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Nestled in the heart of Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is a captivating city that effortlessly combines rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking beauty. Stepping foot into this enchanting destination that we call “home” feels like entering a time capsule, where cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and artistic flair converge. With so much to offer, it's no wonder that San Miguel de Allende has become a must-visit Mexican destination for travelers from around the globe.
In this blog, we will delve into the top 10 things to do in San Miguel de Allende, but let's be clear: this list is just the beginning. While we can't cover every remarkable aspect of this remarkable city in one go, consider this your first taste of the myriad experiences awaiting you. From historical landmarks to culinary delights, artistic pursuits, and beyond, San Miguel de Allende has a plethora of treasures to explore.
So, without further ado, let's dive into the first of many top-10 must-do experiences in San Miguel de Allende. But don't worry if your favorite activity isn't mentioned here—we have you covered. In upcoming follow-up blogs, we will continue our exploration, unearthing more hidden gems and exciting adventures that await intrepid travelers in this captivating Mexican city.
1. Explore the Jardin:
The Jardin, San Miguel de Allende's main square, is a vibrant hub of activity. Sit back and people watch as locals and tourists mingle to the backdrop of the incredible pseudo-gothic church la Parróquia, creating a colorful tapestry of life. Spruce up your shoes or sneakers, and spark up a conversation with the shoeshiner, a true local. Withdraw pesos wisely at one of the many nearby ATMs. Visit the home of Ignacio Allende, one on Mexico's most iconic revolutionary leaders. Grab a cup of coffee and savor the aroma or indulge in a delicious churro and hot chocolate or an ice cream treat. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere as the sound of church bells fills the air, and the lively tunes of mariachi bands serenade the crowds.
2. Walk around Centro on your own or take a tour:
Explore the enchanting streets of San Miguel's Centro Historico on foot, allowing yourself to be captivated by the city's architectural wonders. The cobblestone streets lead you through a maze of historic buildings, each telling a story of its own. Take a moment to peek into an open door, catching glimpses of hidden courtyards and charming patios. Don't miss the opportunity to visit Parque Juarez, a serene oasis with lush green spaces, fountains, and picturesque walkways. For a different perspective, consider joining a guided tour to learn more about the history and cultural significance of the city's landmarks, providing valuable insights and anecdotes.
In the following video, we embark on a rediscovery of San Miguel, emerging from a 15-month period of confinement due to the impact of COVID.
3. Have a drink and/or dinner at a rooftop bar:
Elevate your experience in San Miguel by enjoying a refreshing drink or a delectable dinner at one of the city's rooftop bars. Take in panoramic views of the enchanting cityscape as you sip on a craft cocktail or sample local cuisine. The magical combination of good company, breathtaking vistas, and the vibrant ambiance of the city below creates an unforgettable experience.
4. Explore the churches:
San Miguel de Allende is home to several awe-inspiring churches, each with its distinct charm and historical significance. Start with the iconic Parróquia, with its neo-Gothic facade and towering pink spires that dominate the skyline. Visit the tranquil Templo de la Purisima Concepción locally known as Templo de las Monjas meaning “Nuns' Church”, known for its serene courtyard and intricate Baroque architecture. Discover the architectural beauty of San Juan de Diós Church, admire the stunning altarpieces at San Francisco Church, and pay a visit to the Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Salúd, a church with an interesting façade resembling a shell, where you can immerse yourself in local religious customs. These are just a few of many churches that you can explore.
Engross yourself in the vibrant market scene of San Miguel de Allende, where you can find a treasure trove of local goods and experiences. Explore the Ignacio Ramirez Market, a bustling hub where you can browse through fresh produce, local delicacies, and traditional crafts. Discover the Artisan Market, brimming with handmade crafts, textiles, and intricate jewelry. Don't miss the San Juan de Diós Market, where locals go to find fresh produce, clothing, home decor and handicrafts, street food and snacks and local specialties. Lastly, visit the Tuesday Market at what locals call la placita, known for its colorful array of fruits, vegetables, artisanal products and an array of items for the home and clothing (think swap meet) as well as delicious food stalls.
6. Ride a hot air balloon:
Embark on a breathtaking adventure and witness the beauty of San Miguel de Allende from a whole new perspective. Experience the exhilaration of a hot air balloon ride as you soar above the city's picturesque landscape. Marvel at the charming rooftops, historic landmarks, vineyards and rolling hills, all bathed in the golden light of dawn or dusk. It's an unforgettable and enchanting way to appreciate the natural and architectural beauty of the region.
7. Do a food (or wine or beer or tequila or mezcal) tour:
Indulge your taste buds with a delightful culinary journey through San Miguel de Allende. Join a food tour to discover hidden gems and local favorites, sampling a variety of authentic Mexican dishes along the way. If you're a wine enthusiast, explore the vineyards surrounding the city and savor exquisite wines paired with delectable cuisine.
8. Check out the Local Art Scene:
San Miguel de Allende is a thriving artistic hub, attracting both renowned and emerging artists from around the world. Immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene by visiting Fábrica La Aurora, a former textile factory transformed into a dynamic art space. Explore its galleries, showcasing a wide range of contemporary art, paintings, sculptures, and photography. Get inspired as you witness the creative process firsthand, engaging with artists in their studios and learning about their techniques and inspirations.
In addition to contemporary art, San Miguel de Allende is renowned for its rich folk-art traditions. Discover the colorful and intricate works of local artisans at the Artisan Market. Here, you can find an array of handcrafted ceramics, textiles, woodwork, and traditional Mexican crafts, each piece telling a story and reflecting the region's cultural heritage. Stroll along Calzada de la Aurora, a street lined with folk-art shops and studios, where you can encounter a diverse range of artistic expressions including Casa Michoacana, a treasure trove of folk art, where you can admire exquisite pottery, masks, and textiles from the state of Michoacan.
Additionally, don't forget to explore the numerous art shops scattered throughout the town. From small boutiques to bustling marketplaces, you'll find a plethora of opportunities to bring a piece of San Miguel's artistic spirit back home with you.
9. El Charco and the Botanical Gardens:
Escape the bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of El Charco del Ingenio, a natural reserve and botanical garden located just outside San Miguel de Allende’s historical center. This oasis of tranquility spans over 170 acres and offers a diverse ecosystem of native plants, cacti, and wildlife. Wander along the peaceful trails, marveling at the breathtaking vistas of the canyon, and discover hidden waterfalls. The Botanical Gardens within El Charco provide an educational and immersive experience. Learn about the unique flora and fauna of the region, including endangered plant species. Take part in guided tours and workshops that highlight the importance of conservation and sustainable practices. Connect with nature, breathe in the fresh air, and find solace in this extraordinary natural sanctuary.
10. The Viewpoints (Miradores):
San Miguel de Allende boasts several picturesque miradores, or viewpoints, that offer panoramic vistas of the city and its surroundings. Climb to the top of El Mirador de San Miguel, locally known simply as El Mirador, or visit the lesser known Mirador Cruz del Pueblo for a stunning view of the city's rooftops, church spires, and rolling hills. Capture breathtaking photographs as the sun sets over the horizon, casting a warm glow over the charming colonial architecture. These miradores offer a chance to pause, reflect, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds San Miguel de Allende, leaving you with lasting memories of your visit.
San Miguel de Allende beckons with its rich history, vibrant culture, and captivating beauty. Our exploration of the top-10 must-do experiences in this enchanting city in the heart of Mexico is just the beginning of a remarkable journey. From immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of the Jardín to wandering the cobblestone streets of Centro and uncovering the architectural marvels, there's something for everyone. Delight your senses with culinary adventures, embark on artistic pursuits, and venture into the natural wonders that surround the city.
And while we've covered a lot, there's still so much more to discover. So, stay tuned for our upcoming blogs as we continue to unveil the hidden gems and exciting adventures that await you in San Miguel de Allende. Whether you're a culture enthusiast, a food lover, an art aficionado, or a nature seeker, this captivating Mexican city has countless treasures waiting to be explored. Let your curiosity guide you as you embark on a journey of discovery and create unforgettable memories in San Miguel de Allende, a destination that captivates the heart and soul.
We are Antonieta and Francisco, and we have owned and operated Antigua Capilla Boutique Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel de Allende since 2009. If you are planning a visit to this incredible city in the heart of Mexico, consider staying with us. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to welcome you to Antigua Capilla Boutique Bed & Breakfast, where we pledge to uphold our commitment to exceptional service and the creation of unforgettable memories.
Mexico City is only a three to four hour drive, and a 4.5 hour bus ride away. We love it there and go as often as we can. On this occasion, we met up with Paco de Santiago (https://www.instagram.com/conde.petatl), food tour leader with Culinary Backstreets, to explore sites less visited and to discover secret food gems of the Centro Historico, Mexico City's historical center.
We highly recommend reserving a tour with Culinary Backstreets. (not a sponsor). We have done tours with them in Lisbon and now in Mexico City. They offer tours throughout the world. Here's their website: https://culinarybackstreets.com The band playing Huastecan folk music at the beginning of the video is available for hire in Mexico City. They can be reached on WhatsApp at +55 3111 1953.
Looking for a hotel in San Miguel de Allende? Or perhaps an AirBnB is what you need. Before committing to any of those choices, consider checking out Antigua Capilla Boutique Bed and Breakfast. We have been doing this for close to 15 years, and we know how to make your stay in San Miguel special. Check out our rooms here.
See you soon!
Join us as we take a day trip from our home town of San Miguel de Allende to CERRO DEL CUBILETE and the CRISTO REY. This gigantic statue of Christ is located on top of a 600-foot-tall hill, just a short 2-hour drive from San Miguel and just a few minutes from the Guanajuato Airport (GTO) and the cities of Guanajuato and Leon. After visiting the shrine, we eat some delicious Mexican street food.
There are so many fun things to do in and around San Miguel de Allende! For some ideas visit our sightseeing page.
Looking for a place to stay in central Mexico? Stay with us at our B&B in San Miguel de Allende! Check out or rooms here.
On our recent visit to the nearby city of Guanajuato, our friend, Miguel, who also happens to be one of the best guides around, introduced us to this gem.
This sandwich is a type of torta locally known as a "guacamaya", and it is blissfully delicious. It consists of avocado, a hard boiled egg, and an insane amount of pork rinds all topped with a spicy pico de gallo salsa.
It is the best 25 pesos one could ever spend. That's $1.25 at today's exchange rate!
If you're in Guanajuato, be sure to visit this vendor located just down the street from the "callejon del beso"
Francisco and Antonieta, your hosts