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 and I loved it so much that I went back after 3 years to visit Queretaro and stayed there for another month.
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.
Ok so let’s now talk about what to do in Queretaro in this massive guide!
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 architecture 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
Among the most unique foodie experiences in Queretaro, La Biznaga makes a quite remarkable experience. The so 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.
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. 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 about the city. It’s only 130 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
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 artists. The exhibitions are temporary and change every 3 months. It’s located right by Plaza Fundadores.
Visit the MUCAL museum
Among all the activities in Queretaro checking out the local museums was one of my favorite things. If you don’t have time MUCAL, is for me on top of the list, if you like contemporary art, of course. Hosted in a old “Casona”, an old colonial family home, this particular museum shows the history of Calendar in different civilization and exhibit the most popular Calendar styles in Mexico throughout the years.
An interesting walk in time. In the patios you can admire flowery decorations and the garden surrounded you can enjoy a cafe or a snack in the Museum coffee shop.
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.
Take a tour to La Trinidad to see the Opal Caves
This is a very interesting tour that sets off from Tequisquiapan and include 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 hear the stories directly from the source. Besides if you find an opal stone you can take it with you.
Pueblo Magico of Bernal and La peña de Bernal
Peña de Bernal is definitely one of the Mexican Pueblos Magicos that you must include in your bucket list. 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
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