A Querétaro city guide

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Querétaro, or Santiago de Querétaro as it's officially called, is a large city 3 hours from Mexico City. It's somewhere we visited because we needed a base for a month and found a good apartment. We didn't really know much about it before we arrived. Everyone we spoke to said the same things, "It's the safest place in Mexico!" and "It's so clean!". Well, ok then, sounds pretty good!

I can't write honestly about Queretaro without admitting that it wasn't exactly a highlight of our trip. In fact, it was kind of the opposite. But that's nothing to do with the city itself – it's a nice place. As I've mentioned, what feels like a million times before, things have been weird lately while we figure out work and what to do next (read this if you missed it). We're slowly figuring it out, though, and things have started to pick up now.

But enough about that, let's talk about Querétaro.

Centro Historico

The historical centre is a UNESCO protected area. It's colourful, with cobbled pedestrianised streets opening out into plazas full of trees (and, yes, it's very clean!). The city doesn't get many international visitors, and as a result people are very friendly. It's a great place to experience life in a Mexican city without the tourists.

There aren't tons of sights or things to do (although it's in the perfect position for some really great day trips, see below). We made it to the art museum and the regional museum. Otherwise we spent our days dealing with our aforementioned work situation, going on walks around the centre and people-watching in Plaza Fundadores, our favourite square.

The streets of the historical centre

A festival in our favourite square

Colin walking through the pedestrian streets

My dream car!

A colourful sign for the city

Another pedestrianised street

Where to eat

  • Chinicuil: I'll start with our favourite restaurant in Querétaro. A cute little spot around the corner from Plaza Fundadores, it serves really interesting modern Mexican dishes. Everything we ordered was incredible and it was great value for money.

Our main course at Chincuil

  • Cafe Breton: A popular little French place that's good for pastries, quiches and brunch.
  • Tikua Sur Este: This restaurant serves regional Mexican food, so it's a good place to try specialities from all around the country.

Breakfast at Tikua

  • Mitote: This was the place we ate most often in Querétaro. We usually ordered burgers, but it's open for breakfast too, and there are plenty of tables to sit outside and people watch.

The restaurants in our favourite plaza

  • Carranza 50: A more upmarket roof terrace, the food here is good but expensive.

Salmon lasagna

  • Bhaji: If you're looking for some culinary variety, then head here. I'm not sure if it was because it had been months since we'd had Indian food, but this place was so good.
  • La Vieja Varsovia: The best place to get bread, and they do nice salads and pizzas too.

Pizza at the bakery

  • Maria y Su Bici: Another regional Mexican restaurant with a huge variety of dishes from around the country.
  • El Tejolote Gastrofonda: We only discovered this place on our last day, but it instantly became our favourite breakfast spot.

Our last breakfast

Where to stay

We stayed in two apartments owned by the same company. They were both central, really nicely furnished and included a cleaner who came twice a week. They're available on airbnb and on the company website.

Our apartment in Queretaro

Day trips

One of the great things about Querétaro, is that it's perfectly placed to explore the surrounding cities. Here are some good day trips, all within a couple of hours away:

  • Bernal: A cute little town with the third largest monolith in the world.
  • Tesquiliapan: On the ruta del queso y vino (cheese and wine route), this is a great place to pick up some artisanal products from the region.
  • San Miguel: An expat town known for its art galleries, boutiques and cafes.
  • Guanajuato: A UNESCO heritage site and one of the prettiest places we've been in Mexico.

For more on Querétaro, I've written about our road trip around the state (day one and day two), and you can also check out the video from our trip.