Making sure you find the best things to do in Guanajuato not only saves you time and possibly money, but it guarantees fun and long-lasting memories!
Arriving in a new place with no agenda is usually how we travel. However, I always take a quick sneak-peek at the best things to do because I don’t want to miss out on experiences unique to that place!
Don’t miss out on these activities in Guanajuato while you’re here. Or you’ll be pinching yourself in retrospect after you leave.
So without further adieu, here are the best things to do and see in Guanajuato (psst: they’re also budget-friendly!).
Best Things to Do in Guanajuato City, Mexico
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1. Get lost in tiny, winding alleyways
Guanajuato City is chock-full of cute and tiny, winding alleyways. The colorful streets simply muster a sense of wanderlust! Definitely take advantage of itchy feet to get and explore with no agenda. Guanajuato is like a maze and just diving in it and getting lost is one of the best things to do here.
The city is very safe to explore so you can feel good about walking around. You’ll likely come upon a known monument or attraction you’ll recognize. Use that as your point of direction! Many of the parks and squares connect with various tiny streets, so you’ll probably have several “ah-ha” moments as we did.
2. Marvel at the weird yet cool Museo de Las Momias
The Museo de Las Momias in Guanajuato is one of the city’s unique attractions for both locals and tourists. It’s one of the coolest things to do in Guanajuato and something you’re unlikely to find elsewhere. At least, not like this!
In the early 1900s during the plague so many people were dying that the city imposed a burial tax. Any family who couldn’t pay the fee had their family member moved from their burial location to a separate chamber.
Decades later, they discovered these bodies who had been kept in the above-ground crypt were naturally preserved, resulting in very real mummified humans – most with intact hair and clothes. Some of the mummies have eerie stories. And seeing them so… in the flesh… is both eye-opening and disturbing.
3. Take pictures of the sweeping city views at El Pipila statue
Hiking up or taking the funicular up to the El Pipila statue is a must when visiting Guanajuato, if not for anything else but for the sweeping views. There are just so many colors, block-like houses, cathedrals, parks, and of course, the surrounding rolling hills that gently cradle the city below. The view is stunning!
One of the first things Paul and I like to do when visiting a new city is to seek out the highest attraction offering panoramic views of the city. That way we can scale the city and point out recognizable places to visit once we’re back down in the streets.
4. Go on a
bar cantina crawl
Cantinas in Mexico are quite popular. What used to be reserved for just men and heavy drinking, is now a trendy and fun hangout for men, women, and especially university students. But cantinas are not like that anymore so visiting is a fun thing to do in Guanajuato or in San Miguel!
One of the oldest cantina’s in Guanajuato, albeit very different from its original atmosphere, is heavily frequented by young students of the city. It’s a great place to go for drinks, shoot back a tequila or mezcal!!
5. Eat at local breakfast stands + dine on upscale Mexican gastronomy
There’s plenty of things to do and see in Guanajuato but our favorite was discovering the culinary scene!
There’s so much good food in Guanajuato City; ranging from authentic, local street stands serving up fresh gorditas and tacos, to international cuisine and gastronomic bars and bistros, tucked away on the side streets and on the corners of enchanting plazas.
If there’s one thing you must do in Guanajuato, it’s to eat your heart out!
6. Follow the “Callejoneadas” walking musical/comedy tour at night
At night, Guanajuato comes alive. And to truly partake in the evening culture of the city, you must join in on a “callejoneada” walk. It’s one of the best things to do in Guanajuato City at night!
The walking musical and/or comedy show-spectacle is a paid walking night tour where the guides, dressed in Renaissance-like costumes, make jokes and play traditional songs while showing off the city’s dimly-lit alleyways. It’s a fun and festive thing to do while in Guanajuato City and is a funny-romantic activity for couples!
7. Listen to the university symphony at the theatre
We, unfortunately, didn’t make it to the university symphony during our 3-4 days in Guanajuato. But still, it comes highly recommended and is a really budget-friendly thing to do in Guanajuato. (I believe it costs just a few bucks).
8. Kiss at the romantic Callejon del Beso / Alley of the Kiss
The Alley of the Kiss “Callejon del Beso” in Guanajuato is probably one of the city’s most famous alleyways. Legend has it that two lovers, from different social classes, had a sad destiny, and kissed from the two balconies which overhung the street below.
It’s possible to kiss your partner if the other is standing on the other side because the balconies are so close together. We felt it a little overrated, with literal “kissing guides” on-site to take your picture! It’s likely the most popular thing to do in Guanajuato so you can expect some crowds.
9. Relax in Guanajuato’s many plazas and gardens
I don’t remember how many plazas we came across in Guanajuato, but there are a lot! And all of them are unique and cute in their own way. After a long day strolling around, one of the best things to do is to just find a coffee and some cake and chill out in a cafe.
Make a bucket list of the top plazas in Guanajuato you wish to see and make a walking tour to check them all off. Some of the best restaurants and cafés are hidden on some of these plazas’ outskirts. We stumbled across this one garden cafe at Café Carcamanes that served amazing coffee and even French crepes!
10. Peek inside all the European-style cathedrals, basilicas, and churches
One of the best things to do in Guanajuato (for free) is visiting all the cathedrals, basilicas, and monuments.
Most have colorful facades with detailed sculptures on the outsides with high domed ceilings and walls richly covered with religious paintings and artifacts. But they all seem inspired by European-style architecture. They are all unique in their own way so go check them out!
11. Enjoy a cuppa’ at the best coffee cafés in town
There are several places to enjoy a cuppa Joe with fresh coffee or teas in Guanajuato. But one of our favorite places that we discovered was Café Tal, which offered cozy spaces to work on our laptops.
12. Explore the “Calles Subterraneos” / Underground tunnels
Guanajuato City is a maze of “underground” and above-ground tunnels. The tunnels are designed to make the flow of traffic move out of historic downtown.
While I found them not to be so pedestrian-friendly, some of them feature some nice views of the city from below (bridge arches, etc.).
You can easily access the road system by any set of stairs with a sign displaying “Calles Subterraneos”. I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing to do in Guanajuato City, but it is unique to this place and worth a peek!
13. Tour Diego Rivera’s House Museum
One a home, now a museum, the Diego Rivera’s House-Museum is a worthwhile thing to do in Guanajuato.
Much of what you see is preserved in its natural state, although remodeling and furnishings were made to preserve most items, paintings, or furniture. The several-storied house features multiple rooms with each style of Rivera’s paintings and artwork.
14. Hop on a bus to Cristo Rey del Cubilete
If you’re looking for things to do in Guanajuato other than visiting basilicas, museums, or eating your way around town, then consider hopping on a local bus and heading to the hills where a very tall Christ The Redeemer statue stands above the city.
Tours are also possible but might be more expensive than if you were to make the trek via a local bus.
15. Go on a day trip to neighboring San Miguel de Allende
Many people who visit Guanajuato also want to take a day trip to the popular expat and digital nomad city in Mexico — San Miguel de Allende. And while that’s totally possible, I wouldn’t recommend doing only a day trip, like we did, because we ended up not having time to relax.
But, on the other hand, we enjoyed having only a snippet-view of San Miguel, as there were so many tourists, it felt suffocating to be there.
So in the end, we were happy with what we saw with just a day trip to San Miguel de Allende. Its pink, Gothic-style cathedral is one of the top attractions.
Heed my advice: Don’t go on a weekend or on a Sunday, or else all the cafés will have wait times of at least 1-hour (no joke).
Where to Stay in Guanajuato?
Although we stayed in an Airbnb (which wasn’t the best), there are some amazing hotels in Guanajuato to consider for your trip!
Here are the best places to stay in Guanajuato depending on your budget.
Budget-Friendly Finds: Hotel Internacional Malitsin, Casa del Tiempo
Mid-Range Hotels: Hotel de la Paz, El Meson de los Poetas
Luxury Stays: Hotel Boutique 1850, Antigua Trece Hotel Fusion
These 15 things to do in Guanajuato City are some of the best, budget-friendly activities.
There are a few other museums to visit if you have extra time, but in the 3-4 days that we were there, we got to see and do all that we hoped for. One thing for sure is you’ll no doubt fall in love with Guanajuato’s charm!
Feel free to leave your comments below or send me your questions!