San Pedro la LagunaGuatemala. It is a fairly laid-back small town across Lake Atitlán from Panajachel. A major mochilero (backpacker) hub. Great food, small and walkable, and safe. Expect anything touristy to be priced touristically. San Pedro is best avoided the last week or so of June and the first week or so of July when simulated artillery shells are set off day and night, and amplified noise never stops.
If you want to avoid the touts by the Panajachel dock, you can also ask a fellow tourist or in one of the stores or restaurants nearby, most of them will be happy to tell you how to get to your hotel. The TukTuk (taxi) drivers will try to get you to go to the Hotel San Francisco, which is the furthest away from the main dock. There is no need to take a taxi to your hotel. All hotels take 1-10 minutes to walk to from the main dock. If you take the first left after getting off the dock, there are a lot of hotels along that road. After walking a couple of minutes, just past a tienda, there is a small alley on your right with a lot of signs for restaurants, bars and hotels (you'll notice signs for ZooLa and Al Suave). This is the way to the "main trail", where most tourists are; it widens after the first stretch, follow the paving. At Al Suave, make a left for Jarachik, Buddha and El Barrio bars, hot tubs, and other attractions.
The official San Pedro tourist guides' association (ASOANTUR) is next to the Panajachel dock and can provide you with anything, from basic directions to complete full coffee tour around the volcano.
- From Antigua: There are two shuttle-bus companies that go directly to San Pedro from Antigua. One charges Q60 and the other Q70. The shuttle bus company, La Ceiba, only charges Q50. They may be contacted via telephone at 5974-8753. They take about 3 hours, including a 15-minute rest break at either a petrol station for food, drink, and to use the restroom. This is the most convenient way to get to San Pedro, there is no need to take a boat from Panajachel. There are excellent views of Lake Atitlan from the mountain road approaching San Pedro. Tickets are available at the travel agency across the street from the Black Cat Hostel in Antigua, and perhaps from other agencies ask. To go by chicken bus, first go to Chimaltenango, then look for buses towards Xela/Quetzaltenango. Get off at the turnoff to San Pedro, Kilometro 148, where there are minibuses and chicken buses that go the rest of the way. The three bus companies listed below also pass through Chimaltenango. Taking one of those and going directly to San Pedro is the way to go. Crossing the road at highway marker 148 is not recommended.
- From Guatemala City: Direct buses from the center of Guatemala City are provided by three San Pedro companies: Transportes Mendez, Veloz San Pedrana and Transportes Wendy. Buses leave at 11AM (Wendy), 11:30AM (Mendez), 12PM (Pedrana), 12:30PM (Pedrana), 2PM (Mendez) and 4PM (Mendez) and pass along 20a Calle between 4a and 5a Avenida, Zona 1. The 4-hour journey to San Pedro costs Q25. Or in the bus terminal, Trebol, direct buses leave every hour from 6AM or 7AM to 5PM or 7PM.
- From Quetzaltenango: Direct buses from the terminal de Buses in zone 3, departure every hour or soo, provided by at least two companies: Veloz Pedrana and transportes Mendez, the 2 1/2-hour journey to San Pedro costs Q25.
- By boat or "lancha" from Panajachel: Q10-20 for locals, Q25-30 for visitors. It is best to bring change with you.
- Hikes. There are a number of popular hikes departing from San Pedro, including the hike up the nearby Volcano San Pedro. Visitors will be informed at the base of the trail for the Volcano that they must pay the fee for a guide, regardless of whether they want one or not; this, however, is false. It is a very small town, so you will see people making money in this way, as there is limited opportunity here.
Another popular location for hiking is Indian Nose, or Mayan Face (Nariz de Indio o Cara Maya). For both locations a guide is recommended, if for nothing else, personal safety.
Trek for Kids is a local hiking company that pays their guides fair wages and uses their proceeds to help local children pay for their schooling.
- Yoga. A locally run yoga space. Classes are run daily Mon to Sat. Usually at 9-10:30AM and 4-5:30PM. Lovely setting to practice yoga under the skies and on the earth. Price Q40
- Spanish-Language School
Private lessons are also available at reasonable rates. Jennifer, a qualified local teacher, has an office located just past Buddha Bar on the main trail, and comes highly recommended. "Clases Privadas 'Fe'" offers teachers with significant experience, materials, and activities all included in a very reasonable price. They can be very flexible with scheduling during the off-season, and will tailor lessons to your interests & needs.
- Kayak rentals available on the far east side of town, on the lakeshore. A pleasant way to explore the lake. Q15/hour. If you go down to the lake and try to rent one, they will usually try to charge you twice as much as it would cost if you bought from an agency.
- Paragliding At least two instructors operate around the lake, one from Panajachel and one from San Marcos. Ask at the tourist office near the Pana dock or in any tourist agency. The price is around US$90 for 10-40 minutes of flight (depending on the weather : the warmer the better).
- Climb the volcano San Pedro Guide is "required" but unnecessary. Price Q100
- Free Movies (various locations)
-Amadaeus (on the main road, down from Allegre if heading to the main trail) shows movies nightly at 5:30PM and 7:30PM
-D´Noz (by the Pana dock) is one of the original traveller restaurants in San Pedro La Laguna and has great breakfast, lunch and dinners with free wireless internet. They also show free movies nightly at 8:30PM. When you get to town stop here first and get some great tips on where to stay and whats going on. Closed Sunday.
-Bistro Nueve Sol (main trail, past El Barrio heading to the Santiago dock) shows movies and documentaries nightly at 7:30PM. Closed Sunday.
- Caza Suenos (up the road to the market from the Panajachel dock). This locally owned shop has jewelery, clothing, and hand-crafted leather goods. If you have time to wait (3-5 days), you can commission a custom-made pair of sandals or moccasins for about Q250.
- Cafe Luna Azul: a little bit west of the Panajachel dock. Great lakeside location with a good place for swimming and tanning. Try the chocolate fudge cake!
- Humus-ya : the best hummus and falafel in town, they also have other Mediterranean food. Cool staff and friendly vibe. Just a few meters away from the main crossroads near the Pana dock, across from the Gym.
Smokin' Joes' BBQEvery Sunday at the Deep End Bar & Pool.
- Nick's Place: it's by the Panajachel dock. Probably the most popular place in town due to its great location. Meals are reasonably priced.
The Buddha:In San Pedro's hip 'Otro Lado' a 5-minute walk from the main dock. Extremely good Asian & gourmet local dishes at very reasonable prices in an astoundingly beautiful setting. It's a three-story bar, restaurant, lounge, cinema & cabaret with an amazing fusion of local and faraway exotic. Great place for travelers to mingle with each other & locals over a game of pool.
- Jarachik: Jarachik is a hostel and a restaurant. Good food here. Every night (weather permitting) there is a bonfire in the garden and restaurant area. Great food. Jarachik is on the path between the Pana and the Santiago docks.
Le Jardin:Run by French expats, this place has one of the coolest patios you'll ever see, with a variety of seating options from a candlelit table to a big group table with pillows for seats. Serves delicious French and Italian food. They use local ingredients and make everything in-house. Pretty expensive for the town, but you can get an amazing meal for under Q83 per person.
ZooLaaddress: path"Laid back" in Hebrew, offers one of the most comfortable places to lounge around with your friends while you enjoy good food and drink at reasonable prices. Has some Israeli items, including falafel, on the menu but the coffee is locally-grown and doesn't include the ground cardamom that you'll find in some middle eastern restaurants.
StreetfoodCheapest food in town, roasted sausages and chicken with beans, guacamole and tortillas.
El Otho HolloFood from Israel, very nice and affordable food.
- Lole's Place is open for breakfast and lunch only, They have great-tasting food for Q15 - 20 a plate. A few meters away from the main crossroads near the Pana dock, under the gym.
The CloverWith magical views of Indian Nose and the lake from the patio and bar, the only Irish bar and restaurant has international food and real Irish stew (a big bowl full of meat, potatoes and carrots in a thick sauce - tasty and filling). All meals include large portions, made from delicious ingredients, great drink specials, live music on weekends.
Cafe AtitlanFollow the trail of colorful coffee beans painted on the cobblestone beside Buddha Bar, and you’ll discover one of San Pedro’s most secluded and peaceful restaurants. The garden offers privacy beneath a big palapa with comfortable seating, as well a table with a big umbrella. Upstairs, the Canadian-style house (lots of wood) has indoor seating and a long terrace with a beautiful view of the lake and lots of flowers and trees. Even better, you get a free espresso with any meal or drink, plus there is free Wi-Fi for customers.
Art Café El Colibriphone: +502 5115 0927address: Zona 2, XetagualVery nice and tranquil place with beautiful garden near the lake. Serves breakfasts and snacks. It has WiFi, computers and laundry too. It is connected with charity project to help local students to go study university. By painting a cup, you can support this project.
Alegre Pubaddress: Panajachel dockBritish pub that also serves good food. Free movies on the roof at 7:30PM.
Nick's PlaceSee under Eat.
Shanti ShantiInexpensive place to chill; good view of the lake.
The BuddhaFree pool table, dart board, Free large screen movies in second floor lounge/cinema, hookah pipes, three floors. Happy Hour from noon-5PM and 8PM-9PM.
The Deep End Bar & PoolDaytime chill place. Free pool use for customers. Bar food and lots of drink options. Free Pool Table, Boccie (pétanque) and a great Treehouse. Famous for its Sunday BBQ with Smokin' Joes' barbecue.
El BarrioA cozy and laid-back bar and eatery on the main path, toward the Santiago Dock. A favorite with local expats.
Jardin Netphone: +502 5115 0927address: On the way to ZoolaNice internet cafe offering salsa and art lessons, WiFi, international calls and Skype. They offer breakfast, hot and cold drinks, massage and laundry service.
phone: +502 5115 0927address: behind Zoola and Colegio BethelVery nice and tranquil place with beautiful garden near the lake. Serves breakfasts and snacks. It has WiFi, computers and laundry too. It is connected with charity project to help student to go study university. By painting a cup, you can support this project!
Hotel San Franciscoaddress: 5a avenida 2-32A popular location as some rooms have a kitchen and a bathroom, and the showers are warm (but not hot). Most rooms come with a great view of the lake and a balcony. This hotel is on the other side of the hill but all the locals know where it is, so start asking around once you reach the top of the hill. Because the quality of the rooms vary, ask to see a few before committing. You can bargain for cheaper rates if you stay 2 or more nights, say that you will look at other hotels to get the best rate.
Casa ElenaClean room with twin beds on the lakeshore. Owned and operated by a friendly Maya family. Relatively basic accommodations but with hot water and decent WiFi.
JarachikLocally-owned Jarachik offers inexpensive dorms and rooms (Q35/45 dorm, Q55 private room w/bathroom; Q75/100 private rooftop room w/bathroom, triple room w/ private bath was Q135 in Dec 2011), a rooftop terrace to chill on, great food and a bonfire most nights, but the owner sometimes puts it out when there are not enough customers. Some rooms are nice, others smell musty so be sure to inspect the room carefully.
Hotel Paraisoaddress: pathOne of the cheapest places to stay, the dorm rooms adjoining the office are only Q10 per person if 2 or more share them (Q15 for an individual). The showers are connected with the 115VAC directly to the plumbing, so it is strongly recommended to turn off the breaker and take a cold shower, otherwise touching the valve handle or the shower head can can be deadly.
Hotel Ti-Kaajaddress: Main Path, near Santiago Atitlan dock, across from Picasso restaurant, near Nuevo SolHammocks, kitchen, warm showers, cats.
address: near Santiago Atitlan dockA Quebec family built this hotel in 2004-2005 right at the lake with a terrace. It offers excellent cuisine and housing facilities in safe and peaceful surroundings, providing 12 rooms for 2, 3 or 4 people, and a dormitory for 6 persons. Each room has its own bathroom with shower and hot water. Meals presented as self-service are served on the terrace on the third floor overlookong the lake. There is also a guest kitchen. Mikaso is a 10min walk from the market and any bar and is therefore ideal for travellers who seek quiet nights in this party village.
Zoolaphone: +502 5534 3111address: pathGood food, and very chill atmosphere. Staff have a reputation around town for being rude. Israeli themed and run. (Q100 for private double room en suite). Walk-in only, no reservations.
address: Zona 2, San Pedro La Laguna3 communal areas and garden. Cook your own meals in the kitchen (with fridge, stove/oven & a personalised basket for your groceries), beers on-site, pool table for free, hammocks. Q30 for a dorm bed, 40Q for a shared private and Q50 for a room. Literally one minute from the bar strip - close enough to crawl home, yet slightly removed from the hustle and bustle. Ask about discounts for longer stays.
phone: +502 4301-2271address: 6 Calle 5-10, Zona 2. San PedroTepepul Kaan is above the "calle Turistica" above Junior's Travel Agency about 100 m left of the Pana dock. Locally owned Tepepul Kaan offers inexpensive rooms (Q50/75 all with private bathrooms), and a rooftop terrace to chill on. The hotel offers clean rooms at better prices than in Guate, and is one of the newer (and cleaner) hotels in San Pedro. Backpacker and family friendly. Tepepul Kaan is also the only hotel that donates a portion of its money (25%) to a local childrens charity.
PinocchioPrivate rooms (some with shared & others with private bathrooms) in 2 buildings around pretty yard & gardens. Hammocks on patio in front of most rooms. 24-hr security. Guest kitchen shared. Wi-fi internet included. Bottled water provided. Great lookout over lake from roof of 3-story main building. Charged Q50 per person (Q150 total) for private bath triple room on 3rd floor (Dec 2011) for 1 night.
Hotel PeneleuTwo tall orange concrete buildings with multiple balconies and terraces with tables and hammocks. Doubles start at Q50 for two people. Friendly owner and kitchen available. Good Wi-Fi and electric sockets all over the place.
- Mikaso hotel is quite expensive, considering it's way off the beaten path closer to the Santiago dock than most of the other places listed, but the coffee is only Q5 a cup and you can use the wifi free on their terrazza overlooking the lake.
- The restaurant Jarachik also has free WiFi for those who buy something to eat. They have a very friendly staff, and great food.
- For coffee lovers try Cafe Cristalinas. They have free WiFi, and an internet cafe for those who do not have computers. The menu is limited, but the coffee is roasted on site. Ask the staff about when they roast their coffee and an explanation of the process.
- D'noz restaurant offers the fastest WiFi in town to its customers and offers a pretty good meals for your buck.
- Cafe Atitlan offers wi-fi internet to customers.
- Pinocchio (hotel/hostel) offers wi-fi internet to guests.
- Orbita Spanish School has free wifi.
However, not all prices are subject to bargaining. For example, hotel rooms, and shuttle buses. All hotels and tour companies must register their services and their prices with INGUATE, the national tourism board, and must pay taxes based on those prices. The business owners are no different from other business owners around the world. They have loans to pay off, investments to recuperate, etc. Remember, "Act locally, but think globally."
This is cheaper and faster than paying Q25 to take a boat to Panajachel, and then Q70 to get from Panajachel to Antigua.
The cheapest way to get in/out are the buses leaving to Xela Monday till Saturday mornings at 4:30, 5, 5:30, 6, 7, 8:00 and 11AM across the street from the Catholic church downtown (top of the hill) Q20-30, or to Guate (Guatemala City) other hours starting from 3AM. if travelling to Antigua let the bus attendant know where you are going and he will let you know where to change buses in Chimaltenango.