Travel Guide Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala – things to do, where to sleep, and more

Ever heard about Santa Catarina Palopó? Guatemala is more than Tikal and Antigua! The town of Santa Catarina Palopó on the shores of lake Atitlan in Guatemala is known for its geometric patterns on houses and buildings throughout town. You will not find many tourists here and have the chance to explore the real Guatemala! This travel guide to Santa Catarina Palopó, will tell you everything about the town’s best activities and places to overnight.

Santa Catarina Palopó

Santa Catarina Palopó is one of the 19 municipalities of Sololá, Guatemala. It is one of the less-visited towns around the lake, but definitely one worth a visit! This town offers a real authentic, Guatemala experience, as the town is not much developed yet.

How to get to Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala?

Most people visit Santa Catarina Palopó via a small boat (launcha) from San Lucas Tolimán or other villages around lake Atitlán. The small ferryboot (launcha) will cost about Q25 / $3.30 for one way. You can also travel by tuk-tuk or pick-up. When taking the ride to Santa Catarina Palopó you will cross some beautiful landscapes and hills! 

How to get around in Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala?

The most efficient way to get around Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala is by tuk tuk or by foot. Santa Catarina Palopó is pretty small, so you don’t need to walk big distances. 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 Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala?

There are plenty of exciting things you can do in Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala. Examples are seeing the painted houses, enjoying a natural hot spring, swimming in pools with breathtaking views, or learning about art in one of painting galleries. More information below:

See the painted houses in Santa Catarina Palopó

In the town of Santa Catarina Palopó an innovative community project has emerged in the last few years: painting geometric patterns on houses and buildings throughout town. It looks truly amazing and very cozy. The goal is to preserve their weaving designs, promote tourism in order to increase job opportunities, and to use art as a tool for social renewal. Check them out!

Visit the hidden hot spring of Santa Catarina Palopó

This truly is a hidden gem of Santa Catarina Palopó. Not many people, except from the locals (known as Aguas Termales Natural), know about this hot spring. It is a little pond, next to the lake, that is filled with hot water. The water does not get very high, so swimming is impossible, but still it is nice to lay in it or sit in it and enjoy the heat. Just walk down the docks of Santa Catarina Palopó and continue your path all the way to the right. You for sure will find some people bathing in the water.

Watch the local children play sports

At the docks of Santa Caterina Palopó you will find the soccer field. Just sit down and watch the children play. I am sure you will enjoy it. Also don’t forget to enjoy the amazing scenery behind the field.

Go shopping

The women of Guatemala make a stunning sight in their long, woven skirts and huipile tops. Along with their outfits, everywhere you look you will be amazed by weaving products; colorful blankets, scarves, and purses abound. When you leave the docks of Santa Catarina Palopó and just walk the street up towards the Santa Catarina Palopó Church, you will find various little shops where you can buy great local products.

For me buying products at these workshops is not just shopping to me. This is helping sustain a community and feeling a part of cultural preservation. It is knowing the people who made the products and not simply consuming goods. I am sure you will enjoy it!

Visit the church of Santa Catarina Palopó

The Santa Catarina Palopó Church is pretty small, but nice to see and explore. I always love to see the interiors of churches in different countries.

Visit one of the many painting galleries at the Plaza Central

At the Plaza Central, where the church of Santa Catarina Palopó is located, you can find several painting galleries. Visit, for example, the Gallery of Art of Alejandria or Artesanía Maria Magdalena, andlearn about landscapes, indigenous life, still life painting and experimenting with colours.

Kayak at lake Atitlán

Rent kayaks and enjoy some time splashing about in the water.

Enjoy a swim with a breathtaking view in Santa Catarina Palopó

Visit Tzampoc Resort, swim in their pool, while enjoying the breathtaking view of lake Atitlán. Contact the hotel in advance to ask for the availability and prices.

Where to eat in Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala?

Most restaurants in Santa Catarina Palopó 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.

When you want to go for a coffee, I can recommend the Cafe Tuk (coffee cafe) at Plaza Central of Santa Catarina Palopó. Restaurante Palopo at the docks is a great option for a local lunch. If you are more looking for a quick bite, you might want to buy something from the street vendors, or order some papas fritas at Pollo Super Rapidito.

Where to party in Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala?

Santa Catarina Palopó 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 Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala?

If you’re looking for somewhere to completely unwind, Tzampoc Resort is the place. Atitlan Resort Tzampoc is located in Santa Catarina Palopo overlooking the beautiful lake Atitlan. The resort has three different sizes villas with a wonderful view of the lake, a swimming-pool, jacuzzi, sauna and small beauty centre. The resort is a bit pricy, but really worth the money. Room rates differ between 1,000 Q (around € 116,00) and 2,000 Q (around € 229,00) per room, per night (including breakfast). You will get great value for money and a wonderful experience!

Another cheaper option is to book a room at Villa Santa Caterina. This hotel is located just next to the docks and close to the city center of Santa Catarina Palopó. It has a beautiful garden and swimming pool! You already book a room for 1,000 Q (around € 112,00) per night (excluding breakfast).

Do you know any other great things to do in Santa Catarina Palopó, Guatemala? Let me know in a comment!

Author: Daphne

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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