I have always heard about the quaint historical city of Santiago de Queretaro and when I finally made it there I took an entire week to browse around the city, meet the people visit the most important museum and try the many different restaurants available. As a vegan, I did a full checkup of all the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurant and you can find my full review here. I actually loved to sit in the many different restaurants and work from my computer. Living there like a local.
The city is literally an open-air museum showcasing baroque architecture through the old historical houses, majestic churches and monasteries, plazas and many different art and history museums.
The capital city of the region is also surrounded by other interesting towns, especially the so-called pueblos magicos at a comfortable distance for a daily visit and it’s closed to the fascinating Sierra Gorda. You should continue to read if you want to know more. 🙂
What to see in queretaro
First and foremost remember that all museums are closed on Monday, just so you know.
- Get lost walking around the historical centre, remembering to look up and check the old houses rooftops, their decorated and multicoloured walls and old doors.
- Visit the Temple de Santa Rosa de Viterbo which besides the beautiful architecture it would always host some art exposition.
- Visit the Temple and Church of Santa Cruz and take a guided tour there. it’s only 20 pesos and the young volunteering guides will tell you a lot of stories and legend about Santiago Queretaro and the monastery and how it was founded.
- Visit the “mirador“, just behind the Templo of Santa Cruz, where you can admire the historical Aqueduct. If you walk down on the other side you will get underneath the arches for great night photo shootings.
- Have breakfast at La Biznaga, the so popular restaurant, characterized by the multicoloured and artistic decorations and great food. You can check out the food guide here
- Visit de so popular Museo of Art of Queretaro full of temporary and permanent artworks in its multiple rooms
- Visit the Plaza de Armas where you will se the “Casa of the Corregidora” now a government office. La Corregidora was the wife of the city’s mayor called a “corregidor” . Her name was Josefa Ortiz de Dominquez and she is known for her undiscussed role in the Mexican Independence, for which Queretaro is considered to be one of the cradle. In fact what is now the theatre of Queretaro is where the independence of Mexico was signed.
- Check out the churches architectures and the heavy Baroque style interiors.
- Take a tour around town on the touristic bus. I admit it I did it. I always consider it the most touristic thing to do and I wouldn’t normally do it. However this time I thought I would learn a lot of history and legends on Queretaro and that was exactly what happened. A pleasant ride on the old tram with a local guide explaining all the funny stories about the city. It’s only 70 pesos and all worth it.
- Visit the Casa de la Ecala, one of the most beautiful examples of the baroque style in Santiago de Queretaro. It was built in XVIII century as the residency of the Governor of the city, don Tomás López de Ecala. It’s especially beautiful for its facade with the gorgeous arcade of the ground floor and the balconies of the upper building with beautifully made iron handrails. It’s located in front of Plaza de Armas.
- Visit Cierro de las Campanas, a beautiful well kept park where you will find a small chapel and a muniment dedicated to Maximiliano de Hamburgo who was killed here so that Benito Juarez was restored back in power.
- Visit the Casa de La Marquesa which is now one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Queretaro. You will know the funny story behind it, if you take a bus tour 🙂
- Visit the archaeological zone of El Cerrito, located at about 5 km from the historical centre, it’s a small site and you are not allowed to climb the pyramid but it’s a beautiful interesting setting and fun to visit.
- Visit the Cimatario National Park – if you wish to get away from the city life this is a great place to walk around in nature and exercise on the small hike on the hill inside the park. They have a small lake as well and a bird nursery where they look after awks and owl and other spices that have been hurt and would not be able to survive on their own. Pay attention to the amazing views that you have on the way up to the park.
WHERE TO STAY
For my stay in Queretaro I made a huge mistake, as I preferred to rent a private room on Airbnb which was far from the historical centre and sacrifice the comfort for the privacy of my own room at the same price. While I was walking around the city I noticed that there were a couple of nice hostels that for the same price offer a very comfortable stay right in the heart of the city, where life happens. I have visited a few luxury hotels and different range of prices up to hostels in order to be able to give you some tips on where to stay. Here below is my choice.
LA CASA DE LA MARCHESA – from 86 $.This iconic hotel offers a luxury experience in the middle of the historical centre close to shop restaurants and places to visit. The hotel was the house of a noblewoman with a very interesting story behind. The building has been redone and refurbished with elegant Balinese furniture when it was turned into a hotel. Also, the patio on the ground floor is a great setting for the hotel restaurant, very popular among locals, especially for breakfast. If you are not going to stay there I would suggest you should go for a visit and admire the stunning architecture.
HOTEL MESON SANTA ROSA from 263$
HOTEL CASONA DE LA REPUBBLICA from 147$
HOTEL DOÑA URACA HOTEL & SPA from 144$
HOTEL CRIOL – from 120$
HOTEL NENA from 80$
BOUTIQUE HOTELS below 80$
HOTEL HOLISTICO 2 PATIOS – from 79$
HOTEL CASA DEL ATRIO from 45$
LA HIJA DEL ALFARERO from 45$
HOTEL MADERO from 43$
HOTEL BOUTIQUE MO17 from 74$
HOSTELS and low budget
This one was my favourite both for the location, close to the temple of Santa Cruz, and for the cute style. They also offer 1-hour bicycle use per day, according to availability.
I haven’t personally seen this one but it looked cool with lots of art and nice decoration, right in the middle of town.
What I love about this place is the rooftop terrace.The rooms are simple but nicely decorated in soothing colour and cheerful art.
Of course, there are much more options and you can check them out on this site that I am using called HOTELS COMBINED where you can compare different rates. Or if you are affectionate of booking.com you can check it out on their site here.
If you love to stay in an apartment and you are used to booking through Airbnb you can use my coupon and get a discount.
Where to eat
About the eating scene, I have written a whole post as I have been browsing all the possible restaurants I could possibly do in a week, without overeating of course. My reviews are mainly for the vegan or vegetarian lover BUT the omni-eaters could also benefit from it because I have found out incredible restaurant options that serve any kind of delicious food and a vegan option as well, such as La Biznaga, or La Vieja Varsovia, among my favourite. Check out the article if you want to know more about the best restaurants in Queretaro.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE SURROUNDINGS
If you need a week for the city only, you might want to plan another week to see the entire region of Queretaro has to offer. In reality you could appreciate the city in a couple of days unless you love to experience it like a local or check out all the museum of the city, or the restaurants, just like I did.
The state of Queretaro, although relatively small, hosts a couple of pretty cities that are considered Pueblos Magicos, for their charm and historical importance. I have seen almost all of them and I will tell you briefly my thoughts here below.
It’s the closest one to Queretaro at about 30 minutes bus ride. You can go in one day or stay there one night if you wish to explore more the surroundings. The town is popular for its vineyards and cheese and the tourism board organize a one hour tours by tram where you can try some samples. However, if you are really into it, you could check with the tourist office and organize a full day trip in through the vineyards. I found the city a little too touristic but I was happy to have been able to check it out. The wine makes it all worth it 😉
It’s a very small town, so popular for the third largest monolith in the world towering over the cute coloured city. The city in itself doesn’t have much to offer, but the views of the surroundings are breathtaking and a hike on top of the Peña de Bernal is definitely due. I suggest you go early morning, especially if you chose to go during the weekend or on festive days in order to avoid the crowd. If you are a climber this is a great spot to test your abilities. The path to the top stops to a certain hights after which you need to be equipped with the right tools and an expert guide in order to go forward.
This is the only town I haven’t been to, unfortunately. It’s inside the Sierra Gorda and it’s popular for its cactus greenhouse. I hope to have the chance to see it next time.
Pinal de Amoles
This small town nestled among the hills and mountains of Sierra Gorda is your perfect base to organize all the excursion through the natural wonders of the region, so rich in culture, various different landscapes and adventurous activities to do. If you bear with me a couple of days I will tell you all about it in a different post.
It’s the last Pueblo Magico in the Sierra Gorda and in the State of Queretero, close to the borders with San Luis Potosi and the Huasteca Potosina of which I have extensively written on this small guide.
San Miguel de Allende
One of the most visited and talked about Pueblos Magicos, home of many retired Americans and Canadians who decide to make Mexico their home, fancy restaurants and shops, art galleries and cultural events. And coffee shops, my obsession! It’s a real gem that you should visit for at least a couple of days. You can read more on this exhaustive article on Travel and Leisure Magazine
Please note that San Miguel de Allende is not in the state of Queretaro, but in Guanajuato. However, it is at 2 hours bus distance from the city and I thought I should include it.
MAP OF THE AREA
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