Things to Do in Guanajuato City – Guanajuato Mexico Travel Tips

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The best things to do in Guanajuato Mexico with kids…or without them. We’ve found lots of fun things to do in Guanajuato City, and want to share them with you today.

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Things to Do in Guanajuato City – Mexico Travel Tips

Mexico is an amazing country to explore. Whether you’re a solo backpacker, a luxury traveler or a family looking for your own epic education, Mexico has something for you. We love the Yucatan Peninsula and the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca. Yet some of our favorite places in Mexico are in the state of Guanajuato, several hours north of Mexico City.

We really feel at home in San Miguel de Allende, but have recently discovered Guanajuato City. Now we want to share what we’ve found.

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Why Visit Guanajuato City?

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In addition being a UNESCO heritage site, Guanajuato is a beautiful, sophisticated city. For example, expect exquisite churches and plazas that rival many places in Europe. It’s a great place to stroll with no agenda. Simply walk, stop for a snack, or to take pictures of the colorful buildings that festoon the lanes.

Historically, Guanajuato is very important to the story of Mexican Independence. Along with Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato was one of the main flashpoints in Mexico’s history as a nation.

The mines here were once the richest source of silver. In fact, that’s one reason why Spain invested so much time and money here, and it shows. Churches, music halls, and mansions remain. Each exemplifies Spain’s lasting influence on the city.

The city is old, but it crackles with life. For example, one of Mexico’s most prominent Universities is here, so the sidewalks have plenty of students. Guanajuato City is also a popular tourist destination for Mexicans. You’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops catering to them as well.

Did you like the Pixar movie Coco? If so, then this place might look familiar. Pixar sent their creative teams to several places in the state of Guanajuato — and Guanajuato City in specific — to research the look and feel of the movie. How cool is that?

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How to Get to Guanajuato City

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Guanajuato City doesn’t have an international airport, so most people will arrive by car or bus. Buses leave to and from Guanajuato City from many cities. That includes Leon, San Miguel de Allende, and Mexico City.

For buses, we usually recommend two companies: ETN and Primera Plus. We have used both many times and can stand by the quality of the ride.

Looking for airport transfer? Interested in a private car or a tour in one of these places? If so, then we recommend TransportArte. Owner Daniel Vargas is a professional and charismatic guide/driver with a fleet of 13 vehicles. He specializes in tours and transfers, our tour with him is one of our favorite things to do in Guanajuato City.

  • Mexico City to Guanajuato Mexico: Flights from Mexico City to Leon take an hour From there, Guanajuato is less than 30 minutes away by car or bus. Another option is to take a bus (use either ETN or Primera Plus). That trip takes a little over 6 hours. A third option is a shuttle service. Prices vary.
  • San Miguel de Allende to Guanajuato Mexico: A bus ride between San Miguel de Allende to Guanajuato takes about 90 minutes total. A private driver takes a little less.
  • Leon to Guanajuato Mexico: A bus, taxi or car ride between Leon and Guanajuato is around 30-40 minutes or less.
  • Guadalajara to Guanajuato Mexico: Buses run regularly between Guadalajara and Guanajuato Mexico. It usually takes around 7 hours or less.

Guanajuato City Weather

Guanajuato is high desert and sits at an altitude like Denver, Colorado (the “Mile-High City”). It can get frosty on January mornings, but most of the year is dry and sunny. In addition, it can also get quite hot (up to 30ºC/101ºF). Thanks to the altitude and proximity to the equator, the sun is also quite harsh. With this in mind, cover up or wear sunscreen when you can.

The rainy season (usually June through August) gives some relief from the hot dry climate. Storms usually happen late evening through early morning.

Best Time to Visit Guanajuato City

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Weather-wise, most people agree that the best time to visit Guanajuato is between November through April. There is very little rain during this period. Yet January is a little too cold for our tastes. Expect some frost and to see your breath in the mornings.

One of the great things about this area, however, is that most days are sunny and it warms up during the day. The only period of gray skies in the rainy season, which usually lasts from late Juen through early September.

The high season is January through March. This is not the best time to visit Guanajuato if you want to avoid crowds and higher hotel rates.

If you like crowds and culture, however, then visit in October for the International Cervantino Festival, an annual event celebrating the life and work of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. His most famous character, Don Quixote, can be found all over the city. But the fest is much more than this. Groups from all over the world come to perform. Expect art, theater, music, dance and more.

Things to Do in Guanajuato City

Now that we’ve covered Guanajuato weather and the best time to visit Guanajuato City, now let’s talk about all the great things to do in Guanajuato. I hope to update this article as time passes, so if you have insight into Guanajuato attractions, let me know!

The Funicular & El Pipila Monument: Things to Do in Guanajuato City

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_GTO Funicular Things to Do in Guanajuato City - Guanajuato Mexico Travel Tips

Perched on a hilltop overlooking the city is a statue of El Pipila, a local hero. From this vantage point is one of the most spectacular views of the city. This is easily one of our favorite things to do in Guanajuato City.

You can walk up the hill to this place, or you can take the city’s funicular railway to save some energy. It’s a very short ride — minutes really — but can be worth it to avoid the steep climb.

Facing uphill you’ll get the view you see here. If I were you, I’d face the other way — it’s a much better view of the city.

The Mummies of Guanajuato: Things to Do in Guanajuato Mexico

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In ancient Egypt, great care was taken to embalm and mummify the pharaohs and their servants. Here in Guanajuato, all it took was a burial. The bodies on display at the Guanajuato Mummy Museum are accidental mummies. Due to the soil and other environmental factors, many of those buried in the cemetery there were mummified. You can see them for yourself here.

This is one of the most famous things to do in Guanajuato Mexico, but only certain people will enjoy it. Sensitive children and adults may want to skip. I found it creepy but fascinating. Others could feel different. Of all the things to do in Guanajuato City, this one is not for everyone.

Guanajuato’s Churches: Things to Do in Guanajuato City

Guanajuato churches and cathedrals. Things to Do in Guanajuato City - Guanajuato Mexico Travel Tips

The Conquistadors brought both guns and God to Mexico. As a result, it wasn’t long before Catholicism was the dominant religion in the region. Three of the city’s main cathedrals are within a short walk of each other and they’all worth visiting.

Just admiring the architecture and history of each building was my parents’ favorite thing to do in Guanajuato.

Museo Iconográfico del Quijote: Things to Do in Guanajuato Mexico

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Anyone familiar with Don Quixote will enjoy wandering this extraordinary exhibition space. One local man obsessed with the cantankerous protagonist collected paintings of him for decades. Soon, the collection outgrew his home and other storage spaces until it moved here. Now it is an exhibition space full of portraits and representations of Don Quixote in dozens of styles, colors, and mediums.

Art lovers will find this museum to be one of the most interesting things to do in Guanajuato City.

Diego Rivera Museum: Things to Do in Guanajuato City

_GTO Diego Rivera Museum Things to Do in Guanajuato City - Guanajuato Mexico Travel Tips

He may stand in the shadow of his wife and contemporary Frida Kahlo, but Diego Rivera is still one of the most influential Mexican artists in history. Here in his hometown of Guanajuato City, his childhood home is now a museum.

Fans of Rivera’s work will find value in a visit, but the casual art fan may not. The first floor contains the beds and other furnishings of his youth. The upper floors house various galleries containing some of his work over the years.

Best known as a muralist, Rivera produced large-scale work around the world. Unfortunately, there is little reference to these murals in this museum.

Callejón Del Beso: Things to Do in Guanajuato Mexico

Alley of the kiss Things to Do in Guanajuato City - Guanajuato Mexico Travel Tips

Guanajuato City has it’s own Romeo and Juliet tale, and it centers on this very small alley (callejón) near the center of town. The story goes that the daughter of a wealthy family fell in love with a lowly miner, despite her father’s disapproval.

Forbidden from seeing her, the miner rented the room across the alleyway from her bedroom. The alley was so narrow that the two could kiss goodnight from their balconies. When her father discovered the tryst, he killed her in a fit of rage. The boy hurled himself down a mineshaft later, preferring suicide to a life without his beloved.

Today, people say that a kiss on these steps can ensure everlasting love. I’m not sure I believe it, but it’s worth a look and a fun thing to do in Guanajuato. Besides, the alley and surrounding walkways are quite charming.

The first time we visited, there was no one there. One month later we stopped by again. This time there was a line of Mexican couples waiting to take their smooch-and-selfie on the steps.

Guanajuato Mines: Things to Do in Guanajuato City

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At the beginning of the 19th century, Guanajuato was the largest exporter of silver in the world. The mines still exist — mostly for educational purposes now.

The Nopal Mine and the Valenciana Mine can be toured to learn more about their history, engineering, and importance to the city’s story.

The Tunnel: Things to Do in Guanajuato Mexico

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Another product of the city’s mining history is an impressive complex of tunnels now used for the city’s roads and parking. As you walk through Guanajuato City, you’ll likely see cars and people emerging from a variety of tunnels that pockmark the landscape.

This is not only a marvel of engineering and city planning, but it’s also a great way to escape the heat and the sun. There are sidewalks, parking lots and bus stations underground here.

Mercado Hidalgo: Things to Do in Guanajuato City

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Designed by Gustave Eiffel, the entrance to the Mercado Hidalgo has the look and feel of a French train depot. Step inside, and the cavernous interior is loaded with shops of various shapes and sizes.

Stop in here for souvenirs, a fresh juice or a quick bite at the food stalls near the center.

Plazas and Public Squares: Things to Do in Guanajuato Mexico

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Walk through Guanajuato City and you’ll occasionally think you’ve been transported to Spain. Possibly Italy or elsewhere in southern Europe, as well.

One of the most European aspects of Guanajuato is the lovely plazas that dot the city. Here you’ll find cafes and bistros with outdoor seating. They are a lovely place to relax and watch the people and the day go by.

The main Jardin de la Union is a lovely wedge-shaped space with perfectly manicured shade trees. The Plaza de San Fernando looks like it’s been transported straight out of Andalusia, with lovely cafes and al fresco dining.

Colorful Buildings: Things to Do in Guanajuato City_GTO color houses 2 Things to Do in Guanajuato City - Guanajuato Mexico Travel Tips

One of our favorite things to do in Guanajuato City is simply to walk the streets and take photographs. In San Miguel de Allende, most buildings are earthen tones, but here in Guanajuato, you get all the colors of the rainbow.

Things to Do Near Guanajuato City

There are loads of places to go and things to do near Guanajuato City. And thanks to good roads and plenty of bus and driver options, they’re all easy to reach.

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San Miguel de Allende

This is our favorite city in Mexico so far. And that’s saying a lot. Great food, interesting history and fascinating local culture and festivals. There are so many things to do in San Miguel de Allende, as well.

Leon

This is a great spot for shopping, especially for shoes. Many people first discover Leon because its International Airport helps people connect to Guanajuato City and San Miguel de Allende. Others know it for the hot air balloon festival they have every fall.

Dolores Hidalgo

Fans of Mexican history will find this an interesting thing to do in Guanajuato. Dolores Hidalgo played an important role in Mexican Independence from the Spanish, and many important people and events came from here.

Queretaro

Queretaro is a larger town, with an amusement park, movie theaters, and more shopping options, but it is also a UNESCO-regarded historic site. The churches here are massive and magnificent. In addition, the historic downtown is equally charming.

Further Reading

Other Things to Do in Guanajuato Mexico?

We’ve only visited Guanajuato City a few times now, but we plan to return. What else should we do? Where should we go?

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find things to do in Guanajuato Mexico.

Image Credits: #6, #12, #13

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