Formally known as Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro is the state capital of, you guessed it, Querétaro. Situated 200 kilometers north of Mexico City, Querétaro is the second wealthiest city in Mexico a fact that is immediately evident.
While you can find lots of blogs on things to do in Querétaro, we considered our stay more of a pit stop. We wanted to get in, see a few things and get out. Overlanding in cities is not ideal, so we like to see what we can and move on. If you are looking to spend 24 hours in Querétaro like we did, here are some of the highlights.
Where to Stay
If you are overlanding, the best place to park overnight is in the Jardines de Querétaro neighborhood. Just a short one kilometer walk from the historic city center, it is the perfect place to stay for an evening. The walk into town follows the aqueducts which are a sight to see in themselves. We felt safe here and no one bothered us during the night.
If you are looking for hotels in Querétaro there is no shortage. Mexico’s second wealthiest city has accommodation to suit every taste and budget.
Things to do in Querétaro
Wander the Old Town
I hate to put it on the list because it seems obvious, but sometimes it is important to know why you are wandering. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 there is little wonder. What is there to see on your wanderings? The colorful buildings, cobble-stone streets, and picturesque plazas are only the beginning. The real reason? To marvel at the innumerous churches for which Querétaro is known. There are seven churches in the old city center alone (including the Santa Clara temple and convent which is slightly out of the historic center). Take some time to view these historic and religious buildings. Ornate designs and striking colors evoke the churches of Russia or Italy. Plus, you might get to see a few nuns wandering about.
Stroll Through the Alameda Hidalgo
Queretáro boasts an impressive park just east of the historic city center. More city garden then park, Alameda Hidalgo is perfect for an afternoon or evening stroll. Large canopying trees provide shade from the hot sun, a water fountain/splash pool occupies local children. Locals young and old come to meet, chat and enjoy their afternoon. Spend some time people watching and soaking in the every day Queretáro.
Take in the View of the Aqueducts
One unique sightseeing opportunity in Querétaro is the aqueduct. The 18th century aqueduct was supplying water to the city well into the 20th century and is still used to supply water to the towns many fountains. Thirty metres high and made up of 74 arches stretching 1700 meters, this impressive structure is a must see in Querétaro. Built at the request of the nuns of Santa Clara, its cargo has long been considered the life blood of the city, bringing water to the residents of the city from nearly La Canada.
Stroll along the aqueduct and admire the handiwork of Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana. If you are overlanding, you can camp right next to a section of the aqueduct.
Where to Eat in Querétaro on a Budget?
If you only have one day in Queretáro, you will need to get your skates on to taste some of what this city has to offer. We tried a few places sampling a little at each to make the most of our time in Queretáro. While there are plenty of flashy touristic spots to get any manner of cuisine, the city centre also has a robust street food and local restaurant scene.
Walking past this establishment was impossible due to the number of locals overflowing onto the streets. It did not take much for us to realize that this tiny little sandwich shop on the corner of the Jardin Zenea clearly had something going on. We joined the locals in the cue scanning the board and debating on just which sandwich (or torta) to get. With most of the options sounding yummy, we settled on the Querétaro. A tasty no frills mexican styler sandwich loaded with an assortment of meats for 40 pesos or $2 USD.
Restautante y Antojeria Tacos del 57
Just across the street from the sandwich shop is Taco 57. Another no frills establishment, the place serves up some solid tacos al pastor. A portion of tacos (3) will set you back only 45 pesos. It really is a steal in a sit down restaurant, considering street tacos cost between 10-15 pesos. The spicy pineapple salsa served up alongside makes for the perfect accompaniment.
Santa Clara Ice Cream
This touristic ice cream chain can be found throughout Mexico. Expensive by Mexican standards but always delicious, something that can’t be said when chancing an independent store. A great place to step out of the heat of the concrete jungle. Grab a scoop or two and enjoy the air conditioning before heading back out on the town.
Before hitting the road the next morning, grab a cup of coffee at Kaluna Cafe. Not directly in the city center, Kaluna Cafe is located on the Plaza de Los Fundadores near the Santa Crus Temple and Convent. The decor is farmhouse chic, the coffee here strong and the WIFI stable. If you aren’t into morning coffee, the cafe also serves up a range of local craft brew which can be enjoyed in the plaza as the sun sets.
If you are looking for something to do outside of Querétaro, head over to Querétaro’s wine and cheese route. Only an hour outside of the city, it makes for a great day trip to explore the surrounding area.
Or head to Bernal and hike one of the largest monoliths in the world.