20 Things to Do in San Miguel de Allende
Here is our collection of absolutely unmissable activities for your next visit to this colonial city in the state of Guanajuato, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.
1. Firstly, take a walk along the city’s streets and admire the colonial architecture of the stunning buildings. You will soon see why San Miguel de Allende is considered one of the most beautiful cities of the whole country.
2. Visit the San Miguel Arcángel Parish Church, the symbol of the city which was erected at the end of the 17th century. Don’t miss a single detail of the church’s impressive neo-gothic style facade, designed by maestro Ceferino Gutiérrez and continually added-to until 1880.
3. Visit the Mercado de Artesanías (handicraft market) and in the Lucas Balderas walkway, buy a few (or a lot!) of the typical decorated handicrafts in brass, wood and copper.
4. If you like history, you can’t miss the Ex-Palacio Municipal, built in 1736. Take a rest from climbing the steps and you will be able to see the statues of Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende. It was here where the very first city council was established in 1810 after Mexican independence.
5. Visit the Casa de Allende. With a beautiful 17-century neoclassical doorway, this building houses an interesting collection of artefacts from the Independence period presented in the rooms where the hero Ignacio Allende y Unzaga was born.
6. Admire the magnificent facade of the Church of San Francisco, built in the Churrigueresque style, with many pilaster estípite columns (in the shape of an inverted cone or obelisk) and an impressive neoclassical tower and dome attributed to the renowned architect Francisco Tresguerras.
7. Take a photo next to the equestrian statue of Ignacio Allende, located in Plaza Cívica, the largest meeting place in the city, in the northern zone. His statue dates from 1555, and for some time was considered as the central point of the city.
8. Bed down in one of the exclusive boutique hotels housed in former colonial or 19th-century mansions which have now been renovated and modernized, offering dreamy rooms with adjoining gardens. Some offer spa treatments and temazcal baths (a type of pre-Hispanic sauna).
9. Across from Plaza Civíca, you can find the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Salud, which until the end of the 18th century was used as a chapel for the Colegio de San Francisco de Sales. Here, it is said you can find the oldest bell of the city. Don’t forget to look for it!
10. Treat yourself to some delicious churros and a steaming hot chocolate in the traditional San Agustín restaurant, owned by the famous actress Margarita Gralia. The restaurant is set in an old 18th-century mansion, just a few steps from the Church of San Francisco.
11. During the month of June, you can’t miss the Desfile de los Locos (parade of madmen) this is a unique event which is becoming more and more popular every year. During this festival―which takes place on the Sunday following Saint Anthony’s day―participants dress in garish costumes and hand out candy to the watching crowds.
12. If you love nature, we recommend the El Charco de Ingenio Botanical Garden, situated 2.5 km (1.6 mi) to the northwest of San Miguel’s center, close to the former quarry. This space of 166 acres is home to 1,300 different species of cactus to learn about!
13. On the corner of Calle de la Canal and the Plaza Principal, you can find the Casa del Mayorazgo, a beautiful private property which is considered one of the best examples of Mexico’s colonial era noble palaces. Admire the building’s beautiful baroque-style stone doorway.
14. In September, get involved with the Fiestas Patrias (Day of independence) celebrations. La Noche del Grito on the 15th is always accompanied by mariachi music, fireworks and many market stalls where you’ll find a tasty selection of typical snacks, candy and drinks.
15. Around 18 km (11.2 mi) to the north of San Miguel, you can find the village of Atotonilco. Here, you can see the breathtaking Jesús Nazareno Church and Ex-convent, classified as a unesco World Heritage Site for its spectacular chapels, paintings and altarpieces.
16. Taste the best of Mexican and International foods in one of the traditional restaurants situated in the area around the main square. Amongst the most well-known are: La Fonda San Miguel, Casa Allende, Los Milagros and Mama Mía.
17. If you visit in May, don’t miss the events which make up part of the Festival de Música Barroca (Festival of Baroque Music). This is ideal for fans of music from the era, which is played on period instruments by well-known orchestras, groups and soloists from all over the world.
18. Very close to the Paseo de Chorro is the San Miguel overlook. From here, the view is truly incredible; you can see the silhouette of the San Miguel Parish Church, the dome of the Church of San Francisco’s tower, and even further away, the outline of the Allende dam. Don’t miss this photo-opportunity!
19. Around 38 km (23.6 mi) to the northeast of San Miguel is Dolores Hidalgo, another Magical Town. It is famous because as well as being the birthplace of Mexican independence, it is also a wonderful shopping destination for purchasing all kinds of objects and decorations made with talavera pottery, at excellent prices.
20. Watch the night fall from the Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar of the sophisticated Rosewood Hotel.
San Miguel de Allende is 2 hours away from León (International Airport) on tollway 45D and state road 051; 1 hour away from Guanajuato and 3 hours from CDMX following tollway 57D and state road 111.