30 Top Things To Do In Guanajuato – A Must-Visit In Central Mexico
Guanajuato is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico and one of our favorite places to visit. There are so many things to do in Guanajuato that we easily reached 30 in this travel guide without stretching it.
Guanajuato is packed with colorful colonial buildings and narrow alleyways that snake their way up the steep valley slopes. Due to its location in a narrow valley, there are also many great hikes nearby.
Guanajuato is well known by Mexican tourists but not so much by the international world. This means that you can have a Mexican experience without crowds of foreign tourists.
So whether you are an outdoorsy person or someone who is more interested in architecture and history there will be cool things to do in Guanajuato for you!
Brief History of Guanajuato
The area where Guanajuato is located was originally settled by the Spanish in the 1540s when they found deposits of gold here. Later silver was discovered and these discoveries bought thousands of migrants to the area.
Mining continued for many years and during the 18th century, Guanajuato extracted the most silver in the world. This made it the richest city in Mexico for a long time which resulted in the construction of many beautiful churches and buildings in the city.
Mining stopped for many years but was restarted in 1870 and more wealth flowed into the city. During this period the beautiful Teatro Juarez was built which is one of the most famous buildings in the city and seeing it is one of the top things to do in Guanajuato.
During the 1700s Guanajuato suffered many floods and two of them nearly wiped the city out. To help stop the flooding many tunnels were built under the city to divert the water.
But in the 1960s a dam was built and the tunnels were no longer needed for water so traffic was diverted down them. The tunnels are a very unique feature of Guanajuato and something you should definitely check out!
1. Walk the Colorful Streets
There are many Mexican towns full of colorful buildings but for me, there is something special about Guanajuato. Because the city is located in a steep valley there is a maze of alleyways snaking up the hills.
The narrow alleyways are a great place to get lost and there are murals, pretty houses, and squares hidden around every corner. But no matter where you are in the city center you will be surrounded by colors.
So go for a wander and enjoy all the pretty colorful alleyways!
City Walking Tour
If you would like to learn some history as you wander the city center you can book a private walking tour with Viator. The tour lasts 2 -3 hours and costs 55 USD per person. It is fairly expensive but is totally customizable the guide will take you where you want. So you can get an in-depth tour of the parts of the city that interest you.
2. Ride the Guanajuato Funicular for a Great View
Guanajuato is a beautiful city to view from above and the best spot to see it is in front of Monumento Al Pipilia. To get there you can take a ride in the funicular which is 60 pesos (3 USD) for a return ticket. It is a short ride up but you get a really cool view over the city.
You can also walk up if you feel like a bit of exercise. It is a short but steep way and there is some nice street art you can look at. To walk up look for Camino A Pie Para Visitar El Pipila on google maps and follow the signs “El Pipilia” to the top.
At the top, you will see the Monument Al Pipilia overlooking the city. The monument is a statue of a local miner Juan José de los Reyes Martínez Amaro known as El Pipilia who is a hero of Guanajuato.
During the Mexican War of Independence troops loyal to Spain had barricaded themselves inside a building in Guanajuato. The local militia who were trying to defeat the Spanish could not get to the building because of gunfire.
So El Pipilia strapped a rock to his back and crawled to the doors of the building and set it on fire. This allowed the militia inside to defeat the Spanish and El Pipilia became a hero.
Next to the statue, there will also be vendors around selling food and snacks if you are hungry at the top.
3. Visit Jardin de la Union (One of the Best Things to do in Guanajuato at Night)
Jardina de la Union is the beautiful central square of Guanajuato which is great to visit at any time of day. There are beautifully manicured trees lining the center of the square. But visiting here is one of the fun things to do in Guanajuato at night.
At night time there will be a number of musicians walking around the square playing music. One night we went and an orchestra was putting on a free concert in the gazebo.
But it is also a great place to people-watch and see all the families and tourists enjoying the square. There are also a number of fancy-looking restaurants lining the square. So you can also have a meal while you enjoy the atmosphere of the square.
4. Look at the Greek-inspired Teatro Juarez
Teatro Juarez is arguably the most beautiful building in the city. It is also located right next to the Jardin de la Union so you cannot miss it while walking along Gunajuato’s central walking street.
It was built around 1870 from money bought into town when mining was restarted. The Greek columns with statues on top will have you questioning whether you are in Mexico as it feels very European.
The interior of the theater is also beautiful and worth a visit. A visit will cost 30 pesos (1.5 USD) but when we were in Guanajuato the theater was closed for visits so hopefully, it opens up soon.
5. See the Mummy Museum (One of the most Unusual Things to do in Guanajuato)
The Guanajuato Mummy Museum is definitely an unusual thing to do in Guanajuato. But what is surprising is that the Mummy Museum is actually the most popular tourist attraction in Guanajuato.
The mummies exist because of the climate of Guanajuato which caused people’s bodies to become mummified after they are buried. In the 1800s if your family failed to pay a cemetery tax after you were buried your body was exhumed. That’s when it got discovered they had been mummified.
Over the years word got out about the mummies and people would pay graveyard workers to view them. For many years an unofficial museum was running. But eventually, an official museum was created and it still exists to this day.
6. Walk Up the University Stairs for a Great View
One thing you will notice about Guanajuato is that it is quite a youthful city especially compared to nearby San Miguel de Allende. A large reason for this is Guanajuato University.
More than 30,000 students attend Guanajuato University so there are a lot of cool bars and cafes in the city. But for tourists, the best part of this is the beautiful University building.
It is a very impressive building and a great thing to do in Guanajuato. When you visit I recommend walking up to the top of the stairs for a great view of the city.
7. Hike La Bufa
Guanajuato sits in a steep valley surrounded by mountains but the most prominent peak is the rocky La Bufa. Hiking up to the top is a spectacular day hike that is easily accessible from downtown Guanajuato.
There are spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and you will really feel like you are out in nature. Hiking up to La Bufa is one of our favorite things to do in Guanajuato. We have gone up both times we have visited Guanajuato and both times we have had the whole summit totally to ourselves.
8. Explore the Tunnels (Another Unusual Thing to do in Guanajuato)
One of the truly unusual things about Guanajuato is the system of tunnels winding under the city. The tunnels were originally created to divert floodwaters away from the city center.
In the 1960s a dam was built and the tunnels were no longer needed for floodwaters so they were turned into roads for cars. Most of the tunnels are primarily used for cars today but there are also footpaths that some locals use to walk along.
So you can take a walk through them if you want. But to warn you, the air inside is pretty terrible as it is full of exhaust fumes. So the best and most convenient way to see them is to jump in a taxi and ask the driver to go through them.
9. Check out Mercado Hidalgo + Eat a Guacamaya
Mercado Hildago is the largest market in Guanajuato and a great place to visit. The building is an interesting shape as it was originally intended to be a train station. But the train station was never finished so the building is now used for a market.
The market has a wide range of things to purchase such as fresh fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, spices, and more. There is also a wide range of vendors selling smoothies, tacos, sandwiches, and other foods.
If you are looking to try some food that is special to Guanajuato you can try a Guacamaya. The Guacamaya is a sandwich filled with pork rinds, avocado, tomato, cilantro, and salsa. It is a heavy sandwich and definitely not very healthy but it tastes good!
10. Visit the Don Quixote Museum for Free
Checking out museums is a great thing to do in Guanajuato and the Don Quixote Museum is a quirky one full of great art. The whole museum is dedicated to the art of the book character Don Quixote.
The museum was created by Eulalio Ferrer who was forced to leave Spain because of the Civil War. While in France as a refugee he received a copy of the book Don Quixote and it had a huge impact on his life.
Throughout his life, Eulalio collected Don Quixote’s artwork and opened the museum in 1987. Entrance to the museum is only 30 pesos (1.5 USD) and on Tuesdays it is free.
11. Have a Drink at Plaza de San Fernando (A Top Thing to do in Guanajuato at Night)
Plaza de San Fernando is a colorful square in Guanajuato that has many restaurants and cafes. We loved to go there during the day to enjoy its local peaceful vibe and in the evenings for a drink.
In the evening the square turns into a lively place as many bars set out more tables and chairs for serving drinks. So make sure to come through at night time once too.
12. Eat on a Bridge at Santo Cafe
In my opinion, the best location where you can have a meal in Guanajuato is on the bridge at Santo Cafe. The bridge goes over a colorful walking street in Guanajuato and it’s fun to people-watch and hear musicians playing.
You may have to wait to get a seat on the bridge as there are only two tables set up. But it’s worth the wait and you get served affordable tasty food in big portions.
We ordered Vegan Pasta for 85 pesos (4 USD) and Chicken Enchiladas for 110 pesos (5.50 USD) and both plates were huge. It was actually one of the cheapest meals we had in Guanajuato and tasted good too.
13. Walk the Colorful Streets behind Santo Cafe
After you have a meal at Santo Cafe you can go for a walk around the pretty streets next to it. I have already mentioned walking the colorful streets is one of the best things to do in Guanajuato.
But the street as you go up the hill across from the bridge is in my opinion one of the prettiest in Guanajuato and a great place to take some photos!
13. Kiss at Callejon de Beso (A Touristy Thing to do in Guanajuato)
The Callejon de Beso (The Alley of The Kiss) is one of the most touristy things to do in Guanajuato. The reason it is so popular is that it is the location of a tragic love story.
Many years ago there was a girl from a rich family who fell in love with a poor miner. As neither of their families would approve of the relationship they would sneak out at night to meet up.
Eventually, the young miner decided to rent a room across the alleyway from the girl’s house. Then at night they could sneak out onto the balcony and kiss across the narrow alleyway.
Unfortunately, the girl’s father found out and waited for them one night. When they came out to meet, the father stormed onto the boy’s balcony and threw him off killing him instantly.
Today couples visit Callejon de Beso to kiss as it is said it brings luck. For 50 pesos (2.5 USD) you can go up to the balconies or snap a photo for free underneath. commend visiting early in the morning as it gets busy quickly and you will have to stand in line to see it.
14. Have a Drink at the Beer Company with a View
The beer company is a bar in Guanajuato that specializes in craft beers. The beers are quite pricey (100 pesos / 5 USD) but they have an amazing selection of craft beers from all over Mexico and the staff are friendly and speak good English.
But the best part for us was the rooftop area which is really well set up and has great views of the surrounding area. It’s one of the most unusual things to do in Guanajuato as we have not seen this place on any other travel blog yet despite its central location.
15. Enjoy Mexican Vegan Food at Guanajuatito
Guanajuato does not have many vegan restaurants but a good one to visit is Guanajuatito. They do vegan versions of typical Mexican dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, and pozole.
The Menu del Dia (Menu of the Day) is the best option to go for as you will get a starter, a main course, a drink, and a small dessert for 120 pesos (6 USD).
16. Hike Cerro de la Sirena
Cerro de la Sirena is a less well-known hike in Guanajuato but gives you awesome views of Guanajuato. The path is not as well marked as La Bufa and far fewer people come up this way so it is a great thing to do in Guanajuato if you feel adventurous.
To get to the starting point you need to go to the end of a road called Cam. A La Aparecidia and make your way uphill. You will be able to find the way by following the arrows spray-painted onto the rocks.
It is a steep path but also good exercise outdoors and you will be rewarded with a great view from the top. Once you reach the summit you can go back down the way you came or follow the arrows down the other side of the mountain.
17. Have a Gordita (One of the Best Things to do in Guanajuato for Foodies)
Our favorite street food in Guanajuato are Gorditas. They consist of pieces of corn dough that have been split in half and the center is filled with a filling of your choice such as egg, beef, chicken, potatoes, veggies, mushrooms, chickpeas, and more.
What we particularly like about Gorditas in Guanajuato is that are not fried in oil. This means they are relatively healthy and not too soggy which can often happen with Mexican food.
Our favorite Gordita stand in Guanajuato is Las Gueras where you can get freshly made Gorditas in front of your eyes for 18 pesos (1 USD) per piece. There is usually a line but the ladies make the gorditas fast and the line moves fast.
18. Eat at Tazón de Barro, Comida Medicinal
Tazon de Barro is a small unique vegan restaurant that we loved. Every day there is a set menu with an entree, main, and drink that is prepared by the super friendly chef and owner Lucy for 150 pesos (7.5 USD).
The cool thing about Tazon de Barro is that it feels like you are eating in someone’s home rather than a restaurant. You will sit at the bar looking right into Lucy’s kitchen while she prepares the food for you.
All the food was super healthy, tasty, and interesting so we highly recommend it if you are looking for a healthy option and unique food.
19. Fuel up with Coffee at Cafe Tal or Vivo Cafe
In my opinion, Mexico is surprisingly not an easy country to find good coffee. But in Guanajuato, coffee lovers are in luck as there are two great cafes with very good coffee.
Cafe Tal has multiple locations spread around the city and we had a great Americano there. The interiors are very minimalistic but create a typical coffee house vibe from the old days. They also have cute domestic cats roaming around you can pet.
Vivo Cafe is modern and full of great art showing the streets of Guanajuato. Both, the Americano and Matcha Latte were excellent. Also, check out their menu full of interesting-looking brewing options and coffee makers.
Both cafes have good free wifi and are great for working. So they make good spots for digital nomads too.
20. Visit the Regional Museum (A Top Thing to do in Guanajuato for Art Lovers)
The Regional Museum of Guanajuato is an art and history museum you can enter for 65 pesos (3 USD). It is housed in a building that was used as a fortress in the Mexican War of Independence.
It is quite a large museum with exhibitions showing different artifacts from the history of Mexico. But one of my favorite parts is the large murals in the staircases that also depict the history of the region.
21. Stroll through Colorful Squares for Local Life and Photos
Plazuela de Mexiamora is a pretty square in Guanajuato that is hidden away from most tourists and worth a visit. The square is up the hill a bit and there are no shops so you will likely just see a couple of locals relaxing on the benches.
Plaza de San Roque is another peaceful little square with an interesting-looking pink stone church and a gem for Instagrammers. There is not a lot going on here but as always there are some pretty colorful houses to check out and take some photos with.
22. Drink Pulque on a Rooftop
Guanajuato is a student city and this means you will find a lot of cool bars, nightlife, and cheap drinks. If you like Pulque or have never tried it before head to La Casa de Los Espiritus as they have a great view on their top floor and cool paintings inside.
Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the Maguey plant and traditionally made in Central Mexico. It comes in many flavors such as natural, strawberry, guava, and mango. If you like Kombucha, try Pulque!
Trying a traditional local drink with an amazing view over the city center makes this activity easily one of the best things to do in Guanajuato at night.
23. Check out Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato
The Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato is a small museum that features modern and historical art. We saw really cool different art in there and staff members tell you interesting facts for free.
The museum is inside a beautiful old house and right next to the University of Guanajuato. It is only 30 pesos (1.5 USD) to enter so it is well worth stopping for a quick walk around.
24. Live like a Local (Best Thing to do in Guanajuato for Petlovers)
On our second stay in Guanajuato, we looked after a cute dog for two weeks in exchange for a free place to stay while the owners were on holiday. We stayed right in Guanajuato’s city center and absolutely loved our experience.
If you are a pet lover then I can highly recommend signing up with Trusted House Sitters. It really makes you feel as if you are living like a local and will enrich your stay if you love pets, travel on a budget, or are looking for a unique experience.
25. Look inside Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
The Basilica Colegiata de Nuestra Senora is the main church in Guanajuato and one you will pass multiple times while in downtown. The bright yellow church can be seen from any viewpoint in the city and is one of the most easily recognizable buildings.
The church was built between 1671 and 1696 so has been in the center for hundreds of years. From the outside, it is not the most impressive church but I would recommend having a look inside as the interior is beautifully decorated.
26. Snap a Photo with the Guanajuato Mural
The first time we visited Guanajuato there used to be a big letter G in front of the Basilica to take a photo with. But on our second visit we noticed it was gone. Instead, you can snap a photo in front of the Guanajuato Mural next to the Mummy Museum.
Not many people seem to know this spot as it is quite hidden. It is painted on the side of a bathroom next to the entrance of the museum. So make sure to look out for it and take a photo with the Guanajuato Mural.
27. Join the Callejoneadas (Another Unusual Thing to do in Guanajuato)
The Callejoneadas is a musical tour that will take you through the main alleyways of Guanajuato. The tour guides will sing, and tell stories and folklore of the city. If you walk through Guanajuato in the evening you will see multiple tours happening.
The costumes the tour guides wear were the uniforms of Spanish students from the 14th and 15th centuries. In Spain, it was a tradition for students to play music and interpret songs to make some money.
Since Guanajuato is a student city too, the same activity found its way to Mexico and takes place in Guanajuato since 1881. Seeing and listening to the Callejoneadas is for sure one of the most unusual things to do in Guanajuato at night.
Book here: To join a tour you can buy a ticket for 200 pesos (10 USD) at the main square or on Viator online here.
28. Walk a Street that used to be a River
As you walk through Guanajuato you may see a wide street that winds through the city and has steep walls of surrounding buildings on both sides. The reason that no buildings open onto this street is that it used to be a river before it dried up because dams were built.
So now when you walk down this street it feels like you are walking between the walls of a castle. Not many tourists come down here but I think it is a really cool unusual thing to do in Guanajuato and a good break from all the busy narrow alleyways.
29. Explore San Miguel de Allende on a Day Trip from Guanajuato
San Miguel de Allende is another super pretty city in the state of Guanajuato and only a 1.5-hour drive away from Guanajuato. Although it is located very close by there is a very different atmosphere in San Miguel.
San Miguel is very popular with Americans to retire and there are a lot of wealthy people there. So prices are higher for food and accommodation but it also means there are a lot of great places to eat and stay at.
A travel magazine even voted San Miguel de Allende as the prettiest city in Mexico and beyond and it makes one of the best day trips from Guanajuato if you are short on time. Otherwise, I definitely recommend staying there for a few nights.
30. Go on a Day Trip from Guanajuato to Querétaro
Querétaro is another beautiful city located just under 2 hours from Guanajuato in the state of Querétaro. You will not find anywhere near as many tourists in Querétaro but it is getting more and more popular with expats.
Querétaro has to be one of the cleanest large cities we have seen in Mexico and has lots to offer. It has a huge historical center with many beautiful old buildings, free museums, lively squares, good food, and even a city pyramid!
Since there are so many great things to do in Querétaro I recommend staying a few nights, otherwise, it makes a great day trip from Guanajuato.
How to get around Guanajuato City
As in most Mexican cities, the best way to get around Guanajuato is by foot, by taxi / Uber, or by bus.
Walk through Guanajuato
The best way to explore Guanajuato is by walking as the city center is relatively small and has quite a few pedestrian-only streets. That way you also won’t get stuck in traffic and can explore the hidden corners of Guanajuato’s narrow side streets.
Take a Taxi / Uber / Didi
Depending on where in the city you want to go taxis are very affordable (50-100 pesos / 2.5-5 USD) and a great way to get around. Sometimes there were not many Ubers or DiDis available so catching a normal taxi is a fast alternative.
Ask your driver to go through one of the tunnels as they are one of the unusual things to do in Guanajuato.
Take the Local Bus
The buses in Guanajuato are cheap with only 10 pesos (0.5 USD) per ride. They can be a really cheap option to get from the main bus station into the city center or to get a ride to the Mummy Museum. But they can also get extremely crowded.
Look for the destination you want to go to on the windshield of the buses as they will be written on it there. Locals are also very helpful if you ask for the way but for this, you will need a bit of Spanish.
Now you know All the Best Things to do in Guanajuato
Guanajuato is a beautiful and affordable city in Central Mexico with lots of young people and many cool things to do. It is one of our favorite cities in Mexico and I am sure you will like it too!
Which of the top things to do in Guanajuato on this list are your favorites or are you excited to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
- Guanajuato Mummies: All you need to know before visiting
- La Bufa Guanajuato – An Awesome Day Hike with a View
- 20 Awesome Things to Do in Querétaro
- 29 Unusual Things to Do in San Miguel de Allende
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