art installation near el centro queretaro

28 Best Things To Do In Querétaro 2024.

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It is surprising that a city as large as Querétaro is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. While it is not particularly easy to find good information on what to do in Querétaro, we discovered a city packed with history and activities.

We spent a little over a week in Querétaro during our recent 6-month stay in Mexico and it was the starting point for our epic 100-day Mexico road trip. It also became one of our favourite locations on the trip.

What you will find in Querétaro is a place bursting with history, culture, beautiful plazas, impressive architecture, and more great food than you could try in a month. And that’s just inside the city limits!

Take a day trip from the city to experience magnificent Pueblos Mágicos (Mexico’s Magic Towns), thermal springs, a highly-regarded wine and cheese scene, and much more. Let’s look at the best Querétaro has to offer.

The essential things to do in Querétaro

Once you start looking more deeply into the best things to do in Querétaro you will realise there is just too much to try and squeeze into your stay, unless you have a month or more here.

Let’s start with the things we were most excited about during our time in the city. And the first one is an absolute must-do!

1 – Tour the city in a replica Model T Ford

What better way to get a feel for a new location than cruising the streets in a replica vintage car, driven by a friendly, fun and informative guide, and visiting some of the most important sites in town?

The company, Las Diligencias, can be found around the plazas in Centro and they offer a few tour routes for you to select from. The price is very reasonable so maybe even do more than one tour.

We Recommend…

Classic Car City Tour

Discover Santiago de Querétaro on a guided tour. Board a replica of a 1908 Classic Model T Ford Vehicle to explore the historic city centre and learn about Querétaro’s history and legends.

Our favourite activity in Querétaro.

2 – Get your bearings with a Walking Tour of Centro

Our preferred way to get an overview of a new town we are visiting is to join a walking tour. We would have done this first if we hadn’t already spotted the cool vintage cars above.

Learn about the history of the city of Santiago de Querétaro on a walking tour of the Centro Historico, visit its temples and convents, understand the history of the beginning of the independence of Mexico, and marvel at the baroque architecture of the old houses.

This guided tour begins in the Plaza de Armas and ends in front of the Temple of Santa Rosa de Viterbo. You will enjoy a walk full of stories, legends and the history of Querétaro.

3 – See the city at the Mirador de los Arcos

el arcos. the aqueduct running through the centre of queretaro

It’s not hard to work out what you will be looking at when you are standing at a place called “Lookout of the Arches”, and if you want the best view of Querétaro’s famous Aqueduct this is the place to be.

The aqueduct was built in the early 1700’s to provide fresh water for the nuns who lived in the Convent just behind the Mirador. The water was pumped across the city and fed into a number of wells and fountains, some of which are still operational.

Insider Top Tip – While the view is impressive at any time of day, it is especially beautiful at night when the arches are illuminated. There are also street vendors in the evening and plenty of restaurants nearby which is another reason to visit after dark.

4 – Visit the Unique El Cerrito Archaeological Zone

There are not many ancient ruins of note around Querétaro, but there is one place in the city’s outer suburbs that has to be visited if you are a history buff, the El Cerrito Pyramid.

After taking a short Uber ride from El Centro you will arrive in the El Pueblito region of the city, and right in the middle of suburbia, you will unexpectedly find one of the most unique structures in Mexico.

It’s not the main pyramid structure that makes this place so different, although it is impressive in its own right (rated as one of the ten largest in Mexico). Take a look at the top… that’s right, it’s the ruins of a house!

The pyramid had been abandoned for centuries and became completely covered in overgrowth, so much so that it simply became known as El Cerrito, the Little Hill.

In 1887 a family decided that the top of the hill was an ideal place to build a grand house. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the pyramid was rediscovered, and excavation did not commence until 50 years later.

The house is now a protected historical landmark as is the pyramid, which means the strange architectural combination will remain intact.

5 – Climb into history at Cerro de las Campanas

Cerro de las Campanas, or Hill of the Bells, is a historical gem in Santiago de Querétaro, just a 5-10 minute drive from downtown. This 58-hectare national park is famous for its role in the Second Mexican Empire’s fall and its scenic beauty​.

Insider Top Tip – We visited Cerro de Campans as a part of our Las Diligencias city tour and our driver escorted us through the park. His knowledge of its history was amazing.

A Peek into History

The park is where Emperor Maximilian I was executed in 1867, marking the end of the Second Mexican Empire. The hill’s name comes from the unique bell-like sound the rocks make when struck together​.

the chapel at cerras de las campanas queretaro

What to See

  • Capilla de La Piedad: This chapel marks the execution site of Maximilian I and his generals.
  • Benito Juárez Statue: A 13-meter statue of President Juárez overlooks the park, symbolizing Mexican independence​.
  • Gardens and Fountains: Enjoy the serene gardens and fountains throughout the park.
  • Museum: Learn more about the site’s history at the small museum (open 9 AM – 4 PM, closed on Mondays)​.

Visiting Tips

  • Hours and Fees: The park is open daily from 6 AM to 6 PM. Admission is just MXN 5 (about $0.30 USD)​.
  • Getting There: Walk from the city centre or take a trolley bus tour that stops at the park)​.
  • Experience: Wear comfortable shoes for walking and take plenty of photos of the historical and natural beauty around you.

6 – Dance to live music in the plaza with locals

Every weekend for almost 100 years local families gather at the Jardín Zenea to listen and dance to the Querétaro State Band as they perform in the park’s Gazebo. And it’s a great experience to share with local families.

A real party atmosphere is created with vendors selling balloons and an assortment of glowy objects to excited kids, food carts offering an array of street food, and plenty of laughing and dancing.

Many of our favourite memories from our trips to Mexico are of spending time mixing with the locals at these types of events. You can sense how much family means to them and you get caught up in the emotion.

7 – Grab a selfie with the Querétaro sign

We set ourselves a challenge of finding the giant letters in each town we visited in Mexico, and it seems that we are not the only ones who take on this challenge.

the Queretaro letter and fountain

Unlike most Mexican towns Querétaro has not gone for the bold colours and patterns on their town name sign, but opted for stark white. This isn’t a bad thing because it does stand out against its background.

You will find the Querétaro sign surrounded by a dancing fountain in a small park opposite the impressive 18th-century church, the Templo de Santa Rosa Viterbo.

It can be tricky to get a good shot of the sign, especially if you are trying to capture the full church in the background. But with a bit of creativity and perseverance, you will come home with a great shot.

More things to do in Querétaro

8 – Find El Danzante Conchero Chichimeca

One of the most spectacular statues we have seen, El Danzante Conchero Chichimeca. The ornate headdress and highlights of turquoise and gold make this statue something special to behold.

The Concheros are Indigenous to the region and have lived here for centuries, and the impressive costume worn by the dancer has always been a part of their tradition.

You will find the statue across from the Jardín Zenea in the pedestrian street. It can be a challenge to get a good photo of the dancer due to crowds and some tricky backgrounds, but it is worth seeing in person even if you fail to truly capture its grandeur.

9 – Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Querétaro

There are so many impressive statues to be found in the streets and plazas of the historic centre that you might wonder why they even need a Museum of Contemporary Art.

Maybe the streets are full already, or maybe they just want to keep a collection together. Either way, this free Museum near Plaza Fundadores is worth a visit if you are a modern art lover.

10 – Journey back in time at the Ferrocarril

You don’t really see passenger trains in Mexico, with buses being the usual means of intercity transport. But there was a time when rail travel was common, and Ferrocarril is a throwback to those days.

This beautifully preserved antique train station gives you the chance to get a glimpse into the Mexico of the 1800s, a time when rail travel was the way to go. Much of the interior has been faithfully restored to that era.

There is a small entrance fee but you can visit Ferrocarril on one of Las Diliencias routes which would include entrance.

11 – Do the Querétaro Night Walking Tour

Delve into the mysterious past of Querétaro with the Legends and Myths Night Walking Tour. Wander the streets of the historic centre by torchlight accompanied by actors portraying legendary characters who tell their stories at the actual 17th-19th century locations where they took place.

This tour is perfect for those who love a bit of theatre with their exploration or anyone who wants to know more about the incredible history of Querétaro.

12 – Create a DIY food tour at Mercado de la Cruz

Creating a DIY food tour in Mercado de la Cruz is a great way to dive into the local culture and enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine.

While there are a few well-rated food tours on offer in Querétaro we don’t feel comfortable recommending them as we don’t feel they represent value for money. Much better to create your own!

You should start your tour early to experience the market’s lively atmosphere. Begin with breakfast favourites like gorditas stuffed with cheese, beans, and chicharrón, accompanied by a warm cup of atole.

Continue with tacos de carnitas or barbacoa, enjoying the slow-cooked meats wrapped in soft tortillas with fresh salsa. Each vendor often adds their own twist, creating a unique flavor to these classic dishes.

For a midday snack, sample quesadillas or tlacoyos made with blue corn dough, and try tamales filled with meats or cheeses. Don’t miss the antojitos like elotes, grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, cheese, and chilli powder.

Refresh yourself with an agua fresca in flavours like hibiscus or tamarind. Conclude your tour with sweet treats such as churros or a slice of tres leches cake from pastry vendors.

13 – Eat the best traditional regional dishes

Querétaro, like every other region in Mexico, not only puts its own spin on traditional Mexican dishes, but also has a few dishes exclusively found in the state.

If you’re looking to try traditional regional dishes near the historic centre of Querétaro, several excellent restaurants offer authentic and delicious local cuisine:

Los Compadres:

Located just a block north of Plaza de Armas, Los Compadres serves a variety of traditional Mexican dishes, including enchiladas Querétanas, gorditas, pozole, and chilaquiles.

The enchiladas Querétanas here are particularly recommended, filled with chicken, potatoes, and carrots, and smothered in a savory sauce.

Chucho El Roto:

Situated in the vibrant Plaza de Armas, Chucho El Roto is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. This restaurant is known for its wide range of regional dishes and classic Mexican fare. Due to its popularity, making a reservation is a good idea.

Gorditas del Andador:

This small, family-owned eatery is a must-visit for anyone wanting to try some of the best gorditas de migajas in Querétaro. The gorditas are filled with various stews, including chicharron, chicken tinga, and beans..

Restaurante Bar 1810:

Located near Plaza de Armas, this restaurant offers a wonderful rooftop dining experience with views of the historic centre. They serve a variety of traditional dishes and are known for their excellent service and lively atmosphere.

14 – Try the 28 Margarita Flavours at San Miguelito

One block from Jardín Zenea is our favourite restaurant from our time in Querétaro, San Miguelito. The food was quite fancy and delicious but it was the range of frozen Margaritas that caught our eye.

queretaro san miguelito food and margs

They offer a range of 28 different flavours, some of which will certainly raise eyebrows. I chose the tuna Marg, the cactus fruit, not the fish, and it was a revelation!

Another reason to visit San Miguelito is for the beautiful decor, with bold colours, creative decorations and rustic furniture combining to create a wonderful experience.

15 – Eat your fill of churros and chocolate

Is there anything better to do in Mexico late in the evening or on a cold afternoon than to settle down with a cup of hot chocolate and some fresh churros? We don’t think so.

When you are ready for a treat the good news is you don’t have to go far from the centre of town. Directly across the road from San Miguelito actually, where you will find La Fábrica De Chocolate.

One look at their Instagram account and you will understand why this is THE place to go if you have a sweet tooth.

a collection of amazing churros and chocolate treats from the fabrica de chocolate in queretaro

16 – Enjoy some Nun Farts

One of the funniest things we saw in Querétaro was a sign outside a small shop that said “Nun Farts”. It was pretty unexpected and the type of advertising that will definitely make you go inside.

Well, it turns out that Nun Farts, or Pedos de Monja, are a delicious little chocolate treat unique to Querétaro state. They are similar to a chocolate truffle, come in dark or milk chocolate, and usually almond-flavoured.

17 – Visit the Church and Convent of Santa Cruz

Or the Templo y Ex-convento de la Santa Cruz as it is known locally, is a 16th-century religious complex that sits at the top of the Plaza de los Fundadores. You will pass it if you are heading to the Mirador de los Arcos.

For a short time towards the end of French rule in Mexico, Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg used the complex as his home and military Headquarters. He was later imprisoned and executed here.

You will also find the first well that was connected to the aqueduct here. It is an interesting place, the church has a beautiful interior, and the exterior is a great backdrop for photos.

Insider Top Tip – The best time to visit is late in the afternoon. You can take a look inside and explore the area around the Plaza before taking on the view from the Mirador at sunset, then back to the Plaza for the food vendors.

18 – Get informed at the Museo Regional de Querétaro

You will find the Regional Museum of Querétaro diagonally across from the Jardín Zenea. It is housed in a 16th-century ex-convent and showcases many amazing items spanning centuries.

If you are a history buff then the Museum is probably a must-see, but know that most of the detailed information is only presented in Spanish, so you may need to have “translate” ready on your phone.

19 – Take a photo at La Fuente de Los Perritos

As you may expect with a city that has a massive aqueduct running through it, Querétaro has many fountains. And some of those fountains really stand out as more than just a place that sprays water in the air.

Most visitors agree that the most unusual, and the most amusing of these fountains is La Fuente de Los Perritos (the fountain of puppies) which you will find in the Plaza de Armas.

It’s unexpected to see water spouting from dogs’ mouths but it certainly has created a great tourist attraction and makes for a fun photo.

20 – Go on a Church crawl

Querétaro is no different to most other Mexican cities when it comes to having a “church on every corner”. OK, so it may not be quite that many but you will still see them everywhere you go.

And it seems each of these grand churches or convents is more spectacular than the next, with histories reaching back centuries.

The top 5 religious buildings you should visit are:

  • Templo de San Francisco: The oldest church in Querétaro, featuring stunning baroque architecture and an adjacent convent.
  • Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo: Known for its unique design, impressive altarpieces, and impressive bell tower. Also as being the location of the Querétaro sign.
  • Templo y Convento de la Santa Cruz: Famous for its “Tree of the Cross” with thorns shaped like crosses in addition to its ties to history as mentioned above.
  • Templo de Santa Clara: Best known for its lavish interior with floor-to-ceiling gold decorations and intricate woodwork.
  • Templo de San Agustín: Renowned for its beautiful cloister and detailed stone façade, now part of the Querétaro Museum of Art.

21 – Relax and people-watch in the Plazas

one of the many plazas and beautiful churches in queretaro

Although most of the discussion centres around the Plaza de Armas, the Jardín Zenea and the Plaza de los Fundadores, Querétaro has more Plazas in the Centro Historico.

Each of them representing a perfect place to settle down on a shades park bench, take in the beauty of the city, and simply watch local life happen around you.

Sometimes when we travel the need to see and do as much as possible takes over and we forget to live life in the moment, take a breath, and remember how lucky we are to be in these incredible places.

Best day trips from Querétaro

Santiago de Querétarois not only an interesting city to visit but also the perfect base to explore what is a diverse and spectacular surrounding region. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

22 – Bernal: Quintessential Mexico

If there is one town that perfectly fits peoples’ expectations of a typical Mexican town then it would have to be Bernal. It looks like it fell out of a Disney story or Pixar film.

Bernal is one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos and is located less than an hour from Querétaro, making it the perfect spot for an interesting day trip. And you will not regret your decision to visit.

The town is famous for the Peña de Bernal, one of the three largest monoliths in the world. Adventurous visitors can hike up the rock for stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, while those preferring a leisurely pace can explore the base and enjoy the scenery.

The village is charming, with cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, and a relaxed vibe. Hole-in-the-wall eateries serve delicious gorditas and other regional specialties, providing a true taste of the area.

Insider Top Tip – You can join a group tour to Bernal but a better option is to grab an Uber so you can experience the town before and after the tour crowds are there.

23 – San Miguel: Mexico’s most beautiful town

A little over an hour from Querétaro is the stunning town of San Miguel de Allende. A place where the houses are no longer painted in vibrant colours, but instead using a range of subtle, earthy tones.

the view along Calle Aldama towards the Parroquia in San Miguel de Allende

This colour scheme creates a more refined and serene atmosphere as you wander the streets around the central plaza. But don’t think it makes this place boring, it is anything but.

For quite a while SMA has been a popular place for expats looking for their piece of perfection in Mexico, which means English is now widely spoken. And that is another reason it is also popular with tourists.

While a slight downside to this is that San Miguel may have lost some of its Mexican authenticity, it has retained enough tradition that it doesn’t feel like an American theme park (think Cancun or Cabo).

Make your way to El Mirador for the iconic view over the city, grab some photos of the incredible Parroquia, shop for unique souvenirs, or just enjoy strolling through the quaint streets without a plan.

The Zocalo, or main plaza, is one of the prettiest in Mexico and a perfect place to grab a nieve, find a shaded bench, and have some time taking in the beauty around you.

If time is short then a day trip here is an absolute must, but San Miguel de Allende is worth visiting for longer than a single day. Once you see it you will understand why.

Insider Top Tip – As with Bernal you can join a day tour to SMA but we believe a better option is to grab an Uber and visit at your own pace. Uber is readily available in SMA and Queretaro.

24 – Tequisquiapan: The spa town

Another interesting town you can visit on a day trip, and also another Pueblo Magico, is Tequisquiapan, or Tequis to the locals. It is a pretty town best known for its mineral spas.

Located less than a 90-minute drive from Querétaro, Tequis is the perfect place for those looking to mix some serious pampering with a wonderful traditional small-town Mexico atmosphere.

You will not have to look very hard to find the perfect spa for your needs and you will be very pleased with the prices, which are a fraction of similar treatments you probably have back home.

As for the town, head to the Zocalo (town centre) and wander through the beautiful surrounding streets. You will find shops selling local artisanal products and plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants.

25 – The Querétaro art, cheese and wine route

Querétaro state has a growing reputation as one of Mexico’s premier wine regions and is also famous for the range of cheeses produced. Throw in some creative art galleries and you have the makings of an excellent day trip.

There are a number of tours offered that include vineyard visits with wine tastings and cheese platters. These tours usually include a visit to one or more of the Pueblos Magicos close to Querétaro.

If you have a generous non-drinker that is happy to be a designated driver with you it is quite easy to rent a car and create your own wine and cheese tour.

26 – Have a day at the incredible Tolantongo Caves

A longer day trip, but to a very unique location, is to travel to the Tolantongo Caves, one of the most surprising natural paradises in the state of Hidalgo.

It is an oasis surrounded by mountains, it consists of an impressive waterfall that at the bottom houses a grotto and a cave, generating a river of thermal springs, turquoise in colour due to lime particles and magnesium that the rocks provide.

There are various pools and natural areas where you can swim.

We Recommend…

From Querétaro Grutas de Tolantongo

  • Enjoy turquoise hot springs.
  • Explore the incredible waterfall that houses a cave and a grotto inside.
  • Fall in love with the view, from the suspension bridge and its little pools.

27 – Escape into nature in the Sierra Gorda

The Sierra Gorda is a stunningly beautiful ecological region in the north of Querétaro state. It was once devastated by deforestation but now stands as a fine example of what can be achieved when we are serious about repairing our natural world.

You are best to visit on an organised tour where you will travel approximately 2 hours to reach the first place to visit, Pinal de Amoles which is now recognised as a magical town.

Later you will experience waterfalls, rivers and unspoilt nature, and have time to appreciate such wonderful places. Finally you will visit the famous Peña de Bernal, which was mentioned above.

We Recommend…

Sierra Gorda Complete Tour

  • Visit crystal clear rivers
  • Amazing waterfalls
  • 3rd largest monolith in the world

28 – Drive the Pueblos Magicos loop

We do love a road trip, and this round trip from Querétaro is the perfect opportunity to get behind the wheel and explore at your own pace for a while.

This route will see you visiting 5 of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos and can be done in a single long and busy day. However, you will enjoy these towns much more if stretch it out a bit and make it at least an overnight adventure.

The entire loop is roughly 240km / 150 miles long and can be covered in 4 to 5 hours of driving. So you can see why we recommend more than a single day to complete it.

For anyone choosing to take this on as a road trip you will be rewarded with some diverse landscapes, 5 very different magical towns, wineries, great food, and life-long memories.

Car rental is very reasonable and if you are wondering if it is safe to drive in Mexico we have an entire post that will answer all of your questions. We actually visited all of these towns as part of our recent epic 100-day Mexico road trip, so our advice is genuine.

How to get to Querétaro

Santiago de Querétaro is located in central Mexico, north of Mexico City, making it an easily accessible destination. Here’s how you can get there:

  • By Air: Fly into Querétaro Intercontinental Airport (QRO), which has domestic and some international flights. The city centre is a 30-minute taxi or shuttle ride from the airport.
  • By Bus: Querétaro’s main bus terminal, Terminal de Autobuses de Querétaro, offers frequent services from Mexico City, Guadalajara, and other major cities. The buses are comfortable, affordable and provide various service classes.
  • By Car: Querétaro is well-connected by highways. From Mexico City, it’s a 2-3 hour drive via Highway 57D.

How many days do you need in Querétaro?

Due to the convenience of having an international airport, it is an option to visit Querétaro for a quick and easy getaway. If you choose to visit for just a couple of days you will only have time to pick a few highlights.

To make the most of a stay in Querétaro we recommend a stay of about a week to allow time to experience a lot more of what the city has to offer, as well as getting out for a couple of day trips.

We had 8 days to get acquainted with the place and it was plenty of time to see and do everything we had planned and more. We spent all that time in the city and later visited the nearby towns as part of our road trip.

How to get around in Querétaro

Once in Querétaro, local transportation options such as taxis, rideshares, and public buses make it easy to explore the city and surrounding areas. Uber is the most commonly used rideshare app.

It is also a very flat city which makes it easy to explore on foot. Many of the top attractions are within walking distance of the historic centre so the need for any other types of transportation during your stay is minimal.

Where to stay in Querétaro

The best place to look for your accommodation is around the historic centre. Staying here will put you within an easy walk of the majority of the best things to do in Querétaro, as well as many cafes and restaurants.

Budget Option: Morelos By HomiRent is only a few blocks from the Centro area. This aparthotel is highly-rated and offers large comfortable rooms at crazy cheap prices.

Mid-Range Option: Hotel Boutique Casa Loreta is a 4-star hotel located just a couple of minute walk from Centro. The hotel features a rooftop area and pool. Breakfast is included.

Luxury OptionHotel Patio Santiago is a 5-star colonial building in the centre of Queretaro, less than 2 blocks from the San Francisco temple. The rooms feature high-end appointments and the hotel has a rooftop with great views.

BEST Things To Do In Querétaro: Our opinion

Querétaro is a safe city with plenty of interesting sites to visit and a rich history to uncover. We loved every minute of our 8 days here and still had a few things we didn’t get around to doing.

The historic centre has many beautiful plazas, the streets are lined with colourful buildings, and the overall lifestyle here feels amazing.

History buffs will have a blast here, as will foodies, but Querétaro has something for everyone and somehow remains relatively unknown to foreigners.

If you want all of the big city conveniences but are worried about the overwhelming size of Mexico City, or if you are looking for a convenient place in Mexico for a short trip, look no further than Querétaro.

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