© istock/elijahlovkov
© istock/elijahlovkov

San Miguel de Allende: the best pueblito in the world

4 minutes to read

While the title may sound a bit presumptuous, San Miguel Allende received the Conde Nast travel reader’s choice award, voted the best small city (pueblito) in the world to visit back in 2018. San Miguel is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Mexico’s most prized Pueblo Magicos. Everything about this perfectly picturesque town is wonderful, from the street food to the art, to the climate, to the architecture, and so much more. 

© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

The colorful colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, large plazas, and city parks, and countless art installations and art galleries make San Miguel de Allende my favorite walking city in Mexico. There is no need to rent a car here as everything is within walking distance and the climate is temperate, dry, and sunny year-round. Here are a few sites to explore as you walk around this magical and visually stunning little city.

City center and market place

San Miguel de Allende has an enormous town square or plaza with a large park known as "El Jardin" surrounding the city’s main cathedral known as La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. The cathedral is absolutely beautiful inside and out, so definitely stop in to check it out. El Jardin park is lined with huge trees and shady walkways, with a large gazebo and tons of benches to enjoy the scenery, have a picnic, or take a break from walking.

El Jardin, San Miguel de Allende
El Jardin, San Miguel de Allende
© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

The cobblestone plaza in front of la Parroquia is always bustling with people, vendors, local events, and mariachi concerts. There are film festivals and other events throughout the year at night with free concerts, film projections, and other entertainment, so you will always find something going on when you walk by.

Parroquia San Miguel Arcangel
Parroquia San Miguel Arcangel
Principal S/N, Zona Centro, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

As with all Mexican towns, you have to check out the local market for the most delicious and fresh food items and local crafts. I recommend exploring the Mercado Ignacio Ramirez to taste the local cuisine, produce, and the most authentic Mexican art while patronizing local vendors.

Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, San Miguel de Allende
Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, San Miguel de Allende
Colegio s/n, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

City strolls and views

© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

Strolling through the curvy cobblestone streets lined with vibrantly colorful shops, restaurants, and homes is where you will really feel charmed by San Miguel. Additionally, this city is a known artist’s colony with countless art galleries. So, if you are an art lover, this is your dream town. You will probably acquire at least one piece of art while you are here. The art galleries themselves are creative wonderlands that you will happen upon as you meander through the streets. 

© istock/elijahlovkov
© istock/elijahlovkov

While all the streets are beautiful, Aldama Street might be the most picturesque street for a photoshoot of a colorful winding street with the mountains and cathedral arches for a backdrop. Another hidden gem is a street known as Life Path, a super peaceful pedestrian street for walking only. All the buildings along this street are covered in amazing murals, as well as various decorated doors placed as art installations along with walls.

Life Path, San Miguel de Allende
Life Path, San Miguel de Allende
Andador Rinconada de la Aldea 29, Zona Centro, San Antonio, 37750 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

San Miguel is in the highlands, surrounded by mountains, so the views are incredible. One of the best birds-eye views of the city is from the rooftop of the Luna Tapas bar, where you should go for a drink while you watch the sun setting over this magnificent city. There is also a lookout point called El Mirador that you can hike to or drive to, overlooking the entire town in all of its glory.

Luna Tapas Bar, San Miguel de Allende
Luna Tapas Bar, San Miguel de Allende
Nemesio Diez 11, Zona Centro, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

Gardens and outdoor spaces

San Miguel Allende has the best climate for outdoor site-seeing as well as a plethora of gardens and parks. The most beautiful place for a nature walk in San Miguel is El Charco Botanical Garden. Instead of typical flowers and greenhouses, this botanical garden showcases a huge collection of blossoming cacti along with walking paths dotted with large rock formations and native foliage.

If you want to get some swimming in, there is a small waterpark with pools, slides, and a large grass lawn called Xote Water Park. Another nature park located a little outside of San Miguel is on the grounds of a hotel called Casa de Aves. As long as you consume a meal at their restaurant, you can spend the day kayaking on the lake, ziplining through their trees, or just relaxing under enormous trees on their expansive green grounds.

El Xote Water Park, San Miguel de Allende
El Xote Water Park, San Miguel de Allende
Carretera San Miguel A Dolores Hidalgo km 5.5 Xote, 37880 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Casa de Aves Hotel, San Miguel de Allende
Casa de Aves Hotel, San Miguel de Allende
Los Fresnos No 1 Montecillo de Nieto, 37880 Gto., Mexico
El Charco Botanical Gardens, San Miguel de Allende
El Charco Botanical Gardens, San Miguel de Allende
Charco Del Ingenio, Paloma S/N, Las Colonias, 37720 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

If you want to stick to the city, San Miguel Allende’s large city park, Parque Juarez, has playgrounds, walking trails, and beautifully manicured grounds to enjoy.

Parque Benito Juarez, San Miguel de Allende
Parque Benito Juarez, San Miguel de Allende
© istock/bpperry
© istock/bpperry

San Miguel de Allende is the world’s best pueblito and Mexico’s colorful cultural gem. You will be enchanted, inspired, and refreshed by this authentical Mexican cultural haven with its winding cobblestone streets, murals, markets, and parks. 


The author

Julia Holland

Julia Holland

Hello, I am Julia and I live in Mexico. I came to Mexico as an anthropologist working in Chiapas and I fell in love with this country: the pure and savage beauty of nature, the humility and warmth of the local people, the rich and varied culture. I decided to stay and Mexico is what I call home.

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