Mexico has one of the most vibrant and fascinating cultures in the world. From ancient civilizations and biodiversity to regional food specialties, a person would need 3 lifetimes to experience it all. Take a detour from the popular places in Mexico and discover smaller towns aptly named pueblos magicos rich in heritage and artisan crafts. With 177 pueblos magicos to explore, you’ll fall in love with these timeless treasures and the people who honor the traditions.
Let’s start with Queretaro, a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by numerous pueblo magico towns. Six pueblo magico towns can easily be visited on a day trip from Queretaro but you may want to stay longer. Plan your stay in Queretaro with our 4-Day Itinerary for Exploring Queretaro.
Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links where we receive a super-small commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase. We call this our Chocolate & Churro Fund.
Let’s start with what is a Pueblo Magico?
A Pueblo Magico is a town with cultural significance in Mexico. The program began in 2001 to help preserve the culture and economically help communities by providing jobs through tourism.
The town could have historical significance, an environmental impact, unique festivals or be the birthplace of a signature food or drink like tequila. It’s a lengthy process to apply for Pueblo Magico status, but once approved, the town receives funds for infrastructure and job opportunities. This program is internationally recognized as a community role model to help smaller towns preserve their culture and benefit the economy.
Tequisquiapan is a charming small town in the middle of wine and cheese country. It’s the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Take your time to shop with local vendors or spend an afternoon at a cafe. Cheese shops and wine bars line the walking street along with fine linens and artisan craft stores. The Wine & Cheese Festival in Tequisquiapan is the second-largest festival for food and wine in the country. Take some time to unwind, and sip and savor the Mexican way of life.
Home to the third largest monolith in the world, Bernal is all about enjoying nature. Most people can easily hike to the midpoint of Peña de Bernal. If you are up for a challenge, grab a guide and some mountain climbing gear to get to the top. For non-hikers, Bernal is a great place to shop for local goods and jewelry. Don’t miss feasting on Bernal’s local cuisine of gorditas and cajeta, a caramel made from goat’s milk made in Bernal. For more info on Bernal, check out our Travel Guide to Hiking Peña de Bernal.
3. Mineral de Pozos
If you want a true Mexican town that hasn’t been spoiled by tourism yet, Mineral de Pozos is the perfect place. Mineral de Pozos profited from mining silver, gold, and other precious minerals in the 16th and 17th centuries. Unfortunately, it was abandoned twice; once after the revolution and again in the 1920s when miners accidentally drilled into an underwater sea that flooded the mines. Today it’s an easy town to walk around with many historic ruins, cobbled streets, and colonial structures. The town comes alive on Sundays and many of their festivals celebrate their indigenous roots. Mineral de Pozos is in the state of Guanajuato an hour from Queretaro or 45 minutes from San Miguel de Allende. Check out our post-Mineral de Pozos: Ghost Town Revival Among Lavender Farms.
4. Dolores Hidalgo
Located in the heart of the Guanajuato wine region, Dolores Hidalgo is a beautiful historic town 30 minutes from San Miguel de Allende and 90 minutes from Queretaro. Dolores Hidalgo is a town with immense historical importance. It is where Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made the famous Grito de Dolores, marking the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence against Spanish rule in 1810. It’s also famous for its artisanal ice cream and Talavera ceramics. Half of the population makes their living producing ceramics and colorful tiles. Here are the Top 6 Reasons to Visit Dolores Hidalgo.
5. Almealco de Bonfil
The pueblo magico of Almealco de Bonfil was established in 1538 and is one of the oldest towns in the state of Queretaro. It was once an important timber supplier to the French and Spanish. It’s been through battles and an influenza epidemic that almost wiped out the population. Today it’s known as the municipality that created the Lele dolls, a program to help boost the town’s economy started by Diego Rivera’s daughter, Guadalupe. Twenty minutes away just over the state border with the State of Mexico is Cascadas de la Concepcion, a spectacular waterfall worth a detour. Check out our post on Almealco, a Pueblo Magico of Waterfalls and Lele Dolls.
Where to Stay in Queretaro
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical Queretaro is the most ideal place to stay. After a day of exploring different pueblos magicos, it’s fun to walk the streets and see the locals dancing in Jardin Zenea. There are plenty of fantastic hotels and Airbnb to choose from at reasonable prices. Check out our post on the Best Boutique Hotels in Queretaro for historical and modern stays in Queretaro.
Bonus: San Miguel de Allende
Once a pueblo magico, San Miguel de Allende has been elevated to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s still worth mentioning because it’s an hour from Queretaro. San Miguel de Allende was an important trade post even before the Spanish arrived. It’s also the birthplace of Ignacio Allende y Unzaga, a Spanish captain who sympathized with the Mexican Independence movement and whom the town is named after. Visit the artisanal mercado for hand-blown glass and dine at rooftop restaurants admiring the views. Here’s the perfect 4-day itinerary for San Miguel de Allende.
Like this post? Save it to Pinterest!