5 essential things to do in Guanajuato, Mexico

Our trip to Guanajuato, Mexico started off rocky but boy, are we glad we visited. Guanajuato has by far been one of our favorite places we’ve visited in our RV Mexico road trip. Even with the headaches and challenges of hitting our RV on a tunnel, we still feel visiting this city was worth it. If you’re planning a trip, here are 5 essential things to do in Guanajuato, Mexico to help you make the most of this wonderful city!

Go to Hildago Market

Mercados are the heart of most Mexican towns, and Guanajuato is no exception. Hildalgo Market (Mercado Hildalgo) has everything you can think of — souvenirs, clothing, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meat, and of incredible food! If you’re looking for things to do in Guanajuato this will definitely fill up an hour or two.

This market is not just a tourist hot spot, but is a common stop for locals because of their delicious food. Most famous for carnitas, many people come here to enjoy delicious carnitas tacos with nopales (cactus) salad. Be warned, it will sell out during the lunch rush hour (around 2 pm – 4 pm), so try to get there around 1 – 2 at the latest. We aren’t able to share the exact carnitas stall we went to (you’ll have to go on a food tour for that secret). However, look for the stall that has the most people patronizing, and that’s typically a good hint as to which one has the best food.

Walk or Ride up to el Pipila

Guanajuato played an important role in the Mexican revolution and the start of independence from Spanish rule in the 1800’s. One of things you’ll first notice when arriving to the city, is a large statute of a man on the top of the hill, El Pipila. He is the supposed hero of the War of Independence for Mexico and helped burn the gate of Alhóndiga de Granaditas which began the start of the war.

While the story of how he burnt the door to the ground is somewhat of a legend, many believe el Pipila was a real person, Juan José de los Reyes Martínez. However, there is little evidence confirming El Pipila’s existence. Whatever the truth may be, this figure stands tall and proud in above the city offering the best views of Guanajuato. One of the most common things to do in Guanajuato is to take a ride on the funicular to the top ($60 pesos roundtrip), or if you don’t mind getting a little exercise taking the stairs and windy alleys up to the top. No matter which method you choose, the view is worth it!

relax in the Jardin de la Union

I’m a sucker for gorgeous parks and the Jardin de La Union in the center of Guanajuato may take the cake. This incredible square is perfect for a relaxing break under the tree lined streets. There’s music, fountains, gorgeous views. It just feels right to stop and enjoy. If you’re lucky, see if the Theatre which adjoins the plaza is having a symphony. It’s realtively cheap and tickets and seat are first come first serve. Unfortuantely we tried to get our tickets a day too late and it was sold out!

Get lost in the cities windy, colorful streets

One of the best things to do in Guanajuato is just get lost in the streets. To roam, explore, and enjoy it’s incredible unique buildings. This city is dubbed one of the most colorful cities in Mexico because of the unique and bright colors. However, it wasn’t always this way. Up until around the 1970’s much of the city did not have running water, electricity, or sewage — especially the homes on the hills. As tourism increased for the International Festival Cervantino, the government created incentives to make the homes more colorful offering rewards to those who could paint their home the brightest color. This trend continued, and now the government helps give money for those who need it to help maintain the bright colors throughout. There are endless windy streets to explore with bright colored doors, beautiful flowers, and crazy colors.

Go on a history and food tour

The best way to be able to appreciate Guanajuatos unique history, vibrant culture, and incredible food is a food and history tour. Normally, we are not “tour people”. We like to explore on our own and enjoy a bit of independence as we travel. But with the language barrier and simply our lack of knowledge about Mexico’s unique history and food, tours on this trip have been invaluable. We’ve also done a lot more tours at the time of this writing, and our tour with GTO walking tours was by far the best. Our guide was so knowledgable and passionate about Guanajuato and shared incredible food and interesting stories. If you’re looking for things to do in Guanajuato this should be at the top of your list!

There are plenty of other things to do Guanajuato that aren’t covered here, but if you’re planning a trip this is a great start. We absolutely loved our time here, and would love to hear your favorite part of the city or favorite things to do in Guanajuato in the comments below.


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Liz & Dennis

Liz & Dennis


We’re two travel-loving, real estate investing, foodies exploring North America as full-time RV’ers. This blog is where we share our lessons learned, tips and tricks, and favorite places to eat, see, and RV across North America! We hope it helps you find your wanderlust, plan and prepare for RV life, and get out on the road!


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