San Miguel de Allende is a small city world-renowned for its beauty, friendly people and fabulous food. It’s no wonder that upon arrival, you will be enchanted and enthralled with this UNESCO World Heritage site.
The cobblestone streets, the narrow sidewalks, incredible indigenous art and the amazing architecture feel like paintings of a past replicated before your eyes and the best part is that San Miguel de Allende is a walking city – just don’t forget to watch your step.
As in most colonial cities, San Miguel de Allende’s infrastructure for footpaths, roads, traffic signs and street signs can confuse newbies but after short time, you are sure to fall in love with the eccentricities involved in getting around.
Centro abides by strict rules regarding its legacy and original appearance so store and restaurant signage is very discreet as are the street markers. While this provides challenges for walking and driving, exploring the museum-like splendor more than makes up for it.
San Miguel De Allende offers a number of different options for transportation but walking is your best bet, particularly around Centro and other colonias (neighbourhoods) close to Centro. There are a few issues inherent in strolling about this magical city – very narrow sidewalks paved with polished rock, cobblestone roads of all shapes and sizes, and the gorgeous hills on which parts of this small city is built can make your saunter about town a genuine workout.
Cobblestone streets are by far the norm in San Miguel de Allende and they can be tough on the feet and balance. The walkways are a bit of a mishmash with a blend of rock pavers and polished stone and to top it off, they’re narrow as well. As it’s common for Mexican households and businesses to wash off the front walk of their home or store with buckets of water, pay extra attention as the stones are slippery when wet. If a store or whatnot intrigues you, the best idea is to completely stop and look at it, otherwise, you may find your foot in a hole in the concrete or on uneven ground.
San Miguel de Allende’s charming streets are lined with homes and businesses whose stone ledges and wrought iron windows bars jut into the street. Don’t be too busy checking out the ground to forget that those bars can whack you on the head with no apologies. The sidewalks are busy places and between dancing around people, window shopping and simply trying to maintain your bearings, the last thing you need is a gash to the skull.
Google maps is a definite asset if you’re needing to navigate San Miguel de Allende with a purpose in mind but one of the most beautiful experiences is getting lost…so many things that will surprise you at the turn of a corner that you didn’t mean to take.
As most of the streets aren’t exactly parallel, Google can assist with finding your hotel, restaurants, etc. but do follow the directions from Google even if it looks like you’re walking into someone’s house…just one of the astonishing things about San Miguel de Allende. I learned a valuable lesson about streets changing their names several times in a short distance when I hoofed it to El Mirador, 1 kilometre past my hotel, by mistake. When Google tells you that your next turn is to the right, ensure you’re on the right-hand sidewalk so you don’t miss the name as it may be different on the left- hand side.
Many colonias of San Miguel de Allende are built into the hills and if you decide to stay in those areas, you’ll be in better shape than when you arrive. The hills are a gorgeous part of the city to stay in but if you’re not in the best of shape, it can be a tough go. Try slowing down, popping your head in the cute shops as you go. San Miguel de Allende is at an altitude of 6500 feet so if you’re puffing and panting, point the finger at the elevation.
Unfortunately, San Miguel de Allende is challenging for baby strollers, wheelchairs or for those with mobility issues. While this city has done it’s best to provide ramps and other accomodation, the historic nature of narrow sidewalks, cobblestone streets and uneven walking surfaces are not conducive to a safe or pleasant experience.
Many of the larger hotels as well as Plaza la Luciernaga (the city’s only shopping mall) are accessible but Centro is more complicated.
San Miguel de Allende is full of inexpensive taxis and Uber and UberEats are both available.
Susan Orr is Canadian and recently retired. She is footloose and fancy free, traveling the world and enjoying retirement.