Day Trips You Need to do from Guanajuato City

The easiest and fastest way to explore the surrounding cities is by hiring a Day Tour. There’s kiosks and people selling these right in front of Teatro Juarez. You can compare several companies but they all have the same itinerary and price. For $250mxn per person, I got the “Independence Route” which took about 8 hours in a van with about 12 people. The route consisted of the following:

  • La Sierra de Santa Rosa
  • Dolores Hidalgo “Pueblo Mágico”
  • Church of Atotonilco
  • San Miguel de Allende “Cultural Heritage” (Patrimonio cultural de la Humanidad)

First, let me explain what a “Pueblo Mágico” is why Mexico is filled with them. It translates into Magical Town and Mexico created a program that names several small towns in the country as such since these towns have a history, symbols and other attributes related to Mexican history. Symbols can be statues, cave paintings, churches, missions, virgin beaches, etc. After being named a Pueblo Mágico, resources are focused so the town may increase and maintain tourism. There’s a lot more to say about this program and why it has been criticized but I won’t get into the politics of it. Here’s a list of all Mexico’s Magical Towns. For tips on what to do, see and eat Guanajuato City, see this post.

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I LOVE jicama on a sunny day!

La Sierra de Santa Rosa 

Our tour started in some shops that sold affordable silver. We were there for about 30 minutes then started up the mountain towards La Sierra de Santa Rosa. Our tour guide shared stories of José Alfredo Jimenez, a famous singer from Dolores, Guanajuato who wrote all his songs based on his experiences, some in La Sierra (the mountains). He is buried in a humble cemetery but the locals built him a memorial with a huge “charro” hat that he was famous for wearing. In front of the cemetery, we tried homemade Mezcal, mixed fruit with hot sauce & lime, craft beers, and more. We also went to a small shop near the highway were a group of local women sold craft snacks and drinks, such as chamoy (sweet and sour fruit sauce), honey-covered peanuts, jams, etc.

Dolores Hidalgo

Later, we went to Dolores Hidalgo, where the Mexican Independence began with a scream. I won’t go into detail about the story, but it was great getting a refresher from our guide, as well as hearing myths from my textbooks as a child, debunked.

My favorite thing to do in Dolores is taste the many exotic ice cream flavors.

Dolores is a cute and small town that can be explored in a few hours. The most popular things to do here are to visit the Independence Museum and José Alfredo Jimenez’s home. MY FAVORITE THING to do in Dolores is taste the many exotic ice cream flavors. I tried avocado, cheese and mole (cacao and chili-based sauce). There’s also shrimp, nopal (cactus), beer, chicharrón (pork rinds), and an endless list of odd flavors. Each ice cream stand competes for the most original and authentic tasting flavor each year. So you must indulge in flavors you will try nowhere else.

Church of Atotonilco

In my opinion, this place was not worth the time. I wish that instead we had more time in San Miguel de Allende. This catholic church looks like most; covered in golden statues and catholic murals, with the exception of a Dolores statue standing outside. I don’t mean to sound like a hater, but I was initially told we would have 3-4 hours in San Miguel de Allende and that turned into 1 hour and 15 minutes, so keep that in mind when a tour vendor tries to sell his tour over another. They are really all the same.

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Dolores & The Church of Atotonilco

San Miguel de Allende

This small town is now quite famous. Celebrities have come to buy properties here. That has brought a lot of money into the town, but unfortunately, it has also raised prices exponentially compared to the rest of Guanajuato. So, if you’re on a budget, I recommend staying in Guanajuato City instead and doing a Day Trip to San Miguel. There are buses that connect both towns. They are 1 hour 30 minutes away from each other. Since my visit was short, I cannot share much on this town but below are a few recommendations friends shared with me prior to my visit.

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Parroquía de San Miguel Arcángel

Keep in mind that most day tours stop at a restaurant near the highway in which they have a previous agreement with. In most cases, these restaurants only serve meat. You are not obligated to eat here but there are hardly any other options in the middle of the highway.

Friendly reminder that I have another post with tips on what to do, see and eat Guanajuato City. Enjoy your time in this beautiful state. There is so much to see, do, and, especially, eat. Always, BE PRESENT and follow me on Instagram @joyzcortez for up to date tips and tricks from current travels.

The Best of Guanajuato in a Nut Shell

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. 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.

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Mercado Hidalgo – upstairs

I was again reminded I was in a special and new place to me 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 native 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.

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Teatro Juárez

What to do in Guanajuato City

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 musical instruments. You’ll follow the Estudiantina through the alleys stopping in certain areas where they tell tales 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 corpses who have been 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, which seemed like a cheap haunted house.

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The famous Guanajuato mummies

El Mirador del Pipila is a tall viewpoint with amazing views of the city. There are other tours than include a ride and a meal up there. There is also a cable car if you prefer to avoid the hike.

Other places to visit are Museo Casa de Diego RiveraMuseo Iconográfico de Don Quijote and the Alhóndiga de Granaditas.

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Entrance to Mercado Hidalgo

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 are freshly 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“.

The 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 enchiladas mineras is made with chile guajillo, so expect them to be spicy. The dish is topped with potatoes, lettuce, sour cream, fresh cheese, carrots and jalapeños in vinegar.

“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 cotija cheese, lime, hot sauce and chili powder. Some offered cream instead of mayo. Feel free to tell the vendor to skip or go easy on certain ingredients.

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Enjoying a Michelitro at a rooftop

Where to Stay

I stayed in the center which made everything within walking distance. The bus station was a 20-minute car or a 30-minute bus ride away. The airport was about an hour away since it’s in another city, Silao. There’s a bus departing from the airport to Guanajuato City’s bus station 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 a delicious and vegetarian home-cooked breakfast every morning! Our room was small but cute and had everything we needed, including a small bathroom and a window where the Callejoneada would pass by. It was a 5-minute walk from Teatro Juárez and had the best gorditas (Mexican empanadas) food 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 all the places I’ve mentioned in this post. If you have a day to spare, I recommend taking the “Independence Route”, a day trip to other towns in the state of Guanajuato. I describe in detail in my Day Trips post. Follow me on Instagram @joyzcortez for updated travel tips.

Enjoy your time in delicious and beautiful Guanajuato and always BE PRESENT!