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If you’re looking for an adventure-filled road trip in Mexico that takes you off the beaten path, Guanajuato State is a great choice.
Guanajuato is located in Central Mexico, west of the state of Jalisco (where I live), and last year I had the pleasure of going on a Guanajuato road trip while traveling overland from Mexico City to Puerto Vallarta.
Full of charming colonial towns, world heritage cities, beautiful natural scenery, and outdoor activities, Guanajuato combines all the elements that make you fall in love with Mexico.
Guanajuato City and San Miguel de Allende are undoubtedly the most popular places to visit in the state, this Guanajuato travel guide will highlight other towns and attractions worth exploring.
This one-week Guanajuato itinerary offers a mix of cultural, historical, and outdoor experiences, opportunities to taste local wines and liquors, and overnight stays in unique accommodations.
This post was sponsored by the Guanajuato tourism board. As always, all opinions are my own.
Renting a car in Guanajuato
First things first, you’ll need to rent a car to explore Guanajuato state. This will give you the freedom to explore the state at your own pace and make stops wherever you’d like.
If you’re flying, the easiest place to pick up a car is at the Guanajuato International Airport (BJX). Several major car rental companies have offices at the airport, and you can book a car in advance online.
It is located in Silao, Guanajuato, about 30 minutes from Guanajuato City and Leon which are good starting/end points for your road trip.
I recommend booking through Discover Cars, an aggregate platform that searches local and international companies to find you the best price.
One Week Guanajuato Itinerary
Day 1: Guanajuato City
Start your road trip in the capital city of Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage city with a rich cultural heritage and enchanting atmosphere.
One of the best things to do here is simply walk around and explore the city’s colorful buildings, winding streets, and underground network.
There are many options for walking tours of the city where a local guide can tell you about the city’s history.
I always love starting my trips with a walking tour as it gives you a good context of the place you’re visiting – and usually some recommendations on where to eat!
But if you prefer to walk around on your own, the city is perfect for that. Start at Plaza de la Paz, then head over to the Alley of the Kiss, one of the most photographed places in the city.
Take a lunch break at the Mercado Hidalgo, then explore the Jardin de la Union in the afternoon or ride on the funicular for panoramic city views.
To dive deeper into Guanajuato’s history, you can visit museums such as Alhondiga de Granaditas and the Diego Rivera Museum.
Guanajuato City also has events and festivals going on throughout the year. If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss out on participating in the Festival Cervatino, one of Latin America’s largest cultural events.
Recommended hotel: Nueve 25 is a 5-star boutique hotel in the heart of the city center. Each room is uniquely decorated, with a restaurant with a gorgeous terrace overlooking the city. Plus, it’s pet friendly!
Day 2: Ruto del Vino
In the morning, drive an hour to the town of Dolores Hidalgo, which was the first town to be designated as a pueblo magico in Guanajuato.
Take some time to explore the main plaza, where you can sit on the steps of the church where Mexico’s Independence War was officially incited in 1810.
Dolores is also known for its Talavera pottery and Mayólica ceramics, and there are streets lined with Artisan shops that make it easy to walk and browse.
In the afternoon, head out to visit some of the vineyards in the area.
Over the past two decades, more than 30 wineries have opened in the region.
While Guanajuato isn’t as well-known for wine in the same way as Baja California’s Valle de Guadalupe, it’s becoming more popular.
The Ruta del Vino stretches from Dolores Hidalgo to the eastern side of San Miguel de Allende and is one of the top things to do in Guanajuato!
Drinking and driving is never a good idea, but in Guanajuato, you can stay overnight at a vineyard.
Hotel La Santísima Trinidad is a Mexican-owned vineyard that offers many experiences beyond wine tastings, including lavender and olive workshops, bike rides, a spa, and gorgeous rooms where you can look out from your bedroom window into the vineyards.
Day 3: Xichu
After a relaxing morning on the vineyard, head out for a two-hour drive to Xichu.
The surrounding area of Xichu is a nature lovers’ paradise, full of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and forests to explore. It’s also a great place for ecotourism in Mexico, such as hiking, rock climbing, zip-lining, and stargazing.
Spend the afternoon on the activity of your choice, and then head back into Xichu to spend the night.
Day 4: Mineral de Pozos and San Miguel de Allende
After breakfast in Xichu, head out for an hour-and-a-half scenic drive to Mineral de Pozos. Another pueblo magico, here you can learn about how the town developed a prosperous mining industry during the Spanish rule.
Mineral de Pozos is also known for its lavender fields that bloom during summer. They make for fantastic photos, so don’t miss this if you’re visiting during this time!
After exploring Mineral de Pozos, it’s just an hour’s drive to San Miguel de Allende, one of the most popular places to see in Guanajuato.
San Miguel de Allende is another UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vibrant city center full of colorful architecture, art galleries, and restaurants.
I loved walking around this city, taking photos by the colorful murals, and eating and drinking through the cafes and taco stands. It’s a fantastic city for digital nomads in Mexico to live in!
The Parroquia de San Miguel church is always lively at night – it feels like a fairytale when fireworks go off behind it.
Recommended hotel: There are many boutique hotels in San Miguel de Allende to choose from, but staying at Casa de Sierra Nevada is like stepping back in time.
Located in the historical city center, this hotel boasts five spectacular colonial buildings, each room elegantly decorated with classic art pieces and luxury amenities.
Day 5: Pyramids and Salvatierra
Start your morning in San Miguel de Allende with a hot air balloon ride, where you’ll experience beautiful views of the city and surrounding countryside.
If heights aren’t your thing, but you want to see the countryside, horseback riding tours are also available.
After a morning of adventure, enjoy breakfast in town before heading out for an hour’s drive to the Cañada de la Virgen pyramid, an archaeological site that dates back to the pre-Hispanic era.
From there, head two hours south towards Salvatierra, the first territory in Guanajuato to be recognized as a city.
If you want to break up the drive, stop in Comonfort mid-way, the latest Guanajuato town designated as a pueblo magico due to the conservation of culture, such as the native Otomí cuisine.
A unique place to spend the night in Salvatierra is Eco Parque El Sabinal, which has cottages and small grills for barbeques.
Day 6: Yuriria and Leon
Enjoy breakfast in Salvatierra and then head out to Yuriria, a town surrounded by an extensive man-made lagoon that provides a home to various animals.
That afternoon, explore one of the two nature reserves, La Laguna and Lago Cráter, to see local wildlife, including gray foxes, white-tailed deer, and migratory birds.
After a refreshing day in nature, drive two hours, Leon. If you have time, you can add in some extra rejuvenation by participating in a traditional temazcal ceremony at Ce Kalli Temazcal & Spa.
Temazacal is a traditional Mexican sweat lodge used for spiritual and physical healing. The ceremony involves sitting in a small, enclosed space while hot stones are heated, and water is poured over them, creating steam.
It’s an intense experience but one of my favorite things to do in Mexico – it’s incredibly therapeutic!
Spend the night in Leon, which has several hotels to choose from.
Day 7: Ruta de Mezcal
Spend the morning exploring Leon. The city is known for being one of the largest shoemaking regions in Mexico, so if you’re in the market for a new pair, this is the place to get them.
Afterward, head out to explore the Ruta de Mezcal towards San Felipe. While Oaxaca City is the most famous region in Mexico for producing mezcal, it was actually first produced in Guanajuato.
Several mezcal haciendas here have been producing for over two centuries! If you’re interested in learning more about mezcal, this route offers some of the best places to go in Guanajuato to learn.
The hour-and-a-half drive towards San Felipe will take you through a pass in the mountains with gorgeous views of canyons and ridges. At villasuso distillery, you can learn about the process of making mezcal, taste different varieties, and purchase a bottle to take home with you.
If you have an early flight the next day, head back to Leon or Guanajuato City that evening. But if you have more time, stay overnight in San Felipe and enjoy a few extra mezcals.
On the way back, you can also opt to stop at the Cerro Del Cubile, a photogenic iconic hill with a 23m-tall statue of Christ the King.
Best time to visit Guanajuato
Guanajuato has what is known as the Eternal Spring climate, which means you can expect mild springtime temperatures all year, making it a year-round destination.
The high season for tourism in Guanajuato typically occurs from November to April, when you can expect sunny days with mild temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the region’s attractions. However, this is also the busiest time, and popular destinations like San Miguel de Allende may be more crowded.
If you prefer a quieter and more relaxed experience, consider visiting Guanajuato during the shoulder seasons during spring and fall.
These months offer pleasant temperatures, fewer crowds, and a good chance to catch local festivals and cultural events. The landscapes are often lush and vibrant during these seasons, making them great for nature photography.
Is Guanajuato State worth visiting?
Absolutely! From its colorful cities to its charming pueblos magicos and breathtaking natural landscapes, Guanajuato offers a wealth of experiences waiting to be explored.
One of the main highlights of visiting Guanajuato is its rich historical and cultural significance. The region’s colonial past is beautifully preserved in its architecture, particularly in the city of Guanajuato itself.
But beyond the city, the state is dotted with enchanting towns like San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo, and Mineral de Pozos, each with its own unique character and historical tales to share.
It’s also a great place for nature lovers, given the state’s diverse landscapes. From the rolling hills and vineyards of the wine route to the rugged mountains and canyons, Guanajuato State offers ample opportunities for outdoor adventures.
Hiking, horseback riding, hot air balloons, and rock climbing are just a few of the activities that allow you to connect with the region’s natural beauty.
Is Guanajuato safe for tourists?
Safety is an important consideration for any traveler going to Mexico. Overall, Guanajuato is considered a safe place for tourists to visit. The state has a relatively low crime rate compared to other regions, and tourism is an important part of its economy.
However, it’s essential to exercise the same caution and common sense as you would when visiting any unfamiliar destination. Avoid displaying valuable items openly, and use hotel safes for storing passports and other important documents. There may be instances of petty theft or pickpocketing, particularly in crowded areas, so keep an eye on your belongings while out.
If you’re renting a car, avoid leaving your belongings visible in the car while it’s unattended, as this may attract people to break in. It’s best to check in at your hotel, safely store your belongings, and then head out to explore.
Whether it’s savoring local flavors, uncovering historical gems, or immersing yourself in the natural beauty, this Guanajuato road trip itinerary promises an unforgettable adventure for active travelers seeking an authentic and off-the-beaten-path experience.
So, buckle up, hit the road, and let the State of Guanajuato reveal its wonders to you.