After two years of nonstop travel in Europe, I finally get to travel in my home country. I know it’s a popular destination, but I really wanted to visit Guanajuato, which ironically enough gave me European vibes.
The small-colorful houses on the steep hills reminded me of Portugal. The beautiful cathedrals reminded me of Spain and the iconic Teatro de Juarez reminded me of France. But, I was reminded I was in México when I paid $6 mxn for a bus ride to the Museum of Mummies. Also, when I paid $15 mxn for a mouth-watering, hand-made gordita for which I felt like giving my soul while living in Spain.
I was again reminded I was in a special and new place, when exploring the underground streets, the mercados filled with original artwork, jewelry, spicy candy, aguas frescas; also, when seeing murals appealing to my country’s history. The real eye-opener was when I took a Day Tour and got to explore small villages, highways going up the green mountains, I got to try home-made Mezcal and hear the natives tongues. All of these reminders made me feel like I was where I belonged. I discuss this tour in detail in my Day Trips post.
What to do
La Callejoneada is a must while in Guanajuato. As with almost everything, you can find ticket sellers in front of Teatro Juárez. This is also where the tour begins. Callejón means alley, so Callejoneada is a tour through Guanajuato’s narrow alleys given by La Estudiantina, a group of funny dressed men with instruments. You’ll follow the Estudiantina through the alleys stopping in certain areas where the they tell talles of locals and the city in song. Most songs are funny and they involve the audience. If you’re traveling with your significant other, this can be a very romantic tour since the last stop is “El Callejón del Beso“, Kiss Alley.
The Museum of Mummies is a landmark in Guanajuato. It’s affordable, even if you have to pay to take pictures. You’ll see mummies from all shapes and sizes, including fetuses and people buried alive, some by mistake, some for torture. If you’re not into the grotesque, the museum also has a lot of history. I do recommend you bring a Student or Teacher ID if you have one since the discount is significant. I also recommend you avoid buying the second part of the museum, seemed like a cheap haunted house.
Where and what to eat
Mercado Hidalgo is a large warehouse offering every type of Mexican dish. This is also where you will find the most variety and best prices for souvenirs, as well as for food. There’s fresh squeezed juices, fruit salads, enchiladas, tortas, chicharrón, micheladas, tostilocos, corn in a cup or stick, gorditas, tacos, chiles rellenos… literally, any Mexican dish, but the one to try in Guanajuato is the “Enchilada Minera“.
Easiest way to explain an enchilada is a wet burrito. The wrapped tortilla is filled with chicken or cheese, laid out on the dish and covered with green or red sauce. The green sauce is made with tomatillo, a small and green tomato with a sour taste. The sauce in the mineras is with chile guajillo, so expect them to be spicy. The dish is topped with potatoes, carros and jalapeños in vinegar, lettuce, cream and fresh cheese.
“Esquites” are also found in every corner of the city. You can try this delicious roasted corn on a stick or in a cup. I prefer them in a cup since it’s less messy. I noticed Guanajuato had different ingredients, instead of butter like we do in the north, they use mayo, along with dry-shredded cheese, lime, hot sauce and chili powder. Some offered cream instead of mayo. Feel free to tell the seller to skip or go easy on certain ingredients.
Where to stay
I stayed in the center which made everything walking distance. The bus station was a 20 minute car or a 30min bus ride away. The airport was about an hour away since it’s in another city, Silao. There’s a bus to take from the airport to Guanajuato City’s bus station departing every 30 minutes, the schedule is here: une bus.
I loved my Bed & Breakfast! Casa de Pita is cozy, colorful and family owned. We had delicious and vegetarian home cooked breakfast every day, our room was small but cute and had everything, including a window where the Callejoneada would pass by, a bathroom and everything we needed. It was a 5 minute walk from Teatro Juárez and had the best gorditas stand right down the street.
There is so much to see, do and eat in this magical city. Here’s a Google maps list of the all places I’ve mentioned in this post. If have the time, I recommend taking the “Independence Route”, a day trip to other towns in the state of Guanajuato. I describe in detail on my Day Trips post.
Enjoy your time in delicious and beautiful Guanajuato and always BE PRESENT!