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Santiago Atitlán

Santiago Atitlán is the largest of the lake communities, with a strong indigenous identity. Many atitecos (as its people are known) proudly adhere to a traditional Tz'utujil Maya lifestyle. Women wear purple-striped skirts and huipiles embroidered with colored birds and flowers, while older men still wear lavender or maroon striped embroidered pants. The town's cofradías (brotherhoods) maintain the syncretic traditions and rituals of Maya Catholicism. There's a large arts and crafts scene here too. Boatbuilding is a local industry, and rows of rough-hewn cayucos (dugout canoes) are lined up along the shore. The liveliest days to visit are Friday and Sunday, the main market days, but any day will do.

Santiago is worth a trip to visit the home of the Maya spirit Maximón (mah-shee-mohn). He changes house every year, but he's easy enough to find by asking around (would-be guides will approach you at the dock).

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Santiago Atitlán.


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