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San Luis Potosí Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › San Luis Potosí
Updated: October 20, 2020

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San Luis Potosí is another less-visited gem that’s one of our favorite cities in the Bajío. Dripping with historic charm, the old center is known for its colonial churches, hotels, and enticing art museums.

Frequently Asked Questions about San Luis Potosí?

Where is San Luis Potosí?

San Luis Potosí is the capital city of the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí, in the region of central Mexico known as the Bajío.

The city lies about 400 km northwest of Mexico City, 330 km northeast of Guadalajara, and 175 km north of San Miguel de Allende. Non-stop flights to San Luis Potosí take 1 hour 15 minutes from Mexico City, 1 hour 55 minutes from Houston, 2 hours from Dallas, 2 hours 10 minutes from Cancún, and 2 hours 40 minutes from Tijuana.

How big is San Luis Potosí?

San Luis Potosí has a greater metro population of just over 1.2 million, with the main part of the city covering a circular area some 14km across.

What is the history of San Luis Potosí?

Built on land once inhabited by the Chichimeca, San Luis Potosí traces its roots to the foundation of a Franciscan mission in the 1580s, but the city was formally established in 1592 as a supply camp for nearby gold and silver mines. The city grew rapidly, becoming one of the wealthiest and most beautiful in Mexico. San Luis is still prosperous today – most of the silver is gone but working mines churn out zinc and lead – with a considerable modern industrial base.

How do I get to San Luis Potosí?

San Luis Potosí is connected to Tijuana, Dallas, and Houston by non-stop flights, plus several other cities within Mexico. Most flights from Canada or Europe route through the US or Mexico City. The airport is around 25km north of downtown. Take a taxi into the city (pay at the dedicated kiosks before you get in, credit cards accepted). Rates are set according to a zone system, with most trips around 350 pesos.

Within Mexico, first-class long-distance buses are an economical and comfortable alternative to flying – buses to San Luis Potosí from Monterrey (6 hours) and Mexico City (5 to 6 hours) operate hourly. The city’s bus station, the Terminal Terrestre Potosina (or TTP), is around 3km east of the city center on Hwy-57; take a taxi to your hotel (buy a ticket before you leave the bus station, around 50 pesos).

Can I use Uber in San Luis Potosí?

Uber does operate in San Luis Potosí (assuming your phone has roaming and the app works), but drivers can be reluctant to pick-up from the airport due to hostility from the airport taxi union. However, you should be able to get an Uber back to the airport for as low as 150 pesos. Once in the city, getting an Uber should be no problem, though rates are comparable with regular taxis (and more expensive during rush hour).

Can I drive to San Luis Potosí?

Driving to San Luis Potosí from down from the US border is relatively straightforward – the main highways are good, and virtually empty outside the towns. However, the Mexican border states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas have been affected by drug cartel violence – driving at night is definitely a bad idea. Check the latest travel advisories at travel.state.gov or ask your hotel. You’ll also need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”.

From Brownsville, Texas the drive is around 410 miles (660 km) and takes around 8 hours non-stop. San Luis Potosí is also 535 miles (860 km) from Laredo, Texas (8 to 9 hours).

If you are 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.

Do I need a car in San Luis Potosí?

You can explore most of the city center of San Luis Potosí on foot making cars unnecessary; if you’d rather not walk, call an Uber or take a local taxi (all taxis have meters and are easy to hale on the street). The city has an excellent public bus system (fares 9.80 pesos) but you are unlikely to need it.

When is the best time to go to San Luis Potosí?

San Luis Potosí boasts a year-round temperate climate, with the driest and sunniest months October to April. Rain is most common June to September. There’s no real “bad” time to visit, though it can actually get chilly December to January. March through June is probably best, when the weather is pleasantly warm, the days generally dry, and crowds low-key.

Where should I stay in San Luis Potosí?

Right in the historic heart of San Luis Potosí (the centro histórico) is the best place to stay, close to all the sights, best restaurants, and attractions. Modern business hotels and cheaper motels line the highways on the outskirts of the city, but these are all a long way from the action and it can be hassle shuttling back and forwards. We love Santosí by Inmense, a lavish contemporary conversion of an old colonial mansion.

For a real treat stay at the Quinta Real Palacio de San Agustín, a luxury hotel carved out of a Spanish-era monastery. We also like the budget Hikuri Eco Hostal, a hostel housed in another beautiful colonial building incorporating lots of recycled materials.

What are the best things to do in San Luis Potosí?

The best things to do in San Luis Potosí is to soak up the city’s colonial charm and history, and take in some of the museums. Sip coffee at an outdoor café and take in the scene on San Luis Potosí’s main square, the Plaza de Armas (aka Jardín Hidalgo), also the location of the city’s impressive 18th-century cathedral. The best of the city’s huge cache of colonial churches is the Templo del Carmen in nearby Plaza del Carmen, with a multicolored tiled dome and ornate Baroque façade.

Like many cities in the Bajío, San Luis Potosí is crammed with absorbing museums. The best of the bunch is the Museo Nacional de la Máscara, a grand mansion now a museum dedicated to the art of making masks, everything from pre-Hispanic pieces to Spanish-style masks still worn during fiestas today. Also worth checking out is the Museo Federico Silva, a showcase for the work of Federico Silva, one of Mexico’s most beloved sculptors, and the Museo Regional Potosino on Plaza de Aranzazú, which chronicles the history of San Luis Potosí state. Just outside the center (but still walkable), the Centro de las Artes is an arts center built inside the former state prison. Revolving art exhibitions take place here, but you can also see the cell where ex-president Francisco Madero was held in 1910. Also here, the Museo Leonora Carrington San Luis Potosí is a tribute to the English-born Mexican surrealist painter.

What are the best things to do around San Luis Potosí?

San Luis Potosí makes a good base to explore the surrounding area. With a car (easy to rent in the city or through your hotel) you can visit several of the grand haciendas that ring the city, including the Ex-hacienda Gogorrón outside Villa de Reyes, prime location for the 2005 movie Legend of Zorro, and Hacienda Peotillos, once frequented by Emperor Maximilian. With more time you can explore the hilly Huasteca Potosina region to the east of the city, riddled with waterfalls, mountain torrents, and secluded hiking trails. Visit recommended tour operator Huaxteca for more information.

What are the restaurants in San Luis Potosí like?

Restaurants in Potosí showcase local specialties including deep-fried “enchiladas Potosinos” (or “Huastecas”), made with masa (corn dough) infused with chili peppers and stuffed with cheese. The main market, Mercado Hidalgo has cheap and cheerful food stalls that serve them for a few pesos (they are especially good for breakfast). Another solid choice for Mexican food is Antojitos El Pozole (Carmona 205), part of a local chain celebrated for its pozole (a tasty chicken stew with corn and spices). For a treat, head over to La Gran Via (Carranza 560), an elegant, old-fashioned restaurant that specializes in Spanish seafood. Another one of our favorites is Cielo Tinto (Carranza 700), which serves gourmet Mexican food but also features a colonial courtyard perfect for coffee and pastries.

What currency is used in San Luis Potosí?

The Mexican peso (often prefixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of San Luis Potosí and the whole of Mexico. Most major shops and restaurants in San Luis Potosí accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for museum entry and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. ATMs and banks are easy to find in central San Luis Potosí – you’ll generally get a better rate of exchange at ATMs than at casas de cambio.

Is San Luis Potosí expensive?

It’s easy to visit San Luis Potosí on a modest budget. To save cash, stay in the cheaper B&Bs or hostels (budget Airbnb deals are also a viable option), and eat at local restaurants and taco stalls. Buses and taxis are cheap, and museum entry is rarely more than US$2–3.

Is San Luis Potosí safe?

San Luis Potosí has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep your valuables in room safes.

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Monterrey Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Monterrey
Updated: October 19, 2020

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The third-largest city in Mexico rarely attracts overseas tourists but it’s one of our favorite big cities, with some excellent contemporary museums and tons of character. This is the modern, dynamic face of Mexico, where colonial churches and cantinas stand side-by-side with the tallest skyscrapers in the country.

Frequently Asked Questions about Monterrey

Where is Monterrey?

Monterrey is the capital of the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo León, in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental. Monterrey lies some 222 km (138 miles) west of the US border at Reynosa/McAllen (Texas), 225 km (140 miles) south of the US border at Laredo, Texas, and about 910 km north of Mexico City.
Non-stop flights to Monterrey take 1hr 30 minutes from Dallas, 1hr 30 minutes from Guadalajara, 1hr 35 minutes from Mexico City, 1hr 35 minutes from Houston, 2 hours 40 minutes from Tijuana, and 2 hours 45 minutes from Atlanta.

How big is Monterrey?

Monterrey has a greater metro population of over 4.5 million. The city proper covers an area of 325 square kilometers (125 square miles).

What is the history of Monterrey?

With the help of a small group of colonists, Spanish conquistador Diego de Montemayor founded Monterrey in 1596 – he also served as governor of Nuevo León during its early years. Yet the settlement remained small and insignificant well into the 19th century. Iconic Mexican brewery Cervecería Cuauthemoc was founded in 1890, and steel production began in 1900, fueling an economic boom that continues today – the city boasts Mexico’s two tallest buildings, the T.Op Torre 1 (Torres Obispado) and Torre KOI in the burgeoning business district of San Pedro Garza Garcia.

How do I get to Monterrey?

Monterrey is connected to the US by numerous non-stop flights, with flights from Dallas taking just 1hr 30 minutes. Monterrey Airport is also a major domestic hub, with services to almost every major city in Mexico. Flights from Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world generally route through Mexico City or airports in the US.

Within Mexico, first-class long-distance buses are an economical and comfortable alternative to flying – buses from Monterrey to Mexico City (11–12 hours), San Luis Potosí (7hr) and Zacatecas (7hr–7hr 30min) operate hourly. Buses also shuttle back and forth to the US border at Nuevo Laredo (3hr) and Reynosa (3hr).

Monterrey’s enormous Central de Autobuses (bus station) at Avenida Cristóbal Colón 855 lies 3km northwest of the central Macroplaza. Cuauhtémoc metro station is just next door, but if you have a lot of luggage take a taxi (insist on the meter being turned on).

What are the options for Monterrey airport transportation?

Monterrey’s airport lies 6km or so northeast of the city center. We recommend getting a taxi into the city to save time – taxi fares are set according to a zone system, with the center around M$330 and San Pedro Garza García M$380 (buy a ticket at the terminal before you exit). Cheaper buses do shuttle between the airport and the Central de Autobuses (see above), every hour (and take around 45 minutes) for around 100 pesos, but you’ll still have to get to your hotel from there.

What about Uber?

Uber does operate in Monterrey (assuming your phone has roaming, and the app works), but drivers are usually reluctant to pick-up from the airport due to hostility from the airport taxi union. However, you should be able to get an Uber back to the airport for as low as 240 pesos. Once in the city, getting an Uber should be no problem, and can be cheaper than regular taxis.

Various other ride-sharing apps operate in Monterrey, with Chinese-owned DiDi offering slightly cheaper rates, and Estonia-based Bolt another alternative, but we’d recommend sticking with Uber for first-time visitors.

Can I drive to Monterrey?

Yes. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward, and the highways are pretty good (and fast). However, the state of Nuevo León has a reputation for violent crime and drug gang activity – definitely avoid driving at night. The drive from the Texas border at Laredo takes just under 3 hours (it’s about the same from the border at McAllen/Reynosa). Note that foreign vehicles need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”.
If you are 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.

Do I need a car in Monterrey?

Not really. It’s relatively easy and cheap to get around on foot, by light rail, or taxi. Driving in the city can be a challenge (it’s often very congested, signage is poor, and road layout is confusing). It can be useful to have a vehicle to explore the surrounding area, though the bigger sights are all well-served by public bus or guided tours.

How do I get around Monterrey without a vehicle?

You can explore most of the city center on foot; if you’d rather not walk, call an Uber or take a local taxi. Taxis you hail in the street should use meters, which start at 8.80 pesos (10.55 pesos 10 pm–4 am) – trips anywhere in the center will rarely be more than 50 pesos.

Though the routes are somewhat limited for tourists, the speediest way to get around the city is to take the clean and efficient Metrorrey light rail system. It’s simple to use and rides cost just 4.50 pesos per journey.

When is the best time to go to Monterrey?

Spring and Fall are the best times to go to Monterrey. Monterrey tends to have hot, humid summers (with September the wettest month), which can make sightseeing extremely uncomfortable – from mid-February to mid-May, and October to November, it is warm, dry, and sunny. Winters can be a little cooler (day-time temperatures rarely fall below 70°F), but also very dry.

What are the main districts/neighborhoods of Monterrey?

The traditional heart of Monterrey is the Macroplaza (officially Plaza Zaragoza, or just the “Gran Plaza”), ringed by government buildings and museums. To the east lies the Barrio Antiguo, the city’s Old Town, while to the west (“Zona Rosa”) and north (just “Centro”) is the modern commercial and business districts. Beyond the city proper lie two sprawling suburbs that have become major business and residential districts in their own right in recent years: posh, skyscraper-heavy San Pedro Garza García to the southwest, and industrial San Nicolás de los Garza to the north.

Where should I stay in Monterrey?

First-time visitors should aim to stay near the Macroplaza, in the heart of Monterrey – almost everything will be within walking distance or short taxi rides. Newer hotels and chain motels lie on the outskirts or in the “Valle” area near San Pedro Garza García, but these primarily target business travelers or those with cars – they are a long way from the main tourist sights. We like the Gamma Monterrey Gran Hotel Ancira, an Art Nouveau beauty opened in 1912. The iStay Hotel Monterrey Histórico is a cheaper, contemporary alternative.

What are the best things to do in Monterrey?

Monterrey is best known for its excellent museums. The Macroplaza itself is a Modernist, mostly green space enlivened by squawking red-crowned Amazon parrots and the city’s 18th-century cathedral. The main draw here is the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MARCO), an innovative showcase for changing exhibitions of mostly Latin American (particularly Mexican) artists. It’s worth strolling the narrow streets of Barrio Antiguo just to the east, dotted with colorful adobe houses dating from the 1890s, independent galleries, and the city’s best bars and clubs.

At the northern end of the Macroplaza, the elegant former state government building is now the Museo del Palacio, a high-tech museum charting the Nuevo León’s transition from colony to federal state. The equally innovative Museo de Historia Mexicana chronicles Mexican national history, while the Museo del Noreste focuses on the history of northeast Mexico (including the US state of Texas). From the museums, you can take a tranquil boat ride along the Paseo Santa Lucía to the green swathe of Parque Fundidora, where a former steel-processing plant has been converted into another fascinating museum the Museo del Acero (https://www.horno3.org). The other must-sees in Monterrey include El Obispado, the bishop’s palace on top of a hill to the west of downtown, the glass exhibits at the Museo del Vidrio, and venerable Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, where tours of the brewery and plenty of fresh beers are offered.

What are the best things to do around Monterrey?

Monterrey makes a good base to explore the surrounding area. It’s a relatively easy outing to the impressive caverns of Parque Grutas de García, and the pretty historic village of Santiago, some 35km south of Monterrey. The nearby city of Saltillo makes for a fuller day-trip, packed with colonial architecture, museums, and shops selling traditional sarapes (multicolored woolen shawls). Buses shuttle between Saltillo and Monterey hourly (1 hour 30 minutes).

What are the restaurants like?

Restaurants in Monterrey are pretty good, with the usual range of Mexican options as well as international chains, though the focus is traditionally on meat-eaters, with regional specialties such as cabrito al pastor or cabrito asado (whole roast kid goat). The best place to try these is El Rey del Cabrito (Constitución Ote 817), while the excellent La Divina (Montemayor Sur 507) serves quality Mexican dishes conveniently close to the museums. For a treat, get a taxi to Pangea (Roble 660), showcase for the gourmet cuisine of local celebrity chef Guillermo González Beristáin.

What currency is used in Monterrey?

The Mexican peso (often prefixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico – US dollars and other foreign currencies will not be accepted in Monterrey. Most major shops and restaurants in Monterrey accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for bus trips and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. ATMs are easy to find in the center (especially on Padre Mier).

Is Monterrey expensive?

Monterrey certainly contains luxury hotels, designer shops, and pricey bars and restaurants, but it’s easy to visit the city on a modest budget. Most hotels are reasonably priced, budget Airbnb deals are also a viable option, museum entry fees are low (US$2–3) and public transport is cheap.

Is Monterrey safe?

It’s safe for tourists. Monterrey is a big city, and does suffer from crime – take the usual precautions, especially at night (get hotels and restaurants to order taxis), and keep your valuables in room safes.
Mexico’s drug wars have also taken their toll on the city and the surrounding areas, but despite the headlines drug gangs rarely, if ever, target tourists and the main, well-policed tourist areas of Monterrey are usually safe and violence-free.

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Los Cabos Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Los Cabos
Updated: October 19, 2020

Los Cabos Articles

Los Cabos – or just “Cabo” – is a popular Mexican resort area at the tip of Baja California, and one of our favorite places to go in Mexico for sea and sun. With a coastline that takes in the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez, Cabo is best known for its fine beaches, luxury hotels, beautiful desert scenery, surfing, and vibrant beach, dining, and nightclub scene.

Frequently Asked Questions about Los Cabos

Where is Los Cabos?

Los Cabos is a municipality at the southern tip of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. Bordering the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Sea of Cortez (or Gulf of California) to the east, it comprises the two resort towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, separated by the 32 km “Corridor” of resorts and posh condos.

Cabo San Lucas lies about 160 km south of La Paz, and 1625 km south of Tijuana and the US border. Non-stop flights to Los Cabos International Airport take just over 3 hours from San Francisco, 2 hours 35 minutes from Houston, 2 hours 15 minutes from Los Angeles, just over 2 hours from Mexico City and Tijuana, and 1.5 hours from Guadalajara.

How big is Los Cabos?

Los Cabos has a greater metro population of almost 288,000. Cabo San Lucas itself has a population of around 81,000, while San José del Cabo has around 93,000 inhabitants.

What is the history of Los Cabos?

Originally the home of the indigenous Pericú people, the first official Spanish attempt to colonize Los Cabos began in 1730. In that year San José del Cabo was founded as a Catholic mission by Jesuits, on the site of a Pericú village – it was destroyed in the Pericú Revolt four years later, and over the next hundred years, the location of the mission and settlement was re-located several times. Meantime, diseases virtually wiped out the Pericú.

In the 19th century, San José developed into a small port and agricultural center, while Cabo San Lucas remained a tiny village frequented by pirates and smugglers. In the 1940s writer, John Steinbeck sailed along the Baja coast, recording his journey in The Log from the Sea of Cortez – he called Cabo San Lucas a “sad little town”. There was a tuna cannery here and little else, and the road connecting the two settlements wasn’t finished until 1970. In the 1980s everything changed when the Mexican government began developing the region as a major international resort and cruise destination – today millions of North Americans vacation here annually.

How do I get to Los Cabos?

Los Cabos International Airport is connected to the US and Canada by numerous non-stop flights; flights take anywhere from 2 hours 15 minutes to 8 hours, depending on the destination. Most domestic flights link Cabo with Mexico City.

Because of its relatively remote location, getting here overland can be very time-consuming. First-class long-distance buses run down the Baja peninsula from Tijuana (at least 28 hours to Cabo San Lucas) via La Paz (2 hours 30 minutes), though these can be infrequent.

What are the options for Cabo airport transportation?

Los Cabos International Airport lies 19km north of downtown San José del Cabo and a further 32km from Cabo San Lucas. All the major car rental companies have desks here; otherwise, reserve a taxi or shared minibus in advance with Transportistas Josefinos, Cabo Transfers, or Los Cabos Airport Shuttle. Airport taxis are available on arrival, but are very expensive and will try and charge US dollars – local buses are a cheaper alternative, but not recommended with luggage.

Can I use Uber in Los Cabos?

Using Uber in Los Cabos is complicated. Uber cars are available (assuming your phone has roaming and the app works), but they are technically operating illegally, without government approval (as of August 2020). It’s definitely not possible to catch an Uber at the airport. Local taxi cartels have aggressively fought to keep Uber out of Los Cabos – until the situation is stabilized, it’s best to make other arrangements.

Can I drive to Los Cabos?

You can drive to Los Cabos. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward, and plenty of Americans and Canadians take their own vehicles – the main highway is good, virtually empty outside the towns, and is fairly safe (though driving at night should be avoided). There are many Mexican army checkpoints along the way, but tourists are usually waved through without problems.

It’s important to fill up whenever you see a gas station, however, and plan accordingly. The drive is over 1,625 km (1,010 miles) and takes around 24 hours non-stop – most folks break the journey into two or three days. Another plus: foreign vehicles do not need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”, as long as they stay on the Baja peninsula.

If you are 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.

Do I need to rent a car in Los Cabos?

You do not need to rent a car in Los Cabos. Though some beaches are hard to access without a vehicle, public buses do run up and down the coastal highway. To explore the region, renting a car, for at least some of your stay, can provide more flexibility. Car rental is relatively straightforward and cheap at the airport and in either of the resort towns – beyond the congested roads of the resorts, highways are generally empty and easy to navigate.

How do I get around Los Cabos without a vehicle?

Taxis or local buses are the easiest ways to get around Los Cabos without a car. Local buses run up and down the “Corridor” between Cabo and San José every 10 to 20 minutes for a handful of pesos – just flag them down. They will stop on the highway near most of the beaches on route if asked. Taxis are obviously more convenient and always available at ranks in both towns, but are very expensive by Mexican standards – they will try to charge US dollars, though paying in pesos is always cheaper because of inflated exchange rates. Always check the latest rates before you get in – there are no meters. Trips along the Corridor will be at least US$40 and between Cabo San Lucas and San José at least US$60.

When is the best time to go to Los Cabos?

The beaches of Los Cabos are at their best from November through May when there’s great weather (and whale-watching Jan–Feb). Much of the peninsula shuts down during the broiling hot summers, though Los Cabos tends to be an all-year destination. Skip Christmas, Easter, and Spring Break (Feb/March), to avoid the crowds.

Where should I stay in Los Cabos?

The coast of Los Cabos can be broadly divided into three sections. Cabo San Lucas itself is where the main marina, nightlife, and entertainment is focused and has the widest range of accommodation and food options. The beaches tend to be the busiest, though even here it’s possible to find empty sections of sand, especially on the Pacific side of town.

San José del Cabo is primarily a historic enclave, slightly inland, known for its art galleries, crafty stores, and charming restaurants – staying here in a boutique hotel is a much more tranquil experience than in Cabo, though it’s a few kilometers from the nearest beach. This is dubbed San José’s “Zona Hotelera”. The wide beach here is lined with family-friendly resorts, though the nightlife is far tamer than in Cabo San Lucas.

In between the two towns, the “Corridor” features a series of quiet coves and sandy beaches, backed by mostly high-end luxury resorts. The beaches, however, are all open to the public. Staying here means relying primarily on in-resort dining and entertainment options, or requires renting a car to visit the two main towns.

What are the best beaches in Los Cabos?

Our favorites beaches in Los Cabos include family-friendly Playa el Chileno (15km northeast of Cabo San Lucas), which has well-maintained restrooms, and a shop that rents watersports equipment. It’s excellent for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. Playa del Amor (Lovers’ Beach) in Cabo San Lucas is incredibly picturesque, accessible only by boat from Cabo Marina or Playa El Médano. Bahía Santa María, (12km northeast of Cabo San Lucas) is an enchanting horseshoe cove that offers snorkeling over reefs (rays and turtles hang out here), while Playa Acapulquito (5km south of San José del Cabo) is a tiny but beautiful sandy beach that’s ideal for beginner surfers (just around the headland lies the celebrated Zippers and La Roca surf breaks). Finally, Playa El Médano is Cabo’s premier swimming and party beach – the main strip is heaving with beach bars, vendors, jet skis, and sunbathers.

Where to change money in Los Cabos?

Though the Mexican peso is the official currency in Los Cabos, US dollars are accepted almost everywhere. However, change will often be given in pesos, and US dollar prices invariably work out to be higher than peso prices because of inflated exchange rates. Try to use ATMs to withdraw peso cash in Los Cabos if you can (check with your bank before you leave to confirm you can use a debit card and how much they will charge – using credit cards can incur interest or fees). Credit cards are widely accepted everywhere, but you’ll need cash for buses, most taxis, and small purchases.

What are the best things to do in Los Cabos?

The best things to do in Los Cabos are connected with the water; swimming, surfing, relaxing on the beaches, and various watersports. Other pleasures include dining, drinking, and shopping – particularly the growing number of art galleries – in the centers of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.

In Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Adventures offers a range of packages involving interactions with dolphins, while numerous operators in the marina offer boat trips out to “El Arco”, the huge rock arch at the very end of the Baja peninsular. Andromeda Divers runs highly recommended scuba diving trips. For on-land excursions by camel and zip-lining, Cabo Adventures is also a solid choice. Spine-tingling aerial tours by ultralight (powered hang-glider) are organized through Cabo Sky Tours.

All sorts of boat trips operate from Cabo marina, from faux pirate ships and family-friendly catamarans, to huge party boats.

In San José del Cabo it’s worth visiting the old church, La Misión de San José del Cabo Añuití, built in 1932 on the site of the original Jesuit mission, or attending the Art Walk (usually every Thursday 5–9 pm, November to June only), when all the local art galleries open late.

It’s also worth taking a day-trip to the pretty colonial town of Todos Santos, or the provincial capital of La Paz.

What are the restaurants like in Los Cabos?

The restaurants of Los Cabos are incredibly varied. In Cabo, we love Bar Esquina located at Bahia Hotel and Beach House, with its Moorish-inspired dining room and fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean flavors, Mama’s Royal Café for its excellent breakfasts, and legendary taco joint Taquería El Paisa (Lazaro Vicario, at Alikan).

In San José del Cabo our favorites include Baja Brewing, the local microbrewery, and chef Loïc Tenoux’s French-influenced Mexican cuisine at Mi Cocina.

Is Los Cabos expensive?

Los Cabos is known for its luxury hotels, exclusive beach clubs, designer shops, and pricey bars and restaurants, and it can be a challenge to visit on a modest budget. To save money, avoid the beachfront resorts and stay in cheaper hotels in San José del Cabo (budget Airbnb deals are also a viable option here). You can also take local buses to get around (skip taxis), and seek out the cheaper Mexican restaurants and taquerías for meals – international restaurants are always more expensive.

Is Los Cabos safe?

Yes. Los Cabos has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep your valuables in room safes. Theft of personal items from beaches does happen – never leave anything of value unattended, even on seemingly empty stretches of sand.

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Álamos Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Álamos
Updated: October 19, 2020

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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 – you’ll probably have to negotiate a fare independent of the Uber app.

Can I drive to Álamos?

Yes, you can 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 your 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 you are 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?

No, you do not need a car in Álamos. The town center is very small and easy to explore on foot.

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 are Casa de los Tesoros, a former 18th-century convent, and
Luz de 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 de 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 your valuables in room safes.

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Mazatlán Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Mazatlán
Updated: October 19, 2020

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Mazatlán is one of Mexico’s most atmospheric resorts, a laid-back, historic city on the western, Pacific coast, and one of our favorite places to go for good seafood, sun and sand.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mazatlán

Where is Mazatlán?

Mazatlán is a city in Mexico, on the western, Pacific coast of the country in the state of Sinaloa. Mazatlán lies about 1030 km northwest of Mexico City, 220 km south of state capital Culiacán, and 440 km north of Puerto Vallarta. Non-stop flights to Mazatlán take 2 hours 40 minutes from Los Angeles, 2 hours 15 minutes from Tijuana, 1 hour 40 minutes from Mexico City and 1 hour 25 minutes from Monterrey.

How big is Mazatlán?

Mazatlán has a greater metro population of almost 490,000. The main city and busiest resort area stretches some 30km north to south along the Pacific coast. Pristine beaches and smaller resorts fan out either side of the central “Zona Dorada” (“Golden Zone”), the traditional hub for accommodation and tourist activities.

What is the history of Mazatlán?

Mazatlán claims an official foundation date of 1531, when the Spanish took control of the area, but nothing much happened here well into the 19th century. Initially little more than a base for smugglers and pirates, Mazatlán gained respectability when a Mexican customs office opened in 1828, and the city finally boomed as a mining port – author Herman Melville visited Mazatlán as a sailor in 1844. In the late 19th century the city also attracted manufacturing and a large immigrant population – Germans opened the famous Cerveceria del Pacífico brewery in 1900. It wasn’t until the end of World War II that Mazatlán started to attract tourists, initially American sport fishermen (today it still operates the largest canneries and shrimp fisheries in the country). Writer Jack Kerouac passed through in 1952, writing about his visit in Lonesome Traveler. Mass tourism really took off in the 1970s with the development of the “Zona Dorada”, and in the last decade or so the city’s old town or “centro histórico” has been given an attractive facelift.

How do I get to Mazatlán?

Mazatlán is connected to the US and Canada by numerous non-stop flights, though many of these area seasonal; most flights will otherwise route through Los Angeles or Dallas/Fort Worth. Non-stop domestic flights link Mazatlán with Monterrey, Tijuana, Mexico City, and several smaller cities. There are no direct flights from Europe – most visitors travel through the US or Mexico City.

Within Mexico, first-class long-distance buses are an economical and comfortable alternative to flying – buses to Guadalajara (6–7 hours), Mexico City (14–15 hours), and Puerto Vallarta (7 hours 30 minutes) operate frequently (24hr).

What are the options for airport transportation in Mazatlán?

Mazatlán’s International Airport lies some 20km south of the city center. Arrival can be quite chaotic – ignore the timeshare sales staff as you exit and their offers of rides into the city. Look instead for the official “Taxi” desk and pay for your transportation there – you can also arrange rides in advance with companies like Mazatlan Tours.

The cheapest transportation is provided by vans (or “colectivos”) that offer fixed rates to the old town and Zona Dorada – usually 125 pesos. This is a great deal, but note that if the van is full and your hotel happens to be the last stop, the trip can take well over 2 hours (it only takes 30 minutes by taxi).

Like most airports in Mexico, private taxis operate a monopoly here and rates are relatively expensive, ranging US$25–60, depending on where your hotel is. The price will be fixed in advance at the Taxi Desk at the airport – there are no meters inside the taxis. The desk will accept US or Canadian dollars in addition to Mexican pesos, but payment is cash only. All the major car rental companies have desks at the airport.

Can I use Uber in Mazatlán?

Uber is available in Mazatlán (assuming you have the app and your phone has roaming in Mexico), and can offer convenience and much cheaper rates over traditional taxis. Most short trips in town range 30 to 45 pesos, with journeys between the Old Town and Zona Dorada around 65 pesos, and rides out to Cerritos around 100 pesos.
However, Uber drivers are legally forbidden to provide airport pick-ups. The local airport taxi drivers (as is typical in Mexico) are very territorial – even though Uber drivers are allowed to drop-off at the airport, most drivers will refuse to take you for fear of reprisals. Within the city, taking Uber is usually fine.

Various other ride-sharing apps operate in Mazatlán, with Chinese-owned DiDi offering slightly cheaper rates, and Estonia-based Bolt another alternative, but we’d recommend sticking with Uber for first-time visitors.

Can I drive to Mazatlán?

We would urge caution in driving to Mazatlán. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward – the main highways are in good condition all the way. However, beyond the tourist centers, the states of Sinaloa and Sonora have a reputation for drug violence that makes driving some areas a potentially dangerous proposition – driving at night should be absolutely avoided. The drive from Mazatlán to Nogales on the border with Arizona on Hwy-15 is around 1170 km (727 miles) and 14 hours non-stop. Foreign vehicles also require a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”, arranged at the border or before you depart.

Do I need a car in Mazatlán?

Public transport is incredibly prolific and cheap in Mazatlán making a car unnecessary(see below).

The Old Town is best explored on foot, and it’s easy to reach all the main beaches by bus or taxi.

How do I get around Mazatlán without a vehicle?

There are so many options to getting around Mazatlán without a car! Public transport is fun and cheap in Mazatlán. First-time visitors should try the pulmonías (a bit like souped-up golf carts but usually modified VW Beetles, blaring Mexican music). Fares depend somewhat on your negotiation skills – rides between the Zona Dorada and Old Town usually cost around 150 pesos. Larger red pick-up trucks known as aurigas tend to be cheaper than this, and ideal for big groups – they take 8–10 people at a time – but again, you’ll need to negotiate the rate in advance.

Regular taxis (usually red or green) do not have meters but operate on a (very) rough fixed-rate system, though you should always confirm the price before getting in. Most short trips in town range 40 to 50 pesos, with journeys between the Old Town and Zona Dorada around 70–80 pesos (and 20 percent more at night). Uber tends to be a bit cheaper (see above).

City buses are a convenient and cheap alternative: the bus identified as “Sabalo-Centro” runs back and forth from the Marina in the north all the way down the seafront through the Zona Dorada and into the Old Town. The bus is air-conditioned and costs just 11 pesos.

When is the best time to go to Mazatlán?

Mazatlán is at its best between November and May when it’s sunny and very dry. In the summer (July to September) it can be very humid and very hot – it can also rain a lot, though the water is at its warmest for swimming and snorkeling at this time. October and November is a great time to visit – the rainy season is over, but the busy winter season has yet to pick up, so hotels tend to be cheaper.

Where should I stay in Mazatlán?

Most tourists in Mazatlán stay in the Zona Dorada, the “Golden Zone” fronting the main beaches – this is where the big resort hotels are, as well as a range of budget options. Alternatively, the restored Old Town (or centro histórico) has a lot more character – staying here, in boutique hotels or Airbnb apartments, means a longer journey to the beach but access to a lot more of Mazatlán’s cultural offerings – live music, theater, museums, bars, restaurants, and local markets. Larger and more isolated resorts lie to the north along Playa Cerritos and Playa Brujas in what is known as “Nuevo Mazatlán”.

What are the best beaches in Mazatlán?

Our favorite beaches in Mazatlán include the small beach on the Isla de la Venados (Deer Island), 2 km off the coast – all the tour operators in the Zona Dorada offer boat trips – and the Isla de la Piedra (actually a long peninsula), which boasts a long, sandy beach ideal for swimming, with several no-frills Mexican beach bars and restaurants. To get there, take a bus or taxi to the “Embarcadero” at the southern end of the Old Town, then catch a motorboat across the channel.

The primary tourist beaches that line the Zona Dorada – known as Playa Gaviotas and Playa Sábalo further north – are perfectly fine, often busy but clean and convenient for hotels and amenities. Further north the beaches are wilder and emptier; aim for Playa Cerritos or Playa Bruja (both accessible by bus) for a quieter experience.

Where to change money in Mazatlán?

The Mexican peso is the official currency in Mazatlán (often prefixed with a “$” sign), and though some hotels, restaurants, and vendors may accept US or Canadian dollars, most local businesses only deal in pesos. Try to use ATMs to withdraw peso cash in Mazatlán if you can (check with your bank before you leave to confirm you can use a debit card and how much they will charge – using credit cards can incur interest and foreign transaction fees). Credit cards are widely accepted, but you’ll need cash for buses, most taxis, and small purchases.

What are the best things to do in Mazatlán?

The best things to do in Mazatlán are connected with the beaches; swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and various watersports. Other pleasures include dining, drinking, and shopping, particularly in the resurgent Old Town. It’s worth strolling the historic streets around the Plaza Machado, taking in the 19th-century Teatro Ángela Peralta, the small but absorbing Museo Arqueológico (archeological museum), and Museo de Arte (art museum), with its displays of modern Mexican paintings and sculpture. The colorful stalls of the grand old city market, Mercado Pino Suárez, are also worth perusing.

Other highlights include viewing the world’s largest mosaic mural at the Mazatlán International Center; hiking up to the lighthouse (“El Faro de Crestón”) at the far southern edge of the city; enjoying a cocktail at historic Bar Belmar, overlooking Playa Olas Altas; and watching the cliff divers at “the Mirador”, on the seafront. For a bit more excitement tackle the multiple ziplines at Huana Coa Canopy Adventure, just outside the city (tours that include transport are sold all over town and in hotels). Mazatlán is also a great place to learn to surf – contact Jah Surf School.

What are the restaurants in Mazatlán like?

The restaurants in Mazatlán are pretty good, a mix of classic Mexican and international. In the Old Town, Casa Etnika sells handicrafts as well as Oaxacan coffee and snacks, while Topolo and El Aljibe de San Pedro are our go-to’s for high-quality Mexican cuisine. Asian-fusion specialist Water’s Edge Bistro is our overall favorite restaurant for a big night out. In the Zona Dorada we recommend Casa Loma for a romantic dinner, and Twisted Mama’s for international dishes, cocktails and nightlife.

Is Mazatlán expensive?

Everything is relative of course, but Mazatlán is one of Mexico’s more affordable resorts. Hotels tend to be reasonably priced, public transport is very cheap, and meals and activities won’t cost much – almost everything is priced in pesos, not US dollars.

Is Mazatlán safe?

Yes. Despite the state of Sinaloa being one of Mexico’s drug cartel hotspots, Mazatlán itself is safe for tourists to visit. The Zona Dorada, Old Town, and Malecón (seafront) are well-policed, even at night. We would advise not to travel outside the city alone (organized tours are OK), and to take the usual precautions.

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Guadalajara Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Guadalajara
Updated: October 19, 2020

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Frequently Asked Questions about Guadalajara

Where is Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, in western Mexico. It is located in the central part of the state, in the Atemajac Valley, at an altitude of 5150 ft. (1570 meters). Eight municipalities make up its metropolitan area, which is the second-largest in the country, right after Mexico City.

How big is Guadalajara?

The population of Guadalajara is around 4,500,000 inhabitants, including its metropolitan area, distributed in an area of 1698 square miles (2734 square kilometers). Without counting the other seven municipalities, Guadalajara measures 94 square miles (151 square kilometers) and its population exceeds 1,500,000 inhabitants.

What is the history of Guadalajara?

In 1530, the Spanish Conquistador Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán decided to conquer the region of Guadalajara. Once he achieved this, he named it Guadalajara in honor of the Spanish city where he was born. The colonization process was long and complex due to the indigenous resistance and it wasn’t until 1542 that the new settlement finally took hold of the place it now occupies in the Atemajac Valley. In 1560, it became the capital of Nueva Galicia, now called Jalisco.

How do I get to Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has an international airport located 10 miles (16 kilometers) away from the city center. It’s the third airport with the most air traffic in the country (after Mexico City and Cancun). There are daily flights from various parts of Mexico, the United States, and Central America. Transfer time from the airport to the city center by taxi is around 35 minutes.

When is the best time to go to Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has a privileged climate. The average maximum temperature in the year is 80 °F (27 °C) and the minimum is 51 °F (11 °C). The rainy season begins in late June and ends in early October. Even though the city’s tabachines and jacaranda trees aren’t in full bloom in the winter, this is a good time to explore the city on foot without worrying about rain or excessive heat.

What neighborhoods should I visit in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara exemplifies tradition and modern-day life at the same time. There are neighborhoods where visitors can feel the timeless flavor of tequila and mariachi music, and others where they can breathe avant-garde through art, design, and gastronomy. ‘Musts’ include visiting the buildings in the historic center, the markets in Mexicaltzingo and Santa Tere, the galleries and bars in the Americana neighborhood, as well as strolling through Tonala and Tlaquepaque, two traditional neighborhoods in the outskirts of the city.

Where should I stay in Guadalajara?

The historic center of Guadalajara combines iconic buildings, good nightlife, and access routes to the rest of the city. Travelers looking for luxury and exclusivity will find that Puerta de Hierro, home to the business district, is the right choice. Host to renowned events like the International Book Fair, Expo Guadalajara —the city’s main convention center— is a magnet for visitors. There are plenty of accommodation options for all budgets in its surrounding area, known as Zona Expo. The Americana neighborhood has an appealing hipster vibe where younger, or young at heart, visitors might feel right at home staying at Airbnbs.

How do I get around in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has several main roads that cross the city. Transportation options include light rail, minibus, buses, bicycle rental, and taxis. It’s best to request taxis through hotel concierges or restaurant reception staff. Transport companies also operate in the city through apps such as Uber and Cabify.

What are the best things to do in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has many interesting buildings worth visiting but some unmissable ones are Hospicio Cabañas, Degollado Theater, and the Expiatory Temple. The town’s culinary offer is impressive and Chapultepec Avenue is a good example of it. With bars lining both sides of the street, visitors can breathe in its enchanting atmosphere, even late at night. And to fully experience this thoroughly Mexican city, visitors would do well to sit in a bar in Tlaquepaque and listen to live mariachi music while sipping a jarrito with tequila.

How many days should I spend in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is a great city in every sense, and its essence can’t be absorbed in less than four days. One or two days should be allocated to go sightseeing around the historic center, another one to explore iconic places such as Tlaquepaque, and one more to discover its artistic side by popping into galleries, designer shops, and restaurants in the Americana neighborhood. Travelers wishing to visit tourist attractions in the surrounding areas, such as Tequila or Chapala, will need to allocate at least a week to the trip.

What currency is used in Guadalajara?

In Guadalajara, as in the rest of the country, the currency is the Mexican peso. In 2020 the average exchange rate has been about 20 pesos per US dollar. There are foreign currency exchange agencies in the airport but the best rate is usually offered by the bank, so it’s advisable to pay with a credit card whenever possible and withdraw cash from an ATM. Carrying small bills is useful because many smaller establishments don’t accept cards. The same is true for markets, taxis, and street vendors.

Should I tip in Guadalajara?

In Guadalajara, as all over Mexico, waiters’ salaries are generally low, so tips are a fundamental part of the hospitality industry. The usual range is between 10 and 15%, but if service has been extraordinary, that percentage can be increased. In hotels, it’s also common to leave some bills to the housekeeping staff at the end of the stay. Unlike in the United States, it is not customary to tip taxi drivers in Mexico.

Is Guadalajara expensive?

Being the second-largest city in the country, Guadalajara’s prices are above those of the rest of Mexico, but also due to its size, it adapts to all budgets. As in all large cities, prices fluctuate from one area of the city to another, so it will not cost the same to buy handicrafts in Zapopan as in less touristy Juanacatlán. For travelers arriving from the United States, Europe, or Australia, it will not feel like an expensive city.

Is Guadalajara safe?

Like any great metropolis, Guadalajara is a city where crime is present. It’s best to carry money in a front pocket or crossbody bag, and going into sketchy neighborhoods should be completely avoided. To travel long journeys, especially at night, it’s best to call a taxi or Uber instead of walking back to the hotel or Airbnb.

What should I eat in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has a culinary offer that will make the most demanding palates fall in love. Foodies will revel in the signature cuisine at Alcalde and D’Franck, the interesting fusions at Anita Li and Bruna, and local food staples such as tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches) and carnes en su jugo (meats in their juice). Karne Garibaldi, a restaurant that serves this specialty, holds the Guinness Record for the fastest service in the world.

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Acapulco Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Acapulco
Updated: October 19, 2020

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It’s hard not to love Acapulco, the grande dame of Mexican beach resorts. Set on the Pacific coast, the city lies on one of the loveliest bays in Mexico, along curves of sand backed by white tower blocks and the jungle-smothered hills of the Sierras beyond.

Acapulco is best known for its wonderful beaches, watersports, and vibrant dining and nightclub scene.

Frequently Asked Questions about Acapulco

Where is Acapulco?

Acapulco is a city in Mexico, a resort, and port on the Pacific Ocean located in the state of Guerrero. Acapulco lies about 380 km south of Mexico City, and 1050 km southeast of Puerto Vallarta. Non-stop flights to Acapulco take 1 hour 15 minutes from Mexico City, 1 hour 50 minutes from Monterrey, and 3 hours 30 minutes from Tijuana.

How big is Acapulco?

Acapulco has a greater metro population of just over one million. The main city and busiest resort area stretch some 12km east to west around Acapulco Bay, curved like a giant seashell. Pristine beaches and smaller resorts fan out either side of the bay, from Pie de la Cuesta in the north to Playa Diamante to the south.

What is the history of Acapulco?

Acapulco has a long pre-Hispanic history, though little is known about the people who lived here before the Spanish (they are thought to have belonged to the Yope civilization of Tehuacalco). The conquistadors quickly established outposts here and had constructed a simple road between the port and Mexico City by 1531 (the official foundation date of the city is 1550). Acapulco flourished thereafter as a Spanish trading port, especially benefiting from the Manila Galleons that shipped precious Asian cargo across the Pacific from the Philippines – the last galleons sailed in 1815. Acapulco remained an important port once Mexico had gained independence, but its new role as holiday destination received a boost in the 1920s after a visit from Britain’s Prince of Wales. By the 1950s, Acapulco had become Mexico’s most fashionable international resort. Though it’s lost some of its glamour in recent years, the city remains a favorite weekend and holiday destination, especially for Mexico City inhabitants.

How do I get to Acapulco?

Flying to Acapulco usually means changing planes in Mexico City; seasonal (winter) non-stop flights operate from Dallas, Houston, and Montréal, but the airport otherwise serves domestic routes only.

Within Mexico, first-class long-distance buses are an economical and comfortable alternative to flying – buses to Acapulco from Mexico City (4–5 hours) operate hourly.

What are the options for Acapulco airport transportation?

Acapulco’s General Juan N. Álvarez International Airport lies along the coast, 23km southeast of the city. As always, ignore the timeshare sales staff and their offers of free rides on arrival, and make for the official transport kiosk. There are essentially just two options: a cheap shared “colectivo” shuttle bus that will take you to the Zócalo (main square) in the old center (and will drop off on route), and relatively expensive (but safe) taxis, controlled by the airport union. Taxi prices are set according to a zone system, with rates to most hotels ranging from 400 to 600 pesos. Taking the colectivo will cost 100 to 120 pesos, but can take much longer. It’s worth checking in advance with your hotel, as they should also be able to arrange an airport pick-up.

Can I use Uber in Acapulco?

Uber currently does not operate in Acapulco. This may change in the future, but for now, regular taxis are the only option. Local taxi cartels have aggressively fought to keep Uber and other ride-sharing apps out of the city.

Can I drive to Acapulco?

It’s possible to drive to Acapulco, but not recommended. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward, but the journey is relatively long and passes through some of the country’s drug hotspots – driving at night is definitely a bad idea. You’ll also need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”. Acapulco is about 825 miles (1327 km) from Brownsville in Texas (at least 18 hours non-stop), almost 1600 miles (2575 km) from Nogales (Arizona), and almost 2000 miles (3219 km) from San Diego.

Do I need a car in Acapulco?

No, you do not need a car in Acapulco. Driving in the city can be a nightmare (it’s often very congested, signage is poor and road layout is confusing), and it’s relatively easy and cheap to get around by bus or taxi. It can be useful to have a vehicle to explore the coastline beyond the city – to Barra Vieja and Pie de la Cuesta for example – but these are also well-served by public buses. Driving rental cars is not a great idea as these are sometimes targeted by thieves, and getting into even a minor road accident can result in protracted encounters with non-English speaking police.

How do I get around Acapulco without a vehicle?

You can explore the old town of Acapulco on foot, but to go any further, you’ll need to take taxis or buses. Hundreds of buses zip up and down the “Costera”, the main road that runs along Acapulco Bay, and on to Playa Caleta; note that traffic is often very congested, and it can take an hour to travel the length of the bay. Most buses should be less than 10 pesos.

Taxis are also plentiful in Acapulco; it’s important to fix the price before you get in. Most taxis operate on a zone system; your hotel should have the current rates. All trips within the center, for example, should cost the same; trips into the next “zone” will be more. “Colectivo” taxis that can share passengers offer the cheapest rates (from just 25 pesos), but trips in private taxis start at around 100 pesos.

When is the best time to go to Acapulco?

May and June are the best time to go to Acapulco to avoid the worst of the crowds. The best weather (and the busiest season) runs from late November through to the end of April (when it’s warm and dry), but many Mexican families also spend their vacations here in July and August, despite it being hurricane season. It’s best to avoid Christmas and Easter when the beaches will be packed, and the Fall, when it’s still usually humid and rainy.

What are the main resort areas in Acapulco?

Acapulco is a big city. The main focus is Acapulco Bay – most hotels line the “Costera” all the way from the Old Town on the west side of the bay to the mountains on the east side (“Las Brisas” or Punta Bruja) – though segments have different names, the whole bay is lined with one continuous strip of fabulous beach.

The bulging peninsula at the west end of the bay (just south of the Old Town) is known as Las Playas, home to the famous cliff-divers (at “La Quebrada”) and smaller beaches such as Playa Caletilla and Playa Caleta. To the north lies the more rustic beach town of Pie de la Cuesta; to the south beyond Las Brisas lies the smaller bay of Puerto Marqués and the posher resorts of Punta Diamante and Playa Diamante. Finally, beyond here (some 30km from central Acapulco) lies the sleepy beach town of Barra Vieja.

What are the best beaches in Acapulco?

The main beach along Acapulco Bay is hard to beat – there are plenty of activities, food, and drink if you need them, but also lots of space for quieter lounging. For a party atmosphere head to the cramped but entertaining Playas Caleta and Caletilla, which are always buzzing with Mexican families and blaring music – sit at a shady beachside table and order cheap drinks from the bars behind. From here it’s a short water taxi ride to Isla La Roqueta, a mostly undeveloped island where there’s another clean, sandy beach great for swimming. Playa Puerto Marqués is generally calmer and better for families, without the big hotels.

For far fewer people and wilder beaches, head for Pie de la Cuesta, where you can ride horses along the sand or just rent a deckchair and enjoy sensational sunsets. To the south, Playa de Barra Vieja is similarly undeveloped and wild.

Where should I stay in Acapulco?

First timers to Acapulco should aim for anywhere along the main bay (the “Zona Dorada” along the Costera). There are hotels in all price ranges here. There are some good options in Las Playas, but you are a little cut off from the main action here, and your beach options are limited. The bigger, more expensive resorts of Diamante are excellent, but are really outside the city proper – Pie de la Cuesta and Barra Vieja are even further away and staying here offers a totally different experience, only worthwhile for those seeking peace and quiet with just one or two day-trips into the city.

What are the best things to do in Acapulco?

As always, the best things to do in Acapulco are connected with the beaches; swimming, sunbathing, and various watersports. Other pleasures include dining, drinking, and clubbing – Acapulco’s nightlife is famously wild. The best of Acapulco’s party boats – offering sunset and moonlight cruises around the bay – is Aca Rey.

The one must-see in Acapulco is the celebrated cliff divers (clavadistas), who plunge 35 meters (115 ft) from the rocks of La Quebrada into the frothing waters below. It’s especially dramatic at night when the site is floodlit (dives usually take place at 1pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm, 9:30pm, and 10:30pm). Get there early to get the best view, or pay for a couple of drinks in the lobby bar at El Mirador Acapulco hotel, which is ideally located for watching the divers.

There’s not much to see in the Old Town (“Centro Histórico”), though the Museo Histórico de Acapulco does a good job of charting the history of the city, especially the cross-Pacific trade with Asia. Art fans should visit La Casa de los Vientos (aka “Exekatlkalli” or “House of the Winds”), Diego Rivera’s last home – it’s where he lived with former model and partner, Dolores Olmedo Patiño, in the late 1950s. Stunning murals cover the outside walls, comprised of seashells and colored tiles. The house is now a cultural center, and usually open for tours and exhibitions.

What are the restaurants like in Acapulco?

Restaurants in Acapulco are extremely varied, ranging from classic Mexican street food to some of the best seafood and gourmet restaurants in the country. The cheapest eats can be found in the area around the Zócalo, while you’ll get a lot more variety along the bayfront. For no-frills seafood our favorite is local chain El Amigo Miguel (+52 744 486 2868). For something special, book a table at Restaurante Bellavista, inside Hotel Las Brisas, (www.lasbrisashotels.com.mx), which offers mind-blowing views of the city as well as high-quality contemporary Mexican food. Further up the hill is Spanish restaurant Sirocco (www.sirocco.com.mx), the place to try local specialty Pescado a la Talla (whole, charred-grilled red snapper), and Zibu (www.zibu.mx), the acclaimed Mex-Thai fusion restaurant from Eduardo Palazuelos.

How is the nightlife in Acapulco?

Acapulco is a big party town. Most clubs have one or two nights with an “open bar”, where you pay a set price to drink as much as you want. Clubs often change location (or at least names), but Palladium (www.palladium.com.mx), high up on the slopes above the bay, is a local institution (the views alone are incredible). The other place to be is Baby ’O Acapulco (www.babyo.com.mx) down on the bayfront, which attracts the local upwardly mobile set. For live Mexican music, Latino rhythms and Latin American-style dancing (salsa, merengue), it’s tough to beat Mojito (www.facebook.com/MojitoAca), further along the Costera. Clubs rarely get going till well after midnight.

What currency is used in Acapulco?

The Mexican peso (often pre-fixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico and Acapulco – most places will not accept US dollars. Most major shops and restaurants in Acapulco accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for bus trips and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. ATMs are easy to find in Acapulco, all along the bay. Banks (particularly Banamex) and casas de cambio (slightly poorer rates) are numerous along the Costera. The worst exchange rates can be found at the airport – use the ATM if possible.

Is Acapulco expensive?

Acapulco certainly contains luxury hotels, exclusive beach clubs, designer shops, and pricey bars and restaurants, but it’s easy to visit Acapulco on a modest budget. This is primarily because of the sheer number of hotels on the waterfront – shop around to get bargain rates. There are plenty of cheap taco shops and Mexican diners along the bay also. All beaches are open to the public and free to visit, and buses are very cheap.

Is Acapulco safe?

It’s safe for tourists. Acapulco is a big city, and does suffer from crime – take the usual precautions, especially at night (get hotels and restaurants to order taxis), and keep your valuables in room safes. Theft of personal items from beaches does happen – never leave anything unattended.

Mexico’s drug wars have also taken their toll on the city and the surrounding areas, but despite the headlines drug gangs rarely, if ever, target tourists and the main, well-policed tourist areas of Acapulco are usually safe and violence free.

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La Paz Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › La Paz
Updated: October 19, 2020

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Laid-back La Paz is often overlooked by visitors in favor of the resorts of Los Cabos, but it’s one of our favorite small Mexican cities. Its waterfront malecón is one of the country’s most attractive, the surrounding beaches are sensational, nearby Isla Espíritu Santo is rich in marine life, and the local restaurants – especially the fish taco stalls – are surprisingly good.

Frequently Asked Questions about La Paz

Where is La Paz?

La Paz – not to be confused with the capital of Bolivia – is the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, facing the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California). La Paz lies about 1470 km south of Tijuana and the US border, 150 km north of Cabo San Lucas, and over 1600 km northwest of Mexico City. Non-stop flights to La Paz take 1 hour 45 minutes from Tijuana, and 2 hours 10 minutes from Mexico City.

How big is La Paz?

La Paz has a greater metro population of just under 300,000 people. The city stretches for some 11km along the Bay of La Paz, part of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California).

What is the history of La Paz?

Originally the home of the indigenous Pericú people, the Spanish had little success colonizing the area around La Paz. Jesuit priests Juan de Ugarte and Jaime Bravo established a mission here in 1720, but it was abandoned 28 years later. La Paz didn’t really develop as a city until Mexico became independent, becoming the de facto capital of southern Baja in 1833. It grew rapidly thereafter, thanks to nearby silver mines, and a major pearl-fishing industry. American troops occupied the town in 1847 during the Mexican–American War, and in 1853 it was again invaded, this time by the US “filibuster” William Walker in one of his many attempts to create a Central American kingdom (he was quickly expelled by the Mexicans).

John Steinbeck sailed to La Paz in 1940, a trip he recorded in The Log from the Sea of Cortez (he also based his novel The Pearl here), but by this time the pearl trade had almost completely collapsed, most likely due to disease among the oysters. Since the 1960s La Paz has flourished again as capital of the Baja California Sur, and also because of recreational fishing, pioneered by the likes of John Wayne and Bing Crosby.

How do I get to La Paz?

La Paz has a small airport with flights to major cities in Mexico, as well as seasonal (winter) flights to Dallas and Phoenix. From southern California, it’s easiest to fly non-stop from Tijuana, just across the border – from Europe and the rest of the world most flights route through Mexico City. From the airport taxis charge around 300 pesos into the city center – there’s not much alternative to this.

La Paz is also a short (2hr 30 minutes) bus or car ride from the resorts of Los Cabos, making it a popular day-trip.

Because of its relatively remote location, getting here overland can be very time-consuming. First-class long-distance buses run down the Baja peninsula from Tijuana (at least 24 hours), though these can be infrequent. Car ferries from Mazatlán can save time if driving from central Mexico. See Baja Ferries.

Can I use Uber in La Paz?

Uber does operate in La Paz (assuming your phone has roaming, and the app works), but drivers are usually reluctant to pick-up from the airport due to hostility from the airport taxi union. However, you should be able to get an Uber back to the airport for as low as 100 pesos. Once in the city, getting an Uber should be no problem, and can be cheaper than regular taxis.

Can I drive to La Paz?

It is possible to drive to La Paz. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward, and plenty of Americans and Canadians take their own vehicles – the main highway is good, virtually empty outside the towns, and is fairly safe (though driving at night should be avoided). There are many Mexican army checkpoints along the way, but tourists are usually waved through without problems. It’s important to fill up whenever you see a gas station however and plan accordingly. The drive from Tijuana is over 1480 km (920 miles) and takes around 21 hours non-stop – most folks break the journey into two or three days. Another plus: foreign vehicles do not need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”, as long as they stay on the Baja peninsula.

If you are 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.

Do I need a car in La Paz?

It is not necessary to rent a car in La Paz. It’s relatively easy and cheap to get around on foot, by bus or taxi. It can be useful to have a vehicle to explore the coastline beyond the city – to Playa Balandra and Playa Tecolote for example – but these beaches are also served by public bus and taxi/Uber. Rental cars are easily arranged through your hotel or at the rental company offices along the waterfront.

How do I get around La Paz without a vehicle?

You can explore most of the center of La Paz on foot; if you’d rather not walk, call an Uber or take a local taxi. There are taxi stands on the malecón (bayfront) in front of Seven Crown Hotel and next to the cathedral on the plaza. Set the fee before you get in – most trips in the city should be 50 to 80 pesos. Local buses charge a flat fare of 10 pesos, but you are unlikely to need them.

When is the best time to go to La Paz?

La Paz beaches are at their best from November through May when there’s great weather (and whale-shark watching). La Paz experiences broiling hot summers that are best avoided – also skip Christmas and Easter, to avoid the crowds of local tourists.

What are the best beaches in La Paz?

The best beaches of La Paz are a short ride north of the city center but are definitely worth the effort. Our favorite is Playa de Balandra (27km north of La Paz). It’s a superb option for families, featuring a sheltered, shallow bay (no more than waist deep) and warm water for swimming and snorkeling. You can rent kayaks and shelter under small palapas (palm shelters) set on the beach.

Playa de Tecolote, another 2km north from Balandra, offers fine sands and excellent snorkeling right off the beach. Unlike Balandra, this is a long, straight strip, facing Isla del Espíritu Santo and the open Sea of Cortez. There are also lots of places to eat and drink here, with a party atmosphere at weekends.

You can take the bus to both beaches from the main terminal on La Paz bayfront; it costs around 50 pesos and departs on the hour between 10 am and 5 pm (on the way back the last bus leaves the beaches around 6:30 pm). Taxis also shuttle back and forth from the beaches, though Uber is a little cheaper – around 150 pesos each way to Baladra and a little more to Tecolote. The best beach within hiking (or at least biking) distance of the city center is Playa El Coromuel (4km north of the center). It’s a small but beautiful beach with a long pier, palapas, a few places to eat, and even a giant water slide.

Where should I stay in La Paz?

First timers to La Paz should aim for anywhere along the waterfront malecón, close to the action and well located to enjoy the city’s celebrated sunsets. There are hotels in all price ranges here. We like the modern Seven Crown, which has a fabulous rooftop bar and chic rooms. For something special try the Posada De Las Flores. The Peace Hostel (Rangel 112), is our favorite budget option.

What are the best things to do in La Paz?

Other than checking out the nearby beaches, La Paz makes a good base for exploring the rich marine life in the Sea Cortez. We recommend taking a boat trip out to uninhabited Isla Espíritu Santo; snorkeling trips off the island usually encounter sea lions, dolphins, manta rays, and, depending on the time of year, fin whales – between November and March you can also swim with whale sharks. Recommended operators include Baja Outdoor Activities, Funbaja, and the Cortez Club at La Concha Beach Resort, especially for diving.

On land, spend some time strolling the bayside malecón, one of the most attractive in Mexico, with sensational views of the mountains across the water, especially at sunset. The city’s simple cathedral, the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Paz, lies on Plaza Jardín Velasco (aka Plaza Constitución), three blocks inland. Nearby, the Museo Regional de Antropología e Historia is the best place to learn about the region’s history (if you read Spanish – there are no English labels).

What are the restaurants in La Paz like?

Eating – especially seafood –is excellent in La Paz. Cheap Mexican street food and fresh fruit juice is sold at Mercado Francisco Madero on Revolución de 1910 (at Degollado), while the popular stand known as Taquería Hermanos González (Lerdo de Tejada, at Madero) serves some of the best fried fish and shrimp tacos in Baja California. Other favorites for fish tacos and seafood include Bismark-Cito on Obregón (at Hidalgo y Costilla), and Mc-Fisher at Morelos y Pavón 965. The best place for coffee is hip contemporary café Doce Cuarenta at Madero 1240, while La Fuente (on the bayfront) serves fabulous home-made ice cream.

What currency is used in La Paz?

The Mexican peso (often prefixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico and La Paz – most places will not accept US dollars. Most major shops and restaurants in La Paz accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for bus trips and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. Most banks and ATMs are on 16 de Septiembre near the waterfront and generally give better exchange rates than casas de cambio.

Is La Paz expensive?

La Paz in not really expensive. Hotels are generally good value, even near the waterfront – shop around to get bargain rates. There are plenty of cheap taco shops and Mexican diners along the bay also. All beaches are open to the public and free to visit, and transportation is relatively cheap.

Is La Paz safe?

Yes. La Paz has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep your valuables in room safes. Theft of personal items from beaches does happen – never leave anything of value unattended, even on seemingly empty stretches of sand.

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Querétaro Travel Guide

Of all Mexico’s colonial cities, Querétaro is one of our perennial favorites – loaded with historic gems, baroque churches, museums, shady plazas and relaxed street cafés, but with a fraction of the tourists that visit the nation’s more famous destinations.

Where is Querétaro?
Querétaro is the capital city of the Mexican state of Querétaro, located in the region of central Mexico known as the Bajío.
Querétaro lies about 215 km northwest of Mexico City, 65 km southeast of San Miguel de Allende, and 365 km east of Guadalajara. Non-stop flights to Querétaro take 1 hour from Mexico City, 1 hour 15 minutes from Monterrey, 2 hours 5 minutes from Houston, 2 hours 25 minutes from Dallas, and 2 hours 25 minutes from Cancún.

How big is Querétaro?
Querétaro has a greater metro population of just over 1 million – it’s one of the fastest growing (and richest) cities in Mexico. It covers an area of around 760 square kilometers, on the edge of the Sierra Madre Oriental.

What is the history of Querétaro?
Querétaro (“rocky place”) was once the home of the Otomi and Chichimeca peoples – at the time of the Spanish Conquest, it was part of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish settlement was officially founded in 1531 by Hernán Pérez Bocanegra y Córdoba and an Otomi leader known as Conín, but development was slow and it only became a town formally in 1606. Colonial Querétaro flourished thereafter, becoming one of the cradles of Mexican Independence. It was here, meeting under the guise of Literary Associations, that the Independence conspirators made their earliest plans. In 1810 one of them, María Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, wife of the town’s Corregidor (or governor – she is known as “La Corregidora”), found that her husband had learned of the movement’s intentions. Although locked in her room, La Corregidora managed to get a message out warning the revolutionaries, thus precipitating an unexpectedly early start to the struggle for independence.
Later, in 1867, the French-backed Emperor Maximilian was executed by a firing squad at Querétaro, and the city hosted an important assembly of Revolutionary politicians in 1916, leading eventually to the signing here of the 1917 Constitution, which is still in force today.

How do I get to Querétaro?
Querétaro is connected to the US by several non-stop flights, from Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Houston; domestic flights connect Querétaro with major destinations throughout Mexico. Flights from Canada or Europe will likely route through the USA or Mexico City.
Within Mexico, first-class long-distance buses are an economical and comfortable alternative to flying – buses to Querétaro from Guadalajara (4–5 hours), Mexico City (3–4 hours), and San Miguel de Allende (1 hour 15 minutes) operate every 30 minutes. Querétaro’s massive Central de Autobuses (bus station) lies 6km south of the city center. Arriving here it’s best to take a taxi to your hotel – these follow a fixed-rate system, with the current rates displayed at kiosks at the exit (pay here before getting in).

What are the options for Querétaro airport transportation?
Querétaro’s airport lies 32km northeast of the city center on the Hwy-200 towards Tequisquiapan. We recommend taking one of the airport taxis (around M$350) or an Uber to get your hotel.

What about Uber?
Uber does operate in Querétaro (assuming your phone has roaming, and the app works), and drivers will usually pick-up from the airport, though they do face the usual hostility from the airport taxi union. An Uber ride into the city should be cheaper – around 290 pesos – than regular taxis. Once in the city, getting an Uber should be no problem.

Can I drive to Querétaro?
Yes. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward – the main highways are good, and virtually empty outside the towns. However, the Mexican border states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas have been affected by drug cartel violence – driving at night is definitely a bad idea. Check the latest travel advisories at travel.state.gov or ask your hotel. You’ll also need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”.
From Brownsville, Texas the drive is around 525 miles (845 km) and takes around 10 hours non-stop. Querétaro is 570 miles (917 km) from Laredo, Texas (11 hours), and 2590 km from Tijuana, on the southern border of California.
If you are 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.

Do I need a car in Querétaro?
No. You can explore most of the city center on foot; if you’d rather not walk, call an Uber or take a local taxi (taxis have meters, initial fare 25 pesos). The city has an excellent public bus system (fares 11 pesos), but you are unlikely to need it.

When is the best time to go to Querétaro?
Querétaro boasts a year-round temperate climate, with the driest and sunniest months October to April. Rain is most common July to August. There’s no real “bad” time to visit, though it can actually get chilly November to January. March through June is probably best, when the weather is pleasantly warm, the days generally dry, and crowds low-key.

Where should I stay in Querétaro?
Right in the historic heart of Querétaro (the centro histórico), close to all the sights, best restaurants and attractions. Modern business hotels and cheaper motels line the highways on the outskirts of the city, but these are all a long way from the action and it can be hassle shuttling back and forwards. We like La Casa del Atrio (lacasadelatrio.com), a posh B&B and spa with fabulous views and facilities, and the lavish Casa de la Marquesa (Madero 41), housed in a 1756 mansion with a gorgeous Mudéjar-style courtyard. Kuku Rukú (kukuruku.mx) and El Petate Hostel Matamoros (elpetatehostel.com) are our favorite budget options.

What are the best things to do in Querétaro?
Soak up the city’s colonial charm and immerse yourself in Mexico’s revolutionary history. Sip coffee at an outdoor café and take in the scene on Querétaro’s three main squares, the elegant Jardín Zenéa, Plaza de la Independencia, and Plaza de la Constitución. Learn about the Mexican War of Independence at the Museo de los Conspiradores (Andador 15 de Mayo no. 18; https://culturaqueretaro.gob.mx/iqca/sitio/Espaciosculturalescontroller/recinto/9), and the history of Querétaro state at the Museo Regional de Querétaro (Corregidora Sur 3; https://www.inah.gob.mx/zonas/13-museos/121-museo-regional-de-queretaro). The story of the French Intervention and Emperor Maximilian is told at the Museo de la Restauración de la República (Guerrero 23; http://culturaqueretaro.gob.mx/iqca/sitio/Espaciosculturalescontroller/recinto/28), while the incredibly ornate Museo de Arte de Querétaro (Allende 14; https://culturaqueretaro.gob.mx/iqca/sitio/Espaciosculturalescontroller/recinto/8) is crammed with Mexican art from 17th-century to the present day.
Querétaro’s churches are similarly enticing, with our favorites the Templo de San Francisco on Jardín Zenéa, with a beautiful dome covered in azulejos (colored tiles); the Templo de Santa Clara (Madero 42), with its exuberant Baroque interior; and 18th-century Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo (Arteaga, at Montes), with another magnificent interior and a blue-and-white-tiled dome.
It’s also worth checking out the 19th-century Teatro de la República (Juárez at Ángela Peralta; http://culturaqueretaro.gob.mx/iqca/sitio/Espaciosculturalescontroller/recinto/38), where the Mexican Constitution was debated in 1917, and the quirky Museo Casa de la Zacatecana (museolazacatecana.com), an 18th-century mansion that preserves the grisly legend of its former owner (the evil zacatecana murdered her husband).
For longer excursions, stroll out to Cerro de las Campañas, the “Hill of Bells” west of the center, or to the Convento de la Cruz (Ejército Republicano, at Felipe Luna), an old Spanish monastery that harbors the “Árbol de la Cruz”, a tree whose thorns sprout in the shape of little crosses.

What are the best things to do around Querétaro?
Querétaro makes a good base to explore the surrounding area, especially the hills of the Sierra Gorda. Some 60km east of Querétaro, the pretty village of Bernal is best known for the Peña de Bernal, a 350m-high peak of volcanic rock that towers over the area. Nearby Tequisquiapan is a gorgeous colonial Spanish town crammed with boutique hotels, spas and craft markets.

What are the restaurants like?
Excellent. The city is known for a couple of specialties; a thick lentil soup laced with chunks of dried fruit (“sopa regional”), and the local take on enchiladas (“enchiladas Queretanas”), fried with chili sauce, onions and cheese. A good place to try them is Café del Fondo (Pino Suárez 9). Some of the best snack food in the city is knocked out at Tamales y Atoles Arteaga (Arteaga 48) a tamale specialist, while San Miguelito (Andador 5 de Mayo 39), is one of the city’s best Mexican restaurants. For something special try to snag a table at Chinicuil (Pasteur Sur 52), showcase for the contemporary creations of celebrity chef Alan Rodríguez. Since the COVID pandemic the restaurant has been mobile (“nomada”), with pop-ups held throughout the city and announced on Instagram (www.instagram.com/chinicuil_cocinadeorigen/?hl=en).

What currency is used in Querétaro?
The Mexican peso (often pre-fixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico and used in Querétaro. Most major shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for museum entry and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. Banks and ATMs are easy to find in Querétaro, especially around Jardín Zenéa.

Is Querétaro expensive?
Not really. It’s easy to visit on a modest budget. To save cash, stay in the cheaper B&Bs or hostels (budget airbnb deals are also a viable option), and eat at local restaurants and taco stalls. Buses and taxis are cheap, and museum entry is rarely more than US$2–3.

Is Querétaro safe?
Yes. Querétaro has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep your valuables in room safes.

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Zacatecas Travel Guide

Mexico Travel Guide › Zacatecas
Updated: October 13, 2020

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Zacatecas is one of our favorite historic Mexican cities, a colonial gem crammed with gorgeous old buildings, churches, and museums. It’s setting in a valley between two hills is spectacular, and there are also tours of the old silver mines and a cable car ride high over the rooftops. Wandering its cobbled streets and leafy plazas, it’s easy to feel transported back to classical Spain.

Frequently Asked Questions about Zacatecas

Where is Zacatecas?

Zacatecas is a city in the central region of Mexico known as the Bajío and is the capital of the eponymous state of Zacatecas. Zacatecas lies around 600 km northwest of Mexico City, 300 km northeast of Guadalajara, and 560 km southwest of Monterrey.

Non-stop flights to Zacatecas take 1 hour 25 minutes from Mexico City, 2 hours 20 minutes from Dallas, 2 hours 40 minutes from Tijuana, 2 hours 55 minutes from Los Angeles, and 3 hours 50 minutes from Chicago.

How big is Zacatecas?

Zacatecas has a greater metro population of almost 140,000. The city lies on the edge of the Sierra Madre Occidental and covers some 444 square kilometers.

What is the history of Zacatecas?

The indigenous Zacatecos mined silver and precious metals in the hills here long before the arrival of the Spanish, but it didn’t take long for the conquistadors to grasp the area’s potential. The modern city was initially founded as a Spanish mining camp in 1548, with the Zacatecos quickly subdued. For the next three hundred years, the silver mines of Zacatecas enriched the city, Mexico, and the Spanish Empire. During the Mexican Revolution in 1914, Zacatecas was the scene of fierce fighting when Pancho Villa’s División del Norte captured the city, completely annihilating the forces of Victoriano Huerta. Today Zacatecas is flourishing once more, its economy boosted by increasing trade between Mexico and the USA.

How do I get to Zacatecas?

Convenient non-stop flights connect Zacatecas with Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles in the US. There are also non-stop flights to Tijuana airport, which is directly accessible from the US border near San Diego. Otherwise, most other flights route through Mexico City (there are no non-stop flights from Canada or Europe).

Zacatecas airport is 27km north of the city center. The only way to get into the center is by taxi; airport taxis charge a fixed rate of around M$400 (ask your hotel to arrange one for the trip back).

Within Mexico, first-class long-distance buses are an economical and comfortable alternative to flying – to Zacatecas, there are frequent long-distance bus services to the cities of northern Mexico, the Bajío, and Mexico City (6–8hr).

What about Uber?

Assuming your phone has roaming, and the app works, Uber is available in Zacatecas and can save up to 50 percent on journeys to and from the airport, though drivers may be reluctant to pick-up thanks to hostility from the airport taxi union. Email your hotel for advice on the latest situation. Once in the city itself, you should have no problems using Uber.

Can I drive to Zacatecas?

Yes. Driving down from the US border is relatively straightforward, and plenty of Americans and Canadians take their own vehicles – the main highways are good, and virtually empty outside the cities. However, care should be taken choosing a route, as the Mexican border states suffer from high levels of drug violence – driving at night should definitely be avoided. Foreign vehicles also need a Mexican “Temporary Importation of Vehicle Permit”, arranged at the border.

From Laredo, Texas the drive is around 422 miles (679 km) and takes around 9 hours non-stop. Zacatecas is 765 miles (1231 km) from El Paso, Texas (15 hours), and 1370 miles (2205 km) from San Diego, California.

Do I need a car in Zacatecas?

No. Once in town, you should be able to get around on foot, though taxis (and Uber cars) are easy to find. Meters in regular taxis start at 11 pesos (minimum 25 pesos for rides in the center).

When is the best time to go to Zacatecas?

Zacatecas lies at well over 2000 meters (6562 ft) above sea level, and experiences relatively dry, mild weather year-round. March through May tend to be the best months to visit – sunny, warm, and dry. June through October can be rainy, and winters tend to be cooler. As always, avoid Christmas, Easter, and all major Mexican holidays to avoid the crowds (it’s a popular destination for Mexican domestic tourists).

Where should I stay in Zacatecas?

Aim to stay in the atmospheric center of old Zacatecas, close to all the sights, best restaurants, and attractions. Motel chains have sprung up around the city, near the major highways, and can offer good rates, but these are all a long way from the action and it can be hassle shuttling back and forth.

Some of our favorites places to stay include the lavish but surprisingly affordable Hotel Emporio, the colonial Mesón de Jobito and luxurious Hotel Santa Rita del Arte.

For something really special, stay at the Quinta Real Zacatecas, tastefully incorporated what was once Zacatecas’ bullring. The best of the budget accommodation is no-frills Hostel Villa Colonial (Primero de Mayo 201, at Callejón Mono Prieto + 52 492 925 0749)

What are the best things to do in Zacatecas?

Start by simply wandering the cobbled streets and historic colonial plazas. The city’s gorgeous, pink sandstone cathedral is one of the best examples of Mexican Baroque architecture in the country. Nearby, the old market, Mercado González Ortega, has been converted into a chic shopping mall. As befits such a historic city, Zacatecas is also crammed with absorbing museums. The Museo Pedro Coronel (Plazuela de Santo Domingo) showcases the modern, abstract, and Catalan art collected by local artist Pedro Coronel (including work by Picasso and Miró). Pedro’s brother Rafael founded his own beautiful museum, the Museo Rafael Coronel (Callejón de San Francisco 65), set in an old Franciscan mission and built around a vast collection of traditional masks.

The Museo Zacatecano (Dr. Ignacio Hierro 307), housed in the old mint, chronicles the history of the region, while the Museo de Arte Abstracto Manuel Felguérez (Cristóbal Colón) displays the abstract paintings and sculpture of local artist Manuel Felguérez, inside a converted prison. The Museo Francisco Goitia (Enrique Estrada 102) highlights the work of yet another Zacatecan artist, Francisco Goitia.

The mining history of Zacatecas is the focus at the fascinating Mina El Edén, where guided tours take you deep inside the city’s old silver mine.

Once you’ve done with the city sights, take the Teleférico (cable car) up to the Cerro de la Bufa, the huge rock that dominates the city, for spectacular views and the Museo de la Toma de Zacatecas, which recounts Pancho Villa’s desperate attack in 1914. There’s also a decent zipline up here, Tirolesa 840.

What are the best things to do around Zacatecas?

Zacatecas makes a good base to explore the surrounding area. Highlights include the traditional silversmiths at the Centro Platero de Zacatecas and the ornately decorated church in neighboring Guadalupe, the ruins of the great Mesoamerican fortress at La Quemada (56 km south of Zacatecas), and the picturesque town of Jerez (53 km west of Zacatecas). Buses link all these sites with the city, though it’s best to take a guided tour to visit La Quemada (easily arranged at your hotel).

What are the restaurants like?

Good – primarily Mexican food, though standard American dishes (burgers and the like) and Italian food are widely available. The local specialties include “asado de boda” (braised pork with chocolate and orange zest), and anything “zacatecano”, usually involving a sauce of poblano chilies and cream. We love Acrópolis, an old-world café with its own impressive art collection, and cozy Dorados de Villa (on Plazuela de García), which knocks out excellent moles and enchiladas. The best place for a relaxing coffee (and free wi-fi) is Il San Patrizio Caffé (Hidalgo 403). For a splurge, book a table overlooking the old bullring at La Plaza, in the Quinta Real hotel.

What currency is used in Zacatecas?

The Mexican peso (often prefixed with a “$” sign) is the currency of Mexico and Zacatecas. Most major shops and restaurants in Zacatecas accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to have some peso cash on hand for entry fees and small purchases like bottled water and snacks. ATMs are easy to find in central Zacatecas – you’ll generally get a better exchange rate here or inside banks than at currency exchange booths.

Is Zacatecas expensive?

Not really. Hotels in Zacatecas are reasonably priced given their quality, and eating out is rarely expensive. You won’t spend much on transportation, and fees to enter museums are low, typically one or two US dollars equivalent (tours of the mine and trips on the cable car are closer to US$5).

Is Zacatecas safe?

Yes. Zacatecas has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. US State Department travel warnings generally apply to the western part of the state of Zacatecas (south of Highway 45 and west of Highway 23) and not the city itself. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep your valuables in room safes.

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