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The Best and Worst Time of Year To Visit Central Mexico

Mexico may be known for its beaches, margaritas, and tacos, but there’s so much more to this country than getting sand in your bikini. Discover the beautiful baroque architecture, award-winning wine regions, and regional food specialties in Central Mexico, the real heart of Mexico.


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How We Came to Know Central Mexico

Tom spent some of his childhood summers in Central Mexico. His grandmother lived in San Miguel de Allende for 20 years. His first introduction to Mexico wasn’t to the beach but to the colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and the Mercado where he could buy tacos and toys that usually got him into trouble.


My intro to Central Mexico was Mexico City with Tom. I had heard about San Miguel de Allende for years because my mom, an artist, had always wanted to see the town. What little I knew about Central Mexico was from reading the expat retirement magazine International Living. San Miguel was a regular feature and Guanajuato and Queretaro were occasionally mentioned. We took 2 weeks exploring the region before moving here, then continued our exploration more in-depth.



Pueblo Magico Town of Bernal in Colonial Mexico
Pueblo Magico Town of Bernal


Mexico is the 6th Most Biodiverse Country in the World


Mexico is a large country with more than just beaches. Mexico has mountain ranges crisscrossing the country with ecosystems ranging from coastline, desert, jungle, canyons, high desert, and snow-covered mountains. Temperatures range from hot and humid to dry and below freezing. Mexico is the 6th most biodiverse country in the world, and 62 indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country. To say you’ve “been to Mexico” is like saying “I’ve been to the USA”. One city does not define the entire country.

Diversity of Central Mexico


The state of Guanajuato is home to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato City ( the capital), and Leon. The major airport in Guanajuato is near Leon. The city of Leon is in the Central Mexican plateau with semi-arid temperatures. The capital of Guanajuato and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guanajuato City is built in a narrow valley between mountain peaks about 30 minutes east of Leon.


The state of Guanajuato is also home to Dolores Hidalgo where the War of Independence in 1810 began. Most people only know of the artist and expat community of San Miguel de Allende which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Map of Guanajuato, Mexico



The state of Queretaro is in the heart of Central Mexico in the middle of the country near the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. Queretaro is temperate and surrounded by mountains and rolling hills for agriculture. The major city in the state is Santiago de Queretaro, usually shortened to just Queretaro.


The pueblos magicos of Bernal and Tequisquiapan are in the center of Queretaro’s wine country, and smaller missions, caves, and waterfalls are scattered in the mountains of the Sierra Gorda Biopreserve.




Is Central Mexico Safe?

We know most of the news outlets love to portray Mexico as a dangerous place. We have been here 7 years and yes, we have seen some crime increase over in the state of Guanajuato in certain towns, but it’s not as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. 


When we were first looking at Guanajuato, San Miguel, and Queretaro as possible places to live, this is what we were told: An expat, who had lived in Guanajuato for 11 years, told us that if a person gets pickpocketed, it would be on the front-page news. We know people who have lived in San Miguel for up to 15 years and have no plans on ever leaving.


Queretaro is one of the safest cities you can visit (or live in) in Mexico according to numerous sources including Numbeo.com. The people in this region are very friendly and helpful. We have never felt unsafe. It’s kind of a joke around here that the cartels got together and decided that these two states were off-limits so that their families had a safe place to vacation. Whether it’s true or not, people from all over Mexico and many other countries move here because of its safe reputation.



How to Get to Central Mexico


By Plane

Central Mexico has two small international airports located in Queretaro (QRO) and Leon (BJX) about 3 hours apart.


  • If you are going to Guanajuato City, fly into Leon.
  • Fly into Queretaro if you plan on spending most of your time in the state of Queretaro.
  • If you plan on spending all your time in San Miguel de Allende, you can fly to either airport and get a bus or private car, but the Queretaro airport is closer.

You can plan a trip to and from one airport or arrive at one and leave from another. This post will mainly focus on the states of Queretaro and Guanajuato with Queretaro International Airport and Del Bajio International Airport as your points of reference.

Queretaro International Airport code QRO

Del Bajio International Airport code BJX

Tiffany and Tom in Centro historico, Queretaro in Colonial Mexico
Tiffany and Tom in Centro Historico, Queretaro


Queretaro is 2 hours north of Mexico City, 3 hours from the Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Michoacán, and just an hour away from San Miguel de Allende.


Queretaro has its international airport with direct flights to and from Mexico City, Monterrey, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and San Antonio as well as smaller airports around Mexico. In 2024, Querétaro International Airport will offer two new daily routes to Atlanta, Georgia and Detroit, Michigan, operated by Aeroméxico, in partnership with Delta Airlines.


Leon is a great city to fly into to explore the state of Guanajuato. Del Bajio International Airport has direct flights from Mexico City, Monterrey, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago (both airports), Tijuana, and many smaller airports around Mexico.

Travel Tip:

Combine a beach and colonial tour of Mexico by flying in/out of Cancun to/from Queretaro. Prices from Cancun are just an extra $120 USD. 


San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in Colonial Mexico
San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is in the state of Guanajuato and one hour from Queretaro. It’s been named the Best City in the World by Travel & Leisure readers in 2017, 2018, and 2021, falling to the number two spot for 2019 and 2020. It’s directly in between the two airports characterized by rolling hills and Colonial architecture. San Miguel did have plans to build an international airport, but the residents were not too excited about that. If San Miguel de Allende is at the top of your list of places to visit, there’s plenty to discover around this UNESCO World Heritage Site from either direction.



Best (and Worst) Times to Visit Queretaro and Guanajuato

After spending almost 4 years here, we can honestly give you the best advice on when to visit Colonial Mexico. Below is a list of the best and worst times to visit. I did not list specific dates because these can change at random. This list is to give you a general idea of what’s happening each month. Many other events will be taking place in your chosen destination that aren’t advertised on websites, event pages, or Facebook events.


It’s usually pleasant during the day but can be extremely cold and windy in the early morning and at night. January has sunny days and every town is absolutely beautiful at this time of the year. After the first week in January, there are less crowds.

Extra tip: *December through March is a great time to see the monarch butterflies in Michaocan (3 hours away).


The weather is still temperate with lots of sunny days. Wine festivals are starting to take place at Queretaro wineries. The beginning of February has two national holidays and Valentine’s Day is big here. February is a beautiful time to visit almost anywhere in Mexico.

The Festival 100 Vinos Mexicanos (100 Wines of Mexico Festival) is one of the most important wine festivals in the country that takes place at the end of February every two years in Queretaro.  We have a special tour through our tour company Heart of Mexico Wine Tours to experience the festival and many other wonderful things in the state of Queretaro.


Wine festivals are in full swing in Queretaro and around San Miguel de Allende. Purple jacaranda trees are in bloom, and it’s also the strawberry season in Irapuato, Guanajuato.  It’s a good time to visit Sierra Gorda for hiking, camping and to see waterfalls.

Woman making tortillas
Fresh made tortillas


Easter celebration in San Miguel is something to see. Schools are closed for the week before and after Easter, so smaller towns swell with city dwellers going on vacation. If you can get an Airbnb at this time the price will be better than hotels, but take note, reserve months in advance. Temperatures start getting hot during midday, but evenings are still nice. Mineral de Pozos has its Mariachi Festival, and to beat the heat, try some unusual flavors at the ice cream festival in Dolores Hidalgo. The weather is still nice to explore Sierra Gorda. Avocados and apricots are sold at ridiculously cheap prices along the roadside.


May is the hottest month of the year in Colonial Mexico (and most of the country). It’s hot and dry and since the beauty of Mexico is usually outside, you may want to avoid this month. The heat lasts from 10 am-7 pm, then cools down by 20 degrees. It’s a good time to escape to the mountains of Sierra Gorda for 70-degree weather, waterfalls, and hiking.

Another escape: National Wine and Cheese Festival weekends in Tequisquiapan. Heart of Mexico Wine Tours has some fun tours ranging from 1-day to 8-day vacation packages planned to include the festival, wineries, and pueblos magicos on three different weekends!


The rainy season begins, and flooding can occur. I would say that it usually rains at night, and just a few times during the day, but 2021 was a very unusual rainy season with rain and cloud cover for most of the summer.  There are still festivals every weekend such as Dia de los Locos in San Miguel de Allende. To learn more about the rainy season check out our post The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Central Mexico’s Rainy Season.




Perfect summer weather! It mostly rains at night and the heat of the day is just a few hours. The mornings and evenings are beautiful.  Wine and food festivals are happening every weekend. You’ll see vendors selling figs and sometimes peaches along the roads. The Guanajuato Film Festival is the last two weeks in July.


Wine Harvesting Festivals or Vendimias take place all month. Plan a trip to explore the different wineries in Queretaro and Guanajuato with our customized tours at Heart of Mexico Wine Tours. Middays can be hot, but evenings are cool. Figs and corn vendors line the roads.



Chile en Nogada
Chile en Nogada

Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16th is a big deal. All cities decorate buildings and streets, and children dress in custom clothing. Parades are common and Chile en Nogada is on the menu (a must-have!). Dolores Hidalgo’s big music event festival Fiestas Patrias is popular. Wildflowers cover the hills with electric colors of pink and yellow. Corn, pomegranates, walnuts, and pecans are in season.




October has very pleasant weather and it’s not very busy. At the end of October, you’ll see people preparing for the Dia de los Muertos celebration in November. Festival International Cervantino Musical Fest takes place in Guanajuato City. Wildflowers are at their most colorful.


Dia de los Muertos chocolate candy offerings
Dia de los Muertos chocolate candy offerings


Dia de los Muertos November 1-2 is a huge celebration.  Book your accommodations 3 months in advance because the good places sell out quickly. This month marks the last of the wine festivals. Christmas decorations are in the stores and starting to go up in the residential areas. Temperatures start to drop so bring sweaters and puffy jackets (everyone wears puffy jackets, even in summer). Don’t miss the International Balloon Festival in Leon, the Catando Mexico Wine Festival in Guanajuato, and the International Festival of Jazz and Blues in San Miguel de Allende. This is the wettest month in Sierra Gorda.


December is THE perfect time to visit! Christmas is everywhere! It’s cool, but sunny. The towns decorate with Christmas lights, and the last two weeks of December are vacation weeks for the Mexican people. Crowds can be expected especially in Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. Parades are common, especially on the 23rd and 24th. The Sierra Gorda region is cool, but it’s still the wet season.

Juarez Teatro in Guanajuato in Colonial Mexico
Juarez Teatro in Guanajuato, Mexico



*Travel Tip:

Throughout the year we’ve seen many monthly festivals for mezcal, gastronomy, coffee, and chocolate. If one of these festivals is not happening while you visit, don’t worry. There are plenty of bars, cafes, and shops to help you create your celebration with these.

I hope this guide helps you in your trip planning to Colonial Mexico. If you have any questions, comments, or adds you’d like to contribute, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to update this.

Also, if you would like a guided tour of the region, check out our Heart of Mexico Wine Tours for tours ranging from day to week. We can even customize a trip for you!


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  1. Great guide! Always so helpful to get information from someone who has lived in a place for a while. I’d love to go for the wine festivals in March and February, and for the holidays in December. It’s been a super long time since I’ve been to Mexico, and Cuernavaca in Morelos is where we’d go. I didn’t realize there were so many languages spoken in Mexico. The interior has so much to offer travelers!

    1. Thank you! We will have to check out Cuernavaca. Luckily we have plenty of time since we live here. 🙂

    1. Yes, I highly recommend coming into one airport and leaving from the other. They are only 3 hours apart, but there’s definitely a lot to see in between!

  2. Well, I certainly feel like I have a much better appreciation for Colonial Mexico and what it offers. So wonderful for you to go through the year and delineate what is happening each month, as well as the weather — great guide!

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment! There’s so much going on and I just hit the highlights. Sometimes you have to be in the town to discover the pop-up events.

  3. Ok, I’m sold. I need to visit Colonial Mexico. First of all, I love the architecture. Secondly, I’d love to see the butterflies. But most importantly, I believe you mentioned WINE FESTIVALS! I really appreciate that you mentioned the airports (looks like I’m covered with direct flights from Detroit) and when to visit. I’m thinking a visit in February or March would be ideal for me. Definitely need to consider this for 2020!

    1. I think February and March would be ideal for you as well since you could check off the Monarch butterflies, wine festivals and the temperature is perfect for spending the day outside admiring the architecture. Stay in touch and let me know you’re plans!

  4. Oh I’ve been wanting to visit San Miguel for quite some time. Many of our neighbor expats in Boquete, Panama have relocated there (or to southern Spain) due to the cost of living. Maybe 2019…

  5. Wow, this is an insane guide! I’ve visited Mexico once, but I was in the Yukotan area, so plenty of ancient temples and not much colonial stuff. The yellow Church at the beginning of the post really reminds me of Antigua in Guatemala (they also have a yellow church as well as their famous arch) not too dissimlar in style to this. I keep vowing to go back to Mexico, I loved the people, the food, the culture and it’s reassuring to hear that there is a low crime rate – the media really plastered Mexico with awful stories. I’d love to go over Dia de los Muertos, but everything is so insanely busy then.

    1. Yes, the media seems to only report the bad stuff about Mexico, but there’s so many beautiful things here! Da de los Muertos is extremely busy anywhere you go. The whole country takes time off for a long weekend. But even the smaller towns celebrate it their own way so choosing a smaller town instead of a touristy city might be a better choice.

  6. We have been to 7 states in Mexico but not this one. Looks and sounds great! San Miguel de Allende must be a great place to visit. I see that it is 9 hours from Mazatlan. We will be there from Dec. 29, 2018 to April 5, 2019. Maybe we can find the time to drive there! Thanks for the tip!

  7. Wow, what an amazing place!! I think I’d like to visit in the winter months. I always have wanted to experience a Dias de los Muertos in Mexico, or a trip in January to escape the bitter Dutch cold. Right up my alley!

    1. Hi Esther!
      Yes, the winter months are a wonderful and colorful time to visit. San Miguel de Allende is one of the top places to visit for Dia de los Muertos. I think you would really enjoy this part of Mexico!

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