This is your complete guide to all the amazing things to do in Queretaro, Mexico, and the spectacular surrounding region.
Travel to the Pueblos Magicos of Tequisquiapan with its lush vineyards and Bernal with its unique monolith. Then get off the beaten path in places like the spectacular Sierra Gorda and much more!
I’d always heard about the quaint historic city of Santiago de Querétaro. When I finally made it there, I took an entire week to browse around the city, meet local people, visit the museums, and try the many different restaurants available.
I loved it so much that I went back 3 years later to visit Queretaro again, this time staying for an entire month. I cherished my time sitting in the many different restaurants and cafes while working from my computer, living like a local.
My time in this enchanting place taught me a lot, and I’m happy to share that with you here. In this article, I’ll discuss all the best things to do in Queretaro.
What is Queretaro known for?
The city of Queretaro is quite literally an open-air museum showcasing baroque architecture with its antique houses, majestic churches and monasteries, quaint plazas, and many art and history museums.
Queretaro is also surrounded by other charming towns, especially the aptly named Pueblos Magicos, which are close enough for a day trip.
Oh! And if you are looking for a place to stay, you can check out my guide to Queretaro hotels or my top Queretaro Airbnb suggestions if you prefer to stay in an apartment, as I do.
Okay, so let’s now talk about what to do in Queretaro in this comprehensive guide!
Things to do in Queretaro, Mexico
First and foremost, it should be noted that all museums are closed on Monday, so plan accordingly.
1. Wander around the artsy historical center
Get lost walking around the historical center, remembering to look up and check the old houses’ tiled rooftops, their decorated and multicolored walls, and antique doors. Check out the church’s architecture and the heavy Baroque-style interiors, too.
2. Temple de Santa Rosa de Viterbo
Visit the Temple de Santa Rosa de Viterbo, which besides exhibiting some of the most beautiful architecture you’ll find anywhere, also regularly hosts unique art expositions.
3. 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 volunteer guides will tell you all the history as well as stories and legends about Santiago Queretaro, the monastery, and how it was founded.
4. Take a look at the old aqueduct from the Mirador
Visit the “mirador“ or lookout, just behind the Templo of Santa Cruz, where you can admire stunning views of Queretaro’s historical Aqueduct.
If you walk down the hill on the other side of the “mirador”, you will find yourself underneath the arches, a great spot for a night photo shoot.
Exploring this area in the early evening was one of my favorite things to do in Queretaro.
5. Have breakfast at La Biznaga
Among the most unique foodie spots in Queretaro, La Biznaga makes for quite a remarkable gastronomic experience.
The popular restaurant is characterized by multicolored and artistic decorations and great food.
However, if you are a foodie geek like me and you want to try more options, check out my guide on the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in Queretaro.
6. Visit the popular Museum of Art of Queretaro
This excellent museum is definitely worth a visit. It’s full of temporary and permanent artworks in its multiple rooms.
For lovers of traditional art, this Queretaro landmark is a must-see.
7. 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 movement, for which Queretaro is considered to be one of the cradles.
In fact, the Mexican people first formally declared their independence from Spain, what is now the Theatre of Queretaro.
8. Take a tour around town on the tourist bus
I usually consider this to be the most touristy activity imaginable, and wouldn’t normally do it.
However, this time I thought I could learn a lot about Queretaro’s rich history, and that was exactly what happened.
It turned out to be one of the most fun things to do in Queretaro.
It’s a pleasant ride on the old tram with a local guide explaining all the funny stories and facts about the city. The whole package was only 130 pesos and totally worth it.
This is a great way to spend an hour or two, taking in the sights and learning about the interesting history of Santiago de Queretaro.
Now when friends ask me what to do in Queretaro, I always recommend this tour.
9. 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 the XVIII century as the residency of the Governor of the city, Don Tomás López de Ecala.
It’s especially well-known for its facade, with a gorgeous arcade on the ground floor and balconies on the upper building with beautifully made iron handrails. It’s located in front of the Plaza de Armas.
10. Walk around the university district up to Cerro de las Campanas
Cerro de las Campanas is a lovely well-kept park where you will find a small chapel and a monument dedicated to Maximiliano de Hamburg, who was killed here so that Benito Juarez was restored back in power
11. Visit the Casa de La Marquesa
Nowadays, it’s one of the most beautiful boutique hotels in Queretaro. You will hear the funny story behind it if you take the Queretaro city tourist bus tour.
But to give you a teaser, this famous Queretaro landmark came about as the result of a forbidden love between a “Duke” and a nun.
It’s an interesting local anecdote, legendary in Queretaro history.
12. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art, also known as MACQ, is a recent addition to the already vast array of Museums available in Queretaro.
It opened its doors in 2018 and hosts artworks from different Mexican and international artists.
The exhibitions are temporary and change every 3 months. It’s located right by Plaza Fundadores.
13. Visit the MUCAL museum
Among all the activities in Queretaro, checking out the local museums was one of my favorite things to do.
If you don’t have much time, MUCAL would be at the top of my list- assuming you like contemporary art, of course.
Hosted in an old “Casona”, an old colonial family home, this particular museum shows the history of the Calendar in different civilizations and exhibits the most popular Calendar styles in Mexico throughout the years.
Take an interesting walk back in time.
On the patios, you can admire flowery decorations in the garden surrounding and enjoy a coffee or snack in the museum’s coffee shop.
14. Get to know the city’s heritage
Visit the archaeological zone of El Cerrito, located 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.
The site was a regional capital with great significance for political and religious practices for the indigenous people of this area.
For history buffs, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Queretaro.
15. Enjoy fresh air in the city park
Visit the Cimatario National Park – if you wish to get away from 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 as a bird nursery, where they care for hawks, owls, and other injured species that would not survive on their own.
On your way to the park, be sure to pay attention to the amazing views.
During my stay in Queretaro, I made a huge mistake as I opted to rent a private room on Airbnb without checking the exact location.
My place was far from the historical center, and I sacrificed convenience for the privacy of my own room.
While I was walking around the city, I noticed a couple of nice hostels that, for the same price as my private room, offer a very comfortable stay right in the heart of the city, where life happens.
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Day trips from Queretaro
If you only have a week to see the city, you might want to plan another week to explore the entire region of Queretaro.
In reality, you could see the city in a couple of days unless you love to experience it like a local does or check out all the museums and 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.
16. Pueblo Magico of Tequisquiapan
It’s the closest Pueblo Magico to Queretaro at about a 30-minute bus ride. You can go in one day or stay there one night if you wish to explore more of the surroundings.
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.
17. Take a tour of La Trinidad to see the Opal Caves
This is a very interesting tour that sets off from Tequisquiapan and includes a beautiful hike to the opal caves.
Besides the beautiful landscape and cave formations, you can learn a lot about the Opal and the local economy around it.
The guide’s father is the owner of the cave you are going to visit, so you will hear all the stories directly from the source. Plus, if you find an opal stone, you can take it with you.
18. Pueblo Magico of Bernal and La peña de Bernal
Peña de Bernal is definitely one of the Mexican Pueblos Magicos that you must include on your bucket list. It’s a very small town, famous for the third-largest monolith in the world, towering over the cute, colorful buildings.
When you ask locals what to see in Queretaro, this natural wonder is always near the top of the list.
The city itself doesn’t have too much to offer, but the views of the surroundings are breathtaking, and a hike to the top of the Peña de Bernal is definitely worth doing.
I suggest you go early in the morning to avoid the crowds, especially on weekends or around a holiday. If you are a climber, this is a great spot to test your abilities.
The path to the top stops at a certain height, after which you need to be equipped with the right tools and an expert guide in order to go forward.
19. Visit Cadereyta
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.
20. Visit Pinal de Amoles in the heart of the Sierra Gorda
This small town nestled among the hills and mountains of Sierra Gorda is your perfect base to organize all the excursions through the natural wonders of the region, rich in culture, various landscapes, and adventurous activities to do.
This is the last Pueblo Magico in the Sierra Gorda and in Queretaro State, close to the borders with San Luis Potosi and the Huasteca Potosina, which I have extensively written about in this small guide.
22. San Miguel de Allende
One of the most visited and talked about cities in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, has been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage site.
These days it’s become home to many retired Americans and Canadians who have decided to live in Mexico. The city has plenty of fancy restaurants, shops, art galleries, and cultural events.
Oh. And coffee shops, too. My obsession!
It’s a real gem that you should visit for at least a couple of days. You can read more on San Miguel de Allende in this exhaustive article in Travel and Leisure Magazine.
Please note that San Miguel de Allende is not in the state of Queretaro, Mexico, but in Guanajuato. However, it is just a two-hour bus ride from the city, so I thought I should include it.
23. Visit Guanajuato
Guanajuato, the capital city of the state bearing the same name, is another gem you won’t want to miss.
It’s a beautiful small city rich in history and traditions.
It’s also home to one of the most prestigious and historic universities in Mexico. That’s why it’s full of students and interesting cultural events, including the Festival Cervantino.
I talk about it extensively in this thorough guide to Guanajuato to help you find your way around the city and track down the best hotels and restaurants.
Map Of Queretaro
Where to stay in Queretaro
Queretaro offers different accommodation options for all budgets and styles. I have stayed in an Airbnb and in hotels. Both were enjoyable.
Whatever you choose, I’d recommend staying in the historical center so that you can walk to all the most important attractions.
You can head over to my linked post, where I suggest the top hotels and Airbnb spots, or you can check them out in this convenient map below.
Things to do in Queretaro: Frequently Asked Questions
Is Queretaro worth visiting?
If you ask me, Yes! Queretaro is definitely worth visiting. It’s a beautiful colonial city with lots of history, spectacular architecture, museums, great food, and thriving natural wonders nearby. It’s also a very safe area to travel around.
What is Queretaro Mexico known for?
Queretaro is mainly known for the important role it played in the Mexican war for Independence from Spain.
But also it’s a renowned area for its vineyards and the spectacular Sierra Gorda, the mountain areas with incredibly diverse ecosystems.
Plus, the architecture in Queretaro represents the quintessential colonial-era Mexico vibe with baroque stylings everywhere.
How many days do you need in Queretaro?
If you consider only the city, a couple of days may be enough, unless you want to check out all the museums and the surrounding area, in which case, consider a week to ten days.
Is Queretaro a nice city?
Queretaro is a spectacular city, an open-air museum in and of itself. You will find beautiful historical buildings everywhere and an interesting history, not to mention delicious restaurants serving local cuisine.
Is Querétaro walkable?
The historical center of Queretaro is very walkable and relatively safe
Do they speak English in Querétaro?
Because it’s a very touristic city, many people speak English in Queretaro.
Do you need a car in Queretaro?
To visit the city, you don’t need a car, but if you want to explore the surrounding towns, you will either need a car or to join locally organized tours.
How far is Queretaro from Mexico City?
The city of Santiago de Querétaro is approximately 217 km northwest of Mexico City.
You can drive this route in about 2.5 hours or take a bus which may take closer to 3 hours.
Direct buses from Mexico City to Santiago de Querétaro are available at all major bus stations in the capital.
Does it get cold in Querétaro, Mexico?
The temperature is usually quite warm throughout the year, ranging from 42°F to 85°F, never dropping lower than 36°F or rising higher than 91°F.
Things to do in Queretaro, Mexico: Final Thoughts
As you can see, there is a lot to do in Queretaro. I had to go back several times to be able to do everything, and I still haven’t finished yet.
If you love nature, make sure you save a few days to get to the Sierra Gorda and explore the spectacular waterfalls and woods. That was my favorite part of Queretaro.