If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times – Lake Atitlan is a really beautiful place. Whether you are having a drink while gazing at the three volcanoes looming over the lake, visiting one of the 13 villages, watching sunrise or sunset or hiking one of the many great trails, you are bound to eventually come across one of these top Lake Atitlan photo spots.
Plus, there are fantastic views to be had all over the place. These just happen to be my personal favourite Lake Atitlan photo spots after 12 visits and counting. These are the places where I can’t stop myself from taking yet another photo even though I already have so many similar ones.
So, fill your wallet with cash (not many places take card on Lake Atitlan), pack some water and odds and ends in one of the best camera backpacks for travel and head out on your Lake Atitlan photo spot hunt. Whether its your first visit or you’ve been back many times, you should be able to find your perfect photo spot on Lake Atitlan in this list.
Lake Atitlan Quick Links
Here are some of our most popular Lake Atitlan posts to help you plan your trip to San Marcos la Laguna.
17 Best Lake Atitlan Photo Spots
Here is my list, in no particular order (since that would probably change from day to day).
Panajachel is often the first town people see coming to Lake Atitlan. It is busy and often noisy but you’ll never forget your first views of the lake. If you follow Santander (the main tourist street with all the handicraft shops) all the way down you will eventually hit the lakeshore. Then the first thing you’ll see – after the volcanoes, of course – is a beautifully painted observation deck with great views of the lake.
Then if you head left you will find the heart that frames the volcanoes perfectly.
Umbrella Street in San Juan
This is already a very popular photo spot with Instagrammers, but really, who doesn’t love a street with swaying umbrellas above? If you arrive in San Juan by boat all you have to do is walk straight up from the dock and you’ll run right into it. My favourite spot is up the steep street until you get to the very top of the umbrellas.
Lomas de Tzununa
If you want the best possible view with your drink or meal this is the place to do it. Lomas de Tzununa is a hotel perched high above the lake near Tzununa village. We like their breakfast and have often stopped for a drink while hiking from Santa Cruz to San Marcos.
The view never gets old. It includes all the volcanoes as well as a great view over Tzununa.
Hiking From Santa Cruz to San Marcos
Speaking of the hike from Santa Cruz to San Marcos, which we tend to do once a week, another of our favourite Lake Atitlan photo spots is along this trail. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of spots along the whole trail. The entire stretch between Santa Cruz and Tzununa is ridiculously scenic.
But I do have two personal favourite spots on the trail. The first is half way between Santa Cruz and Jaibalito (about 15 minutes into the hike).
And the second is just before the uphill to Lomas de Tzununa (heading west). If you hit the shaded treed spot with big rocks you’ve gone too far.
This mirador is above San Juan and is the only photo spot on the list where you have to pay an entrance fee. It costs 30Q and is a relatively steep 15 minute walk up. At the top is a relatively new multilayered platform built around the old cross that has been there for many years, providing one of the best Lake Atitlan photo spots.
The platform is brightly painted with scenes of traditional life and has great views over the village of San Juan with Volcan San Pedro looming overhead.
Atitlan Sunset Lodge
There is something about a brightly coloured dock with a swing that gets me every time. If you stay at Atitlan Sunset Lodge near Santa Cruz you get to enjoy this Instagrammable moment. Or you can just pop by for a drink – it’s a relatively easy and scenic 15-minute walk from Santa Cruz. Their restaurant area is really well set up with great views. And, as you can guess from the name, this might be one of the best places for sunset views on the lake.
Street Art in San Juan
Not all the great Lake Atitlan photo spots have to involve expansive lake and volcano views. Some of the street art is pretty fascinating as well. You can find great street art in any of the villages and towns surrounding the lake. But the village that really does it well is San Juan.
Which isn’t surprising, as it is well known as the most artistic village on Lake Atitlan. If you are ever there on Easter Friday you should stop by in the afternoon to watch them make the traditiona alfombras for the procession. For more info, check out our entire post about Semana Santa on Lake Atitlan.
Meanwhile, my favourite spot for San Juan street art is on the street next to the basketball court.
Centro Cultural in Santa Catarina Palopo
Santa Catarina Palopo is the most colourful village on the lake, with 400 of the buildings painted in bright colours and traditional weaving patterns. There are dozens of outstanding photo spots in this village but my favourite is down the narrow alley towards Centro Cultural. And while you are there you may as well enjoy a drink in their 4th floor restaurant with a view over the village.
Located up near the top of the ridge halfway between Santa Catarina Palopo and San Antonio Palopo, this stunning viewpoint offers up a fantastic panorama of the entire lake. With a much different perspective, you get a better look at the interesting southeastern corner of the lake with the village of San Lucas Toliman and photogenic bump of Cerro de Oro (Gold Hill).
You can get to the mirador by hiking up from either Santa Catarina or San Antonio or down from the small crossroads town of Godinez. Or, if hiking isn’t in the cards and you just want the great photo, you can hire a private shuttle from Panajachel to take you to the mirador (100-150Q, although the price may depend on the mood of the driver).
Café La Cabana
That makes four unique Lake Atitlan photo spots in San Juan, yet I couldn’t leave it out. This café truly has a plethora of great photo opportunities including a heart, a nest, swings and hammocks over the water. My personal favourite is the winged swing. They also have great coffees and limonadas (I’m not much of a coffee drinker) to sip on while you ponder your next pic.
San Pedro Volcano
In fairness, I have to admit that I haven’t actually climbed San Pedro volcano but Dean has multiple times so I let him add this one to the list. It is one of the best places where you can get a panoramic view over the whole lake. And you only need to hike up 1,200 meters to see it!
Check out our San Pedro La Laguna guide for all the volcano hike details.
One of the classic Lake Atitlan photo spots, this is a popular spot for sunrise as you’ll have the whole lake in front of you as the sun slowly rises above the caldera. Many places in San Marcos and San Pedro will organize sunrise trips to Rostro Maya. But, as you might guess, you’ll have to get up pretty early. But its definitely worth it. And you might even see Volcan Fuego puffing away in the early morning light.
If you hike up from the bottom, you’ll have to pay the 30Q entrance fee for the park. However, if you go on a guided tour that drops you near the top any fees will be included in your tour price.
Check out our guide to Hiking on Lake Atitlan
We think that of all the villages, Santa Cruz has the best overall view of the lake and volcanoes. Especially if you walk along the shore for about 10 minutes to the right (east) after you get off the boat. Somewhere near Villa Sumaya is the best.
This is the only place where you will see volcanoes Fuego, Atitlan, Toliman, San Pedro as well as Rostro Maya all at the same time. And if you use the panoramic setting you can even get them all in the same shot.
This is one of our favorite hikes around the lake. It starts in Santa Clara above the lake, goes through some fields and then along the ridge above San Juan. You can walk down to San Juan at the end of the ridge or continue on for another 45 minutes and use the gentler downhill path to San Juan. The view from the ridge over the lake is a great perspective.
Eagle’s Nest hovers high above San Marcos and is well known for its yoga and ecstatic dances. And their yoga shala also qualifies as one of the best Lake Atitlan photo spots, too. They have drop-in yoga classes or you can sign up for a mini-retreat to enjoy the views even longer.
Check out our list of the Best Yoga Retreats on Lake Atitlan
Another option is to head up, get a vegetarian meal in the Eagle’s Nest restaurant and check out the view. You can take a tuk tuk up part of the way but will have to walk the rest.
High above the lake, well past Santa Clara is Parque Chuiraxamolo, a nature park with great hikes and, perhaps more importantly, one of the best views of the whole lake just outside its gates. We often hike from the park down to Santa Clara and then down to San Juan and each time we stop for pictures before heading off. This view is almost always better earlier in the morning.
Check out our guide to Hiking on Lake Atitlan
This list was supposed to be the 15 best Lake Atitlan photo spots but then I realized I just couldn’t leave out the views from our apartment in Pasjcap, especially since that is one of the main reasons we keep coming back to Guatemala every year. Pierre, the owner, has 15 apartments and cottages and even a house with a pool to rent, and in each one he has prioritized the view.
We also like the views from the gardens and the docks and the sunsets are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Especially in the rainy season.
So, there you have it, my 17 favourite Lake Atitlan photo spots and viewpoints.
Lake Atitlan Map
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Of course, there are amazing views to be had all over the lake, these just happen to be the ones that stand out for me. If you also want to check out the other villages and towns that didn’t quite make this list we also have the following guides:
Now I recommend you get out there and find your own favourite!