One Day Guanajuato Itinerary and Travel Guide: Things to Do in Guanajuato in a Day
Traveling to Central Mexico and looking for the best things to do in one day in Guanajuato? This Guanajuato itinerary shows you not only the best things to do in Guanajuato, but how to get there, where to stay and what to eat. You will love all these Guanajuato attractions and photo spots!
Guanajuato is a beautiful colonial city in Central Mexico. It is the capital and the largest city of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.
Known for its colorful streets, cobblestone alleys, well preserved colonial architecture and rich history, Guanajuato is the perfect city to travel to in Mexico. Despite its popularity among domestic Mexican tourists, it is not as well known to international travelers from the US.
To be honest I had never heard of Guanajuato before my trip! But having visited Guanajuato I regret not having found out about this city earlier. The city felt really safe and it is just so cute to walk around. I was also surprised at its liveliness and its party scene after the sun goes down (granted I got there on a Friday night).
In this post I will tell you everything I learned from traveling to Guanajuato to help you plan the perfect day trip to Guanajuato.
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What is Guanajuato City Known For
Guanajuato City is a historically significant city in Central Mexico. It was founded in the early 16th century by the Spanish and later became the leading silver mining city in Mexico. Due to its silver mines, Guanajuato was one of the richest cities in Mexico.
Despite the wealth generated from the silver mines, the lower classes were poor and oppressed. So naturally they protested and eventually revolted, and the fight for independence eventually reached Guanajuato City and eventually led to winning the War of Independence.
Nowadays, the historic town center and the nearby silver mines are UNESCO Heritage Sites and are super popular among tourists.
Another interesting thing about Guanajuato is that there is an extensive network of tunnels built under the historic center. The tunnels were originally built to prevent flooding but later on were used to manage traffic and even parking (if you go to Guanajuato you will see how it would be very hard to drive, let alone park, on those narrow streets above ground).
How to get to Guanajuato City
Is there an airport near Guanajuato City?
The closest airport to Guanajuato City is Guanajuato International Airport (BJX). There are direct flights from Mexico City, Cancun, Monterrey, Tijuana and a few other cities in Mexico.
There are also direct flights from Chicago, San Jose (California), Dallas and Houston in the United States. But as you can imagine, flights to Guanajuato Airport from the US would be more expensive than flying into Mexico City.
How to get to Guanajuato from Mexico City
If you are coming from Mexico City, you can take a 5 hour luxury bus ride from Mexico City North Bus Station (Autobuses del Norte) to Guanajuato. Then you need to take a taxi to the historic town center. This is what we exactly what we did.
You can buy tickets directly online from these two bus companies. We took ETN and it was really nice. It was super spacious (you can extend your legs and lean back), and it has a bathroom, personal screen (with movies in Spanish), wifi, AC, and USB charging station. Our bus costed 882 Mexico Pesos ($50 USD).
Once you get off the bus in Guanajuato you will have to take a taxi (they wait outside of the bus station) or Uber or Didi to the historic down. It’s another 20 minute drive to the historic town and costs about 120 Mexico Pesos ($7 USD).
How to get to Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato Tourist Map
To help you better orient around Guanajuato City, here is a map with the most famous attractions, photo spots and restaurants/ cafes.
I don’t know about you but I always love looking at a map to know where things are before I plan my itinerary. It helps me figure out how to group things together and what to see. My Guanajuato itinerary below is based on the proximity of each attraction (although the historic town center area is not big at all).
Purple Pins: Attractions suggested for one day Guanajuato itinerary
Green Pins: Other things you can do in Guanajuato
Orange Pins: Food and coffee shops
Best things to do in Guanajuato in One day
If you only have one day in Guanajuato, you will need to pick and choose what you want to do. Below are the things we did in Guanajuato. Keep in mind that I am very big on photos so we did spend more time walking around to take photos.
Take the Funicular to Monumento Al Pipila in the morning
Start your day bright and early and grab a cup of coffee from ClubCafe gto or Café Tal (depending on where you are staying) before you start exploring.
I would highly recommend taking the funicular to the popular observation point at Monumento Al Pipila first thing in the morning (the funicular opens at 8am on weekdays and 9-10am on the weekend). You can also walk up to the observation deck as well.
The ticket cost 35 pesos (~2 USD) and it takes you all the way up to the observation point for an amazing view of Guanajuato City. You can walk up instead of taking the funicular (or only take it one way and walk back down like what we did).
The funicular was put in service in 2001 and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Guanajuato. The observation deck does get really packed later in the day, so if you want a nice photo by yourself with the view you will have to go early in the morning like we did.
From the observation point you can also see the Al Pipila Monument. This 20 meter tall statue was built to commemorate Al Pipila because during the Independence War, he helped to burn down the door of the fortified building and helped to win the key battle in Guanajuato during the war.
Explore the colorful corners of Guanajuato
After seeing the view, walk down the stairs back to street level. As you walk down, you will see a ton of colorful houses, making some perfect photo opportunities.
Eventually make your way to Callejon del Potrero, one popular instagram photo spot in Guanajuato. The street is super colorful and it has a perfect side view of Tempo de San Francisco, the pink cathedral in the center of town.
Church and Museums in Guanajuato
If you want, go inside the San Francisco church to see its beautiful interior even if you are not Catholic.
If you are into art and history and are fascinated with the story of Don Quixote, then you cannot miss the Don Quixote Museum (Museo Iconográfico del Quijote), across the street from the San Francisco Church.
Inside the museum you will see statues, arts and murals describing the story of Don Quixote. Even if you don’t know Spanish you can enjoy the museum since they have both Spanish and English texts so you know what you are looking at.
Get a quick lunch
Grab lunch at El Chahuistle for some authentic Mexican breakfast/ lunch. The restaurant is really small with two levels but they also have a table and chairs outside. We opted to eat outside since it was really hot inside on the top level. Their dishes were really good and it comes with bread, fruit, coffee and juice!
Alternatively you can go down the street and have lunch at Santo Cafe, one of the most popular restaurants in Guanajuato. They have seating on the bridge, making it a super romantic place for food.
Admire the Architectures of Guanajuato
After lunch, stop walking down the main street of De Sopena and you will see some of the most well known buildings and squares in Guanajuato.
Your first stop will be Teatro Juárez, a performing art theater built in 1873. It is considered one of the prettiest buildings in Guanajuato and it is not hard to see why.
The architecture of the building is a blend of neoclassical, Baroque and Gothic style and the facade is adorned with intricate details, including carvings and sculptures. We didn’t go inside but apparently the interior is even more stunning!
Right across the street from Teatro Juárez is Jardín de la Unión (Union Garden), a public park and gathering place with benches.
The trees are groomed into archways, making it extra inviting to walk through the park. The park is surrounded by restaurants, shops and hotels. It is probably one of the most well known squares in Guanajuato.
As you continue to walk down another two small blocks, you will come to the most famous church in Guanajuato, Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato (Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato). This Baroque and neoclassical style church houses the Andalusian virgin who became the saint and queen of Guanajuato.
University of Guanajuato
A few minutes walk from the Basilica is the beautiful University of Guanajuato (and yes Guanajuato is a college town in case you didn’t know!). The university was founded in 1732 and it is one of the most prestigious universities in Guanajuato. Fun fact: the university is associated with the Museum of Mummies in Guanajuato.
You probably wouldn’t go inside the university to visit during your one day in Guanajuato, but it is worth stopping by to see its beautiful exterior. The stairs leading up to the university is actually a popular Instagram photo spot so be sure to grab a photo there.
Callejón del Beso (Kissing Alley)
The kissing alley is a narrow alley in the center of Guanajuato and it is one of the most visited spots in the city by couples.
Every culture has their own version of Romeo and Juliet and Guanajuato is no exception. The tragic story is about 2 lovers, Ana and Carlos. The story goes that Ana’s father wanted her to marry a rich man and disapproved of her relationship with a poor miner named Carlos.
When the father caught Ana and Carlos, he decided to lock her up in her room. Her room’s balcony happens to be super close to the other house’s balcony right across the alley. So Carlos bought the house so he and Ana could see each other and exchange kisses. Unfortunately the father found out and killed Ana out of rage.
Therefore most couples that go to the Kissing Alley go up to the balcony of Ana’s house. Since it is such a popular spot, there usually is a line and a man charging you to enter the building. We didn’t go inside the building (so we didn’t have to pay), we just simply took photos outside in the alley.
Go back on the main street of Av. Benito Juarez and walk towards Mercado Hidalgo, a two story public market in Guanajuato. Before you reach the market, you will come across Jardín Reforma, a public park that turns into a book market on certain dates.
Mercado Hidalgo is a large indoor market that was inaugurated in 1910. It is very historical and inside the market you will find vendors selling fresh produce, spices, local crafts, made to order juices, cooked food, leather goods, souvenirs and clothing items.
Even outside of the market you can find vendors selling clothes, bags, hats and other trinkets. One thing I did not realize is how popular straw hats and felt hats were in Central Mexico. We saw so many vendors selling them!
Plaza De San Roque
Hop across the street to Plaza De San Roque, a vibrant public square surrounded by tons of restaurants and shops. This is actually one of my favorite squares in Guanajuato because it is just so cute!
Besides admiring its cuteness and European feel, walk towards Tempo de San Roque, another Catholic church in town. However, your destination is not the church, but rather an Instagram famous pink and blue house full of flower pots on its stairs.
Walk around, take some photos and enjoy the colorful houses!
Do some shopping and stop by a cafe
At this point you might think all I am suggesting is taking photos, and I mean yeah, Guanajuato is super photogenic. But there are also so many cute shops, cafes and restaurants everywhere.
The historic town center area is not that big, and you can literally walk through every street in one day. As you walk around, be sure to stop by the shops and check out all the crafts they sell. We saw super cute shoes, hats, clothes, jewelry and other souvenirs in those shops. Besides, bargaining is never a bad thing since they sell similar things.
If you are tired or need a break from the heat, stop by La Vie en Rose, a super cute French cafe. The cafe is two stories and the stairs area really reminded me of this Instagram famous Italian restaurant in Paris called Pink Mamma.
We ordered a couple of beautiful cakes and coffee beverages and they were pretty good!
We had to catch a 6pm bus to San Miguel de Allende so we had to finish our day early around 5pm. But if you are spending overnight in Guanajuato you should certainly walk around more and grab a nice dinner and drink in this super vibrant and lively Mexican city.
If you have more time (or energy) in Guanajuato…
If you are spending more than a day or you want to do some other things in Guanajuato, then here are a few more things you can do!
Museum of the Mummies
One of the most popular museums in Guanajuato is the Museum of the Mummies (Museo de las Momias). The museum displays naturally mummified bodies discovered in the local cemetery.
The mummies here are not your Egyptian mummies. In fact the mummies in Guanajuato were naturally formed due to the climate in the region. Many of the bodies were buried during the Cholera pandemic and later removed from the cemetery when the families didn’t pay a “burial tax” to keep the bodies buried permanently.
Alhóndiga de Granaditas Regional Museum
If you are a history buff or simply interested to learn about the colonization of Mexico by the Europeans and the War of Independence against the Spanish, then you would love this museum.
Located in a large stone granary, this museum displays art, artifacts, murals, ceramics related to the Spanish colonization and the War of Independence. The location was chosen due to its historical significance during the war. The museum pays tribute to the key figures of the Mexican War of Independence.
The entire exhibit is in Spanish so be sure to have Google Translate with you.
Diego Rivera’s House Museum
Another famous museum in Guanajuato is the Diego Rivera’s House Museum. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of the renowned Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, providing visitors with insights into the artist’s early years, influences, and artistic development.
The house where the museum is located was the childhood home of Diego Rivera. When the museum was inaugurated, the house underwent restoration to recreate the atmosphere of the time when Rivera lived there.
Explore the Tunnels and Mines of Guanajuato with a tour
I mentioned earlier that Guanajuato was known for its silver mines and its networks of tunnels in the mountains underneath the city. Well how can you visit Guanajuato without exploring both of these unique things?
Other places to visit near Guanajuato include the Museo Ex Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, Casa de Tía Aura, hike the El Cerro de La Bufa, get street food from Jardín Embajadoras, and explore Mercado Embajadoras.
Where to Stay in Guanajuato
If you are spending the night in Guanajuato like we did, then I highly recommend that you stay in the historic center for easy access.
Best (and Worst) Time to Visit Guanajuato
Guanajuato is good to visit all year round, with temperatures ranging from 70s to 80s during the day and 40s to 50s at night or early morning. Guanajuato never gets very humid, so it is comfortable to walk regardless of when you visit.
April and May are the hottest months to visit Guanajuato as you can see in the weather chart above, and June to September have the highest rainfall during its rainy season. However this does not mean it rains everyday all the time, but you could get some thunderstorms in those months.
We visited in July and had perfect weather despite being in the rainy season.
As you can imagine, Guanajuato sees an influx of tourists, especially from the US in the month of December during the holiday season, since the weather is pleasant during that time.
Other Questions You May Have About Guanajuato
Is one day enough for Guanajuato?
One day in Guanajuato is perfect to explore the UNESCO historic town, visit a museum or two and shop in the market and on the streets.
If you want to do some hiking or visit more museums or parks, then I would suggest 2 to 3 days. You can take your time exploring, relax on rooftop restaurants and bars and enjoy the nightlife in Guanajuato (especially on Friday and Saturday evenings).
Is Guanajuato Safe?
I felt perfectly safe in Guanajuato despite arriving at 11pm at night. Mexico gets a bad rep when it comes to safety but I felt the historic town was super safe.
That being said, always watch your belongings and surroundings. I have heard stories of tourists getting robbed while walking down from the viewpoint but that never happened to us.
Do I need to know Spanish to Visit Guanajuato?
Most people do not speak English in Guanajuato since it is not as touristy with Americans as San Miguel de Allende. I do suggest studying some basic Spanish and have Google Translate on your phone.
Can you use credit cards in Guanajuato?
Is Guanajuato Worth Visiting?
Guanajuato is absolutely worth visiting as a day trip or for a longer period of time. It is beautiful, safe, and has amazing food and history.
While American tourists mostly flock to its neighbor San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato still feels more authentic. Things are cheaper than in SMA and people are super friendly. If you have the time, I would highly recommend visiting Guanajuato for 1 to 3 days to experience this amazing city.
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