What to do in Panajachel? Panajachel is in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Panajachel (also called Pana or Gringotenango) is a small town on the North shore of Lake Atitlán and is one of the major tourism areas in Guatemala. The sunsets from Panajachel are without question the best on the lake and the local market offers some of the freshest and cheapest produce around. Author Daphne lived 5 months in this beautiful town and would like to share these 20 amazing things you absolutely must do in Panajachel, Guatemala with you! Enjoy!
Take a weaving class at Maya Traditions Foundation
During a backstrap weaving class with Maya Traditions Foundation you can create your own scarf or wall adornment design. The backstrap loom has been used by Maya women for thousands of years to create cloth that is both stunning and functional. When booking a backstrap weaving class with Maya Traditions Foundation, you not only have fun and learn about the entire process, but you also help to empower women and to preserve an ancestral culture! This is really a recommendation!
Visit the local market in Panajachel
Nothing is more fun than strolling through a market where local vendors are offering their wares. Most of the local markets around lake Atitlán are vibrant, colorful and filled with exotic smells. The local market offers some of the freshest and cheapest produce around.
Watch the sunset in Sunset Café in Panajachel
The sunsets from Panajachel are without question the best on the lake. Order some nachos and a beer and watch the sunset from Sunset Café.
Check out the sunset down by the cemetery of Panajachel
My favorite place in Panajachel to see the sunset is from the beach down by the cemetery of Calle De Los Salpores. From here, the setting sun paints the clouds and volcanoes in brilliant oranges, pinks, and purples. Since I only lived five minutes away from here, I almost visited every day to have a walk with the dogs and see the sunset.
Make a panoramic photo of Panajachel and lake Atitlán
A little outside Panajachel, you can find the Mirador San Jorge. At this viewpoint, you can make a great photo of Lake Atitlán and Panajachel.
See one of the many waterfalls of Panajachel
When you take a good look around Panajachel, you can see several small waterfalls located at the surrounding hills. Close to the Mirador San Jorge, you can find a great waterfall from, I guess, about 10 meters high. Really worth a stop and a photo!
Visit the Reserva Natural Atitlán in Panajachel
This nature reserve contains a former coffee plantation that is reclaimed by natural vegetation, waterfalls, a herb garden, a possibility for zip lining, and different kinds of animals like spider monkeys, pisotes, butterflies, and birds. Although it’s a bit pricey at 55Q a person, it’s definitely worth it.
Sweat out the toxins in a traditional Mayan sauna: a temazcal
Relax at a traditional Mayan sauna (temazcal) to sooth your body with aromatic and curative herbs (usually heated with firewood). Hotel San Buenaventura de Atitlán has a great temazcal!
Learn Spanish in Panajachel
Jardin de America is a fully accredited, total immersion Spanish school, offering one-on-one intensive training by native Spanish speaking teachers.
Take a photo at the docks in Panajachel
Some parts of Panajachel are not overwhelmed by tourists, for example the docks at the cementario. Take a beautiful photo here of yourself on the docks!
Go shopping at Calle Santander in Panajachel
Panajachel is one of the most built-up and touristic places on the lake, but it’s also got the best market to buy textiles and other souvenirs. Be sure to browse the many stalls of this extensive handicrafts market, which has an impressive variety of bags, clothing, blankets, belts and hammocks.
Drink a coffee at café Loco in Panajachel
This Korean-run cafe is heaven for coffee connoisseurs. I spent a lot of time enjoying all the different (ice) coffees on their menu. The café has a membership card and great youthful staff!
Kayak at lake Atitlán
Rent kayaks and enjoy some time splashing about in the water.
Visit the church of St. Francis in Panajachel
This old church has some beautiful historic statues of St. Francis and our Lady at the altar. There is a large and pretty empty square in front of the church. Usually the church is not busy and is free to visit.
Take yoga or a workshop at La Casa Cakchiquel in Panajachel
Casa Cakchiquel is the cultural heritage of Panajachel. You can learn about history, take workshops, or do yoga. I followed yoga classes by Gema at Casa Cakchiquel and really enjoyed this! Gema is a very patient, kind, funny, but also a very professional teacher. She incorporated many different yoga sequences and meditations within the classes and always corrected me when necessary. Great experience!
Go paragliding from Panajachel
Panajachel is a great place for paragliding! For just 90$ you get the chance to soar over the lake for about an hour. For more info, check out Real World Paragliding.
Learn about art and films at La Galeria in Panajachel
If you are an art lover you should focus the amazingly beautiful house, also called La Galeria Panajachel, that has a gallery that holds a number of the hallucinatory landscapes, an exhibition space and cultural center, hosting lectures, films and occasional concerts.
Visit the cementerio in Panajachel
Consider a visit to the cemetery in Panajachel. The dead are honored here by being buried amid their favorite colors. The beauty of this place belies the fact that it is a cemetery. You will see gorgeous flower arrangements decorating the tombs. If you have the change, you should visit the cementerio during the day of the dead, Saturday 02 November. This multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. The tombs will be repainted and decorated with flowers and other decorations. Outside the cementerio food stalls will sell local food and snacks and you can play games and gather with your family. I felt honored and lucky to be there, admiring another facet of the colorful culture of Guatemala.
Learn about chocolate at the ChocoMuseo in Panajachel
Guatemala Chocolate has a rich history in Guatemala. In the ChocoMuseo you will not only find yourself in a free and interactive place full of chocolate secrets (like its history, its nature, its production and fun facts). You will also encounter a wide range of chocolate themed products. There is also a little shop where you can buy handmade chocolate, chocolate medicines and chocolate bathing products.
Join a fisherman on lake Atitlán
As the number and size of fish being caught in Panajachel is decreasing, it’s becoming more difficult for fishermen to make a living. Luckily tourism is on the rise and help these traditional fishermen to make an income. You can now join a fisherman in a cayuco, a traditional wooden boat shaped like a canoe, and learn about the traditional fishing process. The fishermen enjoy the company of the tourists and make an income at the same time.
If you’re planning to visit lake Atitlán, be sure to check out Panajachel. Although Panajachel doesn’t have the best night life or hostels, it does have the best selection of restaurants and a lot of amazing things to do. Do you know any other things to do in Panajachel? Let me know in a comment!
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Read more about Guatemala!
- The Faces of Guatemala – proud to be Maya
- Tips for celebrating Día de los Muertos in Guatemala (Day of the Dead)
- A day trip to the Los Pinos Cooperative in Patanatic, Guatemala
- A Backstrap Weaving Demonstration at the Waqxaqi’ Kan Cooperative of Chuacruz, Guatemala
- Tips for visiting The Chichicastenango Market in Guatemala, a day trip to Chichi