This little Mexican city roughly 3 hours north of the country’s capital is one of my absolute favorites. There are fun things to do in Querétaro, great restaurants in Querétaro, and amazing hotels in Querétaro that will make you want to book a return trip before you’ve even left the city.
How to Get to Querétaro
Getting to Querétaro is very simple. You can arrive directly from the Mexico City airport by taking the Primera Plus buses that leave from the airport every hour. If you are already in Mexico City, you can take the bus from the Northern Bus Terminal which is also with Primera Plus.
You can pre-book these bus tickets using either the Primera Plus website or the Primera Plus app. Both require you to print your ticket (although I’m hoping the app updates sometime soon so that you can just use a digital ticket!).
The Primera Plus buses are incredibly comfortable. I would even use the word luxurious, especially when compared to a lot of budget buses and airlines that I’ve used elsewhere. I would go as far as to say that they are my favorite Mexico buses, with ADO coming in a distant second place (they might rank higher if they also gave out snacks!). Each seat has a large footrest and personal TV so that you can watch movies for the three-hour ride.
There is also a small airport in Querétaro. It is an international airport and is very easy to fly into and out of thanks to its small size. You can fly directly there from Dallas Fort Worth and the Houston Airport. Alternatively, you can fly into Mexico City or Monterrey and take a short connecting flight directly to Querétaro Airport.
Best Flight Booking Site
I always use Skyscanner to book my flights. I have tried tons of other booking sites, but I always end up back at Skyscanner because of the ease of use and the ability to find the cheapest flights available. It also allows you to set up flight alerts so that if the price changes you will know ASAP.
What to Do in Querétaro
There are so many fun things to do in Querétaro. It’s such a colorful colonial city, simply wandering around for half a day will likely keep you busy. There are cute shops to explore, little pedestrian alleyways, and random parades that seem to start and end before you know what’s hit you!
1. Check out the City’s Many Museums
There are tons of great museums worth checking out when you visit Querétaro. These are some of my favorites:
Museo Del Calendario
The Mucal Calendar Museum is all about time. It’s one of the coolest museums I’ve been to anywhere in Mexico. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the country and seeing things what the Aztec’s used to keep time, then you should definitely check out the museum.
Hours: 10am-6pm daily, Closed Mondays
Cost: 30 Pesos (roughly $1.50 USD)
Museo de La Ciudad
This museum and the building that it is housed in, are packed with history. It’s the location where Maximillian I accepted his role as the “ruler” of Mexico. Later he was imprisoned here as well.
Hours: 11am-7pm daily, closed Mondays
Museo de Arte de Queretaro
I really enjoyed the art in this small museum, but if that’s not your thing, the architecture is worth the entrance fee as well. It’s inside an old convent and the different rooms have a ton of fantastic artwork to see.
Hours: 10am-6pm daily, closed Mondays
Cost: 30 Pesos (roughly $1.50 USD)
Museo Casa de la Zacatecana
This is a really cool museum that’s housed inside an old mansion. It reminded me of some of the museums I saw in Merida, but this is a slightly different time period.
The mansion is from the 17th century and the decor inside is from a similar time period. The previous owner loved to collect everything from porcelain to furniture and clothing and it has all been donated to the museum for people to enjoy.
Hours: 10am-6pm daily
Cost: 60 Pesos (roughly $3 USD).
2. Take a Wine (And Cheese!) Tour
I was surprised to learn that this region of Mexico is home to a few great wineries and cheese producers. There’s actually a wine and cheese festival in a nearby town in the state of Querétaro every year.
If you can’t make it for the festival, there are still a few ways that you can explore the wineries.
The easiest option is to book directly with the vineyard, Finca Sala. They run tours daily that depart from Queretaro at 9am and return around 6pm. You can book at their stand right in the center of town.
You can also take a tour with Get Your Guide. It’s a company that I love using around Mexico because they put you with local tour guides who almost always are from that region of the country and therefore have a ton of knowledge to impart.
This tour is strictly about the cheese-making in this region. You’ll head to a nearby ranch and learn all about, and of course taste, all of the Mexican cheeses they make there.
This full-day cheese and wine tour is where it’s at. The tour is 9 hours long and takes you along the cheese and wine route, the famous route in the state of Queretaro where all of the regions cheese and wine is made. It includes wine and cheese sampling and touring, a bilingual guide, and all transportation so you can sup without worrying about driving!
3. Explore the Churches
There are dozens of churches around Queretaro worth checking out. I really love the little ones that are tucked away on the side streets. In my experience, these little unassuming spots are where you find some of the most ornate interiors. Here are a few I don’t think you should miss.
- Templo de San Agustin: This is located right in the city center and has one of the most beautiful facades that I’ve seen on a church. The stone at the front just has so many beautiful intricate carvings, I stared at it for ages finding different things. The interior is also beautiful and worth wandering into.
- Templo de Santa Clara: This has by far the most ornate interior on the list. The altars are all made of gold while from the outside you would never know. Definitely don’t pass by this church without checking out the guilded interior.
- Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo: This is one of the city’s largest churches with both a stunning exterior and interior. Neither are the most ornate I’ve ever seen, but I love the classic style and carvings on the facade as well as the frescos that have been painted on the interior. Don’t forget to look up once you’re inside.
- Templo y Exconvento de la Cruz: The plaza outside of this church is teeming with vendors and late night taco stands on the weekends, but midweek, this is one of the most tranquil places in the city. The square is large, has several shaded benches, and is a popular spot for older locals to meet up for a chat. The interior of the church is stunning and the grounds of the ex-convent are definitely worth a wander.
4. See the Ancient Pyramid of El Cerrito
I had no idea that there was an ancient ruins site here in Querétaro. It was one of my favorite sites to see. It’s totally free as well, making it one of the best value things to do in Querétaro. It’s not located in the city center, but it’s a very short and cheap Uber ride away. It should cost no more than 150 pesos (roughly $7.50 USD) and takes about 20 minutes.
There is a small museum inside the grounds once you sign in where you can see photos of what the site looked like before it was excavated as well as learn a little bit more about the history of who lived in this ancient city (a lot of different people!).
As you walk along the clearly defined path, you’ll find different parts of buildings that no longer exist. Everything is clearly labeled in both Spanish and English and the signs explain what used to be there and what it was used for.
The main pyramid is roughly 30 meters tall or just shy of 100 feet. It’s very wide at the base and as you look from bottom to top, you’ll notice that there are different layers of completely different architecture.
Every culture that called this city home built something on top of the pyramid. The very top is home to a crumbling Spanish hacienda.
You cannot climb up the steps or walk on the pyramid, but you can get close enough to enjoy it’s beauty and take in the different levels that all tell a story about the history of Querétaro.
Hours: 9am-2:30pm Tuesday to Friday, 9am-4:30pm Saturday & Sunday, closed Mondays
5. Learn About Mexico’s History at Cerro de las Campanas
Cerro de Las Campanas is one of the most historically important places in Queretaro and a must for things to do in Queretaro if you love history.
This park is where Maximilian I, emperor of Mexico, surrended and was eventually executed. The chapel on the hill that you see when you enter the park was built by the Austrian government in commemoration of Maximilian’s life.
As you walk around the back of the park, you come to what is the largest statue of Benito Juarez that I’ve ever seen! Juarez was said to have still been president while Maximilian I reigned over Mexico, and as soon as the emperor was executed, he resumed his post in the country’s capital. He made a lot of positive change in the country in the following years and he is commorated all over the country with monuments, statues, parks, and even airports and schools named after him.
Hours: 9am-5pm daily, closed Mondays
Cost: 5 Pesos entrance (about 25 cents) and 15 pesos to go inside the museum (roughly 75 cents).
6. Wander Mercado La Cruz
If you’ve never been to a Mexican market before, this is a good example of one.
If you have been to a Mexican market before, come here for the guisado tacos. Guisado tacos are a typical Mexican breakfast/lunch option. Look for the stands that have lots of clay pots with different stews inside and pull up a stool. The tacos are all less than 15 pesos each and they are incredibly delicious.
Hours: 7am-6pm daily
7. Hike up Peña de Bernal
Neighboring Bernal is a small town and pueblo magico in the state of Querétaro. It also happens to be home to one of the largest monoliths in the world. A monolith is basically a huge rock formation. You can read more about it on that post I linked to in the previous sentence.
Peña de Bernal is 433 meters tall (1,420 feet), but you cannot hike all the way to the top. If you want to reach the top, you’ll need climbing gear, a guide, and some experience climbing.
The town of Bernal is a cute little place that you can either drive to from Queretaro or you can take the bus to. You can see how I got there taking the bus in my Peña de Bernal YouTube video here.
To get there, take an Uber to the main bus terminal. From there head to terminal B (there is A, B and C). Inside head to the Flecha Amarilla counter and ask for a ticket to Bernal. It costs roughly 50 pesos ($2.50 USD) each way, but only buy a one-way ticket since there are other bus company options for the way back.
Hop onto the next bus, which tends to be every 20-30 minutes. It takes about an hour to get there and they will shout Bernal when the bus gets to the town.
From there follow the signs and the crowds to the base of Bernal. They have recently started charging people to climb, but it’s only 35 pesos (about $1.75 USD). You do not have to pay if you are under 12 or over 60.
The hike is well marked and very busy on weekends, so try to come on a weekday if you can. It takes about 45 minutes to go up and roughly the same to come back down. It’s slow on the way back down simply because it can be a little bit slippery. Be sure to wear sturdy sneakers and clothing you don’t mind getting dirty (you may need to slide down some rocks near the top).
8. Visit Teatro de La Republica
Teatro de la Republica is a beautiful old theater that has a lot of history. This building is where Maximilian I was sentenced to execution. It’s where the Mexican constitution was first signed and where the Mexican national anthem was first sung. It’s also still a fully functioning theater, so you can wander around by day or enjoy a show here at night.
Hours: 9am-5pm daily
9. Enjoy the Murals Inside the Palacio de Gobierno
Every state capital in the country has a Palacio de Gobierno and almost every Palacio de Gobierno has unique murals inside that you can check out for free. Queretaro is one of those lucky cities to enjoy a collection of murals painted by Mexican muralists.
Like many murals of this kind around the country, they focus on political history. These in particular focus on what Querétaro is known for, the history of independence and overthrowing of colonialist rule as well as the men who played large roles in the country gaining its independence.
Hours: 8am-6pm weekdays
10. Take in the Views of Querétaro’s Aqueduct
If you take an Uber into or out of Querétaro, you can’t miss the enormous aqueduct that runs along the south side of the city. It stands out along the skyline and I find it completely fascinating.
For the best view, head to the mirador or lookout that’s located just behind the Templo de la Santa Cruz. From there you can see how tall it is against the surrounding buildings and see a very long stretch of it as it runs down one of the city’s main roads.
11. Wander Alameda Hidalgo
This little park on the south side of town was one of my favorite little local spots. There are people jogging, couples canoodling, and vendors selling agua frescas. It’s a nice place to head if you want some shade, somewhere to sit for a bit, or just a quiet place to people watch.
Hotels in Querétaro
If it’s your first trip to Querétaro, I highly recommend staying in the Centro Historico. This region of the city is very walkable. It’s where you’ll find most of the parks and museums.
If you want to enjoy a bit of luxury during your stay, these are some of the best hotels in Querétaro.
- Doña Urraca Hotel & Spa: This is a great place to stay if you want a little bit of romance or fun girl’s time on your trip to Querétaro. The onsite restaurant has a fully-stocked wine cellar, the spa offerings can be done in-room or in the spa. It’s well-located in the downtown area near all of the best restaurants and the suites themselves are large, stylish and comfortable. Rooms start at $160 per night depending on the season. Book a stay at Doña Urraca Hotel & Spa here.
- Casona de La Republica Boutique Hotel: If you want to relax in a cute and design-conscious boutique hotel, book a stay at Casona de La Republica. The rooftop terrace and open hacienda-style garden are worth it alone, but the rooms are pretty spectacular as well. Some rooms have large spa-tubs while others have private saunas. There’s a small outdoor pool for the warmer months and plenty of outdoor seating for just relaxing after a day of touring Querétaro. It also includes parking for those that are traveling by car. Rooms start at $120 USD. Book a stay at Casona de La Republica Boutique Hotel here.
There are truly endless midrange hotels to choose from in Querétaro, but some are definitely better than others. It can be hard to narrow it down, especially when all you have to go off of are photos, so I’ve asked locals and friends who live in the area what their favorite affordable hotel options are in Querétaro and this is what they’ve said.
- Hotel Mama Carlota: This is a cute and very affordable boutique hotel just on the edge of the city center. You can still easily walk everywhere, but you get a luxury style hotel room for half the price. Your stay includes a continental breakfast in the communal dining room. The rooms are simply decorated, but (in my opinion), stylish and comfortable. Rooms start at $65 per night. Book a stay at Hotel Mama Carlote here.
- Hotel Quinta Santiago: This hotel doesn’t perhaps have the style of the others on the list, but it’s one of the cheapest budget options that still offers a nice, clean room with a big open hacienda-style patio area. Breakfast is included, it’s centrally located, and rooms start as low as $55 per night. Book a stay at Hotel Quinta Santiago here.
- Morazul Boutique Hotel: It amazes me that a hotel this beautiful and centrally located could be so affordable. That’s a credit to the overall affordability of Querétaro, but this is a true gem. There are only a few rooms though, so you have to book well in advance, especially if you want to come on a weekend. The rooms are all minimally furnished, but the style and cleanliness give each room a classy and bright feel. Rooms start as low as $60 per night. Book a stay at Morazul Boutique Hotel here.
If you are on a really tight budget, there are a few hostel options for solo travelers and cheap hotel options that aren’t absolute dives. If you’re traveling as a pair on a budget, I highly recommend checking out Airbnb where you can usually find better deals for two people than hostels.
- La Casa Azul: This is the nicest hostel in town and you can choose from several different rooms or bunk options. They have a six-bunk room, double rooms with large beds, single rooms, and double rooms with bunk beds. Beds start at $20 per night. Book a stay at La Casa Azul here.
- El Petate Hostel: This is a smaller, centrally located hostel with large bunk rooms and very clean beds. It’s simple, but affordable for single travelers and great if you want to meet others who are traveling. Beds start at $25 per night. Book a stay at El Petate Hostel here.
Airbnb in Querétaro
I usually prefer Airbnbs simply because they are usually better value-for-money in Mexico and because I like the privacy you get from an Airbnb. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can sign up with this link and get up to $35 off your first booking.
I stayed at this gorgeous terrace apartment on Airbnb in Querétaro and I really loved it. There is always someone on site if there is a problem (which there wasn’t other than what do we do with the keys when we check out?). They have different rooms available in the complex, but I loved the terrace room.
We would sit up there each night watching the sunset or having a beer. It was a nice place to sit in the mornings with a cup of coffee. There are two bedrooms and a well-stocked kitchen if you want to self-cater.
It’s super well-located within walking distance of the center but just far enough out that you don’t get any of the city-center noise. There is street parking available and it’s also a shorter distance to the bus station.
We paid $60 per night because it was a holiday weekend, but you can sometimes get it for as little as $30 per night. Book a stay at that Airbnb here.
The Best Restaurants in Querétaro
There are so many great restaurants in Querétaro that are worth your time. If you’re only in the city for a few days, be sure to check out these gems.
Mercado de La Cruz
Like I mentioned above, this is such a great place to have cheap eats. While I really enjoyed the Guisados from a few of the different stalls, there are tons of options for tacos, tortas, gorditas, and even soups. On Sundays, they also have barbacoa, a dish made of delicious stewed lamb meat with tons of flavor.
This was my absolute favorite restaurant for breakfast in Querétaro. We tried to go a second time but it’s so popular on weekends that the wait would have been too long. However, the breakfast options are plentiful – chilaquiles, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, the list goes on. If you enjoy traditional Mexican breakfast foods, you’ll love Bisquets.
Hours: 7am-11pm daily
Maria y Su Bici
This is a very popular restaurant in Querétaro. It actually specializes in Oaxacan food, which is fantastic if you aren’t going to be able to make it to Oaxaca for a while.
It’s slightly more expensive than some of the other places around town, but you can still enjoy a seriously good meal with a starter, a main, and a drink or two for less than $25 per person. I highly recommend the sampler of the three moles. They are rich, flavorful and absolutely delicious.
Hours: 10am-midnight daily
This is a popular torta place that I really wanted to try, but didn’t get a chance to check out (I was there over a Mexican holiday so lots of places were closed).
They say these are the traditional tortas of Queretaro, but they have tons of different fillings. If you don’t already know, tortas are a Mexican sandwich, usually filled with hot meats (although you can also find them cold). They’re made with a white bread roll that’s usually toasted on the flat top alongside all of the other fillings that are being cooked up for your sandwich.
Head to Las Tortugas and then come back and let me know how it was!
Willy’s is located right on one of the main squares in the city and has a huge menu of sandwiches to choose from. I really enjoyed the chorizo and chicken while Luke had an equally delicious BLT.
I could easily go through the whole menu, except for the salchicha because I’m not a big hot dog fan (sorry), and be very happy.
Hours: 8am-10pm daily
This is a Queretaro institution and constitantly ranks as one of the best restaurants in Queretaro. It’s worth going to if for no other reason than the interior and the old-school uniforms. The food is pretty good and reasonably priced, too.
It’s particularly well known for it’s sweet breads, desserts, and breakfast options. Try to come for an early lunch or a late breakfast to avoid the crowds.
Hours: 8am-8pm daily
El Sazón de Mi Vieja
We came here on our first day for what turned out to be one of the best meals I had in Querétaro. They only have a set menu and you can choose from two or three soup options, four or five main dishes, and two dessert options. There is usually only one juice of the day (agua del dia). It’s a set price of 60 Pesos per person (about $3) and we left so full.
The great thing about this place is that you get to choose from freshly made, local-style dishes. I tried the enchiladas queretanas which are made with tortillas stuffed with chicken and topped with a sauce that is made with a few different dried chilis. It’s all topped with plenty of cream and cheese to cool it all down.
Luke had a chili relleno, a poblano pepper stuffed with minced pork meat and vegetables and all topped with a delicious sauce. We got freshly made tortillas on the side and if we finished our jug of juice, they filled it up again free of charge. It’s not just good value, it’s seriously good food.
Hours: Daily 11am-6pm
Long time readers know that I couldn’t make a list of places to visit in a city without including some craft beer! I have been drinking Hercules beer since I first discovered it here in Mexico City. When I learned that the brewery, which is from Queretaro, had a brewery bar right on the premises, I knew I couldn’t miss it.
It gets really busy on the weekends, but it has a better atmosphere then, too, so choose what you’d prefer. We waited about 20 minutes for a table, but while you wait you can get a beer from the cafe and sit outside under the stars.
Once seated you can choose from their huge range of draft beers, all of which are made on-site. They have pizzas made in brick pizza ovens. The whole kitchen is open, so you can see exactly what’s happening behind the scenes. They also have a few other food options, but I highly recommend at least trying the pizzas while you’re there.
It’s a bit outside of the city, but worth the trip if you love good beer and want to support a small local brewery. Ubers out to the brewery should cost about 100 Pesos from the city center and take about 15-20 minutes.
Hours: 2pm-midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 2pm-1am Fridays, 10am-1am Saturdays, 10am-7pm Sundays, closed Mondays
Brewer Gastro Pub
I initially wanted to come here because I heard that they brewed their own beers, and well, see above about how much I love a good local craft beer. They do indeed have their own beers here, but not that many. It’s more of an international beer spot than anything else, but I still enjoyed trying their house-made beers both on draft and in the bottle (the honey beer is seriously good!).
In addition to having a huge selection of beers and unlimited popcorn, they also have a pretty delicious food menu. They make a lot of their own cured meats, sausages, and burgers, which I think is awesome. The price point is slightly higher but still very reasonable. A meal without a craft beer costs roughly $10-15 USD per person.
Hours: 1pm-11pm Wednesday & Thursday, 1pm-midnight Thursday & Friday, 1pm-7pm Sunday, closed Monday & Tuesday
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