Oh, Guanajuato – we miss you already! After our 3 day visit, we decided to stay for another 30 and really loved our month of living in this city full of surprises. There’s so much to explore and we’ve compiled a list of 50 FUN things to do in Guanajuato that are budget friendly too. If you’re planning on visiting this charming city, be sure to check out our budget guide!
FUN THINGS TO DO IN GUANAJUATO: MAIN ATTRACTIONS
1. Presa de la Olla
Hidden on the southeast side of the city is quite possibly the best-kept secret in Guanajuato. This dam also serves as a lake that can be enjoyed on a paddleboat or rowboat. For only $37 pesos (per person), you can rent your own boat and enjoy a day on the water with the ducks. Our video from our last day in Guanajuato will give you a glimpse of this hidden gem.
2. Attend the Cervantino Festival
Every fall, the city of Guanajuato turns into a huge cultural festival. This international event started in 1972 and attracts artists and tourists from all over the world. It may be rowdier now than in the past but is the city’s biggest event of the year.
3. Alhóndiga de Granaditas Museum
This old grain storage facility was built by the Spaniards at the end of the 18th century and plays an important role in the history of Mexico. It is now a regional museum with many historical exhibits and artifacts. Explanations are in Spanish, entrance is $49 pesos and the museum is closed on Mondays.
4. Diego Rivera House Museum
Though the most prominent years of Diego Rivera’s career took place in Mexico City, Guanajuato is his hometown and his childhood home boasts a collection of his work. Entrance is $20 pesos and the museum is closed Mondays.
5. Mummy Museum
For $56 pesos you can visit the mummy museum of Guanajuato where you’ll find bodies that were dug up from the Santa Paula Pantheon. There are over 100 bodies in the museum that naturally mummified and the museum is open daily. This is considered to be an extremely popular attraction in the city but we left the museum feeling as though it was slightly overrated.
For those that know the story of Don Quixote, a trip to the museum will prove both interesting and fun. There is a great collection of paintings, sculptures and murals of Don Quixote. The museum is closed on Mondays but holds events weekly (movie nights, literary nights, etc.).
7. Learn About the Mines
The silver mines of Guanajuato play an important role in the history and evolution of the city. Many of the mines offer tours and are a great way to learn about the mining industry and how it affected the local people of Guanajuato. We visited the Bocamina de San Cayetano mine and even chatted with a former miner about his work conditions and his feelings towards the industry changes.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN GUANAJUATO: FOOD
8. Feast on Tacos al Pastor
Our favourite taco joint in town was definitely El Paisa. It’s close to Mercado Hidalgo and serves great tacos al pastor but also has tortas, burritos and various meat dishes. Try their signature pineapple salsa, we haven’t found anything quite like it in all of that we’ve seen of Mexico!
9. Try Dorilocos
Doritos are good but Dorilocos are crazy! This snack is popular with locals, especially students. Street vendors tear open of bag of Doritos before filling it with tons of toppings including pig skin in vinegar. We just had to try them and here’s the video to prove it!
10. Enjoy a shot of Mezcal
Mezcal is a type of alcohol made from the maguey plant in Mexico. Several bars in Guanajuato offer daily drink specials of this popular shot that is slightly similar in taste to tequila. We tried all kinds from coffee flavoured to honey and even tamarind.
11. People Watch at Santo Café
This restaurant sits on top of the Campanero bridge in Guanajuato and overlooks a busy walkway in town. It’s a great place to enjoy a cheap beer and watch the people walking into town. They also have a diverse and affordable menu from breakfast to dinner.
12. Try Pozole
If you haven’t already tried pozole, what are you waiting for?! This traditional Mexican soup is made in broth with hominy and various meats. Usually served with munchies or ‘botanas’ and can be found at Mexican restaurants like Casa Ofelia, La Casa de Dona Ana and Casa Mercedes.
13. Buy a Whole Chicken
Rotisserie chicken isn’t exactly Mexican but there’s something about the chicken here that tastes so much better. At El Pechugon, they sell whole roasted chickens with all the fixings for quite the bargain, especially on Wednesdays.
14. Eat Unlimited Pizza
Pizza lovers rejoice! Queridapizza is a restaurant in the centre of town by the Basilica that offers unlimited pizza for only $60 pesos! Best to go in a group as you have to order entire pizzas at a time but the crust is thin, service is quick and the pizzas will keep on coming.
15. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee
Guanajuato is full of unique cafes where you can enjoy some great coffee and get some work done or simply relax and people-watch. Some of our favourites were El Lechón Ilustrado, Café de la Paz and Cafe Tal. If you’re looking for a fresh roast to take home, you can end your search at Café Conquistador.
16. Go for Happy Hour at Clave Azul
If you manage to find it, make a stop between 4 and 6pm for happy hour at Clave Azul. It’s a quirky place nestled in an alley just off of Plaza San Fernando and has great (unlimited!) snacks and a wide selection of drinks.
17. Enjoy an Esquite
Esquite quickly became one of our favourite street food snacks. It is essentially corn in a cup topped with cream, cheese, chilli and lime. A popular food among locals pronounced ‘eskeyteh’ and served at many street food stands in the historic centre.
18. Buy Pastries at a Local Bakery
Follow the smell of fresh breads and pastries and visit a local bakery. In Mexico, most bakeries have large aluminum trays and tongs set out at the entrance. Grab one of each and select the sweets of your choice before bringing your tray to the register for payment.
19. Have Dinner on a Patio
Guanajuato has plenty of options for dining out but the patios at the town squares are where you’ll enjoy the atmosphere of the city. Jardin de la Union may be the busiest square but Plaza de la Paz and Plaza de San Fernando have great patio dining options too.
20. Try Some Traditional Mexican Candy
Obleas, coconut candy and tamarind candy are only some of the unique and traditional Mexican sweets you can try. In Guanajuato, you’ll even find taffy candy shaped like mummies! Several stores throughout town have wide selections of flavoured liqueurs and traditional candies that also make for great souvenirs.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN GUANAJUATO: ACTIVITIES
21. Watch the Sunset at El Pipila
For the best views of the city, head to El Pipila monument. It’s a great spot to watch the sun set and see the city of Guanajuato change from day to night.
22. Enjoy Live Music at Jardin de la Union
A couple of evenings a week, you’ll be able to enjoy free live music at the gazebo in Jardin de la Union. It may be a band, an orchestra or a traditional mariachi but every time the music creates a great atmosphere in the square. At times it gets a bit loud but enjoy the show from one of the park benches and you might even see couples start to dance.
23. Shop at Hidalgo Market
The biggest market in the city is Mercado Hidalgo and you’ll find plenty of vendors selling everything from souvenirs to fresh meats. You’ll also find plenty of options at the food stalls nearby for a quick and cheap lunch.
24. Go to the Mall
You won’t find a fancy shopping centre in the historic town but Plaza Pozuelos is not far away and easy to get to by bus. Close to Mercado Hidalgo is where you can hop on a bus going to the Mega grocery store. The mall has a full department store called La Marina, a Cinemex movie theatre, a food court and various other shops.
25. Sunday Market at Embajadores
Every Sunday, the market at Embajadores turns into a festive gathering with music, food stands and even a pony ride for the children. It feels as if the whole town comes to get together for a traditional Sunday Funday.
26. Join a Callejoneada
It’s hard to miss the men and women dressed in costume at Jardin de la Union. They are often selling tickets for callejoneadas which are walking serenades that are unique to the state of Guanajuato. Tickets to join the traditional serenade are $100 pesos and they’re a great way to walk about the streets of the city in the evening and enjoy some live music.
27. Take the Funicular
It may not also be open or working but the funicular is a great (and easy) way to get up to the panoramic level of the city. Here you can enjoy great views from El Pipila statue without the trouble of stairs or the cost of a taxi.
28. Get Spooked at a Haunted House
You wouldn’t expect to see a haunted house in a colonial city but Guanajuato is full of surprises. Casa de Tia Aura is on Paseo de la Presa and is open daily for those looking for a frightful afternoon.
29. Visit a Torture Museum
On top of a hill near the Valenciana mine is where you’ll find more than one torture museum. We stumbled upon one as part of a tour and were surprised at the enthusiasm and humour of the guides that even dress in robes and pretend to torture the tourists.
30. Explore the Underground Tunnels
You may not notice at first but Guanajuato has a very unique layout. You’ll see that there are no streetlights in the downtown area and the roads become congested easily. To help with the traffic, there are a series of underground tunnels and most have sidewalks so they can be explored on foot too!
31. Kiss at the Callejon del Beso
The most romantic legend in Guanajuato is the love story between Carmen and Luis. It is said that the couple could only meet in secret out of fear of Carmen’s father discovering her new love. Callejon del Beso refers to the alley where Carmen lived and a kiss on the third step is said to bring all couples years of happiness.
32. Visit the Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera
This grand hacienda is now a museum and a visit here is a great way to escape the city and enjoy the beautiful gardens. A tour through the colonial home gives insight to how the wealthy of Guanajuato lived in a different era.
33. Take Spanish Lessons
Usually big tourist destinations in Mexico make it easy to get by in English for your stay but Guanajuato is a bit different. You’ll find that most vendors and servers in the historic centre speak only Spanish and so this is the perfect city to brush up on those lessons! Escuela Falcon, Plateros Spanish School and Don Quijote offer courses for various levels. If you’re travelling on a budget, keep your eyes peeled for bulletins boards in town and you might find yourself a private Spanish teacher for half the price.
34. Admire all the Churches
Though the Basilica in the heart of town may be the most impressive, the city of Guanajuato has several churches with unique architecture and many play an important role in the city’s history. If you’re walking through the plazas and alleys, take a peak but be sure not to interrupt during mass.
35. Feed Birds at a Park
Not far from Presa de la Olla is where you’ll find a couple of parks. They make for a nice and quiet refuge where you can sit on the park benches and feed the birds that are always looking for food. Florencio Antillon, Parque de las Acacias and Parque de San Renovato are all close to each other and come to life on weekends.
36. Watch a Movie at the Cinemas Theatre
Just up the road from University of Guanajuato is where you’ll find this small theatre that features new releases for only $35 pesos. Don’t expect any Hollywood glamour here but movies are cheap! Just be sure to check if they’re in English (subtitulada) or in Spanish (doblada).
37. Take a Bus Tour of the City
When we first got to Guanajuato, we couldn’t help but notice all the tourist ‘information’ booths that were actually booths selling tickets to guided tours. At $150 pesos, it’s a quick and easy way to see the city if you’re pressed for time. Our guide only spoke Spanish, though I hesitate to call him a guide since he really only drove and gave little information about where we were going. We negotiated the ticket down to $100 per person but that doesn’t include any admission to the stops along the way (museums, mines, etc).
38. Watch a Performance at Teatro Juarez
The main theatre in town is a popular icon of Guanajuato. Centrally located at Jardin de la Union, Teatro Juarez is where many performances come to life for locals and tourists alike. The interior of the building is as lavish and grand as it’s exterior.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN GUANAJUATO: SPORTS & EXERCISE
39. Climb the steps of the University of Guanajuato
The climb up the several steps of the university will reward you with some pretty great views of the city for the ultimate selfie. Hang out on the steps with other students (prone to a lot of PDA) and take in the sights and sounds of Guanajuato.
40. Head Over to the Swimming Pool
At the Centro Acuatico en Macrocentro, you’ll find an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an on-site gym. The facilities are a great way to stay in shape while enjoying Guanajuato. To enjoy the services at the centre, registration is required and then passes can be purchased.
41. Get Lost in the Curvy Streets
The best way to see Guanajuato is to walk about the town and let yourself get lost in the confusing streets, walkways and hidden alleys. You never know what charming restaurant, boutique or garden you might stumble upon! And with all the stairs in the city, you’re sure to get in a good workout.
42. Take Salsa Lessons
Monday to Thursday evenings, salsa classes are offered through Salsa Con Fuego from 7-10pm. Beginners are welcome and hourly classes are $50 pesos per person. The second-floor studio is located in front of Teatro Juarez and passes are available for multiple classes.
43. Hike to La Bufa
If you’re looking to enjoy a different point of view in Guanajuato, the Cerro de la Bufa is a place worth exploring. The hike may be challenging (depending on your level of experience) but the views are spectacular.
44. Take a Yoga Class
Unwind from the bustle of the city with a yoga class. Ikal Yoga hosts classes every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30 to 9:00pm for $60 pesos. Centro Bharati also has yoga classes, massages and great vegetarian meal options.
45. Watch a Baseball Game
If you’re craving a good ol’ ball game and some local atmosphere, head to the baseball stadium in the Pastita neighbourhood. Games and times vary depending on the season but tickets can be purchased at the door and are cheaper if you’re willing to sit in the sun.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN GUANAJUATO: EXCURSIONS
46. Take a Trip to Cubilite Hill
In the region of Bajio near Guanajuato, there is an impressive 23-metre monument called Cristo Rey. It sits on top of the Cubilite Hill giving great panoramic views of the surrounding hills. It is a very important monument in Guanajuato and there are even religious pilgrimages made to Cristo Rey.
47. Shop Your Way Through San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende has a similar colonial feel to Guanajuato but on a smaller scale and with more tourists and expats. Because of this, we found the city to be a bit pricier than Guanajuato but beautiful nonetheless. The trip is about and a half hours by bus and a great place to shop for all things artisanal.
48. Take a Day Trip to Dolores Hidalgo
An hour away from Guanajuato is where you’ll find a colonial town with as much history as it has charm. The city plays an important part in the story of Mexico’s independence and is well worth a visit.
49. Visit Nearby Leon
If shoes are your vice, look no further than Leon. The city is considered to be the shoe capital of Mexico and is only about an hour away from Guanajuato. You’ll likely need more than a day to explore this metropolis but frequent and affordable service between cities is offered with Primera Plus. If you’re around in November, Leon is home to a marvelous hot air balloon festival!
50. Explore Pozos de Mineral
If you’re interested in the mining culture of Guanajuato, Pozos is a great town to explore and learn more about the mines. It is very small, has great scenery and is also good for hiking in the countryside. Visit with a guide for a well-rounded experience.
Whether you’re in Guanajuato for a few days or a few months, there is something here for everyone. Even though there’s no beach in sight, we found it to be a really special and affordable city to live in. Hopefully this post inspires you to go and explore all the fun things to do in Guanajuato!