Reasons to Visit Guanajuato

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November 29, 2023
9 min read

Welcome to the charming and enchanting city of Guanajuato! Tucked away in the central Bajio region of Mexico, this vibrant destination offers a delightful blend of history, culture, architecture, natural beauty, gastronomy, and even some quirky attractions. It's no wonder that Guanajuato has become a magnet for travelers from around the globe.

Once you are here, you cannot help but be captivated by Guanajuato's unique charm and appeal. Stepping foot into this picturesque city is like stepping back in time to Mexico's colonial past.

Its cobblestone streets wind through colorful buildings adorned with intricate facades and balconies overflowing with flowers while the tunnels criss-cross underneath and around the city. Everywhere you turn, there is a sense of history lingering in the air.

Learn more about the best places to stay and top attractions in our Guanajuato city guide.

The Fascinating Story Behind Guanajuato's Colonial Past

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the captivating history of Guanajuato, a city steeped in colonial charm. The tale begins in the 16th century when silver was discovered in the surrounding hills, sparking a silver rush that would shape the destiny of this enchanting city.

As one of the wealthiest mining regions during Spanish colonial rule, Guanajuato thrived and became a center for trade and wealth. Walking through its streets today, remnants of its rich past can still be seen.

The colonial architecture stands tall, showcasing intricate details and colorful facades that transport you to another era. Explore the narrow cobblestone alleys lined with charming houses and hidden courtyards that evoke a sense of nostalgia.

Exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guanajuato City

Guanajuato City itself is a living testament to history, having been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It proudly boasts an array of architectural gems that will leave you awe-struck.

Start your journey by visiting Teatro Juárez, an impressive neoclassical theater adorned with ornate sculptures and delicate ironwork. 

No tour of Guanajuato is complete without descending into its underground network of tunnels.

Originally built to divert floodwaters from heavy rains, these tunnels now serve as roadways for vehicles navigating through the city's narrow streets. Walking along these subterranean passages offers a unique perspective on the city's layout and history.

Discovering the Iconic Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss)

If you're looking for a romantic spot filled with legends and stories passed down through generations, look no further than Callejón del Beso. This narrow alley, barely wide enough for two people to pass, holds an intriguing tale of forbidden love. The story goes that a young couple from feuding families lived in houses facing each other on either side of the alley.

Despite their families' strong opposition, they would secretly meet on their balconies to exchange tender kisses. Today, couples flock to Callejón del Beso to recreate this passionate tradition.

As you stand there, you can't help but feel the weight of history and the intensity of their love hanging in the air. Lean over and give your beloved a kiss; who knows what magic it might hold for your relationship? 

I highly suggest taking one of the night tours offered by companies in the main square to fully embrace this tale. You should probably decline the drink (if they offer the upgrade). Ours were heavily watered down. They will take you around the allies and recreate the story while playing their instruments and singing along the way.

Cultural Delights

Immersing in the vibrant atmosphere of Festival Internacional Cervantino

Prepare to be captivated by the enchanting world of performing arts at the Festival Internacional Cervantino, held annually during the last two weeks of October. This internationally renowned festival celebrates music, theater, dance, and visual arts, attracting artists and spectators from all corners of the globe.1

As you wander through the cobblestone streets adorned with colorful decorations, you can feel the electricity in the air. The city comes alive with a tapestry of sounds and sights that will leave you spellbound.

The festival introduces you to a diverse range of performances and exhibitions that showcase both traditional Mexican culture and contemporary expressions. From ballets inspired by iconic Mexican folktales to experimental theater productions that challenge societal norms, there is something for everyone at this cultural extravaganza.

The streets become open-air stages where musicians serenade passersby with their melodic tunes and artists passionately display their crafts. This immersive experience not only allows you to witness outstanding artistic talent but also invites you to become part of an inclusive celebration where people from different backgrounds come together to revel in shared creativity.

Diego Rivera's Museum in Guanajuato City
Diego Rivera's Museum in Guanajuato City

Unveiling the secrets of Diego Rivera's birthplace and museum

Step into the life and legacy of one of Mexico's most celebrated artists - Diego Rivera - by visiting his birthplace-turned-museum in Guanajuato City. 

Located on Calle Positos, this charming museum offers a glimpse into Rivera's formative years and showcases some of his early works that laid the foundation for his later masterpieces. As you explore each room meticulously curated with personal belongings, photographs, sketches, paintings, and even love letters exchanged between Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, you'll gain insights into his artistic journey.

The museum provides an intimate setting where visitors can immerse themselves in the artistic process and evolution of a true Mexican icon. From his love for muralism to his political activism, every aspect of Rivera's life is intricately displayed, allowing you to appreciate the immense talent and profound impact he had on Mexican art.

Experiencing traditional Mexican music at Teatro Juárez

Indulge your senses with an unforgettable experience at Teatro Juárez, a majestic cultural landmark nestled in the heart of Guanajuato City. This ornate theater, dating back to the late 19th century, boasts exquisite architectural details that transport you to a golden era of elegance and sophistication. As you settle into one of the plush velvet seats within the opulent auditorium, prepare yourself for an evening filled with traditional Mexican music that will stir your soul.

From mariachi bands serenading with their passionate melodies to orchestras performing classical compositions by renowned Mexican composers such as Carlos Chávez or Silvestre Revueltas, Teatro Juárez is a haven for music enthusiasts. The acoustics of this grand venue enhance every note played and sung, creating an immersive experience that envelops you in waves of emotion.

Whether it's the magical ambiance during an opera performance or the lively energy emanating from a folkloric dance troupe, Teatro Juárez offers a chance to witness the rich musical heritage of Mexico in all its glory. Prepare to be transported on a captivating journey through Mexico's cultural tapestry as world-class performers take center stage under the watchful eyes of intricate chandeliers and lavish gold accents that adorn this architectural gem.

Remember: Guanajuato has so much more to offer beyond its cultural delights. Stay tuned for our next section where we unravel some hidden architectural wonders waiting to be discovered!

Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

Architectural Wonders

Marveling at the Opulence of Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato

When it comes to architectural marvels, Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato takes the cake. This magnificent basilica, also known as the Guanajuato Cathedral, is a sight that will leave you breathless. As you approach this towering structure, you'll be captivated by its stunning facade adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.

The sheer size and grandeur of the cathedral are awe-inspiring, making it a must-visit attraction for anyone who appreciates architecture. Step inside, and prepare to be transported into a world of splendor.

The interior of Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato is just as impressive as its exterior. Marvel at the exquisite altars crafted from marble and gold leaf, adorned with ornate religious artwork.

The delicate stained glass windows allow soft rays of sunlight to illuminate the space in an ethereal glow. Take a moment to soak in the serenity and beauty that surrounds you in this sacred place.

Admiring the Intricate Beauty of Templo de San Cayetano

Another architectural gem that cannot be missed during your visit to Guanajuato is Templo de San Cayetano. As you approach this charming church nestled amidst colorful colonial buildings, you'll immediately notice its unique facade that seamlessly blends Spanish baroque and indigenous Churrigueresque styles.

The attention to detail in every nook and cranny is astounding. Step inside Templo de San Cayetano, and prepare to be enchanted by its elegant simplicity combined with intricate embellishments.

The main altar boasts an ornate wooden carving seemingly reaching towards heaven, complemented by delicate paintings depicting religious scenes. As you explore further, you'll discover smaller chapels adorned with exquisite religious artwork and statues.

Take a moment to sit in one of the pews and soak in the tranquil atmosphere. 

Exploring Underground Tunnels beneath the City

Guanajuato's allure goes beyond just its stunning above-ground architecture; it extends beneath the city streets as well. Beneath your feet lies a fascinating network of underground tunnels that weave their way through the city's historic center. Originally constructed as an ingenious solution to manage heavy rainfall and prevent flooding, these tunnels have now become a unique attraction for visitors.

As you venture into this subterranean world, you'll find yourself immersed in an intriguing labyrinth of dimly lit passageways. The walls are adorned with historical plaques that provide insights into Guanajuato's past.

Marvel at the engineering marvels that lie hidden beneath the bustling streets above, as you navigate your way through this intricate underground maze. Not only do these tunnels offer a glimpse into Guanajuato's engineering ingenuity, but they also provide convenient shortcuts for drivers and pedestrians to navigate around the city center.

It's an experience unlike any other, exploring this hidden world beneath the surface and uncovering another layer of Guanajuato's charm. So don't forget to look down while exploring Guanajuato.

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Adventures

Hiking through the picturesque landscapes of Cañada de la Virgen archaeological site

When it comes to natural beauty, Guanajuato does not disappoint. One of the must-visit destinations for outdoor enthusiasts is the Cañada de la Virgen archaeological site.

This captivating site boasts stunning landscapes with rolling hills, lush vegetation, and breathtaking views.You will need to arrive before 4 pm if you want to see the pyramids. That is when the last bus leaves for the sites, nearly 8 km away.

Explore the stepped pyramids, walk along ancient pathways, and marvel at the architectural brilliance of pre-Hispanic civilizations. The serenity of this place is truly awe-inspiring, allowing you to connect with nature while diving into Mexico's fascinating past.

Soaking in mineral-rich hot springs at La Gruta Spa

For a truly rejuvenating experience in Guanajuato, head to La Gruta Spa and immerse yourself in its mineral-rich hot springs. Nestled within a natural cave, this unique spa offers an otherworldly setting where you can unwind and soak your worries away. The warm waters of these pools are believed to have therapeutic properties that can relax muscles and alleviate stress.

While not exactly in town, you will need a vehicle or personal driver to take you to La Gruta. It’s about and hour and a half in the mountains. It lies just north of San Miguel de Allende by some 30 minutes.

Picture yourself basking in tranquility as you soak amidst stalactites hanging above you, creating a surreal atmosphere unlike any other spa experience you've had before. Whether it's a romantic getaway or a solo soul-recharging journey, indulging in these soothing hot springs at La Gruta Spa is an absolute must when visiting Guanajuato.

Gastronomic Delights

Savoring traditional dishes like enchiladas mineras and chiles en nogada

No visit to Guanajuato is complete without indulging in its delicious culinary offerings. Prepare your taste buds for a flavor explosion as you savor traditional dishes such as enchiladas mineras, a local specialty bursting with savory fillings like chicken or cheese, topped with rich sauces made from regional ingredients.

Another must-try is chiles en nogada, a dish synonymous with Mexican patriotism and tradition. These stuffed poblano peppers are filled with juicy ground meat, dried fruits (or pomegranate), nuts, and smothered in creamy walnut sauce - a combination of flavors that will transport your palate straight to food heaven. This is one of my favorite dishes!

Sampling local delicacies at Mercado Hidalgo

To truly immerse yourself in Guanajuato's gastronomic scene, take a trip to Mercado Hidalgo. This bustling market is brimming with stalls offering an abundance of local delicacies.

From fresh produce to artisanal cheeses, colorful spices to homemade pastries - every corner entices you with irresistible aromas and vibrant displays. Engage in friendly banter with passionate vendors as they proudly showcase their culinary creations.

Don't miss out on tasting traditional candies like cajeta (caramel) or indulging in the refreshing sweetness of nieve de garrafa, a traditional Mexican ice cream. The market is not just a place to satiate your hunger; it's an immersive cultural experience that will awaken all your senses.

Enjoying a cup of aromatic Mexican coffee in one of Guanajuato's charming cafes

After exploring the natural wonders and savoring the local cuisine, take a moment to relax and enjoy the café culture that thrives in Guanajuato. Settle into one of the charming cafes scattered across the city and savor a cup of aromatic Mexican coffee. As you sip on your brew, allow yourself to be immersed in the enchanting atmosphere around you - the vibrant colors, intricate architecture, and warm hospitality.

Simply sit back and observe the world go by. The combination of rich flavors, cozy ambiance, and friendly people creates an unforgettable experience that perfectly encapsulates Guanajuato's charm.

Mummy with attire on at Museo de las Momias (mummy museum)
Mummy with attire on at Museo de las Momias

Interesting Attractions 

Discovering mummies at Museo de las Momias

Guanajuato holds its fair share of eccentric attractions, none more fascinating than the Museo de las Momias (Mummy Museum). Enter this macabre yet intriguing museum where you encounter naturally preserved mummies that have become iconic symbols of Guanajuato.

The Museo de las Momias is home to the youngest mummified human in the world. This museum is unlike any I have seen and I highly recommend it. It’s fairly cheap to enter and easy to get to and from via taxi.

Wander through dimly lit corridors as these eerie figures silently recount their tales from centuries past. It may sound morbid at first, but it is undeniably captivating to witness these well-preserved bodies frozen in time - an unusual glimpse into mortality and human history.


What makes Guanajuato remarkable is that it offers an array of experiences to every traveler's desires. From hiking through ancient archaeological sites to rejuvenating in mineral-rich hot springs, exploring surreal underground landscapes, indulging in mouthwatering traditional dishes and stepping into quirky attractions, this Mexican town tucked in the mountains has it all.

The natural beauty, vibrant culture, and gastronomic delights will leave you wanting more. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to Guanajuato - a destination that promises unforgettable memories and an unrivaled sense of wonder.


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Written by:

I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
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