San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
San Miguel de Allende is one of my favourite places in Mexico that I have been to thus far. I have been there twice in the past year as it is about a forty-five minute drive from Querétaro where my sister currently lives. The drive to San Miguel is a beautiful one; the landscape is full of mountains. When you arrive to the city, stick to the signs that read “Centro Historico”. Shortly into the drive, you will see a gorgeous vista of the city. There is parking there so get out of your car to really look. It is gorgeous. From there, all road lead down and let me tell you, some of them are mighty steep!
The centro of San Miguel is one of the most beautiful ones that I have seen. The majority of towns in Mexico are built around squares. It is the place where everything happens in the city, where you go to meet friends and socialise in the evenings. The centro in San Miguel is even declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The pink neo-gothic-style Parish of San Miguel church in the main square reminds me of something only a Disney movie could imagine (although, of course, it was built in the 17th-century!).
On the other three sides of the square you will find great cafes and restaurants who don’t mind if you only purchase a cafe con leche or cervaza in order to get the perfect seat for people-watching. When my Mom and I visited last year, we would wake up early in the morning to read our books on a bench under the perfectly maintained trees in the square. It was hard to get through a page in our books because the happenings around us was so entertaining to watch.
The best thing to do in San Miguel is to just wander the streets. The colours of the buildings will blow you away. What I enjoy the most are all of the fancy doors. I could have photographed them all day. South of the main square is a great park called Parque Juarez and it is definitely worth the walk to.
Tips for San Miguel de Allende
• San Miguel may seem like an unlikely tourist spot since it is located in more Central Mexico and no where near the ocean but it is actually very full of (mostly American) tourists. A lot of gringos retire here. Because of this you will hear a lot of English spoken here.
• There are many options for hotels here. I stayed at Hotel La Morada last year and loved it. It is located basically in the centro and is super cute. The room was large and decorated in a very authentic Mexican-style
• Every state in Mexico is known for a different craft or art. In San Miguel you will find a lot of objects made from tin. You will also find a lot of the beautiful tiled mirrors. I totally bought a small one and have plans to someone bring a large one home to Canada sometime in the future.
• There are a few parking lots on the streets South of the centro. Parking here costs about fifteen or twenty pesos an hour.
• There are a couple of great artist markets (mercados de artesanias) in San Miguel. The biggest one is located north of Calle Mensones between Calle Animas and Calle Loreto. You can buy basically anything here.