San Miguel, usually known as San Miguel de Allende, is one of Mexico’s most charming destinations. This city in the inland state of Guanajuato is popular with tourists as well as long-term expats looking to make Mexico their home.
If you want to see this charming city for yourself, then figuring out which neighborhood is best for you is one of the most important decisions you can make. Keep reading to learn more about where to stay in San Miguel.
The 4 Best Parts of San Miguel
- Centro: Best for first-time visitors, history lovers, and sightseeing
- Guadaloupe: Best for restaurants, nightlife, and solo travelers
- Guadiana: Best for historic buildings, elegant travel, and long-term travel
- San Antonio/La Lejona: Best for backpackers and budget travelers
The Best Areas & Hotels in San Miguel
If you want to visit San Miguel de Allende, look no further. This easy guide will help you decide which part of the compact but packed city is best for you to base yourself in during your visit.
Staying in San Miguel’s historic center, or Centro, is definitely an experience that you will remember even when you leave Mexico. You will be surrounded by stunning historic buildings and be within walking distance of everything that you want to see in the city.
Plus, the Centro is packed with delicious restaurants and amazing galleries that take you into the present day.
The center is dominated by Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, the city’s cathedral. Its tall Baroque spires and pink sandstone façade are easily spotted from anywhere in the neighborhood. Make sure you admire the architecture and go inside. The park around the church is lively, especially at night when the food vendors and mariachi bands show up.
Wander down any street in San Miguel’s Centro and you’re bound to see stunning buildings (there’s a reason the whole neighborhood is protected by UNESCO, after all). You can explore on your own or take a guided tour which can give you more context about the history and architecture, including San Miguel de Allende’s role in the Mexican Revolution and in the colonial silver trade.
There are some unique guided tour options, including bike tours and historic trolley tours. The center also has some of the best shopping in San Miguel de Allende.
You can shop for souvenirs at the Mercado de Artesanias, or Artisan’s Market, which highlights work by local craftspeople. Or you can rub elbows with the locals at the popular food market Mercado Ignacio Ramirez. Try some local produce or shop at one of the street food stalls.
The downsides of staying in Centro are the downsides of staying in pretty much any historic core in Mexico. The neighborhood tends to be crowded with locals and tourists, meaning that it has a problem with noise and pollution.
Plus, it is more expensive than many other neighborhoods. If you want a quieter stay, or you are traveling on a budget, then pick another neighborhood.
Things to Do
- Take a guided walking tour of the historic center.
- Shop at the Artisan Market for souvenirs made by local craftspeople.
- Visit El Nigromante, a cultural center with art exhibits located in a former convent.
- Go people-watching in the square around Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel.
- Visit the Biblioteca Publica for bilingual book collections, local events, and great murals.
Where to Eat
- Have boutique food at Trazo 1810, part of an innovative hotel.
- Try a local taco stand, Tacos San Francisco, for specialties such as al pastor tacos.
- Enjoy a high-end dining experience at the California-inspired The Restaurant.
- Have brunch at Lavanda Café, which true to its name offers lavender-infused drinks.
Centro Budget Hotels
- The simple, pretty San Cayetano House has air-conditioned rooms with patios, all in an elegant colonial-era building.
- Hotel Casa de Misionero is set in a restored colonial building and has comfortable rooms with traditional décor. Plus, guests can have treatments at the in-hotel spa.
Centro Mid-Range Hotels
- Traditional-style Hacienda de las Flores will make you feel as if you are the guest of an old Mexican ranchero, but it has plenty of modern amenities such as cable TV and a swimming pool.
- Romantic Casa Mia Suites offers spacious rooms and suites for guests, a garden, and great service, including help with arranging tours and car rentals.
Centro Luxury Hotels
- Peaceful Orchid House San Miguel de Allende stands out with earthy décor, a courtyard with a fountain, and intimate service.
- Luxurious guest house Meson Hidalgo is in a historic building and has luxurious touches such as eclectic gilded décor, a shop with art pieces, and great service.
Guadaloupe is where the cool kids that visit and live in San Miguel hang out. This neighborhood is just north of the historic center but feels completely modern. It is the best place in San Miguel for nightlife and dining.
Guadaloupe is not just about nightlife and hedonism. The neighborhood is close to three of San Miguel’s natural hot springs, perfect for a day of relaxation. Guadaloupe also has some of San Miguel’s best galleries and museums if you want a dose of culture. Since the city has one of the highest ratios of galleries per person in the world, you are almost guaranteed to find some art during your stay.
Just walking around Guadaloupe will introduce you to the fantastic reputation for art that San Miguel de Allende has. The neighborhood is packed with beautiful murals and street art, including some that are world-famous.
You can take a designated street art walking tour, or just spend time on your own exploring what the neighborhood has to offer. Some are the works of local artists, while others were made by famous street artists from around the world.
Guadaloupe is very popular among young travelers and hedonists, but be warned that it is lively, and stays lively fairly late into the evenings. If you need quiet to get to sleep, or are traveling with children, it may not be the best neighborhood for you.
Things to Do
- Check out the many bars and clubs on your own or join a pub crawl and meet fellow travelers.
- Check out the Fabrica La Aurora, a former factory now turned into an arts center.
- Visit the unusual Mask Museum, a collection of hundreds of ceremonial masks.
Where to Eat
- Try Mexican-Thai fusion at Zibu Allende.
- Have brunch at Hierba Santa Cocina del Sur.
- Enjoy some Tex-Mex at Chilli Billy, a restaurant specializing in chile con carne.
Guadaloupe Budget Hotels
- Colorful Meson Amelia welcomes guests with Mexican-style décor including murals, free wifi, and great service.
- Simple Casa Carly has spacious suites for guests and a relaxing garden complete with a fish pond. The service adds an extra touch with amenities such as free long-distance calls.
Guadaloupe Mid-Range Hotels
- The Hotel Hacienda Monteverde San Miguel de Allende offers elegant rooms with private bathrooms and TVs and access to a historic courtyard.
- The boutique Nunó aparthotel welcomes guests with spacious rooms, a shared kitchen, and great service. There is even a play area for families.
Guadaloupe Luxury Hotels
- Get away from it all at Live Aqua San Miguel de Allende Urban Resort, with amenities including a pool, fitness center, luxurious breakfast spreads, and more.
- The stately Hotel & Spa Doña Urraca San Miguel de Allende was recognized by Conde Nast for its superior service, rooms, and amenities including a spa.
The upscale, elegant neighborhood of Guadiana is close enough to the center that it is still a great place to stay if you want to do lots of sightseeing, but far enough away that you are removed from the hustle and bustle.
The streets are still dotted with historic buildings, some as old as the UNESCO-protected ones in the historic center. The neighborhood of Guadiana is most popular among expats and long-term travelers. Many people end up settling for longer or even buying property in this area, which is one of the hottest neighborhoods for San Miguel de Allende real estate.
Even if you are not planning on staying in San Miguel long-term, you can still pretend you are one of the residents and stay here, walk the elegant tree-lined streets, and imagine what your life would be like. The neighborhood of Guadiana has everything that you would want from a neighborhood where you would live.
It has a great arts scene with several local galleries. The dining scene is not as lively as the one in Guadaloupe, but still has noteworthy restaurants and clubs.
Plus, the pace of life is much more laid-back than in the center, making it perfect for relaxing and even for families. However, there is not much to do in the neighborhood of Guadiana itself.
The good news is that the center is fairly close by for sightseeing, but it is not the same as staying in the historic center itself. If you were hoping for a livelier vacation, this is not the place for you in San Miguel de Allende.
Things to Do
- Check out one of the neighborhood galleries such as the Imagine Gallery.
- Stroll in sizable Benito Juarez Park, which has tree-lined alleyways, a playground for kids, and fitness equipment for adults.
- Rub elbows with the locals at neighborhood markets, galleries, and restaurants.
Where to Eat
- Have a meal with a view at Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar.
- Have indulgent pig-based meals at trendy Pork Belly.
- Try Peruvian specialties at Restaurante Lima.
Guadiana Budget Hotels
- Simple, traditional Posada San Miguelito features comfortable rooms with traditional décor, flat-screen TVs, and great bilingual service.
- Comfy Hotel Casa Santamaria has simple, comfy rooms with great décor and cable TV, plus a shared terrace where guests can relax.
Guadiana Mid-Range Hotels
- Elegant Tres Fuentes Hotel Boutique is a great retreat in the middle of Guadiana. You can relax in spacious rooms featuring their own kitchenettes, relax in the garden, have a meal at the in-house restaurant, or finish your day with a nightcap at the hotel bar.
- Guadiana is full of beautiful boutique hotels, such as Agua Santa Hotel Boutique. Guests at this hotel can enjoy beautiful rooms, some with their own balconies, a shared lounge for relaxing, and gorgeous views of the entire city.
Guadiana Luxury Hotels
- El Golpe de Vista hides a luxurious hideaway behind an unassuming façade. Visitors can enjoy elegant rooms with their own seating areas, some with kitchenettes, upscale architecture, and every attention to a guest’s needs, including making the hotel allergy-free.
- Stylish Hotel Casamada has cheerful, air-conditioned rooms, some with their own patio, and its own garden. Guests rave about the service in their reviews.
4. San Antonio/La Lejona
The neighborhoods of San Antonio and La Lejona are located towards the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende, south of the historic center. They are more affordable than other parts of the city thanks to the distance from the city, making them popular among backpackers and budget travelers.
These neighborhoods have their own character as well, with a more local feeling than tourist-dominated Centro. San Antonio is famous for its street life. This mostly residential neighborhood, home to locals and expats, has the liveliest walls in the city.
Go for a walk in the neighborhood to take in the murals and other forms of street art. San Antonio also has a lively street food scene with amazing markets and street food stalls.
La Lejona, located further south, is popular among budget travelers as accommodation here is more affordable than in other parts of the city.
Its location towards the outskirts of the city makes it a popular base for nature lovers that use the neighborhood as a home base to easily get out of the city for day trips into nature. La Lejona also has some of the best views of the city, at the famous “Mirador.”
La Lejona and San Antonio are great neighborhoods for exploring a more local side of San Miguel de Allende. However, both of these neighborhoods are a bit far away from the center, so they’re not the best choice if your goal is sightseeing.
That being said, “far” is relative in compact San Miguel de Allende and the center is a maximum 25-minute walk away. Plus, these neighborhoods are not the most family-friendly places in town.
Things to Do
- Hike up to El Mirador for the best views of the city.
- Take a day trip out of San Miguel, for example to the architectural site Cañada de la Virgen.
- Check out the street art in the San Antonio neighborhood.
- Buy local goods at Mercado Sano, San Antonio’s organic market.
Where to Eat
- Have a stunning variety of tacos at the taco stand Tacos “Santos.”
- Join the locals at fan-favorite taco stand, Exquisitos Tacos “Diana.”
- Head south for excellent Ethiopian food at Comida AfroAllende.
San Antonio/La Lejona Budget Hotels
- Lool Beh Hostal Boutique is a stunning hostel with options to stay in shared dormitories, private rooms with shared bathrooms, and completely private rooms. The hostel is airy and clean with a great courtyard.
- Simple, modern Kubo Hotel features simple yet comfortable rooms and service offers such as airport transfers.
San Antonio/La Lejona Mid-Range Hotels
- Elegant Hotel La Lejona offers guests classy rooms with private bathrooms, great service including help booking tours, and fun touches such as a shared table tennis court.
- The cozy aparthotel Suites Colibri offers guests plenty of space with roomy suites and rooms, and shared amenities such as a pool and daily maid service. Previous guests enjoyed relaxing in the shared courtyard, far away from the bustle of the city.
San Antonio/La Lejona Luxury Hotels
- Colorful Hotel La Casona 30 is located in a building whose façade is inspired by San Miguel de Allende’s history. Rooms are elegant and comfortable, with Mexican-inspired décor, and free toiletries. The hotel even has accessible rooms for guests with disabilities.
- Lush Casa Toscana Bed & Breakfast offers elegant rooms with beds, flat-screen TVs, and private bathrooms (including some rooms with spa baths), and an elegant, shared dining area. Previous guests raved about the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff.
So, Where Should You Stay in San Miguel?
|📸 Best for Sightseeing||Centro|
|🍸 Best for Nightlife||Guadalupe|
|🏠 Best for Long-Term Travel||Guadiana|
|💲 Best for Budget Travel||San Antonio/La Lejona|
San Miguel, whose full name is San Miguel de Allende, is a small city with much to offer. One visit and you’ll see why this city routinely tops lists of the best cities to live in or visit in the world.
The well-preserved historic center, lively arts scene, and international expats subculture make San Miguel an attractive city indeed. The good thing about San Miguel is that the city is very compact, which means that no matter where you stay you can easily explore the rest of the city. However, your experience will still differ depending on where you stay, so choose wisely.
The historic Centro district is where most of San Miguel de Allende’s visitors stay. It is the best place to stay for sightseeing since you will be right in the middle of the historic district. Plus, history lovers will get a kick out of the accommodation options here, which are often in renovated colonial homes.
Guadaloupe is the neighborhood where you should stay to get a taste of San Miguel’s famous nightlife and dining. The exciting neighborhood has the best bars, clubs, and restaurants in the city, including top-notch rooftop bars.
San Miguel is a favorite among long-term travelers and expats. These travelers tend to stay outside of the city center in neighborhoods such as Guadiana. Guadiana doesn’t have many attractions, but it is close to the center while offering a laid-back, local atmosphere.
Budget travelers stay even further outside the center in San Antonio and La Lejona. These neighborhoods are famous for their street art and culture and their lively residential atmospheres.
No matter where you stay, you’ll soon understand why San Miguel often tops lists of the best cities in the world. Happy travels!