Travel Tips: Lake Atitlan
Planning a vacation to Lake Atitlan? The information most requested by travelers planning a Guatemala vacation is provided below. Other topics are covered in the links on the right.
Best Time for Travel to Guatemala
The liveliest time of the year is December and January, though the pace quickens in late November. Rainiest months of the year are September and October.
The rain, however, is not as heavy as in many parts of Central America, so June through September is a good time to travel to Lake Atitlan.
If planning to take Spanish lessons in San Pedro la Laguna, you won't need reservations this time of year and can visit and compare schools before enrolling.
Warm, tropical days are followed by cool, breezy evenings around the lake, where the average temperature in the day is mid-70s.
What to Bring
Shorts and t-shirts are fine during the day. Bring a long sleeve shirt or light jacket for evenings, or pick one up from the street vendors. For the trail in San Pedro, bring shoes, especially if traveling in September or October.
Amoebas are common in the tap and lake water. Purified water is recommended for drinking and even for brushing your teeth.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The quetzal was valued at 7.8 US dollars in February 2014. American currency is accepted by most tourism-related businesses, but not if it has been torn, written on or damaged in any way. Twenty-dollar bills and smaller are recommended. Some places will exchange euros and Mexican pesos.
You can change money at banks and travel agencies in Panajachel and San Pedro, as well as in the capital. ATMs are easy to find in Panajachel, but there is only one in San Pedro la Laguna. Western Union and MoneyGram services are available in San Pedro, Panajachel and Santiago.
And you won't have to worry about getting stuck with a wad of local currency at the end of your vacation. You can exchange it (at current bank rates) in the airport just before you pass through security.
Visas and Passports
Visas are not required for citizens of the United States, Canada, or most parts of Europe. All visitors must have a passport. Immigration will stamp your passport for a 90-day stay.
On day 90, you must leave the country for 72 hours, though they just check the date, not the time, when you return. Countries that do not count for this purpose are El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. So most people go to Tapachula or San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico, both eight hours from the lake or Antigua.