Guanajuato City: A Travel Guide to Mexico’s Colorful City
August 22, 2019
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I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t even know that Guanajuato City existed until a few months ago. My boyfriend and I were discussing possible trip options back in June when Guanajuato got thrown out there as a possible destination in Mexico. I caught a glimpse of the colorful streets, and booked a flight down two days later! Keep reading to find out everything that you need to know about traveling to Guanajuato City, Mexico.
I fell in love with Guanajuato within seconds of arriving. With rolling hills of scattered buildings of all colors, it was hard not to. Although you could probably spend weeks just wandering through the colorful streets, eating delicious bites of street food along the way, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things to do, eat, and drink in this charming city.
The Basics on Guanajuato City
Where is Guanajuato City located?
Located in central Mexico, Guanajuato City is the capital of the state with the same name.
When to visit Guanajuato?
Despite its UNESCO Heritage Site status, this charming yet local city doesn’t receive the same influx of tourists as nearby San Miguel de Allende.
Guanajuato’s rainy season lasts from June to early September, however this does not mean that it rains constantly throughout these months. In fact, we visited in mid August and didn’t experience a single drop of rain! Warm sunny days everyday for us!
How to get to Guanajuato:
The closest airport is the Guanajuato International Airport (BJX), located just 30-45 minutes outside of Guanajuato City. Flights to this airport are listed as going to Leon, but the actual airport was moved to Silao years ago. You can find direct flights from all over Mexico, as well as from US cities such as Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
If you are already traveling in Mexico, then you can easily reach Guanajuato by bus or car. The bus between Guanajuato and Mexico City takes approximately 5 hours.
How much time to spend in Guanajuato City?
I would dedicate at least 2-3 days to exploring Guanajuato City, however I easily could have spent week getting lost in the maze of colorful streets. On my recent trip to Guanajuato we had 3 nights, and 2 full days. In my opinion this is just enough time to get a taste for this amazing city.
Where to Eat and Drink in Guanajuato City
La Clave Azul
La Clave Azul exudes a casual cool vibe. I found this spot based on a recommend from Rachel of Trailing Rachel and loved it! We arrived to this dark, local gem for a round of drinks before dinner. Our drinks, a tequila reposado on the rocks for me and a house mezcal for Jon, were accompanied by the most delicious snacks. We were served tasty roasted potatoes and cucumbers with spicy seasonings. According to Rachel’s post these snacks are only served between 2:30 and 5:30pm, so plan accordingly.
This place can be a bit tricky to find but just look for Cafe Bossa Nova in the Plaza San Fernando, then continue down the small alley behind a few steps to the bright blue entrance.
Our bill came to 130 MXP pesos ($6.50), for the two drinks and complimentary snacks.
Famous among the expat community, Los Campos is the perfect spot for a delicious sit down dinner in Guanajuato City. Our B&B host rated it as one of the best dinners spots in Guanajuato, so we knew that we had to try it out! The prices are reasonable and generously sized. Do yourself a favor and order the queso fundido (baked cheese) as a starter, along with one of their deliciously crafted cocktails.
Dinner for two with appetizers, entrees, and cocktails came to approximately 650 MXN pesos ($33 USD) with tip.
With only a handful of tables, this place can get super busy. For this reason it is best to call ahead for a reservation.
We stumbled upon this restaurant for a late dinner after a rowdy futbol match in Leon, and couldn’t have been happier. A local cafe in Guanajuato City serving up Mexican classics, I don’t think that you could go wrong with anything on the menu. Their rendition of the chicken torta made a simple sandwich seem truly spectacular. Wash it down with a jug of agua fresca, I recommend the watermelon.
After you’ve spent some time wandering the local market, stop by the Mariscos Pancho’s stand for a ceviche tostada. Priced at only 10 MXN pesos ($0.50 USD) a piece, order 2 or 3 to fill yourself up! The shrimp and octopus tostadas are great as well, but the ceviche has the best flavor in my opinion!
If seafood isn’t your thing, you’ll find plenty of other stands offering slow cooked meats and tortas.
Mercado de Gavira
If you’re looking for something a little heartier, follow the neon signs across the street from Mercado Hildago and head to the Mercado de Gavira. My thoughts are usually to head to the busiest stand, however we ate here a handful of times and were never disappointed. Most plates some with beans, rice, and salad, however you can order it without as well. Fill up on flautas, chilaquiles, and quesadillas.
Wandering in the town center we came across Caliope, a cocktail bar with a laidback ambiance, perfect for an evening nightcap in Guanajuato City. Snag a seat out on the balcony and order one of their speciality cocktails. I ordered a surprisingly delicious drink, a mix of Aperol and tequila blanco, along with other syrups.
The speciality cocktails are priced at 100 MXN pesos ($5 USD), however you can find cheaper drinks on the menu as well.
I wasn’t able to find this spot on Google Maps, but if you head to Mandragora you can continue to the bar in the same building.
Where to Stay in Guanajuato City
Casa Zuniga B&B
Do yourself a favor and book yourself a room here right now! This cactus haven is situated right by the famous Monumento al Pipila, with incredible views of the city down below. Our spacious room came with a private balcony, perfect for watching the sun rise and set over the colorful city down below. Not to mention the breakfast is absolutely heavenly. Although I’m bias because I didn’t actually stay anywhere else, in my opinion Casa Zuniga is the best place to stay in Guanajuato City. For only $75/night it is seriously a steal!
If you’re looking for something a bit higher end then I recommend checking out Casa del Rector. Located right in the center, this boutique hotel is pure luxury.
On the other end of the spectrum you can find some great, affordable hostels for solo travelers. I have heard great things about Hostal Seis 7.
What to Do in Guanajuato City
There are so many fun things to do in Guanajuato City, but here are just a few of my favorites.
Wander the Colorful Streets
Easily the best thing to do in Guanajuato City is to get lost amongst the colorful cobblestone streets. Guanajuato is quite possibly the most colorful place that i’ve ever been, with each street more colorful than the next. You couldbook a tour to discover all of the hidden gems of the city.
You’ll come across gorgeous churches such as the Parroquia de Basilica Colegiata de Nuestra Senora de Gunajuato and the Templo de San Francisco.
Buy Local Art
As you wander the streets of Guanajuato City you’ll quickly notice the abundance of artwork. If you’re interested in purchasing some unique, reasonably priced art, head to El Pinche Grabador. We picked up some traditional artwork for our new apartment here.
Visit the Monument al Pipila
The views from the Monument al Pipila are probably the best in the city, unless you have a private balcony around the corner at Casa Zuniga of course. To reach the viewpoint you can either take the funicular or walk. The walk takes under 10 minutes, but it is quite steep. My recommendation would be to ride the funicular up, and then follow the path back down by foot. The walk down winds through some of the my colorful streets. Consider booking this tour to learn more about the Monument.
The funicular costs 30 MXN pesos ($1.50 USD) each way.
Explore the Markets of Guanajuato City
There are a number of fun markets in Guanajuato City. My favorite is Mercado Hildago, which offers a number of food stands and local souvenirs, both in and around the market.
Museo Casa Diego Rivera
The Diego Rivera museum was one of our favorite stops in Guanajuato City. The museum is located in one of the houses that Diego lived in when he was a young boy. The house offers a display of both Rivera’s work, as well as a photography exhibit on the top floor.
The entrance fee is priced at 15 MXN pesos ($0.75 USD), so definitely worth a quick visit!
Teatro Juarez/Jardin de la Union
Probably the busiest part of town, you’ll find the gorgeous Teatro Juarez located across from the bustling Jardin de la Union. If you have the time, check out the schedule for the performances taking place at the theatre during your visit. This is a great opportunity to experience some local music!
In the evenings you’ll find a vibrant atmosphere surrounding the Jardin. There are a number of restaurants in this area where you can sit and enjoy the atmosphere, however the prices will be higher than the rest of the city.
Mummies Museum of Guanajuato City
While viewing a bunch of mummified bodies may not be on the top of everyone’s vacation bucket list, the museum is definitely a fascinating one! It has been said that many of these bodies were mixed with the proper burial salts, and as a result the bodies mummified rather than decomposing. Not for the faint of heart, but you can see the youngest mummy in the world on display, a 5 month old fetus.
Located a bit outside the center, however it is easy to take a car or bus. Entrance into the museum costs 80 MXN pesos ($4.00).
Visit Nearby Cities of San Miguel de Allende, Leon, or Mexico City
If you have time I recommend continuing your trip to one of the nearby cities. Make sure to check out Rental Cars for affordable car rental options. We visited Leon, the leather capital of the world, for a half day to do some shopping and attend a local futbol match.
Although much more popular than Guanajuato, just an hour and a half away you’ll find the charming city of San Miguel de Allende.
Visiting Mexico? Here are some other articles that you should check out:
- Tulum on a Budget
- 7 Best Restaurants in Tulum, Mexico
- Best Tulum Instagram Spots
- Mexico City Guide
- Best Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende
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