San Miguel de Allende, one of the largest cities in the easternmost Mexican state of Guanajuato, has been named the “Best Small City” in the world. The coveted award is given by Condé Nast Traveler, a well-known travel magazine, and is considered the one that best represents the public’s travel preferences.
The Bajio region of Mexico, which includes San Miguel de Allende, is known for its strong ties to the Old World, particularly Iberian Europe.
After settling in the region, Europeans – especially the Spanish – left their own irreplaceable mark. In the heyday of the Spanish Empire, the Spaniards’ sole objective was to transform Mexico into an extension of Spain in the Americas. They brought with them Christianity, Baroque and Rococo architecture, impressive church facades and huge cathedrals, as well as city-building skills.
Of course, many of the cities that have survived into modern times have retained much of their Old World beauty. One of these is San Miguel de Allende, whose Centro Historico, or Old Town, is a well-preserved colonial district with historic buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. As you stroll through the narrow streets, you will discover:
- “The landmark Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, featuring a tall pink spire
- Parque Benito Juarez, a serene, Mediterranean-inspired green oasis
- Mercado de Artesanias, a covered market where regional crafts are sold
- Iglesia de San Francisco, a majestic colonial church with an elaborate exterior
- Fabrica La Aurora, an art gallery replete with antique items”
San Miguel de Allende is also one of Mexico’s culinary capitals, offering visitors an unexpected mix of local and international cuisine. The Restaurant and La Parada are some of our favorite places to eat near the main square. The city may not be as developed as a wellness destination as coastal giants Cabo or Cancun, but trust us when we say it will not disappoint.
In addition to being named Condé Nast Best Small City in the World five times, the city was also named the American Culture Capital by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals, a title recently awarded to the promising Aguascalientes. In addition, the publication cites the city’s ‘low crime rate’ as a key to its continued prosperity.
There are no ultra-luxury mega-resorts in the UNESCO -protected city center, but there is a wide range of elegant, exclusive boutique hotels to choose from, many of which are former colonial palaces. San Miguel is also surrounded by an abundance of thermal baths and spa centers, making it an ideal and tranquil place for a long weekend escape.