Always Travel through Panajachel to or from Antigua
If you are planning to travel from Antigua to Lake Atitlan the easiest place to travel to or from is Panajachel. So wherever your starting or final destination you want to take the bus between Antigua and Panajachel.
If you decide to travel by chicken bus rather than a shuttle you will need to catch it from Panajachel anyway. However, if you are in any of the other towns it will be easy enough to book a tourist bus or find a private transfer.
The reason I say this is because if you book a direct shuttle from San Pedro to Antigua for example, it will take you hours and hours longer. Plus that road coming in and out of San Pedro is a death trap haha. There is a constant stream of buses coming through Panajachel to Antigua and boats ferrying people from the lakeside villages. Trust me, I did this journey more times than I care to remember, take a boat to Panajachel and then a bus from Panajachel to Antigua.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!
The Insurance companies I personally recommend are Hey Mondo, Passport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover.
Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. If you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre-load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.
Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for short trips.
Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about all 4 companies.
Taking the Chicken Bus from Antigua to Lake Atitlan
This is the cheapest way, but it can also be a bit tricky. The timetable is limited, so if you can’t leave in the morning you will most likely need to get a tourist bus.
To get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan
There is one direct bus early in the morning from the main bus station by the market. It leaves at 7 am and should arrive in Panajachel at 10:45 pm.
To get from Panajachel to Antigua
There is no direct bus to Antigua from Panajachel so you will need to get 3 buses.
Take a Tourist Bus/ Shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan
Traveling by shuttle is by far the easiest way to travel if you miss the direct chicken bus, or if you prefer to travel in a little bit more comfort! Book a direct shuttle through GuateGo by clicking the link here or you can book through most hostels.
When you travel by shuttle you also have the added benefit of a comfort stop halfway and you see them securing your bag on the roof (rather than it just being slung on top of the chicken bus!)
Take a private car or shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan
Take a look here for information about things to do around Lake Atitlan. Or if you are heading to Antigua then make sure you take a read of my posts on Antigua.
The company I recommend for booking transport and tours in Guatemala (other than the individuals and companies I have named) is GuateGo. They are a Guatemala-owned company that has painstakingly brought together all of the transport and tour options in one easy-to-use website. You can book transport in Guatemala with them here and Guatemalan tours with them here.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Lake Atitlan?
If you want to stay in San Pedro then I’d recommend Zoola San Pedro Atitlan, AmiGos, Hotel Tinamit, or Cristalinas Cafe, Hotel & Restaurant at Lake. If you are planning on staying in San Marcos and enjoy yoga then I cannot recommend Eagle’s Nest Atitlán enough. If yoga isn’t your thing and you want something a bit more upmarket then you can’t go wrong with Lush Atitlan.
My friend Julia is developing an incredible retreat center close to San Marcos. They have several places to stay and I can’t recommend them enough! I stayed there and it was the most blissed-out I’ve been in years. In Panajachel, I recommend PanaHouse or Selina Atitlan
Looking for Accommodation in Antigua?
There are 3 places I recommend Selina or Yellow House Hostel if you are looking for a hostel. For hotels, I recommend Hotel Mesón de María, Barbara’s Boutique Hostel, or Hotel Paseo de la Merced. And I have gathered all the best places to eat in Antigua here in case you need any recs.