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The Perfect Long Weekend in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Just a three-to-four-hour drive from the bustling metropolis of Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is one of Mexico’s most charming and approachable historic towns. Offering sunny weather year-round (in January and February, temperatures average between 65ºF and 75ºF) and romantic cobblestoned streets ideal for wandering, San Miguel is a perfect destination to add on to an urban itinerary—or it can stand alone as a relaxing long weekend getaway. Filled with UNESCO-protected heritage, colorful colonial architecture and a host of über-chic hotels, artisan boutiques, rooftop bars and galleries, it’s no surprise that San Miguel de Allende has become a top destination for creatives, couples and expatriates. This is Indagare’s curated guide to help you start planning your own San Miguel escape. 

Learn more about our upcoming design- and style-focused Insider Journey to Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende in partnership with Architectural Digest—or contact our experts to plan your own private getaway.

Getting There

San Miguel can be easily accessed from three international airports. Direct flights from New York take five to six hours, while direct flights from Los Angeles take three to four hours. Travelers can fly into Mexico City’s Benito Juárez, where they can choose to first spend some time in the capital or else transfer directly to San Miguel, which is a three-to-four-hour drive away (depending on traffic). Alternatively, fly into the Querétaro Intercontinental Airport or the Leon/Guanajuato Del Bajío International Airport; both are an approximately 90- to 120-minute drive from the center of San Miguel. The city itself is concentrated and can be easily navigated on foot or with a quick taxi or Uber ride.

Where to Stay

San Miguel de Allende offers a treasure trove of design-minded boutique hotels with cute rooftop bars, plunge pools and courtyard restaurants, at reasonable price points. However, the following are Indagare’s top four choices for where to stay in the city. All are conveniently located in the historic center of town (and are within a 10-minute walk of each other), but each offers its own unique atmosphere and amenities, suited to different types of travelers. 

  • For Families and Scene-Seekers: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, the city’s unmatched hotspot and the most luxurious hotel around, the Rosewood features sprawling grounds, 67 fantastic rooms and suites and buzzy, resort-like public spaces, including the best rooftop bar in San Miguel—Luna—three pools, a well-equipped spa, a contemporary art gallery, a tequila bar with over 120 varieties and the sultry main Mexican restaurant, 1826
  • For Romantics and Intellectuals: Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, concealed within an updated complex of 17th- and 18th-century colonial mansions, combines the intimacy of a boutique hotel with the quality and service of a Belmond, creating a warm, peaceful oasis that feels authentically of San Miguel. The hacienda-style layout offers verdant courtyard hideaways, cozy terraces decorated with thoughtful local antiques and several excellent dining options.
  • For Style Mavens: L’ôtel at Dôce 18, located on the top level of the uber-cool Dôce 18 Concept House, is one of the chicest addresses in San Miguel de Allende, with just 10 rooms and suites, an Instagram-friendly checkered-tile rooftop lounge and pool, a Champagne bar, a photo gallery and a bohemian boutique.
  • For Design Lovers: Hotel Matilda‘s fantastic art collection, world-class bar (Müi) and restaurant (MOXI) and stylish crowd makes it one of San Miguel’s top modern boutique hotels, with 32 elegant rooms spread throughout three unique buildings, plus an award-winning subterranean spa.

Indagare Tip: Don’t wait to book. San Miguel is an incredibly popular locale for destination weddings, and the top hotels—especially the Rosewood and the Belmond—get snapped up by parties in peak seasons.

Day-by-Day: The Long Weekend Itinerary

Day 1: Historic Center, Picturesque Neighborhoods and Rooftop Hotspots

Get a sense of your surroundings by taking some time to stroll through San Miguel’s beautiful historic center, with an expert guide or on your own. San Miguel was an important city during the period of Spanish colonization, as it was discovered to be a center for silver mining, and its unique 16th- to 19th-century architecture has been well preserved, as part of the city is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lose yourself in the winding cobblestoned streets as you stop to poke your head into frescoed chapels, artisanal workshops and colonial mansions painted in bright citrus hues, ranging from blood-orange to golden-yellow. Don’t miss the Parroquía de San Miguél Arcángel, a peach-pink Neo-gothic church and the emblem of the city. It is perhaps most beautiful at night, when it is lit up and is visible from many of the best rooftop cocktail bars.

In the afternoon, stop for a casual lunch and sample classic Mexican dishes like tacos al pastor and mole at La Posadita, a lovely rooftop restaurant with great views over the historic center. Alternatively, head to Don Taco Tequila for gourmet, vegan-friendly tacos (the mushroom tacos are a must-try!). From here, go exploring in search of San Miguel’s best boutiques, which are known for their silver jewelry, leather goods, painted-wood carvings, talavera tiles and ceramics, embroidered textiles, contemporary fashion and art and more. Half of the fun is stumbling upon a new hidden-gem, but a few top-notch collections include Sollano 16, Mixta and Código Postal Design.

In the evening, head to the Rosewood in time to catch the sun set over the Parroquía from its buzzy Luna rooftop—undoubtedly the best in San Miguel—with a fresh paloma or michelada in hand. You can stay here and enjoy the restaurant’s tasty tapas plates for dinner or else head downstairs to the more formal restaurant when night falls.

Related: Mexico City in Four Days

Day 2: Markets, Mezcal and Modern Art

One of the best ways to take in the beauty of San Miguel city and its surrounding topography of mountains, agave fields and canyons is with a hot air balloon at sunrise. When you return to the earth, grab a hearty breakfast typical of the region—huevos rancheros, fresh fruit juices and coffee—before heading out to hit San Miguel’s best traditional markets: Mercado San Juan de Dios, an outdoor and covered market with lush displays of fresh produce and stalls serving local delicacies, and the Mercado de Artesanías, a labyrinth of handicrafts, ceramics and textiles ideal for souvenirs. For lunch, stop for a quick meal at the Mercado del Carmen market or explore the small food hall at the Dôce 18 Concept House

In the afternoon, venture out of the historic center of San Miguel (a 10-minute taxi ride or a 20-minute walk) to Fábrica la Aurora, an early 20th-century textile factory that was converted into a stylish complex for modern and contemporary art galleries, interior design stores, bookshops, cafés, clothing boutiques and more. When you’ve had your fill of shopping, make your way back to your hotel on foot, stopping to admire the area’s unique graffiti and lovely parks.

In the evening, head to one of the city’s coolest cocktail bars, La Mezcalería, to try classic and inventive version of Mexico’s national spirit. Afterwards, enjoy an upscale dinner at a foodie hotspot like Bovine, a carnivore-pleaser from Paul Bentley; Enrique Olvera’s San Miguel outpost MOXI; or Donnie Masterton’s The Restaurant, which has a gorgeous courtyard setting. Later, sample San Miguel’s small but energetic nightlife scene with live music, dancing and margaritas at Mama Mia near the Parroquía church.

Related: Stylish in Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende

Day 3: Pick Your Passion (Outdoor Adventure, Design, Cuisine, History and More)

In the morning, recover with churros con chocolate at a beloved bakery like Panadería La Buena Vida or Cafetería San Agustín. Then, soak in your last day in San Miguel de Allende by diving into your personal interests. Possible activities include a Mexican cooking lesson at the Belmond’s Sazón school; a hike up to the popular lookout point El Mirador for unparalleled photography opportunities; hunting for local treasures at other top boutiques and design firms like those in Dôce 18; an excursion by bicycle or horseback into the surrounding countryside for a visit to an estancia and wine- or mezcal-tasting; and a day trip with a historian to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, a World Heritage Site and church complex with stunning frescoes (it is often referred to as the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico”), and the fascinating colonial town of Dolores Hidalgo, the birthplace of the Mexican Independence Movement (both sites are less than a 45-minute drive from the center of San Miguel).

In the late afternoon, spend some time lounging by the pool or in the spa before sunset cocktails at a hidden-gem rooftop and a festive farewell dinner at a sophisticated restaurant like Aperi or Restaurante del Parque. Before packing up to head home, stop for a final nightcap or dessert at the Rosewood’s 1826 bar and restaurant.

Related: The Up-And-Coming Mexican Town You Should Know About

Learn more about our upcoming design- and style-focused Insider Journey to Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende in partnership with Architectural Digest—or contact our experts to plan your own private getaway.

– Elizabeth Harvey on January 27, 2020

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