Things to do in
Sololá Department

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Top sights in Sololá Department

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Our most recommended things to do in Sololá Department

Lake Atitlán Boat Tour

1. Lake Atitlán Boat Tour

Start the day with a trip from Antigua or Guatemala City to the Maya town of Panajachel. During the drive there will be a brief stop in Katok, a very famous restaurant where you can indulge in a hot drink. Once at Panajachel, it's time for a boat trip to cross Lake Atitlán and visit the Tzutuhil Village of Santiago de Atitlán. In this village you will visit the confraternity of the local saint named Maximon or Ri Laj Mam, visited by people all over the world who come to ask for health and prosperity in their lives. The lake itself owes its grandeur to its enormous size and spectacular volcanic setting. Three large volcanoes, Atitlán Tolimán and San Pedro, rise gracefully from its southern shore, creating breathtaking views around the area. You will experience these views and the traditional practices still carried out by the Maya-Tzutujil and Cakchiquel women who live around the lake. After a short transfer, we will have lunch at one of the most exquisite restaurants of Panajachel. While in town, guestes will also Santander Street and experience its vast, bustling handicraft market.

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Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

2. Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

Experience an important ceremony of the Maya people of Guatemala at the most sacred and holy location on Lake Atitlan. Transfer to the trailhead from Panajachel. Then, walk to the 1st cave (a maximum 20-minute hike). Named “Nimajay,” “San Simon,” “Singing” and “Colorado,” the 4 caves have been used by the Mayans for centuries for their Fire Cleansing and Protection Ceremony. The highland tribes travel for hours to visit the holy caves, and you will feel the energy and power as soon as you approach the cave entrance. Watch the shamans perform the ceremony (not guaranteed, but available on most days), and experience an authentic part of the living Mayan culture of the Guatemala highlands. Your guide will explain why the ceremonies are performed, and teach you about the ritual and unique meanings of the Mayan calendar. Located 1,200 feet above Lake Atitlan, the caves offer panoramic views of the lake and caldera. Stand on top of Eagle Rock, and marvel at how the earth drops hundreds of feet around you. Feel your spirit soar like a bird as you stand with nothing but air on all sides. You can also visit the shrine of San Simon/Maximon, the colonial church, and a 200-foot waterfall.

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Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour From Antigua

3. Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour From Antigua

Your 10-hour excursion begins with a drive into the western highlands of Guatemala. The region is home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples. When you arrive at the Chichicastenango market you’ll begin your walking tour. The market is at the center of the town and is the heart of commercial life for maxeños, the natives of Chichicastenango. Every Thursday and Sunday merchants head to the central plaza to sell their products in this impressive indigenous market that has changed very little over the centuries. Explore the pathways of the market and admire the colorful handicrafts and produce offered by the local people of the region. In Chichicastenango, you’ll also visit Santo Tomás Church, built in 1540 over the base of a pre-Hispanic temple. This church is a splendid example of colonial architecture, and the Mayan and Latino influence is evident in both the interior and exterior of the building. After exploring the market you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch (not included in the tour price). Next you’ll continue to the town of Panajachel, located at the edge of Lake Atitlan. Take a walk along Santander Street and enjoy the spectacular views of Lake Atitlan, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The volcanoes Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro form a natural frame for the lake. Lake Atitlan has a surface of 125 square kilometers and sits 1,560 meters above sea level.

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Chichicastenango and Panajachel One Day Tour

4. Chichicastenango and Panajachel One Day Tour

This day-long tour of Guatemala, beginning from Antigua or Guatemala City, covers market villages to picturesque lakes and is sure to give you a bar-none introduction to some of the country's loveliest sights! Start your day at the open market of Chichicastenango. Here, you can explore the indigenous market and witness the incessant exchange of fruits, vegetables and handicrafts between local people and foreigners. This charming local market really does offer just about everything—you can even shop for wood products, ceramics and the sorts of gifts that the Mayan priests offer on their pre-hispanic altars. We will then move on to visit Santo Tomás church, where the Popol Vuh (The sacred book of the Maya) was found. For the perfect end to the day we will spend the remainder of our time overlooking one of the world's most beautiful lakes.

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Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

5. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

Cruise across Lake Atitlan and visit the villages of San Juan La Laguna on this full-day shared sightseeing tour. Ringed by 3 volcanoes on its southern flank, Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America. Departing from Panajachel, at the gateway to the lake, your private guide will take you on a scenic shared boat trip before exploring some local textile communities and the Mayan villages of San Juan La Laguna. Get amazing views of the Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro volcanoes, as you experience for yourself why the area became such a Mecca for beatniks and bohemian writers such as Aldous Huxley. Capture the scent of coffee plantations, and then try some freshly ground coffee. Here, you can immerse yourself in the laid-back vibe of the Tz'utujil Mayans and turn the noisy dial of modern life down to zero.

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Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

6. Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

Experience Guatemala in an authentic and personal way as you discover the flavors of Guatemala cooking at the Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen. A 3-hour cooking class will help you understand how Mayan culture and Spanish colonial influences produced a variety of mouth-watering dishes. You’ll have lots of hands-on fun learning how to prepare up to 3 authentic Guatemalan dishes during this class. Learn how to prepare traditional recipes and come away with all the skills you need to prepare them in your own kitchen. If you like you can visit the market with your instructor to purchase the ingredients, or leave the chef do the shopping without you. After your lesson you’ll have a sufficient amount of the prepared food to feed your family or other group members. You’ll take home a printed copy of the recipes as well. The instructor will demonstrate the preparation of each recipe with explanations so you’ll have a complete understanding of the ingredients and the process. Private classes can be arranged for individuals, in addition to the shared classes for small groups. The Mayan cooks in the program are native to Lake Atitlan, and they carry on the rich traditions and culture that are expressed in the food. If you choose to include a market visit with your cooking program, you should plan on an additional 1-2 hours. Note that the instructors speak English or Spanish, or a little of both. All proceeds support the community of Santa Cruz La Laguna through the local nonprofit Amigos de Santa Cruz which runs education and economic empowerment programs (check out amigosdesantacruz.org or Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation on Facebook for more information) Classes are taught by Claudia, a local graduate of Amigos' culinary program, and run for 3 hours with a plated 3-course lunch included on the patio overlooking Lake Atitlan. 

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3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market

7. 3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market

Experience two of Guatemala's most celebrated points of interest: sparkling Lake Atitlan and the Chichicastenango Market on this 3-day tour from Antigua. Visit the highland town of Chichicastenango, world-famous for its open-air market. Here you'll find amazing handicrafts created by the indigenous Maya people as you witness an incessant exchange of fruits and vegetables. Next to the market stands the Church of Santo Tomas, a 16th-century church where you can observe age-old Mayan rituals being performed. Filling an enormous caldera and surrounded by volcanoes and traditional Mayan villages, Lake Atitlan has become renowned for its indescribable beauty and unique cultural history. Spend a day on a guided boat tour of the lake and surrounding towns, then experience the nightlife of Panajachel. Detailed Itinerary Day 1: Antigua ̶ Chichicastenango – Panajachel Travel from Antigua to Chichicastenango. Explore the open-air market, where a wide array of produce, finely woven textiles, and intricate handicrafts are for sale. Afterward, visit the Church of Santo Tomas. Evening transfer to Panajachel for overnight. Day 2: Lake Atitlan Boat Trip Board a private boat for a scenic trip across Lake Atitlan. Visit two traditional Maya villages that line the shores of the lake and admire views of the nearby volcanoes. Afterward, enjoy free time in Panajachel on your own. Day 3: Panajachel ̶ Antigua Have free time to further explore Panajachel. In the afternoon, transfer to Antigua Colonial City.

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Santa Cruz: Hidden Waterfalls & Secret Paradise Hike

8. Santa Cruz: Hidden Waterfalls & Secret Paradise Hike

The day begins in Santa Cruz la Laguna, the rugged north shore of Lake Atitlan. The north shore of Lake Atitlan has no true road access, so you will be hiking along ancient paths that have been used by the Kachekel Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our hike takes us several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan for breath taking views of the famous volcanoes. Then descend into the Pumpatin Canyon for a nature walk along the banks of the river. You will experience two different ecosystems as we walk from the upper lake shore into the narrow canyon. The further into the Pumpatin Canyon we hike, the more waterfalls we see. We have the potential to find up to 5 waterfalls. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river, and take a swim if you desire.

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Antigua – Panajachel Private Shuttle Service

9. Antigua – Panajachel Private Shuttle Service

Hire a private shuttle for your travel between Antigua and Panajachel. You’ll be picked up at any local hotel or residence, travel in comfort and safety on this 2.5-hour transfer, and be dropped off at the address you request. Unlike shared shuttles, this service does not have a set schedule, which allows you to set a travel time of your choice. If you’re renting a house, you can ask the driver to stop at a market so you can pick up what you need. You can also stop at a bank to exchange money, or at a restaurant for a meal. Vehicles are supplied by Xocomil Tours, a reliable travel agency operating since 1995, and offering safe and comfortable transfers. All vehicles are recent models and are fully insured. The drivers are all professional and helpful, helping ensure that you enjoy your visit to Guatemala.

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Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City

10. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City

Spend a day on Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America, on a full-day trip from Guatemala City. Enjoy a cruise along the waters, and visit nearby villages. Departing from Guatemala City in the morning, travel to Panajachel. Then take a public boat across Atitlán and visit Santiago Atitlán, where you will learn about the local saint; Maximon. Enjoy the vibrant colors and local flavor of this village as you experience the traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Santiago is the most popular lakeside settlement outside Panajachel, and many atitecos (as its people are known) cling to a traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Women weave and wear huipiles (tunics) embroidered with brilliantly-colored birds and flowers, and the cofradías towns maintain the ceremonies and rituals of tradition — the syncretic traditions and practices of Mayan Catholicism. There’s also a large arts and crafts scene here as well.  You'll then be given free time for lunch, after which you’ll be returned to Guatemala City via Antigua Guatemala.

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Frequently asked questions about Sololá Department

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What people are saying about Sololá Department

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 72 reviews

Everything about this tour was great, our guide was extremely knowledgeable. The ride was safe. The only thing to be aware of this does include the lake in the extent of eating at a restaurant overlooking the lake. I went for the market so I didn’t mind but if you want a more immersive lake experience this might not be the tour for you.

Very neat and accomplished

Everything offered was fulfilled. Comfortable transport. Very friendly in the chosen hotel. Good location and willing to collaborate. The guide in the Lake very attentive to his work. A very pleasant experience. Thank you

It may seem a bit pricey but well worth it. Your guide, Lee, will take you places you would not find on your own. As a Mayan in the know he can explain everything to you. You will not be disappointed

although we came late for the ceremony. the local tour guide was extremely knowledgeable. He showed me some great spots around and its overall history of his people.

Great tour! If you are interested in learning more about mayan culture or how cristianity has merged with local religion you should definitely give it a go.