Guanajuato

View of Guanajuato

Guanajuato is a city in central Mexico and is the Capital city of the state bearing the same name. It is 390 km (about 250 miles) northwest of Mexico City. The name of the city means "Place of Frogs" in the local indigenous language and therefore the frog is the city's official pet.

Guanajuato is a beautiful mountain colonial town. Many tourists and locals consider this city to be the most beautiful in Mexico. It used to be a major silver mining town, and many of the mines are still active. The city is built on very hilly ground, so virtually every point in the city is on a slant. The city has a network of underground tunnels that serve as roads making this place really unique in the world.

Understand

Unlike other Mexican cities that have an exact date of foundation, Guanajuato was the result of miner camping sites after silver veins were discovered between 1540 and 1558 and that eventually lead to a larger settlement. In 1558 a big silver vein was discovered in Guanajuato and produced nearly a third of all silver in the world by the next 250 years. The city was granted its city status in 1741 by Spanish King Philip V. Mining brought wealth to this town that spread towards its architecture and lifestyle.

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 22.3 24.1 27.1 29.4 30.6 28.7 26.9 26.8 26.1 25.5 24.2 22.6
Nightly lows (°C) 6.9 7.9 9.7 12.2 14.0 14.7 14.1 14.1 13.8 11.7 9.0 7.5
Precipitation (mm) 16.4 11.9 8.8 8.1 42.4 136.9 179.8 149.4 122.8 35.6 10.4 8.0

Source:w:Guanajuato_City#The_municipality

The historic town of Guanajuato and adjacent mines were granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1987 and has been ranked by several travel magazines as one of the top travel destinations in the world.

Get in

By plane

Guanajuato International Airport (IATA: BJX) in Silao is the closest airport serving Guanajuato. It also serves the cities of Leon and Silao, the industrial cities of the state. International airlines serving this airport include Aeromexico (Los Angeles CA, Ontario CA), American Eagle (Dallas, TX), Delta Airlines (Atlanta, GA) Mexicana (Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, CA, Oakland, CA, Sacramento, CA, San Jose, CA), and United Airlines (Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA). Airlines serving this airport domestically to many cities across Mexico include: Aeromexico, Vivaerobus y Volaris. Alternatively if you're flying from Europe, Asia or South America you can fly through Mexico City and take a bus or a flight from there. The bus ride is around 5 hours. You may also consider Queretaro International Airport QRO some 3 hours from Guanajuato.

By bus

Bus service in Mexico is quite reliable and comfortable. Before the recent start-up of several low cost air carriers, Bus was the main mean of transport across Mexico. Several lines serve Guanajuato including Primera plus. Buses have air conditioning (except some "economy" ones), and often show movies and have refreshments.

You can take a taxi (~$45 MXN) or local bus (Centro-Central, $5 MXN) in the city to the   bus station (Central de Autobuses) to catch a bus to San Miguel de Allende (1 hour), Guadalajara (3 hours), Mexico City Norte (5 hours), Acapulco, Querétaro and other locations.

Get around

Entrance to the street tunnel near Hidalgo Market
Tunnel

Tunnels

One of the unique features of the city is its extensive tunnel network. The first tunnels were constructed during the Spanish colonial period to for flood control, with additional tunnels built in the late 1800s. After dam construction was completed in the 1960s, many tunnels were converted to roadways to speed up car traffic. The most recent tunnel was built around 1990.

Many of the city buses run along the tunnels and is safe to take them in the special underground stops. Walking in the tunnels near Centro (downtown) is also safe. If you're driving, take into account that the tunnels are one way only, so taking the wrong tunnel may result in making a big tour around all the city.

Current tunnels:

By foot

Guanajuato is not very big and you can walk to most places, so a car is really not necessary.

By bus

Public bus (urbano)

Buses, called urbanos, are operated by the Sistema Coordinado de Transporte de Guanajuato, and run from 07:00-22:00 daily for a flat rate of $5 MXN (single ride, no transfer). There is no schedule or route map; destinations are marked or painted on the windshield. In general buses heading from east to west travel above ground along Avenida Benito Juarez, while buses heading in the opposite direction travel underground in Túnel Miguel Hidalgo. A number of stairways descending from the street lead to underground bus stops and are safe to use.

By taxi

A taxi to any destination within central Guanajuato should cost about $35-40 MXN. Taxis do not use meters and the price should be confirmed first.

By tourist trolley

A trolley-like bus makes sightseeing tours of the city departing from Plaza de la Paz in the Centro, next to the Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato. The rides lasts 1.5 hours and costs $50 MXN. There is a tour guide in Spanish only. Is a great way to know the city.

By car

Driving a car is not the best way to get to know Guanajuato; however, if you plan to get in and out of the city then you will need to use the underground roads or tunnels. Make sure to park your car in your hotel, as most offer free shuttle to the city; otherwise, park your car in a lot (estacionamiento).

See

Churches

Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
Gold leaf altar in the Church of San Cayetano (Templo de la Valenciana)

Landmarks

Teatro Juarez
Universidad de Guanajuato

Mines

Mine tour

Museums

Museum of the Mummies
Museo Casa Diego Rivera
Don Quixote Iconographic Museum

Do

Cultural events

Procession during Semana Santa
Festival Medieval de Guanajuato

Sport and outdoor activities

View from one of the many hiking trails around the city

Buy

Mercado Hidalgo

Learn

Eat

Miner's enchiladas (enchiladas mineras), a Guanajuato specialty
Salad at Santo Café
Meal with a view

In Guanajuato the local dish is 'miner's enchiladas' (enchiladas mineras), served almost everywhere.

Drink

Bar Fly

The nightlife is very active in Guanajuato, especially on weekends. Look for people passing out flyers during the day for drink specials and sometimes free drink coupons. If you walk around the city center, you'll find plenty to do – music spills out of the bars and clubs into the streets and many establishments have outdoor areas.

To start the night off, stop by one of the little cafes in the Jardín, for dinner and drinks and mariachi band ambiance. It is a great place to people watch. And definitely try Sol – a popular Mexican beer similar to Corona.

Sleep

Budget

La Casa de Dante

Mid-range

Stay safe

Guanajuato is a really safe city – police are always around, and people are very friendly to tourists. Most of the city is safe during daylight hours, and as long as you stay in the downtown area, walking around alone or in small groups at night is safe as well. (Anyplace you'd want to go out at night is downtown.) The rougher neighborhoods are on the slopes of the eastern side of the city, as well as in the vicinity of the Pípila monument. Generally the city is far safer than the average American college campus and doesn't have much crime directed at tourists.

There is however one caveat: do not ever go running or walking around the Panorámica (the beautiful road around the edge of the city in the mountains) in the evening or early mornings. Many rapes, assaults, and muggings of foreigners have occurred in this area and some of the victims were out running with friends. Groups of men may be OK, but even several women together will not be safe. It is, however, safe to run in the city in the early mornings and there are a number of gyms where you can pay by the class. (Several of the foreign exchange programs have apartments on or near the Panorámica and those houses often have large parties. In the populated areas it's fine at all hours, but since it's a loop with a nice view of the city, many foreigners decide to run around it at dawn and parts of it are much more isolated.)

Go next

Try also to visit Dolores Hidalgo (about 1 hour from Guanajuato) and San Miguel de Allende (about 1.5 hours from Guajuato), both cities in Guanajuato State. Or, if you love shoes you can go to León, "The Shoes Capital". The shoes and boots are inexpensive, but of very good quality.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.