Many people say that San Miguel is a bit like a Mexican Disneyland for foreign (mainly American) retirees and visiting chilangos (those from Mexico City). While there is a certain contrived fairy tale feel to the place – and not a colonial brick out of place in its historic center – it is, nevertheless, a beautiful city, with colonial architecture, enchant cobblestone streets and striking light – making it a great place to take photographs.
The town’s cosmopolitan panache is reflected in its excellent restaurants and high class accommodations – sadly not mine – more on this later. Numerous galleries are stocked with quality Mexican artesanías (handicrafts) and cultural activities are a plenty for residents and visitors alike. There are few major sights in the compact centro histórico: San Miguel is the sight. The city – with El Jardín, the principal plaza, and the Parroquia, the large church, at its heart – was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2008.
Economically speaking, this is no budget destination, which is why I ended up staying at a very basic £20 a night gaff close to the historic centre. The next cheapest I could find (admittedly it was weekend) was £200 a night! While the foreign influence is pervasive (more than 12,000 foreigners are believed to live or have houses here), on the whole, the population coexists comfortably.
Beneath the smart B&Bs and fancy shops, another Mexico emerges. You only have to laze in the main plaza, visit the food market or interact with the local people to sense a different ambience, color and vibe. Starbucks has already landed here.
The climate is agreeable: cool and clear in winter and warm in summer, I could quite easily make this place my home.
Primera Plus Bus: 1.5 hours north of Querétaro. Cost £5.00 (First Class).