Guanajuato is a popular Mexico city that’s known for its colorful streets, narrow alleys, and ornate historical buildings.
This was our first time visiting Guanajuato and upon arrival, we were mesmerized by the sights, colors, and vibrant atmosphere of the city. Guanajuato is also home to the University of Guanajuato so the downtown has a young crowd, lively restaurants & fun bars.
If you’re planning a trip to this amazing Mexico city, we share 25 of the best things to do in Guanajuato!
Our travel guide covers popular sights, top museums, noteworthy buildings, standout Guanajuato restaurants, and a few hidden gems off the beaten path.
How Many Days Do You Need?
If it’s your first time visiting Guanajuato, I recommend setting aside around 3 days to explore the city. 3 full days was the ideal amount of time for us to see all of the top attractions and get to know the city pretty well.
After a few days, we had already visited all of the main museums and restaurants in the city center. If you’re planning to take a longer vacation, you can easily combine a trip to San Miguel de Allende or La Huasteca Potosina which are located in the same region.
How To Get Around In Guanajuato?
If you’re flying into Guanajuato, I don’t recommend renting a car, unless you plan to explore other cities or regions nearby. All of the top attractions in Guanajuato’s historic zone are located within a walking distance so having a car is not necessary. Driving a car in the city center can be very challenging as the streets are very narrow and parking is limited.
The Guanajuato International Airport is located a 30-minute drive from downtown Guanajuato. After landing, we were able to get a cab to downtown from the airport for just 550 pesos (around 25 USD).
Once we got to the downtown, we were able to walk just about everywhere, except for a few attractions and restaurants that we wanted to check out outside of the historic zone. Renting a car for the trip would have cost us a lot more than taking a few cabs here and there. Navigating Guanajuato on foot was easy and we felt safe doing so.
While Mexico does have Uber, personally when it comes to taking an Uber in Mexico we’ve had a few bad experiences. In Mexico, we typically choose taxis over Uber especially if we’re in a rush.
Travel Tip: Always be sure to share your travel itinerary with a family member or a friend before going on an international trip.
Where To Stay?
From sophisticated stays in historic buildings that date back hundreds of years to contemporary and modern lounging, there is a fabulous place to stay in Guanajuato for everyone! Most visitors choose to stay in the historic zone where all the top attractions are within a walking distance.
Here are some of the best hotels to stay in downtown Guanajuato:
- Casa del Rector Hotel Boutique. This boutique hotel offers visitors a classy stay in the Old Town not far from the city’s historic attractions. Onsite amenities include a cozy courtyard restaurant, rooftop bar, infinity pool, and a coffee shop.
- 1850 Hotel Boutique. This elegant boutique hotel is located in the heart of the city next to the Unión Garden. Each room features unique decorations in classic, French and contemporary styles. Starbucks is conveniently located next door for those who need to get a caffeine fix before heading out into the town. This hotel also features a trendy rooftop bar with some of the best views in the city!
- El Viejo Zaguan by Lunian. This hotel is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of the busy city center. The Old Zaguan is a great option for budget travelers or those seeking a smaller, laid-back hotel. Grab a morning cup of coffee at the onsite coffee shop or from the complimentary coffee stand in the lobby. Top-rated restaurants such as Mestizo and La Table de Andree are located nearby.
Read More: 12 Best Hotels In Guanajuato For An Incredible Travel Experience
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, here are all of the best things to see & do in Guanajuato, Mexico!
1. Callejón del Beso / The Alley Of The Kiss
The Alley Of The Kiss is a popular tourist attraction that centers around a tragic love story. According to the legend, a rich family used to live in the house to the left including a young woman. She fell in love with a poor miner who started to rent a room in the building to the right to meet with her in the alley and kiss.
The relationship was not approved by the woman’s father. When he caught them kissing, the father got enraged and tragically killed his daughter.
Now visitors can line up to take photos of where the lovers used to meet and kiss.
You also have an option to go up on a second story and kiss your partner across the two balconies.
This location is a bit commercialized, especially on the weekends. We stood in the line for about 30 minutes and paid 100 pesos to have a photographer take photos of us in both locations. If you pay extra, you can also get a printout to take home for memories.
Location: Callejón del Beso
The Funicular is an air tram that you can take up to the top of a hill for incredible views of the city. This is the shortest air tram that we’ve ever taken, but it offers amazing vistas along the way.
To ride the Funicular you will need to purchase a ticket for 35 pesos each way (or 70 pesos round trip). As an option, you can take the air tram to the top of the hill and walk back down the 142 steps that lead to the bottom.
After purchasing the ticket, you will need to wait in a short line. The air tram is pretty small so only a few people are allowed to board it per ride. Once the air tram stops at the summit, continue along the stairs to reach a viewing platform of the city.
The ride itself was only 5 minutes long but it was pretty fun! On the way back down we got to look out through an open window that felt like a roller coaster ride.
3. Monumento al Pípila / El Pipila Monument
Monumento al Pípila is a giant statue dedicated to a local hero who helped gain independence from Spanish colonization. This monument also marks the location of the best viewpoint in Guanajuato with panoramic views overlooking the city.
You can visit this monument and viewpoint all day long, but I recommend coming for sunset. Golden hour offers some of the best lighting for photography and if you’re lucky, you might also get to enjoy some stunning sunset colors.
Location: Monumento Al Pipila
4. Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato / Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato
Visiting the Mummy Museum is one of the most popular, but strangest experiences you can have in Guanajuato.
The Mummy Museum is located on the outskirts of the city center so you will need to take a cab or an Uber to get there. This can be a busy location so try to come early in the morning or on a Monday which is typically the “slow” day of the week.
Tip: This is one of the few museums in Guanajuato that is open on Mondays!
The museum entrance costs 92 pesos. At the entrance, you can hire a guide to explain more about the mummies (unfortunately English guides were not available during our visit). Within the museum, there are some signs in English, but the information was pretty limited.
The mummies displayed in this museum are up to 150 years old. These mummies are well preserved due to the lack of humidity & oxygen in the underground crypts. Some of the mummies are so well preserved that they are still fully clothed.
The Museum of Mummies is a sacred, cultural and educational place for the locals but it sure isn’t for everyone. With eerie music playing in the background, it can feel a bit uneasy and unsettling visiting it for the first time. My husband has been to this museum before and mentioned that you could touch the mummies in the past, but now they are safeguarded behind glass displays for preservation.
Location: Museum of the Mummies of Guanajuato
5. Mercado Hidalgo
Mercado Hidalgo is where you’ll want to head for shopping in Guanajuato. This is the largest market in the city where you can find a variety of items including the typical travel souvenirs to bring back home.
Mercado Hidalgo is located indoors and consists of two floors. The bottom floor has stands that mostly sell food, meats, fruits, and veggies. The second floor is dedicated to touristy gift items such as clothing, purses, magnets, keychains, ceramics, and more.
We were able to find many cute souvenirs at this market to bring back to our families. The prices at Mercado Hidalgo are pretty cheap compared to what you would find at gift stores in the historic center.
Location: Mercado Hidalgo
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6. Tuneles Guanajuato / Guanajuato Tunnels
One of the most fascinating parts about Guanajuato that sets it apart from other towns are the underground tunnel systems that span beneath the city.
We learned from a local historian that originally Guanajuato was built in the 1600s on a much lower level than the current city. The city kept overflooding from the Guanajuato River so giant walls and tunnels were built to divert the river. The new city was built on top of the tunnels and the old city was buried underground.
A dam was eventually built to manage the floods and the tunnels were turned into car roads.
Instead of driving on narrow downtown streets, cars now can avoid the traffic by taking the tunnels all throughout the city.
The tunnels also have pedestrian sidewalks. We frequently walked through the tunnels during the day to take shortcuts around the city.
7. Rooftop Terraces
Guanajuato city was built in layers so rooftop terraces offer some of the best views of the city from up top. Finding a rooftop bar to enjoy a cocktail is a great way to relax and take a break in between sightseeing.
Most of the rooftop bars are located on top of hotels so you’ll need to go through hotel lobbies to reach the upstairs.
Here are a few of our favorite rooftop bars that we visited in Guanajuato:
- Antigua Trece Hotel Fusión. This is a relaxing rooftop terrace that is part of the Antigua Trece hotel. The outdoor patio is very spacious and features plush lounge chairs & colorful furnishings. My favorite part about the Antigua Trece rooftop terrace was the views – which are some of the best in the city!
- La Notaría Terraza Bar. This is a modern lounge with several floors and a laid-back ambiance on top of the La Notaría Hotel Boutique that serves excellent craft cocktails and food. I loved the Rosemary Hill cocktail which comes with champagne, vodka, lime juice, and rosemary honey with Jupiter – so refreshing and yummy!
- Casa del Rector Hotel Boutique. Looking for a rooftop with an infinity pool? This spot is for you! Part of a small boutique hotel, this rooftop offers great views and an even more amazing pool next to its bar.
- ONE BAR&LOUNGE. This outdoor bar is located on top of the 1850 Hotel Boutique, one of the best hotels in the city center. This bar feels more like a club so it’s perfect for a night out with friends or if you’re looking for something a bit more upbeat and lively.
8. Plaza De La Paz
Plaza De La Paz is the main visitor plaza in Guanajuato. This is where you’ll want to head for visitor information, restaurants, and historic attractions. Plaza De La Paz is located at the center of the city so you’ll pass through it many, many times during your stay.
All day long this plaza is brimming full with people and activity. My favorite part of the plaza is the giant G (Guanajuato) sign that looks so colorful! Be sure to set aside some time to roam around the plaza and snap a photo of the sign.
Location: Las letras de Guanajuato
9. Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
If you are someone who loves to visit historic, ornate churches, Guanajuato has a few incredible basilicas to see in the downtown area.
Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato is one of the most recognizable churches in this city due to its tall yellow bell towers and the red roof that can be seen from afar.
This church was built between 1671 to 1696 and was financed by the local miners. This is known as one of the most ornate baroque and neoclassical style temples of its time. The Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato takes up a whole city block and still holds mass and worship to this date.
Location: Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
10. Museo Casa Diego Rivera / Diego Rivera’s House Museum
While Mexico City is known for having the popular Frida Kahlo Museum, Guanajuato is home to Diego Rivera, Frida’s husband, and a famous Mexican artist.
In Guanajuato, you can visit the house where Diego Rivera was born and lived until he was 6 years old. In 1971 Diego Rivera’s daughter restored the building and turned it into an art museum.
On the first floor, you can walk through the restored living quarters that have been furnished with 19th-century pieces to reflect the styles from his childhood. The second level features art pieces and the evolution of Diego Rivera’s artistic styles from his early years to Cubism and nudism.
Admission to Diego Rivera’s House Museum costs 30 pesos. Keep in mind that the museum is closed on Mondays.
Location: Diego Rivera’s House Museum
11. Teatro Juárez
Teatro Juárez is another architectural wonder in the downtown area. Juárez Theatre has a large, grand entrance built in Neoclassical style that resembles something out of Europe. The main entrance consists of 12 pillars and giant statues situated above them.
During our visit, the front of the theatre was closed for construction. When the theatre is open, you can catch a performance there. In the fall it is also the main location of the cultural Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato.
Location: Teatro Juárez
12. Jardín de la Unión / Union Garden
Jardín de la Unión is a greenspace at the center of the city. This is a beautiful park created within the city boundaries for people to enjoy a relaxing escape outdoors.
All around the Union Garden you will find little food stands, street performers, hotels, cafes with patios, and top-rated restaurants. The park is small but lined with perfectly trimmed trees, a water fountain, and a small gazebo in the middle of it.
Location: Unión Garden
13. Museo Regional de Guanajuato Alhóndiga de Granaditas
The Regional Museum of Guanajuato Alhóndiga de Granaditas is a grand museum that you can visit in Guanajuato’s historic zone. This is an excellent place to explore for a few hours if you enjoy archeology and historic artifacts.
The inside of the museum consists of a large courtyard with pink-colored accents. The bottom floor houses an exhibit on “The Lost City” in Michoacán which was settled on volcanic land. Unfortunately, there were no signs in English, but you could get the overall idea by exploring the various exhibits.
The stairs that lead to the second-floor display impressive murals centering around religion, Spanish colonization, slavery, and gaining independence.
The museum is located a short walk outside of the main city center. We came here a couple of different times and it was closed so be sure to check the opening hours. It costs 65 pesos to enter the museum and explore its various exhibits.
Location: Regional Museum of Guanajuato Alhóndiga de Granaditas
14. Universidad de Guanajuato / University of Guanajuato
A trip to Guanajuato wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the University of Guanajuato, one of the most noteworthy buildings in the city.
This is an active university with over 33,000 students. As you walk around Guanajuato, you will see many of the students go about their day in the city.
The origins of the university go back to 1732. But it wasn’t until the last 30 years that the university has grown significantly in its size, staff, and the degrees that it offers.
Tourists are not allowed to enter the University of Guanajuato itself but you can marvel at the intricate architecture from the outside.
Location: Edificio Central de la Universidad de Guanajuato
15. Museo ex Convento Dieguino
Museo ex Convento Dieguino is an interesting but not a well-known museum in the historic zone. This museum marks the location where the old Guanajuato church was built in 1694 and stood for 100 years.
After major floods in the 1700’s parts of the original Guanajuato city were buried underground and new buildings were built above them. This church is one example of that.
A portion of the old underground church was excavated in 1992 and can be viewed at this museum for 16 pesos. This museum consists of a large room where you can see some of the original arches and coloring. The majority of the old church still stands buried under Juárez Theater.
Location: Museo ex Convento Dieguino
16. Walking Tour
Not sure where to start your visit? Consider signing up for a walking tour that will take you to all the top sights in the city! A walking tour is one of the best things to do in Guanajuato especially if you want to learn more about the city and its history.
This Guanajuato walking tour will take you to the top attractions in the city center such as the main plaza, University, Hidalgo Market, and local museums. On this tour can learn more about the tunnels that run underground or how Guanajuato became one of the richest and most powerful cities in Mexico during the colonial period.
Book the Guanajuato walking tour here!
17. Grab Drinks At Black Mamba 61
In the mood to grab a fancy cocktail? Head over to Black Mamba 61, a hip bar in the historic center that is known for interesting craft cocktails. They aren’t afraid to play around with flavor combinations to create something very unique like the Watermelon cocktail that comes with tequila, watermelon, elderflower liqueur, and lime juice.
The interior of Black Mamba 61 is very modern and has a great ambiance. If you’re hungry, they offer plenty of tapas to choose from including Brussel sprouts and Argentinian chorizo.
Location: Black Mamba 61 Guanajuato
18. Plaza de San Fernando
Plaza de San Fernando is a smaller plaza outside of the main tourist center. An ornate water fountain is located at the center of this plaza with trees, shops, and cafes lined all around it.
This plaza is a bit of a hidden gem and not as busy as the main historic zone. This is a great spot for grabbing relaxing lunch at one of the outdoor cafes and doing some people-watching.
Location: Plaza de San Fernando
19. Wander Through Colorful Streets & Narrow Alleyways
Guanajuato’s Old Town consists of a mix of colorful streets and narrow alleyways. Some of the alleyways were so narrow that we could barely squeeze through!
Walking is the best and quickest way to get around in Guanajuato and a great way to explore the city. You don’t need a specific itinerary to find picture-perfect streets – they can be found all throughout the downtown!
Calle Del Truco is one of the most beautiful streets in Guanajuato lined with vibrant buildings and decorative balconies.
20. Indulge In Kurtosh Ice Cream
Craving something sweet while roaming around? Satisfy your sweet tooth by indulging in an ice cream cone from the Kurtosh dessert stand.
Kurtosh puts a twist on classic Hungarian bread treats that come filled with ice cream, cream cheese, syrup, and various toppings. The bread is hand-made and baked fresh right there on the spot! If you’re not up for a sweet treat, they offer savory bread cones as well.
21. Templo de San Francisco
Templo de San Francisco is a magnificent church that was built in the 1750s in Baroque style. The façade of the church is very elaborate and features a clock that was added to the front much later.
Templo de San Francisco is easy to spot as it’s painted in a bright pink color. This church is located in a quiet plaza so it’s a great temple to visit away from the crowds.
After seeing the church be sure to stop by the Museo Iconográfico del Quijote next door which features artwork related to the Don Quixote novel.
Location: Templo de San Francisco
22. Relax In a Cozy Courtyard
The entire Guanajuato city is simply an architectural delight with so many amazing hidden walkways and courtyards. If you’re looking for a place to grab a cup of delicious coffee and take a relaxing break, stop by the Las Vieyras restaurant which has a charming courtyard located within the Casa del Rector Hotel Boutique.
With birds chirping in the lush trees, tranquil music playing in the background, and a chill vibe, Las Vieyras Restaurante feels like a hidden oasis within the noisy city center.
Location: Las Vieyras Restaurante
23. Templo de la Compania de Jesus Oratorio
Guanajuato has no shortage of incredible churches to visit. Built from 1734 to 1765 in gorgeous Churrigueresque architecture, the Templo de la Compania de Jesus Oratorio is a must-see when walking around the Old Town. This church is located near the University and takes up a whole city block.
The exterior of the church is colorful and ornate, but the interior is equally impressive. The inside of the church contains towering arches, a large dome, statues, and old crypts. There is a small museum in the back holding religious artwork as well.
Location: Templo de la Compañía de Jesús Oratorio de San Felipe Neri
24. Eat At Casa Valadez
Trying out different restaurants and eateries is one of our favorite ways to experience local cuisine and explore various parts of the city. Casa Valadez is a highly rated restaurant in Guanajuato at the heart of the historic zone where you can do just that.
This restaurant is located on the corner overlooking the Unión Garden and Teatro Juárez. The interior of the restaurant is very luxurious with leather seating and intricate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. I highly recommend asking for a window seat so you can enjoy a nice breeze and stunning views during your meal!
Location: Casa Valadez · Anfitrión & Gourmet
25. Plaza Baratillo
I’m a big fan of the colorful plazas in downtown Guanajuato that you can visit throughout the city. Plaza Baratillo is a quiet plaza with a bronze water fountain at the center of it and boutique shops, restaurants, and coffee shops all around.
Grab a seat on one of the benches for some people watching or stop by for a quick photo – this hidden gem is a must-see!
Location: Plaza Baratillo
Excited to hop on a plane and head out to Mexico? With so many incredible things to do in this historic city, we don’t blame ya! The colorful streets, friendly locals and inviting atmosphere make this one of the best cities to visit in all of Mexico.
Can’t get enough of Mexico travel inspiration? Be sure to check out some of our other popular Mexico travel posts below:
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- 10 Unbelievable Places To Visit In Chiapas, Mexico
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