An Expat’s City Guide to San Luis Potosí, Mexico: Things to Do + Where to Eat, Drink, Shop and Sleep

January 16, 2018

Views from La Oruga de la Cebada, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
I’ve hit a year in San Luis Potosí and I am finally going to churn out the post that I started this blog for – a city guide to San Luis Potosí.  When I found out that we would be moving to the expat-friendly city of San Luis Potosí, Mexico I was shocked to find next-to-nothing on both the city but also on what life was like as an expat in San Luis Potosí. It has taken me so long to write this post simply because I wanted to give myself enough time to truly experience the city and give it its due justice – which isn’t possible in just a few weeks or even months.

San Luis Potosí City Guide

San Luis Potosí (SLP) is one of the 32 states that comprise Mexico and the city of San Luis Potosí was founded in 1592 thanks to the discovery of silver and gold deposits. Once the silver and gold deposits ran dry the city became one of the main industrial centers in central Mexico with a large manufacturing focus. Many foreign companies have chosen to invest in the city of SLP in the last few decades because of its prime location between Mexico City and the US border. 
State of San Luis Potosí on a map of Mexico
San Luis is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico, which means it focuses its energy mostly on industry and less on becoming a tourist-friendly city making San Luis Potosí not your typical tourist destination. However, San Luis has a rich history and is quickly developing, making a great place to not only live and work but is also a great central location for traveling elsewhere on the weekends. 

City of San Luis Potosí, Mexico

By plane
You can fly into San Luis Potosí from the US or from anywhere else in Mexico. It is an easy 1 hr flight from Mexico City or a 1.5-hour flight from Cancun. However, flying into San Luis Potosí can be more expensive because it’s not currently a prime tourist destination. My flights from DetroitMichigan typically go to Houston or Dallas to SLP. If you are flying from California or Texas it would be easy to find a direct flight.

 

If I am trying to save money and have time to spare I usually take a direct flight from Detroit to Mexico City and then take a $30 USD bus ride to SLP. 
 
By bus
SLP is easily accessible by bus from basically any major city in Mexico. It is about 2.5 hr ride from San Miguel de Allende, a 3 hr bus ride from Querétaro, and a 5 hr ride from the Norte bus station in Mexico City. 
 
By car
If you decide to fly into a different city, rent a car and drive to SLP that is doable as well as long as you are comfortable with driving in Mexico. I would recommend you check out my driving guide first 
 
Taxi/Uber
Both taxis and ubers are a viable transportation option in SLP. However, Uber is known to be the safer than taxis. Uber rides are typically between 30 and 60 pesos – which is around $2USd to $3 USD

What to Pack and Weather

Hiking outside of the city
San Luis Potosí sits at a relatively high altitude (1850 m or 6,069 feet) which means it only gets a few really scorching days a year. The climate is pretty great all year long with some hot spells in April and May and colder temperatures in January and February. Being in the desert also means cold nights sometimes dipping into the 30’s Fahrenheit. Before you tell yourself you can handle that temperature at home remember that most Mexican homes and hotels don’t have heat so be sure to bring a jacket/coat, some warm PJs, and slippers if you are planning your visit during the winter months.
 San Luis Potosí Letter Sign

The Centro in San Luis Potosí is all cobblestone-like many cities in Mexico, so leave those heels at home. Flats or tennis shoes are the way to go. Also, SLP is pretty conservative and women typically don’t wear shorts or tank-tops, even when it is hot. 

San Luis Potosí’s Centro | San Luis Potosí Centro

Walk around San Luis Potosí’s Centro and explore the different churches and historical landmarks or take the trolley for 50 pesos. The double-decker trolley leaves every half hour in front of the Cathedral of San Luis Potosí, pictured above. The tour is only given in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak Spanish it is still nice to see the city and different important locations you can walk to later. 

San Luis Potosí, Mexico Temple of San Augustin

Pink Building in San Luis Potosí
Must-sees in the Centro

Plaza de Armas in San Luis Potosí, Mexico

  • Catedral Metropolitana | (Calle De Morelos 620) – Catedral Metropolitana is considered to be one of the most beautiful baroque temples in Mexico. Its construction began in 1670 and if you look closely to can find sculptures of the 12 apostles on the outside of the church. The sculptures are an exact replica of the sculptures that are found in the interior of the San Juna de Letrán Basilica in Rome. 
  • Aranzazú Plaza | (Hermenegildo Galeana 480) – This plaza used to be the stables of the San Francisco Convent, a tobacco factory, and a Red Cross facility, but now is used as a spot to hold cultural activities. 
  • Basílica Menor or Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe | (Calz de Guadalupe 1005) –  

Aranzazú Plaza in the centro of San Luis Potosí, Mexico

  • Parroquia del Sagrario | (Damián Carmona 110) – Constructed in 1700 by the Jesuits of Mexico 
  • Temple de San Francisco | (Venezuela 145) – The national monument was part of a convent built by the Franciscans, the first religious order to be established in the city. 

Church and Fountain in San Luis Potosí

  • Plaza del Carmen & Carmen Temple | (Manuel José Othón 410) – One of the city’s most traditional churches and was built in 1749 as part of the old convent of the Los armelitas Descalzos religious order. The plaza is surrounded by green spaces and diverse cultural expressions. 

Plaza del Carmen, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

  • Temple de San AugustínJosé Ma. Morelos y Pavón ) – One block south of the Plaza del Carmen lies another magnificent Baroque church, Temple de San Agustín built around 1700. 

San Augustin Church, San Luis Potosí

 

Centro Historico in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Centro Histórico Map of San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Museo Regional Potosino | (Hermenegildo Galeana 450)
Hours: Tues- Sat(10am-7pm), Sun (10am-4pm) Cost: 42 pesos
This museum displays many Mesoamerican and Huastecan architectural pieces, displays of local Indian culture and traditions and articles relating to the history of the state of San Luis Potosí.  The museum offers seasonal expositions and guided tours with advance notice. 
 Museo Federico Silva | (Jardín de San Juan de Dios, Obregón 80) 
Hours: Mon, Wed, Sat (10am-1pm), Sun (10am-2pm) | Cost: 30 pesos & Free Sunday
Museo Federico Silva is a tribute to one of Mexico’s most exalted sculptors. The museum is in an old school building and it houses the works of classic and contemporary art. 
Museo Nacional de la Máscara | Villerías No 2, Centro Historico
Hours: Tues-Fri (10am-6pm) Sat (10am-5pm) Sun (11am-2pm) | Cost: 20 pesos
The Mask Museum is located in Plaza del Carmen in a renovated mansion. The collection spans two floors and different regions. Cost is 20 pesos and 10 for students/teachers.
Museo Nacional de la Máscara in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Museo Laberinto de las Ciencias y las Artes | Boulevard Antonio Rocha Cordero s/n, Tierra Blanca
Hours: Tue-Fri (11 am-4pm) Sat-Sun (11am-6pm) | Cost: 30 pesos
Contemporary Hands-on Museum with interactive exhibits relating to science, technology, and art. 
Cactus in Labiernto Museum, San Luis Potosí
Labiernto Museum Views
Labiernto Museum, San Luis Potosí
Hours: Mon-Thurs (8 am-4pm) Fri (8am -3pm) Sat & Sun (closed) | Cost: Free
This botanical garden was opened by UASLP (Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí) and has more than 200 plants, mainly cacti, reproduced on the site because many are in dangers of extinction. Many of the plants have also been donated or relocated from where the Logistik Park was built. 
The site is currently being remodeled (but open) and is in the first stage of the planned four stages that will be implemented in the next few years in Tangamanga Park. 

cactus garden

Botanical Gardens

Hours: Tues-Fri (11 am-2pm & 5-8pm) Sat-Sun (11am-5pm) | Cost: 10 pesos
This was an older state prison built in the 1890s. It has been given an update. There are temporary exhibitions that show local and visiting artists. Just check the website in advance to see if a show is taking place. n that has been turned into an art school.
Centro de las Artes de San Luis Potosí, Mexico
On the first Sunday of every month (or whenever they decide), they have a large family event-dogs welcome. You can find art, jewelry, and crafts in one part of the building, food trucks in another, and live music. Take the time to walk around and explore the gardens that just out through little alleyways that are attached to the main plaza of the building. (Cost is 30 pesos to enter)
Centro de las Artes in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Tangmanga is the second largest park in Mexico after Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City and  is more than 988 acres. San Luis Potosí has two installations; Tangamanga 1 & 2. You can find pretty much anything at this park including grills, picnic tables, soccer fields,  tracks and a water park. The park is only open during daylight hours and unfortunately, you are not allowed to bring dogs.
  
San Luis Potosí surprisingly has a lot of green space, which is quite uncommon when you are located in central Mexico. However, SLP has an aquifer that is 8-10 feet underground which allows tree roots and other plant life to flourish – which means a lot of parks.
 
Go on a Hike  
There are a lot of really beautiful hikes not far from the city. Check out the website or app WikiLoc to discover hikes all over Mexico and the USA.
La Joya Honda hike in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
This crater hike (pictured above and directly below) is called La Joya Honda is located about 40 minutes outside of the city. 
La Joya Honda, San Luis Potosí
Canade del Lobo
Hike in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Go See a Movie
Mexico knows how to do the movies right. Check out the Cinepolis in Plaza San Luis to get a 4D experience or experience some luxury at the VIP theater. You get to recline in lazy boys and order food right from the comfort of your own seat – yes, I’m American. 

Where to Eat and Drink

San Luis Potosí is a large city with a population of over a million people and thanks to the automotive industry it has created quite a large expat population. This means that SLP offers a more diverse food selection than other cities throughout Mexico. The restaurant options are really endless and it probably deserves its own post, but alas I included it in this one. 
If there is any food that San Luis Potosí is known for it is Enchiladas Potosinos. Bright orange enchiladas with a topping of cream and side of rice and refried beans. 
Enchilada Potosinos in San Luis Potosí
Breakfast and Coffee
Who isn’t a fan of Mexican breakfast? You can go light with coffee and some pan de dulce or really power up with an entré of chilaquiles or huevos rancheros.  
Coffee at the Wine Park in the Citadella in San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Lunch / Dinner

La Oruga de la Cebada in San Luis Potosí, Mexico

On the rooftop of La Oruga de la Cebada

 

El Mexico de Frida in San Luis Potosí, Mexico

El Mexico de Frida in San Luis Potosí, Mexico

International 
Steakhouses – $$$
Late Night Drinks and Nightlife

La Piqueria, San Luis Potosí, Mexico


Where to Sleep in San Luis Potosí

These two air bnbs are both really cute, centrally located and under $45 a night. Check them out here and here. This artsy air bnb is a little outside of the centro but on Carranza and only $32 a night. 

If you are interested in staying at a hotel in the centro and close to all the action I would recommend staying at Hotel Panorama or at Hotel Museo Palacio de San Agustin. If you are here for work and are interested in staying closer to the zona industrial I would recommend staying at the Ramada Encore San Luis Potosi and they also have a drive-thru Starbucks (the only one in the city).


Where to Shop in San Luis Potosí

 
Centro Histórico
You can find basically anything you are looking for in the centro from fresh produce to clothing to electronics. If you start at Plaza de Las Armas and walk north along Miguel Hidalgo. There is pedestrian mall followed by the Mercado Hidalgo.
 
Markets
Both of these markets offer fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and local goods. Food here is super fresh and cheap. If you are looking to shop for artisan handicrafts I wouldn’t recommend the markets, however if you look below there are a few local artisan markets in SLP that offer beautiful handicrafts from all over the state and country. 
Costanzo Chocolates | (Calle 5 de Mayo 165) 

Costanzo Chocolates have been around since 1935 and many potosinos swear that they are the best chocolates in all of Mexico. I’m personally not a huge fan of their chocolates, but they do offer over 150 kinds of candies and I haven’t tried them all, so maybe there are some good ones in there. Costanzo is well known for their “tornillos”, “duquesas”, “princesas”, jellies, and cinnamon-flavored nuts.

Malls 
I’m not much of a mall girl, especially when I’m visiting another country, but just in case you are visiting for a while or want to see how Potosinos do mall life, these two are both pretty great. 

Local Events and Holidays

There are always events coming through town which makes it easy to find something that you would be interested in. Some popular events include the electronic music festival, global beer festival, global wine festival, the fair, and lucha libre. 
  • Fair or Feiria | San Luis’ National Fair, normally in the last three weeks of August, includes concerts, bullfights, rodeos, cockfights and agricultural shows
  • Global Beer Fest | This festival happens in October and attracts a diverse population. There is food, music, and food trucks…lots of food trucks

Food Truck at the Global Beer Festival in San Luis Potosí, MexicoGroup of friends at the Global Beer Festival in San Luis Potosí, Mexico

  • Wine Festival | Taking place in June, San Luis Potosí celebrates wine with 100 national and international wineries,  a program of tastings, workshops, conferences and food and dinner pairing given by winemakers, owners, and sommeliers from all over the world. Be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time here
  • Lucha Libre | Lucha Libre comes to town about once every few months. Here is a link to their facebook page so you can stay updated on when they will be in SLP. 
  • Twilight Light Shows | Christmas time at Plaza de Armas and Plaza de los Fundadores have twilight light shows  on the cathedrals 
  • Semana Santa (Holy Week) |  San Luis Potosí is actually quite famous when it comes to the Holy Week (Easter Week) and people from all over Mexico come to observe the festivities.
    • La Fuerza de la Fe ( The Strength of Faith) is a silent procession that takes place the evening of Good Friday of Holy Week along the main street the Historic Center of San Luis Potosí. This demonstration of faith is famous for the multitude of people that gather in absolute silence or three hours while 40 men carry the Virgin of Solitude, who platform weighs a metric ton. 
  • Street walk – Every Sunday they close down the main road of Carranza so that you can ride your bike, rollerblade, skateboard, run or walk your dog. 

two pups checking each other out in mexicoLove at first sight?

There are a lot of events that come through town and I would be sure to be on the lookout for those. You can join this page to stay updated.


Weekend Trips from San Luis Potosí

  • Real de CatorceReal de Catorce is a pueblo magical (magic town) located just 3 hrs north of SLP. It’s the perfect town for those who love adventure – you can live your inner-cowboy by riding horses or take a jeep ride through the mountains.

READ: 4 Things to Do in Real De Catorce Other Than Peyote

Real de Catorce view of the city

  • San Miguel de Allende | San Miguel de Allende was named the #1 city to visit last year by Travel and Leisure. Luckily San Miguel is just a short 2 hr drive away – making it extremely accessible for a weekend trip. There is so much to do and see in the colorful town of San Miguel de Allende it will leave you coming back for more. I’ve visited 3 times now and plan on going back next month. 

READ: San Miguel de Allende; An Artist’s Paradise

san miguel de allende

  • GuanajuatoGuanajuato easily takes the cake on being the most colorful city in Mexico and will have you wrapped in its magical grip the second you set foot in its city borders. Spend the day getting lost in its colorful streets and visiting all the small cafés. 

READ: Guanajuato; Mexico’s Most Colorful City

Guanajuato view from the Pipila

  • La Huasteca | Located in the jungles of San Luis Potosí is La Huasteca – a land of green jungle and bountiful waterfalls is also not too far away. Some major spots of interest include Puente de Dios (Bridge of the Gods), Tamasopo and the small town of Xilitla. 

Hope this guide was helpful! Let me know if you believe I missed anything important! 


An Expat's City Guide to San Luis Potosí, Mexico: + What to do + Where to Eat + Drink + Shop + Sleep

 

More about Eemma Iseman

7 Comments
    1. Loved it, very informative and thorough. If I may, there’s a typo. It should read Carmelitas Descalzas. Also, as far as I know the owner of Café Cortao is originally from Veracruz. He is also a musical composer and has recorded, I believe, a few CDs. Thanks for the information and I hope you are enjoying living in SLP

      1. Hi Martha! I will be sure to fix that! Thanks so much for stopping in! I didn’t know that about the owner. His niece was actually one of my students here in San Luis. I will have to ask her more about him if I see her again. 🙂

    1. Que maravilloso tu blog, yo soy de San Luis Potosí, me vine a vivir a Minnesota en el 2015, y siento hermoso leer tus comentarios aqui, pronto te enviaré más información acerca de San Luis Potosí, sobre todo lo que uo conozco y lo que he vivido. Gracias.

      1. Thank you Leah! I started following your blog and journeys when you were in Oaxaca and know that you love this country. Let me know if you ever are in town! 🙂

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