Travel to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Episode 453

categories: mexico travel

Guanajuato Mexico

Hear about travel to the state of Guanajuato Mexico (including San Miguel de Allende) as the Amateur Traveler talks to Tim Leffel of about his adopted home.

The state of Guanajuato is the true interior of Mexico. “It’s got some of the oldest settlements from when the Spanish came in and it’s also where the revolution started. We’re about four hours north of Mexico City and 3 hours east of Guadalajara. From a tourism standpoint most people know about San Miguel de Allende because there’s a very large retiree community there and also a large vacation home community of Americans and Canadians. I live in the capital city of Guanajuato where the first battle of the Mexican revolution took place. I have been here for about a year and a half.”

“San Miguel de Allende is known as the prettiest colonial city in Mexico, certainly the best maintained partly because of all that foreign money that has flowed in. There are plenty of people with modest means there but there are also quite a few millionaires living in San Miguel de Allende. You look at the real estate prices there it’s kind of shocking. It’s a really well maintained city, super clean, everything’s beautiful, you don’t see graffiti all over the place. Some people are put off by that because they think it’s not authentic but a lot of Mexicans I talk to say ‘wow, this is what every city should look like’. The climate is great too. This is a highland climate. It stays pretty cool and Spring-like most of the year.”

Tim recommends we start in Guanajuato City which is closer to the airport. It is a city of colorful houses with many pedestrian only streets. Cars and buses traverse the city in a series of tunnels. Artist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato and his house is a museum. The Alhóndiga de Granaditas is the site of the first battle of the revolution and is now a museum. “The one oddity here is that there is a big connection here to Don Quixote and Cervantes so there is a Don Quixote museum here. There is a big festival (in October) here which is the biggest music festival in the Americas named the Cervantes festival.” Tim recommends walking the markets, eating in the open air cafes and taking the funicular.

San Miguel de Allende is only an hour and a half away from Guanajuato. Tim recommends stopping in Dolores Hidalgo on the way which is known for its pottery and its ice cream carts. San Miguel de Allende is a “great place to stroll, eat well and go shopping. There’s one big main plaza which is the heart of everything. The big draw there is this beautiful church that’s the legend goes that the architect had never left Mexico but he saw these beautiful European churches on stamps and he modeled this church after the great European cathedrals. From there there are all kinds of streets filled with boutiques, jewelry shops and good restaurants. You can speak English there, for better or for worse, because it’s a very Americanized city. It’s a very artistic city. The way it became an expat city is that a lot of artists moved there.”

subscribe: rss feed | Apple podcasts

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)


DK Eyewitness travel guides

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides – One of my favorite guidebook series

Show Notes

Perceptive Travel
The World’s Cheapest Destinations Book
World’s Cheapest Destinations
Cheapest Destinations Blog
Visit Guanajuato
San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato, Guanajuato
Diego Rivera Museum and Home (Museo Casa Diego Rivera)
Alhóndiga de Granaditas
Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato
Don Quixote Museum
Festival Cervantino
Casa Valadez (Spanish site)
Casa Valadez (TripAdvisor, English)
The Guanajuato Funicular
Hidalgo Market
Dolores Hidalgo
San Miguel Writers’ Conference
Fabrica La Aurora
Cañada de la Virgen
Coyote Canyon Adventures
El Pípila
Miguel Hidalgo Y Costilla
Mexico Street Food


Jordan’s comment on Travel to Delaware – Episode 452

Share this:

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

5 Responses to “Travel to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Episode 453”



I love that DK is your sponsor. I think they are the best by far. Very practical and full of insight. I love the DK Top Ten Series too. I have found no better companion for seeing Rome, Mexico City or Buenos Aires.



I love Guanajuato! One of my favorite cities. I’m really surprised it wasn’t mentioned, but also check out the mummy museum – it has to be one of the strangest museums around. It’s amazing and awful and all sorts of other things, but if you’re in the area you need to go at least once. Thanks for the episode!



I like those also, some of my 20 DK guides are in that series

Tim Leffel


Al, I totally spaced on the Mummy Museum when I was doing this interview with Chris. I’ve been there too many times with visitors in town but maybe I’d blocked it out of my mind. You’ve got to see it once though…

mako chives


I spent the month of November in Guanajuato and just finished a 2 month stay in San Miquel. I have to admit that after Guanajuato, SMA definitely lacked initial wow factor of it neighbor. For me Guanajuato edges out SMA in beauty, authenticity and cost. Beauty is subjective, and while both are inexpensive by US standards; housing, dining out at a nice restaurant and certain grocery stores are noticeably more expensive in SMA and are most likely driven by an over abundance happy go lucky ex-pats and visitors. SMA does however a wide selection of tours, film reviews, concerts and dance, exercise meditation and volunteer options. Most come with a price, but no Spanish is required. If you have the time, visit both cities for a few weeks and make your own decision. Just make sure you brush up on your basic Spanish and bring some study walking shoes for your stay in Guanajuato.

Leave a Reply

Tags: , , ,