Hola! My name is Yale. I’m a New York native and world citizen. Welcome to my travel guide on the best things to do in Guanajuato state, Mexico.
Before Covid, I was “nomading” around the world for two years straight. It was the best time of my life. The truth is that I have been a traveler all of my life (thanks to my parents) and took my first solo trip in January, 2017 which was sort of by accident. I know – how does that happen, right?
I was supposed to be going on a trip with my two sisters but then everyone backed out and I had already purchased a round-trip ticket for Iceland. After this solo trip in Iceland, I felt so empowered that I took a trip every other month. In 2018, I decided to not bother coming back home!
As I started to travel more, I wanted my friends that were at home raising families to see the beauty of the world that I was witnessing. I began posting photos on social media. I’m a creative at heart and have always loved art. So I tried to incorporate myself creatively in my photos.
Believe it or not – I was shocked to discover that there was another world out there doing the same thing and it was called “Instagram”. You can follow my journey on my Instagram @yale_meets_world. One incredibly “Instagramable” place that I visited recently was Guanajuato state!
Traveling within Guanajuato State
Mexico was never a place high on my bucket list. While visiting my aunt in Los Angeles a few years back, we went down to Mexico to a beautiful beach town for lunch but I never thought that I would return to this country.
Fast-forward to 2019, I had come back to the US for a while to take care of some business and still hadn’t planned out my next destination. I decided to head to Mexico because why not?! I needed to be in the US again for an appointment and Dia de los Muertos celebrations were coming up.
I fell in love with Mexico and in particular Guanajuato state which is my favorite state. The first time I went to Guanajuato I stayed for a week and a half and then came back two weeks later and stayed for two months!
One of the things that made me fall in love with Guanajuato – especially Guanajuato City – were the beautifully colored homes. My apartment, however, was in San Miguel de Allende – another beautiful city within the state. SMA is also notorious for the amount of North American expats.
San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato City are my two favorite places in Guanajuato state. However, If I had to choose a number one it would be San Miguel de Allende. I loved the community here and making friends with not only the expats but also the local Mexicans was a real treat.
10 Best Things To Do in Guanajuato State
Guanajuato state is full of riches and you can easily spend weeks on end here exploring all the treasures. The two main attractions of Guanajuato City and San Miguel de Allende offer wonderful architecture, amazing food and endless festivals. Below are my top 10 recommendations for the state:
1. Go Hot Air Ballooning over San Miguel de Allende
Hot air ballooning is one of the best experiences you can have in Guanajuato state because the views are spectacular! Look down at the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende and see the countryside in the distance. Go at sunrise for an incredible time with golden light.
2. Shop at the Mercado de Artesanias in SMA
The Artisan Market in San Miguel de Allende is the ultimate destination to shop for handmade artisan products such as jewellery, ceramics, souvenirs, rugs, hanging lamps, paintings, hats, honey, herbs and spices, sweetcorn, clothes and more! Shop at these market stalls daily from 9am – 7pm.
3. Take the Funicular in Guanajuato City
Watching the sunset from El Pipila by taking the funicular is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. The funicular takes you up a hill to the famous El Pipila statue. This hero – Juan Jose de los Reyes Martinez Amaro – was nicknamed El Pipila during the Mexican War of Independence.
4. Horseback Ride through the Streets of SMA
There are various companies in San Miguel de Allende which offer horseback riding. You can simply wander through the colorful cobblestone streets on a horse or venture on a full day experience in the surrounding areas of SMA. Whatever you choose, it will be a fantastic time!
5. Score Bargains at the Thursday Flea Market in SMA
The Thursday Flea Market in SMA is where you can find things for bargain prices. Shop for some new clothes yourself or clean out your backpack and set up your own table/stall to make a few bucks. This is a wonderful place to go with your fellow travelers and have lunch while listening to local DJs.
6. Check out the Best Rooftop Bars of SMA
San Miguel de Allende is known for its amazing rooftop bars. Bar-hopping in this city is always a good time! Some of the best rooftop bars include: Mamma Mia, La Chula and La Terraza. These three bars make for a great night of bar-hopping. Make sure to watch the sunset at one of them!
7. Day Trip to the Beautiful Santiago de Queretaro
This is another wonderful city to visit on your exploration of Guanajuato state. Get lost in the cobblestone streets and visit the markets for a day of shopping. The food scene in Queretaro is another highlight as the city offers many restaurants serving authentic and delicious Mexican cuisine.
8. Visit the Mummy Museum of Guanajuato City
Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato is home to the world’s smallest mummy, believe it or not, which is no bigger than a loaf of bread! These naturally mummified bodies are fascinating to see up close and make for a great day out if you are looking to do something totally different.
9. Enjoy a Tequila Tasting in Guanajuato State
Guanajuato state is home to many tequila distilleries where you can try some famous Mexican tequila! They are located not only in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato City but all over the state. Try the different varieties of tequila and pair the drinks with tacos, guacamole and other finger foods.
10. Meet the Amazing Locals of Guanajuato State
The people of Mexico are hospitable and Guanajuato was no exception. The locals took to me and were curious because there aren’t many black people in Mexico. I would get a lot of people complimenting me and wanting to touch my hair or face. I get that a lot when I travel, however.
Where to Eat & Sleep in Guanajuato
I’m not much of a nightclub person anymore but I love having a drink or two at a bar with friends. One of my favorite go-to cafes didn’t survive the quarantine lockdown for the pandemic and shut their doors for good.
A popular spot for breakfast in San Miguel de Allende is Juan’s Cafe and I am hoping they survived the Covid shutdown. My favorite restaurant was Hecho en Mexico. The food and margaritas in this restaurant were superb.
When it comes to accommodation in Guanajuato state, I find the best places to be airbnbs. There are a plethora of airbnbs throughout the state. Just jump on the Internet and see what you can find with good reviews.
Travel Tips for Guanajuato State
Getting around Guanajuato state whether it be San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato City is simple. Most of the cities are pretty walkable but if you don’t want to walk then Uber is always an option and it’s not expensive. For an even more budget-friendly option the buses run frequently in the cities.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your time in this wonderful Mexican state!