Planning on visiting San Pedro Lake Atitlan? San Pedro was the first stop on my Guatemalan adventure. If you are planning a trip to Guatemala make sure you don’t skip a visit to Lake Atitlan, and especially San Pedro.
Despite its relatively small size, there is plenty to do in San Pedro. So without further ado, here are my top things to do in San Pedro Lake Atitlan.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If you are planning a trip right now then you NEED to thing seriously about insurance. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything!
Travel insurance has always been high on the list of things to get before you travel but now more than ever it should be at the top of your list! I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So you need to find an insurer that covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, World Nomads and Safety Wing are the ones to go for. World Nomads is great for incidents that happen prior to your trip, so if you get sick or are unable to travel due to travel restrictions some of their policies will cover that as cancellation cover. Safety Wing goes the extra mile and covers quarantine outside your home for up to 10 days, they also have a really handy map on their website showing requirements and restrictions for each country.
If you are doing shorter trips or a onger backpacking trip then WorldNomads is the best option. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for SafetyWing. Alternativly Travel Insurance Master is a great site to do a more general serch for vacation insurance. Just make sure whichever insurance plan you go with will cover you for COVID.
Top things to do in San Pedro Lake Atitlan
1. Get a drink and stare out across the Lake Atitlan at Shanti Shanti
While I was in San Pedro most of my afternoons were spent here staring out across Lake Atitlan whilst sipping Mojitos and trying to work. It’s the perfect spot to chill out and plan what you are going to do next.
2. Hike San Pedro Volcano
Ok so confession time, I didn’t actually do this. I know I should have but to be honest, I was having such a nice time and I had heard so many mixed things that I decided to give it a miss. But I did do plenty of research and spoke to a lot of people who did it so here’s what you need to know if you want to do it. Leave early, I’m talking 4 am if you want to watch the sunrise or 6 am at the latest if you want to get up there before the clouds move it.
You need to pack warm clothes and plenty of snacks and water. It’s warm for the first part, once you get about halfway up it will become really cold so be prepared, I’m talking woolly hat, coat and gloves cold. You don’t need a guide don’t bother booking through a tour agent. Get a tuk-tuk and ask them to drop you off at the foot of the volcano. You will then need to pay the 100Q entrance fee and the guide will direct you to the path. Apparently, the path is very clear and its well maintained. The walk is hard and it’s all uphill. It will take between 2.5-4 hours depending on your fitness levels.
2021 UPDATE: check with locals about this as when I was last there, there had been some issues and the path was closed. You may need a guide for safety reasons.
3. Hike Indian’s Nose and watch the sunrise
If like me you decide that a 2.5-4 hour grueling uphill hike isn’t for you, but you want to see a sunrise over Lake Atitlan then hiking Indian Nose is the hike for you.
It does involve a really early start and a pretty steep 45 min hike but its totally worth it. I wrote a whole post about it I loved it so much. The best thing about it is that you get a stunning view of all 8 volcanoes. The morning I went up there I was even lucky enough to catch Fuego erupting!
4. Take a dip in the Sola Pools.
You need to let them know 1 hour before you want to go in so they can make sure they are warm for you. If you have done one of the local hikes then this is the perfect way to recover and ease your tired muscles.
5. Take Spanish Lessons in San Pedro
This should probably be the number one thing to do as learning Spanish is what brings most people to San Pedro in the first place. There are so many Spanish schools in San Pedro dotted around the village you can take your pick! If you can make sure you book ahead though as all of the schools were fully booked the week I was there! I studied at The Cooperativa school in San Pedro, and you can read all about my experience here and also about the things you need to consider before booking an intensive Spanish course here.
6. Learn traditional Guatemalan weaving with a local woman
The best place to learn to weave, or learn about weaving in the traditional Mayan way is at one of the many women’s weaving cooperatives in San Juan. They will show you around their working environment, give you a demonstration and you will get to have a try yourself. If you want to make something yourself be warned it will take many hours! I did want to make something and I opted to take a class with Isobel at Solar Pools. It took me the best part of 2 days to make a scarf, it is my most treasured possession right now and has given me a whole new appreciation for weaving and just want goes into hand making all of the goods tourists are haggling over at the markets!
7. Take a cooking class in San Pedro
I love to learn to cook the traditional dishes from each country I visit. I think it’s a great way to learn more about a culture. There is a great cooking school in San Pedro offering day and week-long courses that teach you to cook traditional Guatemalan dishes in the traditional way.
8. Explore the villages around Lake Atitlan
If you are basing yourself in San Pedro for a while then make sure you take some day trips to the other villages around the lake. Or alternatively, work your way around the lake stopping for a night or two at each village. The ones I would recommend are:
San Marcos Lake Atitlan
You can’t visit Lake Atitlan without stopping off at this hippy mecca. If it’s spiritual healing you are after you are in the right place. Choose from Yoga, Reiki, massage, flower healing and chanting to name but a few. Or if you are feeling like getting the real San Marcos experience at 12:30 every day there is a Caco ceremony at a guy called Keith’s house. It lasts for 6 hours! But if you are interested in energy healing or fancy trying something different then this is for you. Cost is 200Q if it’s your first time. To find Keith’s house just ask a local and they will direct you. Read my full post on San Marcos here.
If you came to San Pedro via Panajachel then you might have already visited. If not I’d recommend an overnight stay there so you can see the sunset. Panajachel is the ideal place to see the sun setting on the lake as you have views across the water of the volcanos. It also has a great market and some really nice places to eat. If you go there make sure you pop into Crossroads Cafe for a coffee with Mike. If you want to go to Chichicastenango Market this is the best place to leave from. I wrote a post about that here.
9. Go Kayaking on Lake Atitlan
This was possibly one of my favorite things to do in San Pedro (after Hiking to Indian Nose). Make sure you go in the morning as in the afternoon the wind can make the water pretty choppy.
10. Eat the best Falafel outside of Israel (well the best falafal in Guatemala anyway)
I know this sounds crazy BUT San Pedro Guatemala has the best falafel outside of Israel. There is a place called Ha-Falafel and if you are in San Pedro you really need to eat there. The staff are great and it will set you back 25Q.
11. Admire the Street Art around San Perdro
San Pedro and a few of the other villages around the lake have some of the most incredible street art I have ever seen. So get lost in its windy streets and don’t forget your camera!
The only 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.
This post was proofread by Grammarly