San Miguel de Allende was our first of many weekend escapes from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. We spent a magical Christmas weekend in one of Mexico’s most enchanting cities.
This was our first time venturing out on the roads outside of the capital since we moved from Texas to Mexico City. We quickly learned that the road trip concept has no place in Mexico. The drive is rarely enjoyable and always unpredictable. Once you make it out of the Mexico City madness, a succession of topes (speed bumps), potholes, casetas (toll booths) and chaos caused by the latter awaits. Pictured below: the law of the jungle applies to pass a caseta east of Mexico City.
San Miguel is located 160 miles northwest of Mexico City, which equals a four-hour drive. As most people spend Christmas at home with family, the traffic was quite nice to us this time around.
The enchanting part started when we arrived in San Miguel de Allende. We stayed in Hotel Tierra de Sol y Luna, a charming B&B with rooftop terrace. Every morning, we were served a simple yet delicious Mexican breakfast plate.
We recommend staying in the historic center, as the streets of San Miguel are very steep. A 15-minute walk to the main plaza turns into a real climb on the way back. Hotel Tierra de Sol y Luna is located far enough from the action to have a quiet night, but close enough to walk everywhere.
San Miguel de Allende is a maze of colorful streets and plazas. The center of it all is Jardín Allende, the main square and host to San Miguel’s landmark pink cathedral.
The cobblestone streets of the historic center are perfect for wandering around. Lined with cute coffee shops, hip restaurants and expensive boutique stores, the influence of San Miguel’s large expat community is obvious.
Mercado de Artesanías and Mercado Ignacio Ramirez
For a more budget-friendly take on San Miguel, two markets come to the rescue. In the Mercado de Artesanías, local artisans sell everything from beautifully painted pottery to leather boots. It was tempting to fill up our apartment with San Miguel handicrafts, but we saved some purchases for future markets.
The adjacent Mercado Ignacio Ramirez focuses on fresh produce, flowers and food stalls with comida corrida – local dishes whipped up in under five minutes. Compared to its American counterpart, Mexican fast food is homemade and (somewhat) healthy.
Fábrica La Aurora
La Aurora is an old textile factory turned into an art and design hub. The building houses shops from local artists selling sculptures, paintings, accessories and more. The art works come with a heavy price tag, especially if you just shopped at the Mercado de Artesanías. Even without plans to break the bank, La Aurora makes for a nice stroll.
Cocktails with a View
San Miguel’s historic city center is dotted with rooftop terraces, hosting trendy bars and restaurants. As visiting rooftops was our favorite activity in San Miguel, we came up with three favorites.
Luna Tapas Bar
No rooftop terrace in San Miguel tops the view from Luna Tapas Bar. This beautiful restaurant and bar is located on top of the Rosewood Hotel, part of a luxury hotel chain. We enjoyed tapas and drinks with a sunset view over San Miguel.
Zumo Rooftop Restaurant
Zumo Rooftop Restaurant was the setting for our Christmas Eve dinner. The food and cocktails were delicious and served with an impressive night view of the adjacent Templo de la Purísima Concepción.
Garufa is an Argentinean restaurant with a terrace in the garden of eden. Las Monjas’ yellow bell tower creates a unique setting for a rooftop bar. On the other side awaits a view of San Miguel an its pink cathedral.