Welcome to Western Highlands

The mountainous departments of Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán and Huehuetenango are generally less frequented by tourists than regions closer to Guatemala City. But with extraordinarily dramatic scenery and vibrant indigenous culture, this part of the country presents an invariably fascinating panorama. Highlights of any visit include Quetzaltenango, Guatemala's second-largest city, with an ever-growing language-school... Read More

Top experiences in Western Highlands

Travel guides

Starting at $24.99

Image for

Western Highlands activities

$91.75 Day Trips & Excursions

Lake Atitlan Off The Beaten Path: A Day Full of Adventure from Antigua

Your day begins in Antigua with a hotel pick up. Travel through Guatemala's exotic Western Highlands to the caldera Lake Atitlan.Arrive at the gateway to Lake Atitlan, Panajachel. Here you will meet your adventure guide for the day. Travel will be by boat while you are at Lake Atitlan. Choose from many options that include kayaking, hiking, cliff jumping or rock climbing. In addition to the adventure, you can choose to visit one or more of the interesting Mayan villages surrounding Lake Atitlan:Santa Cruz - Small village with no roads feels very exoticJaibalito - Smallest village with a population of 500 Kachekel MayanTzununa - No tourism in this isolated village. See an authentic village untouched by tourismSan Marcos - New age energy center as claimed by visitors young and oldSan Juan - Artesanal village of painters, weavers, medicial plant healers, and the cleanest village on the lake. Reverting to its traditional Mayan name of the village Xe Kuku Abaj.San Pedro - Larger Tzutujil Mayan village and destination for young backpackers from around the worldSantiago - Largest of the villages and still the most traditional in many ways After your day of adventure and discovery, board the shuttle for the ride back to Antigua. Your day will finish with a drop off at centrally located Antigua hotels.

$154 Cultural & Theme Tours

Private Tour: Lake Atitlan Boat Tour and Santiago Village from Guatemala City

Your tour will begin with a pick up at your hotel in Guatemala City. We will take road to The Western Highlands region, home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests, and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous people. This is the region most travelers familiar with Guatemala think about when daydreaming of a trip to this beautiful country. Upon arrival to Panajachel, we will take a public boat to cross Lake Atitlan and visit Santiago Atitlan, where you’ll learn of the local Saint "Maximon". Enjoy the vibrant colors and local flavor of this village.Santiago is the most popular lakeside settlement outside Panajachel, and many atitecos (as its people are known) cling to a traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Women weave and wear huipiles (tunics) embroidered with brilliantly colored birds and flowers, and the cofradías town’s maintain the ceremonies and rituals of tradition, the syncretic traditions and practices of Mayan Catholicism. There’s a large art and crafts scene here as well. Return to Panajachel, you have time to take a delicious lunch (not included)Explore the village of Panajachel is a pre-Columbian town of Kakchiquel origin, settled next to the river with the same name and on the lakeside of Atitlán. The town witnessed the final battle between Spaniards and their Kakchiquel allies against the Tzujiles and it also was a settlement point for the Franciscan missionaries who founded a convent nearby.In the afternoon, you’ll be returned to Guatemala City.

$109.99 Day Trips & Excursions

Private Tour: Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan from Antigua

You will be picked up from your hotel in Antigua. We will take road to The Western Highlands, the region of Guatemala that most travelers think about when daydreaming about a trip to this country. The region is home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests, and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples.Arriving to the town of Panajachel, which sits on Lake Atitlan. Visit Santander Street and enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Atitlan, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Three spectacular volcanoes, Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro, form the natural frame of the lake itself. It has a surface of 125 square kilometers and sits 1,560 meters above sea level.Continue to Chichicastenango Market and begin your walking tour inside the market. It is the center of the town and heart of commercial life for “maxeños” (name given to the natives of Chichicastenango, derivative from Max that means Tomás in Quiché language). The merchants go down every Thursday and Sunday to the central plaza to sell their products in this impressive indigenous market that has changed very little throughout the centuries. Explore the pathways of the market and view the colorful handicrafts and produce offered by the local people of the region.In Chichicastenango, we will also visit Santo Tomás Church, built in 1540 over the base of an archaeological pre-Hispanic temple. This church is a splendid example of colonial architecture, as the Mayan and Latino influence is mixed throughout both the interior and exterior of the building.After exploring the market you will have time to enjoy a delicious lunch (not Included). In the afternoon, enjoy a relaxing return transfer back to Antigua city.

$89.99 Cruises, Sailing & Water Tours

Lake Atitlan, Panajachel and Santiago Village Day Trip by Boat from Antigua

Your tour will begin with pick up at your hotel in Antigua Guatemala. You will take the road to the Western Highlands region, home to quaint and colorful mountain villages, highland lakes, pine forests, and the majority of Guatemala’s indigenous people. This is the region most travelers familiar with Guatemala think about when daydreaming of a trip to this beautiful country. Upon arrival to Panajachel you will take a public boat to cross Lake Atitlan and visit Santiago Atitlan, where you’ll learn about local Saint "Maximon." Enjoy the vibrant colors and local flavor of this village.Santiago is the most popular lakeside settlement outside Panajachel, and many atitecos (as its people are known) cling to a traditional Tz’utujil Mayan lifestyle. Women weave and wear huipiles (tunics) embroidered with brilliantly colored birds and flowers, and the cofradías town’s maintain the ceremonies and rituals of tradition, the traditions and practices of Mayan Catholicism. There’s a large art and crafts scene here as well. Back to Panajachel. In Panajachel you will enjoy a delicious lunch (not Included)Explore the village of Panajachel, a pre-Columbian town of Kakchiquel origin, settled next to the river with the same name and on the lakeside of Atitlán. The town witnessed the final battle between Spaniards and their Kakchiquel allies against the Tzujiles and it also was a settlement point for the Franciscan missionaries who founded a convent nearby.In the afternoon, you’ll be returned to Antigua Guatemala.

$87.95 Outdoor Activities

Indian Nose Peak and Lake Atitlan Sunrise Tour from Panajachel

Convenient hotel pick up from most hotels in Panajachel.  Start time varies depending on the time of year, but most tours start at 4:00am. There will be a 90-minute drive from Panajachel to the trailhead followed by a 30-minute hike to the peak.  Arrive at the peak in time to see the sun rising over the mountains and volcanoes and shine across the 16 mile surface of Lake Atitlan.  Also known as 'The Mayan Face,' and 'Rostro Maya', this is one of the more famous landmarks in this area. From the top you will have superb views of Lake Atitlan and the villages of San Juan and San Pedro la Laguna down below, and have views of most of the 12 villages surrounding the lake. Best of all, you get to take in this sublime sight at sunrise, just as the first rays of the morning light touch the landscape with rosy shades of orange and pink. This Indian Nose hike also includes entrance fees, a guide, bottled water and round-trip hotel transport.Add on a trip to the Sacred Hunters Cave as an extra bonus.  Put on your Indiana Jones hat and come explore this secret place.   See the bones of hundreds of animals that have provided nourishment to the local people. Learn about the Mayan culture while enjoying amazingly beautiful scenery.  Your Mayan guide will help you learn about this culture that remains strong in the Western Highlands of Guatemala.

$44 Outdoor Activities

Trek to Chicabal Volcano and Lagoon

Journey along the natural paths of the volcano and see over 40-Mayan altars that were used in ceremonial services. Learn about the Mayan calendar and its importance to this ancient culture. Wander down the paths and see the incredible and diverse variety of birds that make their home in the cloudy forests of the volcano and Laguna de Chicabal. The Laguna (lake) was formed in a crater of the volcano and has crystal blue waters. Volcán Chicabal is a well-known tourist destination in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. The volcano has a unique crater lake inside of its summit cone with a surface altitude of 8,898 feet. On clear mornings it is possible to see the major volcanoes of northwestern Guatemala as well as the Pacific coast. The crater rim and volcanic cone are covered in a lush cloud forest, and the lower slopes of the volcano are used for agricultural purposes by the locals. This easy day-hike provides a perfect mix of tranquility, culture, and natural beauty.On this 5-hour tour you will go from the base of the volcano, all the way to the top. There you will find an impressive view onto the lagoon. From the top, the guide will lead you down the stairs to the lagoon itself. Lots of times, locals will be praying when you arrive. You will get to know the 20 altars around the lagoon. After a whole tour around it, you will get up to the crater again, greeting the locals who will be going to the lagoon. After climbing up again, you will go back down to the base.