Discover San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala: A Mellow Maya Town
Planning to visit San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala? Take a deep dive into San Pedro Guatemala with our insider’s guide on where to eat, stay and play in San Pedro.
San Pedro la Laguna Guatemala is one of Lake Atitlan’s most vibrant and popular towns. Known for its stunning volcano hikes, indigenous Mayan community, fun things to do as well as a somewhat party vibe, it’s certainly a great place to visit on your Guatemala itinerary.
You’ll find many things to do in San Pedro la Laguna from taking a relaxing soak at the thermal baths to supporting local weaving associations and of course, a sunset beer or two by the lake.
Keep reading for this less-backpacker-more-lux guide to San Pedro La Laguna Atitlan and find out what to do in San Pedro la Laguna, where to stay and eat for a great stay.
While San Pedro is definitely more of a young backpacker destination than a luxury destination in Guatemala, it’s still worth visiting even if it’s just for a day. With many outdoorsy and wellness-orientated things to do in San Pedro La Laguna Guatemala, exploring the Mayan town for the day is a popular option.
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Best Time to Visit San Pedro Laguna, Guatemala
Lake Atitlan and Guatemala are year round destinations. In general, they are best visited in the dry season which runs from November to April. This is winter in Guatemala where temperatures are a little cooler but the skies are their clearest- best for sunrises/sunsets and volcano views.
The rainy season runs from May to October, and while you can expect sudden downpours on Lake Atitlan, this is still a great time to visit for fewer crowds and better rates but you probably will be dealing with cloudy days mostly.
We visited Lake Atitlan in August and spent a good few weeks in the area. It rained most days but not daily and it was quite cloudy most of the time, however there were very few people around. If you’re lucky with the weather or your itinerary is somewhat flexible, the wet season can be a great time to visit too.
How to Get to San Pedro
From Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City or the airport, you can take a shared shuttle or private shuttle to Panajachel. While chicken buses are also an option I wouldn’t recommend them for safety and comfort reasons.
From Panajachel or other towns around Lake Atitlan, you’ll need to hop on a local taxi boat to San Pedro Guatemala. You’ll find all the boats down by the docks in Panajachel. Expect to pay Q25 from Panajachel to San Pedro with the ride taking about 30-40 minutes.
From other Lake Atitlan towns, you’ll pay anything between Q10-25 depending on the distance.
It’s also possible to get a shuttle between San Pedro la Laguna and San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
You might be wondering how to get around San Pedro Guatemala when you get there. San Pedro is completely walkable and you don’t need any extra transportation most of the time. To head to nearby San Juan la Laguna or to your hotel with luggage, tuk tuks are available around town.
13 Top Things to Do in San Pedro La Laguna Guatemala
Relax in the Hot Springs
One of San Pedro la Laguna’s biggest draws is the town’s hot springs. For slow travelers that savour a little wellness when they travel, this is the perfect opportunity to relax.
The hot springs in San Pedro are like heated hot tubs rather than naturally heated hot springs by Lake Atitlan’s volcanoes. Unfortunately, they aren’t minerally rich waters but they do provide a space to sit and relax.
The place to go for a long soak is ‘Los Termales’ which you’ll find here, towards the outskirts of San Pedro Atitlan. The tubs have a rustic feel to them and have really lovely lake views. If it’s not too busy (go midweek) it feels like you’re soaking in the middle of the jungle and coming here is something we did quite a few times after a long day of exploring.
You need to reserve a hot tub directly with the owners before you arrive. There are 5 tubs in total, one of which is cold water, making this spot perfect for a little cold plunge therapy.
They also do on-site oil massages which are just heavenly after a day of hiking or exploring the lake. They don’t sell drinks apart from one type of tea but you are allowed to bring your own so make sure to stock up before arriving.
Visit the Tzunun’Ya Museum
Given that San Pedro la Laguna Guatemala is predominantly a Tz’utujil Maya community, there’s no better place to visit in San Pedro, than the Tzunun’Ya Museum. Here you’ll learn more about the history of San Pedro, its culture and the heritage of the Maya.
While the museum is very small, it’s a great way to introduce yourself to the Lake Atitlan area and the cultural heritage present here. You’ll learn about the geology and the formation of Lake Atitlan as well as the culture and symbolism of the local Tz’utujil Maya people.
Entrance is Q35 per person and it’s open in the mornings and afternoons (closed from 12-2pm).
Explore San Pedro Town and its Street Art
As soon as you arrive in San Pedro de Atitlan, you’ll quickly notice how vibrant and colorful the town is. This is mainly due to its artistic and creative presence.
As you meander through the narrow streets of this lively town, you’re greeted by an explosion of street art, from traditional Mayan motifs to contemporary artistic expressions.
Both local and international artists have turned the streets of San Pedro Guatemala into an open-air gallery that reflects the community’s spirit and history.
Take your time to wander and absorb the vivid imagery, and don’t miss the chance to chat with locals who are often eager to share the stories behind these magnificent artworks.
If you prefer to wander around San Pedro and beyond with a local guide and meet local people opt for this superb Lake Atitlan tour.
Visit the Local Market
San Pedro Guatemala has a thriving local market which shouldn’t be missed off your Lake Atitlan itinerary. The local market is a bit of a sensory feast, where you’ll encounter a kaleidoscope of colors and the rich aromas of fresh produce and spices.
Local vendors, many dressed in traditional Mayan attire, proudly display an array of goods – from exotic fruits and vegetables to handcrafted textiles and artisanal crafts.
It’s not just a place to shop; it’s a place to immerse yourself in the daily life of the locals and learn more about their way of life.
Visit the Teixchel Women’s Weaving Association
While San Juan la Laguna might just be the best place for weaving and buying local textiles on Lake Atitlan, visiting the Teixchel Women’s Weaving Association is a brilliant place to begin.
Run by a local Mayan family, the women at Teixchel make beautiful Mayan textiles which you can explore and shop. Pieces such as kimonos, blouses, scarves and throws take center stage here for their beautiful colors and the skill that goes into weaving them.
If you speak Spanish, the women are happy to explain more about their process and their Mayan symbols and motifs. You can even take a traditional weaving workshop here too.
Go Kayaking or SUP
Kayaking is definitely one of the best things to do in San Pedro Guatemala and Lake Atitlan. In fact, from most towns, you’ll be able to hire kayaks, canoes or SUPs for a few hours to explore the hidden corners of Lake Atitlan.
Kayaking or renting an SUP will allow you to have some fun on the water, get some exercise as well as discover some hidden gems right on the shores of the lake. You’ll also be able to see San Pedro Atitlan from a different perspective as well as paddle over to San Juan la Laguna.
There are a few different places to rent kayaks or SUPs in San Pedro. The most popular are the two right next to San Pedro public beach, unfortunately I can’t quite remember their names.
Otherwise, you can also organise a kayaking tour with a local guide.
Hike to the Top of Indian Nose
While hiking to the summit of Indian Nose for sunrise is better done from San Juan la Laguna, as it’s that much closer, it can also be done from San Pedro Atitlan.
The Indian Nose (also called La Nariz del Indio or Rostro Maya) is a famous viewpoint located above San Juan la Laguna, from which you can see the whole of Lake Atitlan and its encircling volcanoes on a clear day.
Embarking on the Indian Nose Hike is an awe-inspiring experience, offering a glimpse into the stunning natural beauty of Guatemala.
The trek is moderately challenging yet immensely fulfilling, taking you through verdant landscapes. You’ll traverse paths that meander around coffee farms and past traditional Mayan communities.
Reaching the peak, the moment the sun peeks over the horizon and illuminates the breathtaking scenery before you, you’ll find yourself captivated.
The view from here is not just beautiful – it’s spellbinding, making it one of the most memorable moments we experienced in Guatemala.
Despite the early morning start, I strongly advise opting for the Indian Nose Sunrise Private Hike. With a local guide’s expertise, you gain valuable insights about the region, and frankly, it’s hard to imagine tackling the steep trail in the dark on your own. It’s challenging, but well worth it.
To experience this unforgettable adventure, book the Indian’s Nose Sunrise Hike Tour here.
Take a Mayan Cooking Class
One of the best culinary experiences in San Pedro la Laguna is taking a Mayan and Guatemalan Cooking Class. Led by local Mayan chef, Anita who runs Anita’s Mayan Kitchen Cooking Lesson, this workshop offers a deep dive into traditional Guatemalan cuisine.
During the workshop you’ll be able to learn how to prepare some of the most typical Mayan dishes while also being able to take home recipes you can recreate for yourself again and again.
For those looking for a valuable culinary and cultural experience in Lake Atitlan, make sure not to miss this. Find out more here.
Take in the Views from Cafe Panorama
High up over San Pedro you’ll find the peaceful Cafe Panorama, famous for its stunning views over San Pedro. Here, you’ll be able to grab a coffee and take a seat on the vast terrace overlooking San Pedro and Lake Atitlan. The views from here are truly stunning and it’s the perfect place to come to relax for a few hours.
You can walk up to Cafe Panorama but it is a steep and uphill slog via the main road. Alternatively, you can also grab a tuk-tuk which can take you up.
For an alternative viewpoint, you can also continue along the same main road until you get to Mirador Plaza Maravilla (here on Google Maps). This is also another stunning viewpoint.
If you’re looking for an easier way to gaze out over San Pedro, without the uphill trek, try Kayibal Mirador, located on the road between San Pedro and San Juan la Laguna. From here you’ll be able to see San Pedro and the banks of Lake Atitlan, without having to go too far.
Learn some Spanish
Taking a break from your travels to learn Spanish in Lake Atitlan is a really popular choice. In fact, as someone who has lived in and visited most countries in Latin America and who speaks Spanish, I can say Guatemala is one of the best places to learn.
Guatemalans tend to speak slowly, clearly and annunciate well, making it one of the easiest places to develop an ear for the language.
San Pedro la Laguna has many different Spanish schools to choose from where you can opt for a few conversation classes or an entire course in Spanish. Classes are taught by locals, often Mayan women and can provide you not only with better language skills but also a chance for deeper cultural immersion.
Take a Stroll Through Parque Puerta Hermosa
Parque Puerta Hermosa is San Pedro’s local park and the only bit of greenery in the center of town.
It’s a small park with lots of local trees and plants, a large statue and a traditional white church to one end. It’s a lovely spot for a bit of silent reading, relaxing and people watching, or just to escape the hustle and bustle of this more frantic part of town.
Take a Yoga Class
While San Marcos la Laguna is the place to go for yoga and yoga retreats, San Pedro also has a few good local yoga studios where you can take a class.
Taking a yoga class in San Pedro or anywhere on Lake Atitlan is just the perfect way to start your morning. With the lake’s silence and stillness, flowing and connecting to its energy is something we’d recommend.
We did yoga each morning at Namaste Yoga Center who have a blissful yoga deck right on the lake and I know this studio to be the best in town. Your hotel might also offer daily yoga classes depending on where you choose to stay.
Visit some other Lake Atitlan towns
Lake Atitlan offers much more than just San Pedro la Laguna. While it’s one of the most popular towns along the banks of Lake Atitlan, I strongly encourage you to explore beyond San Pedro. The lake is surrounded by other fascinating Mayan towns, each offering unique attractions and activities.
Here are some of the standout towns worth visiting:
San Marcos la Laguna – Known for its relaxed, bohemian vibe, San Marcos is filled with retreats, yoga centers, and a community of expats and nomads. Read the full guide to San Marcos here.
Tzununa – Very close to San Marcos and continues the same bohemian vibe but it’s much quieter and relaxed. Great hiking trail that leads to Santa Cruz via Jaibalito.
Santa Cruz la Laguna – Perched up the hill from Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, this authentic Mayan town is definitely worth exploring. Some of the lake’s finest hotels are situated nearby.
Panajachel – As the busiest town on Lake Atitlan, Panajachel serves as the primary hub for boat transportation across the lake. Also has a vibrant market.
San Juan la Laguna – This town is a haven for textile and coffee lovers, brimming with a variety of weaving stores, and cafes. Conveniently located adjacent to San Pedro, it’s a mere 15-minute walk or a quick 5-minute tuk-tuk ride away. Read the full San Juan la Laguna guide here.
Santa Catarina Palopó – This charming lakeside town, inhabited by the Kaqchikel Maya people, is an excellent spot for shopping for textiles.
If that’s not enough, here are some more things to do in Lake Atitlan.
*Note about hiking Volcan San Pedro: You may see other travel guides and blogs suggesting to climb San Pedro Volcano and while this was a worthwhile thing to do in the past, it’s now not recommended due to safety. There have been reports of armed bandits at the summit which prey on travellers so even with a local guide this is unavoidable.
Many people still hike some of the way up, to get the most of the views from the volcano but going all the way to the summit is sadly no longer recommended. If you have your eye on hiking up Volcan San Pedro I’d get some local advice on the ground first before setting off.
Traveling elsewhere in Guatemala? Read Our 7 Day Guatemala Itinerary: A Slow Travel Guide
Where to Stay in San Pedro Lake Atitlan
San Pedro la Laguna isn’t the best place on Lake Atitlan for luxury accommodation- the area around Santa Cruz and San Marcos la Laguna Guatemala is – but the town still has some beautifully rustic and affordable stays to take advantage of.
I would recommend staying elsewhere and visiting San Pedro la Laguna on a day trip.
Nevertheless, here are some of our top picks for the best San Pedro la Laguna hotels.
Mikaso Hotel– A beautiful, traditional Guatemalan house meets industrial-style interiors. Located right on the lake with the most stunning lake views from the simple rooms. This spot encourages the slow life. Find rates and book here.
VENICE by luxury Atitlan – Comfortable, Airbnb-style rental right by the water’s edge. Well-furnished and even has a desk, ideal for digital nomads. Find out more here.
Where to Eat in San Pedro Guatemala
Tornado’s Coffee – One of the best coffee shops in San Pedro Lake Aitlan, stop by here for a freshly roasted cup of local coffee and solid daily breakfasts. Their outdoor, garden seating area is also a great spot to chill.
The Fifth Dimension – One of the best San Pedro La Laguna restaurants for healthy, veggie fare. They serve delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes like stir-fries, bowls and salads with great lake views from the rooftop.
Pita Sabij – Two words. Falafel pita. Don’t leave San Pedro until you’ve tried it, it might just be the best falafel ever.
Sabada Cafe and Restaurant – located right on the lake, this is one of the best places to eat in San Pedro la Laguna. They have tons of great staple meals, local Guatemalan dishes and scrumptious desserts.
Pupusas Salvadores – A rustic hole-in-the-wall serving the best pupusas in town.
Smokin’ Joes’ BBQ – The best place for meat and BBQ in San Pedro Guatemala. Best on a Sunday for the huge local BBQ and meet-up.
Bar Sublime – The place to be if you want to party in the evening, otherwise it’s also a lovely place for a drink during the day with fantastic lake views.
Are you ready to plan your trip to San Pedro La Laguna Guatemala? Let me know all your questions and comments below. I always love hearing from you!
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