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This Small Historic City Is One Of The Best Destinations In Mexico

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Mexico is the number one destination for Americans going abroad, best known for its pristine Caribbean beaches, year-round warmer weather and Mesoamerican culture, but it is also much more diverse than it gets credit for. In fact, one of the best destinations south of the border is neither a coastal hub, nor a traditional Mayan settlement: it is a small historic city tucked away in central Mexico.

Aerial View Of San Miguel de Allende, A Colonial City In The State Of Guanajuato, In Central Mexico, Latin America

Over the years, this city has risen to prominence as one of the most beautiful and well-preserved historic sites in the country. Even though it is yet to attain the coveted Pueblo Magico status, it remains part of a vaguely-delineated colonial tourism belt, easily recognized for its maze of cobblestone streets, striking pink dome, and European architecture.

Behold San Miguel de Allende, the pearl of the Guanajuato state:

One Of The Most Beautiful Cities In Mexico

A Beautiful Inner Courtyard With An Elaborate Fountain Adorned With Flower Vases In San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Colonial tourism is one of the leading trends in Mexico moving forward, as a growing number of vacationers seek more authentic destinations when traveling and unique experiences that allow for deeper immersion in the local culture while still permitting them to enjoy a slow-paced, carefree vacation.

These former colonies are normally much smaller than the major urban centers lining the Mexican coast, and their values and tradition date back centuries, as a mix of both Iberian-European and native Mexican influences. It should come as no surprise then that one of these gems was recently awarded the title of world's best small city by Condé Nast Traveler:

San Miguel de Allende is a History-packed city that has retained much of its colonial heritage, paying homage to the bygone Spanish Empire, of which modern-day Mexico was a part of prior to gaining its independence in the 19th century, while still being quintessentially Mexican at heart, what with its Latin American flair and colorful cityscape.

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A Charming Street Lined With Colorful Buildings In San Miguel de Allende, State Of Guanajuato, Mexico

The city's main attractions are centered around a UNESCO-listed Centro Historico, such as the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, one of the most famous neo-Gothic monuments on this side of the Atlantic. It towers above a central square, El Jardin, which is flanked on all sides by charming heritage buildings and elaborately-designed facades.

Walking the cobblestone streets, within short distance of the central plaza, tourists can find the landmark Templo de San Francisco, whose stunning ornaments can be spotted from a mile away, among several other points of interest, including, but not limited to, serene parks and hidden patios, 18th-century mansions, regional markets where local craft is sold, and world-class museums.

A Charming Cobblestone Street Lined With Colorful Buildings In San Miguel de Allende, A Colonial Era City In Mexico, Latin America

Foodie lovers have their own reasons to obsess over San Miguel: it is a certified mecca for Mexican cuisine, boasting an enviable collection of five-star rated restaurants as well as flavorful street food. From haute cuisine to the widely popular tamales, it won't take you long to figure out why the city was added to the Gastronomical Guide to World Heritage Mexican Cities.

Looking For Discreet Luxury?

This Is The Place To Be

Romantic Hotel, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Beyond its cultural appeal, San Miguel also seems to attract a particular category of visitors: those who are dreaming of an idyllic yet luxurious getaway and who would happily swap a beach day in an overtouristed, hippy-dominated Tulum for a long weekend in a four-star boutique hotel in Mexico's historical core.

Instead of checking into a soulless tourist complex managed by a huge brand, visitors can opt for a cozy vintage room in a centuries-old villa that was probably a wealthy Spaniard family's abode once and that just exudes chic.

Church San Francisco In San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

Recently, a new Numu Boutique Hotel was inaugurated by the state's Governor, increasing the lodging offer to 236 establishments with up to 3,428 rooms, further asserting San Miguel's role as a ‘discreet luxury' capital. At present, the city accounts for up to 22 percent of the total number of tourist accommodations across the state of Guanajuato.

One Of Mexico's Strongest Tourist Offers

In sum, what exactly makes San Miguel de Allende so special and one of Mexico's strongest tourist offers in 2023?

Colonial Era Christian Temple In San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Excellent cuisine
  • It is much smaller than state capitals and other Mexican cities lining the coast, enjoying a relaxed atmosphere
  • The levels of tourism are much more tame and there are fewer crowds as a result
  • Hugely photogenic
  • With its numerous spas, boutique hotels and shamanic retreats, it is a wellness capital in the making

Looking for further travel inspo? Check out the top 10 things to do on a short sejour in San Miguel de Allende.

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