How do I get to Santiago Atitlan?

There are various options, listed in with the quickest, most comfortable and costly first.

Private van — We can arrange a private van to pick you up at your hotel or at the airport. If you arrive on an evening flight, we recommend that you spend the night in Guatemala City, as the travel time to Santiago Atitlan is 3.5 hours. With a private van, the driver can take you shopping (cheese, wine, things you cannot find in SA) and make any stops you want along the way.

Cost: Q800 or about $107.

To schedule a private van pickup, please email volunteer coordinator Febe Sosof prior to your departure with all flight arrival information, so that your flight can be monitored. We cannot arrange airport pickups without your airline and flight information. If there are any flight delays, please email Febe with updates. The driver will be waiting for you as you exit the airport. If you cannot find one another, go to the information center and contact the driver (5346-5911) or the volunteer coordinator (4045-5776). Please carry these numbers with you on your flight.

Tourist shuttles  — Shuttles run by Atitrans can pick you up at your hotel or airport. (A reservation is required.) Travel time is five hours to Panajachel. Cost: $25

From there, you can take a boat across the lake to Santiago Atitlán. Cost: $3.50. From the docks you can take a tuk-tuk — a motorized rickshaw taxi — to the Hospitalito. Cost: $1.00

Atitrans can be contacted via email: or phone: (502) 7831-0184/5572-0288. Reservations can be made online:

Chicken Buses (camionetas) — For the foolish traveler, there are second classes buses that leave from CEMA almost every hour until 4:00 pm. Cost: Q35/about $5. Take the green TransMetro public transportation to CEMA which is located about ten miles from the center of the capital.

These colorful buses drive very fast, and you’ll have to share your seat with up to four other people. Your luggage will go on top of the bus. You are seldom allowed to keep it with you. Ayudantes (helpers) will want to help you find your bus. Make sure that you clearly state that you want to go to Santiago Atitlán. The buses have an Atitlán sign in the front window. If not, an ayudante will offer a partial trip, and you’ll have to get off along the route and wait for the Atitlán bus.

We do not recommend the public buses unless you have experience traveling in developing countries. The bus terminals and buses have skilled pickpockets and diversion artists, who find disoriented travelers an easy target.

Category: What to expect