Why San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is the destination for everyone to watch in 2021 and beyond
Why San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is the destination for everyone to watch in 2021 and beyond.
Numerous publications, such as Travel and Leisure, have voted this destination as being the most beautiful small city in the World.
Unesco has designated the small city as a World Heritage Site joining the ranks of Venice, Prague and Florence to name a few.
With so much free publicity, it comes as a surprise that this city, tucked away in the mountains of the Guanajuato region of Mexico, is still somewhat of a best kept secret destination.
So why is San Miguel de Allende a hot destination for 2021 and beyond?
San Miguel de Allende has something for everyone.
To say that it has a lot to offer for everyone is an understatement. Who would of thought that such a small place ( 160 000 habitants) would cater to a wide variety of tourist needs. And when we say everyone, this includes couples seeking romance, wedding parties-gay and straight, young and multigenerational families, seniors, solo travellers and the budget conscious, all looking for a safe place to spend their first post pandemic holidays.
With a very comfortable climate year-round and average highs of 24 degrees C, it is no wonder that almost 15% of the city’s resident population is made up of expats from Canada, Great Britain and the USA, all seeking to enjoy the city’s warm to hot days and cooler evenings.
Mexicans too have discovered how great the city is, and many of the local tourists are Mexico city residents seeking a laid back and relaxed refuge from their week day hustle and bustle.
While you can sense tourists do contribute significantly to the local economy, one does not feel as though they are in a destination where over tourism has taken over such as it has in other small and beautiful destinations like Venice in Italy. It is safe, authentic enough, entirely walkable, colourful and artistic as well as uncrowded. It is an interesting place that discreetly caters to a wide audience by showcasing its culture, everywhere.
Restaurants, Hotels and Villas
One of the beauty’s of San Miguel is that you will find very good options of many kinds. World class cuisine and beautiful open air rooftops such as Atrio and Quince , local family owned restaurants like Café Rama and trendy bakeries, like Panio, abound. Chic hotel brand names such as Rosewood and Belmond, have beautiful central properties. The Luna Bar at the Rosewood has live entertainment, great tapas and views that will take anyone’s breath away, while the Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada’s pool assets are undeniably hard to beat.
There’s certainly no shortage of gorgeous hotels in San Miguel: We loved the minimalist Dos Casas with its award winning dining at Aperi (featuring outstanding service). Hotel Mathilda ‘s spacious rooms with luxury bedding is well positioned and has a very private feel to it. Casa No Name, where the decor could be described as Mexico meets Bali, offers a very discreet luxury service and owner Lourdes is often seen hosting and serving her guests’ brunch on week ends ( which are simply divine!). L’Otel has two properties to choose from: the small or Chiquitos property ( on Chiquitos street) which we absolutely loved, to the larger full scale South Beach styled hotel, Doce18 , featuring art expos, pool and so much more!
Travellers on a smaller budget will find that the well located and newly renovated Hotel Real de Minas is a perfectly clean and a suitable three star superior option that falls well into their budget. For those looking for a more private or small group experience, the city offers tastefully decorated central private villas, such as the sprawling Casa Sereno , at surprisingly affordable rates that include all of the bells and whistles one could wish for.
The common thread travellers will find in all of the local accommodations is that no matter where you sleep, the hotels seem to exploit tasteful authentic and very local Mexican arts and culture themes. At times , some can even make you feel as if you are experiencing a private art gallery viewing of your very own such as the Rosewood Hotel’s indoor courtyards and lobby displays.
Things to do
There is so much to do in San Miguel and the city is well positioned to offer private and semi-private tourist experiences that are safe, sustainable and meaningful on many levels.
In a 2021 context, these factors will carry a lot of weight for many locals as well as for those visiting San Miguel de Allende.
Local experiences include high end Tequila tastings at Casa Dragones, tortilla cooking lessons with Chef David Jahnke or private art or Spanish lessons for you or the kids at the Instituto Allende . With so many local artists, you can also sign up for a private tour with SMA Art tours who connect tourism experiences with art, offering unique opportunities to visit and interact with a variety of local artists and watch them work. Many also offer workshops for children and adults, that range from painting, to sculpting to making miniature Mojigangas or creating your very own Tavela ceramics or pottery.
Fancy some shopping? Shop unique custom hand made colourful fashion or jewellery from Muinane at the lesser known SOMA district. On week-ends, head to Parque Benito Juarez to practise your Spanish and barter for a unique, locally made artifact or jewellery piece that you will cherish forever. The Casa R Concept boutique features amazing Mexican designer clothing for men and women and the shop itself is simply stunning. If you are looking for unique art pieces, the sprawling Fabrica Aurora will definitely need to be worthwhile visiting. Take your time and stroll through the different areas like you would in a museum.
Explore some of the history, and visit the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel where you will learn about the 16th-century friar Juan de San Miguel, and a martyr of Mexican Independence, Ignacio Allende. After your visit, why not pop in across the street, and visit the very Baroque themed Church of San Francisco .
For those wanting to explore the local outdoors, you can visit an organic and sustainable local winery, do horseback riding, hiking or ATV in the nearby mountains, or spend some time at one of the local hot baths and spas. There are so many more family fun filled activities such Hot air ballooning, and visiting Canada de la Virgen pyramids. For food and wine lovers, Epicurean Expats is a small company that runs private tours for two to four persons maximum that will bring you to the best local places to eat, outdoor markets or to taste local wines. Other unique experiences include participating in a local excursion and visit the Otomi people and learn about their Tortilla celebrations.
If you are planning a longer stay, consider exploring the nearby, very colourful and culturally rich city of Guanajuato or the small town of Mineral de Pozos. Both will further help you discover the very local flavours that Mexico has to offer. For the more adventurous Bernal and Tequisquiapan offer great hiking and are the gateway to the Sierra Gorda mountain ranges.
Nightlife, local festivals and entertainment
San Miguel has a vibrant nightlife that offers a lot of variety. It has a lively night scene that includes impressive local talent. Bistro Casa often features San Miguel’s unquestionably best local Diva: Maria Sanchez. Her repertoire includes quintessential classical Spanish pieces such as ‘Gracias a la Vida” to more indigenous pieces and Brasilian beats. San Miguel de Allende’s music scene includes everything from local mariachis to jazz scenes with surprisingly good talent for such a small town.
If you fancy some seriously good mixologist drinks, head over to the very cool looking Casa Hoyos rooftop bar, Bekeb. Owner Fabiola has been featured by none other than the editor in chief of the New York Times and Forbes magazine for her outstanding cocktails ( The lavender sour is our favourite). Live Dj’s spin from Thursday to Sunday’s and play just the right kind of armchair dancing tunes at just the right volume level while you overlook the the beautiful scenery from atop.
Late night dancing is fun and trendy over at the Bar at the R. which happens to be the late night vinyl dancehall of ‘The Restaurant “ wildly known for, believe or not, Burgers and Sushi. The grooves conducted over the vinyl record-spun beats of local DJs— include the chef-creator of The Restaurant himself, Donnie Masterton. The bar is small but checks every box if you want to have a cool place to hang out over nice drinks.
For all the latest on local artist scenes consult the popular local events website discoversma.
Mexicans and San Miguel locals alike celebrate many festivities throughout the year, but none will stun the non Mexican visitor more than “The Dia de las Muertos” events. The Mexican celebrate the dead on or about the same time as we celebrate Halloween. One of the major differences with their festivity, compared to our own, is the stunningly beautiful and elaborate make up and costumes they adorn. In an almost febrile appreciation and respect for their dead, the locals seem to put on show that will impress even the most skeptical of skeptical. The culmination and best display of the event along with the variety of “Catrinas”, can best be seen at the local cemetery, which is beautifully decorated only once a year for the festivities. The Calaca festival showcases art, culture, food, music and traditions during the week long celebration and is a definite must!
Weddings, Corporate and Special Events
Because of its natural beauty and everything else it has to offer, San Miguel de Allende is the absolute ideal place to hold your special event. Depending on the event type you are holding, you may even be exempt from paying Mexican local and federal taxes, which could be significant savings for some.
The city oozes with charm and there is no lack of beautiful, relatively inexpensive venue options for holding a corporate or special event such as a wedding.
Unique spaces such as the Casa Carino or again the stunning setting of the Instituto Allende incorporate beautiful settings with the best of the local flavour. You wont need a big budget to dress the place up and you can redirect those savings somewhere else.
Local catering and event suppliers, such as Penzi , cater to every niche market in a local and sustainable way. Their former clients include catering to specific Gay, Indian, Asian and Black niche clienteles as well high profiled corporate clients like Cirque du Soleil’s One Drop Foundation. Furthermore, your guests or your boss will love the local touches they offer such as the traditional Callejoneada which are fun, cultural and festive. Presently, local laws allow gatherings for events of 200 persons or less.
2021 and San Miguel de Allende
Many of us are feeling optimistic about 2021 when it comes to planning a long overdue holiday, getaway, honeymoon or special event. What it less known is where to spend those special moments in a safe and sustainable environment that can offer a lot. San Miguel de Allende, in more ways than one, delivers on these expectations. By virtue of its settings, be it through its hotels, villas, restaurants, mountains or monuments, San Miguel de Allende seems to remind us of the best that Mexico has on offer. For those seeking true immersion, world class culture and food as well breathtaking settings, this is a destination they will want to check off their bucket list in 2021.
Canadians seeking to travel to San Miguel can plan to arrive at Queretaro or Leon airports through the USA and Mexico City. Airfares range from 650,00$-950,00$ year round.