Bajío Itinerary

Mexico › Bajío Itinerary
Updated: March 3, 2022

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7 Days in the Bajío – Traveling the Ruta de Plata

The Best of the Bajío

Planning a Bajío Itinerary – Top 5 Bajío Highlights

1. San Miguel de Allende

The most beautiful town in the Bajío, San Miguel de Allende has retained its colonial charm, despite being crammed with posh boutique hotels, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and thousands of North American expats – strolling its hilly, cobbled streets is likely to the highlight of the trip. The city’s most famous sight is the town church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel on the Jardín Principal, the sleepy main plaza. Nearby, the Casa de Don Ignacio de Allende was the birthplace of the Independence hero Miguel Allende in 1769 and now operates as an absorbing history museum. The other big draw here is contemporary art – San Miguel has been attracting artists since the 1930s, and the town is known for its high-quality galleries. San Miguel also boasts the best hotels and restaurants in the region.

Recommended Hotels: Casa de Sierra NevadaCasa de la CuestaCasa MishaMatilda

2. Guanajuato

Bigger and busier than San Miguel – it’s a big university town – Guanajuato is a grand colonial city, with a dramatic setting in a deep valley and a cache of stately mansions and churches that recall old Spain. It’s a wonderful place for aimless wandering, though there are plenty of must-see attractions, from Diego Rivera’s birthplace (now a museum dedicated to the artist) to a slightly ghoulish museum of mummified corpses (Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato). The Teatro Juárez is perhaps the region’s most elegant building, while the period interiors and gardens of Hacienda de San Gabriel de Barrera show how the upper classes of Guanajuato once lived. Don’t leave without soaking up the views from the Pípila Monument, high above the city.

Recommended Hotels: Mesón del RosarioEdelmira Hotel BoutiqueQuinta Las Acacias

3. Street Food and Local Specialties

Foodies are in for a treat traveling in the Bajío. In addition to some of the best restaurants in the country, there are plenty of local specialties and street stalls to enjoy. Querétaro is known for its “sopa regional”, a lentil soup with slices of dried fruit, and “enchiladas Queretanas”, fried tortillas stuffed with chili sauce, onions, and cheese. San Miguel is famed for its gourmet restaurants, but Carnitas Bautista is a legendary no-frills canteen serving roast pig in tortillas and gorditas. In Guanajuato, locally celebrated “enchiladas mineras” and birria (goat or mutton stew), is served at stalls in the historic Mercado Hidalgo. Dolores Hidalgo offers wacky ice cream concoctions, everything from alfalfa and beer flavors, to avocado and shrimp.

4. Santuario de Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco

The “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” is one of the most spectacular religious sights in the country and well worth the effort to get here. Constructed in the 18th century, the shrine was founded by Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro, and looks relatively plain from the outside. The interior, however, is plastered with murals, sculptures, and paintings, principally by Baroque master Miguel Antonio Martínez de Pocasangre. A trip here can be combined with bathing in hot springs at nearby Escondido Place and La Gruta.

5. Mineral de Pozos

The semi-ghost town of Mineral de Pozos makes for a fascinating day-trip, with much of the once-booming colonial mining hub now romantic ruins, from low-slung adobe houses and abandoned haciendas, to actual mine workings and crumbling kilns. Standouts include the ruins of the Hacienda de Cinco Señores, an abandoned mine complex, and the three pyramid-like hornos (smelters) of Santa Brígida. It’s not completely dead, though – artists have restored some of the buildings and established galleries here, and there are plenty of atmospheric boutique hotels and places to eat. Many tunnels in the surrounding countryside and not marked, so hikers should take extra care.

Recommended Hotel: Posada de Las Minas

7 Days in the Bajío (Ruta de Plata)

The “Ruta de Plata” or “Silver Route” was pioneered by the Spanish in the 17th century, one of the “Royal roads” that connected Mexico City with the rich silver mining towns of the Bajío. It originally went all the way to Zacatecas, but this 7-day itinerary takes in the picturesque section between San Juan del Río and Guanajuato – much of the route has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Renting a car will allow much more flexibility – the main roads are all well-maintained here – but it’s possible to follow the route via a series of buses.

Day 1: San Juan del Río

• Soak up the scene in the twin central squares of the Plaza Independencia and Plaza de los Fundadores
• Peruse the food stalls at Mercado Reforma
• Shop for gemstones (primarily local opals), handmade baskets, Hidalgo wine and local cheese
• Visit the Museo de la Muerte (“Museum of the Dead”) to learn about Mexican rituals surrounding death
• Eat or drink at colonial-style Café La Parroquia
Recommended Hotels: Hotel Layseca

Day 2: Querétaro

• Begin a tour of elegant Querétaro with breakfast on colonial Plaza de Armas
• Visit the Museo Casa de la Zacatecana and the Museo Regional de Querétaro
• Sample a torta (sandwich) at Las Tortugas
• Visit the Templo de Santa Clara and the Convento de la Cruz
• Catching sunset over city’s historic aqueduct from the Mirador de los Arcos
• Dinner at Chinicuil (helmed by chef Alan Rodríguez), followed by cocktails on Plaza de Armas
Recommended Hotels: Casa de la Marquesa (Querétaro)

Day 3: San Miguel de Allende

• Stroll the Jardín Principal; visit the church and Casa Allende
• Visit Jardín de San Francisco and its two colonial churches, as well as Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Salud
• Peruse local art galleries or the handicrafts at the Mercado de Artesanías
• Dinner at The Restaurant
Recommended Hotels: Casa de Sierra NevadaCasa de la CuestaCasa MishaMatilda

Day 4: Atotonilco

• Drive, take a taxi or catch the local bus from San Miguel de Allende to view the mesmerizing art the Santuario de Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
• Spend the afternoon bathing in the outdoor mineral pools at La Gruta or Escondido Place

Day 5: Dolores Hidalgo

• Visit the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, the church where Father Hidalgo issued his famous “Grito de Dolores” in 1810, signaling the start of the Mexican War of Independence
• Visit the Museo Histórico Curato de Dolores, Father Hidalgo’s home between 1804 and 1810, now a tribute to the “Father of Independence”
• Visit the Museo del Bicentenario, birthplace and former home of independence hero Mariano Abasolo
• Visit the Casa Museo José Alfredo Jiménez, which commemorates Mexico’s greatest ranchera singer – Jiménez was born in Dolores in 1926 and is buried here
• Sample the town’s quirky ice cream flavors around Plaza Principal

Day 6: Mineral de Pozos

• Dolores is the best departure point for Mineral de Pozos – day-trips are possible but it’s better to stay the night. Organized tours also run from San Miguel de Allende
• Start at the central plaza, Jardín Principal, and visit the church, Parroquia San Pedro
• Explore the streets of the old town
• Drive out to the hornos of Santa Brígida, on the east side of town
• Visit one of the old haciendas such as “El Triángulo” and the ruins at Mina Cinco Señores, on the west side of town
• Eat at acclaimed restaurant, La Fama
Recommended Hotels: Posada de Las Minas

Day 7: Guanajuato

• Ride the funicular up to Monumento al Pipila
• Drinks on Jardín de la Unión, the main plaza
• Visit Templo de San Diego and the Teatro Juárez
• Visit Museo Palacio de los Poderes and Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
• Eat at Mercado Hidalgo
• Visit Museo Regional de Guanajuato
• Dinner at Casa Mercedes
• Join a traditional callejóneada
Recommended Hotels: Mesón del RosarioEdelmira Hotel BoutiqueQuinta Las Acacias

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