Renting a furnished Atitlan house or Atitlan villa in Guatemala? 

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Be ready to re-discover The Joy of Shopping after finding lake Atitan vacation rentals house

Even if you think of yourself as a “non shopper”, even if you avoid shopping malls and disdain cookie cutter chains and mega  stores , I need to warn you.  . Your “shopper gene” lies merely dormant and will no doubt be reborn here in the western highlands of Guatemala, at lake Atitlan and the neighboring areas.

At and around lake Atitlan, shopping is a joy, not drudgery.  Here, artisans abound, originality is the norm, lush vibrant colors and unique handmade designs capture the eye, intrigue the imagination and yes, re-ignite a shopping lust   long thought abandoned. 

Where to shop?  Everywhere. Each village nestled around exquisite lake Atitlan offers items to tempt even a die-hard non-shopper.  Santiago Atitlan, the largest village on the lake, is known for its woodworkers and weavers. You will want to send at least half a day, meandering through the maze of vendor stalls alongside the main dock.  Nearby San Juan La Laguna has reinvented itself through art.  “Mom and Pop art galleries are on every corner with charming and ridiculously inexpensive oils and watercolors by various members of the family. You’ll also find women’s weaving cooperatives selling fine and irresistible handmade bags, purses, pillow covers, wall hangings, shawls and textiles.

In Panajachel, referred to as “Pana”, you discover one inviting vendor stall after another on both sides of the main street, Calle Santandar.  Beautiful handmade purses from the mountain village of Todos Santos are only $8.00 or 60 quetzales.  One of the best shopping adventures happens every  Tuesday and Friday in Pana.  Called the “widows’ market”, it takes place in the parking lot in front of the  “Bomberos”, the fire station . Busloads of women, perhaps mostly widows, arrive by 9 am from various mountain villages. They set up shop, setting pile after pile of handmade goods all across the lot, creating a mountain of  fabulous assorted handmade “huipiles, cortes and faldas.” The widows’ market is a  “must do” shopping adventure. We took recent guests of our rental house, Casa Colina ( there and watched in delight as they filled two large suitcases with purchases.

Do you have to bargain?   Yes, you will be expected to bargain.  “But it is already so inexpensive,” you say, “I can’t bear to bargain.” Of course, it is up to you but I have found over the years, that the typical vendor at lake Atitlan not only expects me to bargain but also actually appears to enjoy the  “bargaining dance”.  So , I have learned to do the dance  and once  we have agreed  to a price (often 50% of the first quote) and the “dance” is over, we usually   laugh, shake hands and both happily move on.   

For more helpful information about vacationing in Guatemala, especially on  lake Atitlan, go to our website ,  We hated leaving here so much, we finally built our own house in San Marcos La Laguna.


Chichicastenango market

Guest: Eugenia (Richmond,VA)
Date of Stay: 06/02/11

We arrived at Casa Colina at dusk . We immediately loved the house. We had ordered dinner ahead . The table was set, candles were lit and a delicious meal was waiting for us. It was everything we imagined and much more. But it wasn't until the next morning that we understand why owners Bonnie and David say Casa Colina and lake Atitlan are magical. The view is breathtaking. We felt we were on top of the world. We were only able to stay five days but we packed a lot into them. My husband and son hiked San Pedro Volcano. My two daughters and I shopped in San Juan La Laguna. We all swam , kayaked, took saunas, visited art galleries, went horseback riding in San Pedro , practiced our spanish,and ate at five different restaurants just in San Marcos. We loved returning to Casa Colina at the end of the day , sitting on the patio and watching the sun go down. We all agreed it was our best family vacation ever . We hope to return next summer and stay two weeks.