Nestled in the heart of Mexico, just an hour or so north of Mexico City, Santiago de Queretaro awaits with its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking an off-the-beaten-path gem, Queretaro has something extraordinary to offer. Join us as we uncover the top 10 reasons why this enchanting city should be on your Mexico travel bucket list.
Are you ready to immerse yourself in the charm of Queretaro’s historic centre, where each step reveals tales of centuries past? Prepare to indulge in the tantalizing flavours of traditional Mexican cuisine, from mouthwatering enchiladas queretanas to the renowned local cheeses and wines that will delight your palate. Picture yourself wandering through perfectly maintained parks, discovering incredible churches, and immersing yourself in a kaleidoscope of colours and traditions.
Learn about the nation-changing importance of Queretaro’s history, savour its gastronomic delights, and embrace the warm hospitality of its people. Let’s begin our exploration together and unlock the reasons to visit Queretaro.
Where is Santiago de Queretaro?
1. Queretaro is filled with historical significance.
Queretaro is steeped in the richness of its cultural heritage and the legacy of its indigenous and colonial past. Located in central Mexico, Queretaro was originally inhabited by the Otomi people, who established settlements in the area long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
The city’s history took a significant turn with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Queretaro became an important colonial outpost, serving as a stopover point on the Camino Real, the royal road that connected Mexico City with the northern territories. Its strategic location made it a hub for trade and cultural exchange.
During the colonial era, Queretaro thrived as a centre of religious and political power. Magnificent churches, convents, and palaces were constructed, showcasing exquisite examples of Spanish Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.
Queretaro played a crucial role in Mexico’s fight for independence from Spanish rule. It was in this city that the conspiracy for independence was planned, known as the “Conspiracy of Queretaro.” Visionaries like Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, and Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez devised a plot to overthrow the Spanish colonial government. The conspirators’ efforts eventually led to the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810.
We took a tour that took in many of the historically significant sites around the city, which were brought to life by our knowledgeable and friendly guide. One thing we have learned on our travels is that it is one thing to read the history and visit the sites but to truly feel the history you need a guide that can tell the story beyond what you read in guidebooks.
In the years that followed, Queretaro continued to evolve as an important centre of commerce, industry, and culture. Its strategic location and favourable climate made it a prime destination for manufacturing and agriculture. Today, Queretaro is known as one of the fastest-growing cities in Mexico, blending its rich history with modern development.
Visitors to Queretaro can immerse themselves in the city’s past by exploring its architectural treasures, strolling through its historic streets, and visiting museums that showcase the region’s heritage. Queretaro’s history is a tapestry of indigenous roots, colonial influence, and the spirit of independence, all woven together to create a city that proudly celebrates its past while embracing the opportunities of the present.
2. Explore the UNESCO Heritage listed centre of Queretaro.
The town centre of Queretaro stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and architectural splendour. This beautifully preserved historic area showcases a harmonious blend of Spanish colonial and indigenous influences, transporting visitors back in time to a bygone era.
As you step into the town centre, you’ll be greeted by a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, lined with colourful facades, ornate balconies, and charming plazas. The architecture reflects the distinctive Spanish Baroque and Neoclassical styles, with intricate carvings, arches, and balconies adorning the buildings.
The town centre’s layout is a tribute to the Spanish urban planning principles of the time, with its central square, Plaza de Armas, serving as the heart of the community.
Wandering through this part of town, you’ll discover numerous historic sites and cultural treasures. Visit the Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo, a stunning Baroque church that showcases exquisite religious artwork and a meticulously crafted facade. The Church and Convent of Santa Clara, with its intricate stone carvings and serene courtyard, offers a glimpse into the spiritual and artistic legacy of Queretaro.
The area is also home to numerous museums, where you can delve deeper into the history and culture of the region. Explore the Regional Museum of Queretaro, housed in a former monastery, and marvel at its vast collection of archaeological artifacts, colonial art, and historical documents. The Museum of the City provides a fascinating insight into Queretaro’s urban development, showcasing the city’s growth and transformation over the centuries.
Beyond its architectural and cultural significance, the town centre of Queretaro is a vibrant and bustling hub of activity. The streets are alive with the sounds of music, laughter, and the aromas of delicious local cuisine. Sidewalk cafes, craft markets, and lively plazas offer opportunities to immerse yourself in the daily rhythm of Queretaro life.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed el Centro of Queretaro is a treasure trove of history, art, and architectural beauty. Its preservation ensures that future generations can experience the magic and charm of this enchanting place, and it stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to honouring its past while embracing the future.
We particularly enjoyed walking around the old town centre because of the way every corner seemed to contain either an impressive church or a beautiful park, always inhabited by friendly locals enjoying the shade of the trees, or children splashing around in or near the fountains.
It was not, like many Mexican towns, purely focused on having a pristine Zocalo and then losing interest in being beautiful as you move a block or two from the Centre. Queretaro remains a joy to walk for many blocks in any direction.
3. I bet you didn’t expect an Aqueduct.
The Queretaro Aqueduct is a true marvel of engineering and a symbol of the city’s rich history. This impressive structure, officially known as Los Arcos (The Arches), stretches over 1,200 meters across the city’s landscape, leaving visitors in awe of its grandeur and ingenuity.
Built during the 18th century, the aqueduct was designed to supply the growing city with water from nearby springs. It consists of 74 arches, some reaching as high as 23 meters, and showcases a magnificent display of stone masonry. The arches are supported by massive pillars, carefully constructed without the use of mortar, relying solely on the precise placement of the stones to maintain their stability.
The architectural design of the Queretaro Aqueduct is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the time. Each arch is perfectly aligned, creating a stunning visual spectacle as it winds its way through the city. The aqueduct’s graceful silhouette against the backdrop of Queretaro’s skyline is a sight to behold, especially during golden hour when the setting sun casts a warm glow upon the ancient stones.
While the primary purpose of the aqueduct was to provide water, it also served as a symbol of Queretaro’s wealth and prosperity during the colonial period. The aqueduct became an iconic landmark, representing the city’s resilience and its ability to conquer the challenges of water supply in a rapidly growing urban centre.
Today, the Queretaro Aqueduct remains an enduring symbol of the city’s heritage and a popular attraction for visitors. Walking beneath its arches is like stepping back in time, allowing you to imagine the labour and dedication that went into its construction.
Before we started researching places of interest in the area north of Mexico City, we had no idea we would find a city that had such a Romanesque edifice. And while it does look somewhat out of place in what is very much a Spanish-influenced city, the Aqueduct does add a unique feature to what is already an interesting city.
4. So much to choose from when eating in Queretaro.
From traditional Mexican dishes to international cuisines, this vibrant city offers a gastronomic journey that will leave food lovers craving for more.
One of the must-try culinary experiences in Queretaro is indulging in the local specialties. Enchiladas queretanas, a regional delight, is a must-have. These enchiladas are filled with mouthwatering ingredients such as cheese, potatoes, and carrots, and are topped with a rich and savoury sauce made from dried chilli peppers.
Another local favourite is gorditas, thick corn masa patties stuffed with various fillings like cheese, meats, and beans, served with a side of tangy salsas.
Queretaro is also known for its incredible street food scene, where vendors line the streets with their enticing offerings. Tantalize your taste buds with tacos al pastor, succulent marinated pork cooked on a vertical spit, or enjoy the crispy and flavorful chicharrones, fried pork rinds.
Be sure to sample tamales, a quintessential Mexican dish made of masa (corn dough) filled with savoury or sweet fillings, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed to perfection.
For those seeking international food options, Queretaro doesn’t disappoint. The city is home to a diverse range of restaurants offering cuisines from around the world. From Italian trattorias to Asian fusion eateries, you can embark on a global culinary adventure without leaving Queretaro’s borders.
To complement your culinary explorations, Queretaro boasts a thriving craft beer scene and a selection of local wines. Visit one of the city’s breweries or wine bars to sample a variety of artisanal beers and wines produced in the region. Pair your meal with a refreshing pale ale or a glass of Queretaro’s renowned Viognier or Syrah wine.
Queretaro’s food scene is not just about the delicious flavours; it’s also about the vibrant atmosphere. Explore the city’s food markets and plazas, where the aromas of freshly prepared dishes fill the air, and the lively ambience adds to the dining experience. Engage in friendly conversations with local vendors, who are more than happy to share their food stories and recommendations.
In Queretaro, every meal is a celebration of flavour and culture. Whether you’re savouring the local specialties, indulging in street food delights, or exploring international cuisines, Queretaro’s food options promise to leave you with a full belly and a big smile.
5. The most amazing Instagram spots in Queretaro.
The colourful alleyways of the Historic Centre provide a captivating backdrop for your Instagram feed. Explore the winding streets lined with vibrant facades, adorned with bougainvillea and decorative elements.
Calle 5 de Mayo and Calle 16 de Septiembre are particularly charming, with their picturesque buildings and colourful colonial architecture. Capture the essence of Queretaro’s charm by posing against these vibrant backgrounds.
If you are looking for those giant letters that spell out so many Mexican towns, you will find the Queretaro sign in a small park with a fountain, across from the Templo de Santa Rosa de Vitorbo. It can be tricky to frame a shot but when you find that sweet spot, you will have some pretty cool images to add to your Insta feed.
Jardin Zenea, located in the heart of the city, is a picturesque square surrounded by beautiful architecture and lush greenery. It’s a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Capture a photo of the charming kiosk at the middle of the square or relax on one of the benches while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. Jardin Zenea offers countless opportunities for creating memorable Instagram moments.
Another beautiful spot with a twist is Cerro de las Campanas. Here you will find a large garden on a hill that is topped with a massive statue of the Mexican hero, Benito Juarez. There is also a very photogenic little building halfway up the hill, the Emperor Maximillian Memorial Chapel.
For a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, head to Mirador Cerro de las Campanas. This hilltop lookout provides a stunning vista of Queretaro’s skyline, with its mix of historic buildings and modern structures.
Take in the sweeping views and snap a photo that captures the city’s beauty from above. The sunset is a particularly magical time to visit, as the warm hues paint the sky and cast a golden glow over the cityscape.
Another must-visit Instagram spot in Queretaro is the iconic Aqueduct. Capture the grandeur of this architectural marvel as it stretches across the city. Whether you photograph it from a distance or find a unique perspective up close, the Queretaro Aqueduct is sure to make your Instagram feed stand out.
6. The Arts and Culture of Queretaro.
Queretaro is home to numerous art galleries and museums that celebrate both traditional and contemporary art forms. The Queretaro Museum of Art (Museo de Arte de Queretaro) is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, housing an extensive collection of Mexican art from the colonial period to the present day.
The museum showcases works by renowned artists such as Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and Saturnino Herran, providing a comprehensive overview of Mexico’s artistic heritage.
In addition to visual arts, Queretaro embraces performing arts and hosts a vibrant cultural scene. The city is known for its theatrical productions, dance performances, and music concerts. The Teatro de la Republica, a historic theatre located in the heart of Queretaro, has played a significant role in the country’s history and continues to host a variety of cultural events. Attending a performance at this iconic venue is an opportunity to witness the beauty and talent of the local artistic community.
Queretaro also celebrates its cultural heritage through traditional festivals and events. The Festival Internacional de la Cultura (International Festival of Culture) is a highlight of the city’s cultural calendar, featuring performances, exhibitions, and workshops that showcase the diversity of art forms from around the world. During the annual Santiago Apostol festivities, the streets come alive with colourful parades, traditional dances, and music, offering a glimpse into the region’s vibrant folk traditions.
We could hear the beating of native drums from our apartment one afternoon and went to investigate. Just a couple of blocks away we came across a cultural performance on a street that had been roped off to traffic. A native celebration exploded in front of us with a dazzling combination of pulsating rhythms, colours, and dance. These types of local cultural events are the things that we love to experience in a new town.
Art and culture are deeply ingrained in the fabric of everyday life in Queretaro. From exquisite architecture to the thriving arts scene and vibrant festivals, the city provides a nurturing environment for creativity and expression. Whether you’re exploring the galleries, attending a performance, or simply soaking in the atmosphere of the Historic Center, Queretaro invites you to discover and appreciate the beauty and richness of its art and cultural heritage.
7. Experience local life in the Jardin Zenea.
Jardin Zenea is a picturesque and vibrant park located in the heart of Queretaro. This charming urban oasis is a beloved gathering place for locals and visitors alike, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city streets. With its well-manicured gardens, shaded walkways, and lively atmosphere, Jardin Zenea is a true gem that showcases the beauty and allure of Queretaro.
The park is named after General Ignacio Zaragoza, a prominent figure in Mexican history. It features a striking bronze statue of General Zaragoza, commemorating his victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla. The statue stands as a symbol of pride and national heritage, reminding visitors of Mexico’s resilience and determination.
Surrounded by historic buildings and impressive restaurants, Jardin Zenea exudes a timeless charm. The park’s centrepiece is a picturesque gazebo, adorned with intricate ironwork and colourful tiles, where musicians often gather to serenade visitors with live music. The gazebo serves as a focal point for cultural events and performances, adding to the park’s vibrant atmosphere.
Jardin Zenea is a popular spot for leisurely walks, relaxation, and people-watching. Numerous benches and shaded areas provide comfortable seating, inviting visitors to sit back and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. The park’s well-maintained flower beds and lush greenery create a peaceful atmosphere, making it an ideal place for a quiet escape or a picnic with friends and family.
The park is also a hub of activity, especially during weekends and evenings. Artisans and street vendors set up stalls, offering a variety of handicrafts, snacks, and souvenirs. It’s a great opportunity to explore local crafts and indulge in traditional treats while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere of the park, and surrounding yourself with local families.
We spent an hour or so one Sunday evening just walking among the crowds and sitting for a while people-watching. A mariachi band played from the Gazebo while vendors pedalled their wares to eager patrons. The balloon and toy sellers were particularly popular and it seemed almost every child either already had a balloon or was encouraging their parents to buy them one.
Something we love to do in Mexican towns is to be swept up in local activities, and weekends in almost every town’s Zocalo (town centre) usually provides us with amazing experiences and memories that will last forever.
Whether you’re seeking a moment of tranquility, a place to socialize, or simply a place to admire the beauty of Queretaro, Jardin Zenea is a delightful destination. Its charm, history, and natural beauty make it a beloved spot for both locals and tourists, providing a glimpse into the vibrant spirit of this captivating city.
8. Queretaro’s friendly and safe atmosphere.
Queretaro offers a unique blend of a friendly and safe atmosphere, making it a welcoming destination for travelers from around the world. The city’s warm and hospitable residents, coupled with its commitment to safety, create an environment that puts visitors at ease and allows them to fully embrace the wonders of Queretaro.
The friendliness of the Queretanos is evident from the moment you set foot in the city. Locals are known for their warm smiles, genuine hospitality, and willingness to help.
Whether you’re seeking directions, recommendations for the best local cuisine, or simply engaging in friendly conversation, you’ll find that the people of Queretaro are more than happy to assist and make you feel at home.
This friendly atmosphere extends beyond individual interactions to the overall vibe of the city. Queretaro is characterized by a sense of community and inclusiveness. Visitors are often welcomed with open arms, invited to join in celebrations and festivities, and encouraged to immerse themselves in the local culture.
This sense of camaraderie creates an inviting and engaging atmosphere that fosters connections and lasting memories.
In addition to its friendliness, Queretaro is recognized as a safe destination. The city takes great pride in its commitment to public safety and has implemented measures to ensure the well-being of both residents and visitors.
Queretaro boasts a low crime rate and maintains a visible and efficient police presence. This contributes to a sense of security and allows travelers to explore the city’s attractions with peace of mind.
9. The best day trips from Queretaro.
Queretaro is not only a captivating city in itself but also serves as a gateway to several remarkable day trips that allow visitors to explore the region’s natural beauty, history, and culture. From charming towns to ancient ruins, here are some of the best day trips from Queretaro:
San Miguel de Allende: Just an hour or so from Queretaro, San Miguel de Allende is a must-visit destination. This colonial town is renowned for its stunning architecture, vibrant art scene, and rich cultural heritage. Stroll along its cobblestone streets, admire the stunning, earth-toned facades of the buildings, and visit the iconic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel.
Tequisquiapan: Located about an hour from Queretaro, Tequisquiapan is a charming Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town) known for its thermal waters, handicrafts, and picturesque streets. Explore the local market, indulge in regional cuisine, and take a relaxing dip in the hot springs.
Bernal: Venture to the town of Bernal, another Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town), and home to the imposing monolith known as Peña de Bernal. This gigantic rock formation attracts climbers, hikers, and those seeking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Visit the town’s artisan shops and savor the local delicacies.
Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve: Embark on an unforgettable journey to the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This ecological wonderland offers diverse landscapes, including lush forests, rugged mountains, and cascading waterfalls. Explore the reserve’s hiking trails, encounter unique flora and fauna, and marvel at the breathtaking scenery.
Xilitla and Las Pozas: For art and nature enthusiasts, a day trip to Xilitla and Las Pozas is a must. Discover the surrealist sculptures and gardens of Las Pozas, created by the eccentric artist Edward James. Wander through the whimsical structures and immerse yourself in this otherworldly realm.
Queretaro Vineyards: Indulge in a day of wine tasting and vineyard tours in the Queretaro wine region. The valley is dotted with wineries that produce excellent Mexican wines. Take a guided tour, learn about the winemaking process, and sample the region’s finest wines.
These are just a few of the many incredible day trips that await you from Queretaro. Whether you’re seeking history, culture, natural wonders, or gastronomic delights, the surrounding region offers a wealth of diverse and memorable experiences. So, set out on these day trips and discover the enchanting destinations that lie just beyond the borders of the city.
10. Spend some time in Cerro de las Campanas.
Cerro de las Campanas is a historically significant hill that holds a special place in the country’s history. This iconic landmark is not only a natural wonder but also a site of great cultural and historical importance. Translated as “Hill of the Bells,” Cerro de las Campanas has witnessed significant events that have shaped Mexico’s past.
One of the most notable events associated with Cerro de las Campanas is the execution of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico in 1867. Maximilian, along with his generals Miramón and Mejía, was captured and brought to the hill to face his fate.
Today, a monument called the Monumento a los Héroes de la Independencia (Monument to the Heroes of Independence) stands as a tribute to these historical figures and serves as a reminder of Mexico’s struggle for independence.
Apart from its historical significance, Cerro de las Campanas offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding city and landscape. As you ascend the hill, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that stretch out before you. The hill also boasts diverse flora and fauna, making it a popular spot for nature enthusiasts and hikers who seek a tranquil escape from the city.
Cerro de las Campanas is not only a place of remembrance and natural beauty but also a recreational space. The hill features walking trails, picnic areas, and recreational facilities, making it an ideal destination for a day trip with family and friends.
Whether you’re exploring the historical monuments, enjoying a leisurely walk, or simply taking in the peaceful ambience, Cerro de las Campanas offers a unique experience that combines history, nature, and relaxation.
Common questions about Queretaro
Is Queretaro safe for tourists?
Yes, Queretaro is generally considered safe for tourists. The city has a low crime rate, a strong emphasis on public safety, and is known for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere, making it a popular destination for travelers.
However, as you should do in any city you do not know well, it’s always recommended to exercise caution, follow standard safety precautions, and stay informed about any local advisories or guidelines.
How do I get to Queretaro?
Queretaro, Mexico, offers various transportation options for travelers looking to reach this vibrant city. Here are the main ways to get to Queretaro:
By Air: Queretaro International Airport (QRO) is the primary airport serving the city. It receives domestic and international flights, making it a convenient option for travelers coming from other Mexican cities or abroad. From the airport, you can easily reach the city centre via taxis, private transfers, or rental cars.
By Bus: Queretaro has well-connected bus terminals with routes that connect to major cities in Mexico. Several bus companies, such as Primera Plus, ETN, and Omnibus de Mexico, operate services to Queretaro.
The buses are comfortable and offer different classes, including executive and luxury, depending on your preference. The bus terminals are located near the city centre, allowing for easy access to your destination upon arrival.
By Car: Queretaro is conveniently located near major highways, making it accessible by car. If you prefer to drive, you can reach the city from neighbouring cities such as Mexico City, Guadalajara, or San Luis Potosi. The road infrastructure is well-maintained, and there are toll roads available for faster travel.
Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore Queretaro and its surrounding areas at your own pace. But you also have the option to hire private drivers, use a taxi, or even Uber for very reasonable prices, if you are not sure whether you want to rent a car in Mexico or not.
Once you arrive in Queretaro, transportation within the town is primarily by public bus, taxi or Uber, but exploring on foot is definitely an option due to the town centre’s compact size and wide sidewalks.
With these transportation options, reaching Queretaro is convenient and accessible for travelers. Whether you prefer flying, taking a bus, or driving, there are several choices available to suit your travel preferences and needs.
What is the best time to visit Queretaro?
The best time to visit the city of Queretaro is generally during the months of October to April. These months fall within the dry season, offering pleasant weather with milder temperatures.
During this period, you can expect comfortable daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit (around 18-24 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for exploring the city’s attractions and enjoying outdoor activities.
Visiting Queretaro during this time also allows you to avoid the peak of the rainy season, which typically occurs from May to September. While the rainy season can bring lush greenery and occasional showers, it’s worth noting that heavy rainfall may impact outdoor plans and activities.
Additionally, Queretaro hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, adding to the city’s vibrant atmosphere. The Santiago Apostol Fair in July is a particularly popular event, featuring cultural performances, traditional food, and lively celebrations.
It’s important to consider that weather patterns can vary, and individual preferences may differ. If you enjoy warm weather and don’t mind the possibility of occasional showers, visiting Queretaro during other months can also provide unique experiences and potentially fewer crowds.
Ultimately, the best time to visit depends on your personal interests, desired activities, and tolerance for different weather conditions.
Where should I stay in Queretaro?
Queretaro offers a range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some recommended areas to consider for your stay in Queretaro:
Historic Center: Staying in the heart of Queretaro’s Historic Center allows you to be surrounded by the city’s colonial charm. This area is home to many of Queretaro’s main attractions, such as the Plaza de Armas, the Temple of Santa Rosa de Viterbo, and the iconic Aqueduct.
You’ll find a variety of hotels, boutique guesthouses, Airbnbs, and charming bed and breakfasts within walking distance of the city’s cultural and architectural treasures.
Juriquilla: Located to the north of Queretaro’s city centre, Juriquilla is a modern and upscale residential area. It offers a peaceful and luxurious atmosphere with well-maintained parks, golf courses, and beautiful residential complexes.
Juriquilla is a great choice if you prefer a more suburban setting away from the bustling city centre while still having easy access to Queretaro’s attractions.
El Campanario: Situated in the southwestern part of Queretaro, El Campanario is another affluent neighbourhood known for its elegant residential developments and prestigious golf club. This area offers a tranquil atmosphere, lush green surroundings, and upscale accommodations.
It’s a great option for those seeking a more exclusive and serene stay.
Zona Centro Sur: Located south of the Historic Center, Zona Centro Sur is a vibrant area known for its lively atmosphere and diverse dining options. This neighbourhood offers a mix of hotels, budget-friendly accommodations, and vacation rentals.
It’s a good choice for those looking for a central location with easy access to both the historic sights and the modern amenities of Queretaro.
These are just a few recommendations, and the best area for your stay ultimately depends on your preferences, budget, and the purpose of your visit. Consider factors such as proximity to attractions, desired ambience, and access to transportation when selecting your accommodation in Queretaro.
Are there any local customs or etiquette I should be aware of?
When visiting Queretaro, it’s helpful to be aware of local customs and etiquette to ensure a respectful and enjoyable experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Greetings: Mexicans generally greet with a handshake or a warm hug, especially among friends and acquaintances. It is customary to greet people with a “buenos días” (good morning), “buenas tardes” (good afternoon), or “buenas noches” (good evening) depending on the time of day.
Politeness: Politeness is highly valued in Mexican culture. Use “por favor” (please) and “gracias” (thank you) when interacting with locals. It’s also common to address people with the respectful titles of “señor” (sir) and “señora” (madam).
Personal Space: Mexicans tend to have closer personal space boundaries compared to some other cultures. Be mindful of this when interacting with locals and respect their comfort zones.
Dining Etiquette: When dining with locals, it is customary to wait until everyone is served before starting to eat. Keep your hands on the table while eating, but avoid resting your elbows. It’s considered polite to finish everything on your plate as a sign of appreciation for the meal.
Punctuality: While being punctual is generally appreciated, it’s not uncommon for social gatherings or informal meetings to start a bit later than the specified time. However, it is advisable to be on time for business meetings and formal events.
Cultural Sensitivity: Mexico has a rich cultural heritage, so it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. For example, when visiting churches or religious sites, dress modestly and be mindful of any rules or practices in place.
Tipping: Tipping is customary in Mexico. In restaurants, it’s common to leave a tip of around 10-15% of the total bill, although some places may include a service charge. Additionally, it’s customary to tip hotel staff, taxi drivers, and tour guides for their services.
By being aware of these local customs and practicing respectful behaviour, you can show appreciation for the culture and ensure positive interactions with the people of Queretaro.
What about the food scene in Queretaro?
The food scene in Queretaro is a true delight for culinary enthusiasts. The city offers a diverse range of traditional Mexican dishes as well as international cuisines, making it a gastronomic haven. Here’s a glimpse into the vibrant food scene of Queretaro:
Traditional Mexican Cuisine: Queretaro is renowned for its traditional Mexican dishes, such as enchiladas queretanas, gorditas, and pozole. These dishes showcase the rich flavours and ingredients of the region, often featuring local cheeses, chilies, and corn-based delicacies.
Street Food: Exploring the streets of Queretaro, you’ll find numerous food stalls and vendors offering mouthwatering street food. From tacos and quesadillas to tamales and elotes (grilled corn on the cob), these affordable and flavorful options allow you to experience the authentic tastes of Mexico.
Market Dining: Queretaro’s markets, such as Mercado La Cruz and Mercado Escobedo, are culinary gems where you can indulge in fresh produce, local ingredients, and delicious food stalls. Enjoy a variety of regional specialties, including carnitas (slow-cooked pork), barbacoa (traditional pit-roasted meat), and artisanal cheeses.
Fine Dining: Queretaro is home to numerous high-quality restaurants offering a fusion of traditional and contemporary cuisine. These establishments showcase the culinary creativity of local chefs, who expertly blend flavours, techniques, and international influences. Whether you’re craving Mexican fusion, international dishes, or upscale dining experiences, Queretaro has options to satisfy all tastes.
Wine and Craft Beer: Queretaro’s wine and craft beer scene is thriving, with several vineyards and craft breweries in the region. Take a tour of the vineyards, indulge in wine tastings, or visit craft breweries to sample unique and flavorful brews. Pair your drinks with local cheeses and snacks for a truly delightful experience.
Queretaro’s food scene is a reflection of its rich culinary heritage and innovation. Whether you explore traditional dishes, indulge in street food, or savour fine dining experiences, you’re in for a treat. The city’s vibrant food culture promises to tantalize your taste buds and leave you with unforgettably tasty memories.
Where do I find the town name letters in Queretaro?
Queretaro is another Mexican town that has installed large letters spelling out the town name, but you won’t find them in the town centre. The letters can be found across the road from the Templo de Santa Rosa de Vitorbo.
They are located in a small park containing a fountain that plays a music and light show some evenings, like a miniature version of the Belaggio Fountain in Las Vegas. You will also find some well-rated, low-priced restaurants here, and a better than average icecream shop. It can be a challenge to get a great shot of the letters but it is certainly possible. Just be patient!
Road Trip possibilities
Not only is Queretaro a great option for a day trip from Mexico City, but it is ideally located to be the start and end points of a road trip that takes in some of Mexico’s most beautiful towns. Take a week or two of easy driving and discover gems like San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, Bernal, Tequisquiapan, Cadereyta de Montes, San Juan del Rio, and Amealco de Bonfil.
We collected our car in Queretaro and made our way to Bernal. San Miguel de Allende was not part of this road trip for us as we decided to use Uber to get us there and back from Queretaro, only because we wanted to stay in the old town centre and, while cars can still get around most of the streets in the centre, accommodation options are way fewer if you need to park a car.
Queretaro is also a great starting point for this road trip as the International Airport is more convenient than the busy Mexico City Airport, and car rental seems to work out less expensive than it costs in the Capital. You could even start from Mexico City or perhaps add another captivating town like Guanajuato, which is about an hour from San Miguel de Allende.
This entire road trip is just over 400 km (or about 250 miles), but the towns we visited in this area quickly rekindled our love of Mexico and showed us why most of them are considered Pueblos Magicos, or Magic Towns.
Our opinion of Queretaro.
We originally chose to stay in Queretaro for purely logistical reasons. It was cheaper to fly into than the nearby Mexico City airport, and the car hire for our 3-month long road trip was considerably cheaper than picking the car up in the Capital as well.
What we found was one of the biggest and best surprises of our entire trip. A city with a Colonial history that is hard to match, beautiful parks and churches, and unique man-made structures unlike anything else in Mexico, including the aqueduct and giant Benito Juarez statue.
Unlike many of the other towns we have visited in Mexico, Queretaro does not focus all of its family gatherings on a single part of town, usually the Zocalo, or town centre. Instead, we found festivities spread across a number of the parks around the town centre, which made wandering around so much more interesting.
Restaurants were everywhere and the food we had was overwhelmingly good. From some amazing breakfasts accompanied by fresh fruit smoothies to cheap and delicious Mexican banquets with many flavoured Margarita options. The restaurant San Miguelito, near the Jardin Zenea, has 28 different flavours so you better start early!
But our favourite thing was the afternoon tour of the city we did with Las Diligencias. They use replicas of 1908 T model Fords, which is an experience on its own, but teamed up with knowledgable and entertaining guides that speak very good English, making this a fantastic way to see the city and learn about the history.
Speaking of good English, you will find it spoken, or at least understood in most of the more touristy areas and even beyond. But don’t let that stop you from showing a bit of respect and at least learning enough Spanish to be polite in their language. Remember who the foreigner really is!
Our final words on the matter… Santiago de Queretaro was a real surprise packet that went from an expectation of purely a convenient place to start and ended up being a place we would happily return to for another visit.