On the Streets of Guanajuato

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Dalene & Pete Heck

Surrounded by rolling hills, the valley that holds the population of this small city is narrow and windy. We were quickly and splendidly lost during our first effort to explore, gaining confidence on our second, but still a bit turned around on our third. And every time we stepped out of our door since in the few weeks of our residence, we never failed to stumble onto something new and intriguing in the historic center.

Colors carried no placeholder for finding our way. That brilliant red colonial building would match another a couple of blocks down, the slight differences in trim not enough to distinguish. The fact that it was next to a soft violet building instead of emerald green should have been enough for us to remember, but in all truth, we didn’t care. Accidentally walking every street in this city is something we could happily live with.

Colourful Guanajuato
Guanajuato Facade

And beneath the visible city is even more – with a vast network of alleys small enough to exclude cars on the surface, traffic has been forced underground.

Entrance to the Underworld
Subterranea Guanajuato

Back on top, streets bustle with pedestrians. The center is very walkable, with many plazas and gardens alive with activity – street performers, snack vendors, even classical concerts perform outdoors regularly. The tinier alleys connected to it are quiet and even twistier and around tight corners we would often find lusty teenagers in full embrace (obviously not expecting us). We weren’t the only tourists though, far from it, but we were in a tiny minority of gringos, as this is a place popular for Mexicans to come on holiday.

For good reason. This is reputably one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, and we have not found cause to dispute that.

Guanajuato Dancing
Santo Cafe
El Centro Guanajuato

Where we stayed

This might just be the best deal we’ve ever found. A small but immaculate and fully equipped suite, just a 15 minute walk from the historic center, all for about $20 a night (when rented for a month). The wi-fi is fast, the neighbours are friendly, and it’s as quiet as we could expect for a Latin American city. 🙂

27 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • April 28 2014

    I went to Mexico in 1973. It was the summer between my Junior and Senior year. Our Spanish club went. We spent time in Mazatlan, and Mexico City. In between, we did a side trip to Guanajuato. I LOVED this place the best of all. But I do think it has grown since I was there. The “mummy’s” are here too. That was the best and so interesting, and very fascinating to me.

  • April 28 2014

    This place breathes calmly yet the colors make it so vibrant! Not bad choice 🙂
    Ivana recently posted..15 Wonderful Things to Do in Koh Lanta

  • April 28 2014

    I have been loving your Instagram posts from Mexico. Good deal on the accommodation too!
    Murissa recently posted..Spring in the Okanagan Wine Valley

  • April 28 2014

    What a colorful city – i really love that image of the couple dancing in the square. It’s so wonderful when you get to see those magical moments!

  • April 28 2014

    Man…this place! I cannot wait to get there.
    Sam recently posted..Guide to Eating Vegan in Toronto

  • April 28 2014

    Awesome. I went to Guanajuato as a child but after seeing these photos, I am ready to go back again right now!

  • April 29 2014

    I love cities like this! it reminds me of other cities I’ve visited like Valparaiso and Salvador. Seriously, cities like this are so picturesque and make me never want to leave. Great pictures!
    Hannah Wasielewski recently posted..Street Art of Valparaiso, Chile

  • Kellie
    April 28 2014

    Its such a beautiful city I can’t wait there. We’ll be staying about an hour away for 3 months so I think we’ll have plenty of opportunity…

  • A Montrealer Abroad (@marievallieres)
    April 29 2014

    The pictures are beyond gorgeous! I like how they each capture the many colors of the city — good job, Pete. And how cute is that little patio on the bridge!

  • April 29 2014

    Looks gorgeous. We met a Mexican in Miami and she wrote this town’s name on a piece of paper for us – we still have it. Want to explore it because it sounded so lovely and you’ve just confirmed that with this post!

  • April 29 2014

    If there’s one thing we love, it’s decaying grandeur. Which you perfectly captured in your photos. Another great post, guys.
    Gran Canaria Local recently posted..Mercado de Artesania y Cultura de Vegueta

  • April 29 2014

    Any town where you can dance in the streets gets my vote! I love the fact that the traffic is underground – in many towns in Mexico and Latin America the narrow streets create a funnel of car exhaust.
    Michele Peterson recently posted..Beginner’s guide to Puerto Escondido beaches

  • April 29 2014

    I’ve been waiting for photos from here! This is one of the top places I’d really like to visit in Mexico.
    Amanda recently posted..Thoughts on Cambodia

  • April 30 2014

    It looks absolutely stunning!! Yet ANOTHER reason to return to Mexico… Happy travel guys and all the best with the next leg of the adventure.
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..Meeting Juan and Maximon in Santiago Atitlan

  • April 30 2014

    Wow – such awesome photos, we are headed there next week… and can you believe this – we have booked the same place! You’ve provided us the perfect intro here- thanks!

  • Would love to go here! I’m a sucker for homes like that

  • April 30 2014

    Looks like you enjoyed Guanajuato as much as we did! And you snagged a great deal on a place to stay too :-). We stayed at the lovely Quinta Las Acacias, but there are several boutique hotels that look very nice… We loved visiting all the museums in this very cultural town.
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted..First class bus in Mexico like flying business class

  • wanda
    April 30 2014

    I have never seen Mexico look so good. Thanks for this great post. The pictures are so great.

  • May 1 2014

    This is so beautiful! First time I’ve seen photos of Guanajuato and it looks like a colorful and amazing place =)

  • Sally
    May 1 2014

    What a vibrant town – i really really like that picture of the several dance in the rectangle. It’s so amazing when you get to see those amazing moments!

  • Absolutely beautiful photographs, what an amazing city. I always look forward to your posts.

    Happy travels 🙂
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren recently posted..Old Town Chambers: A Hidden Treasure in Edinburgh

  • This town sounds (and looks) amazing! I missed it when I was in Mexico but have heard a lot about it since so will definitely visit next trip. It is staggering how many incredible places are packed into Mexico, it truly is one of the most beautiful countries in the world

  • May 13 2014

    This place is beautiful! Never even heard of it before. I could definitely see myself wandering those streets.
    Dean recently posted..Hindu Art at Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Drew | The Hungry Partier
    May 26 2014

    WOW, these pics are stunning!! I need to get down there soon 🙂

    Let me know if you visit Korea anytime soon!!

  • December 17 2014

    I was in Guanajuato last year and it is just gorgeous.I don’t know if you had a chance to see the town from the top of the hill? Amazing. And, unlike San Miguel de Allende (which is just an hour away), Guanajuato has life because it is a university town. You won’t just see gringos everywhere you go. And lots of pretty parks.
    The only downside to the town is that you’ll have a lot of climbing up and down steps. I said it on the blog – Guanajuato reminded me of Vernazza Italy with all the steps everywhere.
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Photos of Faces and everyday life in Cambodia

  • January 21 2016

    This is absolutely beautiful! I’m planning to travel back to Central- and Southamerica – this time not just for a day LOL. Can’t wait to explore this beautiful part of the world! 🙂
    Serendipity Tess recently posted..Reflections: Expect the Unexpected. A Twist of Fate.

  • October 19 2017

    I can’t wait! Headed to Guanajuato next week for the Cervantino festival.
    Staci The Voyageer recently posted..Have a Better Camping Trip with the Right Gear

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