San Miguel Delights in 4 Days
Updated: May 1
While no one can travel right now, I still love dreaming of where to go next. Last year's trip to San Miguel de Allende is a place I highly recommend visiting, not only for its close proximity to the US (and shorter flying times), but also for the ease of using my cell phone and advantageous currency exchange. Beyond practical aspects, Mexico is a warm country, with beautiful colors, lovely people, and excellent food. Starting my trip in San Miguel put me into vacation mode almost instantly!
My mom joined me, and she was the perfect travel partner. We were able to split meals, share a beautiful hotel room (thanks to generous family friends), and look out for each other and our belongings while dealing with logistics. Solo-travel is great, but finding a good travel companion is even better.
4 hour bus to San Miguel de Allende after landing
4 nights at Sollano 34
4 hour bus back to Mexico City
3 nights at The Red Tree House
San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel is artsy, vibrant, and very relaxed. You'll want to find great accommodation because this small community is easily seen by foot, and as a tourist, you may not feel like there are a ton of things to keep you busy. A nice place to stay and a good book will give you a restful few days, balancing well with wandering quaint streets, ducking into artsy shops, admiring beautiful buildings, and indulging in affordable fine dining.
(View from Sollano 34 rooftop)
I was fortunate enough to stay at the beautiful, luxurious Sollano 34. Special circumstances allowed me to stay here, so if it's not in your price range, check out some of the amazing properties on Booking.com or Airbnb. This is also a note to fellow budget-travelers: reach out to people you know for accommodation opportunities. If someone can help, they often do, but if it's simply not possible, "no" is just another answer. Don't be afraid to ask!
(Sollano 34 courtyard)
Things To Do
Wander the streets, but mind the heavy traffic. Head out early in the day for fewer cars and cleaner air. Walk to the Fabric Museum and the local stores to take home an artisan craft, special piece of clothing, or to enjoy the little bars and cafes. The outstanding church in the middle of town, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, is stunning any time of day and surrounded by a vibrant, albeit touristy square. Sunset is magical and best watched from a rooftop. While Sollano 34 has a massive roof deck, it's private, so you may want to find a local hotel, such as the Rosewood, if you're in need of a view.
(Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel)
Where To Eat
Every meal was delicious. The food is outstanding, and here are the places I visited:
El Pagaso's portions are large, and the food is classic and affordable.
Cumpanio has great drinks and pastries, perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up!
Firenze is a nice dinner out, with splittable portions.
Nectar has delicious vegan and vegetarian options. Their enchiladas are great!
Lavanda Cafe will most likely have a line out the door. Order the French toast and lavender latte for breakfast and afternoon tea. We went back twice, it was so good!
Cafe Oso Azul is a pretty space, affordable, and makes a great breakfast.
Casa del Diezmo is all about the beautiful courtyard and live weekend music.
The Restaurant is high-end, and delicious. It's set in a pretty courtyard and full of foreigners, so it has less of a local feel. If you do go, be sure to make reservations.
San Miguel is closest to the Leon/Guanajuato Airport (BJX) - 1 hour 40 min. away.
Otherwise, fly into Mexico City (MEX) and take a bus. Mexico City Airport to San Miguel by bus requires a change in Querétaro. Alternatively, you can begin your travel at the Mexico City Norte Bus Station, without a transfer. You will stop in Querétaro, but you won't stay too long or have to figure out where to go next. To do this, take a taxi from the MEX airport to the Norte Bus Station, and purchase a 4-hour bus ticket in person for roughly $30 each way via Primera Plus or ETN to San Miguel. Make sure to get the express bus ticket, or it will take forever.
Uber is inexpensive and reliable in Mexico City. I used it to get around a few places, and it was easy and very cost-effective. I also used taxis from the airport or bus stations, which was also a good choice. For taxis, you first pay at a kiosk, then follow signs to the corresponding company matching your receipt. It's very well organized and they keep things moving in an orderly way.
I was told that Mexico City's Metro is clean and easy to use. While I didn't get to put it to the test, it's a great option. I love using local transportation, and find that it's usually well-organized, fast, and inexpensive.
Budget Buddies: Finding a travel companion is a great way to save money. My mom was not only up for every outing, but splitting the cost of meals and accommodation helped to keep costs low.
Flights: Sometimes flying round trip, rather than open-jaw tickets is more affordable, which is why I went round trip from LAX to MEX. Searching multiple search engines such as Skiplagged, GoogleFlights, Momondo, and Skyscanner are some of my go-to resources to comparison shop. I then go directly to the website for booking. Interjet happened to give me the best deal.
Money: You will need to get out some pesos when you first arrive. It will be handy for tips, taxis, meals, tours, etc., but you can also use your credit card in many places. Don't get out too much cash, if you'd rather rack up points on your favorite travel credit card.
Research: Ask friends for their ideas and experiences before you go, watch travel shows, and take notes. Everyone wants to visit up different places, so having a plan with room for adventure helps to hit the basics, while leaving room for spontaneity.
Accommodation: I like to use Booking.com because I can often find affordable rooms with a no-fee cancellation. This allows me to reserve a room while continuing to search, if I'm not completely sold.
Mexico is a wonderful place to visit, and I hope to be able to travel there again very soon!