The most beautiful place in Mexico, according to many people, doesn’t face the Pacific Ocean. It isn’t on the Baja California or Yucatán Peninsulas either. It actually doesn’t touch a large body of water at all. You have to head into the mountains of Central Mexico to find this colonial city. You’ll discover tightly clustered buildings, winding alleys, and a network of underground tunnels once you arrive. Welcome to Guanajuato.
The Otomis, the Chichimecas, and the Aztecs all inhabited this narrow valley at one point. But it’s the Spanish, finding gold and silver deposits in the hills in the 1540s, who created this stunning city. They built mansions out of pink and green sandstone. They established churches, including the Mexican Baroque-styled Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato (just call it the Basílica). And they created the Neoclassical Teatro Juarez, which is still considered one of the most beautiful theaters in Mexico. All of this gorgeous architecture surrounds plazas that are full of trees, gardens, and sculptures.
So this weekend, you’re going to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll start in the center of the city at Plaza de la Paz, where a sculpture of a women represents peace. You’ll see the 1,000-year-old statue, from Spain’s King Charles I, in the Basílica and nine Greek mythological muses on the facade of Teatro Juarez. You’ll board a cable car behind the theater, climb up the hillside, and take in the view of the city from the statue of El Pípila, a hero from the Mexican War of Independence, whose first battle was fought here. You’ll visit the largest collection of mummies—yes, real mummified bodies—at the Mummy Museum. Be sure to buy charamuscas (caramels resembling mummies) at El Cubilete when you’re done.
Then you’ll kiss your sweetheart on the third step of the Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss) to guarantee yourselves seven years of happiness. You’ll eat miner’s enchiladas (stuffed with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and beans) at little cafes. Plus you’ll listen to mariachi bands while sipping mezcal along the Jardín de la Unión.
Luckily, by the time you’re finally ready to call it a night, you’ll no longer have to worry about getting lost in the alleyways. Your hotel is directly across the street from the plaza. Hotel Boutique 1850 is in another one of the city’s old mansions. The Neoclassical building has stained-glass windows, a reading lounge, and individually decorated rooms. Suites, like Julieta and Teresa, fit your style perfectly. You actually choose the hotel for its rooftop bar, though. You can stare down at the maze of streets, listen to the late-night revelers at the bars, and watch the glow of the city as you sip a nightcap before heading to bed. No water view is needed in this Mexican gem.