Guanajuato is regularly considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. A colonial mining town turned UNESCO World Heritage site, Guanajuato’s brightly colored houses set against a backdrop of ravine slopes retain a certain rustic splendor, with winding cobblestone alleyways, manicured plazas, and a local flavor and authenticity that has stood the test of time.
Despite its welcoming locals and numerous area attractions, relatively few tourists ever make the trek to discover Guanajuato’s alluring charm. While perhaps this is a good thing, there are plenty of reasons to consider Guanajuato the next time you are searching for an off-the-beaten-track retreat in Mexico:
Guanajuato is the perfect place to set off with a notebook and a camera and just get lost. Colonial buildings date back to the city’s origins in 1559, and there are plenty of lovely theatres, opulent churches, and well-maintained museums to discover. The churches of La Compañía and La Valenciana in particular are considered to be two of the most beautiful examples of Baroque architecture in both Central and South America. Take your time to soak in the city’s romantic air and architecture.
To Meet the Locals
Guanajuato might be a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it is also very much a place where people live, work and study. There’s a vibrant student community, which also means plenty of trendy cafes and nightlife. Don’t be shy to interact with the locals you see relaxing in the plazas or enjoying an evening of mariachi music; Mexicans are extremely friendly, and as Guanajuato gets relatively few tourists, people will be more than happy to spend some time chatting.
To Visit San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is kind of like a smaller, more touristy version of Guanajuato. It’s a popular destination for its history, its beautiful architecture, its popular arts culture, and its walk-ability. While there are plenty of merits to the destination, opt to escape the crowds by basing yourself in Guanajuato and experiencing San Miguel de Allende as a day trip.
To Discover Festival Cervantino
Guanajuato doesn’t see all that many tourists until Festival Cervantino rolls around each fall. During this time, people flock to the city for one of the most important art and cultural events in all of Mexico. For over forty years, thousands of artists representing nationalities from around the world have come to present some of the most outstanding works in music, opera, theatre, dance, plastic arts, cinema and literature. Expect exorbitant prices and overwhelming crowds, but if you’re a fan of arts and culture, this is one festival that shouldn’t be missed.
Guanajuato is surrounded by hills, meaning that there are plenty of accessible hiking opportunities around the city. Hikes range in length and difficulty, promising a little bit of something for everyone. Walking a portion of the Carretera Panoramica is one of the most popular hikes; the road encircles Guanajuato from high above the city on the walls of the valley and offers stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape and city.
Have you been to Guanajuato before? What did you think?