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Culture and Art: San Miguel de Allende Things to Do!

Are you looking for the best San Miguel de Allende things to do? We have great tips for you! This city is a dream for culture and art lovers! We particularly loved the street art San Miguel de Allende has to offer!

San Miguel de Allende (or, in short, SMA) is located in the state of Guanajuato. The city is particularly famous for its cultural festivals, and it’s also home to hundreds of artists (including jewelry designers, painters, and sculptors).

There are countless art galleries (ranging from modern to artisan art). And well, the entire city looks like a piece of art: picturesque cobblestone streets, Spanish architecture, and a lot of tradition.

And, very important, the city is recognized as one of the friendliest places in Mexico. All in all, it’s not without reason that San Miguel de Allende in Mexico has repeatedly won awards (among others by Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure)! It’s also an official UNESCO World Heritage site.

Fun fact: foreign artists actually saved San Miguel de Allende from becoming a ghost town after the Independence War. They were attracted to the baroque and neoclassical architecture built by the Spanish; hence San Miguel de Allende became a well-known ‘artistic’ town.

Good to know: San Miguel de Allende was endorsed with the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) “Safe Travels” seal of approval recognizing the implementation of global standardized health and hygiene protocols in 2020.

Map San Miguel de Allende

City Center: Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel (Church)

The bustling heart of the city is the parish church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. There are actually over 42 churches in San Miguel de Allende, many of them centuries old!

The iconic pink church is definitely San Miguel de Allende’s most famous sight. It almost looks like a Disney church with its Gothic architecture. In front of the church (on the north side), you will find the bustling heart of the city: El Jardín, the main garden.

Visit this garden during the evening hours (especially on the weekends) for live traditional music, like mariachi music!

Visit Calle Aldama behind the church! It’s (in our opinion) the most beautiful street of San Miguel de Allende!

(Street) Art San Miguel de Allende

Let’s talk art! San Miguel de Allende is well known for its rich art scene, and one of the most accessible art to see in this city is street art!

Not entirely coincidental: you can find street art in the area where most artists live! It’s the Colonia Guadalupe neighborhood, or Barrio de Guadalupe in Spanish. Of course, street art changes a lot, so you every time you walk around the neighborhood, you will see new things! Many of the murals feature Mexican themes.

Keep an eye out on the street art SMA Facebook group, or join a mural walking tour.

Here’s an impression of the art we spotted during our visit:

San Miguel de Allende street art
Murals San Miguel de Allende Art

San Miguel de Allende Art Galleries

If you are looking for other art, you can visit one of (or all) the many galleries San Miguel de Allende has to offer! Here are a few of the top galleries to visit.

  1. Fabrica La Aurora

This space used to be a textile factory, but now home to many galleries and art studios. If you only have time to visit one spot, visit this place! The famous Galleria San Francisco is located in Fabrica La Aurora, don’t miss it!

  1. YAM Gallery

This gallery has a lot of contemporary art and features pieces from up-and-coming artists from Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Canada and France.

  1. Casa Michoacana

This folk art gallery has a lot of beautiful pieces of art by Manuel Morales, especially a lot of ceramics.

  1. Photographic Gallery SMA

This gallery is a hub for photographers in San Miguel de Allende and offers exhibitions, workshops, and meetups!

  1. Barro.Co

Pay a visit to this clay studio, run by a Canadian expat, and even join a class or workshop!

  1. La Mexicana Galeria

This is a traditional copper gallery run by a family of artisans.

  1. Galeria Izamal

This co-op gallery features reasonably priced art by a variety of artists. This was only the 4th gallery in town when it opened in 1992.

  1. Arroyo Gallery

This gallery, by Suzie Taylor, features paintings, furniture, clothing, and jewelry.

  1. Moyshen The Gallery

A contemporary fine arts gallery that exhibits Mexican and Latin-American artists.

And there are really a lot more galleries, just wander around the city, and visit the ones that speak to you!

You might also enjoy one of the art classes San Miguel de Allende has to offer!

Art San Miguel de Allende
Even the houses in SMA are artsy!

Mercado San Miguel de Allende

If you are looking to buy some fun souvenirs to bring back home, make sure to check out Mercado de Artesanías.

It’s not the only artisan market in the city, but it is by far the best.

There are handicrafts from all over Mexico: silver jewelry from Taxco, rugs from Oaxaca, talavera pottery from Dolores Hidalgo, glass and tin lamps. From ceramics to textiles, jewelry to tote bags, leather goods to art, you can find it all. And very reasonably priced too!

Want to see more of Mexico? Visit Tulum and it’s amazing cenotes! The cenotes Tulum make for great pictures and fun. 

Festivals San Miguel de Allende

Food + Cooking Classes San Miguel de Allende

To us, one of the best ways to experience a culture is by tasting the local food! And Mexican food is very, very yummy.

The food is so rich in flavor, the vegetables seem to taste much better than they do back home.

Head to the main garden to try SMA’s local street food (note: not all stands are open every day nor the whole day). Another option is to head to the artisan market(s) for more street food.

If you head to a restaurant and want to try authentic Mexican food, try to find these dishes on menus: mole, pozole, cochinita pibil, tlayudas, gorditas, tamales, chilaquiles, huaraches, and, of course, tacos. If you have a sweet tooth, definitely try churros with chocolate at Café San Agustín!

Besides food, Mexico also has fun drinks to try (note: minimal drinking age is 18 in Mexico): tequila, craft beers, and did you know there are vineyards (vinedos) near San Miguel de Allende? Non-alcoholic drinks to try: horchata, aqua fresca, jamaica, and all the jugos. (juices).

Also fun: do a cooking class! San Miguel de Allende has many traditional cooking classes to offer – make sure to try one (or two)!

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel

Festivals San Miguel de Allende

It’s the festivals San Miguel de Allende is famous for! It’s a party-loving town that celebrates with enthusiastic fanfare. Most festival have religious roots, others are patriotic, and some are fantastical and a little loco.

El Jardin (main garden) – the heart of the city – is the place to be for the celebrations.

There are a lot of festivals in the fall, most include mariachi bands, dancing, street food, and fireworks! And don’t be surprised if people bring out ‘mojigangas’ – giant paper mache puppets.

Note: Cinco de Mayo is not a big thing in Mexico, but there probably will be things going on.

We can’t list all of the big fiestas, but here is list of the most important celebrations:

  1. Día de la Bandera / Flag Day

when: February 24
what: a day to celebrate the country’s flag. It’s a national observance and many (patriotic) events happen this day!

  1. Cascarones

when: the weekend before Ash Wednesday
what: SMA’s version of carnaval! It’s a special tradition here to buy cascarones (egg shells) that are hollow, painted and repurposed as mini confetti piñatas. People break these eggs on people’s head, so watch out (especially in the city center)!

  1. El Señor de La Conquista (The Lord of the Conquest)

when: the first Thursday and Friday of March
what: a tradition of over 400 years old, honoring a 1575 statue of Christ, with hundreds of colourful ‘conchero’ or ‘Chichimeca’ dancers dressed in Pre-Hispanic style outfits.

  1. Semana Santa / Holy Week

when: March/April
what: a week full of Easter celebrations (starting on Palm Sunday), that include processions, visiting churches, biblical story recreations, and blowing up Judases on Easter Sunday (Domingo de Pascua).

  1. Festival of San Felipe Neri

when: May 26
what: feast day of the so-called “Saint of Joy,” with lots of music, dancing, processions, and, of course, fireworks. The Oratorio church is the place to be!

  1. Guanajuato International Film Festival (GIFF)

when: final week of July
what: annual international film festival, held since 1998 in the cities San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.

  1. Chamber Music Festival of San Miguel de Allende

when: August
what: annual music festival presenting internationally acclaimed chamber music ensembles in intimate and acoustically satisfying venues in the charming historic town. One of Mexico’s oldest chamber music festivals!

  1. Independence Day

when: September 16
what: the biggest celebration in all of Mexico, the official celebration of becoming independent from Spain. The day before, Mexicans commemorate the Grito de Dolores by Miguel Hidalgo on October 16, 1810 (the call to independence). Mexico became independent in 1821, and September 16 became a national holiday. But honestly, the celebrations are happening for (again) an entire weekend.

  1. Alborada and Festival of St. Michael

when: the weekend following September 29th
what: this is San Miguel de Allende’s very own party, Indian dancers (from Zacatecas, Morelos, Veracruz, Jalisco, Queretaro and other cities) come to dance in parades, and there are fireworks from midnight to dawn, in front of Parroquia. And over the weekend, the famous Voladores de Papantla (the Papantla Flyers) perform.

  1. Dia de Muertos San Miguel de Allende / Festival la Calaca

when: November 2 (Festival la Calaca happens the week leading up to Nov 2)
what: the famous Dia de Muertos celebration! Note: the original Spanish name is without ‘los’, so it’s Dia de Muertos. The celebration includes lots of marigolds, calavera (sugar skull) makeup, cemeteries, and of course all the usual fiesta things!

  1. New Year’s Eve / Fiesta de Fin de Año

when: December 31
what: the celebration of the end of the year! The best time to show off with a firework show, and SMA is really good at that! People from all over come to San Miguel de Allende, so be prepared for crowds!

Check out the festivities calendar by Visit SMA.

Festivals San Miguel de Allende music mariachi

Tours San Miguel de Allende

Are you overwhelmed by all the options and want to book a tour? San Miguel de Allende has a great variety of tours to offer!

From cooking classes, art tours, horseback riding, to day trips; there are tours for everyone.

Travel to San Miguel de Allende

Good to know: there is no San Miguel de Allende Airport. There are three options to get to the city. Definitely check out BajioGo’s transport offers – they are specialized in transport to San Miguel de Allende.

People who travel to San Miguel de Allende most often get there by flying into Del Bajio Airport (BJX), in Leon/Guanajuato. From there it only takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to San Miguel de Allende. You can take a taxi (about $100 USD), group shuttle ($25 USD) or a private driver ($75 USD).

The Queretaro Airport (QRO) is actually closer – just 1 hour from San Miguel de Allende. Prices for transport to SMA are similar.

The third option is to fly into Mexico City via Juarez Intl Airport (MEX). Flights to MEX are often cheaper. The ride to San Miguel de Allende takes about 3.5 hours. You can rent a car and drive yourself, take a group shuttle (from $59 USD), or rent a private driver (form $150 USD). Another (cheaper) option is to go by public bus, but you will need to get to a bus station first, or transfer in Queretaro.

When we visited San Miguel de Allende, we flew into Guadalajara and did a bigger Mexico road trip! Car rental in Mexico can be really affordable, but make sure you get the proper insurance beforehand (they will charge you a lot at the rental places).

Why not visit paradise island Isla Mujeres too? It has stunning white beaches and blue waters. Make sure to check the most exciting things to do in Isla Mujeres!

San Miguel de Allende streets

Best Time to Visit San Miguel de Allende

There is no bad time to visit San Miguel de Allende! Fall is festival season, winter is high season, spring seems endless and summer is a little rainier.

The best time would be to visit San Miguel de Allende between October through April – depending on what things you want to do and see of course!

San Miguel de Allende Weather

The climate actually doesn’t vary too much throughout the year. The summers months are slightly rainier, the winter months have cold nights.

May is the hottest month, with an average high of 87°F (30°C). January is the coldest month, with an average high of 73°F (23°C).

Calle Aldama San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende Hotels 

There’s a place for everyone in San Miguel de Allende. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, a combination with a spa-treatment, an authentic stay, or a meeting point to connect with other travelers. It’s all possible in SMA.

San Miguel de Allende has many boutique hotels and you can find the most amazing luxury hotels in San Miguel de Allende. If you want to be close to the sightseeing spots in San Miguel de Allende (and the art galleries), we recommend staying in the historical center.

On the other hand, the hills of San Miguel de Allende offer beautiful views over the city. Perfect if you are looking for a quieter place to stay.

We will share our favorite places and the best hotels San Miguel de Allende has to offer, for every budget.

Unique/Luxury Accommodation San Miguel de Allende

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende: we love the beautiful view from the rooftop, the swimming pool, and the spa in Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. And the beautiful garden and the romantic vibes in the hotel. It’s a lovely luxury hotel in San Miguel de Allende to stay.

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada: This Belmond hotel is located in the historical center of SMA in multiple colonial-style houses. The entire setting of the hotel is stunning. There’s a swimming pool and the area of the hotel is very green. We always love staying at a Belmond hotel as the brand is extremely welcoming.

L´Ôtel at Dôce18 Concept House: A modern style boutique hotel in the heart of SMA. This hotel Is a lot different than Rosewood San Miguel de Allende and Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada, as it’s a modern hotel. The hotel has a bar, a swimming pool, and some rooms have outside bath tubs. If you like to take photos for your Instagram account at a stylish place, this is the place to be!

Mid-Range Accommodation San Miguel de Allende

Hacienda El Santuario San Miguel de Allende: A hotel in typical Mexican style, close to many SMA sights. You don’t only see the Mexican style in the decoration of the hotel, also in the breakfast options and the vibes of the hotel.

Hotel Boutique Casa Angelitos: This is a beautiful and charming boutique hotel in the hills of San Miguel de Allende. If you are looking for a quieter place, a little further away from the city center, this is the place to stay at! And the staff of the hotel is very friendly.

Budget Accommodation San Miguel de Allende

Casa Luna Guest House: Looking for a colorful and Mexican style place to stay at? Then Casa Luna Guest House is a great option. The guesthouse is located about a 30-minute walk from the historical center and the place is very spacious.

Alcatraz Hostal: Simple and clean hostel in San Miguel de Allende. Perfect if you are on a budget but want to stay close to the city center. There are many cafés and restaurants in the area.


Culture and Art San Miguel de Allende Things to Do
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