How to Get From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende — Mexico Travel Tips

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Here’s how to get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende. You can choose a private driver or a variety of bus options. This can be tricky for people new to Mexico travel, but don’t worry — it’s easy and quite relaxing, actually.

If you’re planning to visit Mexico and want to know the best way to get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, read on. Below I give you several options for how to get to San Miguel and a step-by-step process from the Mexico City Airport to all the way to San Miguel de Allende. I also tell you how to get back: from San Miguel de Allende to Mexico City.

_Bus Interior personal movie screens. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. We certainly think so, and so do travel magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and others. However, there are no real direct flights from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende. There are no flights at all really: the community continues to oppose building an airport in the area.

It takes around four to six hours to get to San Miguel de Allende from the Mexico City Airport.

That’s probably a good thing, too. Why? Because if there were direct flights to San Miguel de Allende then the place would get even more visitors than it does now. It will be much more charming without larger crowds, don’t you think?

For example, we still love Bali. Even so, we wish it took more effort for tourists to get there. Including us. (The same thing could happen to Lombok next). By the same token, this bus from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende takes a little extra effort and a few more hours of travel time, but it’s worth it. Really, really worth it.

Abbreviations

Occasionally I may use abbreviations for cities just to make it easier. For example:

  • Mexico City = CDMX, or Ciudad de México, the city’s official name (also called “DF” for Distrito Federal”)
  • San Miguel de Allende = SMA, (also called “San Miguel” for short)
  • Guanajuato = GTO (For both Guanajuato City and Guanajuato State, which San Miguel de Allende is a part of)

No Direct Flights….or Direct Buses

There are no direct buses from the airport to San Miguel de Allende. Not at the time of writing anyway. Instead, there are two ways to reach SMA from the CDMX Airport, which I’ll explain below.

I’ll go through each step of the process of getting from the Mexico City International Airport to one of the most beautiful regions of Mexico: Guanajuato.

Getting from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende is quite easy, really. Read below and see for yourself.

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Total Time from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

It’s impossible to give you a completely accurate timeline from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, but you should plan on 5 to 6 hours. A private driver is the fastest, of course. I explain more about that below.

The (first-class) bus ride itself is three to four hours. Then factor in time in customs, getting your bags, and traffic. Moreover, if you just missed one bus, the next bus might not leave for another half hour.

Best Time to Go From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Ideally, I like to make the trip from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende during the morning or afternoon. Therefore, if my flight to Mexico City comes in after five in the afternoon, I’ll book a hotel in Mexico City and leave for San Miguel in the morning.

Need Luggage?

Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks

Best Carry-On Luggage Reviews: Ultimate Guide for Your Next Travel

The Best Checked Luggage for Travel: Choosing the Best Suitcases

By Car: Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

_Daniel and Suburban. TransportArte Review – Great Guanajuato Tours

The fastest and most convenient way to get to San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City is by rental car or private driver.

Personally, we think hiring a private driver is the best simply because Mexico City traffic can be stressful and having a driver who knows the city well takes a load off your shoulders. That goes double if you’re coming off a flight with jetlag.

TransportArte Airport Transfers

We recommend TransportArte for airport transfers. Based in San Miguel de Allende, they have 13 luxury vehicles to accommodate any group size. The vehicles are clean and drivers are professional. TransportArte also does guided tours of Guanajuato City, San Miguel de Allende, and other cities, and we recommend this as well.

Bus Route #1: CDMX to SMA via Mexico Norte Terminal

_CDMX arrivals gate taxi stands. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Step Out of Arrivals Gate

Once off the plane, do the usual airport routine. Go through immigration, pick up your luggage, navigate customs and then exit the Arrivals Gate.

Like at any major airport, there will be people standing in front of the gate. You may see people waiting for loved ones, drivers waiting for business travelers, and tour groups. Someone may approach you here asking if you want a taxi. Say no. These are not the drivers you’re looking for.

Look for Taxi Stands

_CDMX arrivals gate taxi stands. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

A few steps in front of the Arrivals Gate exit, you’ll see a handful of small stands with “TAXI” signs on them. They’ll be hard to miss as you walk nearby. Why? Because they’ll likely be waving at you to come to their stand instead of the other stands next to them.

Is one of these stands better than the other? I’m not sure. But I’ve used several of them and the service has been about the same, which is good.

Book a Ride to Mexico Norte Bus Station

Approach one of these taxi stands. Tell the person behind the counter that you want a taxi from the airport to Mexico City’s North Bus Station. The full name is “Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte.” But don’t worry. If you can’t speak Spanish, just say something with “bus” and “north” in it and you should be fine.

You’ll be given a ticket or card. Hold onto this card because you’ll be giving it to your driver. Most stands take cash or credit cards. I think the last time we took this taxi to Mexico City’s Bus Terminal Norte it cost us about 250 pesos.

Go to the Taxi

Each stand represents a different taxi company. Their taxis are usually less than 100 meters away, just outside one of the nearby exits. Once you book your ride to the bus station, the person at the stand will tell you which exit (“Puerta”) to go out. When you step out that exit, you’ll probably see a fleet of taxis with the same logo as the taxi stand you just left.

There will be a guy standing around with a clipboard or a jacket with the same logo, too. Approach him and hand him the ticket or card you were given, and he’ll lead you to your ride.

Ride to the North Bus Station

_CDMX Norte Bus Counters. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Your driver should help you with your luggage and then everyone gets in the taxi. The ride from Mexico City Airport to the Bus Terminal Norte can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.

Go to ETN or Primera Plus

_CDMX ETN counter. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

_CDMX Primera Plus counter. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Once you arrive at the Northern Bus Terminal, you’ll see more than a dozen counters for various bus lines.

The two Mexico bus companies we recommend are ETN and Primera Plus. Why these two specific bus companies? Because these are the ones we’ve used many times and have had consistently good service. There may be others, but we can say that in our experience, these two are the best for going from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende by bus.

You’ll see the departure times on the wall, or you can just approach someone behind the counter and tell them where you want to go.

The ride should be between 420 and 550 pesos. Primera Plus is usually the cheaper one, but in our experience, the service and amenities are basically the same.

Check these sites for times. You can also reserve seats online, and it’s slightly cheaper, but frequently it just doesn’t work. We’ve never got it to work. You’ve been warned. That said, in our experience, there are usually seats on a bus leaving within an hour of whenever we show up. The longest we’ve waited was 45 minutes for a bus. Usually 15-20 or less.

Head to the Waiting Area

_CDMX Primera Plus ETN Waiting Room. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

_CDMX waiting room. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Just around the corner from the ETN counter is the waiting area for ETN and Primera Plus buses. There’s also a convenience store, a small bakery and a public toilet.

The toilet costs 6 pesos to use. In our experience, this toilet is clean and worth the pesos. Yet keep in mind that there’s also a clean toilet on the bus you’re about to board.

Go Through Security

_CDMX Bus terminal Norte security. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Just like at an airport, you’ll run your luggage through an X-ray machine and walk through a metal detector. A security guard may ask to look inside your bag, too.

Luggage and Boarding

_CDMX Primera Plus bus boarding. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Once through security, you’ll approach your bus. There will probably be many buses loading. Yours should have a sign that says “San Miguel de Allende” or the lit signboard on the bus will say where to board.

You’ll show your tickets to a staff member standing in front. They’ll offer you a snack and a beverage — usually a cookie, granola bar or small sandwich and a bottled drink.

All large luggage goes underneath the bus — not up to your seat. Line up and hand the guy your suitcase for him to place it in the storage space under the bus. He should give you a baggage claim ticket for each item stored under the bus. Make sure to count and make sure your baggage claim tickets match the number of bags. Just in case.

It’s time to board. You’ll be asked for a ticket once more and they’ll do a quick security bag search. Once you board, there is an overhead compartment on the bus, but it’s not that large. I have to leave my laptop backpack on the floor next to me.

Settle In for Four Hours

Things to Do in San Miguel de Allende with Kids - Mexico Family Travel

_Primera Plus seats screens snacks. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

The seats are super comfortable and there are movies on the screens in front of you. That said, keep in mind that all movies are probably dubbed in Spanish.

Some buses have onboard wifi, as well as power outlets and USB charging stations. The view along the way is quite can be nice as well. Some buses stop in Queretaro on the way. Some don’t. Queretaro is a little over an hour from San Miguel de Allende.

Arrive in San Miguel de Allende / Taxi into Town

The San Miguel de Allende bus station is small, quiet and slightly removed from downtown. Once off the bus and with your luggage, walk straight through the small waiting area.

Step out the main exit and there should be a taxi or two waiting around. If not, wait and one will arrive soon. Hail one and tell him where you want to go. Make sure to have your address written down in Spanish if you can’t speak the language well.

FYI: There is Uber in San Miguel de Allende, but don’t rely on it here. There are usually only a few cars in operation at one time. What’s more, they often won’t pick up a ride from a place where lots of conventional taxis are waiting.

Bus Route #2: CDMX to SMA via Airport Terminal & Queretaro Station

This second route from CDMX to SMA leave directly from the arrivals terminal, but it only goes as far as the city of Queretaro, which is about an hour or so from San Miguel de Allende. From Queretaro, you’ll need to book another bus ticket for the final leg of the journey.

Many people prefer this route since the bus is right there. No taxi across town. Just walk 100 meters and board.

Queretaro is a large city and the bus terminal is nice, clean and has a few fast food options. There are regular buses between Queretaro and San Miguel de Allende via ETN and Primera Plus, and they are of the quality.

From Queretaro you can also take an “economico” bus, which is cheaper, but has fewer amenities. The seats are still large and comfortable, but there are no cup holders or personal screens. Seating is first-come-first-served, and the bus makes a lot more stops.

If you want to avoid this, make sure it’s not an “economico” ticket.

Now, here’s how to get from the Mexico City Airport to San Miguel de Allende:

Walk Out Arrivals Gate and Turn Right

Airport to Primera Plus. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Primera Plus bus. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

You’re going to just walk all the way down the terminal to the exit at the far end. You may even be able to see the buses as you get closer to the exit.

Enter the Terminal and Book a Ticket via Primera Plus

airport primera plus counter. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

There are many bus lines operating here, but many of them go to different regions of Mexico. For example, the ADO bus line serves Merida, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Get in the Primera Plus line. At the time of writing, ETN doesn’t have a desk here.

Book a ticket to Queretaro.

Like at the much larger Mexico Norte Terminal, you’ll have to walk through a metal detector and a guard may frisk you or look in your bag. In my experience so far, it’s been professional and non-invasive. They’ll offer you a drink and a snack. Then you’ll load your big suitcases under the bus and board.

The ride to Queretaro is about 3 hours. Sometimes more if in rush hour.

Get off at Queretaro and Books a Ticket for San Miguel de Allende

Queretaro bus station. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Once you get off the bus, grab your stuff and walk into the Queretaro Terminal. You’ll see the ETN and Primera Plus counters in front of you. They should both have service to San Miguel de Allende.

Then you’ll have one more hour of bus time and you’re there!

Getting from San Miguel De Allende to Mexico City

_SMA Primera Plus. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

_SMA ETN. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Now it’s time to return. You’ve had your amazing trip to San Miguel de Allende but now it’s time to fly home or elsewhere. Here’s how to get back from San Miguel de Allende to Mexico City.

It’s simple really — basically a reverse of what’s written above.

Get to the San Miguel de Allende bus station and approach the ETN or Primera Plus counters. Buy tickets to “Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte.” Primera Plus is slightly cheaper, but both offer similar service, space, and seating.

Arrive at Mexico Norte Station and Book a Taxi to the Airport

Mexico Norte Station. From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

Jump on your bus and ride for four hours to Mexico City’s Northern Bus Terminal. Once off your bus and into the Mexico Norte Terminal, you may be approached by someone offering a taxi. Skip these guys and walk up to two taxi stands in the main atrium.

From here, book a taxi to the International Airport. They’ll give you a ticket. Take this ticket and your luggage and walk to the front. You should see the taxis from here.

Taxis load here one at a time. There may be a line. Just follow the order and hand your ticket to a guy standing in front of the taxis. He’ll sort you a car and then you’re on your way to the airport! Tips are appreciated but not expected.

Need Luggage?

Our Guide to Best Travel Backpacks

Best Carry-On Luggage Reviews: Ultimate Guide for Your Next Travel

The Best Checked Luggage for Travel: Choosing the Best Suitcases

How Do You Go From Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende?

Do you take a similar bus ride? Or have you hired a driver? Tell us how you get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende if you have any special tips!

Further Reading

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Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. That means that if you buy something or book a hotel in San Miguel de Allende or elsewhere using one of my links, we might get a small commission. You pay nothing extra, so don’t worry. Also, everything you see here is just my personal opinion. I only recommend places, activities, and gear that I believe will genuinely help my readers, and I want to help to get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende. Have you traveled from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende before? Did you take this bus or arrive some other way?

Comments

  1. How much would it cost to hire a personal driver vs. a taxi to take us from Mexico City international airport to Sam Miguel approximately?

    • I don’t know about taking a taxi all the way to SMA. We’ve never done it, and I doubt normal taxi drivers in Mexico City would drive that far (3.5 to 4 hours, traffic depending) — especially when there’s no guarantee for him/her to get any customers back to CDMX. Besides, I don’t think normal taxi drivers in Mexico city would know the roads in Queretaro and SMA very well. I think I mentioned Transportarte in the post. They are professional and used/recommended by me and many of San Miguel’s expat community. A sedan is USD $215, while a suburban is $270. If you contact them, please tell Daniel I said hello!

  2. Kate Davis says:

    Hi Jason! Thanks for the super helpful post! I’m flying in to CDMX on Dec 21 to go to SMA for Christmas, which I’m expecting will be a busy time. You mention not buying tickets in advance, which it sounds like is largely because it’s difficult to make the webpage work. Would you recommend calling to book (I’m fluent in Spanish)? Or does difficulties in estimating taxi transit time make it not feasible anyway?
    One more question: Where do you find the bus schedule for Primera Plus? I tried their site, but they only seem to give it a few weeks out.

    • Hi Kate! Happy to help if I can. As for getting a ticket in advance, I’ve never called ahead so don’t know if/how they do it. It won’t hurt trying, I guess. That said, I never give my credit card number over the phone if I don’t have to. If you take route #2 that I mention (Airport > Queretaro > SMA), you will have a bus every half an hour between 11am and 11pm from the airport to Queretaro. Then, from Queretaro to SMA, you’ll have a fairly easy connection without too long of a wait if you leave before late afternoon. Bus schedules are only given a month or two ahead, so you may want to check when the traveling time gets closer. Let us know what you find out when/if you decide to call to book a ticket!

  3. Just to confirm: All of the bus instructions above are from the MEX airport to San Miguel – correct? (CDMX is throwing me).

    • Correct. CDMX is just shorthand for Mexico City, but the post above shows two ways to get to San Miguel de Allende (aka SMA) from the airport. The first way is Airport to Northern Bus Terminal (via Taxi), then bus to SMA. The second is bus from the airport (Primera Plus) to Queretaro, then the second bus from Queretaro to SMA. Remember that there is no direct bus from the airport to SMA at the time of writing this. Safe travels!

  4. Chrissy Fletcher says:

    Great article Jason, thanks. We are Australians flying into Mexico City from Dallas. We were going to to spend a few days in Mexico City then go to SMA then return for a few more days to Mexico City before heading to Oaxaca. Does the Primera Plus bus operate only from the airport or can we get it from Mexico City itself? After reading your article I’m thinking maybe best from airport to SMA. Any advice for us?

    • Primera Plus has many places throughout the city. Go to their website and types in “Ciudad de Mexico” or simply “Mexico” and you should see around 10 spots in Mexico City alone that the depart from and arrive to. I’ve only taken Primera Plus from the Airport and from the Northern Bus Terminal (a.k.a. “Norte”) but you could book tickets to and from just about any of these if one is closer or more convenient for you. Just keep in mind that I don’t know if EVERY place has buses go to (or arriving from) where you are or want to go. The Northern Bus Terminal is a hub, so you’ll probably have more buses and bus times to choose from there. Let us know how it goes!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Hi, great article. We’re going to be arriving at Mexico city airport close to midnight so we should get a hotel for the night. Should we book one by the airport or by the Mexico City’s Northern Bus Terminal so we can more easily get a bus to SMA the next day? Any budget to mid range hotels to recommend? Thanks!

    • Yeah I’d just stay near the airport. You can easily get a taxi or uber in the morning to the Northern Bus station. I’m working on a hotel post now. Also, you might want to check the article again as I’ve updated it with 2 more options (one more bus route and a hired driver option I approve of)

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