Have you ever ever questioned what it takes to develop into “the world’s greatest metropolis”? Much more, have you considered what metropolis that is perhaps? Barcelona, Spain? Berlin, Germany? Truly, in keeping with Travel and Leisure‘s 2021 Best Cities in the World checklist, it’s San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I’m right here to indicate you why I believe it deserves the title.
I first heard about San Miguel when it received the title again in 2017. I noticed plenty of solo feminine vacationers posting about how secure and charming the town is. Seeing different ladies write so favorably about San Miguel was an enormous “inexperienced flag” for me, so I made a decision to test it out.
That is my full information on San Miguel and its unbelievable potential to be the most effective cities on the planet for solo feminine vacationers, full with issues to do, locations to remain, and way more:
Issues to Do in San Miguel de Allende
1. Take a strolling tour
The very first thing I observed about this metropolis was its breathtaking structure and European-esque cobblestone streets. I did most of my exploring of San Miguel on foot, which was a blast. There are plenty of small streets with colourful buildings, like Callejón del Pueblito, which have little site visitors and are enjoyable to stroll down.
With so many outstanding landmarks as properly, I counsel beginning out your journey with a strolling tour. The Historical Walking Tour of San Miguel has excursions each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10am for 300 pesos ($15 USD).
One other nice tour possibility is that this landmark tour which includes a three-course Mexican lunch.
2. Hand around in the primary sq.
The primary sq. in San Miguel, like a majority of Mexican cities and cities, options the city’s most necessary Catholic church. In entrance of the church is Jardín Allende, a small park with loads of benches to take a seat on and take within the surroundings.
Aside from being the historic coronary heart of San Miguel, the primary sq. can also be the financial and touristic middle. Every of the streets that shoot off from the sq. are closed to site visitors, permitting solely pedestrians. This makes wandering from store to buy a lot simpler.
3. Catch an impromptu mariachi present
Since I stay in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the place mariachi music isn’t tremendous common, I’ve missed out on this quintessential a part of Mexican tradition.
Usually, the bands are employed for personal occasions. Nonetheless, a few of them in San Miguel hand around in the primary sq. and play for folks, who pay round 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) for a particular music. Particularly at nighttime, with the twinkling lights and households strolling about with their scorching chocolate in hand, the sound of mariachis enjoying feels just like the soundtrack for the sweetest Mexican Christmas film you possibly can think about.
4. Search for San Miguel’s most well-known donkey
As you possibly can see, this little man has plenty of type. Though I don’t condone using donkeys (I’ve seen plenty of vacationers do that), catching a glimpse of this one is a ceremony of passage when visiting San Miguel. His title is Burrito Filemon and he has is personal Instagram deal with, @burritofilemonsma.
5. Artwork-peep at La Fábrica de Aurora
As soon as a textile manufacturing unit for 90 years and now an infinite assortment of artwork galleries, La Fábrica de Aurora is one among San Miguel’s most beloved sights.
I wasn’t certain what to anticipate earlier than I stepped foot inside, however I used to be impressed by the rigorously curated collections of each Mexican and worldwide artwork. You’ll discover sculptures flown in from internationally in a gallery proper subsequent to the work of a San Miguel native, an eclectic mixture of close to and much. There are 43 galleries in all, together with a number of small outlets and even a few eating places.
You possibly can simply spend a whole morning or afternoon right here, which I positively advocate! I took it gradual, savoring every gallery, giant and small.
6. Go to smaller galleries
If you happen to can’t get sufficient of San Miguel’s artwork scene, pop in to any of the small galleries round city. Most of these I visited featured Mexican artists, lots of them from San Miguel or close by cities. My favourite was Galería 15 (Sollano #15, Centro). It options artwork from native artist Daniel Rueffert, whose work depict quotidian Mexican life in San Miguel and close by Los Pozos.
7. Study Mexican toys at Museo La Esquina del Juguete Fashionable Mexicano
I’ve to confess that I wasn’t certain what to make of all of the suggestions to go to this museum. I gave it an opportunity and was shocked at how fascinating it was!
The Museo La Esquina del Juguete Fashionable Mexicano has an intensive assortment of various kinds of toys from each state in Mexico. From (very creepy, IMO) child dolls to lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) collectible figurines and every thing in between, this museum has surprises round each nook.
I particularly favored the gathering of judas, characters manufactured from papier-mâché that depict corrupt politicians, thieves, and different villains as devilish creatures (see the picture above).
8. See all of the cacti at El Charco del Ingenio
Only a brief taxi journey from downtown, El Charco del Ingenio is a cacti-filled paradise on the outskirts of San Miguel. This botanical backyard and nature protect options over 500 species of cacti and 300 species of succulents. El Charco makes a speciality of preserving native plant species and rescuing others from varied components of Mexico and overseas. Spend a day strolling the paths, testing the greenhouse, visiting the café, or having your personal lakeside picnic.
9. Hop on a trolley tour
As you stroll across the historic middle of San Miguel, you’re sure to see these trolleys carrying keen vacationers. Particularly in case you’re new to city, hopping on a trolley tour is a good way to get acquainted with the essential historical past of the town and see a few of its most iconic sights.
Excursions in English function each Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15am and a couple of:15pm; you should buy tickets on the trolley itself or on the stand subsequent to the Portal de Guadalupe. Discover extra information about trolley tours here.
10. Discover the most effective (secret) hen’s-eye view of the town
I discovered this spot by full accident after wandering round Parque Benito Juárez (extra on that later). After leaving the park, I observed some stairs and determined to climb them. After a breathless ascent, I got here to a tremendous little perch with the most effective view. There was nearly no one there, so I relished within the peace and serenity.
As soon as I climbed all the best way to the highest, I noticed that the steps led finally to probably the most well-known mirador (lookout level) on the town. There have been tons of individuals there to see the sundown over San Miguel, and I believe the view from there wasn’t pretty much as good because the one I had just under.
To get to my secret spot, discover the Centro de Allende and climb the steps, or you possibly can take a taxi to the mirador and stroll only a block previous it to Callejón del Chorro, the place you’ll discover the steps that result in the key lookout level.
11. Take a look at the enormous murals on the Centro Cultural Allende
One in all my favourite features of the Mexican artwork scene usually is the emphasis on murals. In cities throughout the nation, you’ll discover a number of the world’s greatest muralists. San Miguel is not any exception, and the Centro Cultural de Allende has an unbelievable assortment, and it’s completely free.
Upon getting into, you’ll instantly see the burst of colorfully painted partitions past the reception counter. After you admire the murals inside, you possibly can stroll via to the backyard. There, you’ll see sculptors working and tables the place you possibly can sit and benefit from the artsy environment.
12. Discover trinkets and souvenirs on the Mercado de Artesanías
If you wish to take residence one thing particular out of your travels, hit up the Mercado de Artesanías for some Mexican delights. I like these markets, as a result of practically every thing is handmade by native artisans. From jewellery to small collectible figurines to handwoven rugs, this market has all of it. The costs are additionally fairly low in comparison with different locations in Mexico, and haggling is feasible if executed respectfully.
San Miguel is understood for a couple of handicrafts particularly, amongst that are tiled mirrors and stained-glass sconces. Because the metropolis is so near many copper and silver mines, you may as well get genuine copper and silver gadgets as properly.
13. Stroll via Parque Benito Juárez
With towering hundred-year-old bushes, native plant species, and quaint strolling paths, Parque Benito Juárez is a beautiful pure oasis that’s good to picnic or go for a stroll. I beloved that I might reduce via this park on my approach to different locations, because it supplies that good breath of contemporary air after strolling via the cobblestoned metropolis all day.
14. Take a fast journey to Mexico’s Sistine Chapel: El Santuario de Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
The Santuario de Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco is only a 20-minute drive outdoors of San Miguel’s middle (about 100 pesos ($5 USD) in an Uber, which was properly price it). This historical chapel is named “the Sistine Chapel of Mexico” due to its intricate fresco murals.
I discovered the chapel itself to be a bit eerie, largely due to how graphic a number of the murals are. If you happen to look carefully, yow will discover depictions of the satan and different oddities. Although the work had been a bit creepy, they inform a graphic story of the significance of Catholicism in Mexico. It was an interesting day journey, one I like to recommend to anybody touring to San Miguel.
The place to Keep in San Miguel de Allende
Finest bang in your buck
- Lool Beh Hostal Boutique: Past the very good location and hospitality, Lool Beh Hostal Boutique is the most effective funds possibility I might discover in San Miguel. It has a comfortable, cozy vibe, and plenty of pure mild within the rooms. Plus, the worth is unbeatable at simply 650 pesos ($32.50 USD) per night time for a personal room with a shared rest room.
- Airbnb: There are nice choices on Airbnb if you need a extra luxurious keep for a cheaper price than a lodge. For instance, this one-bedroom villa has a good looking backyard and nice location for simply $47 per night time (plus tax + charges).
- Selina: You’ll discover Selina hostels all through Mexico, and I’ve stayed in a couple of. I usually discover them to be a bit too rowdy, however the costs are respectable, they usually’re at all times centrally situated, as is the one in San Miguel.
- Dwell Aqua City Resort: I didn’t keep right here, however I’ve heard all about Dwell Aqua and have pushed previous it a couple of occasions. To start with, this city resort lodge has a pool with a formidable view of San Miguel and its surrounding nature as a result of its location outdoors the town middle. It’s additionally identified for its luxurious facilities and in-house spa. Rooms begin at round $285 per night time, relying on the season. Check out Live Aqua’s rooms here.
- Rosewood Resort: Aside from having one among San Miguel’s greatest terraces, Rosewood Resort has an awesome location and affords a style of Mexico’s basic luxurious. Rosewood boasts the long-lasting structure that San Miguel is understood for, with a contact of recent aptitude and magnificence. Rooms begin at round $500 per night time.
Finest Locations to Eat in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel is a foodie’s paradise. When touring in Mexico, generally it’s a bit difficult to seek out vegan or vegetarian choices, however I used to be pleasantly shocked to seek out not solely fully vegan eating places but additionally in depth choices at non-veg locations. What’s extra, I discovered loads of locations the place there was not solely wonderful meals but additionally an awesome environment.
These are my prime spots to eat and drink in San Miguel:
Vegan choices galore
- Soltribe Delicacies: Serving up veganized Mexican favorites like ceviche and nachos, this was my favourite vegan restaurant. You may see what specials they’ve every week on Soltribe’s Instagram.
- La Cabra Iluminada: Discovering a vegan espresso store was an absolute dream. La Cabra Iluminada has a cool minimalist vibe and serves high-quality espresso, tea, and pastries.
- Don Taco Tequila: With an impressively in depth menu of Mexican delicacies, Don Taco Tequila has one thing for everybody, vegan or in any other case. This can be a good spot for dinner, but it surely tends to replenish, so contemplate making a reservation.
Finest rooftops and terraces
- Inside Café: If you happen to blink, you would possibly miss the doorway of Inside Café, because it’s a bit hidden on one of many metropolis’s most bustling streets. After climbing a number of flights of stairs, you’ll arrive at the most effective terraces in San Miguel. The most effective half, although? The meals is superb and the drinks are scrumptious and refreshing. Attempt the jamaica lemonade!
- Jacques: Positioned on Callejón del Pueblito (an lovely hall), Jacques serves delicious meals, with the added bonus of a breezy terrace and good vibes throughout. It’s additionally pet pleasant, and the menu is usually vegetarian or vegan.
Cafés which might be a digital nomad’s dream
- Murmullo: Housed in what was a graffiti-covered, deserted colonial constructing, Murmullo was by far my favourite place to seize a espresso and work on my laptop computer. The espresso was divine, the meals was high-quality and inexpensive, and the complete place has an artsy vibe. The café is a part of Centro Cultural Allende, which is an artwork gallery/cultural middle that hosts artwork workshops and exhibitions.
- Amapola: Within the coronary heart of San Miguel’s historic middle is Amapola, a hip café good for chilling or working in your laptop computer. There’s a patio inside with a pair small outlets, and the environment is laid again, with a cool mixture of younger professionals and locals working, consuming, and hanging out.
Getting Round San Miguel de Allende
It could be intimidating to make use of public transportation whereas touring in an unfamiliar metropolis, however I discovered the town buses to be fairly straightforward to navigate. If you happen to’re a bit outdoors the town middle and wish to get again to it, simply search for a bus heading in that course that has “Centro” written on it.
I do know these instructions sound obscure, however that’s how public transport works in most of Mexico, particularly in smaller cities like San Miguel. The most effective rule of thumb is simply to ask the bus driver if they’ll move by your vacation spot, so having a superb grasp of Spanish is perhaps useful. If you happen to aren’t in a position to ask the motive force the place the bus goes, you’ll run the chance of ending up misplaced someplace — which isn’t the worst factor that might occur.
I discovered the town taxis to be a bit sparse, so I’d find yourself ready a very long time to catch one which was empty. Count on to pay round 60 pesos ($3 USD) for a taxi journey wherever in or round downtown, or round 80-100 ($4-5 USD) if going someplace farther away, reminiscent of El Charco del Ingenio.
Rideshares and personal transportation
There are two main rideshare apps that you should use in San Miguel: Uber and DiDi. I discovered Uber to be extra dependable and it has extra drivers, making your wait time considerably shorter. DiDi was tremendous, however generally it will take as much as quarter-hour simply to discover a driver.
I ended up utilizing a personal firm referred to as Línea Dorada greater than taxis or rideshares. All you must do is ship them a message on WhatsApp they usually’ll ship a driver to you, charging the identical as a taxi would. This was way more handy than a taxi and faster than an Uber or DiDi.
Attending to and from the airport(s)
To get to San Miguel de Allende, you’ve got a couple of choices. You may fly into Mexico Metropolis and take a bus on to San Miguel, which takes about 4 hours. It’s also possible to fly into both Querétaro or Guanajuato’s airport and take a cab to San Miguel, however it can value you round 1,000 pesos ($50 USD).
I flew into Querétaro, then took a taxi (for 300 pesos ($15 USD), which I believed was a bit ridiculous) to the bus station there. Then, I hopped onto a bus to San Miguel for 100 pesos ($5 USD). That is the most cost effective approach to do it and it wasn’t a trouble in any respect.
Staying Secure in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is a little bit of a paradox. On one hand, it’s within the state of Guanajuato, which some discuss with because the homicide capital of Mexico. Then, you’ve got San Miguel, which is named one of many most secure cities in Mexico — which doesn’t actually make sense till you get there.
I felt completely secure in San Miguel as a solo feminine traveler. It’s regular to have my guard up when touring solo, however the metropolis has such a laid-back vibe that I didn’t really feel like I needed to be as vigilant as somewhere else. I walked across the metropolis middle at night time, however was cautious to keep away from leaving the downtown space. I used Línea Dorada to get from place to put at night time, which is about as secure as you will get relating to transportation.
General, any safety tips on traveling alone will apply when touring to San Miguel, however there’s no specific purpose to be afraid to go to by yourself. This metropolis has an enormous inhabitants of retired People, Canadians, and different foreigners, who positively wouldn’t select San Miguel if it weren’t secure, so maintain that in thoughts.
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If you happen to’re not satisfied that San Miguel de Allende deserves its title as the most effective metropolis on the planet, contemplate checking it out to see what all of the hype is about. As a solo feminine traveler, that is by far the most effective cities I’ve ever visited for its sights, gastronomy, and general security.
Have you ever visited San Miguel? How does it stack up towards your favourite cities?
This submit was written by Emily Becker, a Mexico-based freelance journey author.