Querétaro is an emerging star of a travel destination in Mexico and has quickly joined our growing list of favorites places within the country. It’s such a pleasant colonial city to experience in the central highlands of Mexico. We found so many fun things to do in Queretaro to make it worth spending at least a few days in this gorgeous city.
More formerly known as “Santiago de Querétaro,” most people just call the city Queretaro, which is the same name as the State that this city is the capital of. This capital is a thriving city of nearly a million people. That makes it the 24th largest city in Mexico, by population. Yet Queretaro’s historic centro still manages to retain an alluring quaintness for a city of this size. This centro historico is perhaps best experienced while ambling the many squeaky-clean pedestrian streets that are instead littered with countless fountains, churches, museums, and monuments.
There are over a thousand monuments throughout the lively historic center. Most of those date back to the 1700’s when the city initially thrived, during a time when Spaniards lived peacefully here with the indigenous people. It’s this unique history and the subsequent architecture from that era, which has led Querétaro to be recognized as one of Mexico’s 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Simply walking around the historic streets to see the architecture and monuments is clearly one of the best things to do in Queretaro. Yet those picturesque streets are also sprinkled with great restaurants and patio bars. The latter are just too inviting, given the mountain temps regularly hover around 70°F (~21°C) during happy hour time.
Queretaro is located at altitude after all, so the city maintains an eternal spring-like climate throughout much of the year. You wouldn’t realize it from the mostly flat streets of Queretaro’s historic center, but the town is situated over a mile high (1,820 meters). The cool & dry mountain air comes as a most welcomed reprieve in this country that is otherwise very warm throughout the low-lying areas.
We loved the cooler summer climate that Queretaro’s surrounding mountains delivered. It’s those same mountains that also provide great hiking opportunities, including a trek up one of the biggest rocks in the world!
After working up an appetite, Queretaro has excellent restaurants to refuel! The cuisine in Queretaro is delicious, from Mexican favorites to international fare, and from fancy patio restaurants to equally tasty taco stands in the mercado. And what an awesome surprise to find that there’s even a wine region way out this way to wash down all of Queretaro’s fine cuisine with.
Queretaro is a very friendly city and is a university town too, so you’ll likely notice its youthful presence. The friendly vibe of the city is carried over to Queretaro’s safety. We found it to be very safe too and many people often cite Queretaro as one of the safest cities in Mexico.
As for crime in Queretaro, Numbeo (the largest numeric database of cities worldwide) gives Queretaro a “low” rating of 39, which is even lower than my hometown back in the US (52). For perspective, you can see crime stats of how your hometown compares to Queretaro: here. You may be surprised! We never felt any safety concerns, even when walking around the streets at night. Like many places in Mexico, the only danger may be not wanting to leave.
So now that we’re finished swooning over why this city is such a lovely place in Mexico to travel, we’re ready to divulge what we’ve found to be the best things to do in Queretaro!
Best Things To Do in Queretaro Mexico
There are so many events, activities, and tours to consider all throughout Queretaro. So where do you even begin? Points of interest range from ancient ruins to national parks, and perhaps even a few brews in between. So below are our suggestions for the 15 best things to do in Queretaro. This map can help you to locate each of the recommendations.
1) Roam Around the Monuments of Queretaro’s Historic Center
The Historic Monuments Zone of Queretaro is what garnered the city its Unesco-listed status. Per Unesco, “The old colonial town of Querétaro is unusual in having retained the geometric street plan of the Spanish conquerors side-by-side with the twisting alleys of the Indian quarters.” Complete Unesco description: here.
This unique architecture from the 1700’s still remains much intact and well-preserved today, making for a beautiful setting to simply stroll around and explore. Within the 204 city blocks, across 4 sq. kilometers, there are a total of 1,400 designated monuments. That’s a lot of monuments!
Many of the streets and alleyways throughout Queretaro’s historic center remain completely car-free. So you can be carefree to wander around the pedestrian streets without having a deal with traffic. While doing so, you’ll undoubtedly bump into many of the 1,400 monuments along the way.
Some of the more notable Queretaro monuments to look for are these:
- El Danzante Conchero – Dancing Conchero statue showing an important traditional dance
- Fuente de Neptuno – Fountain of Neptune, Roman God of the Sea (1797)
- Fuente de los Perritos – The puppy fountain dedicated to the benefactor of Queretaro
- Monumento de La Corregidora – Large statue of female Mexican independence hero doña Josefa Ortiz, holding a flame
Ambling around the historic centro is a “must” for things to do in Queretaro.
2) Tour the Queretaro Wine Region
There are actually some good wineries surrounding the city of Queretaro. This state boasts Mexico’s second biggest wine region (after Baja). Despite being outside the normal wine-producing parallels, the semi-desert highlands here are quite favorable for grape growing. The specialty in Queretaro is sparkling wine!
The most popular of Queretaro’s wineries is Finca Sala Vivé by Freixenet México. Freixenet is a well-known wine producer in Spain and was among the first to open facilities here in Central Mexico, back in the late 70’s. Now there are over 25 vineyards around Queretaro, all growing, squeezing, and fermenting locally grown grapes. There is even a dedicated wine and cheese route (ruta de vino y queso) in which you can spend a really delicious day touring around the vineyards and fincas (farms) surrounding the city of Queretaro.
Freixenet alone now produces 2 million bottles annually here! The majority of its sales are sparkling wines, which employs the same methods that are used in Champagne production. And we can vouch firsthand that this Mexican sparkling wine is quite tasty – salud!
We were really impressed not only with the quality, but the entire experience of exploring this wine route. Touring the cellars, production facilities, and vineyards is all such great fun in Mexico! At Finca Sala Vive, English-speaking tours were conducted.
3) Go Museum-Hopping All Around Queretaro
There are so many museums packed in the historic centro that it makes us wonder if Queretaro may have the highest density of museums in all of Mexico. I’m not certain whether or not that holds true, but we counted nearly 20 museums all within a few square kilometers of Queretaro’s historic center.
There are museums you would expect, such as art museums and history museums. And then there are peculiar museums you may not have anticipated, like the Vermin Museum or the Calendar Museum. The latter is actually much more interesting than it sounds!
While searching for things to do in Queretaro, you’d be hard-pressed not to stumble into a museum, many of which are free to enter. But which of Queretaro museums should you visit? Well, that depends on your interests.
These are what we found to be some of the best museums in Queretaro and recommend:
🏛️ Mucal Calendar Museum – It’s about time. No really, that’s the topic this museum is dedicated to, with exhibits ranging from intricate ancient Aztec time-keeping devices to vintage calendars spanning the past few decades. There’s a nice cafe in the courtyard too.
Cost: $30 pesos. Hours: 10-6. Closed Mondays. Official website: here.
🏛️ Museum of the City – The name of this museum is misleading. It’s not a museum about the city at all. Instead, the exhibits are composed of interesting, edgy, and humorous contemporary artwork spread throughout a baroque mansion.
Cost: Free. Hours: 11-7. Closed Mondays.
🏛️ Art Museum of Queretaro – Queretaro’s art museum is worth the modest entry fee simply to stroll around this very ornate former monastery. Art buffs will likely further appreciate the many paintings within the chambers.
Cost: $30 pesos. Hours: 10-6. Closed Mondays.
🏛️ Queretaro Regional Museum – Housed in another atmospheric monastery, this history museum contains many artifacts with significance to Queretaro’s past, spanning centuries from its indigenous roots to independence and on through the modern era.
Cost: $60 pesos. Hours: 9-6. Closed Mondays.
🏛️ Museo de la Casa Zacatecana – This mansion displays period furnishings showing what wealthy life was like in 19th-century Queretaro. The journey through this mansion reveals a tale of murder. Check out the mirador (lookout) too.
Cost: $60 pesos. Hours: 9-6. Closed Mondays. Official website: here.
4) Hike Up One of the World’s Largest Monoliths: Peña de Bernal
Venturing out to Bernal is one the best things to do in Queretaro for a day trip. It only takes about an hour to reach the small colonial town of Bernal, where a massive rock seemingly sprouts right up from the ground.
This behemoth of a rock, known as Peña de Bernal, is among the largest of its kind. The towering wonder comes just behind other famous monoliths like Australia’s Ayers Rock and the Rock of Gibraltar. Peña de Bernal is a spectacular sight to see shooting up above the scenic puebla. Yet to really experience Peña de Bernal, we strongly recommend anyone whose fit to hike up it!
You do need proper rock climbing gear to reach the very top. There are adventure outfitters who can assist with gear, but that needs to be arranged in advance. You can do that by booking a Bernal rock climbing tour from Queretaro like this one on Viator. Yet without climbing gear, you can still trek about 80% of the way toward the top of the monolith. You’re then rewarded with sweeping views of the town, surrounding mountains, and the countryside down below. Plan to spend up to two hours or so for the steep roundtrip hike up Peña de Bernal.
The gigantic rock certainly is an attention-grabber. But it’s the historic pueblo magico (magic town), which sits in the monolith’s shadow, that makes for a most charming base to set out from. This domestic tourism hotspot gets busy on the weekends. So a weekday visit will give you more space on the trails and a tranquil atmosphere. Meanwhile, the weekends are more festive, yet crowded.
Between hiking, eating Bernal’s local specialty (gorditas), exploring the town, and perhaps a post-hike michelada or two, you could easily spend a half to full day roaming around Bernal.
5) Go to Church
There are dozens of churches, convents, and other religious sites scattered all throughout Centro. So it’s only natural that visiting these ornate and historic cathedrals is on your list of things to do in Queretaro.
If you were to visit only one church in Queretaro, we suggest Templo de Santa Rosa de Viterbo. This 18th-century baroque church is perhaps the most visually interesting and elaborate of them all. It’s also where you can easily find the city’s colorful sign to snap a pic.
Meanwhile, the interior of Templo de Santa Clara is almost dripping with gold from floor to ceiling, making for an interesting sight.
Even if you’re starting to get a little churched-out in Mexico, you may still find it worth visiting the impressive, Templo y ex-convento de la Santa Cruz. To see this grand convent, you must take a short 20-minute guided tour (in Spanish). Yet it’s the storied “tree of the cross,” and the cross-shaped thorns it grows, that further captures much fascination.
6) Explore an Ancient Pyramid in Queretaro: El Cerrito
Ancient pyramids aren’t just in Egypt. You can find one right here in Queretaro! Take a short jaunt through Queretaro’s suburbs and you’ll reach this impressive archeological site. This pyramid dates back to around 700-900 AD and was used as a place of worship among Mesoamerican civilizations spanning an entire millennium.
This rugged, partially excavated pyramid rises up from the platform, nearly 10 stories high (30 meters). Exploring the site makes for one of the more interesting things to do in Queretaro. You can admire centuries worth of history and what is said to be one of the most important sites of the Toltec world!
The pyramid itself is a remarkable sight. Yet we were also enamored by the well-manicured desert landscaping to wander through the sprawling pathways, leading to the ruins. An onsite museum was under construction during our visit and was said to have opened in September 2018.
El Cerrito may be just a bit out of the way from Centro, but definitely add this fascinating site to your list of things to do in Queretaro!
7) Hang Out in the Many Plazas and Gardens of Queretaro
There are so many beautiful plazas throughout Queretaro’s historic center. Early city planners must have had a beautiful vision in mind, as the gardens and park spaces in Queretaro add greatly to the city’s charm. On weekends these plazas tend to be filled with families and friends. The festive environment makes for fantastic people watching.
Perhaps most lively and scenic is the Zenea Garden in front of the San Francisco Church. Plaza de Armas is another popular gathering spot.
Yet it’s the largest garden of them all that often gets overlooked, perhaps due to its location just on the outskirts of centro. We found the tree-filled Community Garden (Alameda Hidalgo) to be well worth a 5-minute walk to have a sense of nature from right within the city.
8) Learn the Sordid History of Cerro de las Campanas National Park
Cerro de las Campanas is a Mexico National Park that you can find right within Queretaro. While the grounds of this National Park are scenic, the importance of the park is actually more for its historical significance than its natural beauty. Even if you’re not aware of the history this site holds, taking a stroll around the park still makes for a very worthwhile thing to do in Queretaro.
We’ll help briefly get you up-to-speed now about the history of Cerro de las Campanas. This National Park on this hillside where the Mexican Emperor Maximilian I surrendered and was later executed. It was these events in 1867 that signified the end of the French Intervention and the fall of the Second Mexican Empire. Today you can visit the Austrian-built chapel on this hillside that now honors Maximilian I.
Interestingly, further above this chapel is a huge statue of Benito Juarez, who maintained he was President during Maximilian’s reign and was ultimately the one who ordered Maximilian’s execution. Strolling a bit further into the National Park, you’ll come across a museum that explains some of this history in addition to other notable events in Queretaro, spanning many centuries.
So what about the bells? The name of this park translates to “Hill of the Bells” because it contains strange rocks that make a ringing sound when struck together.
9) Wander Through Queretaro’s Lively Market: Mercado La Cruz
Exploring the local market is a quintessential experience in any Mexican city to get a feel for the local vibe. And Queretaro’s Mercado La Cruz is no exception. Whether you’re in search of produce, a new pair of shoes, or a piñata, you’ll find it all here at Mercado La Cruz.
Yet it’s the many taco stands that kept us returning to this vibrant open-air market. Find a stall that looks to have garnered many satisfied customers and pull up a stool. It’s the perfect thing to do in Queretaro to soak in the charmingly local atmosphere.
10) Discover Queretaro’s Fascinating Public Buildings
In addition to all the churches and museums, there are a number of public buildings scattered throughout Queretaro with historical significance. You could easily walk right past them if you didn’t know what they were. Yet its worth knowing their location and significance so you can take a quick stop in to look around.
The Teatro de la Republica is where the Mexican Constitution was signed, where Emperor Maximilian I was sentenced to execution, and where the Mexican National Anthem was first sung. Lots of Mexican history here! Completed in 1852, it still functions as a theatre today and it’s free to visit between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Stroll into the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) located right next to the Plaza de Armas. There are three impressive murals depicting scenes from Mexico’s history from within this building where the country’s independence was planned. Today it still operates as a government office and is open to the public on weekdays 8:00 am – 6:00 pm. Cost: free.
11) Drink Craft Beer in Queretaro
While Queretaro is renown in Mexico for its vineyards, we also find that the local cerveza artesanal (craft beer) to have a strong presence throughout the city. There are few different breweries and taprooms you can find while strolling around Queretaro Centro. So visiting breweries and sampling the local cervezas definitely makes for a fun thing to do in Queretaro!
For example, Brewer Gastropub has six tasty taps, three of which were their own brews, ranging from $65-$75 pesos for a beer. A nice food menu compliments the beers. Meanwhile, Tap Room 27, a new brewpub in Queretaro, offers their own beer on a promotion of two-for-$130 pesos at the cozy & friendly corner bar.
But it is Cerveza Hercules that impressed us the most. You can find their beers at some of the better bars, cantinas, and pubs throughout Queretaro. But if you like beer, then we highly recommend making the extra effort to visit their brewery and beer garden, located about 15-20 minutes by Uber/taxi from Queretaro centro.
It’s a beautiful outdoor setting, with communal tables in a big open-air courtyard with mountains as a backdrop. Yet Cerveza Hercules has some well-produced brews to match this cool atmosphere. International styles served at this brewery will take your taste buds on a trip around the world, with proper English brown ales, Czech pilsners, German schwarzbier, Belgian old bruins, American west-coast style IPAs, and many more. There are a total of 15 taps here (as of July 2018). Prices range depending on style and the size order, with pints averaging around $75-$85 pesos. There’s good food here too, ranging from ceviche to pizza.
12) Go Shopping for Indigenous Crafts in Queretaro
Shopping isn’t something we usually recommend in our travel guides, as we personally are not ones to buy many souvenirs during our travels. Yet we’d be doing you and the Queretaro’s street vendors a disservice by not mentioning the many handicrafts you can purchase from indigenous communities surrounding Queretaro.
Sure, you can find tourist trinkets like keychains and t-shirts. But there are some beautiful and unique crafts, jewelry, and traditional wares that you can buy from stands set up right from within Queretaro’s pedestrian streets. Much of it is handmade. (We’ve gotten pretty good at spotting the fake cheap Chinese-made souvenirs and we didn’t see such items being sold here.) Local artisans come in from the communities surrounding Queretaro to sell their wares in the city.
13) Attend an Event or Fiesta in Queretaro
There seems to always be events happening throughout Queretaro. Whether it’s Semana Santa festivities in the Spring, Dia de los Muertos in the Fall, or the many annual fiestas that occur nearly every week to celebrate something, there are constantly events popping up in Queretaro.
Independence Day celebrations are particularly strong here, given Queretaro’s strong ties to Mexican independence. Usually, it’s a weeklong celebration of happenings in Queretaro, rather than the single day of September 16. Expect to hear many cohetes (loud Mexican fireworks) that week!
Outside of major holidays in Queretaro, you can still find many concerts, art shows, children’s activities, dance performances, and other special events. When we were last there, a big international Jazz Festival was taking place throughout the city. We departed just before Queretaro’s famous vendimia (grape harvest) celebrations began. Shortly after that, the annual water fiesta was being held. There’s always something!
When you arrive in Queretaro, we suggest picking up a free copy of the Cultura QRO magazine to see what’s going on. Pick one up at the Secretary of Tourism office or the City Museum, among other places.
Or check this event calendar for your travel dates. Just beware that this calendar doesn’t tend to be updated until the dates get closer. So it may falsely appear empty if you’re looking at events in Queretaro far in advance from now.
14) Unwind at an Outdoor Patio Bar or Cafe
Since we’ve been talking about both drinking wine and beer as great things to do in Queretaro, perhaps this is a good place to mention the fantastic outdoor cafes and patio restaurants sprinkled all throughout Queretaro’s historic centro. These establishments line the pedestrian streets and surround the plazas. It would be wrong traveling to Queretaro without stopping into one for a refreshment.
While ambling amongst all those monuments, churches and museums, these patio cafes are here to tempt you when happy hour rolls around. Hanks and Cantina Comalli both have daily drink specials with tables overlooking the wide Plaza Constitucion and its big fountain.
Yet we found that arguably the best brew-with-a-view in Queretaro to be at Corregidora. Go early to snag one of only four tables on the second-floor balcony which overlooks Jardin Zenea down below. To help motivate your early arrival, they even promote $45-peso liters of beer Wednesday to Saturday until 6:00 pm. ¡Salud! 🍻
Not into drinking? Then grab a coffee at an outdoor café. Better yet, get some ice cream. There’s no shortage of ice cream shops, which carry flavors local to Queretaro, such as montecado ice cream.
The point here is not necessarily about drinking. Rather, it’s finding a perfect spot to chill out in Queretaro Centro’s remarkable surroundings.
15) Check Out Queretaro’s Roman-Style Aqueduct
Is that really a Roman-style aqueduct running through streets of this sprawling Mexican city? Yup, it sure is!
This nearly 2-kilometer long aqueduct was built way back in the early 1700’s. It remains one of the few colonial aqueducts left in Mexico today.
Looming 100 feet (30 meters) high, the 75 arches have been delivering water from the surrounding mountains into the city center for centuries.
The aqueduct slices right through the city over one of Queretaro’s roadways. It’s easy to get up close to the aqueduct by taking a stroll down to Calzada de los Arcos. Yet the best panoramic views of Queretaro’s famous aqueduct are from the lookout point on the eastern edge of centro: Mirador de Los Arcos.
Are You Packed And Ready To Experience the Best of Queretaro?
Before you depart on your trip to Queretaro, here are a few final preparations to consider:
- What to Pack for Your Trip To Queretaro Mexico? Queretaro can get chilly, particularly at night. So we recommend packing some light jackets and long sleeve shirts. April and May are the hottest months, as temperatures rise into the mid-80’s F (29°C). Yet even then, it still dips into the 50’s (below 29°C) at night. During the coldest months of December and January, temperatures tend to swing between 42°-75°F (6°-24°C). So whatever time of year you visit, light layers are a great idea, packing for both warm and cool weather. ❄️☀️
- If you travel there between June and October, be sure to pack some rain gear as there tend to be showers that briefly come about in the late afternoons. ☔
- To ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important, you can check out our Ultimate Packing Checklist which is full of packing tips and recommendations. 💼
- Have You Purchased Your Travel Insurance Yet? You never know what could go wrong during a trip to Mexico. Possibilities include getting sick, a flight gets canceled, natural disasters (thankfully, Queretaro is mostly outside the active tectonic area), lost baggage, your phone goes missing, etc. Travel insurance will have you covered. We never roam around Mexico without travel insurance. We use and have been happy with World Nomads, with what we’ve found to have the best price and coverage combination. Enter the dates for your trip to get a quick estimate. ⚠️
- Where To Next? Check Out Our Other Mexico Travel Guides. If you found this Queretaro travel guide to be helpful, you may also like our guides to these other awesome travel destinations in Mexico 🇲🇽:
Best Things To Do in Queretaro?
So those are what we’ve found are the best things to do in Queretaro. Have you been? What are some of your favorite activities to do in Queretaro? Let us know in the comments below.
Or if you stumbled across this travel blog because you’re planning a trip to Queretaro, what are you now most excited to do once you get there? If you have any questions about the area, let us know and we’re happy to help if we can. Have a great trip!
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