Santiago de Querétaro, in the state of Querétaro, is some 200 kilometers north of Mexico City and often overlooked by tourists headed for the charming colonial town of San Miguel de Allende. But, those with even just one extra day up their sleeve should stop in and see what this historic old town has to offer.
Querétaro is Mexico’s second-wealthiest town after Monterrey in Mexico’s north, a fact that is immediately evident. Architecturally designed buildings line the streets, fine-dining restaurants take pride in place on busy street corners and high-end shops can be found in the bustling town center. The city is also home to a fascinating history and has earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Querétaro is full of surprises and will keep you busy for a few days or more. Here are some of the best things to do inQuerétaro to get you started.
Things to do in Santiago de Querétaro
Wander the Old Town
One of the best things to do in Santiago de Querétaro, and the best place to begin your journey in the city is to explore the old town on foot. While it may seem obvious, it bears mentioning that walking the streets is the best way to appreciate just how beautiful the town of Santiago de Querétaro really is.
The city was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 and it is easy to see why once you grab your walking shoes and hit the streets. From colorful buildings to cobble-stone streets and picturesque plazas, the beauty and old wealth of Santiago de Querétaro are on display in the beautiful old town.
As you walk the colonial-style streets pay attention to the number of churches that are scattered throughout the city. Santiago de Querétaro has an incredible number of churches with seven in the historic city center alone! With so many functioning churches that you are bound to see some members of the clergy] attending to their daily duties.
Take some time to view these historic and religious buildings. Ornate designs and striking colors evoke the churches of Russia or Italy for a moment you may even be transported far from Central Mexico.
Stroll Through the Alameda Hidalgo
Queretáro boasts an impressive park just east of the historic city center. More city gardens than a park, Alameda Hidalgo is perfect for an afternoon or evening stroll. A thick canopy of grand old trees provides shade from the hot Mexican sun and an ornate water fountain occupies the local children who come to cool down. Locals young and old come to meet, chat and enjoy their afternoon. Spend some time people-watching and soaking in every day Queretáro.
Grab a Bite at the Iconic Torta Willy’s
You cannot walk past Torta Willy’s located on the corner of Jardin Zenea without wondering what is going on. With locals pouring into the street waiting for their number to be called, take a cue and join the line and see what Torta Willy’s is all about.
A classic staple in any Queretárian’s diet the sandwiches come loaded with any combination of meat and veggies you can imagine. The torta here is the signature Queretáro sandwich and at $40 pesos this local sandwich is definitely something to add to your list of things to do in Santiago de Queretáro.
Take in the View of the Aqueducts
One of the best things to do in Santiago de Queretáro is to visit the aqueduct, a remnant from the Spanish colonial era. The 18th-century aqueduct was supplying water to the city well into the 20th century and is still used to supply water to the town’s many fountains. Thirty meters 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 lifeblood of the city, bringing water to the residents of the city from nearby 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.
Grab a Beer at One of the Many Breweries
Santiago de Queretáro has a surprising number of local breweries. Mexican beer is some of the best beer in the world and sampling the local craft always makes for a great outing and what better way to experience the local flavor of Queretáro than with a local cerveza.
The largest of all of the Queretáro breweries is Cervecería Hércules. Located in an old converted warehouse on the outskirts of town, this popular brewpub is one of the best things to do in Santiago de Queretáro. Pop in and sample one of the Hercules’s own beers or choose from a variety of other local and international craft beers. The food is also top-notch at Cervecería Hércules.
Another great option to try the local beers of Santiago de Queretáro is Brewer Gastro Pub which is conveniently located in the city center. These guys serve Cerveza Toro and offer six different types of beer. The pub also cooks up classic pub fare such as burgers and pizzas.
Grab a Coffee at the Quirky Kaluna Cafe
No trip to any city is complete without checking out a little bit of the cafe culture. To get your caffeine fix Head over to Kaluna Cafe located on 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 beer which can be enjoyed in the plaza as the sunsets.
How to Get to Santiago de Querétaro
The most convenient way to reach Querétaro from distant locations is by taking a flight. Querétaro International Airport (QRO) is served by several airlines and is located about 32 km (20 miles) east of the city center.
Many airlines operate direct flights from Mexico City to Querétaro. Some airlines offer direct flights from cities like Houston and Dallas to Querétaro.
Once you land at Querétaro International Airport, you can take a taxi, shuttle, or use other transportation services to reach your specific destination within the city.
Several bus companies operate routes to Querétaro from major cities all over Mexico, including Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.
There are multiple bus terminals in Querétaro. Make sure to check from which terminal your bus departs and arrives in Querétaro.
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If you prefer a more flexible travel option, you can rent a car and drive to Querétaro. Major cities and airports in Mexico have car rental services.
Querétaro has a well-maintained network of roads. It’s advisable to have a GPS or a good map to navigate the roads. Plan your route in advance, especially if you plan to visit specific attractions along the way.
If you are in a nearby city like Mexico City or Guanajuato, you can plan a road trip to Querétaro.
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Where to Stay in Santiago de Querétaro
If you are traveling overland and need a spot to camp, 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.
Hotel Boutique Casa Altamira
Hotel Boutique Casa Altamira offers the conveniences of a luxury hotel at reasonable prices. Located in a beautiful colonial-style building, these stylish and comfortable rooms are sure to make your trip to Querétaro comfortable. The hotel is conveniently located in the museum district and within walking distance to all of the great things to do in Santiago de Querétaro.
Morazul Hotel Boutique
Another charming hotel option in Santiago de Querétaro located in the museum district is the Morazul Hotel Boutique. With a traditional Mexican feel and modern amenities, this boutique hotel is perfect for couples. Prices start as low as USD $75 for the night, a bargain for the luxury this hotel offers!
Looking for More things to do in Central Mexico?
Extend your time in Querétaro by embarking on Querétaro’s wine and cheese route just an hour south of the city. Or perhaps head over to the charming Pueblo Magico of Bernal and hike one of the world’s largest monoliths!
And if you have already visited the nearby day trips from Querétaro, check out our other Mexico travel blog posts for more Mexico travel destination inspiration!
- The Ultimate Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende Road Trip
- 7 Exciting Bars for Nightlife in San Miguel de Allende
- 4 Amazing Beaches in Jalisco Not to be Missed
What do you think about this list of the best things to do in Santiago de Querétaro for any quick trip? Let us know in the comments below!