Things to Do in Santiago & Around Lake Atitlán
You may be wondering…
What activities can you do during your free time in Santiago?
Over the years, our English Teacher Volunteers have gotten involved in many different types of activities in Santiago and around Lake Atitlán. Some activities include weaving classes to learn the traditional Mayan methods of weaving, or if you prefer something more active, there are multiple hiking trails with stunning views of the lake and the volcanos (you can even hike the volcanos too!) On the lake, many people enjoy going kayaking or paddle boarding. You can get involved with the local community and learn Tz’utujil, one of the Mayan languages spoken in the area. You can even try cacao and participate in a Mayan cacao ceremony.
There are tons of different activities to get involved in and fill up your spare time while soaking up the culture and the stunning nature in the area.
Here are some of the activities that you can look forward to:
There are many different organizations you can take classes with and support their weavers:
- 13 Batz’ Weaving Co-op
- Cojolya Association of Maya Women.
- Maria, Cojolya’s master weaver, has a store near Parque Central where you can learn all about traditional costumes
- Embroidery lessons with Mujeres de Maiz
- Trama Textiles (Women’s Weaving Co-Op in San Juan)
If you like the outdoors and physical activity, then these activities are for you! From hiking volcanoes, to paragliding, to camping, here are some of the best options and tours to choose from.
- Hike Volcano San Pedro, Toliman or Atitlán
- Do a bird-watching tour around Mirador Tepepul to spot the quetzal, the national bird
- Experience the Canopy in San Pedro
- Go Paragliding in Panajachel
- Go Horseback Riding
- Do the beautiful Nariz del Indio Sunrise Hike
- Hike the Lower Mayan Trail
- Walk from Tzununa to Santa Cruz
- Explore Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve
- Explore Cerro de Oro
- Experience a traditional Temazcal (sauna)
- Go to the solar pools in San Pedro
- Camp in the woods and watch the sunrise at Chuitnamit – we have local friends who are guides and can take you on this tour – simply ask us about it when you’re here!
- Go to Mirador Kaqa Siwaan in San Juan la Laguna (a beautiful lookout point.)
Since you’ll be living on this beautiful lake, you might as well take advantage of it! These are a few popular water sports that you can participate in.
- Kayaking – Santiago Bay Kayaking & at Restaurante el Maná in Santiago
- Cayuco-ing – Paddle as a local to see the sunrise from the other side of the lake
- Scuba Diving – The only dive shop on the lake, ATi Divers, is located in Santa Cruz, and it is linked with La Iguana Perdida
- SUP – Stand Up Paddle Atitlan and GuateSUP Atitlan. Both companies organize SUP tours on Lake Atitlan for reasonable prices. Some of our volunteers have also enjoyed the SUP experience at Free Cerveza Hostel in Santa Cruz la Laguna or at La Casa del Mundo in Jaibalito. Both hotels rent their equipment at affordable rates so you can explore the surrounding areas.
Culture/ Local Life
Immerse yourself in the culture and local communities surrounding the lake to gain a deeper connection to and understanding of Guatemala and the Mayan culture.
- Visit Chichicastenango, Central America’s largest outdoor market.
- Do a Coffee Tasting Tour at CoAtitlán.
- Visit the local market of Santiago. It is a vibrant place full of fresh vegetables and fruit. Most of what’s available is locally grown, so you can enjoy seasonal produce, try new flavors, and support the local economy.
- Visit Santiago Central Park. Besides being a nice spot with a 3D map of the lake in the middle of the park, it’s surrounded by street food which is very popular amongst locals, and worth trying. You can try tostadas, dobladas, chuchitos, tamales, rellenitos, atol & patín (traditional food from Santiago Atitlán made with tomato sauce and spices).
- Visit the Catholic Church and Parque de la Paz in Santiago to learn about recent history
- Try a chocofruta (frozen fruit dipped in chocolate). They are sold across the Lake, just ask the locals
- Visit an artisanal brewery in Santiago, owned by a family from the USA who has been living in Santiago and getting involved in community projects for many years.
- Eat at Germinaciones or Le Antigua, both are cosy places to try creative cuisine and hang out with friends.
- Have ceviche in one of the many cevicherias in Santiago
- Enjoy a picnic of barbeque and tacos at the local parks. Everyone loves going to hang out and eat at the picnic tables with lake views and surrounded by nature.
- Visit Hotel Bambú and it’s beautiful garden
- Play basketball or soccer with local friends and students from our Learning Center.
Learn a new skill such as pottery, Tz’utujil, or painting. Have a new experience such as a traditional cacao ceremony to gain even more knowledge of the local culture.
- Learn Spanish & Tz’utujil – our host families have recommendations for excellent local teachers, some of our volunteers have taken Spanish classes and were happy with their progress, and some have taken Tz’utujil classes, which is an amazing opportunity to understand other cultural aspects from daily life in this Mayan community.
- Try Pottery workshops and Shopping in San Antonio
- Learn about artisanal chocolate at Liccor Marron Chocolate
- Visit local artists from Santiago – Galeria Iglesia de Arte, Diego y Gherardi Mesia or Galeria de Arte Juan Sisay
- Visit art galleries and take painting classes – La Galeria in Panajachel, Galeria de Arte Chiya or Galleria Imox in San Juan
- Learn the traditional recipes from local friends and host families
- Attend a Cacao ceremony at Lavalove
- Take a yoga class at the Mystical Yoga Farm
Support the Community
If you are interested in sustainable and ethical tourism during your stay here, there are a few options for you to have an impact in the community, beyond the work you are doing with One, Two…Tree!
- Visit CECAP and support a local community project
- Support the local community at Cafe Sabor Cruceno
- Participate in a recycling project with Amigos Atitlan
- Learn how to make compost and support a community project with Addecap Santiago Atitlan
There are so many ways to get involved in the local community, immerse yourself in the Guatemalan culture, and soak up the nature of beautiful Lake Atitlán.
When you are in Guatemala, we can help direct you to any of the organizations or companies we mentioned above to ensure that you feel comfortable, safe, and happy during your entire time with us!
Volunteer With Us This Year!
We are currently seeking more English Teacher Volunteers to join us this year to support our growing Learning Center and English programs in Santiago. If you or anyone you know is interested, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org