The moment you set foot in the center of San Miguel de Allende (map), you get the feeling you’ve stepped into a time machine, with the neo-Gothic steeples of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel (Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, map) rising above the city, carved out of pink sandstone.
San Miguel de Allende is a colonial city in the state of Guanajuato in the Bajio mountains of central Mexico, about 270 km (170 mi) northwest of Mexico City.
Today, an old section of the town is part of a proclaimed World Heritage Site, attracting thousands of tourists and new residents from abroad every year. The area of designation (UNESCO) includes part of the town San Miguel de Allende and part of the town of Atotonilco, which are about 14 kilometers apart.
Maybe 90% of San Miguel’s attractions are within walking distance. Just keep in mind that because San Miguel was built into the side of a mountain. Furthermore, the streets are cobbled and narrow – some were nothing but goat tracks before they were paved – and many have fallen into disrepair. All in all, the town can be unforgiving to an inexperienced walker. For this reason, it is advisable to bring comfortable shoes.
Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel (map). The marvelous pink granite parish church, looking like an ornate candy sculpture. The building itself dates from the 16th century.
Museo Histórico de San Miguel de Allende (map). Home of Ignacio Allende, one of the independence heroes. You will learn about Mexican history from the 16th century until the death of Allende in 1811 and you can find an exhibition which shows a typical upper-class house of that time.
Fábrica la Aurora, Calzada de la Aurora (map). The best place to get great quality Mexican and international art. This old textile factory has been converted into a unique art and design center that now houses over 30 artists, galleries, restaurants, antique shops, and specialty stores.
Mercado San Juan de Dios (map). Largest indoor market, open daily, within the Historical Center. Most customers are locals.
Tianguis de los Martes (Tuesday Market, map). A colorful market with acres of native crafts, cheap Lakers t-shirts, fly swatters, cheap leather jackets and miscellaneous stuff that you really need, like flypaper, sewing kits, and more flyswatters. Fresh seafood is trucked in overnight from Veracruz. Also on offer is an enormous variety of street food, from gorditas and tacos to fresh fruit juices.
The rainy season extends from June to September when days are pleasant for sightseeing until heavy downpours (usually late in the afternoon and evening) cool and freshen the air.