I saw photos of Guanajuato in summer of last year – straight away the beautiful colourful buildings and unique architecture really put this place on the map for me.
Only months later when finally planning Mexico did I really look into it, where it was, and how easily accessible it was from Mexico City – it was decided, we had to visit.
We arrived after a comfortable 4 and a half hour bus ride from the capital, and took a taxi to our accommodation – a beautiful AirBnB room in a traditional house. The best thing was that it was in a quiet, mostly local part of town, not that the town was exactly overrun with tourists to begin with!
Guanajuato is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, and the colourful houses fill the valley as far as the eye can see. The streets are all cobbled and winding, its like being Alice in Wonderland. We got lost plenty of times – in a good way. Wandering down random alleyways leads you to many unique courtyards with fountains and greenery which you would never find otherwise.
A good way to see all of the stunning buildings is to take the funicular railway up the hill (or it’s a short walk) to El Pipila, a huge statue atop of the hill offering amazing views of the multicoloured town and surrounding mountains.
A quirky feature of the town is right under your feet. Few roads in the centre allow cars, the majority of traffic is directed into a labyrinth of underground tunnels. In some areas you can see where the tunnels start and finish, and how buildings have adapted to them.
The buildings aren’t all cute and quaint, there are several spectacular imposing cathedrals and an epic university building.
The whole town is packed full of little restaurants and cafes, from a local carnitas shop where we gorged on incredible pork tacos, to great value international food in a cosy setting (Los Campos Restaurante). There are street vendors on almost every corner, to satisfy your taco and cake cravings. Most importantly it’s a wonderfully peaceful, safe place to walk around, even at night.
Apart from getting wrapped up in the town we did also visit the Museo de las Momias. When the town started to run out of burial space, they introduced an annual burial tax, which if not paid resulted in the dead being exhumed. During this process they discovered that a number of the bodies had been preserved and become mummified, due to the ideal climate. So they did what anyone would have done – opened a museum displaying them.
If it sounds creepy, it’s because it is. There’s no denying that walking around looking at preserved bodies (some only 70 years old) is a bit weird but it’s also utterly fascinating, which is why the museum is so popular. Mexicans don’t shy away from talking about death, if anything they celebrate it to an extent and this museum is a perfect example.
We only spent 3 nights in Guanajuato but wished we had stayed far longer. I can definitely see why people come here and stay to live. If we had had the time I would have loved to stay a couple of weeks. Its just that kind of place.
A great AirBnB rental saw us staying in a traditional house, beautifully decorated with a wonderful host, and a lovely traditional large double room, for just £20 per night. It was bright, light and airy, in a quiet location on one of the hills surrounding the centre. If you are interested the listing is here. It seems to have got cheaper!
We arrived via Primera Plus bus service, which cost a rather hefty 1020 pesos for both of us – our first indication that while the buses in Mexico are super comfortable, they come at a price. There are presumably plenty of second class buses plying the route for far less.
The town itself is walkable and there is no need for any transport. Taxis to and from the bus station (which is well outside of town) cost around 50-60 pesos.
We visited in January 2015.