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helen63 Aug 14th, 2014 08:44 PM

Looking for suggestions for 7-8 days in Mexico
We may have 7-8 days vacation days in the last week of November, and I was thinking of visiting Mexico. We have been to the beach destinations of Yucatan, but wanted to see a bit of inland Mexico this time.

After I have done some reading, I thought we could spend about 3 days in Mexico City and Teotihuacan, and the remaining days in Guanajuato (with a trip to San Miguel de Allende), and fly home from QRO.
On the other hand, with such a short amount of time, maybe it makes sense to spend all days around Guanajuato/San Miguel de Allende and QRO.
What do you suggest?

We are interested in history and local culture We also like walking around old and historic towns, visiting markets and enjoy local food.

Thank you for your help in advance!

baldone Aug 15th, 2014 08:20 AM

All of the above might be a bit much for 7-8 days. Mexico City by itself could be worth 7-8 days. I think GTO/SMA/QRO probably would be less hectic and more walkable, with local foods and markets somewhat more accessible. San Miguel has a Tuesday market very popular with the locals. All 3 cities are very colonial, and each unique with their own histories. Another stop could be in Leon, with a visit to the leather district. You could do the Zona de Piel in an afternoon while in Guanjuato. Fly into BJX and leave from QRO. November can be cool here, so bring a light jacket. Or buy a leather one in Leon. If you like this part of Mexico, do Mexico city another time and combine that with Puebla and/or Oaxaca.

suze Aug 15th, 2014 09:32 AM

<makes sense to spend all days around Guanajuato/San Miguel de Allende>

Yes!! With only a week I would skip Mexico City this trip. that said, I'm extremely interested in seeing Guanjuato sometime so my answer definitely reflects personal preference.

helen63 Aug 15th, 2014 09:13 PM

Baldone, Suze, Thank you for your suggestions!

I think we will follow your advice to just limit this visit to GTO/SMA/QRO. With Mexico city, for me a real draw was to see Teotihuacan (wanted to see it for a while).

How do you suggest to split our days between these cities

We will probably fly in on Saturday, and fly out the following Sunday.

There are some hot springs around SMA? Are they nice and worth visiting? I normally love hot springs, if they are clean and not too crowded.

Is Bernal worth visiting from QRO?

Thank you, again!

emd3 Aug 16th, 2014 04:46 AM

For a hot spring close to SMA, take a taxi to La Gruta. You can google it and see. Some good youtube videos of it out there also.

baldone Aug 16th, 2014 01:57 PM

I would probably figure 2 1/2 days in each, being that each city is within an hour of the other. That allows you, for example, to spend the morning & early afternoon in GTO before leaving for SMA since your check in time will probably be 3 PM. Same for your move from SMA to QRO. Although if you were to arrive early, most hotels will happily store your luggage.
Bernal is worth a visit, mostly on the weekends. It is a quaint little town, and the Pena provides a scenic backdrop.
In addition to La Gruta hot springs, there are also Xote and Escondido Place, with the former more family oriented with water slides and such. While in QRO, hire a taxi at night to take you around the aqueduct. It's quite impressive all lit up. FYI, if you do decide to go leather shopping in Leon, the bus terminal is right in the center of the leather district. If you do go to the Tueday market (tianguis) in San Miguel, bear in mind that it's mostly where locals go to buy used clothes, veggies, tools, TV remotes, and cheap plastics. But lots of food stalls, and a few pickpockets.

Christina Aug 16th, 2014 03:01 PM

I just did that same trip, actually, but I had about 10 days. I did split them between Guanajuato and Mexico City, which was perfect for me. And I also visited Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende on a day trip from Guanajuato. I really enjoyed that, it was a small group van tour. I think there were about 6-8 of us. I was the only person who wasn't Mexican, actually, and it was not bilingual (which surprised me, as it was one of those officially licensed ones, the main ones in town). I understand enough Spanish that it was fine (I understood the guide enough, and understood enough to figure out what we were doing, when to be back to meet up, etc), I just wanted to get to these places and it was very convenient. I'm glad I did that as I was thinking of going to San Miguel de A on my own by bus but I really liked Dolores Hidalgo and would have missed it.

With 8 days, I would still spend a couple in Mexico City myself. You probably would get better flights home frm there, also, perhaps.

I didn't spend any time n Queretaro, though, so I think not going to the Df would be fine, also, depends what you most want to see.

emd3 Aug 16th, 2014 05:32 PM

In have done a weekly rental in San Miguel ( two yrs ago) and have also visited Guanajuato and Queretaro for several days each on the same trip.

I would not base myself in SMA. I would base myself in Guanajuato. it offers more music, arts, culture on a consistent basis. SMA is an artists town, expats who paint settle there. But honestly, it is not all that active, it is a sleep place. And I totally agree about the comment on the Tuesday market there! it's full of blender parts (why do people need so many blender parts, I have no idea), old tires, household goods, things locals need. Only a few stalls with ceramics. Not a great market to visit. It's a ways outside the main area of town in a dusty area off a hwy.

Queretaro is nice for a day trip or maybe one overnight. But not nearly as charming overall and as much culture and arts Nd music as G uanajuato with the university there.

Stopping at Dolores Hidalgo on a day trip to SMA is great, esp. If you like good quality colorful Mexican ceramics

Guanajuato is absolutely charming and lovely and so much good food and culture all around, marvelous colors, hilly cobblestone streets....

emd3 Aug 16th, 2014 05:34 PM

Where are you flying in and out of, is that set?

helen63 Aug 16th, 2014 10:38 PM

Baldone,Emd, Christina,Mark,

Thank you so much for your responses again!

Emd, I do not have plane tickets yet. I am still trying to decide to include Mexico city or not. I was almost convinced to skip Mexico city this time, but Christina made me think again.

Christina is correct. We will be flying from Chicago, and we have a direct flight into Mexico city, and we will loose more time in transit flying directly into BJX (and airfare to BJX is higher);

On the other hand, it seems too hectic with a long bus ride from Mexico City to GTO.

Is El Norte bus station in Mexico City safe and easy to navigate? Are there private transfers that are faster than a bus ride?

As for basing ourselves in SMA for a couple of nights. I normally like towns atmosphere at night - lights, restaurants, music, and that's why day trips normally do not make it for me. Very often, places look much more charming at night than during a day. Not sure if this is the case with SMA. With that I wanted to split between GTO/SMA.

baldone Aug 17th, 2014 11:14 AM

Too bad you don't have even a couple more days. I think too many people try to do too much in too short of a time, and then a vacation turns out to be more like work. But some of that depends on your age. It's hard to pass on DF, since that's where you'll fly in to, it seems. Norte is safe and finding your terminal is easy. But your taxi ride will eat some time, and taxis directly from the airport are expensive. Private transport could be arranged, but then that negates your cost savings of flying into MEX. Did you know that you can take the Primera Plus bus directly from MEX to QRO?
I would also respectfully disagree with emd's take on the entertainment in SMA. True, it is not a university town, but there's plenty of music and arts, and there are far better (and more) restaurants in SMA than in GTO. Many of the restaurants have free live music 1 or more nights a week. SMA is quite charming at night and very safe, as is GTO. As is QRO. Here's a couple of guides for music and arts in SMA:
So, if your set on some time in DF, here's a doable intinerary:
2 nights in QRO taking the bus directly from the airport.
2 nights SMA, it's only 45 minutes from QRO.
2 nights GTO.
Bus back to DF for the remaining 3 nights, departing from DF.
One advantage of staying in places like SMA, QRO, & GTO is that pretty much everything you'll want to see is a short walk from your hotel, whereas in DF you'll need taxis and/or the metro.
One last thing, what airline are you using? Have you checked Volaris' fares out of O'Hare? They also fly out of BJX to Midway.

helen63 Aug 17th, 2014 07:31 PM

Baldone, I just want to say I really appreciate you taking time and giving me all this information!

I wish we had two more days! We are both working full time for large corporations, and our vacation time is very limited. Every time, we plan a trip, we go thru the same pain - select what NOT to see ...
I did more reading today, and looked at photographs, and really want to take it easy this time (which means skipping DF). I would like to fly to BJX (not MEX), and fly out of QRO per your original suggestions.
There are many flights, but the shortest ones are expensive.

After reading your post, I checked Volaris. They do not seem flying to BJX from ORD. They fly from Midway, but only on certain days.

Yes, I did see this bus from MEX to QRO - it takes about 3 hours.

I'll search for tickets... Thank you again for your help!

helen63 Aug 29th, 2014 05:52 PM

I just purchased air tickets - arriving BJX around 11:30 on 11/22 am and leaving from QRO on Sunday 11/30.

Should we just take a taxi from BJX to our hotel in GTO, or it is preferable to order a private transfer in advance?

I would also really appreciate hotel recommendations in GTO, SMA, and QRO (something nice and close to old town centers) In SMA - we need a hotel with very reliable Internet connection, because my husband has to work remotely on one of the days.

Also, would it be possible to use taxi (vs. bus) to move between towns from GTO to SMA to QRO. My husband is still recovering from his surgery, and I am trying to make it easy on him.

kja Aug 29th, 2014 10:45 PM

I have no idea what those acronyms mean. I'm not going to look them up.

Christina Aug 30th, 2014 05:30 AM

I think they are mostly obvious, except BJX is the airport for Leon/Guanajuato. Why on earth did you even bother to write that, kja, if you didn't intend to do anything and couldn't figure out that SMA means San Miguel de Allende, etc? Oh, to tell off the OP, of course, as usual on here.

You do not need to order a private transfer in advance at BJX, why would you think you needed to? There are plenty of taxis at airports and those drivers want the work. I'm not sure why you are thinking you might want to, so not sure what your concerns are. The taxi fare is fixed between BJX and Guanajuato. There is a desk in BJX (which isn't that big, obviously), where you pay and get assigned an official taxi. One tip, the price is cheaper if you pay in pesos than USD. I hadn't used the ATM yet and somehow wasn't dividing clearly in my head when she told me the prices, so I thought the price in USD was about the same or just a bit more, but I think it was about 10 pct more than if you paid in pesos. IN pesos, it's around US$35, and in USD, I think it was $40. Something like that. My hotel was near Jardin de la Union and the traffic was really bad in the center that day, so a fixed price was a good deal for me.

I'm sure you could move by taxi between those cities, but I don't know if it would be a reasonable cost or not. They are pretty far apart. Of course there are plenty of buses in Mexico and some are very nice (I took ETN from Guanajuato to DF and it was very nice), but it is more trouble to get to the bus station, of course.

helen63 Aug 30th, 2014 06:04 AM

Thank you Christina! No reason for a private transfer at all. We use taxi most of the time.

It is just in some places, we order an airport pick up in advance for various reasons (convenience, safety, price, etc...), so I wanted to check. Taxi is just fine... I appreciate your tips.

kja Aug 30th, 2014 04:06 PM

As someone who flew into one city and then traveled by ground transportation for 3 weeks before flying out of another city, I honestly don’t know the codes for Mexican airports. But if the OP visits any of the places I saw, I might have hotel recommendations. I regret that I posted without patience and I apologize for that. OTOH, the OP might get a wider range of helpful responses if she makes it just a tad easier for people to know what she is seeking. ;-)

yestravel Aug 31st, 2014 02:58 PM

Your trip sounds great. I love those towns, in Guanajuato several years ago we stayed at Alma del Sol and loved this small B&B. It was a very well situated B&B with a wonderful owner, SMdA has a ton of places to stay. I've liked all the places we have stayed over the years, but can't recall any of the names. We're going back this winter and are staying at a very small studio apt which looks nice. If you are interested I can provide the info on that.
Have a great trip!

Stewbear Sep 1st, 2014 09:46 AM

I just booked an apartment in Guanajuato for the months of January ^ February. This is my third visit. A week in 2012, a month in 2013 & now 2 months in 2015.
As you maybe can tell I like it.
Great culture, food, architecture surrounded by a number of other very interesting places Leon with it's leather Market, The Gringo City of San Miguel, Delores Hidalago & Queretaro name but a few.
Or Spend the entire time in Mexico City & it's many many delights including Teotihuacan

yestravel Sep 1st, 2014 09:50 AM

Another lovely town nearby you can visit is Mineral de Pozos which is interesting to explore & less touristed than the ones mentioned by Stewbear. You likely will not find many gringos there-or at least that was the case when we were last there.

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