Your Ultimate Guanajuato Travel Guide 2023
Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage site located just four hours north of Mexico City, is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the vibrant culture and rich history of the country. The city is known for its charming colonial architecture, winding streets, and colorful buildings, making it a picturesque and fascinating place to explore. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a returning traveler, our ultimate Guanajuato travel guide will provide you with everything you need to know to make the most of your trip, from where to stay and what to eat to the top things to do and see in this stunning city. You may also want to check out our Monterrey travel guide!
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Guanajuato
- Visit The Mummy Museum: One of the most popular attractions in Guanajuato is the Mummy Museum. Here, you can see the naturally preserved bodies of dozens of people who died during a cholera outbreak in the mid-19th century. The museum is a fascinating and slightly macabre glimpse into the past, and a must-see for any history buff.
- Explore The Alleyways: Guanajuato is a city full of narrow alleyways and cobblestone streets, each one offering a unique perspective on the city. Take some time to wander through these winding passages, and you’re sure to stumble upon hidden plazas, street art, and colorful buildings that you won’t find anywhere else.
- Visit The Basilica Of Our Lady Of Guanajuato: This stunning church is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. Its soaring spires and ornate architecture make it a must-see for anyone interested in religious history or art. Don’t forget to visit the crypt, where you can see the remains of the martyrs who were killed during the Cristero War.
- Take A Tour Of The Caves: Beneath the city of Guanajuato lies a vast network of underground caves and tunnels. You can take a guided tour of these caves, which will take you through narrow passages and show you incredible rock formations and underground waterfalls. It’s an unforgettable experience that’s not to be missed.
- Attend The Festival Internacional Cervantino: Every fall, Guanajuato plays host to the Festival Internacional Cervantino, one of the biggest cultural events in Latin America. The festival features music, dance, theater, and other performances from artists all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to experience the vibrant culture of Guanajuato and the wider world.
Best Guanajuato Tours
Tours in Guanajuato are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Guanajuato (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
Where To Stay In Guanajuato
- Centro Histórico: As the heart of Guanajuato’s colonial past, the Centro Histórico is the ideal place to stay if you want to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history and culture. This area is filled with stunning examples of Spanish Baroque architecture, cobblestone streets, and numerous museums, restaurants, and bars.
- La Presa: La Presa is an up-and-coming neighborhood on the outskirts of Guanajuato. Located near the city’s dam and reservoir, this area is quieter than the bustling Centro Histórico and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. La Presa is perfect for those seeking a more tranquil and peaceful stay.
- El Jardín de la Unión: Located in the heart of the Centro Histórico, El Jardín de la Unión is a vibrant and lively neighborhood that is perfect for those who want to be in the middle of the action. This area is home to some of Guanajuato’s best restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as several theaters and cultural events.
- San Javier: San Javier is a more upscale neighborhood located on the north side of the city. This area is known for its large mansions and luxurious villas, as well as its quiet and peaceful atmosphere. San Javier is perfect for those who want a more exclusive and secluded stay.
- Valenciana: Valenciana is located just outside of Guanajuato’s city center and is known for its historic silver mines and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. This area is perfect for those who want to experience a more rural and rustic side of Guanajuato while still being close to the city’s amenities.
Top Guanajuato Hotels
- Hotel Boutique 1850: Located in the heart of Guanajuato’s historic center, Hotel Boutique 1850 offers luxury accommodations and excellent service. The rooms are elegantly designed and come equipped with modern amenities. The hotel also features a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city.
- Casa de Espiritus Alegres: This charming boutique hotel is located in a colonial-style building, just a few blocks away from the city center. Casa de Espiritus Alegres boasts comfortable and beautifully decorated rooms, a courtyard with a fountain, and a rooftop terrace with breathtaking views of the city.
- El Mesón de los Poetas: Set in a restored 18th-century mansion, El Mesón de los Poetas is a cozy hotel located in the historic center of Guanajuato. The hotel’s rooms feature rustic decor and antique furnishings, providing a unique and authentic Mexican experience. The hotel also has a beautiful terrace with a panoramic view of the city.
- Hotel Posada Santa Fe: Located in a quiet neighborhood, just a few minutes away from the city center, Hotel Posada Santa Fe is a charming hotel housed in a historic building. The rooms are comfortable and cozy, featuring traditional Mexican decor. The hotel also has a beautiful garden where guests can relax and enjoy the tranquility.
- Casa Magdalena: Casa Magdalena is a beautiful bed and breakfast located in a historic building in the city center. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, providing guests with a luxurious and comfortable stay. The hotel also features a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city and a peaceful garden where guests can unwind.
Where To Eat In Guanajuato
Guanajuato is a food lover’s paradise, with a variety of culinary options ranging from traditional Mexican dishes to international cuisine. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Guanajuato:
- La Vela Restaurant & Bar: Located in the heart of Guanajuato, La Vela offers a mix of Mexican and international cuisine. Their signature dish is the cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish with achiote seasoning.
- El Pípila: This local favorite serves up delicious and authentic Mexican food, with generous portions at affordable prices. Be sure to try the chiles en nogada, a regional dish of stuffed poblano peppers topped with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds.
- Truco 7: This hip restaurant is known for its innovative cocktails and fusion cuisine, blending Mexican and Asian flavors. The sushi rolls with mango and chile sauce are a must-try.
- Casa Valadez: This elegant restaurant in the historic center of Guanajuato offers a fine dining experience with a focus on traditional Mexican cuisine. Try the chiles rellenos de queso, a dish of cheese-stuffed peppers served in tomato sauce.
- El Gallo Pitagórico: This vegetarian restaurant is a refreshing option in a city known for its meat dishes. The menu features inventive takes on Mexican staples, like jackfruit tacos and vegan enchiladas.
No matter where you choose to dine in Guanajuato, you’re sure to find delicious food and warm hospitality. Be adventurous and try some of the regional specialties for a true taste of Mexico.
How To Get Around Guanajuato
Guanajuato is a compact city with narrow and winding streets that are best explored on foot. However, if you need to cover more ground, there are other transportation options available to you.
- Bus: The most common form of public transportation in Guanajuato is the bus. The city has a well-organized and extensive bus network that operates throughout the day. Buses are cheap and reliable, making them a great option for getting around the city.
- Taxi: Taxis are widely available in Guanajuato and are an affordable and convenient way to get around the city. There are taxi stands located throughout the city, or you can flag one down on the street. It’s recommended that you negotiate the price before getting in to avoid any surprises.
- Uber: Uber is available in Guanajuato and is a great option for those who want the convenience of a taxi without the need to negotiate prices. Uber fares are generally cheaper than regular taxi fares and provide a safer and more comfortable experience.
- Walking: As mentioned earlier, Guanajuato is a walkable city with plenty of pedestrian-friendly areas. Walking is the best way to experience the city’s charm and history up close.
- Bicycle: If you want to explore the city at your own pace, you can rent a bicycle. There are several bike rental shops in Guanajuato, and they offer a fun and eco-friendly way to get around.
Regardless of which mode of transportation you choose, be sure to stay alert and aware of your surroundings, as Guanajuato’s streets can be busy and chaotic at times. And don’t forget to enjoy the scenery while you’re getting around the city!
One of the things that makes Guanajuato such a fantastic travel destination is its climate. The weather is mostly pleasant throughout the year, with moderate temperatures and sunny skies. Here is what you can expect during each season:
- Spring: March, April, and May are the spring months in Guanajuato. The weather during this time is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 70-80°F (21-27°C). Mornings can be a bit chilly, so a light jacket or sweater is recommended.
- Summer: June, July, and August are the summer months in Guanajuato. This is the hottest time of the year, with average temperatures ranging from 80-90°F (27-32°C). It’s also the rainy season, with frequent afternoon showers. It’s best to bring a raincoat or umbrella if you visit during this time.
- Fall: September, October, and November are the fall months in Guanajuato. The weather is still warm during the day, with average temperatures ranging from 75-85°F (24-29°C). However, nights can start to get chilly, so it’s a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater.
- Winter: December, January, and February are the winter months in Guanajuato. While it’s not as cold as other parts of the world, temperatures can dip to 45°F (7°C) at night. Days are usually mild, with average temperatures ranging from 60-70°F (16-21°C). It’s best to pack layers so you can stay comfortable throughout the day.
Overall, the weather in Guanajuato is ideal for outdoor activities, sightseeing, and exploring the city. No matter what time of year you visit, you’re sure to enjoy the temperate climate and beautiful landscapes.
Best Time To Visit Guanajuato
Guanajuato is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. If you prefer mild weather and fewer crowds, the best time to visit Guanajuato is during the shoulder season from March to May and September to November.
During these months, you can enjoy Guanajuato’s outdoor activities and festivals without the high temperatures and heavy crowds that the high season brings. Plus, hotel prices and airfares tend to be lower during these months.
If you’re looking to experience Guanajuato’s festivals and events, then the high season from December to February is the best time to visit. This is when the famous Cervantino Festival takes place, bringing thousands of visitors from all over the world. However, you should expect high hotel rates and crowds during this time. The rainy season in Guanajuato runs from June to August, and while the city is still vibrant, the downpours can affect outdoor activities. However, the rainy season is also the best time for eco-tourism enthusiasts who want to see the waterfalls and lush landscapes around Guanajuato. Overall, the best time to visit Guanajuato depends on your preferences. Whether you’re a festival-goer or prefer quieter periods, Guanajuato has something for everyone throughout the year.
How To Stay Safe In Guanajuato
While Guanajuato is generally considered a safe destination, it’s always important to take necessary precautions when traveling to any foreign country. Here are some tips to help you stay safe during your trip to Guanajuato:
- Be Aware Of Your Surroundings: Always stay aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Avoid walking alone at night and stick to well-lit, populated areas.
- Use Safe Transportation: When using taxis or public transportation, make sure to only use authorized vehicles. Avoid getting into unmarked or unlicensed taxis.
- Keep Your Belongings Close: Keep your valuables, including your passport and other important documents, in a safe place. Use a money belt or travel wallet to keep your cash and credit cards close to your body.
- Don’t Flaunt Your Wealth: Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, perfume or flashing large amounts of cash. This can make you a target for pickpockets and thieves.
- Know Emergency Numbers: Make sure to have the emergency numbers for the local police, ambulance, and fire department on hand. You can also register with your embassy in case of an emergency.
By following these simple tips, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Guanajuato. Remember to always use common sense and trust your instincts. With a little bit of caution, you can have a great time exploring all that this beautiful city has to offer.
Guanajuato Customs and Etiquette
Guanajuato is a culturally rich city, and as such, it’s important to be aware of certain customs and etiquettes while visiting. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Greetings: In Guanajuato, greetings are taken seriously, and it’s customary to greet everyone you meet. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s polite to shake hands and make eye contact.
- Dress Code: The locals in Guanajuato tend to dress modestly, so it’s important to dress appropriately while visiting. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or anything that may be deemed inappropriate in a religious or conservative setting.
- Punctuality: Punctuality is highly valued in Guanajuato, and it’s considered rude to be late for appointments or meetings. Always make sure to arrive on time or a few minutes early.
- Tipping: Tipping is common in Guanajuato, especially in restaurants and cafes. It’s customary to leave a tip of around 10% for good service.
- Public Behavior: It’s important to behave respectfully in public spaces in Guanajuato. Avoid littering, being too loud, or behaving in an inappropriate or disrespectful manner.
By keeping these customs and etiquettes in mind, you’ll be able to navigate the city with ease and show respect to the local culture and customs.
Other Things To Know About Guanajuato
When traveling to Guanajuato, it’s important to know some basic information about the country and its customs. Mexico is a country located in North America and the official language spoken in Guanajuato, as well as throughout the country, is Spanish. The local currency is the Mexican peso (MXN), which can be obtained from ATMs or currency exchange bureaus located throughout the city. The time zone in Guanajuato is Central Standard Time (CST), which is six hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-6). It’s also worth noting that while English is spoken in some tourist areas, it’s always a good idea to have some basic Spanish phrases on hand. With this basic information in mind, you’ll be better prepared to explore and enjoy all that Guanajuato has to offer.
Guanajuato Travel Costs
Before you embark on your Guanajuato adventure, it’s important to have an idea of what kind of expenses you can expect. Guanajuato is an affordable destination, but as with any travel, costs can add up quickly. Here’s a breakdown of the most common expenses you can expect when visiting Guanajuato:
- Accommodation: You can find budget-friendly accommodations in Guanajuato starting at around $15 USD per night. Mid-range hotels will typically cost around $60 USD per night, while luxury hotels can cost up to $200 USD or more per night.
- Food: Dining in Guanajuato is also very affordable. A typical meal in a mid-range restaurant will cost around $10 USD per person, while street food and smaller establishments can be even cheaper.
- Transportation: Getting around Guanajuato is relatively cheap, with a one-way bus ride costing around $0.50 USD. Taxi rides within the city center typically cost around $3-5 USD, while private tours and excursions will naturally be more expensive.
- Activities: Guanajuato is a city with plenty of things to see and do, and many of these activities come with little or no cost. The city’s plazas and public gardens are free to explore, while admission fees to museums and other attractions usually range from $2-10 USD.
Overall, it’s possible to visit Guanajuato on a tight budget and still enjoy all the city has to offer. For those with a bit more money to spend, luxury options are also available. It all depends on your individual travel style and preferences. Keep reading for more money-saving tips!
Finding Affordable Flights To Guanajuato
One of the biggest expenses when it comes to travel is often the cost of airfare. However, with a little bit of planning and research, it’s possible to find affordable flights to Guanajuato. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Use Flight Search Engines: Websites like Expedia, Skyscanner, Booking.com and Kayak can help you find the best deals on flights to Guanajuato. Make sure to compare prices across multiple sites to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal.
- Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates: Prices for flights can vary depending on the day of the week and the time of year that you’re traveling. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you may be able to find cheaper flights.
- Book In Advance: Generally, the earlier you book your flights, the better. This is especially true if you’re traveling during peak travel seasons, such as the Christmas holidays or spring break.
- Consider Budget Airlines: While they may not offer the same level of comfort as more expensive airlines, budget airlines like Volaris and Interjet often have lower prices on flights to Guanajuato.
- Sign Up For Alerts: Many travel websites offer email alerts for when flights to certain destinations drop in price. Sign up for these alerts so that you can snag a great deal when it becomes available.
By following these tips, you can find affordable flights to Guanajuato and save money on your travels.
Backpacking Guanajuato Suggested Budgets
For backpackers looking to explore the rich culture and history of Guanajuato, it is important to budget accordingly. Here are some suggested budgets to help you plan your trip:
Low Budget: $20-30 per day
- Stay in a hostel dormitory for around $5-10 per night
- Eat street food or at local markets for around $3-5 per meal
- Use public transportation or walk to get around the city
- Visit free or low-cost attractions such as the Guanajuato Mummy Museum or the Juarez Theater
Mid-Range Budget: $40-60 per day
- Stay in a private hostel room or budget hotel for around $20-30 per night
- Eat at mid-range restaurants for around $10-15 per meal
- Use taxis or Uber to get around the city
- Visit mid-range attractions such as the Museum of the Iconography or the Alley of the Kiss
Luxury Budget: $100+ per day
- Stay in a luxury hotel for around $80-100 per night
- Eat at high-end restaurants for around $30-50 per meal
- Use private transportation or hire a private guide to get around the city
- Visit high-end attractions such as the Diego Rivera Museum or take a hot air balloon ride over the city
Regardless of your budget, Guanajuato has something to offer for everyone. With a bit of planning and research, you can make the most of your backpacking experience in this charming and vibrant city.
Guanajuato Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Guanajuato on a budget can be challenging, but there are many ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of your trip. Here are some Guanajuato money saving tips that can help you stretch your budget and have an unforgettable experience:
- Eat Like A Local: One of the best ways to save money in Guanajuato is to eat like a local. Street food and local markets offer delicious and inexpensive meals, and you can find some of the best food in town at these places.
- Avoid Tourist Traps: It’s easy to fall for tourist traps in Guanajuato, especially in the city center. Avoid overpriced restaurants, souvenir shops, and tours that cater to tourists. Instead, explore off-the-beaten-path places to experience the real culture of the city.
- Use Public Transportation: Taxis in Guanajuato can be expensive, especially if you’re traveling to different parts of the city. Opt for public transportation like buses and metro systems that offer cheap and convenient ways to get around.
- Visit Free Attractions: Guanajuato has many free attractions that you can explore without spending a penny. From museums and historical landmarks to natural wonders, there are many places you can visit for free.
- Shop At Local Markets: Shopping at local markets is a great way to support the local economy and save money on souvenirs and gifts. You can find unique handmade items, jewelry, textiles, and other goods that are cheaper than tourist shops.
- Bargain: Bargaining is a common practice in Guanajuato, especially in markets and small shops. Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices to get a better deal, but be respectful and polite.
By following these Guanajuato money saving tips, you can have a great trip without breaking the bank. With a little planning and budgeting, you can enjoy all that this amazing city has to offer and make memories that will last a lifetime.
What To Pack For Guanajuato
Packing for a trip to Guanajuato is pretty straightforward, but it’s important to be prepared for the weather and terrain. Here’s what to pack for your Guanajuato adventure:
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: Guanajuato’s streets and alleys can be steep and cobblestoned, so make sure to bring a sturdy and comfortable pair of walking shoes.
- Layers: Guanajuato’s weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to pack layers that you can easily add or remove as the temperature changes.
- Sunscreen And A Hat: Guanajuato can get quite sunny, especially during the summer months, so it’s important to protect your skin.
- Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is key when exploring Guanajuato’s narrow streets and alleys, so make sure to bring a refillable water bottle.
- Daypack Or Backpack: A small daypack or backpack will come in handy for carrying your essentials like water, snacks, and sunscreen.
- Insect Repellent: Mosquitoes and other bugs can be a problem in some areas of Guanajuato, so bring some insect repellent to avoid getting bitten.
- Camera: Guanajuato is a beautiful and colorful city, so make sure to bring a camera or laptop to capture all of the stunning sights and moments.
- Spanish Phrasebook: While many locals in Guanajuato speak English, it’s always helpful to have a phrasebook or translation app on hand to communicate with locals.
By packing these essentials, you’ll be ready to fully enjoy your Guanajuato adventure without any hiccups. Happy travels!
Can You Drink Tap Water In Guanajuato?
When it comes to tap water in Guanajuato, it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking it. The tap water in Mexico is generally not considered safe to drink, and Guanajuato is no exception. It’s recommended that visitors stick to bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth.
While most restaurants and hotels will use filtered water in their food and beverages, it’s still a good idea to confirm with your server or ask for bottled water to be safe. You don’t want to risk getting sick during your vacation. It’s also worth noting that the water quality in Guanajuato can vary from area to area. If you’re staying in a private home or Airbnb, it’s best to ask your host about the water quality and whether it’s safe to drink.
In addition to avoiding tap water, visitors should also be cautious about consuming ice or fruit that may have been washed in tap water. Stick to cooked foods and fruits that you can peel yourself to reduce your risk of getting sick. By being mindful of what you eat and drink, you can enjoy your trip to Guanajuato without any unexpected illnesses.
Other Things To See And Do In Guanajuato
Guanajuato has so much to offer beyond the top 5 things to see and do. Here are some other recommendations for your itinerary:
- Take A Walking Tour Of Guanajuato City: With its colorful architecture, winding alleys, and impressive museums, Guanajuato city is a walker’s paradise. A walking tour can take you to the best spots in town, including the Diego Rivera Museum and the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato.
- Visit The Museo Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel De Barrera: Located just outside the city, this 18th-century estate is a must-see for history buffs and architecture lovers. The museum features exhibitions of art, furniture, and artifacts from the estate’s colonial era.
- Explore The Jardín De La Unión: This lively square is the heart of Guanajuato city and is a great place to relax and soak in the atmosphere. You’ll find street performers, cafes, and a variety of shops and boutiques.
- Take A Day Trip To The Mining Town Of Mineral de Pozos: Once a prosperous mining town, Mineral de Pozos is now a quiet and picturesque destination. Explore the abandoned mines and take in the scenic views of the surrounding hills.
- Attend A Festival: Guanajuato is famous for its cultural festivals, including the Festival Internacional Cervantino (October) and the Festival de Calaveras (November). These events feature music, dance, and theater performances, as well as traditional parades and street parties.
- Visit San Miguel de Allende: San Miguel de Allende is a must-visit destination in Guanajuato, known for its charming cobblestone streets, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture.
With so many things to see and do, Guanajuato is the perfect destination for any type of traveler. Don’t miss out on all the other amazing experiences waiting for you in this vibrant and historic Mexican city.
The Bottom Line
Guanajuato is an amazing destination for travelers who love history, culture, and adventure. Whether you’re exploring the city’s winding alleys, taking in the colorful architecture, or tasting the local cuisine, you’re sure to have a memorable time. But like any destination, Guanajuato has its pros and cons. It’s important to plan ahead, budget accordingly, and take necessary safety precautions to ensure a successful trip. With that said, we highly recommend Guanajuato for your next vacation. From its UNESCO World Heritage Sites to its vibrant festivals and events, there’s always something to discover in this magical Mexican city. So pack your bags, brush up on your Spanish, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!