Santiago de Querétaro, most often referred to simply as Querétaro, is a beautiful colonial city in central Mexico well worth putting on your travel radar. With San Miguel de Allende to the northwest and Mexico City to the southeast, Querétaro is easily accessible, whether for a day trip from a nearby destination or a longer stay. The city, with its UNESCO-listed historic centre, offers much in the way of culture, food, shopping, history and interesting things to see and do. Read on for eight of the best things to add to your Querétaro itinerary.
Head to a Winery
Wine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Mexico in the way it would if you were visiting, say, France or Napa Valley. But the Querétaro region is a major producer of good quality wine (and some excellent cheeses) thanks to the region’s temperate weather and topography ideal for growing several grape varietals.
Depending on how much time you have, you can explore the region’s entire Wine and Cheese route, but if you’re looking for a couple of options to focus your time on, put Finca Sala Vivé by Freixenet and Bodegas De Cote on your list. The former specializes in sparkling wines and cava (with some still wines as well) and the former offers a wide variety of wines, from chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, to merlot and rose wines. Both wineries offer comprehensive tours and tastings for wine-loving travellers.
Visit a Cheese Cave
Like wine, you might not associate Mexico with speciality and gourmet cheeses, but there are plenty of cheese producers in the region creating some seriously good products. One of the best places to learn more about cheese production, taste some excellent cheeses and even visit a cheese cave, is at Cava de Quesos Bocanegra. The scenic grounds make for a perfect spot to relax with a glass of local wine and some cheeses, but before you do, a tour is highly recommended. Given by a cheese sommelier, tours walk visitors through the entire process of cheese making including the aging process, which you get to see in the cheese cave. Following the tour, take advantage of a tutored tasting accompanied by either wine or local craft beer.
Tours are offered Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Enjoy the Views From Peña de Bernal
If it’s Instagram-worthy views you’re looking for, make your way to Peña de Bernal, recognized as the third-largest monolith in the world. Though only experienced climbers should attempt to summit the peak, visitors can climb (or drive) to the rock's halfway point (allow one hour both ways if you’re on foot) to check out those aforementioned views of the town of Bernal. If you are planning to hike, wear sturdy shoes and a hat.
Peña de Bernal is about one mile (1.6 kilometers) northwest of the town of Bernal in the state of Querétaro.
See the Aqueduct of Querétaro
One of the most impressive sights in Querétaro is the city’s stunning 75-arched aqueduct, built in the early 1700s. The aqueduct rises 75 feet (23 meters) above street level and was built to supply drinking water to the city from regional springs, which it did until 1970. To this day, the aqueduct still supplies water to the fountains situated within Querétaro’s historic center.
Explore the Picturesque Historic Centre
Whether you’re visiting Querétaro for the day or you have longer to explore, don’t miss out on the city’s scenic historic centre, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 and filled with beautiful historic buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The historic centre was made for aimless wandering, snapping photos of the architecture as you walk, stopping at a café or bar to refuel and generally just taking the time to soak up the colonial atmosphere and relaxed vibe.
Rest Your Head at Casa del Atrio
If you’re looking to spend more than a day exploring Querétaro, one of the best places to spend the night (or a few nights) is Casa del Atrio, a stylish boutique hotel located in the heart of the historic centre, in a refurbished 19th century home. Walking inside the unassuming entrance feels a bit like entering an antique shop or the home of someone with an amazing collection of curios and one-of-a-kind pieces of home décor collected from years of traveling (almost everything you see is for sale). Each room here is decorated differently, set around a lush courtyard, which functions as the breakfast area in the mornings. Free Wi-Fi, handcrafted toiletries, and an intimate yet stunning spa round out the experience.
Hang Out at the Plaza de Armas
Within the heart of Querétaro's historic center you’ll find Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square and a spot that’s perfect for people watching or soaking up the sun among locals. Surrounded by 18th century architecture, restaurants, bars, and cafes, Plaza de Armas is the ideal place to spend an hour or two at a street-side café or from the patio of one of the surrounding restaurants, of which there are many.
Do Some Museum Hopping
If you’re craving some culture, there are numerous museums to visit in Querétaro. One of the most unique is MUCAL, or the Museo del Calendario (Calendar Museum), the first museum of its kind in the world. There are 19 exhibition rooms displaying original artworks that have been featured in Mexico’s calendars through the decades, along with hundreds of original retro-style calendars. Stick around following your musem visit to relax in the picturesque courtyard.
Museo de Arte de Querétaro, Querétaro's art museum, showcases European paintings and sculptures from the seventeenth through twentieth centuries, as well as 19th- and 20th-century Mexican paintings.
Museo Regional de Querétaro is where you’ll find interesting exhibits that tell the story of the city and its rich history, all housed in an ornate 16th century building.