Among the best things to do in Guanajuato City include admiring its architectural beauty, peaceful streets, fascinating museums, and various festivals and popular celebrations that enliven the town throughout the year.
Although there are many other things to do here, I will highlight the 13 most popular and traditional visiting spots.
Is Guanajuato safe to visit in 2022?
Before I continue with this article, I think it’s important to clarify this safety concern among travelers.
Although Guanajuato has been dealing with drug cartel fights among rivals for the past five years, it has remained safe for visitors and locals who are not involved in gangs or looking for trouble.
I have been to several towns in Guanajuato in the past two years. I truly enjoyed it and did not experience anything “unusual.”
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you go. As long as you are aware, careful, and not looking for trouble, you should be just fine. I tell you from personal experience.
Ok, that being said, let’s take a look at the 13 best places and things to do in Guanajuato city. Enjoy!
1. Historic city
Guanajuato was one of the most important cities of the viceroyalty of New Spain for the Spanish Empire.
From its mines came much of the gold and silver to finance the frequent wars of the empire between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Contrary to what happened in other mining settlements, Guanajuato developed harmoniously as a small and beautiful colonial city, which today is a delight for lovers of these romantic spaces that recall bygone times.
Strolling through its unhurried streets and appreciating its emblematic buildings is the first thing you should do in this exquisite World Heritage Site.
2. Basilica Church of Our Lady of Guanajuato
This late 17th-century temple is located in the city’s center, Plaza de la Paz.
The basilica worships Our Lady of Guanajuato, an invocation of Mary whose image carved in cedar wood was the first Virgin to arrive in the New World.
Tradition has it that it was an image that the Catholics of Granada, Spain, hid from the Muslims for seven centuries until it was shipped to America.
The architectural style of the basilica is baroque, with neoclassical towers. Inside are images of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and an organ of 1,100 pipes.
3. Juarez Theater
It was built at the end of the 19th century and lived its period of most extraordinary splendor during the ten years before the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.
At the top of the building’s façade are sculptures of the muses of the arts and sciences.
The inaugural gala held on October 27, 1903, was attended by President Porfirio Diaz, and the work represented by an Italian company was the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.
4. Cervantes Theater
It is a multifaceted space of the colonial city, located in the Plaza Allende and inaugurated in 1979.
All the performing arts (theater, mime, dance, opera, puppetry) are presented in this venue that can accommodate 430 people.
To add to the atmosphere of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, there are sculptures of Don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho Panza in front of the theater.
It is the main venue of the International Cervantino Festival.
5. Visit the mummy museum, one of the top things to do in Guanajuato City
This museum exhibits a sample of more than 100 bodies that have been naturally mummified, discovered after exhumations in the Guanajuato cemetery.
The mummification is produced by the unique composition of the local soil, rich in nitrates and alum.
The eerie museum, which nevertheless fascinates visitors, displays the bodies of men, women, and children.
If you want to read the complete guide to the Mummy Museum click here.
6. Diego Rivera House Museum
The iconic muralist Diego Rivera is the most universally known painter from Guanajuato, and a museum named after him is located in his birth house.
The gallery exhibits sketches and paintings by the famous muralist who was married to Frida Kahlo.
Most of the works belonged to the private collection of the engineer, politician, and promoter of the arts, Marte Gómez.
They range from early works by the artist, even from his childhood, to later ones, completed a year before his death, such as Madame Libet and La Paloma del a Paz (The Dove of Peace).
7. Experience the International Cervantino Festival
Because Guanajuato is a small city, to maintain its hotel and service capacity in constant occupation, Guanajuato chains a variety of short events throughout the year.
One of these is the International Cervantino Festival, which began modestly in the mid-twentieth century and has become one of the most important festivals of its kind in the world. It is held in October.
8. International Organ Festival
The ancient organs of churches and cathedrals, besides being magnificent samples of the technology of the past for musical performance, produce notes that can take you to ecstasy and transport you to the past.
With this in mind, the Guanajuato City Hall organizes the “Guillermo Pinto Reyes” International Ancient Organ Festival and the Sacred Musical Art Clinic every May.
Organists from all over Mexico and other countries play the organs in the city’s main temples, events that also help preserve these monumental pieces of cultural heritage.
9. Visit the Kissing Alley in Guanajuato City
Two houses in one of the city’s narrowest streets were built, whose proximity allows that between the balconies, there is a separation of only 75 centimeters.
According to tradition, lovers who visit this place must kiss each other on the third step to ensure 15 years of good luck or bad fortune will haunt them for seven years.
10. Day of the Flowers
The last Friday of Christian Lent is celebrated in Guanajuato, a much-awaited festivity for its beauty and colorfulness.
It commemorates the “Friday of Sorrows” of the Virgin Mary. The Jardin de la Union in the city’s center is covered with hundreds of thousands of flowers of all types and colors.
In the past, it was an occasion to show interest in a girl. Men and women would walk reverse through the Garden, and the interested young man would offer a flower to the girl of his dreams.
Some young traditionalists in Guanajuato try to preserve the tradition. The previous night (Thursday), there are parties in nightclubs, bars, and houses.
11. Guanajuato Medieval Festival
For three days, between late March and the beginning of April, Guanajuato hosts this curious festival of jousting and medieval spectacles, with people, horses, and other participants, suitably attired for the occasion.
You can enjoy sword fights, spear competitions, archery tournaments, jousting on horseback, juggling, acrobatic shows, and other parodies of the events organized by medieval people for fun.
The exhibitions are traditionally held in the Plaza de La Paz, the Plaza de San Roque and the esplanade of the Alhóndiga de Granaditas.
12. Day of the Cave
It is celebrated every July 31, the day of San Ignacio de Loyola. Animated by fireworks and singing “Las Mañanitas,” residents and visitors go up to the caves for the mass of San Ignacio.
Currently, the service is celebrated in the Cueva Nueva; it used to take place in the Cueva Encantada and Los Picachos.
It is a tradition that mixes pagan and Christian beliefs. People ask the gods for rain, and with surprising results, the rain begins to fall in the afternoon.
13. Admire the Illuminations
Every year, between November and December, the Virgin of Guanajuato, the city’s patron saint, tours the neighborhoods and colonies, a religious and famous festival called Las Iluminaciones.
Each neighborhood strives to receive the image with the greatest joy amidst the ringing of bells, fireworks, and music.
People try to be close to the image, to ask for the cure of illnesses and other favors.