San Miguel dates back to the 16th century when it was first constructed by the Spanish. Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and a perennial top contender for the world’s best small city.
It’s easy to see why at first glance — San Miguel is a beautiful place. Its buildings are brightly colored and flowers adorn the cobblestoned narrow streets. It’s as pretty as a picture. But it’s also much more than that.
The city is bursting with creativity, and a stay here is a sensory delight. It has endless art galleries, artisan shops, design-forward hotels, and cutting-edge restaurants around every corner. And that’s to say nothing of its rich history, natural hot springs, and day trip options, which are plentiful.
No matter what type of holiday you desire, San Miguel de Allende has no shortage of activities. There is something for everyone. Here are my top recommendations.
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17 Best Things to Do in San Miguel de Allende
What is San Miguel de Allende known for?
San Miguel is known for its historic and colorful architecture. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site in tandem with the nearby Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco.
Today, it is renowned as a world-class tourist destination. It is also a hub for design and a preferred residence for ex-pats.
How many days do you need in San Miguel de Allende?
While it’s possible to day trip from Mexico City, San Miguel deserves a longer stay. With four nights, you’ll be able to see all of the main San Miguel de Allende things to do. That’s also enough time to get a chance to thoroughly explore the town and some of its tucked-away hidden gems.
However, if you have more time, you can easily tack on a couple of extra days. With more time, you can work in some of the nearby day trips in the area (more below).
Visit Fábrica La Aurora
Fábrica La Aurora is a renovated textile mill that now houses cafes, shops, studios, and galleries. You can easily spend an afternoon here perusing all the art and handcrafted wares. You’ll find an abundance of paintings, jewelry, ceramics, furniture and so much more. Don’t miss Geek & Coffee, a child-friendly café serving breakfast and coffee.
Address: Calz de La Aurora S/N, Aurora, 37710 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Tour La Esquina: Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano
This toy museum has more than 3,500 pieces in its collection, which it built over 57 years. Three permanent exhibition rooms showcase handmade items from all over Mexico, which highlight the country’s cultural diversity and artisanship. You’ll find everything from traditional Mexican dolls to trains made from materials including metal, wood, and cloth.
Address: Núñez 40, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Shop the Local Design Stores
You can spend hours exploring the cobblestone streets of the city. Along your journey, you’ll find plenty of shops to dart into in the vibrant art scene of San Miguel.
There are so many great shops selling everything from vintage clothing and antiques to authentic, local textiles and pottery. Favorites include Mixta, Laura Kirar Shop, Dôce 18 Concept House, La Calaca, Arte Zapoteco, Mercado Collective and Roma Quince.
Go Wine Tasting at Bodega Dos Buhos
One of Mexico’s top wineries, Dos Buhos—which translates to “Two Owls”—is an organic vineyard and family operation. Take in views of the beautiful Los Picachos mountains as you learn about the winemaking process and sample four artisanal wines. You can also picnic on the property, or opt for a five-course dinner with wine pairings based on seasonal ingredients.
Address: Junto a Zirandaro, Carretera San Miguel de Allende – Buenavista, San Felipe Km. 2.8, 37880 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
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Take in the Sunset from El Mirador
Providing one of the best views of the city, El Mirador is an overlook southeast of town. Sunset offers a truly magical experience, with a color-streaked sky providing an incredible backdrop for San Miguel’s landmarks. You can take a taxi up to the top, and it’s a nice walk back into town afterward.
Address: Salida Real a Querétaro 92, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Visit La Parroquia De San Miguel Arcángel and Jardín Allende
If you’ve seen a photo of San Miguel, you’ll likely recognize the pink pinnacles of La Parroquia De San Miguel Arcángel, the city’s focal point. This neo-Gothic church dates back to the late 17th century, but the towers were added in the late 19th century.
It overlooks Jardín Allende, the city’s central square, and the bustling heart of San Miguel. Almost every day you can find live music being played by local bands at the square.
Address: Principal S/N, Zona Centro, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Soak in a Natural Hot Springs
Two natural hot spring areas are within about 20 minutes from San Miguel de Allende by car. Escondido Place has both indoor and open-air swimming pools as well as wading pools for kids. La Gruta, meanwhile, bills itself as a luxurious sensory experience.
Spend Time in Parque Benito Juárez
You can easily spend an hour or two strolling through Parque Benito Juárez, the city’s largest green space. It features a children’s play area, a basketball court, and numerous paths perfect for jogs or leisurely walks.
On the weekends, local artists set up shop on the north side of the park. It’s a great place to relax and people-watch.
Address: Cañadita de los Aguacates 75, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Tour Cañada de la Virgen
Cañada de la Virgen, a 40-acre archaeological site, features seven pyramid structures across four different complexes. Once there, you’ll have opportunities for additional activities, including horseback riding and astronomy tours.
Shop the Ignacio Ramírez Market
For a truly local experience, head to Ignacio Ramírez Market just steps away from the city’s main plaza. Stalls teem with fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, spices, meats, and cheeses, and restaurants inside sell tacos, quesadillas, and more.
There’s also a section of the market where artisans sell their wares, and both sides are worth visiting. Plan to go earlier in the morning to experience the bustle of the market.
Address: Colegio s/n, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Visit the Biblioteca Pública de San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel’s public library houses 50,000 titles in both Spanish and English for both children and adults. It’s free to use books in its reading rooms. The library also hosts events in both languages, from movies and theater to music and lectures.
Address: Insurgentes #25, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Take a Day Trip to Guanajuato
Journey 1.5 hours northwest of San Miguel for another taste of history and art. Once a mining area, the city’s historic center and nearby mines are now UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Its Baroque buildings stand out as some of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Central and South America. Consider booking this group tour day trip to Guanajuato for an in-depth look.
Visit the San Miguel Mask Museum
The San Miguel Mask Museum features a collection of more than 500 Mexican masks. Opened in 2006, the museum displays the masks alongside text, photos, and videos showcasing more than 40 distinct dance ceremonies. Visits are by appointment only and can be scheduled by phone.
Address: Cuesta de San Jose #32, Colonia Azteca
See the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
About 20 minutes north of San Miguel sits the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco. It shares the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site designation. Also called “Mexico’s Sistine Chapel,” it has great historical significance tied to Mexico’s struggle for independence. It’s a popular pilgrimage site for people from all over the country.
Address: Calle Principal s/n, 37700 Gto., Mexico
Visit El Charco del Ingenio
Nature lovers will delight in a visit to El Charco del Ingenio, a botanical garden and nature reserve. It features a robust collection of cacti and other Mexican succulents, many of which are rare or under threat of extinction. With an extensive trail network, it’s the perfect place to wander and spot birds, amphibians, butterflies, and other wildlife.
Address: Paloma S/N, Las Colonias, 37720 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Get Drinks at a Rooftop Bar
San Miguel has no shortage of rooftop bars. They’re perfect for a break on a hot day or for taking in the stunning surroundings as the sun goes down. Bekeb is a favorite for sipping innovative, flavorful cocktails from Fabiola Padilla, one of Mexico’s top bartenders.
Go Horseback Riding
For a unique way to see San Miguel or the surrounding landscape, try horseback riding. Several tour operators in the area will take you through canyons, out to the countryside, or even between cantinas. From the full-day to half-day to sunset tours available, you’ll have your pick of options. Book a horseback tour.
Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende
Casa de Sierra Nevada, a Belmond Hotel for a boutique, luxury stay.
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende for an elevated resort.
La Valise for a small, intimate design hotel.
CASA HOYOS for a modern, central hotel.
Casa Delphine for a bright, and quaint stay.
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