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San Miguel de Allende — The Most Beautiful City in Mexico

Planning a trip to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico? Here’s everything you need to know before you go. Use this guide to help plan your trip so you don’t miss any of the best things to do!

San Miguel de Allende

What Is San Miguel De Allende Known For?

San Miguel De Allende is known for its well-preserved historic center with homes and buildings from the 1600-1700s. The city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its colonial architecture and important role in the Mexican War of Independence. San Miguel De Allende was also recently voted one of the top 50 Most Beautiful Cities in the World.

San Miguel de Allende

Is San Miguel de Allende Safe For Tourists?

Yes, San Miguel de Allende is absolutely safe for tourists, as the city relies on tourism as its main source of income.

In addition to being safe, San Miguel is a very enjoyable city to visit. No one bothered us while we were there. No one tried to pull us into their restaurant. We didn’t feel like anyone was trying to scam us. We were able to just walk around the city and enjoy it in peace.

At the markets haggling is not commonplace. If you ask the price, then say it’s too expensive and start to leave, they will let you leave. They won’t chase you down and ask you how much you want to pay.

San Miguel de Allende

What Airport Do You Fly Into For San Miguel de Allende?

Unfortunately, there is no airport directly in San Miguel de Allende. Below are the three closest airports to San Miguel de Allende.

From these airport you can book a group shuttle or call an Uber to take you the rest of the way to San Miguel. Group shuttles must be booked in advanced. The most reliable shuttle company to is San Miguel de Allende is Bajiogo.com.

Queretaro — Queretaro Airport (QRO)

Driving Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Approximate Cost:
Group Shuttle — $50
Uber — $50

Leon — Del Bajio Airport (BJX)

Driving Time: 1.5 – 2 hours

Approximate Cost:
Group Shuttle — $50
Uber — $70 USD

Mexico City — Juarez International Airport (MEX)

Driving Time: 3.5 hours

Approximate Cost:
Group Shuttle — $160
Uber — $240 USD

Can I take the bus to San Miguel de Allende?

Buses are also available to San Miguel, but not from the airport. If you want to take a bus, you will first have to take a taxi (or Uber) from the airport to the central bus station, then get on the bus to San Miguel. We recommend the Primera Plus bus for traveling in Mexico. You can check schedules, rates, and book tickets online on their website.

San Miguel de Allende

Do You Need A Car In San Miguel de Allende?

No, you do not need a car in San Miguel de Allende. The city is very pleasant to walk around, and almost everything is within walking distance. If you need to go further, there are plenty of taxis and Uber is also available.

In addition, it can be very difficult to find parking in San Miguel. The roads are very narrow and steep, so it’s not the easiest city to drive in. We recommend to avoid driving in San Miguel de Allende if you can!

San Miguel de Allende

Can You Drink The Water In San Miguel de Allende?

Yes, you can drink the water in San Miguel de Allende! Because the city relies so heavily on tourism, they passed a law regarding the water.

All restaurants in San Miguel de Allende MUST:

  • Serve purified water
  • Make ice with purified water
  • Cook with purified water
  • Rinse fruit with purified water 

I have a sensitive stomach and have definitely gotten sick from drinking the water in other countries before, but I drank water (and drinks with ice) in San Miguel and did not get sick. Such a relief to have one less thing to worry about when traveling!

San Miguel de Allende

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Go To San Miguel de Allende?

The best time to visit San Miguel de Allende is in the winter, November through April. The temperature is the same year round (between 70-90 degrees) but there is less rain in the winter.

Try to plan your trip to San Miguel during the week, and avoid the weekends. San Miguel is a very popular weekend destination for Mexicans. 70% of tourists who come to San Miguel live in Mexico, compared to only 30% of tourists who visit from other countries. The weekends are generally more crowded and hotels are more expensive.

For a truly unforgettable experience, Day of the Dead would be an amazing time to visit San Miguel de Allende.

Read More: Day of the Dead in Mexico City

Sunset in San Miguel de Allende

What Are The Best Things To Do In San Miguel de Allende?

San Miguel has an extremely well-preserved historic distric from the 1600s, a stunning pink sandstone church, colorful street art, panoramic views, amazing food, and even the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico”. Below are the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende. Save this list so you don’t miss anything in San Miguel!

Templo de San Francisco in San Miguel de Allende
Templo de San Francisco in the Historic Center of San Miguel de Allende

1. Walk Around the Historic Center of San Miguel de Allende

The historic center of San Miguel de Allende is very easy to walk around and admire the colorful homes and Baroque architecture. The buildings are from the 1600 and 1700s and are still in very good condition.

The entire historic district is a little less than 2 acres large, so it’s very easy to see everything and you don’t have to worry about getting lost or missing anything!

Templo del Oratorio de San Felipe Neri in San Miguel de Allende
Templo del Oratorio de San Felipe Neri

To preserve its colonial heritage, all the buildings in the historic district must be painted a certain color with paint made from organic substances, just like they would have used in the 1600s.

Plaza Cívica in San Miguel de Allende
Plaza Cívica

Where is the Historic Center of San Miguel de Allende?

The center point of the historic district in San Miguel is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church.

Here is the {GPS Location} on Google Maps, the historic center is the yellow highlighted area.

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel Church

2. Visit The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel Church

The massive Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church is the most iconic site in San Miguel de Allende. The two pink towers can be seen from all over town. It is one of the most photographed churches in Mexico.

Inside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel Church
Inside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel Church

When to Visit the The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel Church:

You can see the outside of the church anytime. The iconic pink towers can be seen from all over the city. But finding a time to see the inside of the church can be a bit tricky since it’s still an active Catholic church and mass is held every day.

Here is the church’s schedule for mass:

  • Mass is every day at 7 am, 9 am, 12 pm, and 8 pm
  • Mass on Sunday is at 7 am, 8 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 5 pm, 6 pm, 8 pm
  • The church is closed every day from 2:30 – 4 PM
  • Rosary & Benediction services are every day at 7 pm

If you want to see the inside, the best time to visit would probably be at 4 PM, right after they re-open for the afternoon.

Inside The Holy School of Christ in San Miguel de Allende
Inside The Holy School of Christ in San Miguel de Allende

Don’t Miss The Holy School of Christ

Just to the left of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church is a small blue chapel. It’s easy to miss and often gets overshadowed by the much larger Parroquia. When visiting the church, definitely take a few minutes to peak inside this beautiful chapel.

Colorful Street Art in San Miguel de Allende

3. Find Street Art in the Artsy Guadaloupe Neighborhood of San Miguel de Allende

Guadaloupe is a funky, artsy neighborhood in San Miguel de Allende. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the historic center. Many of the buildings are painted with street art and covered in large murals.

Blue house with pink flowers in San Miguel de Allende

Where is the Street Art in San Miguel de Allende?

Here is some information for finding street art in Guadaloupe:

Where:

Here is the {GPS Location} on Google Maps to the Guadaloupe neighborhood.

Time:

Plan to spend 1-2 hours walking around and hunting down the street art in this colorful neighborhood. There are also many charming cafes for relaxing in the afternoon. It’s a quiet area if you want to escape the crowds of the center.

The Best Churros in San Miguel de Allende
The most famous caramel-stuffed churros in San Miguel from Café San Augustin

4. Take a Food Tour of the Best San Miguel de Allende Restaurants

Often one of the biggest decisions when traveling is figuring out where to eat. When I travel to a new city, I want to try the best food they have to offer. But since I’ve never been there before, I usually have no idea where the best restaurants are. Another problem is that I often don’t have enough time to visit all the restaurants I want to try.

The best way to solve this problem is by taking a food tour. Taste of San Miguel offers food tours with local guides who live in San Miguel, try new places all the time, and know exactly where to find the best restaurants in San Miguel de Allende.

With Taste of San Miguel, you can take a food tour for lunch or dinner and you’ll get to sample the best dishes from 5-6 different restaurants, all while learning fun facts about the city. You can rest assured that you will have some of the best food San Miguel has to offer!

Below are two different tours you can take:

Taste of San Miguel Food Tour (Lunch)

The Taste of San Miguel Food Tour is a 3-hour food and city walking tour that starts around lunctime. The tour includes 7 food tasting locations that highlight the best local dishes San Miguel has to offer. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a unique lunch in San Miguel. You won’t leave hungry!!

Tacos & Tequila Tour (Dinner)

The Tacos & Tequila Tour is a 3.5 hour food and city walking tour that starts around sunset. There are 6 different tasting locations. If you love tacos this is the tour for you!! You’ll get to try BEST tacos in San Miguel. You’ll also learn the history and importance of tequila and tacos to the Mexican culture while trying hand-crafted cocktails made with local spirits. This tour is offered in the evening and is an amazing way to enjoy an unforgettable dinner in San Miguel.

San Miguel de Allende
View from El Mirador in San Miguel

5. Hike Up to the Mirador for the Best Panoramic View of San Miguel de Allende

Mirador is the Spanish word for “viewpoint” or “lookout”. The best view of San Miguel de Allende is from the Mirador located just a 15-minute walk from the center.

It’s not really a “hike” — you can walk on the paved street the entire time, however it’s a bit steep. If you don’t want to walk you can take a taxi or Uber.

From the Mirador you can see the church and its beautiful towers and domes, and all the colorful houses and flowers in San Miguel.

Shaved Ice in San Miguel de Allende

Just across the street there is a shop selling shaved ice slushees for only $2 USD and you get to keep the hand-painted souvenir mug!

Where is the Mirador in San Miguel de Allende?

Here is the {GPS Location} on Google Maps to the Mirador in San Miguel. You can walk or take a taxi.

Here is the {GPS Location} of the shaved ice shop. It’s right across the street from the viewpoint.

Sanctuary of Atotonilco Outside

6. See the “Sistine Chapel Of Mexico” — The Sanctuary Of Atotonilco

The Sanctuary of Atotonilco is a historic church near San Miguel de Allende. It was built in the 1600s.

Sanctuary of Atotonilco Inside

The church is nicknamed the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” because of the ornate Baroque murals that almost completely cover the walls and ceiling.

Sanctuary of Atotonilco Inside

The murals depict classic scenes from the Bible and were painted over a period of 30 years by a single Mexican artist named Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre .

Sanctuary of Atotonilco Inside

The murals are painted in a style called Mexican folk Baroque. Indigenous influence can also be seen in the paintings.

Sanctuary of Atotonilco Inside

Because of its well-preserved architecture and murals, the Sanctuary of Atotonilco was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sanctuary of Atotonilco Inside

Information for Visiting the Sanctuary of Atotonilco

Here’s what you you need to know before you go to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco:

Where:

The Sanctuary of Atotonilco is located about a 20 minute drive from San Miguel. Here is the {GPS Location} on Google Maps.

How To Get There:

If you don’t have a car, the best way to get to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco is by taxi. However there are no taxis at the Sanctuary, so be sure to arrange with your driver in San Miguel to wait for you while you visit the church and then take you back to San Miguel when you’re done.

Expect to pay about 400 pesos ($21 USD) for a taxi to drive you there, wait 30 minutes, and bring you back, or a bit more if you want to stay longer.

Cost:

The main chapel of the church is free to enter. However the section with the most murals has a small entrance fee of 15 pesos ($0.80 USD). Be sure to have cash.

Street with colorful flags in Mexico

7. Wander Through the Artisans Market in San Miguel de Allende

If you’re looking for authentic, handmade souvenirs for a very good price, the Artisans Market in San Miguel de Allende is the place to go.

Even if you don’t want to buy anything, the market is very fun to walk around and admire the colorful pottery and textiles. The shopkeepers are not pushy and will not try to pull you into their shop or convince you to buy anything. You can walk through the market and shop in peace.

Market with colorful flags in Mexico

Information for Visiting the Artisans Market:

Where:

Here is the {GPS Location} for the Artisans Market on Google Maps.

When:

The market is open every day from 9 AM – 7 PM.

8. Have Brunch With A View At Cumpanio

One of our favorite restaurants in San Miguel de Allende was Cumpanio. Their breakfast menu offers traditional Mexican breakfast items like chilaquiles, tamales, and carnitas. If you’re lucky you can grab a table by the window with an amazing view!

If you just want a pastry to go, they have a bakery next door called Panio. I highly recommend you try the Kouign Amman! It’s my favorite pastry ever and it’s a bit difficult to find, so whenever I see it I always have to get it. The Kouign Amman at Panio was amazing! It’s like a croissant with buttery flakey layers, but in the layers there is also sugar, so the outside is crisp and caramelized and the inside is soft, sweet, and gooey! SO good!!

San Miguel de Allende Hotels

Typical Mexican Living Room

Where to Stay in San Miguel

We stayed at the absolute cutest hotel in San Miguel de Allende. If you want to feel like you’re staying in an authentic Mexican home with tons of space and all the modern comforts, I highly recommend the Suites Santo Domingo in San Miguel. It’s just a 5-minute walk from the historic center.

San Miguel de Allende Hotels

Our suite had a huge living room, kitchen, spacious bedroom, and bathroom. Scroll down for more pictures of our suite.

San Miguel de Allende Hotels

A Captivating History

The house (and the man who built it) has a fascinating history. We met Guillermo, the current owner of the hotel. His grandfather built the house in 1949. His grandfather came from Germany. He was in the navy in WWII. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Utah. When the war ended he was released and went to New York City to become a tailor. He was hired in Mexico and eventually moved to San Miguel de Allende.

San Miguel de Allende Hotels
How cute are the gold bird faucets and drawer knobs in the bathroom??

He married a local girl who wanted a typical Mexican house, so he built one for her. Later they added more rooms to the house to rent to students, and eventually turned the family home into a hotel.

Typical Mexican Kitchen

Letters from Captivity…

During his captivity, Guillermo’s grandfather wrote many letters back home, but when he was liberated they gave him all the letters back — they had never been sent. Since he thought his family thought he was dead, he never tried to get in touch with them again.

Cute stove in a typical Mexican Home
Love this cute stove!

Later his daughter traveled to Germany with a picture of her father to try and reunite with his remaining family. She found the house he grew up in and a cousin who had the exact same picture she had.

There is now a mural on one of the walls of the hotel depicting his family home in Germany.

Courtyard in San Miguel de Allende

This courtyard made me so happy every time we came back to the hotel.

Rooftop Terrace in San Miguel de Allende

The hotel also has an amazing rooftop terrace with a fabulous view of the city.

If you are looking for a truly authentic, one-of-a-kind hotel experience in San Miguel de Allende, I highly, highly recommend Suites Santo Domingo.


Questions About San Miguel de Allende?

Do you have any questions about visiting San Miguel de Allende? Let me know in the comments! We’ll do our best to help.


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6 Responses
  1. Shilo Bias

    Thank you so much for the wonderful post! I always enjoy how you add a bit of historical facts about the places you visit. My husband were just talking about visiting Mexico and now I think this would be a great destination.

  2. Bonnie

    Hola,
    As a single Cdn retired woman, is it safe to walk around in the evenings? Are there monthly rentals sites you can suggest? Are your pictures enhanced as the colors appear very bright and it looks “picture perfect”. How long did you stay there?
    Gracias
    Bonnie

  3. Sherry Hartman

    Very helpful! Headed to SMA on Saturday from CDM for 8 nights. Was there 3 years ago…friends live there. We are renting a house thru Air B&B. Going to check out many of your suggestions that we missed last time…and adding a day trip to Dolores Hidalgo….

    1. Amanda

      Either at your bank before leaving the US or directly at the airport when you arrive. Hope this helps! Have a great trip!! :)

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Meet Kevin & Amanda

Kevin and Amanda

We love to travel and to eat! Here we share our favorite quick and easy recipes for busy weeknight dinners, plus travel tips and guides for our favorite places around the world. Meet our Boston Terriers. Take a tour of our house. If you have any questions about what camera I use or how I edit my photos, check out my photography tutorials.

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