Lake Atitlan is in the city of Panajachel about an hour and fifteen minutes northwest of Antigua.
Find a tour company to book the whole trip like I did or you can take about 4 chicken buses to get there.
The perk of booking through a travel company is that you know your shuttle to and from the city will be there, you can often add on extra cities, your tour around the lake is included, and you have a place to stay. All things that are very good in my book.
After awaking at some ungodly hour to catch the shuttle to Pana we arrived in what is quite possibly one of the most picturesque places I have ever had the pleasure of traveling.
I took so many pictures while I was there. It's almost embarrassing. Almost.
The tour we had lined up for the day would take us by boat to three different cities.
San Pedro was an expat's dream. A bar with free beer and football games on the tv. It was a sleepy little town that had a few language schools and some pretty incredible views of the lake.
San Jaun del Lago
When you arrive in this town, you will have to scramble over boats to get to the dock. The town was built and then the lake flooded and never receded, so your first view is of houses under water. But this is an artists town. The women dye the fabrics and make them into these beautiful scarves, there is music playing all around, and the walls are painted in these insanely gorgeous murals.
The last city we visited was Santiago. This is the first time I was disappointed in Guatemala. Santiago is just not a pretty city. There isn't really anything to do there. Right where you dock there is a market that leads up the hill to the city, but once you pass that you are lead to disappointment. Only two restaurants that aren't authentic and a church. The end. Nothing further. If you can, book a tour that skips Santiago. I highly recommend doing that.
I love the chicken buses because they bring a piece of home for me. I didn't grow up riding buses going to school, but it made me feel connected to the US a bit after feeling so foreign.