San Miguel de Allende Travel Guide
San Miguel de Allende may just be the most charming small town in Mexico. It's no pueblito, though, but a colorful, colonial-style city with a vibrant wine scene, markets and artisans galore, and one of the most impressive gastronomic scenes in Mexico.
From the second you drop into downtown, you'll see the iconic, pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel towering above the lower, Spanish-style buildings sprawled out around the square. Walk around the square, people watch, or duck into the nearby artisan market to pick up handmade goodies.
Museums abound in San Miguel, as do shopping offerings in the city; local boutiques here make everything from silk-screen tees to hammered silver jewelry. Once you've worked up an appetite, you'll have your pick from shrimp tempura on a crunchy tostada, slow-cooked barbacoa from a modest street stand, or Sri Lankan-Swiss-Mexican fusion food all within a few blocks from el centro.
Despite being a small town, San Miguel de Allende is filled with things to do, whether you're in town for a day or a week. It's a cultural hub, with plenty of art exhibition spaces and live music performances around town in the evenings. And if you can't fit everything into one trip, you'll just have to come back; you wouldn't be the first foreigner to land in San Miguel permanently.
San Miguel de Allende is in the central time zone. The country's Daylight Savings calendar deviates from the United States', so there are a few weeks a year the U.S. and Mexico central time zones are an hour apart. If you visit in spring or fall, check ahead.
Best Time to Go
San Miguel de Allende is packed with activities year-round, and you'll find things to do no matter when you visit. For the best weather, we recommend visiting between November and April when highs hover in the 70s and 80s, though tourists will be out in full force during the Christmas and Easter holidays. It seems like San Miguel is always celebrating something — not just Día de los Muertos (Nov. 1), but the annual wine harvest festival in August, the Guanajuato International Film Festival each July, and of course, the Desfile de los Locos, which literally translated as "Parade of the Crazies" and sees Sanmiguelenses dress up in their wackiest outfits to throw candy at onlookers each June.
Things to Know
San Miguel de Allende — or "San Mike," as some only semi-jokingly call it — is a haven for American expats, bachelorette parties, and retirees. It's an extremely welcoming town, where it's not uncommon to see tourists hanging out with locals in the streets, at market stalls, or even at the bar.
It's also a pretty small town, so you likely won't need to worry about transportation, unless you're taking a day trip to nearby attractions, like to Guanajuato or Querétaro, or visiting the lake just outside city limits. Your most common mode of transportation will be on foot — so pack comfy shoes — but be warned that San Miguel's altitude and the hilly terrain can take your breath away, literally. If you'd prefer, you can easily flag down a green taxi or call an Uber instead of trekking back up the cobblestone streets.
While San Miguel is well-accustomed to tourists — about 10 percent of the population are foreigners — travelers should still be cautious and considerate. Be aware of locals looking to get by in a hurry, and stand to the right on sidewalks.
Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN)
(Check the current exchange rate)
I don't speak Spanish: No hablo español.
I'm lost: Estoy perdido/a
I would like…: Me gustaría...
Calling Code: +52
Capital City: Mexico City
How to Get Around
Buses: San Miguel's bus station, or terminal, is on the west side of town. Here, you'll be able to book a bus to nearby destinations like León, Bernal, or Mexico City. For the buses the locals take, you'll want to hop on one of the Urbana lines, which are mapped out here. Rates will vary depending on the route and time of day, but a trip shouldn't cost you more than a few pesos.
Taxis: It won't be hard to flag down one of San Miguel's quintessential green-and-white taxis in most parts of town. If you're staying downtown, cabs are plentiful. On the outskirts of the city, you may need to head to a main road to hail a cab.
Ride service: Uber has an extensive transit web across the city, stretching out into nearby towns. Depending on traffic and trip length, your Uber should come out around 30-100 pesos (or $1.50-$5).
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
El Centro: If you're just in town for a few days, you'll likely spend most of your time here, in San Miguel's historic downtown. The neo-Gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and its surrounding plaza is a great starting point, but fan out along side streets to explore local boutiques, hole-in-the-wall bars and the city's outdoor markets.
Los Balcones: As the name suggests, Los Balcones, or "the balconies," is a hillside neighborhood dotted with homes – and balconies – overlooking downtown. B&Bs and bougainvilles fill the upscale area, along with the stunning Charco Del Ingenio botanical garden. And don't miss a meal at La Mansión de Montitlán, a cash-only fine dining spot that's open for just a few hours each Sunday. Menus rotate weekly, and include options like roasted beet and arugula salad, pan-seared duck breast and hummingbird cake.
Guadalupe: If street art's more your style, head to Guadalupe, where cobblestone alleyways and murals mix with vegetarian shops, art galleries and the picturesque Templo de Cristo Rey in the neighborhood's central plaza. For killer vegan food, try out Manipura Restaurante's dishes like encacahuatadas, or enchiladas made with a peanut salsa, or sweet coconut and blueberry tamales for dessert. Across the river, Pulques y Curados La Otomí serves up fermented pulques, a cousin to tequila and mezcal that's flavored with fruits or honey.
El Obraje: For a more residential stay, try an Airbnb in El Obraje, just a 10-minute walk north of el centro and close to the Fábrica Aurora art gallery. Plenty of coffee shops are nearby, along with a small colonial chapel and the Parque Municipal Zeferino Gutierrez, a newly opened park that's perfect for morning runs or finishing off the day with an evening light show.
San Miguel de Allende has a relatively mild climate, with temperatures staying between a certain range year-round. The city is at an altitude—6,234 feet in the air, to be exact—so it can take a few days to get adjusted to the air, and nights can get chilly. And while you may be tempted to head to San Miguel in the summer, that's also rainy season. Showers come down regularly in the afternoons, but never last long enough to keep you inside all day.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January: 45°F to 74°F
February: 47°F to 77°F
March: 52°F to 82°F
April: 56°F to 86°F
May: 60°F to 88°F
June: 61°F to 85°F
July: 59°F to 81°F
August: 58°F to 81°F
September: 58°F to 80°F
October: 54°F to 80°F
November: 50°F to 78°F
December: 47°F to 75°F