Panajachel's New Zona Viva

The heart of Panajachel’s new zona viva pulses with energy by day and by night, come rain or come shine. This neighborhood boasts the town’s greatest variety of places to dine, drink, dance and be entertained.

panajachel,disco,nightlife,barsThe zona viva begins at the Comercio Dorado, runs up Principal to the Palapa Bar, then heads north up Calle Arboles just past the Circus Bar. It’s shaped somewhat like an inverted pyramid, as seen on the map on page 14. People who lived here in the 90’s will recall this vicinity was Panajachel’s original zona viva, long before the boom along Avenida Santander.

Dining in Pana’s New Zona Viva

At the entrance to Comercio Dorado, Cafe La Parada brews some of the town’s top coffee; the house coffee is superb, as are the espresso and cappuccino. It is a convenient place for a light breakfast or lunch. They serve sandwiches, pastries, croissants, fruit salads, tea, juices, beer, wine and an assortment of other desserts. Great view of the street scene.

Lunch options start with Cheros Pupuseria, where the Salvadoran-style pupusas make a good snack or a filling dinner. The roast chicken is also very good. Cheros will deliver to your hotel (7762-0254).

Partying in Pana’s New Zona Viva

This area is Pana’s “nightlife central,” home to clubs and bars such as Chapiteau, Cafe Atlantisand Circus Bar. Most discos open at 7 PM, and the action starts to kick in around 10. (Travelers with outdated guidebooks: Every weekend is a party in Panajachel, with crowds spilling out into the street after dark.

Disco, Live Music

Circus Bar, which offers new organic meals as well as pizza, has nightly entertainment. Weekends feature the Vagabundos (rumba-flamenco fusion), Circus Bar All Stars and a Latin Ensemble.
Live bands or other entertainment takes place every night.

Swirling lights, lasers, fog and a three-level ornate stage distinguish Chapiteau. With an upstairs area, it is the largest dance place in town, it was a popular spot “back in the day.”Now under new management for several months, Chapiteau presents a wide range of entertainment, from live jazz and Cuban drums to cabaret and local talent show.


The Apart-Hotel is just past the Circus Bar on the right. The best deal in town, and only a ten-minute stroll, is Posada Los Encuentros..

Lake Atitlan, the Most Laid-back Lake in the World