We hadn’t even intended on spending time in Guanajuato when we first set out on our trip, and we couldn’t feel more grateful to have ended up spending over a month in this jewel! It’s a colourful, colonial, university town, with feelings of Europe that totally surprise. Enjoy!
We actually used another blog post to plan the majority of our sightseeing time, so there is no sense just repeating everything they’ve written - definitely check it out! We thought they were pretty spot on with their recommendations!
Some of our highlights were:
1. Tram (funicular) up to the pipila monument. The view is RIDICULOUS. There is also a bar hanging off the side of the hill and it’s a great spot to come for sunset. Easy walk back down to town.
2. Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera. A gorgeous garden oasis just a short taxi ride outside of the city. There is a bar and restaurant as well, so we packed a full backpack of things and spent the better part of a day laying on the grass reading etc.
3. Cerro del Cubilete (Cristo Hill). We took a formal tour here one afternoon that took a few hours. There were some unexpected stops along the way that felt like tourist traps (for example, stopping at a pottery studio, jewelry store, and a restaurant for dinner), however getting to Cristo Hill itself was worth it. We arrived just before sunset and the views of the surrounding area were stunning.
4. Hiking in the hillside. We did some research online and planned a route up into the hills. There are a couple different crosses that are great endpoints. Choose your own adventure, but we’d definitely recommend doing some sort of hike! Seeing Guanajuato from this perspective was very special.
5. Drawing and walking tour. Booked through AirBnb Experiences right when we arrived, we’d definitely suggest it as a great way to get your bearings, and the host is an amazing resource for all possible questions you may have.
6. Don Quito Museum. I didn’t know anything about Don Quito before entering the museum and it was still one of my favourite things we did in town. The story behind the museum is fascinating, and every piece inside is a different artist’s interpretation of Don Quito and his story, but in all different mediums and styles. So cool!
7. Leon State Fair (January 12 to February 6th). We hopped on the bus and spent a very full and entertaining day at the massive Leon State Fair. As far as we could see we were the only foreigners there, and it had everything you’d see at a massive fair at home (the rides, the games, the unhealthy food) and more!
1. We took a weekend trip to see the monarch butterfly migration in Morelia. If you hit the season right and are planning a long stay in Guanajuato, making a weekend trip to Morelia to experience the amazing sight of millions of butterflies is definitely worth considering. We took the local bus to Morelia and then hired a driver/guide to actually take us to the butterflies.
2. We spent a special night about 15 min outside of Guanajuato at Casa Estrella. It is so beautiful and feels like you are staying at a friend’s cozy house. Even our pup could come! Our room had its own private covered patio with fireplace and full-sized hot tub. The view of Guanajuato sparkling in the distance at night is amazing. The breakfast the next morning was delicious. There are not many restaurant options in the nearby town, so it’s best to eat before arriving or bring your own groceries because you have full access to the huge kitchen.
1. Tragaluz: Terraza tapas with one of the best views of the hillside and its sea of rainbow houses. Order the 4 tapas for 100 peso, and you will be happy as can be. It also happens to be right above a bakery, so the aromas are incredible.
2. Bar Luna: Great atmosphere right in the main square. You must try miners enchiladas at least once, and we had ours here along with top notch quac. Secretly order a mariachi band for a neighboring table for endless entertainment!
3. Chella and Chuchita Taqueria: #besttacosintown, as their hashtag goes, and we would have to agree! Our favourite was the arrachera especial chuchita - amazing in taste and price is under 30 peso each. They don’t sell alcohol, but they will run and get it for you elsewhere.
4. Escarola: Charming outdoor café set amidst lots of plants. If anyone reading has been to Salt Spring Island on Vancouver Island, it has a very Salt Spring vibe. Great variety of large salads, soups, sandwiches, hamburgers, and good breakfast options. The strawberry margarita was also strong and delicious, with no added sugar.
5. Santo Cafe: Although it’s known for its cool bridge seating area, it’s definitely still worth a visit even if you don’t snag one of those limited tables because the food is so good. La sopa azteca is the best I had in my three months in Mexico!
6. Clave Azul: Visit this funky spot between 2:00-5:30 pm and you’ll get to sample some delicious local small plates for free if you order a few drinks (clarify the minimum spend when you arrive). We got 5 plates each! Stay downstairs for the full vibe.
7. Cerro del Las Ranas: If you’re into chiliquilles (Mexican “breakfast nachos” as I call them) this place is a must. Order the “especiales del cerro” and add two over easy eggs. You’re welcome! The restaurant is also set in a beautiful European-style plaza with a snippet view of the pipila (sp), so a lovely place to spend some time.
8. El Chahuistle: Almost anywhere serving breakfast will offer a “paquette,” or combo meal offering coffee/tea, fruit juice, usually bread, and the entrée, all for a very reasonable price. Our favourite was at this spot, that also happens to have great burgers.
9. Bánh Mì: If you’re craving some Thai or Vietnamese, head to this tiny joint. We highly recommend the drunken noodles.
1. Van Gough: Facing the main plaza in town, Jardin de la Union,it’s a prime people watching spot and there is always mariachi playing nearby for entertainment. It also has the best sangria we had in town, and delicious guacamole. You’ll want to try the famous miner’s enchiladas at least once, and this is also a great place for that.
2. Los Campos: We ate here a few times and didn’t think their food met the high reviews this place usually reviews, but OH MY GOSH their cocktails are on point! Real fruit, mucho alcohol, and some of the cheapest (65 pesos) in town. We always drank the paloma and guava margarita, and the guava is totally out of this world.
3. One Lounge Rooftop: We went at an odd time and it was basically empty, so I can’t speak to the vibe on a normal day, but the views of the nearby basilica and university are tough to beat, and it the town looked gorgeous lit up at night.
4. Bartola bar at Casa del Rector Hotel Boutique: Take the glass elevator which literally scales the hillside to access the top level of this swanky hotel. You walk out at a gorgeous infinity pool, and just past the pool is Bartola. It is by far the best rooftop in all of Guanajuato, if not our entire trip so far. Open air with a nearly 360 degree view overlooking Guanajuato and the surrounding hills. Stunning! The drinks are pricier, but carefully crafted and the service is perfect. Hands down the best place for sunset cocktails.
5. Café Tal: Our go-to coffee spot! For a real jolt, order the super-caffeinated, chocolatey rich espresso drink they call the “Parkinson.”
6. Bar-Why Not: If you’re wanting to try mezcal the true Mexican way, head here at night and have fun sampling their EXTENSIVE selection of sweet mezcal sipping shots, such as chai tea, Oreo, and red velvet. These are very different from the smokey mezcal we are used to back home in Canada!
7. Bar Fly: For a very local late night spot head here for fun music and their house speciality drink of Corona, tequila, grenadine, and lime. It tastes better than it sounds!
Snacks (most of them cheap and delicious!)
1. Empanadas: Best bang for your buck snack around. If leaving the university, turn left and it is close up on the right. Just 20 pesos and over a dozen flavours. We recommend the poblano pepper, corn, and cheese combo.
2. Club Café: Order the toasted spinach, ricotta, egg bagel
3. Ceviche in the park: There is a tiny food stand (see map for the location of Mariscos and it’s right around there!) to get cheap and delicious ceviche tostadas. On Sundays this area is also filled with street vendors selling all sorts of tasty local specialities, so it’s very fun to wander through here for lunch.
4. Bollos Preñaos: Little buns shaped like pig heads filled with savory and sweet fillings for 10 pesos.
5. La Garrafa Nieves: Homemade ice cream. We recommend the baja rose flavour!
6. Estacion Gelato: Quaint little rooftop tucked in between main streets with a wonderful view of the city’s coloured houses. Delicious coffee and gelato, and great oldies music.
BONUS: In Plaza Baratillo there are a few cheap and delicious street food vendors we frequented daily: a fresh juice vendor (just over $1 for a 16 oz container!) outside La Champa and a gorditas stand people visit early in the morning. You’ll see everyone sitting along the sidewalk eating their savoury delights. Fun community feel.
We worked out of the TERC3R PISO Work & Chill. It has an indoor section (and additional meeting room) as well as an awesome covered outdoor section with stunning views of the colourful city. It is incredibly cheap per day (around $2), or if you buy any of their food or beverages you can stay working/using their internet as long as you’d like.
So many people we met recommended visiting Guadalajara and Cuerettero, but we couldn’t fit it in. Worth considering!