Have you ever heard of a place so vibrant in culture and heritage that it feels like stepping into a storybook?
Then maybe you’d like to hear about Queretaro, Mexico!
Situated in the heart of Mexico, Queretaro is an off-the-radar travel destination, ready to blow you away with its colonial architecture, lively festivals, and mouth-watering food.
Whether you’re a seasoned globetrotter or planning your first adventure, here’s a list of must-do things in Queretaro for a memorable experience.
Let’s dive into it.
1. Explore the Historic Center of Queretaro
This UNESCO World Heritage site is brimming with vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and storytelling plazas that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Mexican telenovela.
Start your day by visiting the Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo, an iconic baroque-style church with intricate details that make your jaw drop. (Your Instagram feed will thank you.)
Then, wander around the colorful streets, basking in the warm Mexican sun.
Keep an eye out for the incredible murals scattered around the city. They add a modern twist to the historic feel.
And don’t forget about the casas grandes!
These grand houses are a sight with their beautifully preserved colonial-style facades.
If you get hungry, grab a quick snack from one of the many vendors selling traditional Mexican street food. A churro or two never hurt anybody.
As the sun sets, stroll down to one of the many plazas.
Visiting the plazas is one of the best things you can do to wind down after an exciting day.
Families gather, musicians play, and you enjoy another day in this beautiful city. So take advantage of it by diving in head first.
2. Wander Through the Queretaro Museum of Art
This museum will have you spending way longer in a museum than you thought you could!
Located in the former convent of San Francisco, its architecture alone is something to see in Queretaro.
But wait until you step inside; it’s like diving headfirst into a painting.
Art enthusiasts will love the chance to explore a collection that spans centuries! Mexican art, European-influenced pieces, and contemporary works — it’s all here.
Make sure to put the Queretaro Museum of Art at the top of your must-visit list.
3. Visit the Iconic Queretaro Aqueduct
Queretaro’s Aqueduct, a stunning feat of 18th-century engineering, should be high on your list.
It’s an iconic, can’t-miss landmark that is sure to have you reaching for your camera!
This impressive structure stretches over four kilometers and boasts 74 towering arches! Can you believe it was built to supply water to the city from La Cañada? Now, it stands as a testament to the city’s history and a symbol of Queretaro’s resilience and architectural prowess.
And here’s a pro tip: Visit the Aqueduct in the evening.
The illumination against the night sky creates a breathtaking scene. It’s the picture-perfect spot for that Instagram shot!
So, grab some comfy shoes and stroll down Calzado de los Arcos.
4. Relax in Plaza de Armas
Want to take a break from touring this historic city to simply sit under some trees in a plaza?
Then head to Plaza de Armas. It’s the heart of Queretaro’s social life.
It’s the place to be if you want to mingle with locals, sip coffee in a lively café, or simply people-watch.
So grab a seat, order a refreshing drink, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. And don’t forget to snap some photos — Queretaro’s plazas are photography gold!
5. Take a Guided Tour of the City
Taking a guided tour is one of the best ways to get a handle on the city.
You’re guided by a local expert who knows the safe areas of Queretaro and the best spots, like their local taco restaurant. And they show you the popular tourist spots and the lesser-known areas only locals know about.
It’s like having a friend in the city!
Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to meet other people and make some travel buddies while you’re visiting.
6. Indulge in the Local Cuisine
What’s a trip to Mexico without a dive into its cuisine, right?
Queretaro is a foodie’s paradise, offering an array of traditional Mexican delicacies that have your taste buds doing the happy dance!
First up, you’ve got to try enchiladas queretanas.
These aren’t your typical enchiladas! Prepared with a unique recipe, these enchiladas are bathed in a guajillo chili sauce and often served with potatoes and carrots.
And who can ignore the irresistible tacos al pastor?
Marinated pork strips are perfectly grilled and served with pineapple, coriander, onions, and a squeeze of lime — all wrapped in a soft tortilla.
These tacos had me at the first taste, and it’s been a love affair since.
Seafood lovers will adore the pescado a la talla, a dish of grilled fish marinated in adobo sauce. It’s a culinary masterpiece that leaves you craving for more.
And let’s not forget the local sweets.
Have you ever tried ate de membrillo? It’s a traditional Queretaro dessert made from quince, and it’s as tasty as it is beautiful.
As you can see, Queretaro takes food seriously. And it’s ready to show it off.
So, my advice? Come with an empty stomach.
7. Hike to the Top of Peña de Bernal
You may not have heard of Peña de Bernal, but you can’t miss it.
No, literally. It’s a massive monolith that’s one of Queretaro’s natural beauties.
This limestone wonder, standing tall at over 1,000 feet, is the third-largest monolith in the world. It’s not just a towering rock. It’s drenched in stories and legends, adding a cultural aspect.
Don’t miss the chance to climb it.
Trust me, the panoramic view of the Queretaro landscape from the top is worth every bit of the sweat and lack of breath.
But hey, even if you’re not into climbing, just being at the base and looking up at this massive formation is an incredible experience. Plus, the charming little town surrounding the monolith is equally fun to explore.
The cobblestone streets, the brightly colored houses, the friendly locals — it’s exactly the experience you want from Mexico.
One last tip: Try the local specialty, gorditas, a stuffed corn cake. And don’t stop at just one.
6. Sample Wine at a Local Vineyard
This region is not only rich in history and culture, but it’s also home to a flourishing wine scene.
Imagine this: You’re sitting under the warm Mexican sun, surrounded by a sea of lush, green vines and a glass of wine in hand.
The only thing on the schedule today: more wine.
You don’t have to be a sommelier to appreciate Queretaro’s wines. Trust me.
But it doesn’t hurt if you know a thing or two.
Those of you who spend more time reading wine labels than books (no judgment here) may already know Queretaro is one of Mexico’s main wine-producing regions.
The area’s unique climate and fertile soil make for some excellent grapes. We’re talking Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and so on!
And there are plenty of vineyards to choose from, each offering a unique experience.
Two major players are Freixenet and La Redonda, offering tours, tastings, and live music.
If wine tastings aren’t on your list of things to do, they need to be. Now.
7. Take a Day Trip to San Miguel de Allende
Just a short drive from Queretaro, you’ll find the enchanting town of San Miguel de Allende.
If you thought Queretaro was a feast for the eyes, wait until you get a load of this place! You’ll think you crossed time zones.
And by time zones, I mean you’ll feel like you traveled back centuries.
San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its cobblestone streets and Spanish colonial architecture. Imagine strolling around the town, admiring the colorful buildings and quaint plazas.
The town is also bursting with art galleries and craft shops showcasing the local talents. You might even catch a traditional fiesta on the streets if you’re lucky.
And don’t pass on the food.
San Miguel de Allende has an incredible food scene, offering everything from traditional Mexican cuisine to international fare.
So, no matter your taste, you’ve got options in San Miguel de Allende.
8. Shop for Handcrafted Souvenirs
Queretaro has plenty of options when it comes to handcrafted souvenirs.
The city teems with artisanal shops where local craftspeople sell their exquisite wares. You’ll find everything from hand-woven rugs to intricate ceramic pottery, all bearing the unique touch of Queretaro’s rich cultural heritage.
Not sure what to look for? Here are some top things to check out:
- Handmade Jewelry: You’ll find no shortage of beautiful, unique pieces to take home. Made from local materials and adorned with traditional designs, these are pretty trinkets and memories of your time in Queretaro.
- Textiles: Pick up a beautifully woven shawl or scarf. The fantastic quality and vibrant colors show the skills of the local weavers.
- Ceramics: Queretaro’s pottery is renowned for its intricacy and color. From vases to plates to charming little figurines, you’ll find something that catches your eye in no time.
Remember, when you buy handcrafted souvenirs, you get a keepsake and support local businesses and artists.
So, why not grab a little piece of Queretaro for yourself and your loved ones while doing some good?
9. Embark on a Hiking Adventure in Sierra Gorda
Who doesn’t love a good adventure, right?
And what’s more adventurous than hiking through the awe-inspiring Sierra Gorda? This mountainous ecological region is an absolute must-visit for any nature enthusiast.
About an hour and a half east of Queretaro, it offers a stunning range of biodiversity, mind-blowing landscapes, and a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with nature.
First, let’s talk about my favorite: the trails.
They range from beginner-friendly to “Are you sure you didn’t sign up for mountaineering?” level.
But don’t worry! Each trail offers its own unique experience and breathtaking views. You might need to catch your breath, but it won’t only be from the hike!
Here are some trails to check out:
- Puente de Dios: This beginner-friendly trail starts 30 minutes outside Pinal de Amoles. It takes you through a canyon and along a river until you reach a beautiful cave with waterfalls and pools.
- Canon del Paraiso: For those with a bit more hiking under their belts, this trail offers a challenging but rewarding trek with panoramic views of the valleys of Sierra Gorda.
- Cuatro Palos – Bucareli: This challenging trail is reserved for adventurous hikers with its steep inclines and rugged terrain. But the views along the way make it all worthwhile!
But make sure you don’t take on the Sierra Gorda alone! Unless you’re a seasoned hiker, hiring a local guide is recommended.
They know the terrain like the back of their hand and can ensure you hike safely. Plus, it’s always nice to have someone to high-five when you reach the end of your hike!
10. Take a Stroll Through Tequisquiapan
Tequisquiapan, fondly referred to as Tequis, should be your next stop.
This magical town, just a short drive from Queretaro, is the epitome of relaxed charm. Think cobblestone streets, vividly colored houses, and tranquil squares. It’s the perfect place to take a leisurely stroll and soak up the atmosphere.
Start your visit in the town square, Plaza Hidalgo.
It’s the heart of Tequis, filled with charming boutiques, delightful restaurants, and cheerful locals. And did I mention the beautiful church, Santa Maria de la Asuncion? Depending on when you come, an exciting festival may be happening near the church.
Next, wander through the local market, where you can find everything from handicrafts to delicious local food.
Don’t forget to check out the artisan shops along Callejón del Arte. It’s a street dedicated to art and artists. From traditional pottery to woven textiles, there’s plenty to admire and, of course, buy.
Finally, no visit to Tequis would be complete without a visit to one of the local vineyards.
Yes, wine lovers, this is your moment! Sip on some of the region’s best wines while soaking up the stunning views.
After that, head back to Queretaro with unforgettable memories of Tequis filling your head.
11. Visit the Colonial City of Jalpan de Serra
Sitting in the heart of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, this city perfectly blends natural beauty and historical charm.
The city’s main draw is the Misión de Santiago de Jalpan — one of the five Franciscan missions designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, go on, let your inner history buff lose, and explore this amazing place.
Also, check out the Sierra Gorda Museum if your thirst for knowledge has yet to be quenched. It’s packed with exhibits that dive into the area’s diverse fauna, flora, and cultures.
12. Take a Trip to Santiago de Queretaro’s Casa de la Zacatecana
Casa de la Zacatecana isn’t your average museum.
This place is practically buzzing with stories of intrigue, betrayal, and even murder! (Don’t worry. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Or is it?)
As you walk through the halls of this enchanting house, you’ll feel like a time traveler, whisked back to the 18th century. The house itself is a testament to Queretaro’s colonial era. Each room tells a different chapter of the tumultuous and fascinating story of La Zacatecana, a woman whose life was as dramatic as any telenovela.
But it’s not all about scandal and drama.
The museum also houses an impressive collection of art, showcasing pieces from Mesoamerica, Europe, and Asia.
So, are you ready to unravel the mysteries of Casa de la Zacatecana?
13. Visit the Impressive Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Auditorium
Named after the fearless heroine of Mexico’s independence movement, this auditorium is a testament to her indomitable spirit.
The architecture alone will make your jaw drop. But let’s not get carried away by just the outer beauty because the magic is inside!
Something is always happening in the auditorium — home to regular concerts, ballet performances, and even wrestling matches. It’s the beating heart of Queretaro’s cultural scene! Get ready to be blown away by the symphony orchestra or to witness a wrestling match that’ll get your adrenaline pumping. Talk about variety, huh?
If culture is your thing, then the Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Auditorium is a can’t-miss.
Ready to Visit Queretaro?
Queretaro is so much more than a tick off your travel list.
It’s an experience, a feeling, a spicy salsa of adventure and culture you won’t forget!
Whether you’ve found yourself bonding with locals over a lively game of piñatas, marveling at the grandeur of the Aqueduct, or simply sipping on tequila as the vibrant Mexican sunset paints the sky, there’s a little bit of Queretaro that stays with you, even after you’ve left.
And that’s the magic of Mexico!
Kyle Cash is the author/owner behind The Travel Runner, a popular outdoor travel blog covering the most exciting destinations worldwide. When not writing for The Travel Runner, he’s probably exploring hiking trails or sampling the local cuisine.