Whether you go for a day or a month, the UNESCO World Heritage site of San Miguel De Allende should definitely be high on your list of places to visit in Mexico. With a climate often described as perfect, and beautiful colonial architecture thanks to its importance as a silver mining city during the 1700’s, San Miguel is a tasteful mixture of both Mexican and the Canadian/American residents who have chosen to settle here. Rich in history, the city also played an important role during the revolution, as the first city in Mexico to declare independence from Spain.
Still not convinced you need to visit this cultural gem? After a day spent investigating the city, hopefully you’ll be convinced by our 5 top reasons you should definitely go to San Miguel De Allende:
1) It was voted the Best Small City in the World
If you’ve never heard of Mexico’s San Miguel De Allende, don’t worry, neither had we until last year when it was picked as 2017’s best small city in the world by Condé Nast voters. Intrigued, we immediately put it on our list of ‘must visit’ places in Mexico to see if it lived up to the hype.
So you don’t just need to take our word for it!
2017’s best Small City in the World. Fact.
2) It’s picture perfect
San Miguel is absolutely stuffed full of gorgeous little cobbled streets and plazas and it’s colonial style buildings maintain a consistent, tasteful theme of terracotta hues. There’s a romantic, unspoiled charm about the city, partly thanks to the laws that were passed to safeguard it from modernisation, meaning you won’t find any traffic lights or neon signs, for example.
At an altitude of around 6000ft what you will find are plenty of views out over the mountains. So, whether you’re into finding the best Insta-worthy spots for a killer picture or simply prefer to find a shady plaza to just sit and take in all the scenery, you’re going to be spoilt for choice in San Miguel De Allende.
We enjoyed just wandering around some of the streets to the south of the centre, finding tucked away boutique shops and soaking up the ambiance.
Exploring the streets in San Miguel De Allende
3) It’s foodie heaven
You’re not going to find it hard to find great places to eat or drink in San Miguel. We highly recommend trying brunch at Néctar . This utterly charming little restaurant offers an organic veggie/vegan menu and also has a great tea and coffee selection. Steve particularly loved the Vietnamese iced coffee, the perfect way to cool down after wandering the lanes. The food and service are top notch but what really sets this restaurant apart are the many nectar feeders decorating the courtyard which attract multitudes of hummingbirds. Who wouldn’t want to watch these adorable little birds flitting about over tea?
Have some tea at Néctar, you won’t regret it!
Later on, when you’re in need of refreshment, you can enjoy cocktails and tapas at Luna rooftop bar, located in the Rosewood building. As well as top notch food and drinks, you get the best view in the city. This restaurant isn’t the cheapest option in town but it’s worth the splurge and a memorable way to finish the day.
Views over San Miguel De Allende from Luna Rooftop Bar
4) Marvel at the beautiful churches
We thought we’d seen enough baroque/gothic churches during our journeying around Mexico and San Miguel has it’s fair share, but we couldn’t help but be particularly awed by the pastel pink La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel which lies adjacent to the main square ‘El Jardin.’ It even reminded us a bit of a mini Sagrada Familia. The plaza itself is the perfect place to rest out of the sun and admire the church since ornate benches lie under the dense shade provided by huge square pruned Indian Laurel trees. This is the perfect place to sit and people watch.
Beautifully ornate and so pretty in pink La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel
5) Shopping at the ‘Mercados’
I’m a sucker for hand crafted jewellery and love perusing the little market stalls that usually fill the plazas in Mexico. San Miguel De Allende has a mix of both these kinds of souvenir item, plus high end boutique clothing and art if that’s more your thing. The markets (or ‘mercados’) themselves form part of everyday life here rather than being a novelty for tourists, since locals will shop at them too. As such, there’s a strong emphasis on local ingredients and artisan crafts. Two of the principle markets you can easily check out are Mercado de Artisanias and Mercado San Juan de Dios. Both have locally made, traditional craft and food items and are open daily. They are just a five minute walk from the main square and provide a great chance to interact with the locals, as well as shop.
We had a fantastic day exploring San Miguel and can honestly say that it probably is worth all the hype. Whilst the sizeable ex pat community means you are more likely to hear English spoken than Spanish in some parts, something we generally try to avoid, don’t let that put you off! If we’ve managed to convince you that you really do need to go visit and you’re wondering how to get there, here are some tips to help plan your visit:
Getting to San Miguel De Allende
Because we were staying close by in Guanajuato (and running out of days), we decided to do a day trip rather then stay in San Miguel De Allende. As a small city, you can see most of the sights fairly easily in a day. That said, we could happily have spent more time there and plan on returning another time to do the things we didn’t have time to do, like visit some of the museums.
Getting to San Miguel De Allende from Guanajuato is an easy 1.5hr bus ride from the main bus station, costing around £10 per person. We used Primera Plus and got a luxury bus with comfy reclining seats, air con, movies and a loo. When you arrive in San Miguel, come out the bus station and hop onto any of the local buses that say ‘Centro’ on them and head towards the main plaza ‘El Jardin.’ It takes about 10 mins and costs around 50p. We would usually use Uber but the buses in San Miguel De Allende were so easy it was worth saving a few pounds. There are also plenty of bright green taxi’s if you prefer to go that route.
Have we convinced you to visit San Miguel De Allende? Maybe you’ve already been; did we miss anything off our list? We’d love to know what you think so tell us know in the comments.