How does a Mexico road trip sound? What if I told you that you could visit two of the most desirable places to visit in Mexico in one Mexico City road trip? Well you are in luck as it is an easy drive from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende and there are plenty of things to do in between!
Day 1 – 4: Mexico City
Mexico City has consistently been ranked as one of the top destinations to visit by travel and tourism boards. This sprawling metropolis is packed full of history, culture, and of course yummy tacos. You could easily spend weeks or even months exploring the diverse neighborhoods, searching for the best taco stands, finding the best dive bar, and engaging in the culture and art scene that flourishes in Mexico City. The options are endless and we wish our time would have been longer in Mexico City than it was.
Even if you have only a few days to immerse yourself in this dynamic metropolis, it is worth it. We think the best way to explore Mexico City is to dive into it one borough at a time. Walk around, eat at local taco stands, have a beer from a dive bar with a local, visit a nearby art gallery. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing in your own hometown, do it in Mexico City. Here are our recommendations on what to do and how we spent our time exploring this diverse playground!
Eat, Eat and Eat
Eating in Mexico City was our favorite thing to do in Mexico City. With so many delicious taco stands, world-class restaurants, and trendy bars and cafes, it is hard to decide just where to spend those pesos. Even after a few days in Mexico City, we had barely scratched the surface of the amazing culinary scene. While we are not the expert on where to eat in Mexico City, we more than enjoyed our meals and wholeheartedly recommend these restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Consistently ranked in the top ten best restaurants in the world, Enrique Olvera’s Mexico City restaurant is bar none. While Pujol may be pricey, it is a fraction of the price of a comparable restaurant in the Western World. The quality and service are impeccable and you would be sorely remiss if you passed up this opportunity in Mexico City.
- Address: Tennyson 133, Polanco
- Cost: $$$$ (We ate for $650 USD for 4 persons.)
- Hours of Operation: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Alba Cocina Local
Alba Cocina Local specializes in modern Mexican fare. Their creative menu tantalizes the tongue and offers unique takes on some of Mexico’s classics. Their food will blow you away, the staff is attentive and friendly and the wine selection is superb. Make sure you check out this hidden gem before the word is out!
- Address: Calle Marsella 80, Juárez
- Cost: $$$
- Hours of Operation:
- Monday: Closed
- Tuesday: 1:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Wednesday – Friday: 1:00 pm – 11:00 pm
- Saturday: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
- Sunday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tacos Don Juan
Tacos Don Juan is a hole in the wall restaurant specializing in tacos. The tacos vary daily, but we recommend going on Friday when these guys serve up carnitas tacos. Slow-cooked and then deep-fried pork tacos topped with cilantro, salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice is the perfect afternoon lunch as you explore Mexico City.
- Address: Calle Juan Escutia 35, Colonia Condesa
- Cost: $$
- Hours of Operation:
- Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 4:45 pm
- Friday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Satuday & Sunday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
El Moro is the Krispy Kreme of Churros. You can get fancier churros, but nothing is better than the OG especially right out of the fryer. Churros are the Mexican version of donuts. A fried dough stick covered in sugar waiting to be dipped in chocolate, caramel, or simply to be eaten alone (like I prefer). A trip to El Moro should be a staple on everyone’s food itinerary in Mexico City!
- Address: Various locations throughout Mexico City
- Cost: $$ (We spent $150 for four people churros + drinks)
- Hours of Operation: Vary depending on the location, but the one in the historic city center is 24-hours
This trendy yet casual restaurant/bar is located in the upscale Roma Norte. These guys specialize in small plates and tapas for sharing. Their fun and creative menu is on point and the atmosphere was buzzing even on a Tuesday night. The staff was attentive and helpful and the experience overall was lovely. We definitely recommend you checking out this place even if it is just to grab a delicious cocktail or local beer during the day and people watch from their veranda.
- Address: Orizaba 171, Roma Norte
- Cost: $$
- Hours of Operation:
- Monday – Tuesday: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
- Wednesday: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
- Thursday: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am
- Friday – Saturday: 9:00 am – 2:00 am
- Sunday: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Explore Mexico City by Foot
Ok, exploring all of Mexico City by foot would be extremely difficult if not impossible. What we really mean is explore the historic old town on foot with a free or tip-based walking tour. Even this, however, was a bit tiring after a few hours in the hot Mexican sun.
We found the walking tour in Mexico City to be one of the best walking tours we have gone on in a while. The tour was peppered with interesting stories such as why Mexicans answer the phone with “bueno” as opposed to “hello” and a visit to an extremely interesting piece which you will have to see for yourself.
Get Lost in the Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Forest)
Chapultepec in Nahuatl, one of the native languages, means “at the grasshopper hill”, but the Bosque de Chapultepec is anything but small like a grasshopper. This park expands 1,695 acres making it the second-largest park in Latin America.
The Bosque de Chapultepec is full of some of Mexico City’s most popular attractions. The Castle of Chapultepec, the Chapultepec Zoo, the Museum of Anthropology, and the contemporary art museum, Rufino Tamayo.
Pro tip: For overlanders, there is one parking lot in the Bosque de Chapultepec that you can camp in overnight.
Visit the Home of Frida Khalo
One of the most popular things to do in Mexico City is to visit the home of Frida Khalo. Almost every travel blog about what to do in Mexico City will tell you to go. While most of her original artwork is not displayed here, it was still extremely interesting visiting her colorful home, seeing where she used to paint and learning about her life story. If you are really keen on learning more about Frida, I recommend you watch the movie Frida with Salma Hayek before visiting.
Pro tip: Make sure you book your tickets to the Frida Khalo Museum in advance online. The line when we visited was circling the building, and we were so glad we had the forethought to purchase ahead.
Day 5: Teotihuacan
The most famed and visited mesoamerican ruins in all of Mexico is Teotihuacan. Declared a world heritage site in 1987, these ruins are considered “the birthplace of the gods” as the Aztecs believed that the gods created the universe at Teotihuacan.
The city of Teotihuacan spread over 8 square miles making it one of the largest mos populous cities during its era. The ruins are centered around the Avenue of the Dead, a two-kilometer long road connecting the Pyramid of the Moon and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. The avenue is said to have gotten its name as it is believed the road was paved with tombs.
The most impressive of all the structures, however, in Teotihuacan is the Pyramid of the Sun. This pyramid is one of the largest pyramids in the world with a volume of over 1 million cubic meters. While we recommend visiting the pyramid, we do not recommend climbing to the top. The climb is steep and the line is long. You have to wait in a line to climb up to the top and then again to climb back down. We did not think it was worth it in the end, but ultimately it is up to you.
Make sure to bring lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat as well when you visit Teotihuacan. There is little to no reprieve from the hot Mexican sun, so being prepared is imperative.
- Address: Ecatepec Pirámides km.22 + 600
- Cost: $80 pesos per person to enter, $25 pesos per vechicle to park
- Hours of Operation: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Day 6: Querétaro’s wine and cheese route
Next make your way to Tequisquiapan and along Querétaro’s wine and cheese route. While Mexico is known primarily for its tequila, wine is slowly showing its presence in Mexico.
The region in Querétaro is the second-largest wine-producing region in Mexico outside of the Valley de Guadalupe in Baja California. Spend the day indulging in local wine and cheese before heading onward. Our favorite stop was Cava de Quesos Bocanegra with delicious cheeses and wine sourced locally from the region.
There are plenty of other wineries to explore and cheesemongers to visit to make a full day of it. For something a bit different in Mexico, head over to Queretaro’s Wine and Cheese Route.
Day 7 – 8: Bernal
The pueblo magico of Bernal just a short hop, jump, and a skip away from Tequisquiapan. Bernal is home to Mexico’s largest monolith. What is a monolith you might ask? Well don’t worry, you are not alone. I also had to look up just what a monolith was as my elementary science classes were failing me. A monolith is a single or solid stone or rock (duh, mono = one).
Just how big is this monolith? Well, the Bernal monolith stands tall over 350 meters (1,148 feet) above ground. It is extremely difficult to miss and you can see it from far off in the distance as you make your final approach into the city of Bernal.
If you are the adventurous type, you can scale the monolith by rockclimbing or if you enjoy life much better with two feet on the ground, then walking to the top is also an option.
Other Things to Do in Bernal
After you visit the monolith, you will still have some time up your sleeve for a little bit of exploring. The city of Bernal itself is quite charming with its cobbled stone roads, colorful buildings, and outdoor terraces. Here are a few other things to do in Bernal before you head onward on your Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende road trip:
- Try a gordita and sample the local artisanal goods
- Bask in the sun on an outdoor terrace overlooking the monolith
- Go ATV exploring.
Day 9 – 10: Querétaro
Most people skip over Querétaro and head straight to San Miguel de Allende, but we think that a quick 24 hours in Querétaro is the perfect balance for exploring this state’s capital. Here is a shortlist of the best things to do in Querétaro.
- Wander the streets in search of one of the 13 churches in the historic city center
- Stroll through the Alameda Hidalgo and observe the local culture
- Marvel at the ancient aqueduct
READ MORE: Pit Stop: Querétaro in 24 Hours
Day 11 – 14: San Miguel de Allende
You have already seen a lot on your road trip from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, and you have saved, what some might would say, the best bit for last.
Upon arrival in San Miguel de Allende, it was clear to us why retirees flock to this charming colonial town. You might already know but San Miguel de Allende is often touted as the retirement capital in Mexico for wealthy Americans and Canadians. The cobbled stone streets and colorful buildings centered around an impressive church make wandering the city of San Miguel de Allende remarkable. San Miguel de Allende looks as if it was plucked right out of a storybook.
Just Go for a Wander
I just described how picturesque San Miguel de Allende really is. Spend a few days in San Miguel de Allende strolling the picturesque streets, perusing the local art galleries, shopping at boutique stores, and indulging in the fancier things of life. San Miguel de Allende is not the place to hold back in terms of luxury if this is something you crave and enjoy.
Eat, Eat, Eat
If you didn’t realize from our tips on Mexico City, we are really into eating. Whether it is tacos from a street vendor, one of the world’s best restaurants, or something in between, we like it all. We recommend you follow our lead and eat your way through San Miguel de Allende. Check out our article San Miguel de Allende Under 40 for the best places to eat in San Miguel de Allende on a budget (i.e., under $40 USD).
Party Til You Drop with the Nightlife in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is known as a place for retirees, but what about the young adults? Is there someplace where we can go and let loose a bit? Lucky for you, Eddie and I spent some time in San Miguel de Allende searching for the best nightlife in San Miguel de Allende for young adults in a retiree world. It does exist and we know just where. Find out where to go to let your hair down a bit in our article Nightlife in San Miguel de Allende.
Useful Tips and Tricks for Your Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende Road Trip
Now that you where to go on your road trip from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, you need to start planning. We have put together a list of FAQs and dos and don’ts to help you navigate and plan your road trip from Mexico City.
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit?
The best time to visit Mexico is in the spring (March-May) or in the fall (September-October). Winters in Mexico City can be quite chilly and the rain during the summer is best to be avoided.
Do always carry a rain coat for those unannounced showers.
Don’t forget a light jacket as the temperature can drop at night.
Is Mexico Safe?
In general, yes. The road trip from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende does not pass through any states that the US and Australian governments deem to be high risk. However, this does not mean that you should not exercise caution, especially in Mexico City.
Do be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night.
Don’t wear flashy clothing or carry around wads of cash.
What Are the Driving Conditions in Mexico?
Driving in Mexico City is hectic. The roads are narrow and crowded, there are rules about when you can and cannot drive depending on your license plate, and the city is huge.
Outside of Mexico City, however, it is a lot easier to manage. Highways in Mexico are well maintained and usually charge a small toll (although there is usually an alternative non-toll road to get you where you want to go).
The most dangerous thing in Mexico is the topes. Topes are the equivalent of speed bumps and the Mexican roads are littered with them. Usually they are unmarked and can seriously damage your car if you are speeding.
Do look up the rules of driving in Mexico City especially for foreign plated cars.
Don’t forget the topes, these guys are dangerous.
Is It Easy to Find Gas in Mexico?
Easy. Extremely easy, especially on this route. Gas stations can be found at least every 50kms, so there is no need to worry about running out!
Do remember to tip your gas attendant.
Don’t worry, you will find gas!
Can You Drink the Water in Mexico?
No. The water in Mexico is not safe to drink. We recommend bringing your own filtering water bottle or equivalent to keep yourself safe and to help reduce the use of single-use plastics.
Do save the planet and forgo single-use plastics.
Don’t forget your filtering water bottle.
Are There ATMs in Mexico?
Yes. Every place we have recommended on your road trip from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende has ATMs.
Do carry cash as many taco stands and restaurants won’t accept cards.
Don’t forget to check your ATM fees with your local bank before leaving.
How Reliable is the Mobile Internet In Mexico?
Relatively reliable. Both Eddie and I work part-time while living in the van, and we manage to do it all from the van on a personal hotspot. We even find that sometimes our mobile hot spot is better than the wifi at various restaurants, cafes, and hostels.
Do buy a local Telcel SIM card.
Don’t forget to use nperf.com to check out the most up to date information on 4G signal throughout Mexico.
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