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  • Writer's pictureKristin

Things to do in Colorful Guanajuato City

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

The beautiful colonial town of Guanajuato is nestled in the mountains and is dotted with a wide array of brightly colored buildings - all different shades of the rainbow. While the town is an UNESCO World Heritage City, it doesn’t receive as many foreign visitors as San Miguel Allende just an 80-minute drive away. However, we thought this made Guanajuato City all the more charming! There was just something so authentic about the time we had there. We will share with you some of the unique aspects of the city, as well as some of the things to do while in Guanajuato City.

Bright yellow church and colorful houses dot the hillsides of Guanajuato City with mountains in the background.
Looking down at colorful Guanajuato City, Mexico

History of Guanajuato City

The history of the city largely revolves around the silver that discovered below the city in 1557. It was one of the top 3 silver production areas in all of Mexico. The city was also the birthplace of the idea of Mexican independence and the first victory against the Spanish. In fact, there is a statue of the local hero of that victory, El Pipila, that sits on the viewpoint overlooking the city. In addition, there are some silver mines that you can visit; however, when we attempted to visit one, it was closed.

Red Stone statue of El Pipila - Guanajuato City, Mexico.
The local hero El Pipila from the Mexican Revolution sits on top of the city's hills.

Due to its silver mining history, the city is unique in that there are a series of tunnels that run through and under the city.

There are also narrow streets, which proved a bit difficult for our GMC Sierra.

The width of the truck takes up the whole alleyway in Guanajuato City, Mexico.
Trying to navigate the narrow streets with our pick-up truck in Guanajuato City.

However, after parking it at our accommodation it was easy to explore Guanajuato on foot. Because the town was built in the middle of the surrounding hillsides, the walk back up to our accommodation at the top of the hill was always a steep one.

Bright colorful buildings line the very steep alleyway in Guanajuato City, Mexico.
This was the steep hill that we had to take to and from our accommodation to the Old Town area.

Exploring the City on Foot

We found weaving through the many unique alleyways and enjoying coffee in the plazas and gardens to be one of the best ways to experience the city. One of the most fascinating features of these plazas were the well trimmed trees that were often square shaped.

In addition to the brightly colored buildings, there are cute alleyways adorned with hanging decorations of piñatas, baskets, kites and so many more things! (I think it also helped because we were visiting right after Christmas and the decorations hadn’t come down yet.)

One of the most famous alleyways is Callejon del Beso ‘Alley of the Kiss’ because the balconies are close enough that people could lean over and kiss. There are also a wide variety of museums within the city, including a mummy museum and one of the artwork of Diego Rivera, one of the Mexico’s most celebrated artists, who was born in Guanajuato.

Beautiful Architecture of Guanajuato

Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato |"Basilica Colegiata de Nuestra Senora de Guanajuato"
The bright yellow church in the main square of Guanajuato City, Mexico.
The Basilica of our Lady Guanajuato in the main square of Guanajuato City.

One of the most famous architectural churches of the city is this 17th century church. It contains an important artifact of a statue of the Virgin Mary dating from the 8th Century. It’s definitely one of the main center points of the city and the inside is beautiful as well.

There are so many other amazing architectural buildings as well, including Templo de la Compania, which is considered one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Latin America.


If your accommodation doesn’t sit at the top of the town, one of the best ways to view the city below is to take the funicular to the viewpoint. You can either get a one-way or a Return ticket, for a one-way ticket it was $30 Pesos ($1.50 USD/$1.85 CDN) and for a round trip it was $60 Pesos ($3 USD/$3.68 CDN). After you get off the funicular, there are some markets up at the top that you walk through before getting to the viewpoint.

Little girl looking out over the brightly colored city of Guanajuato City, Mexico
The view of the city from the top of the funicular in Guanajuato City.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Guanajuato! It was an amazing city to check out on the first part of our Mexican trip. In all honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up being one of our most favorite Mexican colonial cities from the trip! Don’t miss out on this gem! After Guanajuato we visited San Miguel de Allende, a very popular colonial town tourist spot. While I’m sure many people would disagree with us, we thought Guanajuato City was more unique of the two, and in our opinion more authentically Mexican.

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