San Miguel de Allende is a World Heritage Site, complete with a mix of beautiful and bright Baroque and neo-Gothic architecture within a 16-century Spanish colonial layout.
Your time spent here will involve walking along cobblestone streets, admiring the architecture, visiting various museums, galleries, boutique clothing stores, cafes and rooftop bars. After a few days in this gorgeous and vibrant city, you’ll realise why it’s become one of the most popular spots to visit in Mexico and will spend your time plotting ways to make a quick return.
About San Miguel De Allende
San Miguel De Allende was founded in the 16th century and is located roughly four hours drive from Mexico City. The city was named by the monk who founded it, Juan de San Miguel, and a war hero in Mexico’s War of Independence, General Ignacio Allende.
The city feels like you’ve stepped into a Mexican fairy tale; cobblestones and brightly coloured colonial facades, a beautiful neo-gothic pink stone church as the focal point, all surrounded by lush, green mountains.
There is something for everyone in this beautiful city; a temperate climate year-round, a vibrant art scene, delicious restaurants with authentic Mexican cuisine and mountains to hike.
Best things to do during your visit
1. Hang out in the main plaza (Jardín Allende)
San Miguel’s main plaza hosts the symbol of the city- Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel- a neo-gothic parish church. The original church dates back to the 1600s, but the facade we see today was designed in 1880.
Grab an Esquites from a street vendor, find a park bench to sit on and watch this vibrant city come to life around you.
2. Take a walk to a viewpoint
San Miguel de Allende looks amazing at street level, but it looks even better from above. The walk to the viewpoint, El Mirador, is only a 15-20 minute walk from the main plaza and boasts views over the whole city and beyond.
3. Grab drinks at a rooftop bar
There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon on holidays than kicking back and enjoying a few cocktails at a trendy bar overlooking the beautiful city you’re visiting. I spent an afternoon at the Lunas Roof Top Bar. Being a little further out of Centro than some other rooftop bars, you get sweeping views of the city. I highly recommend this place for its charming atmosphere along with reasonably priced alcohol and charcuterie boards.
4. Eat your way across town
Authentic Mexican food, non of this tex-mex stuff the Western world is used to eating, is truly something special! During my two weeks in Mexico I tried so many different flavours, spices and herbs I’d never tasted in my life; it was delectable and such a fun experience!
Something I like to do is ask the waiter what the local favourite dish is on the menu or what’s a “must-have” meal and go with that! I’m a vegetarian so I had to miss out on many of the local top picks, but many delicious veggie options had just as much flavour (in my opinion).
My favourite restaurants and cafes I visited were La Parada, a Peruvian restaurant for lunch and Panio for an authentic Mexican breakfast.
5. Go on a walking tour
As I’ve said in every single blog post I’ve written, my favourite thing to do in a city is going on a walking tour. It’s a great way to get your bearings in a city. I love learning about the history and current politics of the city. It’s also a great opportunity to get tips on the best restaurants and bars to visit from a local.
6. Experience a local festival
Planning your trip around a main Mexican festival is a great way to experience their culture! One of my favourite parts of visiting Mexico was how deeply engrained Mexican culture, cuisine and language is all over the country. I was in Mexico during Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which made my whole experience even more special getting to witness this beautiful holiday.
7. Visit Fábrica La Aurora
Fábrica La Aurora has a number of galleries and artist’s studios, located on the site of an historic textile factory. You can still see a number of the machines from the factory as you explore. There are a number of cafes and restaurants as well that you can enjoy during your visit.
8. Have a coffee in a secret courtyard
There are so many unsuspecting courtyards throughout this city, you just need to wander around and you’ll stumble into one.
9. Marvel at the beautiful architecture
The architecture in this city and the tiny details everywhere are what make this city so unique. I had so much fun wandering up and down the streets, snapping as many pictures as I could trying to capture that perfect moment!
Best time to visit
People who travel to San Miguel de Allende love it for its seemingly eternal spring. Winter is the high season, with clear days and chilly nights; summer is the rainy season; fall is fiesta season, boasting tourists, parades, and fireworks.
May is the hottest month, with an average high of 30°C and January is the coldest month, with an average high of 23°C. I visited in November and the weather was perfect.
Where to stay
We wanted to stay somewhere central, so we could walk everywhere in the city. We stayed at Hotel Villa Santa Blanca; it was an incredibly simple stay with a bed and a bathroom. However, the only time we were in the room was to sleep, so this hotel did the job.
How to get to and around the city
We drove 4 hours to San Miguel from Mexico City. There are three airports available to get you to San Miguel de Allende depending where you are coming from. Your options are to; 1. Fly to Del Bajio Airport, Leon/Guanajuato then drive 1 hour. Fly to Juarez Intl, Mexico City then drive approximately 4 hours. Fly to Queretaro Airport then drive 1 hour to San Miguel.
The best way to get around San Miguel de Allende is on foot. Some of the most exciting discoveries in the city can only be found along its winding walkways. Just be sure to pack comfortable sneakers; cobbled, narrow streets can be tough on feet.
If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, I hope this blog post has convinced you to add this charming city to your itinerary! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever visited San Miguel de Allende or it’s now on your bucket list.