You’ve read about it. You’ve seen the beautiful photos. Now you are finally coming to San Miguel de Allende (SMA). That’s great! But how do you actually get here. If you have been researching your trip, you may have noticed that there is no airport in SMA. If you plan on coming to Mexico by air, you have a choice of flying into the regional airports of Leon (BJX) and Queretero (QRO). While these airports are closer to SMA, you may find flights are limited and more expensive. You also will need to arrange ground transportation to continue on to SMA.
Another great option, especially for those flying in from the USA and Canada, is to fly into Mexico City. Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX) is the main airport serving Mexico’s capital city. It offers a wider range of flights with fares that will most likely be better. In this blog we we’ll explain how to get to SMA from Mexico City by bus.
San Miguel de Allende is about 300 Km/186 Miles from Mexico City . From the airport you have a few options for ground transportation to SMA. One is to arrange a private transport either directly or with the assistance of your hotel. If you are coming with a group or prefer the convenience of pickup and drop-off service this is probably the way to go. Just know that this option comes at a premium price. The next way would be to rent a car from the airport and drive. If you plan on visiting other places in Mexico and are comfortable driving in another country, this option offers the most flexibility. But the choice I’m going to recommend is to take the bus.
Ok, you may already be imagining a long boring ride in a hot stuffy bus. Let me assure you, this is not the case. Bus transportation in Mexico is very popular. In fact you will be pleasantly surprised by the efficiency and comfort of the premier bus lines available. They offer comfortable seating with lots of legroom, individual seat-back screens with entertainment options, onboard restrooms, and in some cases WiFi depending on the route. They are also very affordable.
While there is a bus station at the airport, there are no direct services from here to SMA. You could take a bus to Querétaro and transfer on to SMA, but the better option I recommend is to take a taxi to the North Bus Station Terminal (Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte). The ride should take no more than 30 minutes. Be sure to purchase your taxi fare at an official taxi kiosk where prices are clearly posted. The fare to the bus station should be around $12-15. You will receive a ticket which you will give to the taxi driver. You do not need to pay any additional fare although tips are optional but recommended.
Once you arrive at the bus station, the two bus lines that I recommend are Primera Plus and ETN. I’ve taken both of these luxury lines but as of late, my preferred line is ETN. The most recent price I paid for a one way ticket to SMA was $585 pesos ($31 USD). Both Bus lines offer a small discount if you purchase your tickets online but the websites are not the easiest to navigate and I personally haven’t had any luck purchasing by credit card on the sites. Unless it is a major holiday or towards the weekend you can usually just show up and you will have no problem getting on the next available bus. ETN buses depart to SMA every hour starting at 5:40 am. Primera Plus offers ticket discounts for seniors and students. ETN offers senior discounts with INAPAM (Mexican Temp and Permanent residents senior discount card).
Traveler Tip⇒ The ETN bus to SMA is a double-decker. The seats on the upper deck are best. If you are a single traveler, seats on the left are single row. My favorite seats are 1, 2 or 3. You may select the seat when purchasing your ticket.
Once you have your ticket, you can head over to the dedicated gate indicated on the ticket. The gate for these two bus lines are close to the ticket counters. Unlike boarding an airplane there’s no need to be at the boarding area any sooner than 20 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. In fact many times the bus you are taking will only be just arriving prior to your departure. Before entering the platform area there is a security screening process. Its not very intrusive and normally only take a few minutes to pass through. Any large bags need to be placed through the screener and you walk through a metal detector.
Once you are outside on the platform, look for the lane number of your bus. This would probably have been hand written on your ticket by the agent at the ticket counter. The front of the bus will clearly indicate the destination. If you have any doubt, always ask an available agent . Large bags will need to be placed in the luggage compartment on the side of the bus. A porter will help you to load your bags and give you a claim ticket. Prior to boarding the bus, you will show your ticket to the agent at small kiosk at the front of the bus. They will offer you a small snack bag (usually a small sandwich and a drink). At times, they may request a quick search of your carry on.
Once you’re on board, settle in. The ride usually takes about 4 hours. There is one 20 minute stop in Querétaro prior to arriving to SMA.
Traveler Tip⇒ The complementary snacks aren’t really that good. I recommend purchasing some snacks at the bus station prior to your departure.
The San Miguel bus station is about a 10 minute taxi ride to the town center. Taxis can be found just outside the terminal. There is usually a porter to help you hail a taxi if none are readily available. The fair should be about 50 pesos to most parts of centro. If you use Uber, you can walk up to the street level and wait by the bus stop. Uber service is avaible in SMA but not always reliable in my opinion. If you are not straddled with a lot of bags, the local bus is also available just outside the terminal.
Editors final notes: Taking the bus is an affordable alternative to pricer private transfers. Arriving and leaving from Mexico City also give you the ability to explore Mexico’s capital city.
David Valle is a blogger, travel writer, photographer, and avid traveler. He shares his personal experiences of living and traveling in Mexico. He is also the owner of GofarwithEnglish.com an online ESL teaching platform. He teaches English to students in San Miguel and around the world.
Me Encanta México!