Explore a string of villages around the caldera of Lake Atitlán in this volcanic region, imbued with the rich cultural tradition of Mayan descendants.
The Guatemalan department of Sololá is a scenic region within the country’s volcanic interior. Experience the customs and folklore of Sololá’s indigenous cultures as you travel around the vast expanse of Lake Atitlán, admiring the brightly colored houses in the villages set against the rugged volcanic skyline. Learn about the cultures of the Tzutuhil, Quiché and Kackchiquel people, as well as the Franciscan missionaries who settled here.
The city of Sololá is the department’s major urban center and sits on a mountainside overlooking the lake. Explore the city to see its colonial architecture, such as the Torre Centroamericana. The city bursts into a flurry of color on Tuesdays and Fridays, when the central plaza turns into a vibrant marketplace. Admire the artisanship in the indigenous handcrafts from the highlands and lowlands. See vendors in bright traditional dress and pick up fresh produce. Don’t miss seeing the city’s vivid-looking hillside cemetery, where townspeople are buried in graves painted their favorite colors.
One of the department’s more prominent towns is Panajachel, an easygoing lakeside settlement with an exciting nightlife, waterfront villas and stores selling local crafts. It also provides an access point to several other towns and villages across the lake via boat. Visit Santiago Atitlán beside Santiago Bay to see a 16th-century church or watch unique religious rituals that combine Catholicism with ancient Mayan worship.
San Pedro la Laguna is a pretty town with the lakeshore on one side and rippling corn plantations on the other. Check out Chuazamahi Beach or hire a local guide and climb nearby Volcán San Pedro. Stay in San Lucas Tolimán to experience the town’s busy marketplace and to connect to the Pacific Coast.
The closest airports to Sololá are Quetzaltenango and Quiché regional airports. La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City is 87 miles (140 kilometers) away. Get around the region via colorful “chicken buses” or book direct shuttles. Boat transport is cheap and convenient around Lake Atitlán. Visit between November and February for the dry season or the middle of August to experience the folkloric celebrations of the Nim-Akij Sololá fair in Sololá city.