Spending 3 or 4 days in Guanajuato City? Then my itinerary of what to do and see in Guanajuato is just what you need!
From arriving as a newbie in this city to checking off my entire bucket list, I can safely say spending 3-4 days here is the perfect amount of time to explore the best of Guanajuato City (and even work in a day trip to San Miguel de Allende).
Here’s what you can expect to do in 3 or 4 days in Guanajuato:
- Marvel at naturally preserved mummies and visit other museums
- Eat and drink at favorite local stands, cantinas, cafés, and international restaurants
- Lock in your love with a kiss at the legendary Callejon del Beso
- Go to the theater, listen to live music or watch the university symphony performance
- Visit Cristo Rey del Cubilete
- Take panoramic pictures of the city at El Pipila statue
- Visit charming European-style basilicas, plazas, and gardens
- Get lost following the tiny, winding streets or underground tunnels
- …and so much more!
So what are you waiting for? Read my guide to get the best tips for visiting Guanajuato!
How to Spend 4 Days in Guanajuato City
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Day 1 in Guanajuato
After visiting dozens of cities in Europe, North America, and Asia, Paul and I both agree on always going to the top of a city on our first day. Why?
Being able to look out over the city, being a complete stranger to the place, is a way to get a “mental map” of the area. That way, when you’re actually down wandering around the streets, you can know more or less which part of the city you are in based on a building or monument that stands out!
Take the funicular up to El Pipila
After settling in our Airbnb and briefly wandering through the lively plazas, we found our way to the funicular which takes you on a brief ride up to El Pipila statue.
You can also hike up via the “Subida a San Miguel” street which will take you all the way up to the Cerro San Miguel (mountain) where the El Pipila statue proudly stands.
From the top, enjoy the panoramic views of the colorful, block-like city! If you’re here in season, you’ll be able to spot the flowering blue-violet jacaranda trees popping out among the stacked houses – my favorite.
Traveler’s Tip: The funicular is a quick way to reach the El Pipila statue and only costs 25 pesos/person for one-way trips.
We took the funicular up and enjoyed a slow hike back down via this Subida a San Miguel street which was quiet, full of street art, and cute houses!
Explore the winding, narrow alleyways
No matter how many travel guides to Guanajuato you read, I always believe your trip is always personalized in some way by some sort of spontaneous intervention.
Meaning, while you can go to place A, B, and C, making your trip truly memorable and personable comes from how you explore.
With that in mind, make sure you take the opportunity to just get lost exploring the tiny alleyways. Let them lead you to hidden plazas, gardens, small cafés, and anything else you won’t find in a guide.
That’s exactly what Paul and I did on our first day, and turns out it influenced how we would spend our Saturday night here which was entirely unplanned.
After wandering around for an hour, we ran into the Casa Cuatro, which is a space for design, gastronomy, and art! We just walked in to see it for a few minutes and found out they were having a blues and ballads live music concert on Saturday night for only 80 pesos.
The group was called the 3 Cool Cats, which we thought was a sign we should go (yes, we are passionate ailurophiles).
The evening ended up being one of our favorites! See what happens when you just let exploring happen?
Eat a delicious meal at Los Campos
Enjoy your first evening in Guanajuato with a delicious dining experience at the Los Campos restaurant! We love to explore a new place via the food, so this place was a must. After all, it’s rated one of Guanajuato’s top 10 places to eat!
Traveler’s Tip: Make sure to reserve a spot as Los Campos tends to fill up fast! Expect to pay between 85-125 pesos for tapas (small-large) and 150-ish pesos or more for a specialty dish.
Despite having reserved, they accidentally overbooked and we ended up sitting (happily) at the bar. If I could recommend any dish from what we tried, it would definitely be the lasagna with mushrooms and huitlacoche (which is a corn disease by the way..).
We also had the citrus-marinated artisanal manchego cheese with garlic bread and a trio of beef tacos with creamy chili-lemon corn (it was soooo good).
Visit the Plaza Jardin de la Union
The Jardin de la Union plaza, as you’ll see, is one of the most enchanting plazas in all of Guanajuato City. It just bursts with cuteness!
I especially love the square-trimmed trees, flowering plants, dim-lit lamps, and plenty of nicely dressed musicians and mariachis performing in front of the European look-alike outdoor restaurant terraces.
If you are looking for an activity, this is it! The Jardin de la Union is located right across from the Teatro Juarez. The Teatro Juarez is another impressive and charming architectural example of what makes Guanajuato feel so magical.
Alternatively, if you end up eating at Los Campos, the little plaza in front has a night bar where you can get delicious drinks!
Soak in the city by night
Guanajuato by day is lovely, but by night it’s invigorating! There are so many people out and about, enjoying pockets of live music in each plaza that it really stirs up a sense of liveliness.
Visit the Basilica de Guanajuato, among other cathedrals, to see their facades lit up at night. The views are just as impressive as they are during the day. Luckily, walking around Guanajuato at night isn’t too tiring, plus it feels super safe!
Day 2 in Guanajuato City
After 7+ years together, Paul has finally converted me into a breakfast person! And what better way to immerse ourselves into the Guanajuato culture than with a typical Mexican breakfast eating tacos, quesadillas, and gorditas on the street, sitting on little plastic bar stools?
Eat like a local for breakfast at “Gorditas by Andrea”
We found the BEST spot to eat like a local for breakfast in Guanajuato. “Gorditas by Andrea” sits right across from Los Campos restaurant, which we pass every morning as our Airbnb is just further up the hill past it.
Their stand was popular with locals filling up on freshly-pressed tortillas filled with homemade goodies. You can have eggs, tinga chicken, chicken with mole, mushrooms, cactus, poblano, even chile relleno (fried cheese-stuff poblanos), chicharron, pork, and much more. There’s something for both vegetarians and meat-eaters to try.
You MUST go here! We had 2 quesadillas, 2 tacos, and 1 gordita for only 85 pesos in total. They were also super welcoming and friendly.
We enjoyed it so much we went back the next morning, but since it was the weekend, they weren’t there. Make a note to go during the week!
Mummies Museum, the Kissing Alley (Callejon del Beso) and Mercado Hidalgo
If your accommodation is in the central area (Teatro Juarez, Jardin del Union), it takes roughly 30 minutes to walk to the Museo de las Momias, which is a must-see museum unique to Guanajuato.
The route to get there conveniently passes by the popular Callejon del Beso and Mercado Hidalgo which make great pit-stops along the way.
El Callejon del Beso / The Alley of the Kiss
El Callejon del Beso is probably one of the most popular tourist attractions in Guanajuato. While it may seem frilly, a short visit is worthwhile.
The Alley of the Kiss or Kissing Alley is apparently a central piece of a historical romantic tale of two lovers separated by social class. The balcony that overhangs the alley is only 69 centimeters apart, close enough that one could be on each side and reach over the alley to kiss.
Now legend has it that couples must kiss on the third step, marked with a red line, in order to avoid bad luck for 7 years.
Paul is not one for set-ups like this, so we got in, kissed, and got out! Especially because nowadays, the area is so popular even “tour guides” are waiting to prop you hurriedly up the step to take a few photos (meanwhile saying “awww”) before waving you on.
Luckily there weren’t too many people when we arrived, but apparently, it can get quite crowded and rambunctious on busy days.
It is located in the Plaza Los Angeles on your route to the mummy museum, so you might as well go check it out.
El Mercado Hidalgo
The next pit-stop on your way to the Museo de las Momias is the Mercado Hidalgo.
The large, spacious, iron-clad building with its pink sandstone archway was once used as a bull-ring but is now space for vendors to sell their goods.
You can shop and eat inside the market building. Or, like us, you can just walk around and browse. You can find almost any Mexican souvenir here just in case you’re missing some presents for family or friends. 🙂
Traveler’s Tip: There’s a pretty plaza with a fountain and palm trees nearby the Mercado Hidalgo. Enjoy a rest here under the cool, shady trees.
Museo de Las Momias Guanajuato
If you have 3 or 4 days in Guanajuato, you have no excuse not to see the mummy museum! But be warned… It is not for the lighthearted!
The Museo de Las Momias houses the tiniest mummy in the whole world – a 6-month old fetus. Beyond that, the museum features over 100 naturally preserved mummies that come from the graveyard just behind the museum (Pantheon Santa Paula).
The mummies are naturally preserved because there was no humidity or oxygen (in the above-ground crypt), which is required for the body to properly decompose.
Why were they above-ground? Due to so many deaths during a cholera outbreak, the Pantheon implemented a burial tax. Any family who didn’t pay the tax had their dead family members dug up.
Traveler’s Tip: Even if there’s a queue, the line moves fast. The entrance fee for adults is 85 pesos. There’s also a 30 pesos fee for use of a camera or video.
The experience is not horrifying more than it is humbling, and a little eerie. It’s quite odd to see people in their permanent resting place with only their skin and bones (and for some – hair and clothes).
It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen in any other mummy museum. This time, you really see up close what a preserved dead body looks like. The skin is completely dried, with bones mostly intact. Hair is still visible on some more well-preserved mummies.
There are also preserved babies and even more harrowing, three mummies who suffered horrible deaths (which are visible even now).
One was stabbed and blood has stained the bone and skin tissue. The second drowned in a tragic event, resulting in a blue/purplish tint to the dry skin. The third is said to have been buried alive, as the final resting place of her arms and hands would indicate the last moments of great suffering and despair…
The following quote printed on one of the museum walls really moved me:
Someone spoke to me all the days of my life into my ear, slowly, taking their time. He said to me: live, live, live! It was Death.
The only things we didn’t like about the mummy museum of Guanajuato was:
- They had very little explanations, leaving us with the task to search for more about it online.
- At the exit, there was a “selfie point” set-up to encourage people to pretend to be a mummy in one of the glass containers and stand inside a coffin. We were not feeling it… Just weird to end on a note like that.
Dinner at La Vie en Rose (French restaurant)
Last night was Mexican, this night – French cuisine! The La Vie en Rose restaurant is owned by a French family who moved to Guanajuato a few years back.
The building which houses their cafe and restaurant is super cute and inviting. You can’t miss it! There are small French flags flying from the second-floor balcony, on which you can dine.
At night it is very romantic to hang over the street while enjoying a glass of wine and dish inspired by the famous French gastronomy.
Once you’re finished with your meal, cross the street for an unforgettable way to end your 2nd night in Guanajuato…
End the night with a “Cantina Crawl”
Cantinas in Guanajuato city are a staple of the culture and nightlife. Historically, cantinas typically were where only men used to hang out. But now all are welcome and you’re likely to see women throwing back tequilas and mezcals, too.
The El Incendio bar is probably Guanajuato’s most favorite cantina and is especially popular among the university student crowd nowadays.
Cantinas are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture while having a lot of fun!
The western saloon-style swinging doors are somewhat of a cliché, but don’t let that discourage you from kicking the door down (figuratively) and strutting confidently up to the bar to order an artisanal mezcal!
Los Barrilitos is another traditional cantina you should try out.
Day 3 in Guanajuato: Wrapping Up Your Bucketlist
We always gather all the activities left on our list and use the last day to wrap up. There is still SO much to do in Guanajuato, so don’t go too hard on your cantina crawl the night before.
Tour the Diego Rivera House/Museum
Diego Rivera – you’ve heard of him. Born in Guanajuato, made famous with his muralist art and diverse paintings, lover of Frida Kahlo.
Now you have the chance to tour his home, which was converted into a museum by his daughter Guadalupe.
The museum preserved most of the home’s original set-up and furniture, restoring several rooms. On additional floors, you can observe the 20-the century artist’s iconic artwork and paintings that have influenced artists and non-artists alike all over the globe.
Traveler’s Tip: It only costs 25 pesos entry/adult – making this a budget-friendly activity to do in Guanajuato for solo travelers, couples, and families.
The tour only took Paul and me roughly an hour to complete. So you’ll still have plenty of time in the morning to visit other museums that might be on your list! Here are other museums in Guanajuato you can visit (that we didn’t get to):
- Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera
- Museo del Pueblo de Guanajuato
- Museo Regional de Guanajuato
- Casa de Tia Aura
- Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
- and more!
Brunch in the San Fernando Plazuela
One of our favorite plazas in all of Guanajuato City is San Fernando. The courtyard evokes Europe to a T; as you’ll see with the street lamps, outdoor restaurant tables, architecture, and so on. It’s very quaint, charming, and lively but cozy!
Enjoy brunch at one of the surrounding restaurants – although we can personally recommend both the Bossanova Creperia and the Tragaluz cafes.
Tragaluz features homemade cuisine, tapas, oven-baked loaded potatoes, and a sweet terrace overlooking some colorful houses.
Bossanova is a little hidden under the trees in the back of the plaza, but just look for the yellow-painted wall and hanging evening lights. Their menu features crêpes, salads, fresh agua frescas, and more.
Both places are tasty and affordable brunch spots in Guanajuato!
Afternoon detour to the Cristo Rey del Cubilete
*Alert* we ended up not going to see the 22-meter statue of Cristo Rey (Jesus Christ the King) that sits perched atop the mountain you see in the distance from downtown Guanajuato due to onset under-the-weather fatigue. :/
BUT, apparently, it makes a wonderful afternoon excursion that affords panoramic views of the surrounding central highlands. Not to mention it is quite the popular pilgrimage spot for devoted nationals who come from all over the state to marvel at the towering statue.
Buses take you there from central Guanajuato and cost a mere 20 pesos one-way. If we had another day and were feeling better – we definitely would have gone! Instead, we took a long afternoon nap. 🙂
Join in on the fun with a Callejoneadas walk
“Callejoneadas” is a walking comedy/musical tour and a Guanajuato tradition. You follow a group of dressed musicians who put on a show as you trot around the city at night! It’s quite a fun activity to do and a great way to make your trip to Guanajuato special.
Traveler’s Tip: Buying tickets for the Callejoneada music walk is pretty easy. Just find a dressed-up lad in an old-timey costume walking around the basilica or Jardin de la Union selling boletos (tickets).
Tickets are around 100-150 pesos. The more you understand Spanish, the better since the music walk is also party story-telling, part comedy show!
Enjoy a performance by the University Symphony (on special days only)
We heard it’s quite the show so you shouldn’t miss out on this if you can’t help it! Unfortunately, the symphony wasn’t playing the Friday we were here so we missed it!! Such a bummer. :/
If you visit the Teatro Juarez by day (tours are available), make sure to inquire about any upcoming performances while you’re in town!!
There are events happening each week which you can enjoy either in the Teatro Principal or the Teatro Juarez. It can be quite difficult to pinpoint exactly when and where the symphonic performance takes place, but all you need to do is ask around. Shows cost only 80 pesos!
Day 4: Day Trip to San Miguel de Allende!
Since we were based in Guanajuato City with our Airbnb, the best we could make of visiting neighboring San Miguel de Allende was with a day trip. (Alternatively, you could stay in Guanajuato to see more sights or go on a hike in the surrounding mountains outside of the city).
Tons of people told us how lovely San Miguel de Allende was. So we decided to spend our last day in Guanajuato with a day trip to SMA!
San Miguel de Allende is a smaller, more “polished” ex-pat city, but you’ll find lots of similarities with charming Guanajuato.
I must say, we were overwhelmed with how touristy San Miguel felt compared to Guanajuato which keeps its Mexican authenticity. It felt like summertime in Paris there were so many people!
Thanks so much for making it to the bottom of this guide on how to spend 3 or 4 days in Guanajuato City!
We are so happy with our weekend getaway in this romantic, charming city. I just know you’ll fall in love with it too!!
Stay tuned for more Mexico travel blog posts.
Hello! How did you get from Guanajuato to San Miguel De Allende. We have a 4 day trip planned in April, out base will be Guanajuato and wanted to do a day time to SMA.
Hi Susan! We went by bus, but you can also go cheaply and quickly via carpooling (BlaBlaCar). You can book your tickets on BusBud here or search through the app. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Guanajuato!
Brenda C says
thank you so much for all this helpful information. Were you happy with the amount of time you spent in SMA? We have 4 days total to explore and wondering if we should divide time equally: 2 days and 2 nights each Guanajuato and SMA or make Guanajuato our home base for all nights? Thanks in advance.
my other question is about “estudiantinas”… do you have any information on how to find one to listen to?
Hi Brenda! No, I definitely would’ve loved more time in both Guanajuato and SMA. It was way too rushed to split our time between the two, but that’s hindsight I suppose! There are amazing and local callejoneadas in Guanajuato at night. I detail it in my things to do in Guanajuato guide!
HI! I was wondering if you had any tips on where to exchange dollars for pesos in Guanajuato? Thank you in advance!
Hey Alexina! Are you arriving at the airport? The best is to take out at the ATMs — Santander bank is usually the one we go to because the fee rate is lower than other ATMs (I think around $35 MXN pesos compared to like $100 MXN)