Travel Guide San Lucas Tolimán – Advice on travel, restaurants, nightlife, activities, and more.
San Lucas Tolimán is a small lakeside town around lake Atitlán, Guatemala. It is one of the less-visited towns around the lake, with a 90-95% Highland Maya population. The town offers a real authentic, Guatemala experience, as the town is not much developed yet. This travel guide to San Lucas Tolimán will tell you everything about the town’s best restaurants and activities, but also about San Lucas Tolimán’s nightlife and where you can overnight.
What about San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
With a population of approximately 20,000 people, San Lucas Tolimán sits on the shore of Lago de Atitlan (Lake Atitlan) in the Sololá department of Guatemala. It’s a coffee-growing town and a transportation point on a route between the Interamericana and the Carretera al Pacífico. San Lucas Tolimán is well known for the Volcán Tolimán (Tolimán volcano).
How to get to San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
Most people visit San Lucas Tolimán via bus/boat from Santiago Atilán or via a small boat (launcha) from Santa Catarina Palopó or Panajachel. The small ferryboot (launcha) will cost about Q25 / $3.30 for one way. As the boat thudded across the choppy water, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of lake Atitlan which is ringed by three extinct volcanoes.
How to get around in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
The most efficient way to get around San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala is by tuk tuk or by foot. A tuk-tuk ride will cost around Q5-10 / $0.70-1.35, depending on the time of the day and the distance.
What to do in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
There are plenty of things you must do in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala. Examples are seeing the various murals, a hike to El Cerro del la Cruz, a sunrise hike to Indian Nose, a visit to an organic coffee farm, bird-watching, wandering one textile shop after another, a backstrap weaving class, joining fisherman on lake Atitlán, or learning about chocolate in a chocolate factory. More information below:
Visit the 16th-century Parroquia de San Lucas
The Catholic Church at San Lucas Tolimán from the 16th century is really worth a visit.The Church has a striking colonial structure and is conserved in a very beautiful way.
Hike to the top of Volcan Tolimán
If you love hiking and want to see one of the world’s most surreal sunrises, you have to hike to Volcan Tolimán! Volcan Tolimán is a stratovolcano in Guatemala and has an elevation of 3,158 meters. The hike to the top is not too hard.
Visit the little Parque Central
Go for a walk and visit the Parque Central, the central park of San Lucas Tolimán.
Hike to the Hill of Gold; Cerro de Oro
On the northern foot of Volcán Tolimán is a lesser climbed lava dome, Cerro de Oro (Hill of Gold). The hike and summit provide gorgeous views over Lake Atilan.
Kayak at lake Atitlán
Rent kayaks and enjoy some time splashing about in the water.
Visit the local market
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, colourful and filled with exotic smells. Buy some fresh fruits or try some traditional snacks.
Join a fisherman on lake Atitlán
As the number and size of fish being caught in San Lucas Tolimán 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.
Take a photo at the docks
San Lucas Tolimán is not overwhelmed by tourists, so it is easier to take a beautiful photo here of yourself on the docks!
Do some voluntary work at Friends of San Lucas
Vist San Lucas Mission / Friends of San Lucas and help to alleviate the process of poverty in San Lucas Tolimán. High School, university, church, and community groups often come to visit the San Lucas Mission to volunteer, learn about the efforts in San Lucas, and participate in the cross-cultural experience the mission offers. Short-term volunteers usually participate in projects associated with construction, gardening, coffee processing & picking, and similar tasks. More you can read more information about this organization via this website.
Where to eat in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
Most restaurants in San Lucas Tolimán serve authentic Guatemalan food as opposed to the “gringo food” you find in other towns around the lake. Stop into a traditional restaurant (comedor), for a patin (a local dish) or try one of the other many local dishes from corn! I don’t have a special recommendation for a comedor. Just walk around and find one.
Another really nice option is to go to the Parque Central in the evening. At this park are plenty of food stalls during the night. You can go for barbecue, tacos, gringas, pizza, or other types of meat.
When you have a high budget, you can also eat in a hotel. Hotel Tolimán’s restaurant serves delicious local and international food. Most of the dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients from their own garden. The view from the deck is beautiful and I loved eating breakfast out there every morning. I can really recommend the typical Guatemalan breakfast with oatmeal, sweet bread, black tortillas, eggs, fried banana, beans, local cheese, and some good coffee. While eating your dish, you can enjoy watching the hummingbirds flying around the deck or just enjoy the amazing view.
Where to party in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
San Lucas Tolimán is not a party town. There are only a few little local bars in town, where you can have some late-night drinks. Nothing big, nothing special. If you feel like partying, you better go to a different town around the lake, for example Panajachel. Be aware that buses and launches don’t ride all night.
Where to stay in San Lucas Tolimán, Guatemala?
In San Juan La Laguna, Guatemala you can find around three reasonable accommodations for every budget, ranging from $50 or more per night down to $22 per night, per room.
If you’re looking for somewhere to completely unwind, Hotel Toliman is the place. Hotel Tolimán is tucked between two volcanoes and another high ridge of mountains. The hotel is surrounded by lovely gardens and offers breathtaking views of the lake. It is a good place for travelers with a customary to large budget. Room rates differ between 315 Q (around € 37,00) and 1,000 Q (around € 117,00) per room, per night. When staying with two persons in the cheapest room, it will only cost you around 185 Q (around € 22,00) per person, including breakfast. You can book via Booking.com or Airbnb. You will get great value for money and a wonderful experience!
Another cheaper option is to rent a cabin / house via booking.com. Pink House is a cabin that has three bedrooms. You can either stay with 1 up to 7 people. Rates are calculated per person. For 1 person you pay 190 Q (around € 22,00) per night and for 7 persons around 475 Q (around €55,00), so only € 8 per person.
This article is part of the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can download it, read this article offline and obtain travel directions (by foot, car or bicycle) to the places mentioned in this article. Click here to download it.
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