Panajachel, on the northern shores of Lake Atitlán, is the main arrival/departure point for the lake itself. From here, you can take a lancha (small boat) to any of the other villages around the lake, or find onward transport to other places in Guatemala.

Just over 50 miles (80 km) from the colonial city of Antigua, you can reach Panajachel by private transfer, taxi or Uber, shuttle bus, local bus, or rental car. The drive usually takes 2.5 hours.

There are also several private/group tours that take you to Antigua and Lake Atitlán, like this eight-day Best of Guatemala tour, or this four-day Discover Antigua and Lake Atitlán trip.

By Private Transfer

Duration: 2+ hours (traffic dependent)

Private transfer is the easiest and most comfortable way to get from your accommodation in Antigua to Panajachel. In Panajachel, you will either be dropped at your hotel or at the ferry dock, where you can take a private or shared boat out to the other villages around the lake.

By Private Taxi or Rideshare

Duration: 2+ hours (traffic dependent)

From Antigua, you can also take a taxi or an Uber/Lyft to Panajachel. The ride takes around two hours, and they will pick you up at your door and drop you at the ferry dock or your accommodation in Pana.

Taxis and Ubers in Guatemala can be a little on the small side, so if you need more space you might want to request a bigger car or take a private transfer.

By Rental Car

Duration: 2+ hours (traffic dependent)

Alternatively, you can rent a car in Antigua and drive out to Panajachel. The drive through the Sierra Madre Highlands is beautiful, but the final descent down to Panajachel can be pretty crazy, with plenty of traffic, hairpin bends and big chicken buses speeding around blind corners.

Parking in Panajachel can be tricky, especially if you are planning on staying elsewhere on the lake. Break-ins are not that uncommon, so try to find somewhere secure. Even if you have to pay a little extra, it will be worth it for peace of mind.

By Shared Shuttle

Duration: 2.5+ hours (traffic dependent)

One of the most popular ways to get from Antigua to Panajachel is by shared shuttle bus. These minibusses run several times a day, pick you up from your accommodation in Antigua and drop you off at the ferry dock in Panajachel. They are much safer and more secure than local buses.

By Local Bus

Duration: 3-4 hours

There is one local “chicken” bus that goes directly from Antigua to Panajachel every day. Although it may seem like an adventure—and a good way to save a couple of bucks—we definitely wouldn’t recommend it. The journey out to the lake through the mountains is hot, cramped, and bumpy, and takes at least three hours, most of which is spent hurtling around winding mountain roads.