Thinking about becoming a Lake Atitlan digital nomad?
Before you even make the move, you’re probably wondering a few things about living in Lake Atitlan like:
- internet speeds
- cost of living
- coworking spaces
and so much more…
We were the same when considering whether or not to become Lake Atitlan digital nomads. The wifi was probably our biggest concern because we hadn’t heard great things. Nonetheless, the lake looked absolutely stunning – it seemed to be worth the risk for at least a month!
After being Lake Atitlan digital nomads for 2 months (yes, 2 months), we are going to share our detailed guide on everything you need to know to have a great time and still get the work you need done! At the end of this blog post, we will also share our very honest opinion on what it’s really like to be a Lake Atitlan digital nomad.
Why Become A Lake Atitlan Digital Nomad?
Why might one consider becoming a Lake Atitlan digital nomad?
- The stunning lake views. I feel like Lake Atitlan is unique in the way that you get insane water views from a cafe, restaurant or your Airbnb at a lower cost (than if this was in Australia or Lake Como, etc). We were mesmerized the first couple of days we arrived in Lake Atitlan that within the first week, we had already booked our second month (which we later realized was a mistake, keep reading).
- The laid-back lifestyle. If you’re tired of the hustle and you’re wanting to disconnect for a bit – Lake Atitlan is a great place to do this. It’s very chill, the pace of life is very slow and the locals are welcoming. You won’t ever feel rushed and you can just sit back and relax or put your head down and get to work.
- Amazing day trips. There are around 12+ towns around the lake that are all very different and they have their uniqueness to them. It’s easy to catch a lancha (boat taxi) to get to each town then you can spend the day exploring what the town has to offer.
There’s a lot to love about being a Lake Atitlan digital nomad! If you love being close to a body of water or enjoy a slower pace of life from time to time – this is a great option for your next digital nomad destination. It’s one of the most unique places we have ever lived and it’s such a memorable experience.
How To Get To Lake Atitlan?
Not sure how to get to Lake Atitlan? There’s a couple of options for you:
Coming from San Cristobal de las Casas? We took the shared shuttle from San Cristobal to Guatemala directly and it was super easy.
It cost us around $25 USD each including 1 piece of luggage. It was a grueling 14-hour journey but we survived and got to Panajachel by 9:30pm.
Coming from the Guatemala City Airport? You can take an Uber or get on the many shared shuttles available. We recommend the shuttle because you can book in advance and pay as you arrive. Uber might seem like the convenient option but you’re never sure if they will say ‘yes’ to taking you to Lake Atitlan. Benjy’s Travel Tours do shuttles straight to San Pedro La Laguna for only 100Q ($13 USD) – message them on WhatsApp (+502 5558 3995) to book.
Coming from Antigua? It’s easy to get from Antigua to Lake Atitlan. The best way is via a shared shuttle and it’ll only cost 100Q ($13 USD).
You can use Benjy’s Travel Tours again or Tropicana Hostel offers shuttles – just message or visit their store location to book. You could do an Uber as well – they are more likely to take the journey but again you never know and might need some negotiating powers.
Overall, it’s not hard to get around Guatemala. The shared shuttles are a life-saver and make everything so easy no matter where you are trying to go.
The Complete Lake Atitlan Digital Nomad Guide
In recent years, Guatemala has grown in popularity for tourists, digital nomads and remote workers. As the country’s infrastructure improves, we can see Guatemala (particularly Lake Atitlan and Antigua) potentially become a top digital nomad destination in the future.
After living in Lake Atitlan for 2 months, we have tested out the internet speeds, the kinds of activities you can do, the cafes to work from and so much more. Now, we live to write this blog post and share all the details.
There are some great things about being a Lake Atitlan digital nomad – but as we want to remain as honest as possible on our blog, Two Tickets Anywhere, we have to say there are also some serious downsides. With that said, we want to make sure you settle into digital nomad life on Lake Atitlan as smoothly as possible.
Here’s everything you need to know about being a Lake Atitlan digital nomad.
How To Buy A SIM Card in Lake Atitlan
The first thing you need to do when arriving in a new city is getting a local SIM card. It’s inexpensive, it works and it’s not that hard to buy one. We always get a local one when we can, otherwise, we use Nomad eSIM (aka a life-saver).
All you need to buy a SIM card in Guatemala is to walk up to any official stores or tiendas. If it’s your first time, they will usually add the cost of the SIM card itself and then add the data plan on top. Give them your phone and they will make the switch for you and get you your new SIM card numbers. Pay them, wait for a text message to verify you got the plan and that’s it!
TTA TIP: Take a photo of your new number! If you’re digital nomads like us, you’re not going to memorize every single number you get right? We take photos so it’s easier to bring it up whenever we need it again.
Which is the best SIM company?
There are 2 good SIM card companies in Guatemala:
- Tigo Guatemala
- Claro Guatemala
The best SIM card company is Tigo – it has the best coverage all around Guatemala, affordable phone plans and good reception anywhere. I asked my Guatemalan friend which one he recommended and I certainly trust his judgment – he answered “Tigo”. That was enough for me to go with it!
Where to buy a SIM card in Panajachel?
There are both Tigo and Claro stores in Panajachel. In most towns on the lake (other than Pana), you can only recharge/top up your data. Make sure to buy your SIM card in Panajachel before heading over to other towns!
- Tigo location: it’s not on Google Maps but it’s like 2 mins away from the Claro store.
- Claro location: 3A. Ave. 3-40 Zona 2, Calle Santander (Google Maps)
Want a more detailed breakdown? Check out our complete SIM Card Guatemala guide.
Best Time To Visit Lake Atitlan for Digital Nomads
Want to make sure you get the best Lake Atitlan weather?
The best time to visit Lake Atitlan is from November to May which is also known as the dry season. If you visit during these months, you’ll get the most sunlight hours, a warm 77°F (25°C) degrees which is great weather to do outdoor activities.
You can still visit Lake Atitlan from June to October but just be aware that’s the wet season. This means it’s most likely to rain at least 3-5 days out of the week, making it hard to do any outdoor activities. I will say – the rainy season isn’t that bad because it’ll rain on and off throughout the day as opposed to having full-on rain for the entire day.
As Lake Atitlan digital nomads, we definitely recommend living there during the dry season. You’ll have more opportunities to do day trips or hikes without worrying about the weather. The only other downside would be that you would have to pay slightly higher prices for accommodation as you’re traveling in the peak season.
Where To Stay in Lake Atitlan – 3 Best Towns Around The Lake
This is a VERY important thing to get right as a Lake Atitlan digital nomad. Why?
It can literally make or break your trip!
Here’s the thing – the lake’s infrastructure isn’t quite up to par to handle digital nomads. While it’s pretty good, it’s not great. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you choose the wrong village to live in, you could have wifi issues, electricity issues and transport issues. For example, there’s only a handful of boats that travel to Santiago throughout the day – if you miss it then that’s it for the night!
That’s why you should only stay in these 3 towns if you’re a Lake Atitlan digital nomad:
- San Pedro La Laguna
- San Marcos La Laguna
San Pedro is the best town for Lake Atitlan digital nomads to live. We asked our Guatemalan friend which one he thought was best – San Pedro was the clear answer. There are more cafes to work from, it’s the 2nd biggest town on the lake and there’s better infrastructure all around. It’s known as the “backpacker’s town” but we loved it for the number of restaurants, ease of transport and (slowly) growing digital nomad scene.
Panajachel is the most popular town for travelers, digital nomads and remote workers to first arrive in. It makes sense as it’s where all the business, shopping and banking are done around the lake. The famous Calle Santander is the main street in Panajachel where you can buy souvenirs, get a SIM card and have great coffee from Crossroads Cafe! It’s become a popular town for digital nomads because there’s a Selina Atitlan which is a hostel + coworking space.
San Marcos is a hit or miss for us. We loved it a lot because it’s so unique but that’s also the reason we didn’t love it…I guess! Let’s just say it’s the “Ubud” of Lake Atitlan. If you’ve ever been a Bali digital nomad – you know what I’m talking about. There’s a lot of hippies around, it doesn’t smell great and all that stuff that comes with that. In saying that, there are some very nice cafes to work from, wifi can be pretty quick at times and there is a big expat community there. The infrastructure isn’t as good as San Pedro or Panajachel because the wifi and electricity tend to go out more often.
Overall, we highly recommend Lake Atitlan digital nomads base themselves in San Pedro. It’s easy to access nearby towns for day trips but you still get the creature comforts of good wifi, nice accommodation and more transport options.
Transport Options – How To Get Around Lake Atitlan
Speaking of transport options…how do you get around Lake Atitlan?
It’s unique because there are around 3 different transport options to get to and from different towns. I’ll share the 2 most popular ways to get around.
Riding A Lancha (Boat Taxi)
Think of these as shared boat taxis. It was our favorite way to get around the lake! It’s pretty fast, easy to hop on and off, it’s pretty cheap and you get the best views of the towns.
How it works is – you make your way to the port (each town has one), you tell some random guy(s) your destination and you wait for your boat to arrive. Once your boat docks, they will start shouting “San Marcos” and you hop on (make sure to clarify before) then you’re on your way! If you’re in popular towns like San Pedro, San Marcos or Panajachel – the lanchas run pretty frequently around every 5-15 minutes until 5pm. We don’t recommend taking a lancha after 5pm as the waves are too dangerous.
You only pay once you have arrived and there’s definitely a gringo tax which is fine. Locals pay around 5Q and we paid around 10Q for a trip to a nearby town. If you want to get from San Pedro to Panajachel for example, it’ll cost 25Q instead. We found lanchas were pretty fair, honest and reliable with quoting prices.
Taking A Tuk-Tuk
Once you get off the boat, you might need to take a tuk-tuk to get to your Airbnb or any other spots around the town that are just too long to walk. They are like 3-wheeled motorcycles that can zip through town and the narrowest roads.
We lived about a 20-minute walk away from the center of San Pedro and took a tuk-tuk every time. You might have to wait a bit for one to show up and flag them down. Here’s how it works – once you do, just say where you’re going – they will nod if they know it. Make sure you clarify the price BEFORE you jump inside the tuk-tuk. The ‘good’ price is 5Q per person wherever you go around San Pedro. Sometimes they will try for 10Q per person and it’s not worth it – just wait for another tuk-tuk to come around. We want to come across as ‘locals’ and the magic phrase to get that 5Q price is…
“Es cinco por persona, verdad?”
“Verdad” means “right” in English and it comes off like you know what you’re talking about as if you’ve done this before. We got a good price maybe 8/10 times while we were Lake Atitlan digital nomads.
A chicken bus is also another way to get around the lake but we don’t recommend it. It takes almost twice as long as the lancha and there are no specific schedules. You’d have to wait by the road and hope it turns up at some point. It’s cheap but it’s time-consuming.
Our Lake Atitlan Digital Nomad Apartment
There are several ways to find accommodation on Lake Atitlan. We found our place through however, we didn’t actually book it via Airbnb. Our friends messaged the host and we took our reservation off the platform.
Here are some of your options for accommodation as a Lake Atitlan digital nomad:
Airbnbs are a great choice for digital nomads to live in because they are usually full apartments with a kitchen and a desk/kitchen table to work from. We prefer to live in Airbnbs as opposed to hotels/hostels because we get our own space, freedom and creature comforts. As Lake Atitlan digital nomads, Airbnbs are your best bet for a stable wifi connection and a good living space.
When booking on Airbnb, you are going to pay a little bit of a premium for the convenience and safety of a booking platform. You can always message the host and ask for a discount since you are a “long-stay” guest. Most people already offer a monthly discount on the platform but sometimes it can still be taken down even lower if you also take it off the platform (which is what we did for this apartment). If you feel like you can trust the host, we have taken it off Airbnb before and it has worked out for us.
Our Airbnb was located 15 minutes away from the center of San Pedro. It’s called Refugio del Volcan and our host, James, was an American expat living in Guatemala. If you want to get a good rate, James was fine with negotiating off the platform for long stays. We got Casa Azul which is a beautiful, modern studio apartment/tiny house. There was a nice terrace area that we worked from overlooking the lake. The bed was comfortable and the TV cabinet was a genius build from James. We paid $750 USD for 1 month and that included utilities as well.
We don’t recommend staying in hotels as digital nomads normally but we met a friend in Lake Atitlan, Anthony, who stayed in a hotel/guesthouse/homestay situation. He let us take a tour of the place and he rented out a very simple private room with a private bathroom. There was a shared kitchen so he could still cook if he wanted! While it was very basic, he only paid $350 USD for the entire month! YES – $350 USD. If you’re on a tight budget, this could be a great option for you!
Where To Get Groceries Around Lake Atitlan
Groceries was one of our biggest pain points about being Lake Atitlan digital nomads.
Here’s why: There isn’t a single supermarket chain or anything close to it around the lake. We couldn’t find places to buy meat where it looked safe enough to cook. We simply decided to go plant-based just to make our lives easier and eat meat when whenever we ate at restaurants.
TTA TIP: We found a small grocery store called, Mini Mercado y cafeteria Johanna, that had lots of things you normally couldn’t find in Lake Atitlan – cheese, Valentina hot sauce, curry paste and even some frozen meat!
So where do you get groceries then? In Lake Atitlan, you have 2 choices:
- Tiendas (small stores) on the side of the road
- Markets on the weekends
We lived 5 minutes walking from a tienda which was really needed – idk what we would have done otherwise. In these tiendas, you can buy your produce for the week like vegetables, fruits and onions. They are fresh – we realized our tienda got their new shipment every Thursday!
We had a super friendly tienda owner which was great when we realized there were no prices anywhere. You take a basket, pick up your groceries and she has all the prices in her head. She calculated it on her phone and then gave a total cost. We felt she was pretty honest with us since we paid close to the same amount every week.
This was pretty challenging for us especially coming from being Mexico digital nomads where the groceries like Chedraui, Walmart and Mega are everywhere!
You need to consider this before you make the move and see if it’s something you could live with while being a Lake Atitlan digital nomad.
Figuring Out The ATMs in Lake Atitlan
I’ll just be straight with you:
Almost all places in Lake Atitlan DON’T accept card payments!
If you want to have a coffee at a cafe, eat at restaurants, or buy your groceries at the tienda – you’ll need to pay cash! But here’s the catch – there’s only a handful of ATMs around Lake Atitlan.
For example, Tzununa a smaller town on the lake will have 0 ATM machines. ZERO! You’ll need to get to the other towns that have them to take cash out.
Here’s where you can find ATMs in Lake Atitlan:
- San Pedro La Laguna – 2 ATMs
- San Marcos La Laguna – 1 ATM
- Panajachel – 3+ ATMs
You don’t want to run out of cash! We stocked up almost every week which is annoying because there are ATM withdrawal fees every time. The most popular ATM is called “5B” and it cost 20Q for a withdrawal. San Pedro was one of the best towns to live because there were 2 located along the main streets.
Lake Atitlan Internet Speeds – Is The Wifi Fast Enough?
This is the golden question for every digital nomad, especially for a place like Lake Atitlan. Why?
If you can’t get a good internet connection, the chances of you becoming a Lake Atitlan digital nomad slim down right? While it’s great to see new places – a digital nomad has to be able to continue to make money online otherwise they won’t be a digital nomad for much longer.
The internet connection in Lake Atitlan is from 5-20 Mbps. You won’t have fast wifi around the lake – that’s just the reality. We paid for an upgrade on our internet to get the speeds from 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps. If you want to work from cafes, the wifi is mostly unreliable. We tried several times but it kept dropping in and out. Take your Zoom calls in your Airbnb and do tasks that require less wifi at a coffee shop I wrote a lot of blog posts for Two Tickets Anywhere on a Google Docs sitting at a cafe which worked just fine!
So…Is the wifi fast enough for Lake Atitlan digital nomads? There’s no hard or fast answer for this because it depends. Generally, you can get speeds anywhere from 5 to 15 Mbps. If you need anything faster, you might want to consider the Selina coworking space or just take a weekend trip to Lake Atitlan instead.
Is There A Co-working Space For Lake Atitlan Digital Nomads?
Yes – there’s one coworking space for Lake Atitlan digital nomads!
Selina Atitlan offers a coworking space apart from their hostels. You get free access if you’re a guest but you can also become a member even if you’re not staying there. It’s located in Panajachel which is something to think about BEFORE you book a place in a different town. We lived in San Pedro so it didn’t make sense for us to take a 30-minute lancha ride every day.
That’s about it! If you love coworking, you might not enjoy the options in Lake Atitlan. You’d have to work from home or cafes if you’re a Lake Atitlan digital nomad.
3 Best Cafes for Lake Digital Nomads to Work From
If you don’t have access to a coworking space…
…the next best thing is to work from cafes! We think San Pedro has the best cafes to work from than any other town on the lake. While the wifi isn’t the best at times, you still get that buzzing cafe atmosphere that’s pretty neat. The only thing – make sure to bring a fully charged laptop. There are barely any plugs at the cafes – you have to be able to snag the one seat that’s close to a plug! This isn’t impossible if you go early, we usually arrived at a cafe around 8-8:30am.
Here are our favorite cafes in Lake Atitlan to work from:
- Restaurant Idea Connection (San Pedro)
- Sababa Restaurant / Cafe (San Pedro)
- Cafe Cristalinas (San Pedro)
These cafes are a great way to change up your scenery – but you need to combine it with a work-from-home situation while living in Lake Atitlan. We found the infrastructure wasn’t enough for a digital nomad to live on the lake for months on end because of the lack of coworking spaces and cafes with decent internet.
(Real) Cost of Living for Lake Atitlan Digital Nomads
Lake views, small towns, cute restaurants – but what does it all cost?
The average cost of living in Lake Atitlan is around $1,500 USD for 2 people. Once you’ve paid for accommodation, everything else in Lake Atitlan is pretty affordable. The average cost for eating out would be 60Q per meal and a cup of coffee costs around $15Q. Other than some weekend activities, there aren’t any bigger expenses that you can spend your money on. We found it to be relatively an affordable cost of living as opposed to the cost of living in Guatemala.
Here’s a breakdown of everything we spent while living as Lake Atitlan digital nomads for a month:
|Activities & Entertainment||$43|
Our monthly cost of living in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala for 2 people is: $1,529 USD
Overall, the cost of living in Guatemala varies depending on where you base yourself. Lake Atitlan is much cheaper than living in Antigua. There are pros and cons to both but being in the city will cost more.
Want a more detailed cost breakdown? Check out our cost of living Guatemala guide.
Is There A Digital Nomad Community in Lake Atitlan?
The quick answer is…
…No but it’s growing!
Since there aren’t many coworking spaces or coliving spaces, it was pretty hard to meet other digital nomads. We made one other friend, Anthony, who was a developer from Australia. Granted – there were plenty of travelers passing through but not many that were staying as long as we were.
As Lake Atitlan digital nomads, we didn’t really meet many other digital nomads during our time there. Unfortunately, I feel like a digital nomad community isn’t quite there yet in Lake Atitlan. In saying that, I do feel like it is growing slowly which is a great sign!
There’s a bigger and more vibrant digital nomad community in Antigua! We made so many new friends at our coworking space and weekend activities. If you value community as we do, it might be better for you to stay in Antigua instead.
Our 5 Favorite Restaurants in Lake Atitlan
We loved eating out at all the restaurants in Lake Atitlan!
We were surprised by how much variety of cuisines you could have in such small lake towns. You could have Japanese, Italian, BBQ, Vegetarian food and so much more!
These are our 5 favorite restaurants in Lake Atitlan:
- Smokin Joes BBQ (San Pedro)
- Pizzeria El Callejon (San Pedro)
- Yakitori de Cava (San Pedro)
- La Casa Zapote (San Marcos)
- Deli Jasmin (Panajachel)
Want more restaurant recommendations? We created a list of 20 Lake Atitlan restaurants!
Cool Things To Do In Lake Atitlan As Digital Nomads
What’s there to do as a Lake Atitlan digital nomad?
Lake Atitlan is known as the deepest lake in Central America surrounded by beautiful nature, forestry and volcanoes. If you’re an outdoors person – you’ll love living in Lake Atitlan!
Here are some of the best things to do in Lake Atitlan:
1. Hike from San Marcos to Santa Cruz (AllTrails route here)
This was one of our favorite things we did! It’s a 2-hour hike that’s moderately difficult – any beginner hiker can do it without problems.
We went with our friend Heyner, took lots of photos of the lake views and it was safe the entire way through.
2. Go Kayaking
We only went once but it was great to see the lake from a different perspective.
It’s surprisingly cheap at only 15Q per person for an hour! We rented ours from a shack next to Sababa restaurant – just walk down the stairs and someone will pop up to help you.
3. Sunrise Hike To Indian Nose
Got clear weather? You should jump at the opportunity to hike Indian Nose!
We went on a cloudy day which was fine because we still got some views but we can imagine it’s even better if you’re not doing this during the rainy season. We booked our tour with Benjy Travel tours, it costs 100Q per person and they pick you up around 3am in front of your place. It’s a very quick hike – only 20 minutes but it’s all uphill. We found it much easier than we expected!
4. Los Thermales San Pedro
We went to Los Thermales every Wednesday with our friends!
If you just want to relax and enjoy the lake views – this is a great activity for any age! Los Thermales is a hot spring located in San Pedro with 3-4 basins where groups of people (1-5) can soak in. You pay 50Q per person and you can stay as long as you want. You’re also welcome to bring snacks and drinks.
Matthew loves the sauna, hot springs or anything of the sort. When we found Los Thermales, he got very excited and so did our friend then it became a weekly thing. We made friends with the owner and they also filled another basin with cold water which meant we could hop between!
To book, you need to reserve in advance. Simply message their WhatsApp number –
5. Coffee Farm Tour
If you want to learn about the coffee-making process, Lake Atitlan is a great place to do it!
There are plenty of tours available and you can learn how they plant, farm and roast coffee beans around the lake.
6. Free Cerveza Eco-Hostel
Why’s a hostel on here?! Mostly because they have this cool lake house where you can literally wake up with volcano views!
Free Cerveza is an eco-hostel that offers glamping tents and free water activities like paddle boarding or kayaking. There’s also a community dinner every night so you can meet some new people! We only stayed here for 1 night because we wanted to paddleboard and sleep in the lake house.
TTA TIP: If you want to go paddle boarding – it’s actually cheaper to book a night of glamping at Free Cerveza than it is to book a paddleboarding lesson.
Is Lake Atitlan Safe For Digital Nomads?
From our personal experience living as Lake Atitlan digital nomads for 2 months, we felt very safe the entire month!
People warned us about how dangerous it was before we arrived which obviously doesn’t help. Once we arrived, the people are very friendly and welcoming which helps take the edge off especially when you’re in a new country!
The only thing might be that the tuk-tuk drivers can get mean if they don’t get the price they wanted (this happened to us) but nothing super dangerous. As always – you need to be cautious of your surroundings no matter where you go.
Our Brutally Honest Opinion Of Being A Lake Atitlan Digital Nomad
I have to be honest…
Matthew and I wished we only stayed 1 month in Lake Atitlan! We were too enchanted by the beautiful lake waters and the small town feels. At around 6 weeks, we were already itching to leave but had to stay because our Airbnb was locked in for that time.
It’s a VERY slow pace of life and once you’ve done the main activities – there isn’t much else to do. I think this was also because we didn’t have a digital nomad community at the lake which can get lonely quick! We were honestly bored and looking forward to Antigua.
We preferred being Antigua digital nomads! We spent close to 2 months living in Antigua Guatemala and it’s so much better. There are more restaurants, more coworking spaces, more cafes, more things to do and best of all – a bigger digital nomad community to hang out with!
Lake Atitlan Digital Nomad: Should You Give It A Try?
Yes, you should become a Lake Atitlan digital nomad…
…but only for a month (maximum)!
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot to love about living in Lake Atitlan. If you want a laid-back lifestyle with small town feels and gorgeous lake views – there’s nothing else like it!
Here’s the thing – it’s not the best place for digital nomads (yet). The infrastructure simply isn’t equipped to handle the digital nomad lifestyle because of the internet connection, payment issues, groceries and more.
We recommend staying a month as a Lake Atitlan digital nomad. Don’t have that kind of time? A lot of people live in Antigua instead and then just take weekend trips to Lake Atitlan which is a great balance of nature versus city!