In this Guanajuato travel guide, I talk about why I loved this city so much, highlight the top five things to do in Guanajuato City and reveal the best places to eat vegetarian food in Guanajuato.
Guanajuato is one of those places that all travellers fall in love with. A more glorious version of San Miguel with fewer gringos, Guanajuato is a UNESCO city with tree-lined plazas, typical colonial architecture and the best hot chocolate in Mexico. Guanajuato is often considered the most beautiful city in Mexico and it’s not hard to see why.
Guanajuato Travel Guide: Arriving in the city
We arrived in Guanajuato by bus and were dropped at the bus station out of town. We transferred to a local bus and ended up in an underground labyrinth of roads. The city has underground tunnels to channel through cars and buses. It’s totally safe to be travelling in this tunnels, but it’s dark, traffic can be bad and if you miss a stop you’ll be under there forever. We, of course, missed our stop because there’s no phone signal in the tunnels and it’s pretty hard to tell where to get off unless you’re a local.
Once we made it out of the tunnels and up into the pedestrianised city, we were enchanted. Surrounded by cobblestone streets, colourful colonial houses and mountains. We spiraled around the paths until we found our Airbnb, a rooftop room in a traditional Mexican colonial house. Shortly after Luke caught a fever (excuse him looking pale in the photos!) and spent the majority of our week in Guanajuato wrapped up like a sushi in the duvet.
Top 5 Things To Do in Guanajuato City
- Take the funicular (cable car) to the top of San Miguel hill to get the best view of Guanajuato City
- Drink a beso negro (black kiss) at Cafe Tal (it’s hot chocolate!)
- Watch the world go by in Jardin de la Union
- Explore the churches and theatres around the city
- Climb the steps of Universidad de Guanajuato to look out across the town
1. Get the best view of Guanajuato City
First up in our Guanajuato travel guide is where to find that stunning city view. Take the funicular (cable car) to the top of San Miguel hill. It’s the best view of Guanajuato City, and only 20 pesos one-way or 40 pesos return. The funicular station is behind Teatro Juarez and goes straight to the top. If you can time it to arrive just an hour before sunset, you’ll get the most glorious views as the sun comes down glazing the city in a golden glow.
2. Drink a beso negro (black kiss) at Cafe Tal
Getting a black kiss sounds a bit scary at first, but trust me when I say that this is the best hot chocolate in Mexico. Called a black kiss because of the density of chocolate (there’s no milk in there) and the smoothness of the drink. The taste of this pure Mexican chocolate hits your lips and tongue as soon as you tilt the cup. It only comes in a small, espresso-sized cup because it’s so rich. Cafe Tal gets busy with students studying on their laptops and locals grabbing freshly ground bags of coffee beans. The cafe is split across a side alley road, so look for a table on either side before ordering.
3. Watch the world go by in Jardin de la Union
Next up on this Guanajuato travel guide is the city’s most famous plaza. Jardin de la Union is a beautiful plaza in Guanajuato city. Locals and tourists both spend time here, sitting and watching the world go by. Cafes line the sides of the plaza and the Teatro Juarez sits at the other end. In the summer, various performances and smallscale music events take place to one side of the plaza.
4. Explore the churches, theatres and plazas
Guanajuato City is full of beautiful churches, theatres and other buildings. If you’re reading this Guanajuato travel guide, make sure to jot down the buildings you most want to see and plan a walking route to take them all in. We’d recommend passing by these ones:
- Teatro Juarez – The theatre located in the Jardin de la Union. The architecture here is all over the place – part Roman, part Greek and part Moorish. At the right time of day, you can buy a ticket to view the inside though it’s only a small place.
- Callejon del Beso (kissing alley) – This is a bit of a weird one and it’s hard to find! The kissing alley is home to an old love legend. There are two balconies separated by just 69cms centimeters where, it’s said, that two lovers who weren’t able to be together had their only kiss. Loads of couples pose for photos in this odd little spot.
- Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato – The stunning yellow church you see in all the photos of Guanajuato is the Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato.
- Palacio Legislativo – In the plaza near Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato, this is the old city hall.
- Universidad de Guanajuato – The city’s university with great stone steps in front.
5. Climb the steps of Universidad de Guanajuato
The final recommendation in my Guanajuato travel guide is climbing the stairs in front of the Universidad de Guanajuato. There aren’t too many steps so even those who aren’t great at walking can make this one. We grabbed a hot green tea from the cafe opposite, walked up the stairs and watched people go by. From here, you can see down to a couple of the streets below.
Best Places to Eat in Guanajuato City
Guanajuato City is a cool place to be vegetarian in Mexico. We had some of our best veggie meals out here, and prices are good too. The cuisine is rarely classic Mexican in Guanajuato, but it’s delicious. Read our Guanajuato travel guide’s top food recommendations:
Habibti – generous portions of falafel and flatbread
The go-to place for vegetarian and vegan travellers and locals alike. This place is well-known in the city for its generous portions of falafel, hummus and flatbread at bargain prices. Expect a hippy vibe and uncomfortable chairs, but big plates of crisp, golden falafel and lashings of hummus. A rare treat in Mexico!
Delica Mitsu – homemade Japanese deli
Homemade Japanese deli serving sushi, inari, and Japanese salads. The food here is always fresh and tasty. The menu changes daily, which means you can try something new any day that you come into the cafe. There are always lots of vegetarian and vegan options. It’s also a great place to work with good wifi and laptop-friendly tables. Food is well-priced.
La Santurrona Gastropub – good guacamole and beers
Our Friday night dinner choice. We played it safe with finding vegetarian options at this gastropub. Though priced slightly higher than the other places we ate, we were pleased with the selection of vegetarian sides which we built our own tapas meal from. These included guacamole, potato wedges, and a goat cheese salad.
Google Map: Del Potrero 2, Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Mexico
Where to Stay in Guanajuato City
If you want a local travel experience in Guanajuato, then we’d recommend booking a private Airbnb room at this blue Guanajuatense typical house we stayed in. We were hosted by Emilio, the loveliest local guy. The rooftop room has great views of Guanajuato and is somewhat separate so it feels as though you have your own private space whilst still getting all the benefits of living with a Guanajuato local. Breakfast was included every day. Get £30 off your first Airbnb with this link.
Have you been to Guanajuato city, or would you like to go? If you have, share your additions to this Guanajuato travel guide in the comments below.