Lake Atitlan is a beautiful lake and definitely one of the must see places in Guatemala. The lake is surrounded by many indigenous villages each with its own charm. The main villages to visit if you are going to lake Atitlan are Panajachel, San Pedro, San Marcos, Santiago and Santa Cruz. Getting transportation between the villages is really easy taking boats across the lake. The volcanoes surrounding the lake are: Volcán Toliman (3155 m), Volcán Atitlan (3500 m) and Volcán San Pedro (3025 m).
Panajachel is definitely one of the more touristy villages around the lake Atitlan. There are many hotels and various little bars and restaurant that cater to the tourist some of which are located on the lake shore. You can take a licuado (smoothie) in one of those restaurants and enjoy a beautiful sunset across the lake. It is the most convenient starting point to visit the other more traditional villages around the lake.
Things to see and do in Panajachel: Close to Panajachel you will also find the Reserva Natural Atitlan. The Reserve Natural Atitlan has a great zip line through the forest or if you can hike through the forest and see various species of wildlife and great lake views.
San Pedro La Laguna
San Pedro is the more hippie laid back backpacker spot around lake Atitlan. Some backpackers just come for a couple of nights but often end up staying for weeks or never leave, enjoying the relaxed lifestyle of this little town.
Things to see and do in San Pedro: hike to San Pedro volcano, hike ” indians nose”, rent a a kayak and explore the lake on your own.
San Marcos La Laguna
San Marcos has developed itself as the New Age center around Atitlan. The village is very small and there isn’t much to do unless you come here to do yoga or take a mediation workshop.
Santiago gets the most visitors after Panajachel. The village is famous for its weaving and the town is still populated by the traditional Ztuthujil Maya in very colorful dress. There is a daily market where you can buy all sorts of handicrafts.
Things to see and do in Santiago: visit the town center, hike up to a view point, visit the house where the (in)famous god Maximon is worshiped (his location changes every year).