The Complete Guide to San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala
San Marcos La Laguna is one of Guatamala’s most vibrant destinations. Known as Lake Atitlan’s center for yoga and yoga retreats, energy work and healing, San Marcos is the kind of place people go to for something more.
With stunning backdrops of luscious jungle and towering volcanoes all on the banks of glistening Lake Atitlan, San Marcos provides travelers with rustic, eco-chic accommodation, splendid dining options as well as many other unique things to do.
Grounded in wellness and spirituality, the town makes the perfect base for a spiritual or yoga retreat or just a few days of relaxation and self-reflection.
In this guide to San Marcos La Laguna, find everything you need to know about what to do in San Marcos, and where to stay and eat in this insider’s guide with all our best recommendations.
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In a hurry? Here are my top picks for San Marcos La Laguna
So why visit San Marcos Lake Atitlan Guatemala?
Before visiting San Marcos la Laguna Guatemala it’s worth noting that this small, lakeside town is a little different from the others. Yes, there are some great things to do, beautiful places to stay and great eating spots, but San Marcos has a very unique energy.
This energy attracts healers, yogis, therapists and alternative therapy practitioners and the town also maintains a steady community of nomads and expats.
Due to this unique energy found in San Marcos, it’s a wonderful destination for wellness and spiritual travel, yoga retreats, yoga teacher training and anyone seeking a healer to help with health or emotional issues.
While that might not be your thing, it’s still worth coming and indulging in the views and hikes, the food and maybe a meditation session for the day.
How to Get to San Marcos La Laguna
San Marcos la Laguna Guatemala is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the Solola Region. It’s a small village situated on the northern banks of the lake.
San Marcos is best reached by boat and can be done so from most other towns along Lake Atitlan. If you’re coming from Guatemala City, Antigua Guatemala or other destinations in Guatemala you’ll need to transfer or take a local bus to Panajachel.
From Panajachel to San Marcos, boats cost Q20-25 and take around 30 minutes. Lake taxi boats leave regularly from the main docks in Panajachel.
If you’re heading to San Marcos la Laguna for a day trip from another Lake Atitlan town such as San Pedro La Laguna or San Juan La Laguna, expect to pay less and the trip to take around 20-30 minutes.
Best Things to Do in San Marcos La Laguna Guatemala
Practise Yoga in San Marcos
It’s no surprise that practising yoga is one of the best things to do in San Marcos. With many ashrams, yoga centers and schools, it’s difficult to avoid the practice in this spiritual village.
The natural beauty of the area, with its lush landscapes and calming lake views, creates a perfect backdrop for deepening yoga practice, one of the most popular San Marcos activities.
Many travellers and yogis come to San Marcos to attend yoga retreats (it is Guatemala’s primary yoga retreat destination), attend yoga teacher training or simply make the most of San Marco’s energy to deepen their practice with daily classes.
Depending on what you’re looking for, San Marcos has several great locations for retreats, classes and more.
Yoga Retreats in San Marcos Guatemala
Kawoq Forest (Previously Yoga Forest) – A stunning escape into the lush jungle above San Marcos La Laguna. They host many different group yoga and wellness retreats throughout the year as well as personalised yoga retreats that include accommodation, meals, connection and daily practice. They also offer a daily class schedule.
Shamana Atitlan– A healing retreat center and School of yoga and meditation in San Marcos Lago Atitlan. Find out more about their most popular 7-day yoga retreat here. They also do yoga teacher training.
Breath Body Earth – Offers many different yoga retreats throughout the year as well as one of the most popular 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Courses.
For more on the best yoga retreats in San Marcos and beyond read: 10 Best Guatemala Yoga Retreats You Can’t Miss
Eagle’s Nest – A great place to stay for a sense of community and daily yoga sessions on your doorstep. This is where we flowed during our time in San Marcos as it’s located fairly centrally.
Kawoq Forest also offers daily classes for drop-ins.
Most hotels and hostels will also have daily drop-in yoga classes. Otherwise, you’ll find many more walking around and reading flyers as well as checking the information boards at Circles Cafe.
Take a Hike in Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve
Immediately adjacent to San Marcos, you’ll find the lush Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve. This diverse yet small reserve offers a network of trails winding through verdant forests, leading to stunning viewpoints overlooking Lake Atitlán and its volcanic surroundings.
Hiking here is suitable for all levels of fitness and it’s a great opportunity to enjoy the wonderful views and connect with nature – the paths are often flanked by vibrant flora and the sounds of local wildlife.
The reserve’s serene environment and natural beauty make it a must-visit for anyone wanting to make the most out of visiting San Marcos La Laguna and Lake Atitlan.
Catch the Sunset at Mirador de San Marcos
Right on the tip of Cerro Tzankujil Nature Reserve, you’ll find Mirador de San Marcos, a lovely and popular spot for watching over the lake. It offers one of the most breathtaking viewpoints in San Marcos La Laguna Atitlan, especially as the sun sets over Lake Atitlán.
While there isn’t a direct view of the setting sun from this angle, if you’re lucky the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant oranges, pinks, and purples, reflecting off the tranquil waters of the lake.
The viewpoint is a great place to visit at all times of the day but it’s that much more special at sunset.
The viewpoint platform also offers an opportunity to jump into the lake and go for a swim.
Indulge in a Massage
In the spiritual and tranquil setting of San Marcos La Laguna, beside the serene Lake Atitlán, getting a massage is one of the best things to do in San Marcos Atitlan.
Known for its holistic approach to wellness, centers in San Marcos offer a variety of massage therapies that not only soothe the body but also calm the mind and spirit.
There are quite a few spots in San Marcos for massage. We got a massage at Holistic Smile Center Massage, a small but well-recommended spot in town run by local Mayan women. They offer Swedish and Deep Tissue massage as well as Hot Stone therapy to relax and ease the mind and body.
Even if you’re just visiting San Marcos for one day, scheduling a massage for a moment of relaxation is a must.
San Marcos la Laguna Guatemala is one of the best towns on the lake for a spot of local shopping. It’s the perfect place to indulge in Mayan textiles and other local designs.
You’ll see most of the best textile stalls and souvenir shops on the main street leading up from the pier.
Take a Spanish Class or Course
If you’ve been thinking about perfecting your Spanish and have a bit of extra time to commit to a course, San Marcos might just be the perfect place for it.
San Marcos Spanish School is a local and well-loved school teaching Spanish to expats, nomads and anyone else who’d like to perfect their Spanish skills in San Marcos.
Using fully immersive programs, local teachers and a fun and personalised approach, they make learning languages a fun and culturally rich experience.
See a Healer in San Marcos Guatemala
For those more spiritually inclined, taking some time to see a healer or a therapist when in San Marcos may turn out to be a profoundly transformative experience. It may offer deep insights into personal well-being as well as give you a unique perspective on traditional healing practices.
With its spiritual energy and holistic healing practices, San Marcos is one of the only places in Guatemala for such an experience.
Consulting a local therapist or healer, someone with knowledge of ancient Mayan traditions will allow you to not only learn more about the local healing culture but also work through your own blocks and ailments.
Such an experience may leave you feeling transformed, grounded, and deeply connected to the mystical energy of Lake Atitlán.
While spiritual leaders and healers come and go all the time in San Marcos, if you are looking for some spiritual wisdom it’s best to ask at Circles Cafe or consult the local community through the San Marcos La Laguna Facebook groups just before you’re arrival.
Learn How to Grow Mushrooms
If ecology, farming and mycology are your thing then you’ll be pleased to know you can learn how to cultivate mushrooms in Lake Atitlan. Located in nearby Tzununa, the Fungi Academy is a practical space teaching all things fungi.
Fungi Academy offers a wide range of courses and events but their most popular is a week-long retreat where you can learn how to grow and harvest your own mushrooms. The course is a great way to meet new people and also learn more about the indigenous way of life in Lake Atitlan.
Hike to Santa Cruz
One of the best hikes in the area is from San Marcos to Santa Cruz. The hiking trail begins not far from the docks in San Marcos and follows the lake’s edge to Santa Cruz.
On the hike you’ll pass by the villages of Tzununa, Jaibalito and finally, Santa Cruz from which you can come back to San Marcos by boat. You’ll also hike through the lush jungle, past incredible viewpoints and some super lovely properties too.
The whole hike takes 3-4 hours but you can easily extend this to a full day by stopping to explore the villages, having lunch and even a swim in the lake. It’s one of the best things to do in San Marcos la Laguna.
If you prefer not to hike alone, make sure to check out this Shoreside Lake Atitlan Hike done with a local guide.
Do some Watersports on Lake Atitlan
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Atitlan, surrounded by majestic volcanoes, offer an idyllic setting for watersports. Activities like SUP and kayaking are a unique way to explore the lake’s serene beauty, with opportunities to glide past hidden coves and traditional Mayan villages.
In San Marcos, by the lakefront and in nearby Santa Cruz you’ll be able to rent SUPs and kayaks and take to the lake for a few hours to enjoy the placid waters while also getting in some daily movement.
In San Marcos, you can rent SUPs at Venga Atitlan or opt for this adventure tour which departs Santa Cruz by kayak and also includes hiking through several Atitlan villages including San Marcos.
Where to Stay in San Marcos
Anzan Atitlan at Casa Rosada – A beautiful, design-focused lakefront property, this is the perfect place to stay for incredible views and serene and slow living. Make sure to grab a table at Anzan Table too, for creative local cuisine. Find out more and book here.
Lush Atitlan– Rustic-chic accommodation right by the lake. Make sure to grab a room with lake and volcano views and wake up each morning to pure bliss. This is one of the top San Marcos La Laguna hotels located in town. Find out more and book here
Kula Maya Boutique Hotel and Spa – Rustic, palapa-roofed cabins and igloo-style domes right by the lake. Stunning lake and volcano views and there’s a pool here too. The staff were brilliant during our stay and a cocktail or two at the bar here shouldn’t be missed. Find out more and book here
Eagle’s Nest Atitlan – The ultimate community eco-resort in Atitlan, don’t miss this hotspot for yoga, dance and local events. It’s the perfect place to meet other travellers, nomads and artists. Rooms are simple and rustic but rates include meals, classes and events at Eagle’s Nest. Find out more and book here
Find some more San Marcos la Laguna hotels below:
Where to Eat in San Marcos Lake Atitlan
Circles Cafe & Bakery – Circles really is the community hub of San Marcos, where you can find local information about what’s on as well as yoga classes etc. They also do some of the best meals around and bake the best bread you’ll find in Lake Atitlan. Don’t miss the Buddha bowls, sandwiches and coffee here.
Konojel – A superb spot for lunch, they serve unpretentious, delicious Guatemalan meals with changing menus. It’s owned and run by locals. A great way to support the community so eating here is a must.
Samsara’s Garden– A local favourite for vegan fare in San Marcos. Large portions and flavorsome food, this was one of the meals we loved when in San Marcos. They serve wraps, salads, bowls, soups, stir-fries, cakes and more.
El Búho – A solid choice for vegetarian fare in San Marcos Guatemala. They serve a wide range of dishes from buddha bowls to wraps and pittas.
Are you ready to plan your trip to San Marcos La Laguna Guatemala? Let me know all your questions and comments below. I always love hearing from you!
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