Gardens & Attractions

Picturesque Lake Atitlán, Guatemala offers a diverse array of sights, attractions and recreational activities — from trekking and boat trips to archaeological sites, divingsunken Mayan villages, kayaking and fishing. In just one day, you can summit a lakeside volcano, set off on a horseback riding adventure and tour a working coffee plantation.

Just moments from the hotel, you’ll find the Tz'utujil and Kaqchikel Mayan villages, where you can still see the traditional native dress and visit authentic markets to buy local textiles and handicrafts.

Panajachel, the main town in the Lake Atitlán region, is teeming with dining and nightlife possibilities, as well as souvenir shops, beautifully restored 16th century churches and charming Spanish-style architecture. The nearby San Buenaventura Nature Reserve is perfect for wildlife hikes, while Santiago Atitlán is known for its Maximón sanctuary, an idol created by the Mayans. For divers, mystical Mayan archaeological sites and the underwater city of Chiutinamit Samaj are located below the surface of Lake Atitlán.

Below, you’ll find more information about attractions and fun things to do just moments from the Hotel Atitlán Hotel & Gardens.

Botanical Gardens

Beautifully manicured gardens surround the hotel, from the terraces to the lake. Enjoy a relaxing stroll amidst exotic plants and flowers from both Guatemala and around the world.

Nature Walks

A paradise for birdwatchers, this old coffee plantation contains abundant trees and plants that are habitats for a variety of birds. Suspension bridges spanning the gullies and streams offer splendid views. The taller trees are covered with moss and epiphytes (air plants), giving the impression of a cloud forest. If you look carefully, you can spot the monkeys hidden in the trees.

Extreme Cables

Glide from mountain to mountain on cables to live this exciting experience. Many different cable zip lines will give you an unforgettable experience. For ticket purchase and information check with the hotel reception.


Directly across from the Nature Walk, the Butterfly Reserve features trails, a laboratory for chrysalis and pupas, more than 2,000 plants and over 500 butterflies of the 25 species native to Guatemala.

Boat Rides

Book a sailing cruise or fishing charter on one of the many boats berthed on the Hotel. Contact Reception for more information and assistance with arrangements.

Flora and Fauna

Teeming with flowers of every description and color, the gardens are a wonder on this part of the world. Over two hundred varieties of roses make up the Antique, the Modern and the David Austin Rose Gardens. There are more than 50 varieties of hibiscus, arbors of vines, English style knot gardens and a tropical heliconia garden. Other botanical varieties to delight your senses include a wedding garden, a coffee garden and a variety of orchids. More than 25 colors of bougainvillea and an azalea garden provide a dazzling display of color.

Strolling the gardens with breathtaking sights of the pristine lake and volcanoes provides the ultimate ambiance for relaxation and retreat for your body and soul

The Gardens

Over thirty years ago, as Hotel Atitlan was being built, hotel properties, Sue R. was already in the process of designing the gardens you see today. As one walks the gardens it is easy to sense the devotion that went into creating these magnificent grounds. Susan’s love of flowers and attention to the beauty of the gardens is ever present.

The Gardens are a spectacular collection of different gardens, each with its own identity and they extend from the hotel entrance to the edge of the lake. As the water level of Lake Atitlan has receded, the garden has expanded in a series of terraces and is broadly divided into luscious tropical gardens, formal rose gardens and the owner’s personal selection of colors and textures. Pathways wind around the hotel revealing extensive collections of Roses, Hibiscus, Heliconias, Passion Flower and Bougainvillea, with over 500 different species representing 250 plant families.

Bird Watching

Nested within the rainforest on our property are special locations chosen for the pleasures of the serious bird watcher. A list of sighted birds on our property has now exceeded 250 species. At night, some of these locations offer our guests opportunities for magnificent glimpses of the universe beyond.

Lake Atitlan was nominated as one of the participants for the New 7 Wonders of the world! The idea behind this campaign was to choose 7 wonders of nature and declare them Treasures of the world. Most every angle of Lake Atitlan surroundings is nature and incomparable views; this creates an ecosystem that attracts birding and therefore making home for prodigious bird diversity.

Nearby Towns & Villages

Santiago Atitlán

Just across from Panajachel, a quick 30 minutes by boat, is the capital of Santiago Atitlán Tzutujiles. With a population of 48,000 people, it is one of the largest indigenous communities in Guatemala. Built on the slopes of Atitlán Volcano Toliman, it is surrounded by water on three sidesand the Volcán San Pedro on the fourth.

As you approach the town you can see dozens of women in the lakes, with water up to their knees, washing the clothes of their families against the rocks, along with babies on their backs laden with colourful blankets. The locals, called Atitecos, believe that wearing these beautiful clothes maintainsa connection with their ancestors.

San Pedro

Off the beaten path but a favourite destination of young backpackers, San Pedro La Laguna features plenty of inexpensive hotels and restaurants. If you visit, be sure to hike the San Pedro Volcano in the morning.

San Juan

The village of San Juan Tz'utujil La Laguna is a great place to escape the crowds and experience a more authentic version of Indian life by the lake. There are several groups of artisans in the city centre, including a village fabric cooperative run by women that produces high-quality woven fabrics. Horseback riding tours can be arranged in the village.

San Marcos

Surrounded by fruit trees, San Marcos La Laguna is known for its relaxed atmosphere and has long been a favourite of travellers seeking a quiet place to rest and find peace. San Marcos is most famous for the Pyramid Centre, which is a magnet for meditation, yoga and alternative medicine enthusiasts. 

Santa Cruz

The tranquil village of Santa Cruz La Laguna is known for the only diving school on the lake. It is much smaller and quieter than San Pedro or San Marcos and the surrounding steep hills are filled with tin-roofed huts and brightly coloured evangelical churches.

Santa Catarina

The traditional village of Santa Catarina Palopó Kaqchikel, located 4 km from Pana, is a picturesque town with narrow cobblestone streets,mud houses with thatched or zinc roofs. Perhaps the most easily recognizable features of Santa Catarina Palopó are the blue blouses worn by local women.

San Antonio

San Antonio Palopó is known for its lively weekend markets and the coloured stripes on the traditional Mayan clothing worn by locals. This is one of the few regions in Latin America where men still dress in these traditional costumes. The tunecos, as they call themselves, grow onion and anise in lakeside terraces, giving the landscape a sculptural appearance. Up on the hill, the gleaming white church is one of the town’s centrepiece sights.

Daily Trips

Markets in the Guatemalan highlands are a must see. Here, everyday life is as it has existed for generations. The markets are full of activity and colour with beautiful flowers, fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs contrasting the vibrant costumes of the vendors selling products, goods and textiles. You’ll see everything from women carrying baskets full of chickens on their heads and children on their backs to smaller children and men with loads of firewood on their backs.


Solola is located 2,000 feet above the lake. The best time to visit is on market days, Tuesdays and Fridays that draw Mayans from around the region to the town’s main market area. Garbed in their traditional costumes, they sell and purchase a wide variety of goods, while “Intermediaries," traders who come here to buy and then resell nationwide, make their way through the crowds. It is a colourful and interesting market, a good place to observe the social and economic role that markets play indigenous communities.


Located 45 minutes away by car, "Chichi," as it is popularly called, is famous around the world. Thousands of people gather for the market on Thursday and Sunday in the main square, between the St. Thomas Church and Calvary Chapel. The native market is impressive and goes beyond mere commerce. It has changed little over the centuries. Native Maya travel from many regions to buy and sell an amazing variety of handicrafts, cattle and all things necessary for daily life. Do not forget to visit the Church of St. Thomas, an example of colonial architecture, built in 1541 on the grounds of a prehistoric archaeological site. In eighteen steps, the Mayan descendants perform their rituals of worship of pagan gods with prayers and incense. Within his cult, as Catholics, kneeling, praying in front of altars filled with offerings of flowers and candles.


90 minutes from the hotel is another very active market less visited by tourists. The trip is dramatically beautiful, with mountaintops, plateaus and valleys planted with corn and wheat occasionally interrupted by white houses with red tile roofs. Totonicapán is best known for the fabric used by indigenous women to develop their skirts or "cuts". Market days are Tuesday and Saturday.

San Francisco El Alto

Located 1 hour and 45 minutes away by car, San Francisco El Alto is Guatemala's largest indigenous market. Held on Friday, this market is located on a small plateau 8,560 feet above sea level and has an excellent view of the valley of Quetzaltenango. This commercial activity is related to work and daily life of the citizens so that it is easy to buy everything available in the Guatemalan highlands. If you are looking for Momostenango wool blankets and traditional cuts (skirt fabric of women), this may be the market for you. However, you will find an abundance of tourist items that are also found in other markets.


Two hours away by car, Xelajú, as locals affectionately know it, is the second largest city of Guatemala.Here you’ll find the oldest colonial buildings in the country, as it is where the conquerors settled originally. There is a daily market located in a modern three-story building. The towns surrounding Quetzaltenango are places worth visiting, especially the markets: Salaam is known for its Jasper fabrics (market day is Tuesday). Colourful and picturesque Hu piles Almolonga has a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Cantel has a glass blowing factory. Zunil is known for its bright purple shawls (market day is Sunday). San Martin Green Chile, named for the peppers it grows has a market day on Friday.

Antigua Guatemala

Two hours by car. Once known as Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, this town best expresses the Colonial era through its architecture and cobblestone streets. The splendour of Antigua is located in the restored ruins of the decadent colonial period, where time stopped 300 years after a devastating earthquake. For 233, it was the third largest of the Spanish colonies. The kingdom of Guatemala included the provinces of Chiapas and Soconusco (today part of Mexico), Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Three volcanoes surrounding the city, Fire, Water and Acatenango. In Antigua there are ruins, museums, churches, monasteries and markets. Local artisans make works of pottery, wrought iron, wood, candles and sweets. The period before Easter is a time of great tradition and religious splendour. This is when the passion of Christ is commemorated with rituals that begin during Lent and end during Easter processions and vigils.

Hotel Atitlán

Finca San Buenaventura 
Panajachel, Solola 07010 
Central America

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