Things to do in Sololá Department

Our most recommended things to do in Sololá Department

From Antigua: 3 Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan Day Tour

1. From Antigua: 3 Mayan Villages on Lake Atitlan Day Tour

This is a real immersion in the Mayan culture and you will see the lifestyle of the Mayan people. See how ancient technology is used for textile manufacture as you visit three Mayan villages around Lake Atitlan. The departure is from Antigua, with a 2.5-hour drive to Panajachel (Lake Atitlán). Then, visit San Juan la Laguna, San Pedro, and Santiago Atitlan, returning at the end to Panajachel. This is a round trip around Lake Atitlan, and there will be a one-hour stop in every town. Admire the colorful town of San Juan. Visit its attractions down the main streets such as galleries and women's coops, and witness a chocolate and coffee production demo. Then, explore San Pedro. A small town populated by Mayan Tzutujil. Discover its interesting sights and learn about the local culture there. Lastly, make a stop in Santiago Atitlán, where you can make a visit to a deity revered by the locals and visitors. Its market day is very colorful, and you can visit Santiago Apóstol Parish Church, built in the colonial times in the Renaissance style.

Explore San Juan - Full-Day of Cultural Sharing

2. Explore San Juan - Full-Day of Cultural Sharing

You have a full day to explore San Juan, the “Swiss village” of Lake Atitlan. You will spend approximately 5 hours on a guided walking tour where you learn about the unique changes that have transformed this Tzutujile Mayan village into a model community. Visit art galleries, woman's weaving cooperatives, a medicinal and curative plant garden operated by the comedrones (mid-wifes), a coffee tour, the school and library, confradia shrines, and even the mayor’s office. You will meet several families, visit with them about how their lives have changed through experiential tourism. See a traditional children’s dance performance, and learn about the story behind the dance. Enjoy lunch with local recipes from this area, or if you prefer enjoy a cheese sampler platter with over 20 cheeses, all from Guatemala. (Lunch not included in tour price). Several famous painters are from San Juan and we visit their galleries to see them at work. The village has over 40 public murals depicting important elements of the Mayan culture, the Mayan calendar and counting system. Your guide will explain the meaning behind each mural; including the Mayan story of creation, ceremony, counting system and the development of mathematics and the 5000 year old calendar.  Women Weavers and Nuestra Artesania includes demonstrations showing how the beautiful fabrics are made; from harvesting the cotton, to spinning it into yarn, dieing the yarn, and then creating one of-a-kind fabrics with the back strap loom. The Qomaneel center is a medicinal and curative herb garden operated by the midwives of San Juan. You are guided through the garden and given samples of each plant along with a description of its curative powers. All natural soaps, teas, and shampoos are made on the premises.   Learn about the confradia system and how it helps keep the traditions, both Catholic and Mayan. This tour gives the visitor a little bit of all that Guatemala has to offer. 

Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

3. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour with Shared Boat Trip

Cruise across Lake Atitlan and visit the villages of San Juan La Laguna on this full-day shared sightseeing tour. Ringed by 3 volcanoes on its southern flank, Lake Atitlan is the deepest lake in Central America. Departing from Panajachel, at the gateway to the lake, your private guide will take you on a scenic shared boat trip before exploring some local textile communities and the Mayan villages of San Juan La Laguna. Get amazing views of the Atitlan, Toliman and San Pedro volcanoes, as you experience for yourself why the area became such a Mecca for beatniks and bohemian writers such as Aldous Huxley. Capture the scent of coffee plantations, and then try some freshly ground coffee. Here, you can immerse yourself in the laid-back vibe of the Tz'utujil Mayans and turn the noisy dial of modern life down to zero.

Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City

4. Lake Atitlan Full-Day Tour from Guatemala City

Spend a day on Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America, on a full-day trip from Guatemala City. Enjoy a cruise along the waters, and visit nearby villages. Departing from Guatemala City in the morning, travel to Panajachel. Then take a public boat across Atitlán and visit Santiago Atitlán, where you will learn about the local saint; Maximon. Enjoy the vibrant colors and local flavor of this village as you experience the traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Santiago is the most popular lakeside settlement outside Panajachel, and many atitecos (as its people are known) cling to a traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Women weave and wear huipiles (tunics) embroidered with brilliantly-colored birds and flowers, and the cofradías towns maintain the ceremonies and rituals of tradition — the syncretic traditions and practices of Mayan Catholicism. There’s also a large arts and crafts scene here as well.  You'll then be given free time for lunch, after which you’ll be returned to Guatemala City via Antigua Guatemala.

Lake Atitlán Boat Tour

5. Lake Atitlán Boat Tour

Start the day with a trip from Antigua or Guatemala City to the Maya town of Panajachel. During the drive there will be a brief stop in Katok, a very famous restaurant where you can indulge in a hot drink. Once at Panajachel, it's time for a boat trip to cross Lake Atitlán and visit the Tzutuhil Village of Santiago de Atitlán. In this village you will visit the confraternity of the local saint named Maximon or Ri Laj Mam, visited by people all over the world who come to ask for health and prosperity in their lives. The lake itself owes its grandeur to its enormous size and spectacular volcanic setting. Three large volcanoes, Atitlán Tolimán and San Pedro, rise gracefully from its southern shore, creating breathtaking views around the area. You will experience these views and the traditional practices still carried out by the Maya-Tzutujil and Cakchiquel women who live around the lake. After a short transfer, we will have lunch at one of the most exquisite restaurants of Panajachel. While in town, guestes will also Santander Street and experience its vast, bustling handicraft market.

San Pedro La Laguna: Sunrise Hike to the Indian Nose

6. San Pedro La Laguna: Sunrise Hike to the Indian Nose

Climb to the summit above where the mountains meet water. The Indian Nose is the mountain on the northwest shore of Lake Atitlan. Also called Rupalaj K’istalin, this  2550 meters tall mountain presents one of the most rewarding climbs of Lake Atitlan. In addition to viewing the sunrise over a chain of volcanoes and then onto the pristine waters, this climb provides great views over the San Juan and San Pedro la Laguana villages. The climb takes about 30 minutes beginning in either of these villages.  Your guide will meet you at your San Pedro la Laguana accommodation, where you will then catch a shuttle bus to the beginning of the hiking trail. It is much more enjoyable and easier to begin the hike in the village of Santa Clara la Laguna, meaning that the pick-up time from your hotel is 3:45 AM, to be able to make the sunrise. 

Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour From Antigua

7. Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour From Antigua

Your 10-hour excursion begins with a drive into the western highlands of Guatemala. The region is home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples. When you arrive at the Chichicastenango market you’ll begin your walking tour. The market is at the center of the town and is the heart of commercial life for maxeños, the natives of Chichicastenango. Every Thursday and Sunday merchants head to the central plaza to sell their products in this impressive indigenous market that has changed very little over the centuries. Explore the pathways of the market and admire the colorful handicrafts and produce offered by the local people of the region. In Chichicastenango, you’ll also visit Santo Tomás Church, built in 1540 over the base of a pre-Hispanic temple. This church is a splendid example of colonial architecture, and the Mayan and Latino influence is evident in both the interior and exterior of the building. After exploring the market you’ll enjoy a delicious lunch (not included in the tour price). Next you’ll continue to the town of Panajachel, located at the edge of Lake Atitlan. Take a walk along Santander Street and enjoy the spectacular views of Lake Atitlan, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The volcanoes Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro form a natural frame for the lake. Lake Atitlan has a surface of 125 square kilometers and sits 1,560 meters above sea level.

Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

8. Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen: 3-Hour Cooking Class

Experience Guatemala in an authentic and personal way as you discover the flavors of Guatemala cooking at the Lake Atitlan Maya Kitchen. A 3-hour cooking class will help you understand how Mayan culture and Spanish colonial influences produced a variety of mouth-watering dishes. You’ll have lots of hands-on fun learning how to prepare up to 3 authentic Guatemalan dishes during this class. Learn how to prepare traditional recipes and come away with all the skills you need to prepare them in your own kitchen. If you like you can visit the market with your instructor to purchase the ingredients, or leave the chef do the shopping without you. After your lesson you’ll have a sufficient amount of the prepared food to feed your family or other group members. You’ll take home a printed copy of the recipes as well. The instructor will demonstrate the preparation of each recipe with explanations so you’ll have a complete understanding of the ingredients and the process. Private classes can be arranged for individuals, in addition to the shared classes for small groups. The Mayan cooks in the program are native to Lake Atitlan, and they carry on the rich traditions and culture that are expressed in the food. If you choose to include a market visit with your cooking program, you should plan on an additional 1-2 hours. Note that the instructors speak English or Spanish, or a little of both. All proceeds support the community of Santa Cruz La Laguna through the local nonprofit Amigos de Santa Cruz which runs education and economic empowerment programs (check out amigosdesantacruz.org or Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation on Facebook for more information) Classes are taught by Claudia, a local graduate of Amigos' culinary program, and run for 3 hours with a plated 3-course lunch included on the patio overlooking Lake Atitlan. 

Santa Cruz: Hidden Waterfalls & Secret Paradise Hike

9. Santa Cruz: Hidden Waterfalls & Secret Paradise Hike

The day begins in Santa Cruz la Laguna, the rugged north shore of Lake Atitlan. The north shore of Lake Atitlan has no true road access, so you will be hiking along ancient paths that have been used by the Kachekel Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our hike takes us several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan for breath taking views of the famous volcanoes. Then descend into the Pumpatin Canyon for a nature walk along the banks of the river. You will experience two different ecosystems as we walk from the upper lake shore into the narrow canyon. The further into the Pumpatin Canyon we hike, the more waterfalls we see. We have the potential to find up to 5 waterfalls. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river, and take a swim if you desire.

Solola Market and Mountain Villages Tour

10. Solola Market and Mountain Villages Tour

See the local handicrafts from this region, and shop if you wish.  However this tour is less about shopping and more about sharing the Mayan culture.  You will find the people warm and welcoming, and more of the Kachekel Maya dress in traditional traje (clothes).  Even the men still dress in traditional clothes. You will visit many interesting sights unique to this location including the local government office, and the indigenous mayor's office.  Learn how and why the two mayor's exist side by side.  Your guide can explain about the Mayan calendar and teach you about the unique Mayan counting system. Full day trip takes you high into the mountains above Lake Atitlan and features the Solola market, small farms, and Mayan villages. Drive through maize and terraced vegetable fields, coffee fields, old growth forest, and into the cloud forest.  Visit a sacred Mayan site with the chance to witness a Fire Cleansing Ceremony.  The day begins in Panajachel and the start of our adventure. You drive along ancient roadways that have been used by the Kachekel Maya for centuries.  You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maize and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.  You can visit a sacred Mayan site where rituals are performed by the local shamans, and make your own offering at the alter. This rugged and remote area has barely been touched by the outside world.  Our drive takes us 2500 feet above the waters of Atitlan for breath taking views and pristine scenery.  We drive into the countryside to visit the small mountain village of Conception.  The road to this village has been paved for less than 10 years. The town is especially proud of its beautifully maintained church built in 1612.  Visit the confradia of Saint Frances and a lesser known Maximon.  Learn about the confradia systems and why they are important to the people of Guatemala.

Top sights in Sololá Department

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What people are saying about Sololá Department

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 83 reviews

Had a great time! The tour was extremely organized, with on-time pick up from my hotel in Antigua directly to Lake Atitlan, wth a boat to take us between the various villages. Freddy was an awesome tour guide! And our driver was also very nice - we experienced hale on the way back to the hotel and he made sure we were safely taken care of.

Wow what an amazing cultural day at the famous Chichicastenango market. It was unfortunate to see how the community has been negatively impacted by low tourism during the pandemic. We really enjoyed shopping, learning about the history, and marveling at the beautiful handmade items.

You got to know the history about the Mayans. Saw the market and the lake. Wish we had more time to buy stuff but it’s ok. Saving money. The best part was. There were two other local guides at the market that took you around so you wouldn’t get lost and helped translate.

Great tour! If you are interested in learning more about mayan culture or how cristianity has merged with local religion you should definitely give it a go.

Very good private tour, spanish guide Elena was amazing, many activities! Very recommended