Attractions in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: What to do and where to go

A walk through San Miguel de Allende is an attraction in itself, from the beautiful colonial mansions and the impressive temples to the fascinating Historic Center where you'll find a number of details that will capture your attention, such as the old-fashioned carved wooden portals, wrought iron balconies, intricately carved stone, painted ornamental ceramic and many patios with fountains, abundantly adorned with flowers.

Apart from its intense architecture, visit the museums, theaters, cultural centers, art galleries and the bullring. San Miguel de Allende is also home to many natural attractions such as thermal springs, a botanic garden and beautiful fresh water springs.

There are more than 680 miles of roads that you can cover by foot, mountain bike, horseback or ATV. In San Miguel de Allende, there is something for everyone, including a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus and a number of spas for the ultimate relaxing experience.

Parrish of San Miguel de Archangel

The original construction of the Parrish of San Miguel de Archangel dates back to the 17th century but the facade itself was completely rebuilt in 1880 by Zeferino Gutierrez, who was inspired by the cathedrals of Europe. This created an impressive neo-gothic style, making this Parish one of the most photographed cathedrals in all of Mexico.

Main Plaza

In the heart of San Miguel de Allende, discover beautiful gardens with wrought iron benches and a traditional kiosk. It is ideal for a nice chat in the shade of the laurel trees or even for a little chat via internet (wireless service available here) on your laptop.

Casa del Mayorazgo de la Canal

In this neoclassic style mansion lived a well-to-do family called the De La Canal. The main attraction of this house is the front door, which was beautifully carved and symbolized the status of those who lived there. It now houses a bank branch.

Templo de la Concepcion

The locals call it "Las Monjas" (the Nuns) due to the fact that it belonged to the Order of the Immaculate Conception. The church was built between 1755 and 1842. In 1891, Zeferino Gutierrez built a cupola that was inspired by the Church of Saint-Louis des Invalides in Paris.

Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud

This temple dates back to the 18th century and was formerly a chapel for the School of San Francisco de Sales. From the porch, contemplate the carved conch shell, with a single eye inside a triangle, a symbol of the omnipresence of God and not, as popularly believed, to be due to the church's supposed powers of curing eye ailments.

Templo de San Francisco 

The construction of this church took 20 years to complete, reflected in the different architectural styles that adorn the facade, which is of Spanish Baroque influence. The Neoclassic bell tower, however, was built in 1799.

Museum Casa de Allende

Ignacio Allende was born here and it has now become a museum, completely dedicated to this important figure in the history of Mexican Independence. The Baroque-style building dates back to the 18th century and was detailed with carved stone and wrought iron like the houses of the rich Spanish nobility.

Cultural Center "El Nigromante"

In San Miguel, it is only known as "Bellas Artes" (the Fine Arts) even the full name is the National Institute of Fine Arts. This center offers sketching, painting, sculpture, music and dance and is also known for the incomplete murals of Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. It houses a museum, auditorium, two art galleries and a cafe.

Public Library

This is considered the second largest library in Mexico with publications and texts in English. This lovely building has a quaint interior patio, a reading room, an auditorium and a computer room with internet access.

Santuario de Atotonilco

This church is located in the town of Atotonilco, which means "place of hot water" because of the hot springs located nearby. The town itself is located just 8 kilometers from San Miguel de Allende. The church was founded by the Father Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro and has been a place of worship and pilgrimage since its construction, in 1740. It consists of 6 adjoining chapels, 206 pieces of religious art, and incredible murals and frescoes on the walls and ceiling. This church also featured in the Mexican War of Independence, because the priest Miguel Hidalgo took the standard of the Virgin of Guadalupe from the altar and carried it into battle.

Cante Botanic Garden

In this research center, there are over a thousand species of cactus, with microclimates and even an orchid greenhouse. In the surrounding areas, there are various spa hotels and thermal water springs.

Thermal Springs

The area features delicious thermal and alkaline water springs such as Cieneguita, Montecillo, Atotonilco, Taboada and the Cortijo. There are sulfurous waters of temperatures up to 102 degrees.

Bullfight Plaza

San Miguel de Allende features the Plaza de Toros Oriente, where you can admire great matadors in their traditional bullfighting regalia in a showdown between man and beast. The plaza was built in 1956 and can hold up to 3,000 spectators.

Paseo del Chorro

This cool spring was very important for the inhabitants of San Miguel de Allende for it brought drinking water to the town for centuries. Now it is a tourist site with a chapel and a temple, which are quaint and brightly colored and evoke a certain charm that only a small town could provide.

El Charco del Ingenio

There are also the remains of a colonial aqueduct and a reservoir where native and migratory birds can be seen. Beautiful paths, ideal for both biking and walking, wind through the gardens leading you to areas designated for rock climbing on the canyon walls and wonderful lookout points for birding.              


One of the traditional "fiestas" of San Miguel de Allende is the Sanmiguelada, (a term which comes from the famous Spanish party "Pamplona"). Every September since 1973, on the third Saturday an event is organized where more than 20,000 brave people from all over the country gather in the downtown to confront a dozen bulls.
If you are not so brave, you can be close to the bulls and watch the entire spectacle behind a metal fence or on T.V, comfortably seated in a sports bar. Not everything is about bulls and danger, there are also organized parades and colorful parties. Wear a white t-shirt and a red bandana to blend in with the festivities.

Angela Peralta Theater

This stunning theater was inaugurated in 1873 with a performance by the world famous Mexican opera singer, Angela Peralta. The theater, although originally designed as an opera house, is actually an elegant meeting point for national and international artists who come to participate in renowned events, such as the International Guitar Festival, the Jazz Festival and the Festival of Chamber Music.

Oratorio de San Felipe Neri

Constructed in 1712, this stunning church is built on the site of an old chapel, originally belonging to the mulatto population of San Miguel de Allende. It is a very interesting building because of its incredibly ornate decor that includes both golden walls and altars.

Benito Juarez Park

This beautiful park was founded at the beginning of the 20th and has a very French feel to it, featuring ponds, fountains, bridges, wrought iron benches and wide pathways. There is also a playground and picnic area. It's a very leafy, green park, home to a multitude of trees from the region, including mulberry, custard apple and walnut.

Instituto Allende

The De la Canal family built this home in the 17th century as their retreat from the city. This old mansion features beautiful patios, a modern art gallery, a restaurant, and a private chapel that exhibits colonial frescoes. In 1951 the whole building was converted into an art institute and now offers courses in silverwork, ceramics and Spanish.

The city with a regular International commercial airport nearest to San Miguel de Allende is Leon. Commercial flights arrive at Leon International Airport airport daily. Rental car agencies are in the airport. Driving time from Leon to San Miguel is approximately 1 1/2 hours. A direct first class bus from the airport to SMA takes between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

To fly (international airports), you will need a valid passport. It must be presented at the airline check-in. Once on the plane you will be given a form to fill out - for customs. There are restrictions as to what you can bring to Mexico......Some of these restrictions are limits for "duty free" and some are absolute, such as firearms without a permit (not to mention drugs).

Most commonly encountered restrictions are:

The Immigration counter is your first stop after you disembark the plane. Here you will have to present your passport (or birth certificate). Your passport will be stamped to make your arrival official. (You will need to keep your passport with you at all times while in Mexico) Next you'll proceed to the baggage claim area for your luggage.

Customs is the last step, here you will need to have your Customs Declaration Form handy (the form you were given on the plane). Recently Mexico adopted a "Red Light - Green Light" system for customs. If you have put "Nothing to declare" on this form, you will be asked to push a button....... If the light is green you can exit without inspection; if the light is red you will be subject to inspection. This is a random system, and therefore there is no way to know whether you will get a green or red light. Consequently you need to be honest on your Customs Declaration and declare anything over and above what is allowed, paying all applicable duties. If you do not, and are caught by a red light, the fines may be very steep.

By Land

Some visitors choose to drive form the U.S. or other areas of the country, or even the airport. Mexico City is 3 to 4 hours away, Leon 1 1/2 hours away. You can take Hwy. 57 and Hwy. 49 (which turns in Hwy. 45 at Zacatecas) from the U.S. border. Please make sure you use caution, abide by all laws, and have Mexican insurance.

Buses are also available from the Leon Airport, the Mexico City airport, and just about anywhere else in Mexico to San Miguel de Allende. From Mexico City airport you can take the Aeroplus to Queretaro (3 hours non stop), then take another bus to San Miguel (1 hour). The last bus leaves the airport at 8:30 pm. You can also go to the Central del Norte bus station in Mexico City and catch a bus straight to San Miguel. The city's main station or Central de Autobuses is located at Calzada de la Estacion about six blocks west of Jardin Allende. The number at the terminal is (4) 152-2206.

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