Skip to Content

How To Get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan [2024]

Planning a trip from Antigua to Lake Atitlan? Find out the best transportation options to get there, so you can choose one that suits your budget and preferences! 

Located to the northwest of Antigua, Lake Atitlan is one of the most sought-after destinations in Guatemala. It is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world (if not THE most beautiful!) and NEEDS to be on your Guatemala travel itinerary.

There is plenty to do in the area, whether you’re looking for thrilling watersports or a relaxing time by the lake, but how do you get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan in the first place? 

The distance from Antigua in Guatemala to Lake Atitlan is 54.3 miles (87.4 km), and you can make the journey in approximately 3 hours. There are quite a few transportation alternatives to consider, all of them detailed in this post. Check them out!

How to get from Guatemala City to Lake Atitlan

Book a Private Transfer from Antigua to Panajachel

The most hassle-free and personalized option is booking a private transfer from Antigua to Atitlan. You’ll be picked up from your hotel at your chosen time and taken to Panajachel, a town on the north shore of Lake Atitlan. 

Prices for the private transfer from Antigua to Panajachel vary depending on the number of people traveling. You can arrange your transfer for up to 3 people for $190, or up to 12 people for $265, with several options in between. 

If you’re on a budget, it would only make sense to book the private transfer if you’re a large group (9 or more passengers), otherwise, it’s more expensive than taking the shared shuttle. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

 👉 Panajachel is the only town in the area where private transfers arrive, so if you’re staying in any other town, the driver will leave you at Panajachel dock where you can take a public boat or arrange a boat transfer with your hotel to get to your final destination. 

Some mid-range and luxury hotels include a complimentary boat transfer, so make sure to check with them first. 

Take the Shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan

If you want an economic means of transport or are traveling on your own, then your best bet is to take a shared shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan

It takes longer because it will stop at several different hotels to pick up passengers and then drop them off, and it isn’t as comfortable as having your own car or van, but contrarily to the private transfer, you can take the shuttle from Antigua to Panajachel, to San Marcos La Laguna, or to Santiago Atitlan, so your options are wider. 

Again, if you’re staying in a different town, like San Pedro La Laguna or Santa Cruz La Laguna, you’ll have to take the shuttle to Panajachel and be left at the dock, where you’ll take the boat transfer arranged by your hotel or a public boat. The public ferry takes 30 minutes to get to San Pedro and 10 minutes to get to Santa Cruz, costing $3 and $1 respectively. 

▶️ The shuttle to Panajachel takes around 3 hours to arrive, and the one-way trip costs $25. 

There are 4 daily services, the first one departing at 5.30 AM and the last one at 4 PM. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ If you’re taking the Antigua to San Marcos La Laguna shuttle you have two journey options: one at 8 AM and the other one at 12.30 PM.

 The journey lasts around 4.5 hours and the ticket costs $27. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

▶️ The Antigua to Santiago Atitlan shuttle journey is the longest, taking around 6 hours. 

There are two services, one at 5.30 AM and another one at 7 AM, and the one-way ticket costs $48. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Take an Uber or Taxi to Lake Atitlan

This is the most convenient option if you’re looking for how to get to Lake Atitlan fast and head directly to your final destination. Uber works well in Antigua, or you could book a taxi to pick you up at your hotel and drive you to your final destination. 

Most taxis and Ubers will drop you off in the main towns, like Panajachel, San Pedro, or San Marcos. If you’re headed to some other village, though, you can ask them if they can drop you off there, or else you can get off at the Panajachel dock to take the ferry.  

While this is one of the most hassle-free alternatives, along with the private transfer, it can also be one of the most expensive ones, so it’s not ideal if you’re on a budget. 

Ride the Chicken Bus from Antigua to Lake Atitlan

The chicken bus is the cheapest transfer Antigua-Lake Atitlan at only $6, although it’s not the most comfortable nor the safest option. In fact, I’d only recommend it if you really can’t spare another dollar for your transportation. 

For starters, the schedule is limited to once a day at 7 AM, and it’s suggested that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to ensure the bus doesn’t leave earlier and to get your spot. If you miss it, you’ll have to choose some of the other transportation options or wait until the next day. 

It’s also a somewhat long and bumpy ride, and while the roads can be narrow or winding, there’s not much regard for speed limits, and the vehicles are not that well maintained, so it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. Pickpocketing is also common as the chicken bus gets cramped, so you should be mindful of your belongings

That said, if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind the discomfort, the Antigua to Lake Atitlan chicken bus is a good way to get to Panajachel, from where you’ll catch the boat transfer if you’re headed somewhere else. 

Go On a Day Tour to Lake Atitlan from Antigua

If you don’t plan to stay in the area and would only like to take a day trip from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, the best way to make the most of your time is to join a tour! Check out these amazing options below. 

➤ The Lake Atitlan Sightseeing Cruise is a great way to explore the area, as you’ll embark on a cruise around the lake, completely surrounded by volcanoes, and also visit the village of Santiago Atitlan and Panajachel. Hotel pick up and drop-off is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ You could also choose this Private Antigua to Lake Atitlan tour which includes a stop at a spectacular lake viewpoint, and also a boat tour with visits to several surrounding villages. Private transportation from and to your hotel is included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Rent a Car in Antigua

Renting a car to travel from Antigua to Lake Atitlan might be the best option if you want to manage your own schedule, making photo stops along the way, and being in control of the itinerary.

Only confident drivers should venture to make the journey, however, as there are many winding mountain roads, and there can be heavy traffic.

SAFE TIP: Whether you’re driving from Antigua to San Pedro, San Marcos, or Panajachel, you should find a safe parking spot to leave the car while you explore or go on a boat tour around the lake, as break-ins are unfortunately not uncommon. 

It’s also advisable that you make the Lake Atitlan to Antigua journey during daylight, so if you plan on enjoying a full day on the lake, you should find accommodation and drive back the next morning.  

Antigua to Lake Atitlan FAQ

How far is Lake Atitlan from Antigua?

The Antigua to Lake Atitlan distance is 54.3 miles (87.4 km)

Is Lake Atitlan worth visiting? 

Lake Atitlan is a beautiful destination in Guatemala, worth the visit not only for the spectacular scenery but for its charming villages and variety of attractions. Getting to Lake Atitlan is fairly easy and you’ll be immediately bewitched. 

How much is the shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan?

The Antigua to Atitlan shuttle (to Panajachel) costs around $20 at the time of writing. 

  • Stefania Guglielmi

    Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

Alicia Diller

Wednesday 31st of January 2024

Thanks for all the info and links, you just saved me so much time planning!

Stefania Guglielmi

Sunday 4th of February 2024

You're so welcome! Have a great trip.