Part 2 of my recent trip to Mexico left me breathless! San Miguel de Allende (SMA) is a romantic, vibrant, historic, enchanting city - it's not called La Corazon de Mexico for nothing! <3 (And it's actually not called that for the reasons I mentioned either, but that also works)! For my three days, I spent the majority of my time in Zona Centro.
My first time ever in Mexico began in Mexico City! For more on that, check out my blog post, 3 Days in Mexico City - I'm In Love Again!
From Northern Bus Station in Mexico City, I boarded a Primera Plus coach bus for a 3.5 hour-ride directly to SMA. (Direct is important to mention because I've only seen information online claiming there are no direct buses...LIES!)
The ticket cost $580 MXN (~$28 USD). Note: True to the warnings online, I was unable to purchase the ticket online, as they couldn't process my VISA card. So I showed up an hour early to buy a ticket. You can also view seat availability online to help figure out how early you should arrive to purchase a ticket!
I'd heard that the buses are very nice, and I can confirm that! The bus was pretty stylish and comfortable with retractable foot rests, TV screens, Wi-Fi, and funky lighting. I took advantage of all of this by sleeping instead! :D
I arrived in SMA around 9PM and caught a local cab about 10 minutes to my accommodations for less than $100 MXN ($100 MXN ~ $5 USD). I stayed with my cousin and fellow travel blogger, Anne-Marie aka Bald Girl Will Travel, in her gorgeous home - outdoor balconies for each bedroom, a rooftop deck with a distant view of the historic center, and beautiful motif tiles throughout! I wish I could talk more about the hotels/Airbnbs, but I WILL say that, while exploring the city, I came across several beautiful hotels from what I could spot from the lobbies.
Itinerary by Category
Click any of the below attractions to jump to that section, or just keep scrolling to read about it all!
What to Do
Explore Historic Center (Centro) - Can't miss Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel!
Stroll Aldama - for vibrant colonial Spanish architecture and postcard views
El Mirador - viewpoint of the entire city
Parque Benito Juarez - enjoy a peaceful stroll among birds, trees, and sculptures
Tres Raices Winery - gorgeous and appetizing winery
La Gruta Hot Spring - for a morning of relaxation
Capture memories through an Airbnb Experience photoshoot!
Where to Eat/Drink
La Azotea - Beautiful night-time ambiance and drinks/great food!
Inside Cafe - Have the Mexican breakfast!!
Luna Rooftop at Rosewood - Have drinks with the best views in a posh setting
A. 15 Animas Quince - Have the corn cake at this fun Instagrammable bakery
La Gorda Sirena - Adorable setting and delicious breakfast
Quince Rooftop - Another swanky rooftop with very interesting drinks
Lima San Miguel - Peruvian in Mexico? Why not!
El Tio Carlos Jr. - No-frills, authentic, amazing tacos!
Itinerary by Day
Night 1 - Historic Center and Dinner
My cousin wasted no time and took me out to Centro, the historic center of SMA, for a late dinner. After about 10 minutes of walking, the distant mariachi music became louder, and I took in a gorgeous sight, la Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel - the crown jewel of SMA, lit in all its glory!
We dined at the gorgeous La Azotea rooftop. I enjoyed two tasty mezcal drinks in a beautifully carved bowl (Mezcal Tropical) and a delicious steak sandwich/fries! You could hear the mariachis from here! I recommend stopping at La Azotea, especially at night!
Day 1 - Strolling, Views, Shopping, and Corn Cake
Day 1 began with breakfast at Inside Cafe - HIGHLY recommend! When you SEE this Mexican breakfast I ordered....
And it tasted just as good as it looked! For my breakfast pick-me-up, I opted for a pink chai - the color comes from beet juice, but it doesn't, at all, taste like beets (thank goodness)! For chai lovers, I'd say this one was pretty mild in flavor, but still good (and pretty)!
After breakfast, I explored the city, starting in Centro, this time taking in a daytime view of la Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. I honestly don't know which view was better!
From behind la Parroquia, walk about two minutes down a street called Aldama, turn around, and get another picture-worthy view. Lots of wedding/engagement photography happen here, I hear.
I continued exploring the winding roads and admiring the shops along the way - lots of metalwork, boutiques, and artwork!
I started to walk up to the viewpoint aka El Mirador, but man, that HEAT and those HILLS - I ended up cabbing the rest of the way up! The view was underwhelming, in my opinion, but don't let me stop you from going if it was high on your list!
Back down near Centro, I stopped at Santa Clara ice cream shop and had the most interesting flavored ice-pop - mango con chamoy - sweet, spicy, and delish - a refreshing take on the chili covered mango you could get from the ladies in the NYC subway stations. Would definitely do it again!
Ice-pop in hand, I strolled to the Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, a great place for souvenirs and to support the local community. I walked away with silver earrings (SMA is big on silver), and a beautiful Armenian ring from Casa Mush nearby.
We spent that evening at Luna Rooftop at the Rosewood Hotel. It, arguably, has the best view in the city, and I personally agree with that statement! It was a lovely, swanky, pricier rooftop (but if you're from NYC, then you've just returned home, temporarily). My salmon bacon enchiladas were muy interesante - would I do them again? No. Overall, I'd go for a drink and the atmosphere, but skip the food.
We followed up with dessert at A. 15 Animas Quince, specifically for corn cake - a Mexican version of cornbread, but even more (forgive my language) *moist*. The cafe is also playfully Insta-worthy!
We ended up elsewhere for more drinks and ceviche (in addition to mezcal, I am now also addicted to ceviche)!
Day 2 - Photoshoot, Parque Juarez, and Winery
The next morning, I awoke bright and early and decided I wanted to do another photoshoot (I had done two in Mexico City)! If you've been following me for a bit, you'll know that I've recently found a love for Airbnb Experience photoshoots while vacationing, especially when solo, as it's a great way to capture memories! Read this post for more on how to get photos when traveling solo. I was able to secure a photographer just 3 hours in advance (it was meant to be)!
Before photos, we had breakfast at La Sirena Gorda. The berries & cream cheese French toast was heavenly - crispy and soft *at the same damn time*! Such a treat!
From there, I met my photographer of the day, Ernesto Morales, by la Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel where he took some epic shots on Aldama and in Parque Juarez! He also taught me the origin of SMA's nickname, "La Corazon de Mexico"! SMA was a central location for planning Mexico's revolution from Spain - heart = bravery! BUT SMA is ALSO located centrally in Mexico.
After the shoot, I explored the park for a bit - taking in the sounds of the rich biodiversity and admiring interesting sculptures. In fact, uphill from the park, is a hand chair sculpture by the artist famous for those, Pedro Friedeberg, as well as ruins of the first church of SMA and another interesting historic landmark, los Lavaderos del Chorro!
I wound down an active morning with a relaxing afternoon at Tres Raices winery! It's pretty young - established in 2012 with its first harvest in 2016, but it did not disappoint! It's probably one of the most beautiful wineries I've visited, both inside and out!
We began with the 40-min winery tour (bring a HAT and sunglasses - it's blazing out there)! I learned they grow 11 varieties of grapes from Spain, Italy, and France. They also covered the bottling process and took us down into the cellar - kept dark and cool to preserve the wine (and to rejuvenate us after being out in the heat)!
Did you know, one barrel holds 300 bottles of wine? :D
Finally, the main event - the tasting! The cost is $700 MXN ($35 USD) for both tour and tasting. We added on charcuterie, but not sure for how much extra.
The sommelier was super knowledgeable, and I definitely walked away with an even greater appreciation for wine (if that was even possible)! The wine was wonderful - I even took home three bottles (checked a bag to do so - so unlike me)! I wish I had taken even more as I think back to it now....perhaps I can have it imported. The Malbec was not just mine, but a crowd favorite!
We ended with a late lunch at the winery's restaurant. More wine and lamb chops for me! :D
Day 3 - Hot Spring, Street Art, Quince Rooftop, and Street Tacos
On my final day, I awoke bright and early, again, (7AM) and Ubered to one of the popular hot springs - La Gruta. The best time for a hot spring visit is early morning for a few reasons: 1. smaller crowd, 2. cooler weather so the warmth of the springs are even more welcome, and, specifically for La Gruta, 3. apparently inside the cave, there's a nice "hydro-massage waterfall" that shuts off around 9AM.
Reservations are not needed. Also La Gruta is closed on Mon-Tue. Some other hot springs may be open - check and plan for this in your itinerary! Also, it's BYOT - T for towel, that is, or pay $100 MXN for one on site. I spent almost three hours lounging about, chatting it up with others, and petting the spa cat. :)
*All byyyy myyyseeeeeelf!* Just how I like it! :)
That afternoon, for lunch, we changed up the cuisine and tried a very festive Peruvian restaurant - Lima San Miguel. There were lots of ceviche options on the menu, so you know I had to have some! I learned the national drink of Peru is the Pisco Sour - reminded me of a lemon Italian ice...I had two! I must preface that while I have a shellfish allergy, there was a seafood rice dish my cousin had that looked AMAZING! I, on the other hand, opted for a steak risotto dish.
We, then, strolled a nearby street to admire the street art. SMA is known for lots of amazing street art - just Google "San Miguel de Allende street art." There are even walking tours for it!
Later that evening, we headed to Quince Rooftop, another hot spot close to la Parroquia with some amateur live entertainment thrown in there. To try something different in Mexico, I had the nigiri sampler - not my fave. I should have stuck with Mexican food. :(
Loved the Black Forest though - Black charcoal, pineapple, mezcal, cucumber, and lime P:
I ended my last evening with El Tio Carlos Jr. tacos. This no-frills establishment had nothing but locals, so you know it was good, and indeed, had some amazing tacos!
This made up for that sushi, for sure!
My flight departed at 6AM from QRO (Queretaro) about an hour away, so I booked, in advance, a shuttle with Bajio Go Shuttle Service for $30 USD ($600 MXN). We agreed on 2AM pickup (I asked for 3AM, but they could not for whatever reason).
QRO is a tiny airport and was, of course, not at all busy at 4AM. I am actually surprised there are direct flights to NYC from there! But anyway, I slept a bit at my gate and said my good-bye. :(
San Miguel de Allende was so lovely and exceeded my expectations! I'd absolutely visit again and recommend anyone else plan at least three days here! I cannot wait to explore more of Mexico! See MUCH MORE in this photo album Enchanted in San Miguel de Allende!
Where in Mexico have YOU been? Would you add SMA to your list?