Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán is a must-visit for its water activities, panoramas and hikes up the nearby Atitlán and San Pedro volcanoes. If you’re on a budget, you’ll find many hostels in the small Mayan towns along the shoreline, some with waterfront access and expansive views. From Panajachel to Santa Cruz, here’s our pick of the best hostels in the area – bookable with Culture Trip.
Just a short walk from Casa Cakchiquel, a cultural center, Selina Atitlán is a great stay for digital nomads who need to combine work with pleasure. Rooms include four-, eight- and 10-person dorms and private lofts, all tastefully designed. Take morning yoga classes before setting up in the comfortable co-working area. Other shared spaces include a bar, a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a movie room and a fully equipped communal kitchen.
This ecolodge in San Juan has fantastic vistas of the Rostro Maya (also known as Indian Nose) mountain. It offers various ecologically built bungalows with thatched roofs, including a dorm that sleeps up to eight. At the veggie restaurant, many ingredients are sourced directly from the on-site organic garden; there are also vegan dishes such as courgette curry.
With its prime lakeside position, La Iguana Perdida, in San Pedro, is a great place to unwind for a few days. The lush grounds are the real star of the show here, with plenty of spots to snooze under shady palm trees. Accommodation options include private doubles and eight-person mixed dorms – there’s also a treehouse-style dorm – and will suit all budgets.
Come for the complimentary beer – if you purchase a three-course family dinner at the on-site restaurant – that gives this Santa Cruz hostel its name, and stay for the glamping near the shoreline of Lake Atitlán. The well-ventilated tents are private or shared and come with partial volcanic and lake views. Free Cerveza also has a bunch of fun activities, including stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
The colonial-style Mikaso is a top choice for those looking for a budget base in San Pedro La Laguna. Its 15 double rooms and two spacious dorms sit right on the shoreline of the lake. Admire the views of Indian Nose and Lake Atitlán’s north shore from one of the hostel’s two hot tubs on the terrace. Other shared amenities include the kitchen and pool table, while massage treatments are available on request.
As a social place with an excellent common area and well-stocked kitchen, there’s always something going on at the Dreamboat Hostel in Panajachel, the biggest town on the lake. The cozy dorms are super clean, and there are also private doubles. Do eat at the on-site restaurant, Gunny’s Meat, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hostel also has a rooftop pool bar – primed for floating beer pong – and in-house SUP rentals to explore the water.
This San Pedro-based hostel has an excellent lakeside location with many adventures nearby and provides a comfy stay. The cozy rooms have a homey feel to them, while the hammocks in the garden are perfect for catching a siesta under the palm trees. If you feel like staying in, dine at the on-site restaurant under the covered terrace, and head to the billiards room for a late-night match with new mates.
With an ideal lakeside location in San Pedro, the welcoming Zoola features vibrant shared spaces and simply designed rooms. While away an afternoon in the swimming pool, accompanied by lake views, then dry off on the deck. In the evening, stay in for dinner under the A-frame tented dining room, where you can munch on Guatemalan classics and comfort food such as pasta or burgers.
Looking down at the lake from an elevated position, Mandala’s Hostal in San Pedro is a great accommodation option. Depending on your budget, book into a dorm or private room, complete with lake and volcanic vistas; all are cozy and have a homey feel. The terrace, complete with hammocks, is a lovely spot for a siesta. It doesn’t have a pool but is within walking distance of the lake.
In the village of San Marco, the ecofriendly Hostel Del Lago sits alongside the lake, and those who practice yoga will adore the waterside yoga platform. It also houses a Spanish-language school and a wellness center offering holistic treatments and workshops. The family-run hostel has an overall rustic, hippie feel, with the doubles and dorms being simply decorated with feature walls and Guatemalan bed throws.
San Pedro is the biggest party town on Lake Atitlán, and Mr Mullet’s is at the heart of all the action. Sitting on the main drag, a stone’s throw from the lake, this hostel houses one of the best bars in town and throws themed parties every weekend. Dorms house between four and eight people, and there are also private rooms. A breakfast buffet is included.
This is an updated version of an article originally written by Patrick Foot.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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