I can't say enough about this place where I've spent six months. This country changed me, healed me, and helped me grow. It is a special place filled with so much magic.

In this guide, I'm sharing some things I learned during my travels, what you should know, and some of my favorite places.

You're allowed 90 days upon arrival in Guatemala.

Guatemala has beautiful weather year long, so they call it the land of eternal spring. The rainy season is May-October with typical beautiful morning/early afternoon and rain in the evening where you'll find everything lush and green. The dry season is what you'd think. Beautiful weather all day long

The Essentials

  • Reusable Water Bottle: This is extremely important because the waste system in Guatemala isn't great. Most if not every place has an eco filter that you can easily refill and it's safe.

  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes

  • Day Backpack/Travel Backpack: This 2-in-1 backpack has both a daypack for running around towns and to bring the rest of your belongings. I would NOT recommend a rolling suitcase as it's not practical and can be an inconvenience.

  • Headlamp: it can get dark walking at night at the lake. You can use your phone but it's always good to have one of these handy.

  • Bug spray

  • Earplugs: if you're sensitive to sound, earplugs are a must. Dogs and fireworks are a common noise all around the lake and if you're not used to it, it can keep you up.

  • Quick-dry towel: If you're staying at a hostel or wanting to go swimming this is essential

  • Yoga Mat: You'll def want to do yoga at the lake :)

  • Layers Layers Layers: the lake can get chilly at night and warm in the day.

  • Swim suit: JIC you want to take a dip in the lake or go cliff diving

  • Slip on sandals: I love my Birkenstocks and tevas for the water

  • Good hiking shoes: You will be walking a lot and through all different types of terrains. Comfortable shoes are essential.

  • Poncho: if you're going in the rainy season

A suitcase is not recommended - You will be walking through dirt, hills, and rocky roads. You will also be taking a water taxi to get to the town you're staying at the lake. Something you can carry on your back is best.

Heels or any "fancy" clothes - these are not needed unless you decide to go out a night in Antigua or Guatemala City.

Quetzales - every 100q is around $13 usd

  • Cash is how you pay for things. There will be atms in all main areas in Antigua (Centro) and main towns at the lake like Panajachel, San Marcos, San Pedro and San Juan.

The main language in Antigua is Spanish and around Lake Atitlan the local Mayan language (there are 21 languages) and Spanish. I'd recommend learning basic Spanish before arriving.

When you arrive, you’ll arrive at Guatemala City airport. I love Guatemala City and recommend you not skip on it as some cool parts of the city often get overlooked.

Spend a couple of days in Antigua and head off to Lake Atitlan. You can take a shuttle from the airport to Antigua, which is usually the route most take to break up the long trip to the lake. The ride from Guatemala City to the airport is around 1 hour and 3 hours to the lake from Antigua. Once you arrive at the lake, you’ll arrive in Panajachel and take a boat to the town you’re staying.

The main way of transport to the lake is by boat/tuk-tuk. The boat runs in the morning till around 5 pm. This is something to keep in mind wherever you decide to stay.

Things to note: - Uber in Antigua was a bit sketchy so just make sure no one tries scamming you.

- The chicken bus is the cheapest way to travel around Guatemala but can come with some risks

- We used Atitrans to get to and from Guatemala, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan

  • Hike a volcano

  • Learn Spanish

  • Explore the towns

  • Eat delicious food

  • Visit the ruins + churches

  • Visit the local Mercado

  • Take some classes - yoga, permaculture, weaving, cacao, coffee, jade jewelry making, and more

  • Drink coffee + visit cafes

I've stayed in each neighborhood in Antigua and can say each one is special and unique. There are a lot of hostels around Antigua as well but I've always found incredible options on Airbnb and The Good Hotel.

For my full guide to coffee + food in Antigua click here

The Different Towns

Lake Atitlan has 11 towns around the entire lake. The most common ones to stay at are: San Marcos, San Pedro, San Juan, and Panajachel with some smaller towns that are becoming a little more popular.

Panajachel is the main town where you will enter to get to any of the other surrounding towns. We stayed there at the end of our last trip and while I think Panajachel is a beautiful town with lots to do, I wouldn't recommend staying here. The views aren't as great as the other towns and honestly, neither is the food. I was disappointed with most of the options.

San Marcos La Laguna is my favorite town around the lake. It's considered the "hippie" town but I find it a beautiful blend between locals and expats who chose to live a more conscious life. Here you will find delicious food, tons of yoga classes, and health stores. It's small but special. The night is quiet and the day is alive. Things shut early and there's not much nightlife.

San Pedro La Laguna is a backpackers haven. You'll find a lot of Israeli food, bars, and a more lively crowd. This is a party town so if you like to go out, this is your place.

San Juan La Laguna is a beautiful town with a lot of artisan-made goods. I haven't spent much time here but it's definitely recommended to check out.

Santiago is incredibly beautiful and special. It's secluded from the rest of the towns and takes a while to get to but it's probably the most cultural town with a lot to see and do. Vegetarian food is not really accessible here from what I found but it's worth a day trip.

Jaibalito is one of the smallest towns on the lake with not much to do. There are a couple restaurants that are worth checking out.

Tzununa is my second favorite town around the lake. It's still developing in ways but there's an incredible community around permaculture farms/courses, mushroom cultivating, and more. There are some really beautiful and thought-out restaurants including an Ayurveda restaurant and farm-to-table eats.

San Marcos La Laguna:

Circles Cafe + Bakery

Samsara Garden

Comedor Konojel

Lavalove Cacao


El Buho

Eagles Nest


Granja Tz'kin

Cafe Nuna

Restaurante Balam



El Indigo

Casa Del Mundo


San Pedro


Salud Para Vida

Smokin Joes BBQ

Crown Coffee

Espresso Coffee Bar



Crossroads Cafe

Cafe Loco

Guatemala City is an amazing place filled with delicious food, coffee shops, and more. Most people skip it but I would recommend checking it out for at least a couple of days.


Moonrise Comida Vegana

Restaurante Flor De Lis

Saúl Bistro Lux

12 onzas

Family Bonds Cafe

For any other questions - feel free to reach out via dm or liv@vialiv.com

Antigua is a beautiful colonial city in Guatemala full of charm, volcano views, endless cafes, and beautiful culture. It's a small city where you can walk around in one day. With cafes after every corner you turn, It quickly became one of my favorite places that felt like a dream.

I wanted to create a separate guide solely to the food and cafes in Antigua because it's where I spent the most time! Antigua is also a city that thrives off its daytime scene more than nightlife. As a coffee/coffee-shop lover, this place felt made for me, and for anyone who loves the same, I think this place is just for you. Not to mention, the coffee is top-notch and grown right in the country—something they take pride in.

I'm a vegetarian and found it quite easy to accommodate my dietary needs. I also eat a lot of vegan food and found it fairly easy. There are also alternative milk options at almost every cafe.

The cafe and coffee culture in Antigua is everywhere you turn. Being a big coffee lover - it's a great reason I love this city. There's nothing I love than sitting endlessly at a coffee shop.

Cafe Raiz is the cutest little coffee shop that you can't miss. It has the perfect little window seat looking out at the beautiful Antigua streets. Right across from Samsara and Antigua Bookstore.

H747+4GF, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Stumbled upon this cute little cafe on the main street (5a calle) and fell in love with its charm. The color scheme is right up my alley, the interior is gorgeous (look at that tile), and the coffee was great. This isn't a place to kick it and sip on coffee, but it's great for on the go

5a Calle Poniente 3B, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Artista De Cafe is my favorite cafe in all of Antigua. It's the most beautiful cafe that's simple, clean, and easy to get some work done or have a coffee date. The coffee and pastries are incredible. They have a beautiful outdoor area and great Wifi.

5ta avenida sur no. 34B, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

This was the first place we headed while hunting for Guatemalan coffee, and they didn't disappoint. Delicious coffee, breakfast, and desserts. They have locations all over Guatemala, and it's a great place to get pizza as well!

C. del Hermano Pedro 12, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Fat Cat coffee shop reminds me of the ones all over Chicago. It gives me a comforting feeling when coming in. Great people and coffee!

No. 14 A,, 4a Calle Oriente, Antigua Guatemala 03001, Guatemala

One of my favorite cafes in Antigua. The people are friendly, the coffee is good, and the incredible pesto bagel sandwich.

Callejón del Sol #11 Antigua, Guatemala 03001, Guatemala

This cafe opened up on my last visit, and I fell in love immediately. It's beautiful, the owner is so nice and gave me many recommendations, and the coffee is great. I came here two days in a row. It was that good! :)

5 Calle Poniente.2 Antigua, Guatemala 10101, Guatemala

I love 12 onzas. They have a few locations in Guatemala City that I visited first and one location in Antigua.

4a Calle Ote. 5, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Cute cafe with great food and lots of vegan/vegetarian options.

H748+4W Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Amazing little juice bar right in town. I always stop here when I need a little boost!

No.8, 6 Avenida Sur 8, Antigua Guatemala 03001, Guatemala

Antigua is filled with delicious restaurants and many plant-based and vegan options for people like me who don't consume meat. Here are some of my favorite places around the city.

One of my all-time favorite spots in Antigua is Caoba Farms. I found it on Google maps and didn't know what to expect when we arrived. I booked a farm tour, and we had breakfast beforehand. This place is magical, and the food is delicious. All farm-to-table, and you can literally walk around the farm yourself and see all the produce and poultry on the land.

vegan/vegetarian options

5 Avenida Sur Final, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

Even if you're not a vegetarian/vegan, I can promise you that you'd still enjoy this vegan burger spot just as much (if not more!) I've tried many vegan burgers and nothing has hit the spot like this one. My order is: beyond burger with pickles, onion, lettuce, tomato and mayo.

entire menu is vegan

4 ta calle Oriente dentro del CC La Fuente, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

The cutest little cafe tucked behind the main food square where La Bruja is located. The avocado toast is so good, and it comes with yucca chips! *drool*

vegan/vegetarian options

4a Calle Oriente #14 CC La Fuente Antigua Guatemala, 00000, Guatemala

A great little spot for breakfast. They have a nice breakfast menu where you get juice, coffee, and breakfast for around 35q.

vegan/vegetarian options

5 Avenida Sur #19, Antigua Guatemala 03001, Guatemala

An incredible vegan restaurant with so many options. The mac and cheese, ribs, and cauliflower bites are to die for! They have a great selection of drinks and even offer tapas with wine purchase.

entire menu is vegan

2a Calle Oriente #22, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

This is probably my top place for a tipico (Guatemalan breakfast) in Antigua. The tortillas are made in-house using traditional corn methods. You can also order tortillas to-go!

vegan/vegetarian options

H75C+2X Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

I forgot to take pics, so here is one of the delicious Tamarindo juice that's my favorite. I love just getting rice with egg when I need comfort, but all the curries are pretty good! A great spot for cheap eats and drinks.

vegan/vegetarian options

1 17"A", 03001, 1a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala 03001, Guatemala

Also forgot to take a pic, but the food here is SO GOOD! The caesar salad, drinks, samosas, and more are delicious. Great ambiance for a group or date night.

vegan/vegetarian options

1a Avenida Sur 9, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala

**entire google maps list with all my favorite places**

Hey friends! Happy Holidays! I'm not sure how we're already here LOL but I created a sustainable + eco-friendly gift guide for you. This is a thoughtfully curated guide with things that I either already own/use or are on my wishlist that I feel are great gifts that keep the planet in mind. I also made an effort to support small, woman + BIPOC owned brands. Please support small if you can as this year more than ever! They need all of our support!

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  4. Plant from local nursery or online shop - $10+

  5. Plant Clippings - $0

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