24 Hours in Guanajuato, Mexico

This magical and colorful city should definitely be on your must-visit list. Here are the top things to do during a quick visit to Guanajuato.

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Courtesy New York Botanical Garden / Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin © 2015 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Photo By: Aleksandr_Vorobev

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Photo By: Erica Reitman

Start at El Pipila

Located northwest of Mexico City in the center of Mexico, Guanajuato is a charming town that rocks some major Old World vibes. This town might not be on your radar, but it should be. It isn't too far from León Airport, and it's an easy one-hour car ride from San Miguel de Allende. A great place to start your day in Guanajuato is at the top of El Pípila. This spot overlooks the entire city, giving you a bird's-eye view of all the vibrant color below. You can drive up to El Pípila, walk up some steep stairs or ride a funicular to the top. Just make sure to have your camera ready.

Make a Plan

The vendors at El Pípila are a bit on the touristy side, so wait until you get down into the city to really dive in. You should, however, grab a city map while you're up there to help you plan out your day. Guanajuato is super walkable, but since you're up in the mountains you might encounter some steep climbs throughout your day (so wear comfy shoes!).

Grab a Bite

Before you hit the streets of Old Town Guanajuato, grab a quick bite at the famous Santo Cafe. The idyllic restaurant spills out onto a quaint bridge that overlooks one of the town's colorful alleyways, so it's an amazing spot for people-watching. There are only two tables on the bridge, so you either have to get lucky or wait a bit to sit out there. It's totally worth the wait.

Explore a 17th-Century Church

Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora is a 17th-century church in the heart of Guanajuato that's definitely worth wandering around. Designed in the Mexican baroque style, the church features an incredible, jewel-encrusted image of the Virgin Mary, which was believed to be hidden in a cave for more than 800 years. The church itself is positioned on a slight hill, so when it's viewed from above, it looks elevated above everything else.

Hang Around Teatro Juárez

Teatro Juárez is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful theaters in all of Mexico. Its roof features nine brass muses taken from Greek mythology. The interior architecture is a blend of Moorish, Roman and Greek styles, and it also includes a gorgeous, art-nouveau smoking lounge. You might be lucky enough to catch a rehearsal of one of the upcoming performances in the theater during the day, or if you're there on the right night, catch an opera or symphony performance.

Visit the Diego Rivera Museum

Diego Rivera is one of Mexico's most famous artists, and Guanajuato is his original home. You can visit the Diego Rivera Museum to see his childhood apartment and a wide variety of his work. Diego married another one of Mexico's most famous artists, Frida Kahlo, divorced her, then married her again. You can also see some of her influence in his displayed works.

Take a Street Food Tour

After historical sightseeing, you've likely worked up an appetite. So, why not hit the town for a Guanajuato Street Food Tour? You'll sample some fresh juices, tamales and gorditas and hit up all the spots the locals frequent.

Walk Around Universidad de Guanajuato

The University of Guanajuato is at the heart of this colonial town, so you'll often see students walking around. Formerly a Jesuit convent, this beautiful structure is now the university's main building. Before you visit this spot, though, grab an ice cream from Estacion Gelato and eat it on the school's steps.

Go Shopping

Guanajuato is an incredibly sophisticated little town, and that means there is some fantastic shopping. Known for their leather, you can find some fabulous Mexican shoes at Zapatos de Cuero y Piel. They're also known for their silver jewelry, and there are a number of shops to look around in including Corazon de Plata and Plateria y Artesania.

Visit El Callejon del Beso for Good Luck

Many of the streets in Guanajuato are narrow alleyways that aren't even wide enough for cars to travel down. This means you can easily walk almost everywhere. If you have some time left over at the end of your day, wander up and down some of the stairways and alleyways you come across and explore the town without a plan. If you're there with your S.O., make sure to visit El Callejon del Beso (or Alley of the Kiss). Make sure to kiss on the third step — according to legend, your love will last forever.