Guatemala is famous for its weaving and textiles. Other specialties include wood carving, beaded jewelry, and ceramics.
San Juan La Laguna
San Juan is one of our guests’ favorite destinations. Walk up from the boat dock past weaving and art co-ops, many run by women’s groups. San Juan is best known for weavings made from natural-dye fabrics. Several co-ops have demonstrations of traditional spinning, dying, and backstrap loom weaving. San Juan is also know for its painters, and you can purchase original paintings at a fraction of the price you’ll find them in Antigua.
Panajachel has some of the best shopping for Guatemalan weavings (“tipico”), wood carvings, beaded items, and jewelry. It also has cheap, not-so-great stuff. The main shopping street, Calle Santander, has vendors selling almost anything you might want to buy in Guatemala. If you go on a guided tour, we’ll show you our favorite shops and, if you want, help you bargain. Remember that vendors expect you to bargain and they usually start with a high price—often double the real price.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, vendors come from around Guatemala and set out their fabric items in the parking lot of the fire department (bomberos). This is where tipico dealers come to shop, and you can find some wonderful pieces at great prices. Selection is best in the morning, and the market usually wraps up around 3-4pm (or earlier in the rainy season).
Santa Catarina Palopó
Santa Catarina is the village closest to Panajachel. In 2017, a project began with a goal of painting all the buildings in Santa Catarina with eco-friendly paints and based on tradition designs. You can read more about the project on my blog.
San Antonio Palopó
San Antonio is home to small factories that produce a distinctive style of ceramics. From mugs and plates to door pulls and flower vases, you’ll find beautiful pieces for your home or to give as gifts.