A complete guide to all the amazing things to do in Queretaro Mexico, but also in its spectacular surroundings, the Pueblos Magicos of Tequisquiapan and its vineyards, Bernal with its unique monolith, and off the beaten path places like the spectacular Sierra Gorda, and much more!
I have always heard about the quaint historic city of Santiago de Queretaro and when I finally made it there I took an entire week to browse around the city, meet the people visit the most important museum and try the many different restaurants available.
As a vegan (at the time), I did a full checkup of all the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants and you can find my full reviews in my posts on Queretaro Vegan Restaurants.
I actually loved to sit in the many different restaurants and work from my computer, living like a local. The city is literally an open-air museum showcasing baroque architecture through the old historical houses, majestic churches and monasteries, plazas, and many different art and history museums.
The capital city of the region is also surrounded by other interesting towns, especially the so-called Pueblos Magicos at a comfortable distance for a daily visit and it’s closed to the fascinating Sierra Gorda which I have also visited on my way to the Huasteca Potosina.
You should continue to read if you want to know more.
Things to do in Queretaro
First and foremost remember that all museums are closed on Monday, so plan accordingly.
Wander around the artsy historical center
Get lost walking around the historical center, remembering to look up and check the old houses’ rooftops, their decorated and multicolored walls, and old doors. Check out the church’s architectures and the heavy Baroque style interiors.
Temple of Santa Rosa de Viterbo
Visit the Temple de Santa Rosa de Viterbo which besides the beautiful architecture it would always host some art exposition.
Temple and Church of Santa Cruz
Visit the Temple and Church of Santa Cruz and take a guided tour there. it’s only 20 pesos and the young volunteering guides will tell you a lot of stories and legend about Santiago Queretaro and the monastery and how it was founded.
Take a look from the Mirador
Visit the “mirador“, just behind the Templo of Santa Cruz, where you can admire the historical Aqueduct. If you walk down on the other side you will get underneath the arches for great night photo shootings.
Have breakfast at La Biznaga
The so popular restaurant is characterized by the multicolored and artistic decorations and great food. You can check out the food guide here
Visit de so popular Museo of Art of Queretaro
Definitely worth a visit, full of temporary and permanent artworks in its multiple rooms.
Stroll around Plaza de Armas
Visit the Plaza de Armas where you will see the “Casa of the Corregidora” now a government office. La Corregidora was the wife of the city’s mayor called a “Corregidor” . Her name was Josefa Ortiz de Dominquez and she is known for her undiscussed role in the Mexican Independence, for which Queretaro is considered to be one of the cradles. In fact what is now the theatre of Queretaro is where the independence of Mexico was signed.
Take a tour around town on the touristic bus
I admit it I did it. I always consider it the most touristic thing to do and I wouldn’t normally do it. However this time I thought I would learn a lot of history and legends on Queretaro and that was exactly what happened. A pleasant ride on the old tram with a local guide explaining all the funny stories about the city. It’s only 70 pesos and all worth it.
Visit casa de la Ecala
Visit the Casa de la Ecala, one of the most beautiful examples of the baroque style in Santiago de Queretaro. It was built in XVIII century as the residency of the Governor of the city, don Tomás López de Ecala. It’s especially beautiful for its facade with the gorgeous arcade of the ground floor and the balconies of the upper building with beautifully made iron handrails. It’s located in front of Plaza de Armas.
Walk around the university district up to Cierro de las Campanas
Cierro de las Campanas is a beautiful well kept park where you will find a small chapel and a muniment dedicated to Maximiliano de Hamburg who was killed here so that Benito Juarez was restored back in power.
Visit the Casa de La Marquesa
It is now one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Queretaro. You will know the funny story behind it if you take a bus tour
Get to know the city heritage
Visit the archaeological zone of El Cerrito, located at about 5 km from the historical center, it’s a small site and you are not allowed to climb the pyramid but it’s a beautiful interesting setting and fun to visit.
Enjoy fresh air in the city park
Visit the Cimatario National Park – if you wish to get away from the city life this is a great place to walk around in nature and exercise on the small hike on the hill inside the park. They have a small lake as well and a bird nursery where they look after hawks and owl and other spices that have been hurt and would not be able to survive on their own. Pay attention to the amazing views that you have on the way up to the park.
For my stay in Queretaro, I made a huge mistake, as I preferred to rent a private room on Airbnb which was far from the historical center and sacrifice the comfort for the privacy of my own room at the same price. While I was walking around the city I noticed that there were a couple of nice hostels that for the same price offer a very comfortable stay right in the heart of the city, where life happens.
What to see around Queretaro
If you need a week for the city only, you might want to plan another week to see the entire region of Queretaro has to offer. In reality, you could appreciate the city in a couple of days unless you love to experience it like a local or check out all the museum of the city, or the restaurants, just like I did.
The state of Queretaro, although relatively small, hosts a couple of pretty cities that are considered Pueblos Magicos, for their charm and historical importance. I have seen almost all of them and I will tell you briefly my thoughts here below.
Pueblo Magico of Tequisquiapan
It’s the closest one to Queretaro at about 30 minutes bus ride. You can go in one day or stay there one night if you wish to explore more the surroundings. The pueblo magico of Tequisquiapan is popular for its vineyards and cheese and the tourism board organizes one hour tours by tram where you can try some samples. However, if you are really into it, you could check with the tourist office and organize a full day trip through the vineyards. I found the city a little too touristic but I was happy to have been able to check it out. The wine alone makes it all worth it.
Pueblo Magico of Bernal and La peña de Bernal
It’s a very small town, so popular for the third largest monolith in the world towering over the cute colored city. The city in itself doesn’t have much to offer, but the views of the surroundings are breathtaking and a hike on top of the Peña de Bernal is definitely due. I suggest you go early morning, especially if you chose to go during the weekend or on festive days in order to avoid the crowd. If you are a climber this is a great spot to test your abilities. The path to the top stops to a certain hights after which you need to be equipped with the right tools and an expert guide in order to go forward.
This is the only town I haven’t been to, unfortunately. It’s inside the Sierra Gorda and it’s popular for its cactus greenhouse. I hope to have the chance to see it next time.
Visit Pinal de Amoles
This small town nestled among the hills and mountains of Sierra Gorda is your perfect base to organize all the excursion through the natural wonders of the region, so rich in culture, various different landscapes and adventurous activities to do. If you bear with me a couple of days I will tell you all about it in a different post.
It’s the last Pueblo Magico in the Sierra Gorda and in the State of Queretaro, close to the borders with San Luis Potosi and the Huasteca Potosina of which I have extensively written on this small guide.
San Miguel de Allende
One of the most visited and talked about cities, which has been proclaimed a UNESCO world heritage site, home of many retired Americans and Canadians who decide to make Mexico their home, fancy restaurants and shops, art galleries, and cultural events. And coffee shops, my obsession! It’s a real gem that you should visit for at least a couple of days. You can read more on this exhaustive article in Travel and Leisure Magazine
Please note that San Miguel de Allende is not in the state of Queretaro, but in Guanajuato. However, it is at 2 hours bus distance from the city and I thought I should include it.
The capital city of the homonymous state is another gem that you wouldn’t want to miss.
It’s a beautiful small city full of history and traditions, home of one of the most prestigious and historical universities of Mexico and for this reason full of students and interesting cultural events, including the Festival Cervantino.
I have talked about it extensively in this thorough guide to Guanajuato, to help you find your way around the city and find the best hotels and restaurants.
Map Of Queretaro
For further reading
- the Monarch butterfly sanctuary in Valle de Bravo Mexico
- Valle de bravo – Mexico: a travel guide to the Mexican Hamptons
- Airbnb Cozumel: the 11 pretty homes to rent for a perfect vacation
- Las grutas de tolantongo – the complete guide
- Renting a car in Mexico: everything you need to know not to get ripped off