One of Mexico’s Pueblo Magicos, this small town has gained recognition for the giant monolith that shadows it. Around that recognition it has built a tourism industry catering to wealthy domestic tourists. It is also starting to gain traction as an international destination as the natural, cultural and culinary offerings, driven by domestic tourism reach a world standard.
A tiny town of only 3,000 permanent residents, Bernal has managed to retain old world charm of an authentic Mexican village. At the same time it has developed all the creature comforts travellers have come to expect of a much larger city.
Being a rural town there are also many opportunities for wild camping if you are overlanding.
We’ve rounded up some of the best things to do, great things to eat and fantastic places to stay in this local tourist destination.
Climb the Peña de Bernal
This mighty monolith is one of the tallest in the world and can be seen for miles and miles.
The stunning rock is a beacon, attracting rock climbers from Mexico and around the world. It offers a number of routes of varying degrees of difficulty.
For the less adventurous (us), a moderately strenuous 30 minute hike will take you as far as you can safely scale the rock without ropes. The vista provides great views of the town below and the expansive plateau on which it sits.
Access the trail head here.
Get started early to beat the mid-morning rush and fierce heat.
Access to the rock costs $30 MXN per person.
Explore the area by ATV
A hugely popular activity throughout Mexico and particularly here. Guided tours are available or rent an ATV or buggy and get to exploring yourself. You can find a number of rental agencies on the towns main drag, Benito Juárez.
Grab a Gordita Negra in the Zona Centro
Gorditas, specifically those made with black corn are the specialty item of the town. Flat corn breads are made from black corn giving them there distinct colour and stuffed with guiso, a thick meat stew and other fillings.
Of course there’s plenty of options in this touristic town, from pizza and pasta to American bbq to fine dining, there is a huge selection for such a tiny town.
While the historic streets are gorgeous and packed with first rate (and comparatively expensive) restaurants, if its quality food on a budget you want, head to the main drag, Benito Juárez. Here you’ll find local hole in the wall restaurants and street stalls serving up delicious gorditas, tacos, quesadillas and rotisserie chicken.
Enjoy a Cerveza on a Terraza
The city centre has several rooftop bars and restaurants. A great place to enjoy a cold beer and great views of the monolith, after a morning spent conquering it. Looking for a little local flavor? Order yourself a michelada, Mexico’s answer to the Bloody Mary made from beer and spicy tomato juice.
Sample the Artisanal Foods of the Region
Bernal sits along the route know as la ruta de arte, vino y queso. Artisanal cheese (queso) is a local craft exports and you can find a number or boutiques specialising in cheeses, artisanal foods, wines and craft beers. It’s the perfect place to pick up a souvenir (or stock up for yourself).
Bernal is also known for there Pan de Queso, a sweet bready pastry made with local cheese. Pan de Queso is phenomenal for breakfast with coffee and can be found through out the city.
Camp in the Shadow of the Peña de Bernal
Surrounding the town is scrub forest and farming land. Not ten minutes from the city’s main drag, we camped in the shadow of the mighty Peña de Bernal. Nearby a cattle farm, there was some noise from dogs, livestock and the occasional tourist on an ATV and a few flies. But these small inconveniences were a small price to pay for watching the sun set and rise over the incredible rock. The site is better suited to overlanding (camping with vehicle) then tent camping.
You can find our campsite here.
Treat Yourself at Hotel El Cantar del Viento
A popular destination for Mexico’s wealthy and fashionable the boutique hotel industry is particularly competitive here. There are plenty of boutique hotels, suited to all budgets within the town.
While there are plenty to choose from, atop the pile sits the gorgeous El Cantar del Viento. Making the list of Mexico’s 100 Imperdibels (100 unmissable experiences in Mexico) in the catergory for hotels.
El Cantar del Viento, you can stay in one of six private villas all offering incredible views of the Peña de Bernal from your private terrace. The beautifully appointed rooms come with all the modern conveniences you might expect as well as a few extras. You can pamper yourself at the onsite spa and unwind with morning meditation sessions. Prices are extremely reasonable but the with limited space, this true boutique hotel is rarely vacant.
Continue West Along the Ruta de Vino y Queso
If you tried and enjoyed the cheese and wine of Bernal continue southwest along the cheese and wine route.
READ MORE: Queretaro’s Wine and Cheese Route