Álamos Travel Guide

Mexico › Álamos
Updated: March 1, 2022

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Álamos is one of Mexico’s lesser-visited gems, an enchanting colonial town on the southern fringe of the Sonoran desert. It’s best known for its atmospheric boutique hotels, colonial architecture, and laid-back lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions about Álamos

Where is Álamos?

Álamos is a small town in the Mexican state of Sonora, some 80 km inland from the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). Álamos lies around 1600 km northwest of Mexico City, 1060 km northwest of Guadalajara, and 396 km southeast from state capital Hermosillo.

How big is Álamos?

Álamos has a population of around 25,000, and covers a relatively compact area in the southeastern part of Sonora, covering some 4 km on the plains below the Sierra Madre Occidental.

What is the history of Álamos?

Once inhabited by indigenous Yoreme and Yaqui, Álamos was founded by the Spanish around 1685, primarily as service camp for nearby silver mines. Within a century it was a substantial settlement with its own mint, and the most prosperous town north of Guadalajara. Following Mexican independence, the area fell into decline. The mint closed in 1896, and the Mexican Revolution finished off the economy – the population dropped dramatically. Álamos remained a backwater until the 1940s, when an American businessman, William Levant Alcorn, bought numerous houses here and encouraged many of his compatriots to do the same – the paved road from Navojoa was finished in 1960. In 2005 Álamos was added to Mexico’s “Pueblo Mágico” program, and tourism is now a key money-earner.

How do I get to Álamos?

The only way to reach Álamos is by bus or by car. The nearest airports are at Ciudad Obregón (96 km) and Los Mochis (150 km), both with frequent connections to Mexico City.

By bus, Álamos is accessible from the city of Navojoa, some 50 km to the west. Navojoa lies on Hwy-15, the main north-south route, with buses frequently zipping up and down to Ciudad Obregón (1 hour), Los Mochis (2 hours), and beyond. Once in Navojoa, buses shuttle back and forth to Álamos every hour – the trip takes around 1 hour and ends at central Plaza Alameda.

Can I use Uber in Álamos?

Uber does not operate in Álamos. The service is available in Navajoa, but drivers are usually reluctant to make a one-way trip to Álamos – it’s possible to negotiate a fare independent of the Uber app.

Can I drive to Álamos?

It’s possible to drive to Álamos. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward. However, parts of the state of Sonora, particularly in remote areas and near the border, have been badly affected by drug cartel violence – driving at night is definitely a bad idea. Check the latest travel advisories at travel.state.gov or ask at the hotel.

The drive from Nogales on the Arizona border is around 660 km (410 miles) and takes around 8 hours non-stop (the highways are fast). From Tijuana, the drive is around 1250 km. Unfortunately, foreign vehicles do require a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit” (Álamos falls outside the “Sonora Free Zone”).

If renting a vehicle, it’s much easier to do this once across the Mexican border, as taking US rental vehicles into Mexico comes with all sorts of restrictions. Car rentals are easily arranged at Ciudad Obregón or Los Mochis airports.

Do I need a car in Álamos?

The town center of Álamos is very small and easy to explore on foot so a car is not needed.

When is the best time to go to Álamos?

Álamos is at its best during the warm and generally dry winter months (Nov–March) – this is also the best time for bird-watching. The weather remains dry April to June, though it can get uncomfortably hot – July to October is mostly hot and humid. Hotels tend to be more expensive during the Christmas and Easter periods, as well as during the week-long Ortiz Tirado music festival, usually held in January. Advance reservations are a must at this time.

Where should I stay in Álamos?

Right in the historic center of town is the best place to stay in Álamos. Hotels in Álamos are a real delight, mostly boutique-style, set in historic, colonial properties with heaps of character. Our favorite is Hacienda de los Santos, which occupies three lavish mansions and an 18th-century sugar mill. Almost as good is Luz del Sol, a colonial-style B&B.

What are the best things to do in Álamos?

The best thing to do in Álamos is to simply wander the historic streets and plazas, have a drink in Plaza de Armas, and just soak up the languid local scene. The small Museo Costumbrista de Sonora is worth a look for its exhibits on local history and is also the place to enquire about regular guided tours of the town’s old Andalucian-style mansions. For stellar views of Álamos, hike up the Loma de Guadalupe, the small hill behind the Plaza de Armas, to El Cárcel, the old stone jail on top.

What are the restaurants like in Álamos?

Restaurants are basic but good in Álamos, specializing in home-cooked food from northern Mexico. Doña Lola’s (on Volantín, off Juárez) serves some of the best value meals in town (especially cazuela, beef stew), while Café Luz del Sol is a great place for coffee and breakfast. Antojitos Don Neto on Amado Nervo is celebrated for its vegetarian tostadas, crispy tortillas crammed with beans, potatoes, veggies, and cheese.

What currency is used in Álamos?

The Mexican peso (often prefixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico, though many hotels in Álamos will quote rates in US dollars. Some restaurants accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have peso cash on hand for local meals and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. Banorte (open Mon–Fri 9 am–4 pm) is the only bank with an ATM, at Madero 27 (near the bus station). Most businesses are unlikely to accept payment in US dollars cash.

Is Álamos expensive?

Álamos is not expensive. Even the best hotels are reasonably priced, and unless it’s a public holiday in Mexico, there are plenty of cheap options. Eating in local restaurants is generally inexpensive.

Is Álamos safe?

Yes. Though the state of Sonora has a bad reputation for crime related to drug gangs, Álamos itself has largely avoided the violence and remains a safe, friendly place to visit. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep valuables in room safes.

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