6 Fun Things To Do in Guanajuato City, Mexico For First-Timers
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Be careful when visiting Guanajuato because you will never want to go home. On our recent trip to Mexico, Kev and I were completely fascinated by the picturesque city of Guanajuato. Its colorful houses, Spanish colonial architecture, rich history and lively energy make it a magical destination we couldn’t get enough of. There are plenty of things to do in Guanajuato. But if you’re looking for fun and memorable ways to explore this UNESCO World Heritage City, make sure you check out these 6 activities.
1 | Hike Up To The Statue of El Pipila
A visit to the statue of El Pipila (monumento al Pipila) is a must when touring Guanajuato. Standing tall on San Miguel hill, the statue pays tribute to a hero of the Mexican War of Independence. At the front terrace, you’ll find a stunning panoramic view, overlooking the entire Guanajuato City, its brightly painted buildings, and the surrounding lush mountains!
To get there, follow the narrow alleyways leading up the hill. It will take approximately 15 mins to reach the top. On your way, you’ll be treated to vibrant street arts. Alternatively, take the funicular ($25 pesos each way). The entrance is located behind Teatro Juarez.
2 | Wander Down The Cobblestone Streets
The best way to get to know Guanajuato is to explore on foot. Through the majestic colonial buildings, quaint squares, and impressive churches, you will get a glimpse of the local culture and history. Many attractions are within walking distance of each other so you can see them all without venturing too far.
The must-see landmarks in downtown Guanajuato include:
- Juarez Theatre (Teatro Juarez): Only open when no performances are scheduled. The design is impressive both inside and out.
- Union Garden (Jardin de la Union): The social hub of the city, surrounded by restaurants, bars, and cafes. At night, enjoy live music performed by mariachi bands!
- Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato (Basilica Colegiata de Nuestra Senora de Guanajuato): Was the city’s first parish church. Can be easily recognized by its bright yellow and red colours.
- Plaza of Peace (Plaza de la Paz): In front of the basilica. This is where Guanajuato state was declared free from colonial rule. The monument in the center was erected to remember the centenary of the end of the Mexican War of Independence.
- University of Guanajuato (Universidad de Guanajuato): Famous for its outdoor staircase. Established in 1732, it is one of the oldest universities in Latin America. The world-famous International Cervantes Festival was inspired by the shows performed by the university students.
- Diego Rivera Museum and Home (Museo Casa Diego Rivera): The house where Mexico’s famous mural artist, Diego Rivera, was born. Displays over 175 pieces of his original works.
- Iconographic Museum of Don Quixote (Museo Iconografico del Quijote): Houses an art collection inspired by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s famous literary figure, Don Quixote.
It is safe to walk around alone in Guanajuato. So, not to worry!
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3 | Explore Guanajuato’s Underground Tunnels
Guanajuato is known for its extensive network of tunnels, which was originally built to prevent the Guanajuato River (Rio Guanajuato) from flooding the city.
After a dam was constructed, the tunnels have been converted to roadways to help regulate the traffic. Today, not only vehicles can travel through these tunnels, pedestrians are also allowed to walk inside!
4 | Whiz Through Guanajuato On An ATV
Want to try something more adventurous? Hop on an ATV and ride across the picturesque mountains of Guanajuato!
On an ATV, you can go off the beaten track to explore the hidden beauty of Guanajuato. I recommend going with Turismo Alternativo en Guanajuato, which offers various route options. You can take a leisurely tour through the historic city, or tackle the rugged mountain terrain and visit old mining towns. No matter which tour you choose, you’ll have the most exhilarating experience of your life!
5 | Visit Hidalgo Market
To eat like a true local, go to Hidalgo Market (Mercado Hidalgo)! This 2-story indoor market is a wonderful place to try authentic Mexican food. You can also find plenty of vendors selling Guanajuato candies, fresh produce, handmade crafts, and souvenirs!
6 | Participate In Mezcal & Chocolate Tasting
If you’re a chocoholic, then you must check out Xocola-T! This local chocolatier is known for is high-quality, handmade chocolates. They have a large mouthwatering selection of flavours to choose from, from pure cocoa to adventurous fillings such as honey ants (chicatana), caterpillars (gusanos) and pork skin (chicharron)!
To spice up your chocolate game, organize a mezcal pairing with Xocola-T. The chocolate and mezcal combo is a match made in heaven and will blow your mind!
Map of Guanajuato Attractions
The above activities give you a snapshot of how fun Guanajuato can be. Kev and I had such an amazing time and couldn’t wait to go back and explore more!
Tell me: Have you been to Guanajuato before? Which activity would you like to try the most?
I’ve been wanting to visit Guanajuato City ever since a friend of mine studied abroad there in college!! It seems so quaint! I would be all about that chocolate and mezcal tasting! So yummy! The ATV tour sounds like a blast as well!
We went here a few years back when I was down there to shoot a wedding at an ex-hacienda in the mountains. What a magical place. I love that you guys visited and shared your experience. Did you get to eat any street corn on the cob when you were there? We stayed in this little art-filled inn/hostel run by a pair of Dutch folks that was right in the centre. Time spent wandering the cobblestone streets, soaking in a pool at our friend’s Air BnB at the top of the funicular, and having drinks in the many street-side bars were the highlights for us.
I absolutely love locations with cobblestone streets. There is something about it that brings me joy (although it’s not so kind to my feet:)). I would love to see the outdoor staircase at the University of Guanajuato. Being one of the oldest universities, it sounds like it is filled with a ton of interesting history.
Mexico isn’t typically anywhere on my list of places to visit, yet Guanajuato has all the elements that make up a trip I would take. Thanks for sharing this new spot that I will now have to visit!
Wow, I love the idea of converting old water channels to roads. It must be so much fun to walk through them. Apart from that, I would like to explore those colorful streets – am sure there are some lovely markets there to explore.
WOW, this looks super pretty!! Definitely adding it to my list. 🙂 Awesome guide too!
You had me at Mezcal and chocolate. 😉
I absolutely love Guanajuato already by your post. It truly is incredible, the tunnels, the street art, the colorful building from colonial era, can’t wait to get there. I knew Mexico is gorgeous but it’s far more beautiful than my expectations. Will keep your tips handy!!
I agree that Guanajuato does also remind me of Spain, however that chocolate does sound amazing to try not so sure about the caterpillars in it mind but always try something once.
I love Guanajuato so was excited to read this post! My favorite thing to do was visit the El Pipila statue and get that amazing view. We did it twice! But I didn’t try the chocolate and mezcal tasting. Will have to do that next time!
There are so many fascinating ways to explore Guanajuato. I love walking through cobblestone streets and steep stair cases but what looks really unique are the underground tunnels. It seems a really unusual way to explore the city.
Guanajuato is so colourful and beautifully historic. I love the Hidalgo market and would do the mexcal and chocolate tasting, yum! Riding around on an atv sounds fun, where do I sign up!
Guanajuato looks beautiful. I would love to stand on San Miguel Hill and on the Plaza de la Paz in downtown Guanajuato. Thanks for all the insider tips.
I love the different ways in which you suggest to explore this city and I really love how colorful everything is there. I would love to go on that ATV tour. Looked like so much fun and such a unique way to explore. And I also agree that walking is one of the best ways, especially to explore all those cobbled streets. Thanks for all the great tips hope to visit one day.
When I visited Guanajuato I got completely lost in the tunnels on the way in. I ended up leaving the car and walking to the hotel, from there a concierge from the hotel came and drove my car to the hotel! I never realized the historic center was a UNESCO site. You photographed the city beautifully!
This city looks so vivid and bright! The underground tunnel system looks amazing. I would definitely want to explore that.
Guanajuato is quite an exciting destination. There is so much to see/do/eat here. Hiking to the statue of El Pipila appeals to me the most. It’s encouraging to know that it just takes 15 minutes to reach here.
I keep on hearing so many great things from fellow travellers about Guanajuato City. I need to check it out. I love how colourful the streets are, the museums, and of course the central market. I would be fine eating some tacos and cruising the streets of Guanajuato City.
Great read! I love how colourful everything is and the street art is fab. Onto the bucket list this goes….
Mexico is on my list for many reasons and now; Guanajuato! Your pictures make me want to go sooner if I could! The streets, tunnels and museums are what I would usually look for, plus a ride on an ATV would be make for a dope adventure!
I would love to just wander aimlessly through the cobblestone streets and gaze out at the colorful buildings. I’d also love to check out that market. My favorite way to get to know a new location is to check out the market, see what the local specialties are, and try everything I can.
You’re right – this place would be hard to leave!
I went to Mexico a few years ago but I never made it to Guanajuato City, I wish I had though because wow this place looks so colourful and beautiful. I love how all the buildings are different colours, it would have been amazing wandering around these streets. My husband is a chocoholic, so he definitely would be keen to check out Xocola-T!
Never knew there were sites like that in Mexico! It’s awesome how you and your husband get to travel together!! I would totally indulge in the chocolate tasting!!
Guanajuato is so colourful! I think my favourite would be the Hidalgo market… we can probably spend the entire day there eating and browsing!
Oh wow, Guanajuato is so picturesque!! I can understand why you didn’t want to go home! Love the colorful houses and Spanish colonial architecture – I’m collecting UNESCO World Heritage sites instead of having a bucketlist, so would love to make it to the city. Would love to explore on foot, I find you discover the most intriguing hidden gems that way – and whizzing around on an ATV sounds great! The countryside looks so beautiful – what a great place!
You have made quite a good list on there! I love that there is a mix of adventure-filled activity and some cultural explorations. I would love to explore the Hidalgo Market and the streets. It seems like there are so many to photograph! Also, the underground tunnels sound so interesting!
So cool that there’s a Don Quijote museum there, and I’d love to try the chocolate tasting! I’m obsessed with the colors of these streets and walls, definitely adding Guanajuato to to my list!
Wow! Guanajuato seems so picturesque and worth visiting, Cat! How long would you recommend staying there to see all the highlights?
Ohh the underground tunnels are really intriguing to me! This place looks so colorful as well and I’m down for the tastings haha
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Great post! I’m in Mexico right now on a project and, as always, I love this place! I never tire of Mexico so I’m definitely going to keep your tips in mind for next time!