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Welcome to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Every year, Travel + Leisure puts out a survey asking readers about their favorite places to travel. Respondents rank each city’s culture, cuisine, sights, friendliness, overall value, and shopping. This year, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, earned a whopping 92.12 out of 100, earning its spot as the best city in the world. (Looking for a domestic trip? Don’t miss these 21 nicest towns in America.)
A slice of history
San Miguel de Allende was built in 1542 and ended up becoming a melting pot of cultures between the Amerindians, Spaniards, and Creoles. Now, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. (Find out why women aren’t allowed at this other World Heritage site.)
The neo-Gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel is a main landmark of the city because it can be seen from almost anywhere in town. Rumor has it that architect Zeferino Gutierrez looked to a postcard of a Belgian church for inspiration. (Check out these 26 other real places around the world that look straight out of a fairy tale.)
Outside the church sits the town’s main square, El Jardín, which translates to “the garden.” It’s a fitting name for the square, which features artfully clipped laurel trees. (Starting your own indoor garden? Try these five naturally detoxifying plants.)
Beauty all around
Even outside the main stretch, San Miguel de Allende has stunning architecture, with colorful buildings and rooftop gardens whose plants dangle below.
Time to celebrate
During the annual festival of the Valle del Maiz, a parade goes to the historic center. Part of the parade includes chinelos, traditional costumed dancers of Mexico.
You could head to galleries in the famous Fabrica la Aurora—or just walk the stone streets. The art on building walls and ornate doorways are equally beautiful. (When traveling, make sure you don’t park in the city where your car is most likely to get stolen.)
Shop ’til you drop
In Mercado de Artesanias, vendors sell rugs, decorated animal skulls, masks, sugar skulls, and more—perfect for a Day of the Dead celebration, but a dangerous place for shopping addicts.
Day and night
If you thought San Miguel de Allende was beautiful during the day, just wait until you see it at night. As the sun goes down, the entire city—including the main church—glows.