Querétaro and San Luis Potosí are not cities to visit, they’re cities to live in. Being the size of a small metroplex with large highways and access to enough convenience that one would think they’re in The United States, these two cities are not huge touristic destinations and the vastness could explain why. However, one could easily spend a weekend and be perfectly content with the history, the architecture, and Mexico’s most beautiful streets.
With that said, I’m not even going to pretend to know too much about these cities. Instead, I’ll show you.
Santiago de Querétaro is an easy $18 luxury bus ride from Mexico City and has been repeatedly recognized as one of the safest cities in Mexico with the best quality of life.
While Querétaro is famous for its pink aqueducts, I was so enraptured by the most picturesque downtown I’d ever seen, that I didn’t even bother to visit. It’s the city I wish I could relive again just to get lost taking in the sites. One can simply walk down the street and find ice cream, vintage shops, hip cafes, and art stores.
Querétaro once used to be the capital of Mexico, being only 2.5 hours from Mexico City, and was the city in which Emperor Maximillian of Austria was executed. But before the conquest, Queretaro was known as a tribunal city to the Aztecs and the Otomi as the place where the grand ball game takes place, a religious and political practice.
Where To Stay In Queretaro
One would need a car to access this adorable 2-bedroom, 2-story, balcony included, $30 AirBnB with a California King Bed and private bath. But it’s well worth the effort just for the accommodating host and price alone!
I must warn you that the entire city doesn’t look this beautiful. Just the downtown area. But downtown is really that colorful.
San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí is a long, 6-hour $30 bus ride from Mexico City and is located in the northern part of Mexico. The city was established as a silver mining city and is named after Louis IX of France and Potosí, Bolivia, the richest silver mining city in the Americas at the time. At one point, it was also the capital of Mexico.
My impression of the city was that it was so spread out and the cathedrals so huge, one after another, that I was sort of over it before it began. After awhile every cathedral looked like the next, albeit beautiful.
My favorite part of San Luis Potosí was visiting the Museo Nacional de la Mascara or the National Mask Museum. Masks have been a huge part of Mexican culture from Pre-Hispanic times to present. The museum reveals a deeper anthropological look at religious, political, and cultural influences Mexico has seen throughout time. From African, Arab, Indigenous, and Spanish rituals all combined into one culture, Mexico’s heritage are presented in the masks.
The building itself is beautiful and was once owned by a wealthy man in the city, but has since been converted. Entry is 10 pesos or 60 cents for students and professors.
The city of San Luis Potosí also struck me as a deeply religious city. It was not uncommon to walk into a store and see it floor to ceiling decked out in religous paraphenilia, in addition to the decorative religious street art.
However, I can confidently say not to visit the Contemporary Museum of Art. It’s more like a gallery space and a bit underwhelming considering all of the amazing things to see outdoors. But that’s just a personal preference.
Regarding other things to do in the city, I’ll leave that to this post by Always A Gringa, who is an expat currently living in San Luis Potosí and who hosted me during my time there. She and her husband moved with the automotive industry from Detroit, Michigan. Now she blogs from an ex-pat perspective on what it’s like to fall in love with Mexico
Budget $50/day for accommodations and dining as a solo traveler, half that if splitting costs.