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5 Reasons Why This Historical City Is The Top Off Path Destination In Mexico For 2024

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If you're a culture-hungry American planning on taking an international trip soon, it's highly likely that Mexico is at the top of your wishlist. Best known for its warm climate, welcoming locals, and rich heritage, it is still the number one destination for U.S. travelers in 2024.

While Cancun's upscale resorts and well-frequented beaches continue to lead booking trends by a wide margin, other lesser-known destinations are stepping into the spotlight, either due to their growing importance as wellness hubs or immense historical value.

Aerial View Of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Latin America

Falling under the latter category, San Miguel de Allende has been surging in popularity lately. A medium-size city home to just under 200,000 inhabitants, it is the top ‘off-path' destination in Mexico this year, even though it does not have its own airport, and it is nowhere near the coast.

It has just been featured on American Express‘ list of Trending Destinations, and it's accumulated tens of millions of views across social media, especially TikTok, over the previous year.

It has won the hearts of Americans, and here are 5 reasons why:

The Prettiest Small City In Mexico

Mexican Women Riding Donkeys Through The Streets Of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Latin America

San Miguel (as it is called in the short form) is not only one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, but also one of its most culturally-charged.

Founded in the 16th-century, it holds UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its preserved colonial core, and impressive number of historic buildings.

Americans are eager to take culture-based trips this year, with a majority of them never having visited ancient sites, nor marveled at towering cathedrals, and for the odd History buff, San Miguel and its cobbled alleyways and fascinating museums is a no-brainer.

La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel is pretty hard to miss: the darling of visiting photographers, towering above the main square, it has a striking pink-washed Gothic façade, an uncommon feature for churches on both sides of the Atlantic.

Other points of interest include Casa de Allende, the previous home of infamous revolutionary Ignacio Allende, who was involved in the Mexican War of Independence, San Francisco Church, built in a flamboyant Churrigueresque style, and a vibrant Artisans Market.

Plenty Of Unique Stays To Pick From

Colorful House In San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Imagine staying in the heart of town, where the rooftop pool offers a privileged view of bell towers and the maze of colorful streets, within short walking distance from the main square, but it's still a lush-green oasis, where you're able to relax, and the cacophony of the outside world can't disturb you?

Or perhaps a hacienda dating back to the period of colonization, embedded in the tradition of New Spain, with its sun-drenched, Mediterranean-style gardens, lovely inner courtyards, and charming rooms that, despite having been renovated, still somehow ooze Old World charm?

San Miguel is full of charming, unique stays, and let's face it, if you're staying in the center of town, you have no option but to immerse in the culture, as you are likely to be housed in a former colonial mansion turned into hotel, in a neighborhood that is hundreds-of-years-old.

According to Tripadvisor, the top three coolest and most unique hotels in San Miguel are Casa de Sierra Nevada, a Belmond listing, El Santuario, a hacienda-style guesthouse, and the rustic, reasonably-priced Villa Mirasol Hotel.

Relax While Immersing Yourself In The Culture

Colonial Street Lined By Colorful Buildings In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, Latin America

Other than the eclectic architecture, richly-decorated Catholic shrines, and the verdant city parks dotted with ornate fountains, San Miguel is famous for its peaceful environment and quaint, laid-back nature, compared to other colonial cities in Mexico.

If you're looking to relax while soaking up the culture, it is definitely where you should be headed: though it boasts a plethora of colonial landmarks, neighboring Guanajuato can feel a tad too chaotic, with its incessant traffic and bustling crowds.

Mexico City is ten times worse, and pretty as it may be, Guadalajara does not have San Miguel's highly-reputed hospitality, nor the same concentration of wellness centers and spas, offering Americans top-notch treatments.

The two top-rated spas in town are Sense, A Rosewood Spa, where contemporary relaxation techniques are infused with native, indigenous ingredients, and Liva Aqua, equipped with eight massage rooms, a sauna, steam bath and relaxation areas.

It Is Incredibly Quaint And Safe

Colonial Era Christian Temple In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Safety is a primary concern for Americans traveling anywhere in Mexico, and the media is largely to blame for that, having painted a bleak picture and presented the Latin gem as crime-ridden and gang-dominated for decades now.

As it turns out, not all parts of Mexico are plagued by rampant crime, and certainly not picturesque San Miguel.

Walking the city center, there is no need to get jumpy or clutch your personal belongings tightly every time you accidentally rub shoulders with a passerby:

Petty crimes and violence rates are lower than in the state capital of Guanajuato, and most American tourists report zero problems when vacationing in the municipality.

It is remarkably tourist-friendly, with well-lit streets after sundown and a year-round tranquil atmosphere.

That being said, you should not make a spectable of yourself by attending touristy spots bedecked with expensive jewelry, nor wander off towards peripheral, poverty-stricken areas, as you logically wouldn't do in any destination, including in the States. It is pretty safe, just don't push your luck.

It Can Be Very Affordable

A Pile of Mexican Pesos Alongside a U.S. Passport

On top of being safe, San Miguel is quite affordable compared to most tourist cities in Mexico. You can stay in a centrally-located, non-luxurious hotel paying between $139 and $277 per night.

Food is on the cheaper end, too.

If splurging on fine dining isn't on the cards this time, you can go order a plate of tamales with breaded milanesa beef, rice, and a salad on the side in a local restaurant for less than $15, or grab a tasty tostada or tacos from a street market for less than five bucks.

Though this depends entirely on the preferred level of comfort in hotels, the restaurants visited, and whether you're the kind who brings expensive souvenirs back, a 3-day trip to San Miguel can cost only $180, excluding hotels.

As you can see, San Miguel is very low-risk, it has attractive prices, the cultural value is immeasurable, and there are endless cute Instagrammable corners to be discovered. It doesn't have an airport, but it's only one-and-a-half hours away from both BJX and QRO.

How To Get To San Miguel From The U.S.

Female Passenger In Plane

BJX is the main international airport serving the state of Guanajuato, with nonstop flights from a number of U.S. cities including Atlanta, starting March of this year, Chicago (Midway), Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose (California).

QRO is located near Querétaro, the capital of the state of the same name – San Miguel sits near the border – and it hosts flights from Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston (Intercontinental), and San Antonio in Texas.

Arriving to either Guanajuato or Querétaro, there are bus connections available to those traveling onward to San Miguel de Allende. Soon enough, a scenic train visiting the colonial cities of the region could be launched.

Following the Maya and Isthmus Trains, which launched simultaneously in 2023, local business leaders and tourism officials are now pushing for a third scenic train connecting León, Guanajuato, Querétaro and San Miguel de Allende.

The project is still on the drawing board, and as of now, there is no set date for commencement.

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