attractions in san miguel de allende

28 Best Things To Do in San Miguel de Allende [in 2024]

In 2021, San Miguel de Allende was named the best city in the entire world by Travel + Leisure – and it’s not the first time it received that designation. This small city in the heart of Mexico, known for its lovingly preserved architecture and colorful facades, is now a permanent fixture atop many a “best-of” list.

San Miguel de Allende lives up to all the hype – and then some. When we visited San Miguel de Allende for ourselves, we had such a memorable time that we immediately began making plans to visit again.

Ready to explore the world’s best city firsthand? With the help of long-time San Miguel de Allende locals and new residents who call this charming city home, we’ve created the ultimate guide to the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende on your trip.

things to do in san miguel de allende

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Why Visit San Miguel de Allende?

The truth is, it’s much harder to find a good reason not to visit San Miguel de Allende. Historic, charming, and walkable, this small city and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mexican state of Guanajuato truly has it all, making it a destination that, year after year, racks up the most prestigious awards from the most respected travel publications.

After visiting for myself, I see why San Miguel de Allende is so beloved. Even with 40+ countries under my belt, San Miguel de Allende might be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Whether you’re coming here for a long weekend escape from Mexico City or make it the centerpiece of your Mexico itinerary, it’s worth a visit.

In addition to the sheer beauty of this pueblo mágico – magical town – there are endless things to do in San Miguel de Allende. The city boasts an excellent culinary scene, great shopping, and historic and cultural richness that visitors can feel palpably, whether by attending a cooking class or taking a walking tour of the city. Day trips range from wineries to hot springs and ancient ruins.

Granted, San Miguel de Allende can be on the more expensive side for cities in Mexico. When speaking with locals and guides in San Miguel, they all confirmed that San Miguel doesn’t get many backpacker types (despite a great Selina with an incredible rooftop you won’t want to skip). However, it’s well worth saving your pennies to experience this city firsthand.

best things to do in san miguel de allende

Things To Do in San Miguel de Allende

1. Explore San Miguel de Allende

Part of the simple pleasures of visiting San Miguel de Allende is wandering down the historic, colorful streets and seeing what you find.

While areas of San Miguel can get quite hilly, the center of town is quite walkable and extremely safe. Travelers should plan to spend at least three or four hours simply wandering, getting lost, and popping into shops and cafes along the way – it’s the best thing to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Of course, there’s nothing like taking a guided walking tour of San Miguel de Allende to get a local’s perspective on things. Take a small-group historical and cultural walking tour of San Miguel de Allende for an in-depth experience with other travelers, or book a private San Miguel de Allende walking tour to take things at your own pace.

2. Take a Cooking Class

Cooking classes have long been considered one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende. With such a rich culinary scene in town, San Miguel de Allende is a particularly great place to learn more about Mexican cuisine firsthand.

There are a couple of different options for cooking classes in San Miguel de Allende, including the popular Sazón cooking school at Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel. Cooking classes at Sazón are incredibly well done and open to everyone, not just guests of the hotel. Hosted in an 18th-century historic home in the center of San Miguel, it’s a memorable experience.

Or, learn to make Mexican favorites like mole and salsas at the favorite cooking and dining experience with Chef Miguel at Azteca.

Reviews and Bookings: Cook & Dine | Mexican Mole and Salsas Cooking Class

Plan a Trip to San Miguel de Allende

mojigangas san miguel de allende

3. Make Your Own Mojiganga

In San Miguel de Allende, you’re sure to spot a mojiganga or two. The Mexican folk art tradition of making mojigangas – papier-mâché figures ranging from tiny dolls to giant creations – is alive and well thanks to stars of the art form like Hermes Arroyo.

Arroyo makes larger-than-life mojiganga displays for everything from weddings and graduations to the largest hotels and shops in San Miguel and even Formula One races. As part of an artist residency at Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, he offers one-of-a-kind classes where you can make your own mojiganga, which is the ultimate souvenir and the best way to memorialize your stay in San Miguel.

Can’t make it to a class? Stop by Mojigangas 62 in the center of San Miguel to see some of Arroyo’s works firsthand and get something to take home with you.

For more creative and inspiring experiences during your stay, sign up for the art tour in San Miguel de Allende that will take you around town to some of the coolest museums, galleries, and design shops that San Miguel has to offer.

4. Hop on an ATV

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure to spice up your time in San Miguel, there’s nothing better to do than take a 4×4 ATV ride around the city. These excursions are quite popular and are a great way to see the countryside around town.

After a safety briefing with the guide, snap on your helmet and hit the road. You’ll visit incredible viewpoints around town, lakes, fields, hillsides, and the historic towns of San Miguel Viejo and Atotonilco – it makes for a really memorable day.

Reviews and Bookings: San Miguel 4×4 ATV Driving Excursion

tunki rooftop casa de sierra nevada
Left: Made in Oaxaca / Right: Flowerbomb

5. Sip Sunset Drinks at Tunki Rooftop by Handshake

For handcrafted cocktails with some of the best sunset views in town, you have to check out Tunki Rooftop by Handshake at Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel. Whether you’re a beginner in the world of mixology or a seasoned expert, it’s one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Perched on the rooftop of one of San Miguel de Allende’s most historic hotels, Tunki is an outpost of Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, recently awarded the #3 spot on the list of the best bars in the world. The bar’s San Miguel de Allende outpost comes with an incredible dose of style and some spectacular views.

I tried the Made in Oaxaca and the Flowerbomb, and both cocktails were spectacular. The flavors were unique but felt familiar and not too “out there” for someone whose drink order usually goes no deeper than a corona or a margarita. An enchanting sunset made the experience even more memorable.

Reviews and Bookings: Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel

6. Take a Food Tour

Explore San Miguel de Allende’s incredible gastronomic scene by taking a food tour of San Miguel with a local.

Because San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you won’t find a lot of the street eat options that you might be thinking of, especially if you’re coming from Mexico City where you’ll find a taco stand on every corner. This makes it even more important to visit with a local – and get some good restaurant recommendations while you’re at it!

The Tacos and Tequila Food Walking Tour is hands down the best food tour in San Miguel. No worries if you don’t partake in the spirits along the way, there’s plenty more to enjoy! Or, stick to the downtown food tour with Taste of San Miguel, who are some of the best food tour providers in town, to go deeper than just tacos and tequila.


7. Take a Day Trip to Guanajuato

If you’ve fallen in love with the colorful, cobblestone streets of San Miguel de Allende, there’s more to love in the nearby city of Guanajuato. Just an hour and a half away from San Miguel de Allende, taking a day trip to this charming and historic city is one of the best things to do during your stay in San Miguel.

Highlights of Guanajuato include exploring the city’s colorful streets, visiting the Mexican mummy museum, visiting the city’s endless list of ornate churches and cathedrals, and shopping.

Many travelers book private guided excursions to Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende to enjoy hassle-free transportation and visit with a local guide. Alternatively, if you’d rather enjoy Guanajuato on your own, you can also arrange for a private transfer from San Miguel de Allende to Guanajuato or take one of the numerous daily buses that connect the two cities. The journey takes just over two hours by bus.

8. Bathe in Hot Springs

San Miguel de Allende’s surrounding hillsides are dotted with hot springs, making for a magical way to spend a few relaxing hours outside the city on the perfect day trip from San Miguel.

Located in Atotonilco, Escondido Place is one of the best hot springs areas near San Miguel. It has three thermal pools and beautiful grounds with gardens and walking paths. Its location makes a visit to Escondido Place the perfect way to end a day spent exploring Dolores Hidalgo and the Sanctuary of Atotonilco.

Alternatively, The Mayan Baths are the most luxe hot spring installation near San Miguel. Multiple hot springs, including many with a natural, cavern-like atmosphere, offer a variety of bathing experiences for visitors. They offer several package options for a visit including massage, lunch, and more.

Reviews and Bookings: Trail Riding and Hot Springs Excursion in San Miguel de Allende

san miguel de allende streets

9. Take a Walking Tour

It really isn’t enough to explore San Miguel de Allende on your own – for a real insight into the town, head out with a local guide to learn even more about the town’s history. Adding something like the Historical and Cultural Walking Tour of San Miguel de Allende to your itinerary will be a great way to learn more about the sights and sounds of the city while getting plenty of great local recommendations along the way.

If you’re looking for a little more flavor in the experience, consider a food walking tour like the popular Tacos and Tequila Walking Tour. It offers a lot of the same cultural and historical background as traditional walking tours but with a foodie spin.

10. Dine on San Miguel’s Picturesque Rooftops

Even if you don’t make it to Tunki Rooftop by Handshake at Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, there are plenty of other rooftop experiences to enjoy in San Miguel. A trip to San Miguel de Allende isn’t complete without one.

Selina San Miguel de Allende has a cool, youthful rooftop bar with great expansive views towards both the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and the surrounding valley, meaning you’re in for incredible vistas no matter what side of the rooftop you’re on. On the other side of the plaza, Cielo Rooftop offers an impressive menu of drinks and dishes, with front-row-center views of the church and plaza.

If you’re on the hunt for even more of San Miguel’s rooftops – by far one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende – these are some of the favorites that locals recommended to us:

cañada de la virgen
Marcos E Ramos Ponciano / Shutterstock

11. Visit Cañada de la Virgen

The ruins of Cañada de la Virgen constitute one of the most important and impressive archeological sites in the center of Mexico, making a visit one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Located just 45 minutes outside of town, this site was constructed around 500 AD by the indigenous Otomi people, known today for their intricate and colorful embroidery work. The site sits on private property at one of the largest haciendas in the state of Guanajuato and only began allowing visitors in 2011.

Guided experiences at Cañada de la Virgen are led by archeologists who participated in the excavation of the site in the early 2000s – there’s no better way to get inside information than that! Tours of the site include a climb to the top of the principal pyramid and lunch near the site.

Reviews and Bookings: Archeologist-Led Cañada de La Virgen Guided Excursion

12. Explore Coyote Canyon

Located just a short drive from San Miguel de Allende, Coyote Canyon is a beautiful natural spot in the hillsides of Guanajuato. If you’re looking to get out of town and enjoy some fresh air, this is one of the best places for it.

Many guided excursions including horseback riding in Coyote Canyon, though if you’d prefer to hike instead, you can also book a hiking guide to lead you on some of the canyon’s most picturesque trails. The area also offers adventure activities like ziplining, and you can also combine a visit with a trip to nearby Cañada de la Virgen.

Reviews and Bookings: Horseback Riding in Coyote Canyon // Coyote Canyon Hiking Excursion

san miguel de allende market

13. Visit the Food Market

Located at the eastern end of San Miguel de Allende’s popular Mercado de Artesanias (artisan market), a fresh food market is the perfect place to fuel up before you shop ’til you drop. Food markets known as Mercado San Miguel and Mercado Ignacio Ramirez both offer tempting fresh and prepared food options.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and herbs, ultra-fresh Oaxacan and local cheeses, and plenty of prepared foods offer a bouquet of scents and favorites you won’t want to miss. Elotes and esquites, tacos, tortas, and much more are all on offer here, so come hungry.

14. Shop at the Mercado de Artesanias

After filling up at the food market, head west down the winding pedestrian-only pathway that cuts through town, known as San Miguel de Allende’s famous Mercado de Artesanias. I’ve visited more than my fair share of artisan markets in Mexico (much to the distress of both my suitcase and my wallet), so I feel confident saying that San Miguel’s version is one that you really can’t skip.

Part of why San Miguel’s market is so spectacular is due to the town’s location – at the heart of Mexico, it’s close to numerous communities that have a rich tradition of crafting unique textiles, jewelry, pottery, glassware, and more.

The variety here is quite impressive, so plan to spend at least an hour or two browsing the stalls. Prices tend to be a bit higher than you may find elsewhere, but products are mostly handcrafted and very unique, and the prices reflect that.

parroquia de san miguel arcangel

15. Visit the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel

It almost goes without saying that visiting the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the central church of San Miguel whose dramatic candy-colored facade is the defining aspect of the city’s skyline, is one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

While the church’s vibrant coral facade is its most identifiable feature, you’ll see as you walk around it that the church itself is actually quite a bit older – its sides reveal its original construction. Make sure to get inside and visit in between masses. The Jardín Allende, just in front of the church, is a lovely spot for a rest and an ice cream from one of the many ice cream carts you’ll find in the plaza.

16. Sip Wines at San Miguel de Allende’s Vineyards

Among the dry, cactus-studded hillsides surrounding San Miguel, a newly developing but exciting wine region is sprouting up to some exciting early acclaim. La Ruta del Vino (The Wine Route) in the Bajío area offers a network of new wineries with impressive early varietals, making spending lazy afternoons at the winery one of the best new things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Small group vineyard tours with expert wine pairings are one of the best ways to experience the area’s wineries. The twin San Lucas and San Francisco wineries occupy an expansive property including restaurants, a hotel, a pool, and more. Less than 25 minutes from San Miguel, it’s a great place to spend a relaxing few hours.

San José la Vista, located on the route to Guanajuato is also a popular stop for those visiting Atotonilco and Dolores Hidalgo.

If you can’t make an entire day out of visiting the area’s vineyards, consider doing a tasting in town of some of the best Mexican wine and spirits, accompanied by plenty of tapas. Or, do both!

instituto allende

17. Explore the Instituto Allende

San Miguel de Allende has a rich history of nurturing artists and creatives, with the Instituto Allende long considered among the most important schools of art in the region. It even welcomed students the the United States as part of the G.I. Bill after World War II, who were eager to learn from Mexican masters like David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Today it’s a part of the Universidad de Guanajuato and continues to host regular workshops and classes for visitors in addition to its teaching for regular students. Even just dropping by to spot the murals painted by students, modern and dramatic on historic walls, is worth your time as you explore the town.

Take the comprehensive art tour in San Miguel de Allende if you’re interested in learning more about the Instituto Allende and the rich artistic history of the town. The tour begins from the beautiful courtyard of Instituto Allende, making it the perfect way to deepen your experience.

18. Climb to the Mirador

There are plenty of spectacular views in San Miguel, but just one spot has earned the name of El Mirador – The Lookout, with no further specifics needed for its particularly impressive view.

Located just a five-minute taxi ride from the center of town, the Mirador is quite nearby and accessible on foot despite steep steps to reach it. The views of the coral-colored facade of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel are fantastic.

Of course, there are plenty of other miradores in San Miguel de Allende, but if you’re going to add just one to your list of things to do in San Miguel de Allende, let this be it!

galleries in san miguel de allende

19. Visit San Miguel de Allende’s Galleries

San Miguel de Allende is sprinkled with art galleries, ranging from traditional Mexican art styles and practices to ultra-modern, museum-quality pieces. Even the visitor with a casual interest in art will consider hopping from gallery to gallery as one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Fábrica La Aurora is a must-visit spot in San Miguel de Allende packed with galleries and shops. However, it’s just the start of San Miguel de Allende’s gallery scene. Noel Cayetano Arte Contemporaneo is the San Miguel de Allende outpost of a famed Oaxacan artist, and Galeria Casa Diana is the former home of artist Pedro Friedeberg, known for his surrealist works.

If you’re headed to the village of Atotonilco – another one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende! – make sure to visit Galeria Atotonilco. It’s home to one of the most impressive collections of Mexican folk-inspired art in the region and is particularly worth the short drive outside of San Miguel if you’re an art lover.

Looking for some guidance as you explore? There’s an entire art tour in San Miguel de Allende that you’ll want to make sure to add to your San Miguel de Allende itinerary for an insider’s look at the town’s best galleries.

20. Go Horseback Riding

While the city streets of San Miguel de Allende are their own breathtaking beauty, the hillsides and canyons surrounding the town offer some pretty impressive views of their own. Exploring the most scenic areas near town by horseback is increasingly becoming one of the most popular things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Alternatively, evening horseback riding tours through the historic heart of San Miguel de Allende are becoming increasingly popular activities as well. Beat the heat of the day and see the city illuminated after sunset alongside an experienced local guide. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Reviews and Booking: Scenic Horseback Riding Excursion Outside San Miguel de Allende


21. Try a Temazcal

An age-old Mesoamerican treatment and ceremony, the temazcal is both ancient and recently trending as a must for wellness seekers headed to Mexico. A temazcal ceremony is conducted in a space similar to a sweat lodge and guided by a temazcalero ceremonial leader; they generally use local herbs and traditional treatments for restorative and cleansing purposes.

There are several places in San Miguel to try a temazcal treatment. Madre Tierra Temazcal is an experienced temazcal provider in San Miguel de Allende, also offering other retreats and experiences like cacao ceremonies, ice baths, sound baths, and traditional spa treatments like massages.

Plan a Trip to San Miguel de Allende

22. Browse the Museo Histórico

A visit to the birthplace of Ignacio José de Allende y Unzaga, one of the leaders of the Mexican Independence and the namesake of San Miguel de Allende, is one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende for history lovers. Located next to the Jardín Allende and the famous Parroquia, the Museo Histórico is an easy addition to your itinerary.

Spend an hour browsing the museum and taking in exhibits that include rooms with original furnishings and historic artifacts relevant to the time period. It’s a small but interesting exhibit that adds a lot of context to the rest of your visit to San Miguel de Allende. The entrance costs $55 MXN.

restaurants in san miguel de allende

23. Try San Miguel’s Best Restaurants

With so many visitors each year making their way to San Miguel de Allende, a thriving culinary scene has popped up over the years. This small city now packs a big culinary punch with everything from farm-to-table restaurants and organic eateries popping up beside the outpost of famous chefs.

Eating your way through town easily stands alone as one of the very best things to do in San Miguel de Allende. These are some of the best restaurants in San Miguel de Allende to add to the top of your itinerary:

We’re also coffee lovers around here, so if you’re looking for some of the best coffee in San Miguel de Allende, make sure to visit these spots:

24. Visit Fábrica La Aurora

Located within a former textile factory, Fábrica La Aurora is one of the must-visit destinations for your San Miguel de Allende itinerary. Amidst relics of the factory’s former past, like the massive green looms that powered the entire operation, visitors will find restaurants, galleries, and shops that draw locals and travelers alike.

Everything from design-forward furniture pieces to handcrafted metalwork, Mexican tapestries, and modern art is on display here. With its multi-use spaces, Fábrica La Aurora is inspiring even for those who don’t seek out these kinds of experiences.

Fábrica La Aurora also offers art workshops throughout the year, including classes in textile arts, sculpture, drawing, painting, and more. If you’re looking for a hands-on experience in San Miguel that will really stick with you, this is a great option!

SailingstoneTravel / Depositphotos

25. Visit the Sanctuary of Atotonilco

About 15 minutes outside of San Miguel de Allende sits the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, or Santuario de Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco. Known as the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” for its ornate, baroque mural work, the Sanctuary of Atotonilco is part of San Miguel de Allende’s UNESCO World Heritage designation, making a visit one of the best things to do in San Miguel.

Atotonilco is also home to Galeria Atotonilco, one of the largest and most impressive collections of quality Mexican folk art anywhere. If you’re looking to visit when in Atotonilco, make sure to make an appointment in advance, as the gallery sometimes keeps irregular hours.

Many half-day excursions to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco also include a visit to the nearby town of Dolores Hidalgo, another one of Mexico’s pueblos mágicosmagical cities – and a beautiful and historic destination you won’t want to miss.

Reviews and Bookings: Half-Day Excursion to Dolores Hidalgo and Sanctuary of Atotonilco

26. Shop ‘Til You Drop

It goes without saying that for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, visiting Fábrica La Aurora and San Miguel de Allende’s Mercado de Artesanias are some of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende. However, these spots are just the start of a small but impressive shopping scene that will do a number on even the most budget-conscious traveler’s wallet.

You’ll encounter numerous boutiques and shops as you explore the streets of San Miguel de Allende, but these are some of the best stores in town you won’t want to miss:

pedos de monja

27. Try Pedos de Monja

If you spend any time wandering the streets of San Miguel de Allende, you’ll surely see the signs advertising pedos de monja. If your Spanish is good enough to make the translation – “nuns’ farts” – you’re sure to be confused.

These delicious chocolates were originally handmade and sold by nuns to help finance their convents and were cheekily named nuns’ breasts (pechos de monja) due to their round shape. Over time, the name was changed – so the legend goes.

Today, they’re a mainstay in San Miguel and the surrounding region. Sample just one or treat yourself to a mini pedos de monja tasting tour as one of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

28. Stroll Through the Botanical Gardens

San Miguel de Allende’s beautiful botanical gardens, known as El Charco del Ingenio, are the perfect place to escape from the city for a few hours. Home to numerous native species that thrive in the arid and semi-arid landscapes that surround San Miguel, it offers a stunning collection of species set in an expansive area.

El Charco del Ingenio has numerous walking paths, exhibit spaces, a sculpture garden, scenic viewpoints overlooking San Miguel, and a store and cafe on site. Plan to spend a few hours here – you’ll love your visit.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.