Lake Atitlán is one of the most popular destinations in Guatemala and a great place to visit with kids. The breathtaking views framed by volcanoes, the quaint towns, and the colorful Mayan culture make Lake Atitlan an ideal destination for families. So, if you’re looking for the best things to do in Lake Atitlán with kids, you will find here lots of options! It includes all our favorite things to do around Lake Atitlán with kids, from Panajachel and Santa Catarina Palopó to smaller towns like San Antonio Palopó.
Fun and Exciting Things To Do At Lake Atitlán With Kids
I was born in Guatemala and used to visit Lake Atitlán with my family when I was growing up. Now that we live in the United States, I travel to Guatemala with my kids at least once a year. And visiting lake Atitlán is always on our itinerary.
We usually stay in Panajachel, the most developed town for tourism in the Lago de Atitlán area. So it’s easy to access shops, and the main street is full of hotels and restaurants. It’s also easy to take trips to other towns from the downtown dock. We also love to stay at San Marcos La Laguna because it’s laid back and peaceful and quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Panajachel.
You can opt for public boats or lanchas to get to other Mayan villages along the lake. They are affordable but make many stops at all of the small towns along the lakeshore. Public boats don’t run on schedule and leave once they are full. I prefer to hire a private one since they are not expensive. And you can hire them for a few hours or the entire day, which will give you the flexibility of exploring at your own pace.
Take a Boat Ride to San Juan La Laguna
Last year we visited San Juan la Laguna with the kids for the first time, and we loved the experience. There’s a lot to do in this small town, and I love that everything is only a short walk away. However, you can also take a colorful TukTuk from one place to the next, which is fun.
Weavingly Fun at Atitlán Lake With Kids
We started our visit by learning about the ancient Mayan back loom weaving process at one of the many textile Cooperatives. It was an interactive experience where the kids had the opportunity to participate and learn by doing. The kids learned about the textiles used for weaving and how locals use natural dyes.
We learned so much, and the kids were engaged and had fun weaving! This experience has no cost; however, you are expected to buy something from the women’s textile cooperative. Nevertheless, they have beautiful pieces, and it’s a great way to support this Mayan community, so you gain more than you bargain.
Lush Gardens at Lake Atitlán
Then we visited a medicinal plant garden. Here a Mayan healer explained all of the different medicinal plants and herbs traditionally used by the Mayan people. Next, we roamed the grounds and saw all of the medicinal plants. After the tour, we had the opportunity to buy some of the products and teas made using local medicinal plants.
Get Close to Nature at Reserva Natural de Atitlan
Located just minutes from Panajachel, the Reserva Natural de Atitlán is one of our favorite places in Lake Atitlan with my kids. From hiking trails with hanging bridges to waterfalls and the geo-dome butterfly garden, this preserve allows you to immerse in the local ecosystem.
You can also feed the resident monkeys and coatimundi. Then hike to the private beach, which in my opinion, is one of the best beaches in Lake Atitlán. And if you’re looking for a more thrilling experience, the reserve offers zip-line experiences with amazing views of the lake and waterfalls.
San Marcos La Laguna is one of my favorite towns in lake Atitlán. I love the peaceful new-age vibes! And it’s a great town to visit with the kids because there are no cars or TukTuks, so you can safely walk everywhere.
We love to walk along the street, checking out the craft stalls and looking at the murals on the walls. Then, on the main road, you can find the Chocolate Museum, where you can take a chocolate-making class. Here adults and kids can learn about the history of chocolate and cacao beans.
What’s more, you can create a traditional Mayan hot chocolate drink and make your own chocolates. My kids love this place because what could be more fun than making chocolate and taking it home?
Visit Santa Catarina Palopó, The Most Colorful Town in Lake Atitlán
This small and colorful town is only a few minutes from Panajachel, and you can arrive there by land or boat. If you want to get there by land, you can take a TukTuk. It is a fun way to move around Lake Atitlán with the kids.
Santa Catarina Palopó used to be a fishing village. Unfortunately, fishing is no longer sustainable due to overpopulation and the area’s development. To attract opportunities and tourism, the project Pintando Santa Catarina is in the process of painting houses and street walls with designs based on the traditional textiles of the Mayan people who inhabit the town.
It’s an excellent place for taking photos and browsing through art galleries. You can also visit the small town square with its quaint little colonial church.
Learn About Traditional Pottery Making in San Antonio Palopo
Another great town to visit is San Antonio Palopó, known for its beautiful and unique pottery. You can take a free tour of the pottery. Once it is over, locals expect you to buy something to help maintain the place.
The pottery is gorgeous and affordable, so this is a win-win situation. Plus, you learn about the traditional pottery-making process and the unique local clay used to make these pieces. And as a bonus, you get to take a piece home too! You can read more about our experience visiting San Antonio Palopó and why it has such a unique potter spot. It is one of the most fun things to do at Atitlán Lake with kids!
More Amazing Things to Do In Guatemala:
If you’re planning a trip to Guatemala or want to come back for more, you’ve come to the right place! From the best destinations to kid-friendly activities, I’ll share my love for my home country. Here are amazing things to do in Guatemala to make your trip a memorable one:
The capital city is full of fun things to do. However, kid-friendly activities are not always easy to find. So I thought I would share the best things to do in Guatemala City with kids. And the best part is most are not only fun but also educational activities; a huge plus for any parent!
Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Antigua Guatemala is a colonial city rich in history and culture. But finding kid-friendly activities can be somewhat of a challenge. So I wanted to share with you all the best things to do in Antigua with kids. All of these activities are family-friendly but are also great for adults.
One of the most beautiful destinations in Guatemala, Río Dulce is often overlooked. This area overflows with beautiful nature, colonial history, unique culture, and fantastic food. This quick guide to Rio Dulce covers the best things to do, where to stay, and what to eat.
Here is a guide to visiting Tikal that includes everything you need to know before seeing the most spectacular Mayan ruins in the world. It is a great starting point for enjoying the many adventures the Petén region offers.
If you haven’t walked along beautiful black sand beaches, you are missing out on a magical experience! Some of the best beaches in Guatemala are on its Pacific coasts, places of deep chill, and stunning wilderness. Guatemala’s beaches are full of palm trees to relax with an icy beverage on hand.
Paula moved from her native Guatemala to SW Florida with her husband and two children and together they are discovering what it means to live life between two languages.
Paula studied architecture and now makes a living as a freelance writer,traveler and amateur photographer.She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala.She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on travel,food and bicultural and bilingual parenting .
When she is not on a plane or road trip she likes to create recipes inspired in the flavors of her native Guatemala.