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We absolutely love Lake Atitlan. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, the people are great, the villages are fascinating and the weather is practically perfect from November to April. You can hike, swim, shop, eat, do yoga and get spiritual in whatever ratio you want. However, if you have the time for a longer visit to Lake Atitlan, you should also consider checking out some of these amazing day trips from Lake Atitlan.
We have been spending 2-3 months at Lake Atitlan almost every year since 2010 (you can probably guess which year we missed) and every year we explore a couple new destinations within easy reach of the lake. The list below are the ones we think are best.
Best Day Trips from Lake Atitlan
Antigua is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Latin America and its Semana Santa celebrations last for 6 weeks and are among the most elaborate and fascinating in the world. The hike to nearby Acatanengo volcano provides once in a lifetime close-up views of the very active Volcan Fuego and there are many small villages to explore.
Here is our complete Guide to Hiking Acatanengo Volcano with what to pack, what to expect, how hard it is and other useful tips for this once in a lifetime experience.
Quetzaltenango (known as Xela, pronounced “shay-la”) is Guatemala’s unofficial second city and just a nice, pleasant place. We’ve always had a soft spot for its appealing combination of urban amenities, picturesque old town squares and comfortable highland climate.
It is the second most popular place to learn Spanish in Guatemala (the most popular is San Pedro Atitlan) and it is the setting off point for a number of outstanding volcano hikes like the hike to Volcan Santiaguito and a terrific 3-day hike from Xela to Lake Atitlan.
There are also the Fuentes Georginas hot springs nearby that can be visited on a day trip from Lake Atitlan along with the fascinating vegetable market in Zunil on Thursdays.
Chichicastanengo (“Chichi”) is only a couple hours away from the lake and is famous for its biweekly market (biweekly as in every Thursday and Sunday, not twice per month) and extremely picturesque cemetery.
It is possible to get there by shuttle or chicken bus although a much easier option is to sign up for a Chichicastenango Market day tour that stops in Panajachel.
Nebaj is an amazing rural trekking area north of Chichicastanengo. It is definitely off the main tourist trail and is a great place to get somewhat off the grid and experience a more traditional and tourist free Guatemala as well as go on some hikes in the surrounding area. before returning for more lake fun and festive parties.
Reaching Nebaj early enough to check out the town and do some hiking will make for a very long day but it is possible. However, if you have enough time we would definitely recommend spending a few nights in this off-the-beaten path gem.
Lake Atitlan is a spectacular, fascinating place to visit. However, there are also a lot of great places within easy driving distance of the lake. If you have the time and don’t mind spending a bit of time on those winding Guatemalan roads, we would highly recommend checking out some of our favourite day trips from Lake Atitlan.
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