Its rich culture and thriving artists colony make San Miguel de Allende a unique destination, and there’s plenty to explore. Here are the five best things to see and do:
1. Visit La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. San Miguel is renowned for its scenic historic buildings, many dating back to the 17th century. La Parroquia is the most famous, its tall towers visible from most parts of town. The Neo-Gothic façade was added years after initial construction by an indigenous bricklayer and self-taught architect who drew inspiration from postcards he’d seen of churches in Europe. The result is a unique blend of Mexican and Gothic styles, particularly stunning when lit up at night. Other historic buildings worth a visit include the neoclassical Iglesia de San Francisco and the magnificent Baroque-style Casa de Ignacio Allende, birthplace of the Mexican independence hero for whom the town is named.
2. Tour the local craft market. The charming Mercado de Artesanías is a must for anyone coming to San Miguel. This is a perfect place to chat with merchants, peruse local crafts and pick up souvenirs. Centrally located on Calle Loreto, the market is stocked with pottery, embroidered tapestries, colorful handmade paper, blown glass and antiques. Products tend to be reasonably priced, but negotiation is standard practice.
3. Take a cooking class at Sazón. A class at this cooking school, housed in the cheery kitchen of an 18th century home, may be the highlight of an entire trip to San Miguel. Chef Emanuel Cervantes takes students on a market tour, introducing them to lesser-known items like huitlacoche, a beloved corn fungus sometimes called the Aztec truffle. Back at Sazón, Cervantes teaches the class how to make mole, gourmet quesadillas and tortillas from scratch. Sazón is part of hotel Casa de Sierra Nevada, but classes are open to non-guests.
4. Bathe in the hot springs. Have a soak and relax in San Miguel’s thermal hot springs. Choose between La Gruta, a cave with indoor and outdoor pools and a scenic waterfall or Escondido Place, a sprawling park with four pools, gardens, and picnic areas.
5. Enjoy the view from a hot air balloon. Start your day early with a romantic ride in a hot air balloon. Globos San Miguel launches balloons just after dawn, floating over the city’s historic district, mountains, lakes, the majestic Bajío central valley, and the mines of the Sierras de Guanajuato.