The UNESCO-listed city of Guanajuato is quite possibly the most picturesque place in all of Mexico. Brightly coloured buildings tumble down the hillside, leading to lovely plazas and squares.
The temperature is perfect, the people are friendly and there are endless amounts of things to do in Guanajuato, making it a must-visit destination in Mexico.
After spending 2 weeks in this lovely mountain town, I can honestly say that it’s a great place for travellers to visit, and I can’t wait to return.
There are numerous things to see in Guanajuato, but here’s my list of the 15 best.
1. Wander The Colourful Lanes
Guanajuato is a well-designed city with plenty of plazas and squares, and leading away from those squares are many lanes and alleyways just waiting to be explored.
The colours of the buildings are bright and cheerful, and the little streets are endless.
You may get lost in the labyrinth of streets in the hills, and if so, just wander downhill until you eventually arrive in the center of town.
The center of the city is pedestrian-only, meaning you can explore without worrying about vehicles, exhaust or loud horns honking.
So, where are all the cars? They’re underground!
That’s right, there’s hardly any traffic in Guanajuato due to the network of tunnels beneath the city.
These tunnels were initially built to prevent flooding of the nearby Rio Guanajuato (river) from damaging the city, but today the tunnels are now protecting the city from traffic.
This makes Guanajuato one of the most enjoyable cities to walk around in.
Walking around and exploring on foot is one of the best things to do in Guanajuato for sure. Put your phone away, and don’t worry about Google Maps here — getting lost is all part of the fun.
If you’d like to learn more about the city of Guanajuato, join this experience with a local guide. Included in this highly rated walking tour are some snacks, a drink at the end, entrance fees, and a guide. Find out more here.
2. Visit The Mummy Museum
Of all the attractions in Guanajuato, visiting a museum filled with mummies is definitely the most offbeat.
One story says that these people had to be dug up from the cemetery in order to make room for new bodies.
Another states that a perpetual burial tax was issued and those who couldn’t afford it, had their beloved family members dug up and moved.
Regardless of which story is true, what was discovered wasn’t skeletons as planned.
Due to the large amounts of clay and limestone in the ground, the bodies became mummified!
Every local person you talk to will tell you to visit this museum, which houses over 100 mummified bodies. Mexicans are obsessed with death and their infatuation with this museum only helps to prove that.
Westerners may find it a bit eery, creepy and sad, as we’re not as comfortable with death as other cultures are. Regardless of how you feel, it’s a very interesting museum and one of the more unusual things to do in Guanajuato.
The museum is open from 9:00 – 6:00pm every day and costs 50 pesos ($2.10) to enter. Click here to find the Mummy Museum on the map.
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3. Enjoy A Show At The Theatre
There are a couple of theatres in Guanajuato with Teatro Principal (main theatre) having performances and events weekly — typically on Fridays during the months of February – June.
The symphony orchestra is fabulous and tickets cost between 80 – 100 pesos ($3.40 – $4.25) for two hours of incredible music. If you’re wondering what to do for date night in Guanajuato, this is it. Click here to find Teatro Principal on the map.
Another option is to join this Airbnb Experience with a local.
You’ll learn all about the arts and music scene in Guanajuato and Mexico, take in a symphony performance (at either Juarez or Principal Theatre), and afterward, enjoy dinner at one of the top restaurants in the city. Click here to learn more.
4. Visit The Alley of The Kiss
The name of this famous alleyway comes from an old folk tale.
Apparently, two young people lived across the alley from each other and although the girl’s father forbade their relationship, they were in love and continued to see one another.
Because the lane is so narrow, their balconies almost touched, allowing the young couple to kiss in secret!
The story has a tragic ending, but if you go to this alleyway and stand on the red step and kiss your significant other, you’ll have 7 years of happiness.
For couples, this is one of the most romantic things to do in Guanajuato.
5. Go On a Food Tour (one of the best things to do in Guanajuato for foodies!)
If you’re interested in sampling delicious street foods, visiting some markets and walking around the city, this tour is for you!
The food in Mexico has historical significance and has actually been given UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Not only that, but the cuisine is so tasty. The best way to find (and eat) traditional food is by joining a tour with a knowledgeable guide.
From authentic gorditas and sopes, to tomales and tacos, this food tour will take you around to all of the hot spots and best vendors.
After devouring delicious snacks, sipping on Mexican coffee and finishing it all off with homemade ice cream, you’ll be ready for a nap. Check out Mexico Street Food Tours for details.
6. Wander Through Diego Rivera’s Home
Diego Rivera was Frida’s husband and a famous artist in Mexico.
His home has now been turned into a museum/art gallery and you can wander through and take a glimpse into the rooms of his actual home — which are still set up with furniture.
In order to turn the home into an art gallery, the house has been added onto. You’ll find some fantastic pieces here, by both Rivera and other more modern artists as well.
The best way to understand what you’re actually looking at and to get a better glimpse into the life of Diego Rivera is to join a tour. Click here to find Diego’s home on the map.
7. Ride the Funicular
The funicular is a tram-car pulled by a cable, which takes you up the side of the mountain.
It’s kind of like an escalator, which is great as the mountainside is quite steep. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the colourful city of Guanajuato, as well as an up-close view of the statue of Pipila, a local hero.
The funicular is located behind Teatro Juarez. A one-way ticket costs 30 pesos, while a return journey is 60. I recommend taking the funicular up, and walking down. Click here to find it on the map.
8. Go Shopping
There are a few markets in town, but the most important (and biggest) is the Mercado Hidalgo.
Vendors set up shop here selling everything from fresh fruits and clothing to cheese and meat.
You may notice that the iron building sort of resembles a train station, and you’re right, that’s what it was initially supposed to be! Even if you’re not interested in purchasing anything, it’s still worth a visit to see the unique building and the goods for sale.
9. Check Out The Churches and Cathedrals
There are numerous churches and cathedrals in and around the city center.
You can’t miss the vibrant yellow Basilica de Guanajuato which dominates the main plaza, while the San Cayetano (La Valenciana) is located out near the mines.
The Templo de la Compañía is considered one of the finest examples of Churrigueresque style in Latin America. The facade of this church may seem a bit rundown, but the interior is stunning.
Even if you’re not a religious person, you can’t help but be in awe of the beautiful structures.
10. Visit the Alhóndiga de Granaditas (art and history museum)
This building has been used for many things over the years.
Initially, it was a grain storehouse, before becoming a fortress for the Spaniards. After that, it was used as an armory, then a school, then a prison, before finally becoming a museum.
This was also the place of the first victory over the Spanish during the War Of Independence in 1810. Don’t miss the beautiful murals above the staircase.
The building is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00am – 6:00pm. The entrance fee is 30 pesos ($1.25), click here to find Alhondiga de Ganaditas on the map.
11. Join a Historical Walking Tour
Wandering around aimlessly in Guanajuato is fun, but if you want to learn about the buildings you’re looking at, the history of the city, and find some secret spots, then I suggest joining a walking tour with a local.
The same owner of the food tour listed above runs an interesting historical walking tour around the city. During the trip, you’ll explore back alleys, two museums, Diego Rivera’s home, Teatro Juarez, and take a ride up the funicular to the spectacular viewpoint.
To end the tour, you’ll enjoy a coffee or alcoholic drink from a rooftop bar. This is a great way to spend a few hours and see some offtrack places in Guanajuato. Find out more about this highly rated, affordable walking tour here.
Another option for a walking tour is this one, which takes you to the University, Plaza Baratillo, Museo Regional de Guanajuato Alhondiga de Granaditas, Mercado Hidalgo, Plaza de la Paz, the underground roads, and there are stops depending on what the group is interested in seeing — it’s up to you!
The tours are both around $40 and are great value for money.
12. Explore The Mines
Guanajuato made a name for itself (and fortunes) due to the silver mines surrounding the city. There are 2 mines that are worth visiting, but they aren’t for those who are claustrophobic.
El Nopal Mine is the closest to Guanajuato and is the smaller of the two.
Tour guides here are local university students who are studying this field. Many of the tours will only be held in Spanish, but it’s interesting to visit even if you don’t completely understand the language.
The cost to enter is just 30 pesos ($1.25), and a tip for the students is appreciated. You can find El Nopal Mine on the map here.
The second and larger mine in the area is La Valenciana.
This was the deepest and most extensive mine in the area and had its heyday during the 17th century.
Here, you can descend down a 60m shaft into the depths of the mine! This mine is one of the more unique places to visit, and experiences to have in Guanajuato.
The cost to entre La Valenciana is 30 pesos ($1.25). The mine is located 5 kilometers from the city center. You can find it on the map here.
13. Visit The Wineries
Did you know there are wineries around Guanajuato? Sure, the Valle de Guadalupe on the Baja Peninsula is more well-known in the wine world, but there are more than 25 wineries around San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato City!
Don’t miss Rancho Toyan, Tres Raices, Santisima Trinidad, Dos Buhos and Hacienda San José Lavista.
In terms of the wine itself, our favourites were the Aglianico and Cabernet Franc at Dos Buhos, and the Merlot and Malbec at Hacienda San José Lavista.
From Guanajuato, you can rent a car to visit the vineyards, hire a private driver, or join a tour. Visiting the wineries is one of the more unique things to do in Guanajuato.
14. Go For a Hike
My favourite activity in Guanajuato during our 2-week stay was going for a hike just outside of the city at El Cerro de La Bufa. We met up with Carlos and his adorable dog (Uni) at the top of the funicular, and from there, we went on a short car ride to the trailhead.
This hike starts off with a fun scramble up the mountainside, followed by spectacular views of towering rock formations, the city of Guanajuato below, and rolling mountains in the distance. The icing on the cake is watching the sunset.
In total, the hike is about 3 hours long, and is one of the top things to do in Guanajuato if you love nature and being active. Carlos is a great guide and since he’s from Guanajuato, he’s very knowledgeable about the city.
I highly recommend this trip with Carlos. Learn more about this beautiful hike here.
15. Enjoy the Saturday Market
Not many people make it to this area of Guanajuato, which is a shame! This street (Paseo de la Presa), is a lovely area for walking any time of the week, but on Saturdays in particular, it’s a great spot to enjoy the market.
You’ll find lots of food vendors serving up tasty Mexican food, and artisanal foods, and there are also some craft vendors here as well. Check out this lesser-visited area of Guanajuato on your visit to the city.
FAQ’s About Visiting Guanajuato
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about Guanajuato.
Is Guanajuato Worth Visiting?
Yes! Guanajuato is absolutely worth visiting. If you like beautiful, colourful colonial towns, historical sites, tasty food, and lesser-visited destinations, then add Guanajuato to your travel list.
What is Guanajuato Known For?
Guanajuato is known for its local hero, El Pípila, having underground tunnels, its silver mines, and of course, the many gorgeous colourful alleyways.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Guanajuato?
You can spend 1 day in Guanajuato, but that would be just to quickly see the main sights. I suggest spending 3 days minimum here to fully enjoy all the fun things to do in Guanajuato — including a Callejoneada, an incredible hike, historic walking tour, and sunset drinks at a rooftop bar (try One Bar for a drink with a view)
Now You Know What To Do in Guanajuato
Never during our travels have we fallen in love so quickly with a city. Guanajuato is an incredible place with many interesting things to see and do.
This list literally could have gone on and on! I highly recommend visiting this UNESCO city in Mexico and hope you love it as much as we did.
And, don’t miss our epic travel guide to Mexico which lists everything you need to know about travelling to this amazing country.
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