San Miguel de Allende & Guanajuato

The very mexican city of Guanajuato

During our first month here in Mexico we travelled around exploring different cities. First one was Mexico City (read about our experience here) and then we went by bus to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and finally to Guadalajara.

We spend three days in San Miguel de Allende, three days in Guanajuato and then a week in Guadalajara. We quickly realised that working while travelling with a toddler is mission impossible so we decided that we wouldn’t dig into real work until we got settled somewhere. So the above cities were enjoyed as tourists.

I’m running through this tour a bit quick as I honestly don’t feel I have that much to share about it (separate Guadalajara post will come though).

Overall conclusion is that the mentioned cities are worth visiting if you’re doing a tour here in Mexico. From Guadalajara there are many direct flights to the beaches, so it would make a nice travel itinerary to do Mexico City – San Miguel de Allende – Guanajuato – Guadalajara and then head to the sea.

San Miguel de Allende

The beautiful and hilly streets of San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel is a picture perfect town located in the mountains. All churches are pastel coloured and the streets are cobblestone and charming. It is extremely popular amongst (wealthy) americans and so there are many high-end interior shops to cater for the expats building their impressive houses. Destination weddings also seem to be a big thing here as we saw three weddings in three days, which was fun.

I understand that people like it, because it is beautiful, it’s clean and there are many nice restaurants around. However, we felt a lack of (mexican) charm. And with a baby stroller it wasn’t the best (we got a lot of exercise though when pushing the stroller up the hilly streets!).

Overall San Miguel would make it for a nice little vacation, but not for digging into real Mexican culture. It is a nice town to visit if you are in the ”area”. And if you’re not travelling on a budget like us, but can splurge, then there are plenty of options for very delicious food and luxe hotels.

We stayed at this house and loved it. We just rented one room with private bathroom and it was perfect as the shared kitchen was huge and there was a very nice courtyard. And then we were lucky, that we were the only guests one night and had it all to ourselves.

Our unexpected highlight of San Miguel: One morning I was making breakfast in the kitchen with Julian at around 7 am and Lasse came running down to us telling us that we HAD to come to the balcony NOW. And what a view! An air balloon passing right above us in the early and quiet morning light. So so so beautiful!

Places we liked in San Miguel

Nectar for take away salad and other healthy food

Café La Ventana for coffee

We felt there was a big gap between high-end expensive restaurants (where we wouldn’t go) and cheap touristy restaurants (where we wouldn’t go either!). So we didn’t eat out a lot. As we lived in a great house with a large bright kitchen and courtyard, we chose to spend a lot of time there cooking ourselves and eating take-away from Nectar.

Guanajuato

Bossa Nova Café

Now, this is a ”real” mexican city. There is a large university in town, which implies a lot of young students and a nice atmosphere around the streets. There are tourists, but nothing like San Miguel. The town is super charming and looks like a rainbow has fallen down and covered it all in colors. Beautiful. The food is very local, which is nice for an authentic experience, but we honestly missed some more healthy options for breakfast especially (read: smoothie bowls! I know, I know, I’m in Mexico, I should eat like a local, but I prefer the healthy vegetarian breakfast options). But besides of that, this is a very recommendable town to visit for a true mexican experience in an accessible way.

Places we liked in Guanajuato

Santo Café for the location on a little arch with view to a small street.

Club Café for very good coffee to go.

Bossa Nova Café for lunch and snacks. We had some nice salads for lunch there.

All the bakeries. There seemed to be a lot of bakeries in town and we would go and grab some different buns each morning, then head over to Club Café for a coffee to go and sit on the stairs of Juarez Theater to enjoy it. Nice.

The boys enjoying coffee, fruit and pastry on the stairs of the Juarez Theather

Practicalities

Getting there

CDMX – San Miguel: 4 hours

San Miguel – Guanajuato: 1,5 hour

Guanajuato – Guadalajara: 4 hours

We traveled with Primera Plus busses, which are very high standard tourist busses. You’ll have a large reclinable seat, own TV screen, a drink and a snack on board. It works very well and you can purchase tickets and chose seats beforehand.

Budget

Accomodation

San Miguel was approx. 1.300 MEX / 60 € per night for a room incl. private bathroom

Guanajuato was approx. 860 MEX/ 40 € per night for a room incl. private bathroom

We tried to do low budget stays (because after all we are traveling for a long time and have to go low sometimes to keep the budget in the long run), but we realised that it was too low. San Miguel was super fine, but Guanajuato wasn’t (while in Guanajuato Lasse freaked out and booked a luxe villa for our upcoming stay in Puerto Escondido because he was sick and tired of the crappy place we had in Guanajuato. Let’s say it was an experience!)

Food & drinks

San Miguel is slightly more espensive than Guanajuato. Prices below are for Guanajuato, so expect an additional 10% for San Miguel de Allende.

A coffee is approx. 30 MEX // 1,40 €

A meal at Bossa Nova which is a more expensive café on a square in Guanajuato (salad, crepe, guacamole, water and 2 glasses of wine) approx. 700 MEX // 32 €

Pastry is extremely cheap and one pastry at a local bakery is approx 4 MEX // 0,20 €

Supermarkets

In San Miguel there is one huge supermarked a bit out of town and the same with Guanajuato. Besides of that there are small local grocery shops, but they mostly have beer and snacks. Especially in Guanajuato it seemed that every other shop was the American OXXO, which is literally just a junk food store. So we were a bit challenged when shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables (fresh fruit venders were on every corner in Guanajuato though which was super nice!).

I don’t have an overview of our supermarked spendings here as we didn’t really use them.

Colourful flower shop in Guanajuato

Transportation

Both cities are very walkable and you won’t need any transportation at all. However in San Miguel it might be nice to take a cap uphill if you stay on the hill like we did. Taxies are all around the town and cost very little.

In Guanajuato there is Uber, however, there are not as many as in CDMX and Guadalajara, so waiting time will occur. Besides of that, it works perfectly fine. Price from town to the bus station (which is out of town) is 71 MEX // 3,24 € and is around 15 minutes.

I unfortunately don’t have an overview of our overall expenses for those cities.

We quick our jobs to travel and work remotely with our 1-year old son by the end of 2018. Read about our decision here

Any ideas or thoughts you wish to share? Don't hold back, I love to chat :)

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