Guanajuato Travel Guide: Things to Do in Guanajuato, Mexico

Welcome to Guanajuato, a charming colonial city nestled in the central highlands of Mexico! Known for its vibrant colors, narrow cobblestone streets, and rich cultural heritage, Guanajuato is a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers a captivating travel experience.

Guanajuato’s history dates back to the 16th century when it was founded as a mining town during the Spanish colonial era. Silver mining brought wealth and prosperity to the region, leading to the development of impressive colonial architecture that still graces the city’s landscape today.

As you wander through the enchanting streets of Guanajuato, you’ll discover a multitude of architectural gems. The iconic Teatro Juarez, a grand neoclassical theater, stands as a testament to the city’s cultural importance. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, with its ornate facade and stunning interiors, is a significant religious landmark.

Guanajuato is also famous for its narrow and winding alleys, such as the iconic Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss), where legend has it that couples must share a kiss on the third step for eternal love. These picturesque streets, lined with colorful colonial buildings, create a romantic and charming ambiance that is unique to the city.

Immerse yourself in Guanajuato’s cultural scene by visiting its numerous museums and art galleries. The Museo Iconográfico del Quijote showcases the influence of Miguel de Cervantes’ iconic novel, Don Quixote, on Mexican culture and art. The Diego Rivera House Museum offers a glimpse into the life and works of one of Mexico’s most renowned artists.

Guanajuato is known for its lively festivals and events. The annual International Cervantino Festival, one of Latin America’s most important cultural events, celebrates music, theater, dance, and visual arts. During the Festival Internacional del Globo, the sky is filled with colorful hot air balloons, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

As you explore the city, don’t miss the opportunity to savor Guanajuato’s culinary delights. Taste traditional dishes like enchiladas mineras, a regional specialty, and indulge in the city’s famous sweet treats, including cajeta (goat’s milk caramel) and alegrías (amaranth seed bars).

Nature lovers will appreciate the surrounding natural beauty. Take a trip to the nearby Cañada de la Virgen archaeological site, an ancient Mesoamerican ceremonial center set amidst picturesque landscapes. Or venture to the nearby Sierra de Guanajuato mountains for hiking, biking, or horseback riding.

With its captivating history, colorful streets, vibrant cultural scene, and warm hospitality, Guanajuato promises an unforgettable travel experience. Whether you’re exploring its architectural treasures, immersing yourself in its festivals, or simply strolling through its charming alleys, Guanajuato will captivate your senses and leave you with cherished memories.

Guanajuato Travel Guide: Things to do in Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato City Guide: A Brief History Of Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato’s history dates back thousands of years to the time of the indigenous peoples who inhabited the region, such as the Otomi and the Chichimecas. However, it was during the Spanish colonial period that Guanajuato truly began to flourish.

In the early 16th century, Spanish explorers arrived in the area in search of silver and other precious minerals. They discovered abundant silver deposits in the mountains surrounding Guanajuato, leading to a mining boom that transformed the region into one of Mexico’s richest silver mining centers.

Guanajuato quickly became a prominent colonial city, attracting immigrants from Spain and other parts of Europe, as well as indigenous peoples and African slaves. The wealth generated from silver mining led to the construction of magnificent colonial architecture, including churches, mansions, and public buildings that still stand today.

During the Mexican War of Independence in the early 19th century, Guanajuato played a significant role. In 1810, the city was the site of the first major victory for the independence movement, known as the Battle of Guanajuato. Led by Miguel Hidalgo, the revolutionaries successfully captured the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, a granary-turned-fortress, marking a turning point in the fight against Spanish rule.

Following independence, Guanajuato continued to prosper as a center of silver mining and trade. However, as the silver industry declined in the late 19th century, the city faced economic challenges. This decline led to a shift in focus towards agriculture and other industries, helping to sustain the local economy.

Today, Guanajuato is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and remains a vibrant city known for its rich history, cultural heritage, and architectural beauty. Its colonial charm, colorful streets, and preserved buildings provide a glimpse into its past as a thriving mining center.

As a traveler exploring Guanajuato, you have the opportunity to appreciate the city’s historical significance, marvel at its colonial architecture, and immerse yourself in its cultural traditions. From exploring underground tunnels once used for transporting silver to visiting museums that showcase its mining heritage, Guanajuato offers a journey through time that unveils the unique stories and influences that have shaped the city.

Guanajuato Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Guanajuato is a unique place in Mexico, as its streets, despite their spaghetti-like nature, encourage exploration.

Banished to underground tunnels, locals and visitors alike are free to roam amidst brilliantly painted homes and buildings, many of which are surprisingly sophisticated in their design.

This underlies its status as a wealthy silver mining city, and while its glittering veins aren’t as productive as they once were, the gold rush of tourism has kept this gem of a town as prosperous as it always has been.

There are many beautiful and colorful buildings in the heart of this city, but there is none that is quite as stunning as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato. This Mexican Gothic, mustard coloured cathedral stands out in Guanajuato’s historic downtown to all that happen upon it.

Within, you’ll find an image of the Virgin Mary that was brought here from Spain as a gift from the Spanish monarchy in recognition for the silver wealth that the mines of this city were providing the Spanish Empire. Covered in jewels, it’s a dazzling sight that will easily serve as the highlight of a tour of its ornate interior.

When night falls in Guanajuato, take in a show within the gorgeous walls of Teatro Juarez. Fronted by a Greek-style facade that contains Moorish design elements, the interior of this theatre will bring you back to the Gilded Age with its posh frescoes on the walls and ceilings, and the thick curtains that are pulled back at the start of every show, just like it was when this cultural asset opened at the turn of the 20th century.

Check with the box office on what is showing when you get here, so you can enjoy the performing arts in a world class theatre that is virtually unknown outside of this country.

For those looking for something truly unique, the Museo de las Momias is an attraction that shouldn’t be missed. Brought about by the imposition of a graveyard tax in the mid 19th century that led to the exhumation of scores of bodies, this institution shows off a fraction of them that underwent a mummification process after burial.

While this might be harrowing to some, others will find the preserved remains a fitting accompaniment to this nation’s comfortable relationship with death, which culminates with the celebration of the Day of the Dead on October 31st.

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Guanajuato, Mexico

Want to visit a tribute to one of Guanajuato’s greatest heroes, while getting a great view of the city at the same time?

Take a funicular to El Pipila, a statue that lionizes a mine worker turned civil war hero. As the fight shifted to the city off Guanajuato, he knew where a detachment of Spanish soldiers were holed up, and roused the populace to go to the grain warehouse where they were hoarding food, silver and gold.

The place was lit on fire, and El Pipila became a national icon as an entire nation stood up against Spanish imperialism. Apart from its historical significance, its location atop a sizable hill above the suspended valley where the bulk of Guanajuato can be found makes it an ideal vantage point for photographers looking to shoot the city from above.

Want to try one of Guanajuato’s most famous dishes, in addition to a variety of other excellent Mexican dishes?

Mercado Hidalgo is where you’ll want to go at lunch time, as there are a number of food stalls that serve up Enchiladas Mineras, which is a hearty take on the well-loved dish. It also is home to a wide variety of candy, which is definitely a reason for families and the young at heart to visit.

Guanajuato is a place that isn’t lacking in great places to dine, but if you are looking for a particularly atmospheric place to have dinner or a coffee, then Jardin de la Union is where you’ll want to make your plans.

With well-trimmed Indian Laurel trees, roving mariachi bands, and no shortage of university students hanging out here after a long day spent in classes, an evening spent in this square certainly won’t be a boring one.

source: Israel Plata on YouTube

Top 44 Things To Do in Guanajuato, Mexico For Visitors

Here’s a list of 44 top things to do in Guanajuato to help you make the most of your visit:

  1. Explore the enchanting streets of Guanajuato’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Admire the colorful colonial buildings, intricate balconies, and charming plazas as you stroll through its narrow alleys.
  2. Immerse yourself in the arts at the Juarez Theater (Teatro Juarez), a neoclassical architectural gem. Attend a theatrical performance, ballet, or classical music concert in this opulent venue adorned with stunning frescoes and intricate details.
  3. Take a guided tour of the fascinating Guanajuato’s Mummy Museum (Museo de las Momias). Learn about the natural mummification process that preserved the bodies discovered in the local cemetery and explore the intriguing history behind each mummy.
  4. Experience the romantic ambiance of Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss). Walk along its narrow pathway, and when you reach the third step, share a kiss with your loved one, according to the legend that promises eternal love.
  5. Visit the impressive Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato (Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato). Admire the neo-Gothic architecture, intricate stained glass windows, and beautiful altars dedicated to the city’s patron saint.
  6. Step into history at the Diego Rivera House Museum (Museo Casa Diego Rivera). Explore the birthplace of the renowned Mexican muralist and immerse yourself in his artistic journey through the displays of his artwork and personal belongings.
  7. Take a thrilling ride on the funicular to the Pipila Monument, located atop a hill. From this vantage point, enjoy panoramic views of Guanajuato’s picturesque rooftops, colonial architecture, and surrounding mountains.
  8. Discover the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, a historic building transformed into the Regional Museum of Guanajuato. Learn about its pivotal role in the Mexican War of Independence and admire its grand halls filled with artifacts, art, and exhibits.
  9. Marvel at the architectural splendor of the University of Guanajuato’s historic buildings. Visit the iconic Plaza de la Paz and explore the numerous faculties and colleges that make up this prestigious institution.
  10. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of the Hidalgo Market (Mercado Hidalgo). Wander through its vibrant stalls selling local produce, handicrafts, and traditional foods. Sample regional delicacies and interact with friendly vendors.
  11. Experience the lively ambiance of the Union Garden (Jardín de la Unión). Sit on a bench, enjoy live music performances, and savor a cup of coffee or a delicious ice cream while soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of this central gathering place.
  12. Explore the Museum of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas (Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato). Delve into the history of Guanajuato and the surrounding region through exhibits that showcase artifacts, documents, and art from various historical periods.
  13. Take a fascinating underground boat ride through the El Pípila Mine (La Valenciana). Explore the labyrinthine tunnels that once served as silver mines, while learning about the mining industry that shaped Guanajuato’s history.
  14. Visit the Museum of the Inquisition (Museo de la Inquisición) to uncover the dark history of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico. Learn about the persecution of alleged heretics through exhibits featuring instruments of torture and historical documents.
  15. Immerse yourself in the cultural and architectural splendor of the Museo Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera. Explore its beautifully preserved rooms filled with antique furniture, intricate tiles, and magnificent gardens, showcasing the grandeur of the colonial era.
  16. Plan your visit during the International Cervantino Festival, one of Latin America’s most renowned cultural events. Enjoy a diverse program of music, theater, dance, and art performances from national and international artists.
  17. Relax in the charming Plaza San Fernando, surrounded by colorful buildings, cafes, and restaurants. Take a seat on one of the benches and soak in the atmosphere while admiring the fountain and the statue of Miguel Hidalgo.
  18. Gain insight into Guanajuato’s mining past with a guided tour of the Valenciana Mine (Mina de Valenciana). Descend into the underground tunnels, witness the impressive engineering of the mine, and learn about the challenges faced by miners.
  19. Indulge in the flavors of Guanajuato’s traditional cuisine at local restaurants. Sample regional specialties such as enchiladas mineras, pozole, or chiles en nogada, accompanied by refreshing aguas frescas or locally produced wines.
  20. Discover the Museum of the Guanajuato Mummies (Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato) in a former cemetery. Learn about the cultural and historical significance of the naturally mummified bodies found in Guanajuato’s soil and explore the science behind their preservation.
  21. Immerse yourself in the literary world at the Museum of Don Quixote (Museo Iconográfico del Quijote). Explore the influence of Miguel de Cervantes’ famous novel on Mexican art and culture through exhibits featuring paintings, sculptures, and illustrations.
  22. Marvel at the architectural beauty of the La Valenciana Church (Templo de San Cayetano de Valenciana). Admire its baroque facade, ornate interiors, and gilded altarpieces dedicated to Saint Cajetan, the patron saint of miners.
  23. Explore the Guanajuato Cultural Forum (Forum Cultural Guanajuato), a modern cultural complex featuring art exhibitions, theaters, concert halls, and conference spaces. Attend a performance, art exhibit, or cultural event showcasing the vibrant artistic scene of Guanajuato.
  24. Attend a performance or concert at the Teatro Principal, Guanajuato’s oldest theater. Experience the acoustics and grandeur of this historic venue as you enjoy a play, opera, or musical performance.
  25. Visit the Church of San Diego (Templo de San Diego) to admire its baroque architecture, gilded altarpieces, and intricate religious artwork.
  26. Take a guided tour of the stunning La Valenciana hacienda. Marvel at its colonial architecture, visit the old silver processing plant, and explore the beautifully landscaped gardens.
  27. Attend a traditional callejoneada, a lively procession led by university students dressed in historic attire. Enjoy live music, folklore, and storytelling as you wander through the city’s streets and alleys.
  28. Explore the stunning Alley of the Frogs (Callejón de los Sapos). Browse through the antique shops, art galleries, and craft stores, and discover unique treasures to take home as souvenirs.
  29. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Paseo de la Presa, a picturesque walkway that hugs the banks of the Presa de la Olla reservoir. Admire the scenic views, feed the ducks, and relax in the tranquil surroundings.
  30. Experience the Day of the Dead celebrations in Guanajuato, which feature elaborate altars, colorful decorations, and traditional offerings to honor departed loved ones. Witness parades, concerts, and other festivities that highlight this important Mexican cultural tradition.
  31. Visit the Museum of the Guanajuato Alhóndiga (Museo de la Alhóndiga de Guanajuato) to learn about the history of the building and its significance in the fight for Mexican independence. Explore its exhibits, including artifacts and paintings that depict key moments in Guanajuato’s history.
  32. Explore the scenic Jardín Reforma, a landscaped garden with stunning views of the city. Enjoy a picnic, relax on the benches, and take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
  33. Discover the unique underground street, Calle Subterránea Miguel Hidalgo. Walk along this underground passage that runs beneath the city’s streets, showcasing architectural remnants and providing a fascinating glimpse into Guanajuato’s past.
  34. Participate in a traditional Mexican cooking class and learn to prepare authentic regional dishes such as chiles en nogada, tamales, or mole. Delight in the flavors of your own creations and take home new culinary skills.
  35. Explore the Guanajuato City Museum (Museo de la Ciudad de Guanajuato), housed in a former convent. Learn about the city’s urban development, history, and cultural heritage through interactive exhibits, maps, and multimedia presentations.
  36. Wander through the charming neighborhood of La Valenciana. Admire the colorful facades, picturesque streets, and vibrant local life in this quaint part of the city.
  37. Visit the Santa Rosa de Viterbo Church (Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo), known for its stunning baroque facade and ornate interiors. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of its altar and religious artwork.
  38. Take a guided tour of the Guanajuato Cultural Institute (Instituto Cultural de Guanajuato). Learn about the region’s cultural initiatives, art exhibitions, and educational programs that promote the arts and contribute to Guanajuato’s cultural scene.
  39. Enjoy a scenic hike or bike ride along the Pipila Ecological Park trails. Explore the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy panoramic views of Guanajuato.
  40. Attend a traditional Mexican wrestling match, known as lucha libre, at the Plaza de Toros. Cheer on masked wrestlers as they perform high-flying moves and engage in theatrical battles inside the ring.
  41. Discover the Museum of the Guanajuato Penitentiary System (Museo del Sistema Penitenciario de Guanajuato) located in a former prison. Gain insight into the history and conditions of incarceration in Guanajuato through exhibits, photographs, and artifacts.
  42. Explore the quaint and picturesque neighborhood of La Presa. Walk along its charming streets, admire the colorful houses, and soak in the peaceful ambiance of this residential area.
  43. Take a scenic drive through the beautiful surrounding countryside, exploring nearby towns such as Dolores Hidalgo, known for its ceramic crafts and ties to Mexican independence, or San Miguel de Allende, renowned for its colonial architecture and artistic community.
  44. Immerse yourself in the local music scene by attending a live performance of traditional Mexican music, such as mariachi, in one of Guanajuato’s plazas or music venues. Let the lively rhythms and passionate melodies transport you into the heart of Mexican culture.

With this diverse range of activities, you’ll have plenty to experience and explore during your visit to Guanajuato. Whether you’re exploring its historical landmarks, immersing yourself in its vibrant arts scene, or simply enjoying the city’s charming atmosphere, Guanajuato guarantees a memorable and enriching travel experience.

Guanajuato Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

As you conclude your Guanajuato travel guide journey, you can reflect on the enchanting experiences and captivating sights that this historic city has to offer. Guanajuato’s colorful streets, colonial architecture, and rich cultural heritage make it a truly remarkable destination.

From exploring the winding alleyways and vibrant plazas of the historic center to immersing yourself in the arts at iconic theaters and museums, Guanajuato offers a blend of history, culture, and artistic expression that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The city’s fascinating museums, such as the Mummy Museum and the Museum of the Alhóndiga, provide insight into Guanajuato’s unique past and the people who have shaped its identity. The festivals and events, like the Cervantino Festival, bring the streets to life with music, dance, and theatrical performances that celebrate the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

Guanajuato’s culinary delights, from traditional Mexican dishes to regional specialties, offer a delicious exploration of flavors. Be sure to indulge in the local cuisine, whether it’s sampling street food at the markets or dining at one of the city’s many restaurants.

Nature lovers will find solace in the surrounding landscapes of Guanajuato. Take a break from the city and venture into the mountains or visit nearby towns to discover their unique charms and natural beauty.

Above all, the warmth and hospitality of the Guanajuato locals will make you feel welcome and embraced throughout your visit. The city’s friendly atmosphere, coupled with its historical and cultural richness, creates an unforgettable travel experience.

As you reflect on your Guanajuato travel guide journey, cherish the memories of exploring its historic sites, savoring its culinary delights, and immersing yourself in its vibrant culture. Guanajuato offers a unique blend of charm, history, and artistic expression that will leave you with a deep appreciation for this captivating city.

0 replies on “Guanajuato Travel Guide: Things to Do in Guanajuato, Mexico”