Looking for great road trip options from Mexico City? Well, driving from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato would be an amazing option. Both cities are part of so-called “pueblos magicos” or magical colonial towns of Mexico and are located within driving distance from the capital.
Mexico City is a very nice vibrant city, however, the number of the inhabitants, crazy traffic and pollution sometimes can be a bit overwhelming (unless you’re based in Coyoacan – the most beautiful part of the capital).
Besides, there are so many beautiful places nearby that you can visit, that a day trip or even a weekend trip would be a great idea. I already have a post about visiting Teotihuacán on this blog, so feel free to check it out.
However, in this post, we will focus on driving from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
How to get to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato from Mexico City:
You have three main options to get to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende.
Flight + bus
First, you can take a flight to Queretaro and then take a bus. I wouldn’t recommend this option because you might spend a lot of time in the traffic to get to Mexico City airport. Then, you need to arrive early, fly and then you take a bus (probably at an inconvenient time). Overall, it’s just too much hassle but this option exists just so you know.
The second option is to take a bus. There are, unfortunately, currently no trains in Mexico. There were plans to build trains, but the bus monopoly is just too strong, they are not letting the government build the trains. In the case of trains, everybody would use them because they would save an insane amount of time and let people skip traffic jams.
You can check the bus times and prices here.
Driving to San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City
Finally, the third option is to hire a car. Driving in Mexico it’s not that hard however it’s not super easy either, so make sure to pick this option, if you are confident that you will be able to drive in Mexico. I’m currently writing a guide on driving in Mexico, so once it’s ready, I will link to it here.
I would recommend hiring a car from rentalcars.com because of their insurance policy (that is usually cheaper and pretty straightforward than the direct insurance from the car company). However, you can also hire directly from Avis which I wholeheartedly recommend or any other international company like Hertz.
In our case, we were driving to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, but we didn’t hire a car because my husband is originally from Mexico City and his family just borrowed us their car for a couple of days.
Driving to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City
I said mentioned before, and you probably already know, Mexico City is huge. Traffic in Mexico City is also quite crazy. I recommend you avoid driving to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende on the weekends because that’s when everybody goes outside of Mexico City to their vacation homes or on their holidays or to visit relatives.
If you decide to drive on the weekday there are certain times you should avoid. First of all the rush hours when everybody goes to work. That’s from 7:30 am until 9:30 am. Secondly, avoid the time when all the moms go to pick up the kids from school that’s from 12 to 2.
That leaves you with a slot from 9:30 am until 12 and that’s when you should ideally leave Mexico City.
If you’re looking for a perfect navigator they used to be an app called Waze however it was recently purchased by Google. So Google Maps now give you all the best information about traffic, crashes and congestions, as well as the areas to avoid. Google maps usually offer a really good route, so we used Google Maps on a recent trip to Mexico City and we didn’t have any problems with navigation whatsoever.
The only thing Google Maps does know is to how to get to the second level of the Pereferico cross-city highway. However, I’m not even certain that you will be able to get there, because there are no tolls, everything is automatic and you must have a transponder with pre-charged money to be able to enter this road. Your car rental company might be able to provide it to you however you need to ask and clarify it with them in advance.
Paid highway in Mexico City: exiting Mexico City by car
During some times and in some cases, this second level might save you a lot of time if you’re crossing the entire Mexico City. That, of course, depends on the location, where are you staying and where are you driving from. As we were based in Coyoacan, we had to cross the entire city. That took a while: I would say 1 hour 20 minutes. Yeah, that’s right. It took us 1h 20 minutes just to get out of Mexico City outside of the rush hour.
Once you exit Mexico City, everything gets pretty straightforward. There is a highway that leads to San Miguel de Allende and this is a paid road, so make sure to bring a bit of cash with you. I don’t remember, how much exactly did it cost to drive to Guanajuato, but it was certainly more than USD$10.
Driving time from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende
In total, it took us 3 hours 40 minutes to drive to San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City. However, we stopped on our way and had lunch in a restaurant called Los Cochinitos. Los Cochinitos is located on the road, so it’s very convenient to stop there. They serve traditional Mexican food, which I liked (Pepe is biased, as he’s Mexican, he likes all the places in Mexico).
San Miguel de Allende – a gem of Mexico
In San Miguel de Allende, we stayed at the Rosewood Hotel. It had a gorgeous terrace with a view of the entire city and parking.
However, if you’re on a budget, I recommend these two hotels, that have parking and provide great value:
We stayed in the hotel overnight and the morning, we spend 4 hours walking and exploring San Miguel de Allende. We didn’t have an itinerary and it was just nice to walk around and see the city. The highlight of San Miguel de Allende is undoubtedly the Pink Church or Parroquia.
There is also another beautiful church – Temple de San Fransisco.
What we liked most was the colourful, bright streets of the city – all in the same orange colour; photogenic storefronts and beautiful parks.
The views from the top were stunning. Even if you’re not staying at Rosewood, you can just come over for a cocktail in a bar, located on the rooftop of the hacienda. However, there’s also another spot called mirador. You can either climb the streets or drive there, but the views are great.
Finally, there are many markets in the city, where you can buy fruits, souvenirs or food. We also found an amazing sweets shop with great prices, twice lower than in Mexico City. Cajeta is the local speciality in this region, so make sure to buy some sweets made of cajeta. Cajeta is basically dulce de leche, some sort of boiled condensed milk made of goat milk.
Driving from San Miguel de Allende to Guanajuato
Our next destination was Guanajuato. Guanajuato is a bit further away from Mexico City compared to San Miguel de Allende. There is a good road (not a highway though) that connects San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato and it took us around 1 hour 20 minutes to drive from San Miguel de Allende to Guanajuato.
The road didn’t have any tolls and the landscapes were pretty unique. However, there was a lot of security on the road due to an earlier incident (a couple of weeks before) connected to drug trafficking. The road, however, felt very safe.
If you’re looking for parking, we found a spot at huge parking in the city centre, called Estacionamiento El Patrocinio (Túnel de Los Angeles 142, Zona Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico)
While I liked San Miguel de Allende, I loved Guanajuato. Guanajuato is a way bigger city than San Miguel de Allende and you need more time to see it all and explore all the museums. However, if you don’t want to stay there overnight, you can see the main highlights in 3-4 hours. Perhaps, a bit longer if you stay for lunch or dinner.
Guanajuato, unlike San Miguel de Allende, is a colourful city that features many colours rather than just orange colour. We’ve seen blue, green, pink and yellow houses. And they are all over the city.
The most famous street in Guanajuato is Callejon del Beso – a kissing alley. Lovers passing through this street must kiss on the third step of the stairs for their love to last forever. That said, this alley is very busy sometimes and everybody wants to snap a photo kissing there.
Another highlight of Guanajuato is the museum of mummies – it’s a bit creepy, so we didn’t feel like going inside. These mummies have nothing to do with Egyptian mummies. If you want to know a bit more about mummies of Guanajuato, you can read more here.
A beautiful church, that is a must-see in Guanajuato is Parroquia de Basilica Collegiata.
Finally, you can also head to and explore the Regional Museum of Guanajuato.
However, just like in San Miguel de Allende, I recommend you to walk around the city centre, enter the shops and cafes you like, explore the main market, lovely squares and take some photos.
Driving from Guanajuato to Mexico City
We decided to leave Guanajuato quite late, around 5:30-6 pm to avoid traffic in Mexico City. The suggested driving time was around 4 hours 45 minutes and that’s exactly how long it took us to get back to Coyoacan. We were taking the paid road again, so this time it was around $14 (it’s around 80 pesos per toll), so make sure to have some cash on you.
Overall, driving from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato was a great idea and it allowed us to discover both cities at our own pace. It’s a lot of driving, so it’s impossible to do this trip in one day, but in two days, it’s feasible. I would recommend assigning 3 days to this trip, as it would give you enough time to rest.
Some other posts you could be interested in:
Driving in Mexico – things to know & tips