A Guide to San Miguel de Allende; An Artist’s Paradise

February 13, 2017

San Miguel de Allende Cathedral
San Miguel de Allende is in the eastern part of the state of Guanajuato. The town is super artsy and has attracted foreign retirees, writers, artists and tourists alike. There are over 12,000 foreigners believed to live or own homes here. The city is filled with historical buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th century, narrow cobblestone streets and colorful shops

Getting there and around // San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is only 2 hours away from San Luis Potosí and about 3-hour bus ride away from Mexico City. The closest airports to San Miguel are Léon (BJX) and Querétaro (QTO) and you can take a shuttle or cab ride from either airport for around ($30/BJX) & ($60/BJX).
The cobblestone streets were never designed for cars making it quite difficult to drive around. While we did drive to San Miguel our hotel included parking, otherwise, it is pretty difficult to find a spot. Getting around can most easily be done by walking and believe me you want to walk with cute hidden art shops and cafes around every corner. 
Yellow building with flowers mexico

Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel is quite pricey in comparison to other Mexican cities. That being said the cheapest option is either staying at an air bnb or a hostel. San Miguel has a plethora of beautiful boutique hotels though and if you have room in your budget I would recommend staying at one.
We stayed at the Coqueta Boutique Hotel  (cost around $150 USD a night) and couldn’t be happier with our decision. It was only a block or two away from the main city center making walking around the city super convenient. The only downside being so close to the main center was the constant ringing of the church bells. They didn’t bother me much because I can literally sleep through anything, but if you are a light sleeper you might want to book a little farther away from El Jardin. 
pink cathedral and plants in san miguel de allende
 pool and plants red building in san miguel de allende

Where to Eat in San Miguel de Allende

There are seriously so many delicious and unique places to eat it is so hard to choose. You could honestly wander around anywhere and find an amazing place. If you are more of a planner I have listed a few restaurants that are delicious.

lavender latte in san miguel de allende

la lavanda cafe in san miguel de allende

La Lavanda Cafe (pictured above) 
Even if you just came here for the beautiful building and it’s theme of lavender flavored everything, it is totally worth it. We did wait about 40 minutes to get it, so get there early and be sure to put your name in at the barista counter. This was B’s favorite breakfast he has had so far in Mexico. (Hours 8:30 a.m. – 4p.m.)

La Parada
La Parada was super shmancy. I am a huge fan of ceviche and we tried the sea bass ceviche with sweet potato and man was it delicious. They also had Inca Kola which gave me a nice throwback to my first ever trip abroad to Peru. (Hours: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.)

La Grotta
La Grotta is a quaint little spot with great service and delicious food. We also would highly recommend the garlic mushrooms for an entrada!  (Hours: 1 – 11 p.m.)

La Mezcaleria
We were unable to make it La Mezcaleria but we heard that this place has a great mescal selection, great margaritas, and a grasshopper appetizer! (Hours: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.)

Rose Hotel // Luna Rooftop Bar
You can get this beautiful view without paying the price to stay in the hotel. Drinks are US prices, but totally worth it for this view. Make sure you get there about an hour before the sunset because people start queuing up around that time. (Hours: 1- 11 p.m.)

 city view of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
city view at night of san miguel de allende

What to do in San Miguel de Allende

There are so many great activities to do in San Miguel and we wish we were able to spend more than a weekend here to participate in all the great activities.  Here are a few activities that we enjoyed when we were here for the weekend and would recommend. 

El Jardin & Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel

El Jardin is the living beating heart of the city. This is where you will learn about San Miguel through ceremonial marriage parades led by a  large puppet bride and groom, listen to the mariachi band swoon or simply watch the young Mexican couples make out on a bench. Buy some elote, helado, or a floral crown and soak it all up. 

donkey with flowers in Mexico

 wedding paper cache

Take a Walk

The city is exquisite! Take the time to walk around and check out the best shops and cafes or to simply stare at the colored walls enveloped in flowers. When walking make sure to peek inside all of the open doors to find hidden shops and leafy camouflaged courtyards. Be sure to wear some comfortable shoes to prevent twisted ankles on all cobblestone streets. Unless of course, you are an expert in heels, which seems to be a genetic trait for most Mexican women.


     purple flower streets    leafy covered wall orange
colonial building in san miguel de allende red building and sky
 colorful buildings  VW bug red building cobblestone street
view of san miguel

Mercado de Artesanias

Before you make any purchases around town or in the Jardin or anywhere else in San Miguel de Allende for that matter, go check out the artisan market. Everything here is about 1/3 of the price of shops in the city center and you are also free to barter. We didn’t see any foreigners when we were there either, so that is always a good sign. We picked up some goodies for our home for an amazing price. 

Skulls CeramicsSkulls and other decorations market in mexicoLocal Market Silver Stars
fruits in marketday of the dead ceramicsartisan market hats

The Other Face of Mexico: Mask Museum

(La Otra Cara de México)

mask museum
The Other Face of Mexico is a hand-curated mask museum in San Miguel with over 500 ceremonial masks. The museum is owned by the LeVasseurs, expat living in Mexico for over 20 years. The LeVasseurs collected the masks by traveling around Mexico. They give the tours themselves and answered all of our questions. While you are not allowed to take photos around the museum, but there were plenty on display around the house that you are allowed to document. 
You must call ahead to book an appointment to visit the gallery +52 (415) 154-4324. The cost is 100 pesos per person and is donated to a local charity. 
bird masks on a wallmasks of mexico
sitting area red wallbalcony with flowers

They also own a beautiful bed and breakfast that is attached to the mask museum if you are interested in staying there. The cost is $180 a night and it includes a large breakfast. They have a beautiful view of the city as well.
colonial city Mexico

El Charco Botanical Garden

jardin botanico

You need to check out the el charco botanical garden. It is a steep climb and I would recommend you get a taxi ride. I know you are fit and athletic, but believe me, take a taxi, you will thank me later. Plus you want to save all your energy for walking around the 170-acre botanical park. We were staying close to the city center and it cost us about 60 pesos to get a taxi to the top. 
Read more about our experience at Jardín Botánico El Charco del Ingenio.

The Sistine Chapel of Mexico: Santuario de Atotnilco

The Santuario de Atotnilco is about 25 miles outside of San Miguel and can either drive there yourself or take a day tour from San Miguel. You can walk into the church for free but if you want to see the murals that dub Santuario de Antotilco the “Sistine chapel of Mexico” you need to ask the woman selling jewelry if you can see the other part of the church. The price is 50 pesos each, in which a man will move a bench, hand you a pamphlet and open a door for you to enter. There is no sign, so you must ask.


white church in mexico with clouds
chapelcathedral and jesus church mexico

Hot Springs

We didn’t actually end up going to the hot springs because we forgot our swimming suits at home. Learn more about the La Gruta hot springs here and El Escondido here
Have you ever visited San Miguel de Allende?
Did I miss any great spots to visit?


San Miguel de Allende

More about Eemma Iseman

    1. What a beautiful city! I’ve never really had Mexico high on my list of places to visit because the touristy places like Cancun don’t particularly appeal to me, but this makes me want to visit now.

    1. Oh wow! What a beautiful city and pictures. I also enjoyed how comprehensive the blog post was. That coffee looks delicious, and while reading about the restaurants I even got hungry.

    1. Omg everything about this place is #travelgoals! I love wandering into cities like these. Love the part about the artisan market and cafes! Is it expensive because there is very few accommodation available?

      1. Hi Aneesha, There are quite a few accommodations available. The price isn’t high in comparison to other countries, just in comparison to other inland Mexican cities. I believe it is because of the amount of foreigners or retired expats living in the area.

    1. your pictures are mesmerizing! so amazing, I’ve never heard of this town and now I want to see it! thanks!

      1. Thanks Andrea! San Miguel is a well known colonial city here in Mexico. There are a lot of other really beautiful cities as well. I think they often get overshadowed by more touristy destinations on the coasts.

    1. You had me at the artisan market….the colors, the wares, the experience. My husband may not enjoy it, but I sure would!

      1. I am such a sucker for artisan markets, especially here in Mexico. Everything is so colorful and decently priced! My husband was with me and he enjoyed the city just as much as I did!

    1. I’ve been to Mexico at least a dozen time but I’m always in the touristy cities. I had no idea this quaint special town existed. Glad to see the beauty in small towns off the beaten path.

    1. San Miguel de Allende looks like a perfect place to explore by foot, to enjoy those narrow cobbled streets. I would definitely love to stop by the artisan market and explore a bit of the local traditions of the city.

      1. Walking is definitely the best mode of transportation in San Miguel! It takes forever to get anywhere in a car! There were so many great little spots! If we were there longer we would of loved to take a cooking or painting class!

    1. Wow I had never even heard of this place, but it looks so pretty! I gues it’s a must see whenever we head to Mexico. I can already see myself watching the sunset on that rooftop terrace!
      Thanks for the post 🙂


    1. What a photogenic city! It seems like a lovely place to get lost in. The photos you took are so pretty, Eema!

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