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Santiago de Querétaro, my complete tour of the area

Santiago de Querétaro, commonly known as Querétaro, is a gem nestled in the heart of Mexico, in central Mexico. 

This vibrant city, a Unesco World Heritage site, offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty that captivates the hearts of travelers from around the world.

In this article, I will share my personal experience and recount the incredible adventures I had in Santiago de Querétaro.

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Where is Santiago de Querétaro and how I got there

Where is Santiago de Queretato

Santiago de Querétaro, often referred to simply as Querétaro, is a captivating city in Mexico’s central region. 

This historic and culturally rich destination can be found in the state of Querétaro, which is part of the larger region known as the Bajío.

How I got to Santiago de Queretaro

Like many travelers, I landed in Mexico City at Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX), the country’s main airport.

airport Mexico
airport Mexico

From there, I rented a car and started my journey across Mexico.

Querétaro is easily accessible by road. Mexico City is connected to Querétaro via well-maintained highways. The drive offers flexibility and the opportunity to explore other destinations en route.

Have a unique experience by exploring the area in your own rented car

Whether you prefer day trips from your hotel or a tour around the country, car rental is the best way for creating your own experience and live your dream vacation

Other ways to get to Queretaro

Landing directly at Queretaro airport

If you’re traveling from abroad or a distant part of Mexico, flying into Querétaro International Airport (QRO) is a convenient option. 

The airport serves both domestic and international flights, making it accessible to travelers from around the world.

Domestic flight from Mexico City to Queretaro

Other option that I had to get to Queretaro from Mexico City was with a domestic flight. 

The flight duration is relatively short, making it a quick and efficient way to reach Querétaro.

But as I was traveling on a budget and my plan was to explore as much as I can from Mexico, I chose to rent a car.

highway in Mexico
highway in Mexico

Public transport from Mexico City

For those who prefer land travel, several bus companies operate comfortable and affordable services from Mexico City to Santiago de Querétaro. 

The journey takes approximately 2-3 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. It’s an excellent way to enjoy scenic views along the way.

How I spend a few days in Santiago de Querétaro Qro Mexico

Exploring the Historic Downtown

As I ventured into Querétaro’s historic downtown, I couldn’t help but be entranced by its UNESCO World Heritage charm. 

The cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and vibrant facades of buildings from the historic center transported me back in time. 

Plaza de Armas Santiago de Queretaro
Plaza de Armas Santiago de Queretaro

Plaza de Armas, with the State Government Palace, the Municipal Palace, and the beautiful Jardín Zenea surrounding it, served as the heart of this captivating district. 

While strolling through this area, I marveled at the impressive Aqueduct of Querétaro, an 18th-century engineering marvel with 74 towering arches that stretches nearly 1,300 meters.

I also visited Templo de Santa Clara, an ancient church with an archaic charm, and Cerro de las Campanas (“Hill of the Bells”), a national park located in Queretaro.

Discovering the Rich Culture

In the afternoon, I had the pleasure of witnessing traditional dance performances in the main plazas. 

These captivating displays showcased the city’s deep-rooted traditions, featuring vibrant costumes, lively music, and graceful movements. 

It was a wonderful way to immerse myself in Querétaro’s rich culture.

Traditional Mexican Cuisine

Starting my day with chilaquiles, a hearty dish made from crispy tortilla chips smothered in red or green salsa, topped with cheese, and often served with eggs, was a delightful experience. 

Querétaro’s unique take on enchiladas, rolled tortillas filled with a delectable mixture and covered in a rich, savory sauce, was a culinary highlight. 

enchiladas Mexico
enchiladas Mexico

However, the real treat came with a taste of chiles en nogada, a seasonal delicacy that featured poblano peppers stuffed with a flavorful blend of ground meat, fruits, and spices, all crowned with a creamy walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds, and parsley.

Must-Try Street Food

Querétaro’s streets are a haven for food enthusiasts. 

Gorditas, thick, stuffed tortillas filled with various savory ingredients, were a joy to savor. 

The tlayudas, large, thin tortillas laden with refried beans, cheese, and a medley of toppings, were crisped to perfection on griddles. 

And of course, elotes, grilled or boiled corn on the cob adorned with mayonnaise, cheese, chili powder, and lime juice, were a delightful blend of flavors and textures.

Visiting Museums and Art Galleries

My morning was dedicated to exploring Querétaro’s vibrant arts and culture scene. 

The Museo de la Ciudad provided an enriching journey through the city’s history, from ancient times to the present.

Queretaro street with arches
Queretaro street with arches

Its exhibits, including artifacts, paintings, and interactive displays, offered deep insights into Querétaro’s evolution. 

The Museo Regional, housed in an exquisite 18th-century building, focused on the region’s art and culture. 

Here, colonial art, indigenous crafts, and exhibits highlighting the city’s religious traditions were on display.

Attending Live Performances

As evening approached, I had the privilege of attending a live performance at Teatro de la República, a historic theater with a rich artistic legacy. 

Being immersed in the world of Mexican arts and culture was an unforgettable experience. 

Querétaro’s plazas and parks often hosted live music events, from traditional mariachi bands to contemporary musicians. 

Checking the local events calendar allowed me to enjoy these dynamic performances during my visit.

Hiking at Peña de Bernal

My day began with a thrilling adventure as I ventured out of the city to explore Peña de Bernal. 

This imposing monolith, often touted as one of the tallest in the world, is an iconic natural landmark in Querétaro. 

Peña de Bernal Mexico
Peña de Bernal Mexico

The hike to the summit was both challenging and rewarding. 

The trail winds its way up the monolith, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape at every turn. 

The hike typically takes a few hours, depending on your pace and fitness level.

As I ascended, I couldn’t help but be awed by the sheer magnitude of Peña de Bernal. 

Its rugged surface and the vibrant greenery that clings to its sides create a picturesque backdrop that’s perfect for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike. 

Along the way, I encountered fellow hikers, and the sense of camaraderie on the trail added to the overall experience.

Reaching the summit was a triumphant moment. 

The panoramic vistas from the top were simply spectacular. 

I could see for miles in every direction, taking in the patchwork of fields, forests, and the charming town below. 

It was a peaceful and serene place to sit and reflect while appreciating the natural beauty of Querétaro.

For those who are not up for the hike, there are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy the scenery and relax at the base of the monolith.

 Local vendors offer snacks and souvenirs, making it a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Relaxing at Jardín Guerrero

After the exhilarating hike, I needed some downtime, and Jardín Guerrero was the perfect place to unwind. 

This tranquil garden oasis is nestled in the heart of Querétaro, offering respite from the bustling city. 

Lush gardens, serene fountains, and shaded benches provided a peaceful setting for relaxation and contemplation.

Queretaro street with arches
Queretaro street with arches

I took a leisurely stroll through the well-maintained pathways, admiring the variety of plants and flowers that adorned the garden. 

The soothing sound of water from the fountains added to the serene ambiance. 

Many locals and tourists alike gather here to read, have a picnic, or simply enjoy the natural surroundings.

As I sat on one of the benches, I found myself lost in thought, taking in the beauty of Jardín Guerrero.

 It was the ideal place to recharge and appreciate the tranquility that nature can offer, right in the heart of a bustling city. 

Whether you’re seeking solace or simply a peaceful moment amidst your travels, Jardín Guerrero is a gem in Santiago de Querétaro that’s not to be missed.

Learning About La Corregidora

Another day I dedicated to history and shopping.

My day began with a visit to the historic Casa de La Corregidora, a central figure in Mexico’s fight for independence. 

This remarkable woman, whose real name was Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, played a pivotal role in the early 19th-century struggle for freedom. 

Her residence in Querétaro is now a museum that offers an insightful glimpse into her life and the revolutionary period.

As I explored the rooms of La Corregidora’s house, I couldn’t help but feel the weight of history within its walls. 

Casa de la Corregidora Santiago de Queretaro
Casa de la Corregidora Santiago de Queretaro

The museum houses a collection of artifacts, documents, and exhibits that shed light on her bravery and commitment to the cause of independence.

Walking through the rooms, I learned about her role in secret meetings and her dedication to the revolutionary ideals of the time.

One of the highlights of the visit was seeing the room where crucial plans for the insurgency were made. 

The sense of history was palpable, and I was deeply moved by the courage and determination of those who risked everything for their beliefs.

Besides La Corregidora, Querétaro boasts several historical landmarks, such as the Casa de la Zacatecana and Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo. 

These sites offer a glimpse into the city’s past.

Shopping for Local Treasures

After immersing myself in history, I set out to explore Mercado La Cruz, a bustling market in Querétaro. 

The market is a treasure trove of local goods, from fresh produce to handcrafted souvenirs. 

It’s a vibrant place where the sights, sounds, and scents of Mexico come to life.

products sold in a market in Mexico
products sold in a market in Mexico

Wandering through the market’s colorful aisles, I had the opportunity to interact with friendly vendors who were eager to share their products and stories. 

I sampled fresh fruits and vegetables, each bursting with flavor, and marveled at the array of spices and herbs on display.

What truly captivated me, though, were the stalls featuring handcrafted souvenirs. 

Querétaro is known for its skilled artisans, and the market showcased their talents beautifully. 

I couldn’t resist picking up hand-painted pottery, intricate textiles, and unique jewelry, each piece telling a story of the region’s culture and craftsmanship.

souvenir shops in Queretaro
souvenir shops in Queretaro

The market also offered a wide selection of traditional Mexican candies, spices, and other culinary delights that made for perfect gifts or mementos of my time in Querétaro.

Nightlife in Santiago de Querétaro

As the sun set over the charming streets of Santiago de Querétaro, I discovered that a different side of the city came to life. 

The nightlife in Querétaro is vibrant, diverse, and offers something for everyone. 

Here’s a closer look at the exhilarating nighttime experiences that I had the pleasure of enjoying:

Bars and Clubs

I found that Querétaro boasts a lively bar and club scene that caters to various tastes. 

Whether I was in the mood for dancing, live music, or simply relaxing with a cocktail, I found a venue to suit my preferences.

Enjoying Mariachi Music

No visit to Santiago de Querétaro was complete without experiencing the soul-stirring melodies of mariachi music. 

Several venues in the city offered live mariachi performances that provided an authentic taste of Mexican culture.

mariachi on the main plaza Queretaro
mariachi on the main plaza Queretaro

Mariachi’s Plaza: Located in the historic downtown area, this open-air plaza often featured mariachi bands playing traditional tunes. I enjoyed the music while sipping on a drink from one of the nearby bars or simply strolling through the plaza, immersing myself in the enchanting melodies.

El Atrio del Templo de San Francisco: This historic atrium occasionally hosted mariachi concerts in a stunning colonial setting. The combination of the majestic church backdrop and the passionate music created a truly memorable experience.

Nighttime Festivals and Events

Depending on the time of my visit, Santiago de Querétaro surprised me with nighttime festivals and events. 

I kept an eye on local event calendars for special occasions that included cultural performances, arts exhibitions, and more.

The nightlife in Santiago de Querétaro was a captivating blend of music, culture, and excitement. 

It was a wonderful way to unwind after a day of exploring the city’s history and attractions. 

Santiago de Queretaro in Mexico
Santiago de Queretaro in Mexico

Whether I preferred a tranquil wine bar, an energetic nightclub, or the enchanting melodies of mariachi music, Querétaro’s nightlife had something to offer every nocturnal adventurer like me.

Safety and travel tips

Prioritize Safety

While Santiago de Querétaro is a relatively safe destination, it’s always wise to prioritize your safety during your visit. 

Here are some essential tips I followed to ensure a worry-free experience:

Stay Aware: Just like in any city, it’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings. I kept an eye on my belongings and avoided displaying valuable items in public.

Use Reputable Transportation: I primarily used registered taxis or rideshare services when traveling within the city. These are generally safe and reliable options.

Emergency Numbers: I made a note of the local emergency numbers, including those for the police, medical services, and the embassy of my home country, in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Travel Insurance: I ensured I had comprehensive travel insurance that covered health emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. It provided peace of mind throughout my journey.

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Communication and Language

Spanish is the official language in Santiago de Querétaro, and while many locals do not speak English fluently, I found that making an effort to communicate in Spanish, even with basic phrases, was greatly appreciated.

 Here are some language-related tips:

Learn Basic Phrases: Knowing simple greetings and common phrases in Spanish can go a long way in enhancing your travel experience and making interactions with locals smoother.

Translate Apps: I had translation apps on my phone that helped bridge language barriers when needed. These apps came in handy for understanding menus, asking for directions, and more.

Money Matters

Managing finances during your trip is crucial. Here’s how I handled money matters in Querétaro:

Local Currency: The official currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). I exchanged some currency at the airport upon arrival and also withdrew cash from ATMs in the city as needed.

money and Mexico
money and Mexico

Credit Cards: I found that major credit and debit cards were widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it’s a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments and street vendors.

Local Etiquette

Understanding and respecting local customs and etiquette is essential for a positive travel experience:

Greetings: I followed the local custom of greeting with a friendly “Hola” (hello) and “Buenos días” (good morning) or “Buenas tardes” (good afternoon) depending on the time of day.

Tipping: Tipping is customary in restaurants, and I typically left a 10-15% tip for good service. It’s also polite to tip taxi drivers and tour guides.

Respect for Culture: I showed respect for the local culture and traditions, especially when visiting religious sites and participating in cultural events.

Health and Wellness

Staying healthy while traveling is a top priority. Here are some health and wellness tips:

Hydration: Querétaro’s climate can be dry, so I made sure to stay well-hydrated throughout the day, especially during outdoor activities.

Sun Protection: I applied sunscreen and wore a wide-brimmed hat to protect myself from the sun’s strong rays.

Local Cuisine: While I indulged in the delicious local cuisine, I also made sure to balance it with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy diet.

Cultural Sensitivity

Respecting the local culture and customs is key to a positive travel experience:

Dress Modestly: When visiting churches and religious sites, I dressed modestly out of respect for the local customs and traditions.

Photography: I asked for permission before taking photos of people, especially in markets and other public places.

By following these safety and travel tips, my visit to Santiago de Querétaro was not only enjoyable but also hassle-free. It allowed me to fully immerse myself in the city’s culture, history, and beauty while ensuring my safety and well-being throughout the journey.

Where to stay in Santiago de Queretaro

Budget friendly hotel

Located in Casa Blanca La Corregidora, Hotel Amberes is a nice budget-friendly hotel conveniently located in city center and you can go anywhere by walking. The rooms are clean and quite spacious.

Mid- level hotel

We chose to stay at Hacienda Jurica by Brisas, located in a 16th-century colonial building. What we liked most here were the decorations, the comfy bed, and the peaceful atmosphere.

Hotel Patio Santiago Mexico
Hotel Patio Santiago Mexico

Luxury hotel

Just 4 minutes walk from the first plaza, Hotel Patio Santiago is a wonderful option for those searching for some luxury.

The breakfast is extremely varied and tasty and it is included in the room rate, while the room is spacious and nicely furnished.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my time spent in Santiago de Querétaro was an enriching and unforgettable experience. 

This captivating city, nestled in the heart of Mexico, offered a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. 

From exploring the cobblestone streets of the historic downtown to indulging in the rich flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine, every moment was a journey of discovery.

I had the privilege of immersing myself in the city’s cultural heritage through visits to art museums, regional museums, live performances, and encounters with friendly locals. 

catholic church in Santiago de Queretaro
catholic church in Santiago de Queretaro

The natural wonders of Querétaro, including the exhilarating hike up Peña de Bernal and the serene moments at Jardín Guerrero, allowed me to connect with the beauty of the outdoors.

As I delved into the city’s history, I paid homage to the courageous figures who played pivotal roles in Mexico’s fight for independence, such as La Corregidora. 

Additionally, the bustling Mercado La Cruz provided a taste of local life and a chance to bring home cherished souvenirs.

Santiago de Querétaro’s vibrant nightlife, featuring everything from wine bars to mariachi music, added a layer of excitement to my evenings.

 It allowed me to socialize, relax, and enjoy the lively atmosphere that the city has to offer.

Throughout my journey, I prioritized safety, communication, and cultural respect, ensuring that I had not only a memorable but also a responsible travel experience. 

With each passing day, Santiago de Querétaro revealed its charm, leaving me with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for this remarkable destination.

FAQ

What is the best time to visit Santiago de Querétaro?

The best time to visit Santiago de Querétaro is during the fall and spring seasons, which typically span from September to November and February to April, respectively. During these months, the weather is mild, with pleasant temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C). The skies are often clear, making it ideal for outdoor activities and exploring the city’s historic sites. It’s also a great time to enjoy cultural events and festivals. However, if you prefer cooler temperatures, consider visiting during the winter months, when you can experience festive holiday celebrations.

Are there any safety concerns for tourists in Querétaro?

Santiago de Querétaro is generally considered a safe destination for tourists. However, as with any travel, it’s important to take basic safety precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings in crowded areas, use registered taxis or rideshare services, and be aware of your surroundings. It’s advisable to carry a copy of your identification and know the location of the nearest embassy or consulate. Querétaro’s police force is known for its professionalism and responsiveness, which contributes to the overall safety of the city.

What are the top cultural events in Querétaro?

Santiago de Querétaro hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year. Some of the top cultural events to consider include:

Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC): Held in October, FIC is one of Mexico’s most renowned cultural festivals, featuring music, dance, theater, and art from around the world.

Feria de Querétaro: This annual fair, typically held in December, offers a vibrant mix of concerts, exhibitions, rodeos, and traditional Mexican festivities.

Semana Santa: Holy Week is celebrated with religious processions and ceremonies that offer a glimpse into Querétaro’s deep-rooted traditions.

Independence Day: On September 15th and 16th, Querétaro comes alive with patriotic celebrations, including parades, fireworks, and street parties.

How can I get to Santiago de Querétaro from Mexico City?

Getting to Santiago de Querétaro from Mexico City is convenient, and there are several transportation options:

By Air: Querétaro International Airport (QRO) offers domestic and international flights. You can book a direct flight from Mexico City International Airport (MEX) to QRO, making it a quick and efficient way to reach Querétaro.

By Bus: Several bus companies operate daily routes from Mexico City to Querétaro. The journey takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on traffic and the type of bus service you choose.

By Car: You can also rent a car and drive to Querétaro from Mexico City. The trip takes around 2 to 3 hours, and the highways are well-maintained and easy to navigate.

What are the must-try dishes in Querétaro?

Querétaro is known for its delicious and unique cuisine. Some must-try dishes include:

Gorditas: Thick, stuffed tortillas filled with various savory ingredients, such as shredded meat, cheese, and salsa.

Enchiladas Queretanas: Rolled tortillas filled with a flavorful mixture and covered in a rich, savory sauce.

Chiles en Nogada: A seasonal delicacy featuring poblano peppers stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, fruits, and spices, topped with a creamy walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds, and parsley.

Tlayudas: Large, thin tortillas spread with refried beans, cheese, and various toppings, often including avocado and salsa.Elotes: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise, cheese, chili powder, and lime juice, creating a delightful blend of flavors and textures.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.