Santiago de Querétaro is a city north of Mexico City that can be explored in just a few days. While the city sprawls over 360km², you can spend most of your time in the historic center.
With the temperatures in this mountain city hovering in the 70s year-round, simply walking around and admiring this UNESCO World Heritage site is a nice way to spend your day. If you’re looking for something a little more, we spent two weeks traversing around and put together our top ten list of things to do in Centro Histórico, Querétaro.
See Some Art
The historic center of the city offer a number of museums and the best thing is… they’re free! Sitting beside the Templo de la Santa Cruz is the Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibits seem to change fairly often based on our experiences vs pictures from reviews, and you can just walk right in. A visit can take 30-60 minutes and offer you some relevant societal critiques. Signage is almost all in Spanish.
A block away from Plaza Constitution is the Museum of Art which you can see more classic paintings and portraits. The building itself is probably the coolest sight but the rest of the exhibit is worth a visit.
Nearby is the Museo del Calendario, a museum dedicated to the history of calendars. Starting with an explanation of how humans used to track dates with the help of the moon, sun, and other stars, it then moves through different societies throughout history and their calendars. Most of the museum is dedicated to wall calendar art, some of it really cool. This one isn’t free, but at 50 peso per person, well worth it.
Note: all of the signage is in Spanish. We use the Lens feature on the Google app to instantly translate photos.
Find The Most Adorable Street Walking Signs
Around the busier sections of the historic center, you’ll find walking signs with a bit of a twist. They pay homage to local Otami culture with the picture of a walking Lele doll. The first time you see one, you’ll want to snap a picture or record a quick video of these cute signs.
Munch On A Gordita
After strolling around the neighborhood, you’ll want to find something to munch on. Keep an eye out for large comals where someone is making gorditas. These corn-based sandwich pockets are usually filled with a saucey version of chicharrón, nopales, and some melted cheese.
You can find them as early as breakfast to start the day with all of the carbs you’ll need, or a greasy one to sober up on after a few cervezas at night.
Marvel At The Aqueducts
Located on the east side of the center, you’ll find 74 arches that make up the towering Roman-style aqueducts. Los Arcos were built in the early 1700s and used to transport water to the people in the city. Today, two main streets drive right through them. You can catch a great view from a mirador point located right behind the Templo de la Santa Cruz.
People Watch At The Monument Of The Corregidora
Around the many plazas you’ll find in Centro Histórico, one of them contains the Monumento a la Corregidora, a statue that honors Corregidora Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez as she carries the torch of freedom in her hand, symbolic of Mexican independence.
Around the jardin, you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants with great deals despite being in such a centrally located place. Try Fonda Del Refugio for a paqute de desayuno in the morning and stop by Comal Antojitos Mexicanos for a gordita platter in the evening.
Spend A Day In Parque 2000
Okay, so this is actually about half an hour walking north of Centro, but the park is huge. If you go on a weekend, expect to find tons of families playing around at the various playgrounds or sports fields. It is well kept and you can find a court/field for just about any sport. If that isn’t what you’re looking for, climb to the top of the hill and take a lap around the lake.
Two notes: the park offers little shade on a sunny day and dogs aren’t allowed.
Find Some Souvenirs
As you saw on the street signs above, the local Lele dolls are important here and they can be found everywhere. They make an easy-to-transport gift for the little ones back home. You can also find several artisan markets around the city center offering gifts that are a little different than your standard touristy shops.
Learn About The Start Of Mexican Independence
While exploring Plaza de Armas, you’ll pass by the Casa de La Corregidora. While this is currently the seat of the state government and used by public officials today, this was once the home to Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez and her husband, José Miguel Domínguez. La Corregidora and Corregidor as they were known, respectively, played key parts in the beginning of the fight for independence from Spain. After being betrayed by Spanish supporters, Miguel Domínguez locked his wife in her room to prevent her from revealing her allegience to the conspirators. She still managed to get a message out to the revolutionaries that prompted the Grito de Dolores, a call to arms that began the Mexican War for Independence.
A few blocks away, you can pass by the Teatro de la República, where the trial of Austrian-Mexican Emporer Maximilian I occurred and he was sentenced to death. It’s also where the 1917 Mexican Constitution was enacted.
Eat With Locals At Mercado “La Cruz”
By now, you know my love of markets. They are a densely packed symphony of sensory overload. You get smells, colors, textures, sights, tastes, everything! In Querétaro, stroll over to Mercado Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, better known as “La Cruz.” We came to pick up produce, tortillas, and eggs for ridiculously low costs (I did the math vs my grocery store at home and the savings were close to 50%.)
If you’re hungry, stop by one of the countless small stands inside the market, or sit down at one of the restaurants along the perimeter. I liked the fried fish torta at Brisa del Mar.