of a peace park (Parque de la Paz) has been built on the site of...

  • Maximon - Rilaj Maam - San Simon

    hes got three names.... Latino, Mayan, and Spanish respectively.... But hes the centerpiece for this perfectly placed at the foot of the hills at Lake Atitlan, across from Panajachel... Take about a 30 min boat ride across (take one of the smaller, faster boats that leave more frequently) if the waves arent too rough. When you show up at the docks,...

  • Maximón!

    One of the most interesting things about visiting Santiago Atitlán, was searching for the mysterious Maximón. MaxiWHO? Well, Maximón (aka, San Simón) is a local saint or in some peoples' minds, a demon. I'm not 100% sure of his origins. Some say he was an ancient Mayan deity and some say he is the indigenous people's answer to the Catholic Saint...

  • Fascinating textile & Weaving Muesum

    Just as you head up the hill from the Dock in Santiago Atitlan theres and amazing FREE textile & Weaving Museum run by a weaving co-op Association Cojolya.Looks at history and myths of weaving and tells about beautiful indigenous costume worn by the Mayan Villagers. Explanations in English and spanish, women weaving at the museum daily, tours to...

  • The huipiles...

    The traditional costume of Santiago is beautiful and unusual...Men wears long shorts embroidered with flowers, birds and other figures, and women wears huipiles...

  • Santiago´s Church...

    Santiago´s catholic church is an old and interesting building...When i was there, the saint´s were covered with a kind of modern uniform.


Santiago Atitlán Restaurants

  • Truely personal service and great food

    Pablo is an American from Colorado that spends the winters in Santiago and runs a small restaurant, during the winter only, out of his home on a side path just south of the Hospitalito Atitlan's temproary location. Outside of the Posada, which has heavenly food, and maybe the fish place mentioned in two other reviews, this it by far the best place...

  • Seafood doesn't get more fresh then this

    The food at the Pescador is amazingly fresh, and totally yummy. We all had some version of fish. Mine was a black bass fillet in a wine sauce, which was utterly to die for. Another dish was a fresh fried fish, with saffron rice, fresh guacamole, and sumptuous root veggies cooked to perfection. The place is clean and charming, and the service was...

  • Great lunch spot

    The dishes here are locally-themed and come with frijoles, tortillas, rice, and guacamole made from locally grown avocados. I had a whole fried tilapia which was meaty and tasty. Great with a squirt of lime and eaten with the guacamole and tortillas. Their roast chicken was also tasty. Service was good and the restaurant was clean, bright, and had...


Santiago Atitlán Transportation

  • Getting to Santiago

    There are three ways to get to Santiago Atitlàn: private boat hire, public ferry, or a tour. We chose the public ferry which is the cheapest option and takes about 30 minutes from Panajachel. The fare was 25 Q per person each way. One advantage of the ferries is that you don’t have to buy a return ticket, simply turning up at the dock when you want...

  • Ferry

    If you're staying in another village around the lake you might take a ferry to get to Santiago Atitlan. We stayed in Pana but used the ferry to get to Santiago. One of my lasting memories of our trip was the young man yelling out "Panajachel, Pana!" in an effort to attract more passengers for our return ride from Santiago Atitlan. The ferry is...

  • Boats

    It's highly likely that you'll arrive in Santiago Atitlán by boat like I did. A lot of people visit as part of a boat tour that usually takes in San Pedro, Santiago Atitlán, and San Antonio Palopo. This tour, which departs from Panajachel, should run you around 70 Q or less depending on how good you are at bargaining. Alternately, you can catch a...


Santiago Atitlán Shopping

  • Shopping for handicrafts

    The main street here is lined with shops selling all sorts of hand-crafted items – textiles galore, wood carvings, paintings, decorations, leather goods and more. The quality seemed to me to be on the whole pretty good, and the prices reasonable if you’re happy to haggle a little. I bought a woven glasses case on one of the stalls down near the...

  • More crafts!

    Disappointed that the local market doesn't have any craft vendors? Well fear not as the main street that goes up from the ferry dock into the heart of the city is lined with shops that sell wooden masks, colorful textiles, and authentic huipils, the handwoven blouses that the local women wear. If you have time check out the stores and compare...

  • A Good Cause

    This shop contains crafts, artwork, and other handmade items by local widows to help supplement their incomes. It may not be the greatest collection of items but you're likely to see some things that you won't see anywhere else. And who knows, something may just catch your fancy and end up going home with you! Ask around for its location. Local...


Santiago Atitlán Local Customs

  • Traditional dress in Santiago

    Santiago has a distinctive style of local dress, as do many of the Maya-dominated towns of Guatemala. The women wear huipiles, usually with a pale blue background, on which are darker vertical stripes. Between the stripes there are often colourful tropical birds, though sometimes they are left plain, and around the neckline are embroidered equally...

  • Maximón

    A visit to the Mayan idol, Maximón, is a highlight of any trip to Santiago Atitlàn. Unlike many such figures, you won’t find him in a church or other place of worship, but in a family home. It is a great honour among local families to act as Maximón’s host, and also a great responsibility. He has his own room, and is watched over day and night....

  • Maximon

    Maximon is a Mayan saint or deity, and people come to him for blessings. This particular Maximon was carved by the young shaman, Nicolas. Most of the people visiting this village have come to see Maximon. Nicolas travels around the country with him to visit people who can’t come to him. He became a shaman at 18, and is now 36. Training seems to...


Santiago Atitlán Off The Beaten Path

  • 2005 Landslide Tragedy

    In October 2005, a large landslide buried the village of Punabaj on the northern outskirts of Santiago Atitlan. Approxiately 600 villages, mainly Sutujil indians, lost their lives. Many of the bodies were never recovered and still remain under the large sheet of hardened mud that now dominates this area. Rebuilding of the area has also not occurred...

  • You are off the beaten path!!

    If you've made is to Santiago Atitlán, you're already off the beaten path, but you can get farther off the path if you'd like. After Panajachel, San Pedro and San Marcos, Santiago Atitlán is probably the most visited of the towns around the lake. There are a plenty of other towns around the lake including San Antonio Palopo, Santa Catarina Palopo,...

  • Santiago Atitlán Hotels

    0 Hotels in Santiago Atitlán

Santiago Atitlán Sports & Outdoors

  • acemj's Profile Photo

    by acemj Updated Jul 12, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Up near the town center, there appeared to be a schoolyard. There was an old, dilapidated stage of some sort that I climbed up and watched these kids playing soccer on a basketball court. Hey, this is Central America, so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. It wasn't really an organized game. Just a bunch of kids having a good time.

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Santiago Atitlán Favorites

  • "Tour Guides"

    Upon your arrival by boat you will be surrounded by locals offering to take you around town to see the sights. There aren't that many but if it's a bit rainy like it was the day we arrived, it's probably worth it to hire a tuk-tuk to take you around because (a) they know exactly where they are going and (b) some of the sights they take you to...

  • Short, but memorable

    My buddy Ryan were in Santiago Atitlán for less than two hours, but it was a fun and focused time. We were on a mission- our main motivation for visiting being to visit the infamous Mayan "saint", Maximón. Having read about him in my Rough Guide, it was cool to make the experience a reality. When we got off the boat we were already expecting some...

  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

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Explore Deeper into Santiago Atitlán
The local headdress
Local Customs
Maximon - Who/What Is He?
Local Customs
Shop with the Locals
Main street
Native Mayans
Local Customs
Map of Santiago Atitlán

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