San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico is a wonderful place for travelers to base themselves for countless adventures throughout the state of Chiapas. San Cristobal de las Casas is a lovely and lively town in Southern Mexico, largely inhabited by indigenous people, which adds an interesting cultural flair.
San Cristobal de las Casas is the fourth largest municipality in the Mexican state of Chiapas, with a growing population of more than 200,000 residents. It was also the former capital to Chiapas. And given how rich in culture this city is, San Cristobal de las Casas is still recognized as the unofficial cultural capital to Chiapas.
San Cristobal’s altitude and mountain location further contribute to the city’s appeal while also providing for many recreation pursuits throughout the surrounding area. The 2,200-meter elevation (that’s 7,218 feet or 1.36 miles high) gives the city a crisp and cool climate.
The pedestrian-friendly cobblestoned streets and pastel dwellings laid out onto this mountain setting further add to San Cristobal’s charm. It’s a fantastic hub for travelers to base themselves for further explorations and things to do all throughout the state of Chiapas.
And rather than exclusively listing things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, this travel guide is written more so to provide travel inspiration for the many things to do all around San Cristobal de las Casas and throughout Chiapas. Here you’ll find activity recommendations, directions on how to get there using a variety of methods, and travel tips along the way. We’ll still dish out plenty of suggestions for on things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas. Yet this guide goes on further to offer travelers recommendations for the best things to do from San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
1) Things To Do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico
If looking for things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, let us first suggest an amble about this pretty city to visit some of its most important sites. It’s easy to walk around the city and visit most of San Cristobal’s most notable attractions within a day. Below are some of the churches, museums, atmospheric streets and other things to do directly in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
⛪ Notable Churches to Visit in San Cristobal de las Casas
During any visit to San Cristobal de las Casas, you’ll undoubtedly wind up at the town’s central Cathedral, which overlooks the main plaza in the center of town. If dressed appropriately, go inside this yellow structure to see local residents stopping to pray among the gold leaf flanked interior. This Cathedral dates back more than two centuries and is the site of Pope Francis’s visit in February 2016.
For those who are into churches, don’t only visit the cathedral because you’ll find many beautifully adorned structures all around town. Perhaps most notably is the lovely Templo Santo Domingo with its pink facade. This historic church and former convent dating back to the 1700s is arguably the most beautiful church in San Cristobal de las Casas.
There are two other churches to visit, if not for the religious structures themselves, then go for the spectacular views of San Cristobal de las Casas! If you have the energy, hoof it up to either of these two churches that are perched atop hills in San Cristobal de las Casas: Iglesia de Guadalupe and Iglesia de San Cristobal. You’ll not only be rewarded by the ornate churches, but you’ll earn stunning views of San Cristobal de las Casas down below.
⛪ Museums to Check Out in San Cristobal de las Casas
You’ll also find over a half dozen museums throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. Here are three of the most notable museums in town:
- The Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya ($55 MXN) is arguably the best museum in town, highlighting textile production throughout the region.
- The intimate Na Bolom ($40 MXN) highlights the region’s culture through textiles and historical documents.
- Meanwhile, the Museo de Ambar (Amber Museum, $25 MXN) is another small museum that gives a look into the amber found here in addition to purchasing jewelry at the adjoining store.
🚶 Walk Around this Beautiful Town
Yet perhaps the best thing to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to stroll along the many pedestrian-friendly streets and simply soak it all in. The main pedestrian thoroughfare is Real de Guadalupe. This central walkway is always bustling with local life and lined with some great restaurants and cafes.
Stop into a cafe to sip some local Chiapan coffee in the morning and switch over to pox, a local liquor, by nightfall. Be sure to head over to San Cristobal’s Zocalo, the central plaza, which is a great place for people watching, relaxing, and street vendors. There’s also no shortage of shopping opportunities either as you can find an abundance of locally made handicrafts at the boutiques along Real de Guadalupe in addition to the sprawling local craft market.
Simply walking among these sights in San Cristobal de las Casas can be a great introduction to the area. Below is a map of San Cristobal de las Casas, to get your bearings and understand where each of the aforementioned places are located.
💡 Also, consider taking the Free Walking Tour of San Cristobal de las Casas. It’s a two-hour tip-based walking tour of the city that visits many of those locations while a local guide provides a wealth of information of San Cristobal de las Casas’s history, cuisine, culture, and practical information to know during your stay. It’s a great overview of San Cristobal that can make for a particularly nice intro for new visitors to the city. This walking tour departs every day at 10:00 am and 5:00 pm, from Plaza de la Paz, which is the main central plaza in front of the Cathedral.
Explore Chiapas, Beyond San Cristobal de las Casas
While it’s great to get acquainted with the town itself, what we think are some of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico goes beyond the churches and museums in town. The mountain surrounding San Cristobal contain plentiful natural beauty and adventure all throughout the state of Chiapas. There’s even quite a bit to do just within a short 15-minute drive from the center of town.
So without further ado, the remainder of our recommendations go into detail of what we think to be the best things to do around San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
2) Sumidero Canyon Boat Tour
A Sumidero Canyon boat tour is the quintessential day trip to take from San Cristobal de las Casas. And that’s for good reason. Sumidero Canyon is an extremely beautiful place, it’s not too far to reach, and it’s an inexpensive excursion from San Cristobal de las Casas.
The Sumidero Canyon Tour is a must-do activity when visiting San Cristobal de las Casas.
A 45-minute drive takes visitors to the boat docks on the Grijalva River to embark on a small motorboat. The journey continues with 2-hour ride through the impressive Sumidero Canyon.
As you travel deeper and deeper, you’ll notice the looming canyon walls seem to grow higher and higher. Eventually, those canyon walls will tower nearly a kilometer in height over you!
Along the way, you’ll stop at points of interest such as a waterfall that spans the entire wall of the canyon. Depending on recent rains, the waterfall may be dried up.
And if you’re lucky, you may spot some crocodiles or spider monkeys during the 2-hour voyage through Sumidero Canyon.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Sumidero Canyon
It is actually cheaper and far more convenient to go to Sumidero Canyon as part of a tour. So we’d recommend that, even for those who are typically more keen on independent travel. Rationale for traveling independently from San Cristobal de las Casas to Sumidero Canyon could be for those who wish to spend more time in the town of Chiapa de Corzo or those who want to incorporate a visit to Tuxtla Gutierrez. But if only wanting to see the canyon, then using a tour to get there from San Cristobal is definitely the best option.
🚐 Tour from San Cristobal de las Casas to Sumidero Canyon: This is a very popular tour and hence is sold by nearly every travel agency and hostel in town. Prices between operators do vary, so it may be worth your time to ask around. Tours in town can start at about $300 pesos or so. They tend to depart San Cristobal de las Casas as early as 9:00 am and can offer complimentary hotel pick-up. Most Sumidero Canyon tours also include an hour stop in the town of Chiapa del Corzo for lunch and sightseeing. Some tours of Sumidero Canyon further include stops at the mirador atop the canyons walls. When booking, ask to ensure if that is included in your tour. Also, if having an English-speaking guide is important to you, be sure to inquire. Such additions may add to the cost of the tour, but it may prove to be worth it.
For those who like to plan in advance, try his Sumidero Canyon tour through GetYourGuide. It’s only $31 and receives good reviews. Check availability for your dates.
🚌 San Cristobal to Sumidero Canyon Using Public Transport: Catch a colectivo from San Cristobal de las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo. Find colectivos around the market for the $50 pesos, one-hour ride, each way. From Chiapa de Corzo, walk a few hundred meters alongside the riverbank to get to the docks where there are frequent boats giving the 2-hour tour for the fixed price of $200 pesos per person.
3) El Chiflon Waterfalls
El Chiflon is a stunningly blue series of cascades that culminates with the enormous Velo de Novia waterfall, plunging a dramatic 120 meters. While walking up a path on the bank of the Rio San Vincente for about a kilometer you’ll inevetablly hear the roar of this massic waterfall grow louder and louder. Once the mist begins hitting you in the face, the sparklingly blue cascades reveal themselves, one after the next.
As you traverse up the path, you’ll notice just how well manicured this park is, which has hammocks and benches to relax in along the way. Bring a swimsuit and towel if you want to take a dip in the cool blue waters below the waterfalls.
You can also bring a picnic, but we’d instead recommend stopping at one of the charming and economical cafes to enjoy a snack in front of the babbling brook. For adventure seekers, we recommend taking a ride on the zipline, which is covered in a subsequent section (#10) in this guide.
Plan to spend at least two hours at El Chiflon. And don’t miss it. Taking a day trip here was one of our favorite things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to El Chiflon
As a day trip, El Chiflon is most easily reached as part of a tour from San Cristobal de las Casas. It can be accessed by public transport but will take considerably longer since you’ll have to transfer in the town of Comitan. A tour from San Cristobal goes directly there and typically includes two hours at El Chiflon, which we found to be ample time. If you think you’d like to linger longer, consider basing yourself in Comitan for a few days, which will give you greater accessibility and flexibility to both El Chiflon and Lagunas Montebello. Or you can even stay in one of the cabanas at El Chiflon. But if trying to see El Chiflon in a day and return to San Cristobal, a day tour is best. These tours typically include stops at both El Chiflon and Lagos Montebello on a long yet packed day.
🚌 Public Transport to El Chiflon: You can catch a regular bus or colectivo from San Cristobal de las Casas to the town of Comitan, a nearly 2-hour ride. From Comitan, take one of the regular colectivos that depart every hour, which will bring you to a turn-off for the park, where you’ll need to walk about 15 minutes down the road to the actual park entrance.
🚐 Day Trip from San Cristobal to El Chiflon: You can book a day tour from San Cristobal de las Casas to El Chiflon that also includes subsequent visits to many of the Montebello Lakes. Just be prepared for long hours in the van due to travel times. Tours to El Chiflon and Lagos Montebello are offered by agencies and hostels throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. Or plan in advance to lock in a tour in advance at a good price.
This all day tour to El Chiflon & Montebello is great value, but is Spanish-speaking only.
English speakers can consider this El Chiflon & Montebello tour in English, which is a bit higher cost.
4) Lagunas de Montebello National Park
In extreme Southern Chiapas, just before the border to Guatemala, there are a series of beautiful lakes tucked amongst the oak & pine forests. These lakes are known for their varying hues of green and blue that glisten in the sunlight. But check the weather before you venture all this way, as the lakes can often be misty and overcast.
Go with the right weather, and you’ll be in for a treat. Either way, it’s a very peaceful and tranquil place to escape into nature. Yet there’s much more to do than just gawk at the lakes. You’ll find hiking trails, caves to explore, cenotes, horseback riding, kayaking, and even some small Mayan ruins.
You can also slip across the Guatemalan border to poke around the markets and buy some Guatemalan goods.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Lagunas Montebello
For those who really enjoy the outdoors, plan to spend at least a night at one of the cabañas so you can take in all of these activities and attractions. If you trying to experience Lagos Montebello all in one day, then self-driving or a tour is your best option. However, although the tour packed in several beautiful miradors (lookouts), we found that the tour limited your exploration of this vast National Park. Lagos Montebello probably deserved more time to be covered by way of hiking, horseback riding, and kayaking that is not possible to do during the short tour stops. Yet it was still a great way to experience this beautiful place in the world all in one day.
🚌 San Cristobal de las Casas to Lagunas Montebello by Public Transport: There are numerous buses everyday plying the nearly 2-hour route from San Cristobal de las Casas to Comitan. From Comitan transfer to one of the frequent colectivo vans which stop at all the major points of interest throughout the Lagunas Montebello area.
🚐 Tour to Lagunas Montebello: Many San Cristobal tour agencies book excursions to Lagos Montebello that include a stop at El Chiflon along the way. The long day tour is heavy on driving, which can make the various stops at the lakes feel brief. But it can be a good way to be able to pack in a day quickly touring these picturesque lakes. We thought it was an excellent value, considering all the ground that is covered. Lunch is extra.
This Lagunas Montebello & El Chiflon tour can be booked in advance. The Spanish-speaking El Chiflon & Montebello is is the best value. But English-only speakers can consider this El Chiflon & Montebello tour in English.
5) El Arcotete
This pleasant natural attraction is worth spending a few hours to enjoy. A river carves its way through a mountain to form a natural tunnel. It’s an interesting sight that’s quick and easy to reach from San Cristobal de las Casas!
At Arcotete you’ll also find a network of hiking trails, a lookout point, and a swing bridge, which are all included in the modest $10 peso price of admission. Palapa rentals are an additional $30 pesos. Ziplining is $100 pesos. A short boat ride up the river is $20 pesos.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Arcotete
It’s an easy trip to get to from town to Arcotete which makes it a good option among things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas if you’re running short on time. For a longer outing, take a taxi there and then hike on the crude trail along the riverbank, taking you on an alternate route back into town. Or take a bike ride to Arcotete and back.
🚕 Taxi to Arcotete: It’s a fairly quick trip to reach Arcotete by taxi. Expect to pay somewhere between $50-$100 pesos each way from the center of town. Note: there didn’t seem to be any taxis waiting around there, so you may have to ask a park worker to call one or walk the ~2 kilometers from the park entrance back to the main road if wanting to take a taxi back from Arcotete.
🚲 Arcotete by bike: Cycling to Arcotete can be a tough incline to tackle on the way up, but you are rewarded with a fun cruise back into town on the return. Bike rentals are typically $50 pesos per hour in San Cristobal. Expect it to take one to two hours to get to Arcotete and perhaps only about 20 minutes to get back. (See more info on biking to Arcotete in #11 of this guide.)
6) Templo de San Juan in San Juan de Chamula
We highly recommend a visit to the nearby village of San Juan de Chamula to experience its extremely unique and fascinating church, which oddly blends together indigenous Tzotzil Mayan traditions with Catholicism. Among all of the cultural things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, this is our top recommendation.
From the outside, Templo de San Juan appears to be just like any other church we’ve seen in Mexico. But inside the San Juan de Chamula church, it’s completely different from anything we’ve ever experienced.
It remains the most interesting church we’ve ever stepped foot inside.
There are no pews inside Templo de San Juan. Instead, dry pine needles cover the tile floor. Soft rhythmic music and clouds of incense fill the air, as light beams in from the few windows on the east side. Mismatched tables line the walls of the church, topped with thousands of flickering candles of all shapes and sizes.
Worshipers kneel down on the pine needle covered floor. Men dress in black wool tunics that look as if they came fresh off a sheep. Don’t be alarmed by the ear-piercing blasts shaking the church. Outside, powerful firecrackers (dynamite?) is lit, another bizarre ritual.
Each churchgoer to Templo de San Juan has their own assortment of dozens of tall skinny candles, big wide pillar candles, and small votive candles all dripping with wax onto the floor. They chant prayers in their native tongue. Yet perhaps most peculiar is watching them gulp carbonated orange sodas so that they can loudly burp into the incense-filled air. Apparently, this is how they rid their evil spirits. If you’re really lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective), you’ll also witness some sacrifices at the altar, which often involves chickens.
It’s all very strange yet somehow remains peaceful. It’s a very intriguing place in the world that we’d recommend to any curious and open-minded travelers throughout Chiapas. There is a $20 peso entrance fee for visitors that you can pay directly at the church’s entrance. There are a few other points of interest to poke around in San Juan Chamula too but they are all afterthoughts in comparison to the captivating Templo de San Juan.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to San Juan de Chamula
This neighboring town is only 10 kilometers from San Cristobal de las Casas and thereby can be reached by a variety of methods including hiking, biking, horseback, colectivo, taxi, or tour.
🥾 Hiking to San Juan Chamula: It’s about a two-hour trek each way. Follow the road or ask around town for directions on a path.
🚲 Cycling to San Juan Chamula: Feel the burn as you pedal up the mountainous roads, but it’s a very doable cycle trip from San Cristobal to Chamula. Bike rentals start at about $50 pesos per hour.
🐎 Horseback from San Cristobal to San Juan Chamula: Go for a horseback ride between the two towns for $150 pesos. It takes about 60-90 minutes each way and you’ll have an hour to explore San Juan Chamula. (More about this trail ride is detailed in #12 of this travel guide.)
🚌 Colectivo to San Juan Chamula: Colectivos depart near the market and cost $15 pesos each way for the 30-minute drive.
🚕 Taxi to San Juan Chamula: You can hire a private taxi from San Cristobal to Chamula at negotiable prices.
🚐 Tour to San Juan Chamula: Many agencies in town offer tours from San Cristobal to San Chamula that also visits the indigenous town of Zinacantan. Such guided tours costs around $250 pesos per person and last about 5 hours total. Alternatively, you can book this tour of Zincantan and San Juan Chamula, which is currently running at only $26 USD.
7) Huitepec Ecological Reserve
In the Huitepec Ecological Reserve, you’ll find a pleasant hike on the outskirts of San Cristobal de las Casas. The trail goes up the side of a mountain and winds through a lush forest.
It’s known as a good place for birding just outside of town. However, we saw more avian life from our backyard in San Cristobal than we did at Huitepec.
Still, it’s a nice hike with big, beautiful trees full of dangling air plants. We’re in relatively good shape and it took us about an hour to complete the loop trail. Expect the trek to take longer if you take your time or if you’re really trying to spot those elusive birds.
Huitepec isn’t necessarily one of the “must” things to do in San Cristobal, but we still recommend it as a pleasant diversion to get some exercise or fresh air for those with a prolonged stay in the area. We were charged $30 pesos per person to enter the reserve, although reports about the entrance fee vary.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Huitepec Ecological Reserve
You can get to Huitepec by walking, taxi, or collective. We recommend taking a taxi there and catching one of the many passing colectivos back into town. Or walk back. There is a trail along the side of the road for pedestrians, yet there’s nothing too particularly interesting on the route to/from Huitepec.
🚕 Taxi to Huitepec Ecological Reserve: A taxi costs $50 pesos, one way from the center of San Cristobal de las Casas to Huitepec.
🚐 Colectivo to Huitepec Ecological Reserve: The cost is $10 pesos per person and colectivos depart from the market. Take one heading on 190 towards Navenchauc.
8) Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is listed as one of the “Pueblos Magicos” (Magical Towns) by the Mexico Tourism Board and is less than an hour drive from San Cristobal de las Casas. The plaza acts as a focal point of small colonial town. Here you can check out the clock tower. Be sure to poke around the big tree – La Pochota – and the La Pila fountain which is said to pay tribute to the Spanish crown.
And like most towns in Mexico, there’s an impressive cathedral, of course. In Chiapa de Corzo, you can admire the Templo Santo Domingo, built in the late 1500s.
Chiapa de Corzo’s position on the Rio Grijava makes it an ideal jumping off point for boat trips up the Sumidero Canyon. You can easily locate the docks for this trip by strolling down the riverside walkway. There are many restaurants and cafes lining the riverbank to have a meal or just relax with a drink.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is best visited in combination with Sumidero Canyon, given its proximity to the docks for the boat tours. A tour from San Cristobal typically includes an hour stop at Chiapa de Corzo, but confirm this before booking. If you desire more time, consider taking a colectivo instead.
🚐 Sumidero Canyon Tour including Stop at Chiapa de Corzo: Price for tours from San Cristobal de las Casas to Chiapa de Corzo & Sumidero Canyon start at $250 pesos. See the Sumidero Canyon section of this guide (#2) for more info.
🚌 San Cristobal to Chiapa de Corzo by Colectivo: Find collectives to Chiapa de Corzo at the market for the $50 pesos, one-hour ride, each way.
9) Caving – Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
Just a short drive from San Cristobal de las Casas, you can find a caving system in a park that is set amongst towering pine trees. With entrance to the park a mere $5 pesos, it’s a bargain that’s waiting to be explored just outside of town.
The cave itself is nice and has a separate entrance fee of $20 pesos. If you’ve done much spelunking in the past, you may be underwhelmed by Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. But we found these caves to definitely be worth the modest price of admission. And if you haven’t done much caving before, you’ll likely be fascinated. The smooth trail that winds through the cave is an easy walk and contains guardrails making it safe as well.
After a 5-10 minute leisurely stroll through the cave, the pathway ends and you’ll proceed on rougher terrain after being outfitted with a flashlight & helmet, and led by a guide. This optional extension takes you another 5 minutes or so deeper into the cave for an additional $35 pesos plus tip for the guide. For the uninitiated, it gives you a tiny glimpse of what it’s like to traverse through a wild cave.
Just outside the mouth of the cave are a number of restaurants serving giant quesadillas. If not for the unexceptional caves, just come Grutas de Rancho Nuevo for the huge quesadillas alone. They are the best quesadillas we’ve had in Mexico! Delicioso!
Grutas de Rancho Nuevo also has some big slides to slip down, included with your admission. Additional for fee activities at Grutas de Rancho Nuevo are a zip-line and horseback riding. You could easily spend a half-day here filled with activities and it seemed like an ideal place for things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas for those traveling with kids.
If you’re looking for a more intense caving experience in San Cristobal de las Casas, you could consider an excursion with PETRA Vertical adventures, which offers more extreme caving excursions throughout the San Cristobal de las Casas area.
How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
🚌 San Cristobal de las Casas to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo by Colectivo: You can find frequent colectivos at the market that pass by Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. Look for the colectivos heading to Teopisca and ask the driver to drop you off at the caves along the way. Expect to pay $10-$20 pesos per person each way.
🚕 San Cristobal de las Casas to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo by Taxi: A taxi to Grutas de Rancho Nuevo should cost about $50 pesos from the center of town to the caves. The drive takes about 15 minutes.
10) Zip-lining near San Cristobal de las Casas
The mountains around San Cristobal de las Casas hold numerous opportunities for those who seek the thrill of soaring through the tall trees that grow throughout this rugged landscape. Three places to zip-line near San Cristobal are:
- Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
- El Arcotete
- El Chiflon
Our recommendation on where to zipline near San Cristobal de las Casas is definitely El Chiflon! You soar above those spectacular blue waterfalls on a nearly half-kilometer zipline that you race through in just 40 seconds. It’s absolutely fantastic and we highly recommend for any thrill seekers visiting El Chiflon.
Equipment and operators here seemed safe in our view, but that’s something you’ll need to judge personally. The zip line was well staffed with multiple employees on both ends. The El Chiflon zip line has a weight limit of 100 kilos (220 pounds), so you’ll want to opt out of this activity if you exceed that. Cost to ride the zip line is $150 pesos that you pay directly to the zip line operators.
I’ve been on dozens of ziplines all around the world, and I’d say this is my favorite one. Ironically, it’s also probably the cheapest zip line I’ve ever done too!
Another zipline to consider near San Cristobal is the one at El Arcotete, which offers a big thrill, as it requires a frightening leap high from a cliff. For the more timid, I’d recommend the zip line at Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. It seemed least exciting of the three, as it simply flies over the restaurants and stables. Yet, that may be a good place for first-time zipliners to take the leap.
11) Mountain Biking around San Cristobal de las Casas
The mountains surrounding San Cristobal de las Casas contain some great trails to explore on two wheels. Without your own transport and local knowledge of the trail networks, you’ll need to book a tour in order to access some of the better single track in the Chiapas countryside.
If you prefer to cycle around on your own, you can rent a bike in San Cristobal and ride it up to El Arcocete which involves a fairly steep ascent. It’s about 8 kilometers from the center of town, mostly on paved roadways, which turns onto a dirt road for the final few kilometers. It’s well signposted and easy to navigate.
It’s a nice ride, particularly on the way back, which is almost entirely downhill! Yet if you’re looking for more of a true mountain biking trail, you’re better off joining a tour.
We rented our bikes from Jaguar Adventours who offers both bike rentals and daily tours on mountain biking trails throughout Chiapas. The bikes were all in good condition and rates are $50 pesos per hour or $250 pesos for the day.
12) Horseback Riding around San Cristobal de las Casas
There’s no shortage of horseback riding opportunities both from San Cristobal de las Casas and the surrounding area. Consider a trail ride at Lagos de Montebello or through the pine forests surrounding Grutas de Rancho Nuevo.
A classic horseback ride from San Cristobal de las Casas is to the nearby village of San Juan de Chamula. The trail ride is about 60-90 minutes each way, which winds its way through forest, meadows, farmland, and alongside a stream.
It’s a pleasant trail ride that takes in a mix of nature and local life. Your butt will have an hour break off the saddle at San Juan de Chamula to explore the village. We think it’s a great way to get to Chamula and spend a half-day.
We booked our horse ride from San Cristobal to Chamula with Jalapeño Tours at a cost of $150 pesos plus a tip to the guide. Our horses appeared to be healthy, well taken care of, and obedient. Rides depart at 9:00 am and 1:00 pm and last about 4 hours.
13) A Day Trip to the Palenque Ruins
The Palenque ruins are a massive ancient Mayan site in Chiapas. These impressive Mayan ruins date back to 700 and 800’s AD and are set within the overgrowth of a jungle. There are tall temples which have been excavated, many of which you can climb up to get a birds-eye view of the neighboring temples.
Follow the paths through the vegetation and you’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you explore the Palenque temples that have been swallowed up by the jungle. Many of the structures have been left unexcavated or partially excavated, which adds to the ruins’ mystique, seeing them being strangled by tree roots.
For a little more of what this ruin site is like, you can see our full post featuring 20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Palenque.
Directions: How to Get from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque
From San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque is about a 4½-hour drive, so you may really want to consider an overnight stop in Palenque instead of a day trip. Yet it is still possible to go to Palenque and the nearby waterfalls all in one day, then return to San Cristobal. The two entrance fees for the National Park and the Palenque ruins themselves total $84 pesos per person which also includes entrance to the museum.
🚐 Tours from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque: You can book a very long day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque and back. These typically depart early in the morning around 5:00 am and return around 10:00 pm at night, making for quite a long day and many hours in a van. But if you’re short on time and aren’t planning onward travel in that direction, this day trip can be a great way to include Palenque in your trip to Southern Mexico. In our opinion, it would be worth the early morning and the long drive to experience these impressive ruins. These day tours to Palenque also usually make stops at the Misol-Ha Cascades and Agua Azul Waterfalls. It is also possible to arrange a one-way transfer, which can often be more practical than taking a bus. Prices of these full day tours from San Cristobal to Palenque start at about $400 pesos when booked at tour agencies in town, making for good value.
Or try this day tour to Palenque that you can book online, which includes stops at the waterfalls and all entrance fees, making it a total bargain at only $43 USD.
🚌 Bus from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque: There are roughly a half dozen indirect ADO buses departing San Cristobal for a seven-hour ride to Palenque, ranging in price from $150-$350 pesos per person. A more direct bus takes less than five hours and is priced at $306 pesos but only has one departure each day. Visit the ADO bus site for up-to-date bus timetables and costs. Note that the ADO buses cannot be booked online and they will only get you as far as Palenque town. A frequent $20-peso colectivo will then get you to the ruins.
14) Agua Azul Waterfalls
This waterfall makes for a beautiful natural attraction on the way to or from Palenque. The mineral content gives Agua Azul its namesake blue waters which you can also swim in. Take a stroll about a kilometer or so up the path along the riverbank and you’ll find a few swimming holes to take a dip.
You’ll also notice several cafes set up by people trying to convince you to stop for an empanada or a cerveza. And why not? It’s a beautiful view.
The Agua Azul cascades are best visited in combination with the Misol-Ha waterfall. See below.
15) Misol-Ha Cascades
The Misol-Ha Waterfall is taller than at Agua Azul yet lacks the magical blue waters. You can go behind the waterfall and let the mist hit you right in the face. Continue on and you’ll find a small cave where you can pay a guide to take you into it.
Misol-Ha and Agua Azul are two separate waterfalls that are in two different locations yet often grouped together, and in combination with a visit to Palenque.
We don’t recommend coming to Misol-Ha or Agua Azul as a standalone trip from San Cristobal de las Casas. These waterfalls are better visited as a day tour that includes Palenque, or visited on the way from San Cristobal de las Casas to Palenque. (See #13 for more info on how to get here.)
Bonus: Eating in San Cristobal de las Casas
There are so many great restaurants and bars all throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. We only scratched the surface during our month-long visit, yet we still wanted to leave you some recommendations of what was our five favorite restaurants in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Maya Pakal: This is our recommendation for an incredible value. Go for the set menus that range between 78-90 pesos which gives you a 3-course meal with wine and a lovely breadbasket & dipping spreads. Choose a beverage, a soup, a main course, a desert, and even coffee or tea. It’s really incredible value here for what comes out to less than $5. Located here, on Francisco I. Madero between Av Insurgentes and Benito Juarez.
La Lupe: This is our go-to place for a well-rounded restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casas. Great service, consistently good Mexican food, fair prices, live music, and the most extensive salsa bar we’ve ever seen. We recommend the tacos al pastor and then putting the salsa bar to use. It’s an easy-to-find location on Real de Guadalupe, here between Av Cristobal Colon and Benito Juarez.
Tipica: The name of this small restaurant translates to “typical.” Yet it’s anything but. The concept here is to build your own meal by choosing a base, a meat, and a sauce. We loved the combination of enchilada, chicken tinga, and peanut sauce. The friendly and helpful service may even toss in a complimentary homemade dessert. Located here on Benito Juarez near the corner of Maria Adelina Flores.
El Caldero: In this chilly mountain town, there’s no better way to warm up than with a big bowl of soup! El Caldero serves a variety of traditional caldos (soups) that are both hearty and filling, served as an entire meal. Pozole is one of the most common choices made from a broth of hominy (dried corn) and pork, and served in three different styles: white, green, and red. Our favorite is “caldo tlalpeno,” a thick stew of shredded chicken and chock full of fresh vegetables like carrots, zucchini, and green beans. Add your own hot sauce, lime, avocado, onion, and cilantro for your tastes. Located here on Av Insurgentes 5-A, two blocks south of the Plaza.
El Bony: This is our top recommendation for a hole-in-the-wall, no frills, local joint in San Cristobal. It serves up some good fish tacos at cheap prices. Come with low expectations. Find El Bony on Isabel la Catolica just north of Real de Guadalupe.
Bonus: Drinking Around San Cristobal de las Casas
La Vina de Bacco: It’s no wonder this wine bar on, located here on Real de Guadalupe, is always packed. It seems they keep customers returning for the super friendly service, cheap prices, great live music, complimentary tapas, and the huge drink menu of not only wine but unique Chiapan spirits and craft beer too. This wine bar definitely tops our list of places to grab a drink in San Cristobal de las Casas.
500 Noches: This is the place in San Cristobal to try local Mexican cerveza artisanal (craft beer). It’s a trendy setting with well-trained staff who understands proper glassware and pours. 500 Noches has a vast menu of craft beer that only includes Mexican brews, and is organized by region. For a craft beer local to Chiapas, start with one of the Tzotzil bottles. Find 500 Noches here in the Esquina San Agustin complex, a trendy and atmospheric place that houses about a half-dozen eateries.
Café Bar Revolucion: This bar is usually rocking with their nightly live music that tends to start around 9:00 pm but Revolucion also gets bonus points for its craft beer. (We’re a little biased towards places with craft beer in San Cristobal de las Casas. 😉) It’s right at this central corner location.
Try Pox at the Posheria: Pronounced “posh,” the local firewater, pox, is popular here in San Cristobal and throughout the state of Chiapas. It’s an ancient and traditional Mayan liquor, often used for ceremonial purposes. This grain alcohol is made from sugarcane and we think it tastes a bit like rum. Flavored poxes tend to be smoother, more pleasing to the pallet, and forgos the burn of pure posh. The Posheria in San Cristobal de las Casas has a wide assortment of poxes to try onsite or to buy a bottle of this unique local spirt. It’s an easy-to-find location right here on Real de Guadalupe.
Bonus: Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas
There are some great value hotels and hostels throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. But be sure to book a room before you arrive, particularly in high season, as all the best places do tend to get reserved in advance. For convenience, we strongly recommend finding somewhere walkable from the center of town.
Also, often while traveling throughout Mexico it’s usually best to ensure your room has air conditioning. But this is not at all needed in San Cristobal de las Casas. Yet you may want to ensure that there is heating. It can get cold up here!
Best Hostels in San Cristobal
🏨 Posada del Abuelito: Typically in our travel guides we like to recommend a few different hostels to give you some choices. But there’s no need for that in San Cristobal de las Casas, because Posada del Abuelito is the undisputed champion that has everything you look for in a hostel. Comfy beds, an awesome hot breakfast with eggs, clean kitchen, butterfly/hummingbird garden, chill social area, hot water showers with good pressure, a nice central location, reliable wifi, and great staff. It’s no wonder Posada del Abuelito not only has a consistent track record of top reviews but has even been awarded “The Best Hostel in Mexico” for the past few years. With all they offer, including their great breakfast, you’d expect prices to be pretty high. But beds in their shared dorms start at only $8 USD and private rooms for two runs only $15 USD per night. Incredible value!
You can check availability for Posada del Abuelito on HostelWorld. (And we strongly urge you to book a room/bed here as far in advance as possible, because it usually does sell out early.)
🏨 If Posada del Abuelito is sold out, we recommend trying Puerta Vieja Hostel, which has one of the best locations of any hostel in San Cristobal, located only one block from the main plaza.
🏨 Or also consider Iguana Hostel which is a good option for those looking for more of a social and party vibe.
For Great Value Hotels
If you’re looking for a good mid-range hotel room in San Cristobal, you can find some great bargains for around $30-$50 USD per night. Here are some of our hotel recommendations that tick all the boxes and offer great value.
Note: For convenience, clicking on these links will take you to the respective HotelsCombined search page for each hotel, which searches all the major booking sites (Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Priceline, etc.) to find you the best price for your dates.
🏨 The Parador Margarita may be one of the best bargains in town. You can sometimes find rooms at this 4-star hotel for as low as $40 per night, including a great made-to-order breakfast! Excellent for couples.
🏨 The Hotel Posada Primavera is a charming boutique hotel with tastefully decorated rooms and tranquil gardens that surround. The hotel maintains a rustic charisma even though it’s well-located smack in the center of town.
🏨 Hotel Casa Selah exudes colonial elegance right in the heart of San Cristobal.
Worth the Splurge in San Cristobal
It’s pretty amazing that you can find 5-star luxury accommodation in San Cristobal de las Casas for $50-$100 per night. And there are some incredible places in town to do so. If you want to spend more, you can certainly find higher-priced luxury accommodation in San Cristobal, but we recommend these two for the excellent value they offer.
🏨 The Casa Santa Lucia not only has class, but style. Each suite in the 9-room hotel is beautifully adorned with local Chiapas artwork and crafts.
🏨 The Hotel Pasada Real Chiapas (aka The Mision Grand) features spacious rooms and great outdoor spaces. You’ll feel the elegance here and enjoy a perfect location.
Consider Some of the Most Affordable House or Apartment Rentals with Airbnb
There are also some sweet Airbnb listings throughout San Cristobal, which we find to be an ideal setup for longer term stays. We’ve stayed at dozens of Airbnbs all throughout Mexico and found that that the Airbnb listings in San Cristobal de las Casas tend to be the most affordable and best value anywhere in the country.
We stayed in a private 1-bedroom apartment and absolutely loved our month-long rental in San Cristobal de las Casas. We particularly liked the $400 price for the month, which breaks down to less than $15 per day and even included a gardener and twice-per-week housekeeping service.
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can use our referral code to get up to $40 off your first stay.
Travel Tips for a Trip to San Cristobal de Las Casas & Chiapas
Before you depart on your trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, here are a few preparations to consider:
⛰️ Acclimatize: Before you go on your first adventure, just realize that San Cristobal de las Casas rests at an elevation of 2,200 meters (~1.4 miles or 7,200 feet) in altitude, which makes for some chilly nights and even causes shortness of breath for those who have not yet acclimated. Hence, we suggest beginning a trip with light physical activities to get acclimated. Then work your way up to more strenuous pursuits such as a challenging uphill mountain bike excursion or a demanding mountain trek. Exploring the city’s museums and churches is a good low-energy idea to consider in the area to get warmed up on your first day of adventures around San Cristobal de las Casas.
🧳 What to Pack for Your Trip To Chiapas Mexico? San Cristobal gets chilly, particularly so at night. It drops down to about 40°F / 4°C overnight during the winter months. Yet even summer months can expect overnight lows going down to 50°F / 10°C. But temps do significantly warm up during the day, usually somewhere between 65°-72°F / 18°-22°C. And it is much warmer at lower altitude day trips throughout Chiapas, such as the Sumidero Canyon tour. As a result of these temperature changes, it’s important to pack for both warm and cool weather.
To ensure you haven’t forgotten anything important before a trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, you can check out our Ultimate Packing Checklist which is full of packing tips and recommendations.
🚕 Getting around San Cristobal de las Casas: This is an extremely walkable city. If you’re of decent health, using your own two feet can be the best way to get around town. To get further afield, consider taxis, which are generally honest and cheap. Just confirm the fare before setting off in a taxi. There is no Uber service in San Cristobal de las Casas.
🚱 Don’t drink the water: While it is generally inadvisable to drink the tap water throughout most of Mexico, this holds particularly true for San Cristobal de las Casas. There’s something funky going on with the water system here lately and many people do get sick. It’s best not to even brush your teeth with faucet water, even if you’ve been fine doing so elsewhere in Mexico.
💬 Learn Some Basic Spanish. There’s not much English spoken throughout San Cristobal de las Casas. Some residents actually speak a local indigenous dialect. Yet just about everyone speaks Spanish. So it can be a great idea to learn up on some basics before a trip to San Cristobal de las Casas. Even simple pleasantries can go along way with pointing and a smile.
We also like to use Babbel as an easy, fun, and inexpensive way to learn Spanish. With each lesson just 10-15 minutes, it’s something we can always work into the day and the associated app even lets us learn Spanish on-the-go. It’s a great way to brush up before visiting San Cristobal. Right now you can use this link to save up to 60% off a subscription.
⚠️ 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, lost baggage, your phone falls in the water, your camera goes missing, etc. There’s also the real possibility of earthquakes. San Cristobal is in an active tectonic area, with a major quake last shaking the city during the September 2017 Chiapas Earthquake. In such events, 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 San Cristobal de las Casas travel guide to be helpful, you may also like our guides to these other awesome travel destinations in Mexico:
- Throughout Mexico – This in-depth guide reveals how to save money, avoid hassle, stay safe, respect cultural etiquette and have fun throughout this wonderful country!
Read: 75+ Best Mexico Travel Tips to Know Before Your Trip in 2022
- Merida – The Yucatan capital is so full of culture and adventure. It’s also a great place to visit before or after San Cristobal de las Casas, with a stop in Palenque in between.
Read: Best Things to Do in Merida Mexico
- Oaxaca may be best known for its delicious cuisine, yet it also serves up loads of activities.
Read: Best Things to Do in Oaxaca Mexico
- Guanajuato might just be the most beautiful town in Mexico. It’s certainly the most colorful.
Read: Best Things To Do in Guanajuato Mexico
- Queretaro boasts a wine region, an ancient pyramid, and one of the largest monolithic rocks in the world.
Read: Best Things to Do in Queretaro Mexico
- Morelia may be one of Mexico’s most underrated cities to visit.
Read: Best Things to Do in Morelia Mexico
Best Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas?
Those are what we think are the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas. Have you been? What are some of your favorite adventures to embark on from town? Let us know in the comments below!
Or if you stumbled across this blog because you’re going to Chiapas, let us know what you most excited to do in San Cristobal de las Casas. If you have any questions about the area, let us know in the comments and we’d happy to help if we can! Have a great trip!
Also if you found this post helpful, let’s stay connected! If you enjoy travel, you may like our Facebook Page, where we dish out travel inspiration and travel tips from wherever in the world we may be roaming around. Come see where we’re roaming today! (It’s most often Mexico.)
Are you inspired to explore San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico? Bookmark this page or pin the image on the right to your travel Pinterest boards for future reference:
Publishing note: This San Cristobal de las Casas Travel Guide was initially published on March 2016 and more recently updated in May 2019 to keep this info up-to-date.
Becca Jackson says
Great post, thank you so much. I’ve added the wine bar to my favorites on Google maps 😁
Kerry Mykituk says
What is the best way to get to San Cristobal de las Casas from Mexico City?
John Widmer says
Volaris and AeroMexico both have regular direct flights from MEX to TGZ (Tuxtla Gutierrez airport). Then it’s a bit more than an hour’s trip via taxi and other transport options from TGZ to San Cristobal de las Casas.
Marge and friends says
We are in San Cristobal right now and loving it here. Your article has been a great guide. Thank you!
For others, there is a great French bakery – Oh La La.
David Brody says
Oh La La is excellent! Stock up here before taking the tour to San Juan de Chamula, a MUST do. The best tour starts next to the big cross outside the church 1/2 block from the bakery.
Thanks for all this recommendations we’re planning to drive from Playa del Carmen to San Cristóbal spend 2 days and then go to Palenque and visit that waterfalls and next day the arqueologichal site.
How safe is to drive be our selves in Chiapas???
John Widmer says
Driving conditions in Chiapas is always changing, so tough to deem as safe/unsafe. Would strongly suggest doing the drive during the day because of unfamiliar twisty mountain roads. Also, know that there are sometimes roadblocks set by local people demanding unofficial tolls. There have also been a few rare incidents over the years. But likely you’ll be fine.
Thanks for all the great info, very helpful!
We are going to spend few days there next year with 2 children’s but during the “semana santa” which is a big holiday for Mexicans.
Do you think it will be easy for sign up for daily tours and to get a decent place to sleep?
John Widmer says
Yes, you’ll be fine. Semana Santa is an interesting time to be in Mexico, full of traditions. For accommodation, just ensure you make reservations far in advance. Semana Santa is a popular travel time within Mexico. Also, if you’re a light sleeper, be sure to bring earplugs. Cohetes (very loud bottle rockets) are regularly lit during Semana Santa. Hope you have a great trip with your family!
Hi, thanks for the info! Would it be easy to find vegetarian food, i.e. no meat broth, etc. Thanks!
John Widmer says
Oh yes, there are many vegan and vegetarian-friendly options in San Cristobal de las Casas! 🙂 Particularly along the main pedestrian street, Real de Guadalupe, you can even find some dedicated vegetarian restaurants. 🌱
Do you find any international cuisine in San Cristobal de las Casas? Italian? French?
John Widmer says
Yes there is plenty of international cuisine that can be found in San Cristobal de las Casas. There are many Italian places and pizza places. There’s Thai, Chinese, and American (burgers, etc.) food too, among other int’l cuisine. I’m not aware of any French restaurants though. Yet it’s the local cuisine that we find really shines the brightest.
Great article, a lot of practical information. I see I should come back there, because I missed few nice places 🙂
Heather Widmer says
Thanks! We’d love to return ourselves to discover and rediscover all there is to do in San Cristobal!
Leebong Lee says
Thank you. I love soups so I didn’t miss El Calderon. It was great!
Heather Widmer says
So glad to hear you enjoyed El Calderon. You’ve got me hungry now thinking about a delicious bowl of Caldo tlalpeño!
Kerry sanabrias says
Thanks for a great post, we are heading here in a few weeks, lots of info for us to think about!
John Widmer says
Hope you have a great time exploring Chiapas and enjoy San Cristobal as much as we do! 🙂
OMG! I’m so happy I found this post! I sincerely thank you. I’m planning my first solo trip to San Cristobal this January 2018 and your recommendations are gold. I was hesitating between Guanajuato (San Miguel) and this destination, but after reading this post, I think I find a winner.
I still have trouble finding the cheapest way to get there though. I was wondering if you could please help me. I am from Canada; Montreal. I know that the closest airport is Tuxtla Gutierrez but it is too expensive for the student I am. Plus, I will stay there for just a week. I was thinking to pass by Mexico city and then use public transportation (approx. 12hours.It’s super long but I can handle it I believe) to San Cristobal but I don’t know how to find a bus that goes there.
John Widmer says
So glad to hear it’s helped! And really you can’t go wrong with any of those places, as they’re all great. (Although we are quite partial to San Cris and Chiapas.) As for your flight question, yeah it’s a pain to get a cheap flight connection to Chiapas.
The bus is about 14-15 hours from Mexico City and you can find times & prices on https://www.ado.com.mx/ (although you can’t purchase tickets without a Mex credit card). But what I would recommend instead of the bus is to fly on one of Mexico’s budget airlines to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, then take the bus from Tuxtla Gutiérrez to San Cris (about an hour). VivaAerobus and Volaris have cheap one-way flights from Mexico City to Tuxtla for less than $50 each day, which is only slightly more than the bus. InterJet or AeroMexico have even more flights and those are usually around $60-$70.
So what you can do is book a flight to Mexico City, then book a separate flight on one of those regional airlines to Tuxtla. The only danger in doing this with two separate airlines is if your flight from Montreal gets delayed for any reason (snow, mechanical, whatever), you may miss your connection that you booked seperately in which they won’t rebook you for free. So if you were to do this, be sure you allow plenty of room for error and perhaps even consider staying in Mexico City overnight.
Anyways, hope that helps to give you some options and ideas to think about. And hope you have a great trip to Mexico, whether you ultimately choose San Cristobal or San Mig / Guanajuato! 🙂
Glad i found your post, this is my next stop for my holidays, i been to acapulco so i wanna try different place of mexico. thank you for sharing!
John Widmer says
Ah, cool! Glad this helped. San Cristobal will be a much different experience than Acapulco. We hope you likewise enjoy this special place!
I live in Oaxaca, Mexico, and just want to make a few comments.
First, I very much appreciate the information you have provided, especially regarding transportation and tour agency recommendations, as I haven’t been to SCLC since the 80s. It was a small isolated village at that time. I regret that I did not spend more time there then; it has changed considerably. However, I and two Oaxacan friends plan to visit next spring and are trying to keep our expenses down.
One remark I want to make is regarding the ‘firecrackers’ (locally called ‘cohetes,’ pronounced ‘coh-ET-ays’) outside the church in San Juan Chamula. They are very powerful, but made with gunpowder, not dynamite (which is made with nitroglycerin). More importantly, they are not limited to San Juan. It is a tradition all over (at least) southern Mexico (often several one-after-the-other from a wheel-shaped apparatus decorated with colorful tissue paper called “castillos” and pronounced ‘cahs-TEA-yohs,’ literally ‘castles’) supposedly before/during/at the end of festive days and holidays. I personally do not like them, and they are often set off on no particularly special day and for no particular reason (maybe for someone’s birthday or other personal celebration). Usually, it’s only the first one that scares the bejeebers out of you. The fireworks that produce loud bangs (also) contain chlorate, ‘scented’ aluminium . . . and sulphur (in order to detonate).
John Widmer says
Thanks for the explanation regarding the cohetes. Very interesting! It’s always the first one that get us too! We were actually in Oaxaca during Semana Santa, so we heard quite a few of these cohetes during that time too. The ones at this church in Chamula seemed like even bigger blasts, although that was likely just because we were in closer proximity to it. So loud! But I suppose that’s all part of the fun of Mexico and the intrigue of this interesting little church.
We hope you have great trip to San Cristobal de las Casas. I can only imagine how much its all changed since the 80s. Yet it’s still a very special place that remains one of our favorites in Mexico.
resorts in mahabalipuram says
The waterfalls of El Chiflon quickly became one of my favorites and also San Cristobal is home to many colorful churches, and definitely you should visit.
John Widmer says
Isn’t El Chiflon awesome? Definitely one of our favorites too! We ❤️ San Cristobal!
Thanks a lot! I’m planning my trip to San Cristobal de las Casas and this is an amazing guide 🙂 Can’t wait to explore some of the beautiful places described here <3
John Widmer says
Oh good! We hope this guide has proven helpful and that you have an awesome trip to San Cristobal. Since we wrote this guide last year, we’ve visited many more places in Mexico, but I must say that our heart lies in San Cris! 🙂
Lynne Rowland says
Loved details of your visit. I am concerned about travel. Did you rent a car and travel on your on and if you did were you comfortable? I have had one wonderful experience in Mexico but we had a guide/driver each day in Mexico City with day trips. We were cautioned.
Heather Widmer says
Thanks for the comment and question. We were in San Cristobal de las Casas for a month and felt safe the entire time. We didn’t have a rental car and got to the close attractions within the city on foot (it’s a very walkable and scenic city) and transportation was covered by the tour companies for the day excursions outside of the city. We hope that you consider a future trip to San Cristobal!
I just drove down to San Cristobal from Mexico City. I stopped in Minatitlan as I have 2 dogs and didn’t feel like killing myself to drive straight tbrough. I think that driving in Mexico is fairly safe if you stick to big highways or thd toll roads (cuotas). That being said, I do love in DF and I speak Spanish. I really enjoy driving in Mexico as it gives a totally different perspective of how diverse the landscape is here. My two-cents 🙂
Sorry for the typos, I’m using my cell… I live in DF, love it too! I also wanted to say how useful I found this post as I’ve been trying to figure out my time here. And I love craft beer so you’re after my heart!
John Widmer says
I understood! 🙂 Glad you found this post helpful and we hope you had a great time in San Cristobal and enjoyed a few good beers too!
John Widmer says
Yes, driving throughout Mexico can really give you a whole sense of freedom. We’ve embarked on a few road trips in the Yucatan but have otherwise relied on buses when traveling throughout Mexico. But driving definitely gives you a whole different perspective. And we definitely agree about sticking to the highways. The highways are great in Mexico! But we’ve taken some backroads …and yikes! Some of the conditions are pretty rough and it’s easy to get lost. But we’ve always felt safe.
I will be visiting his magical town in 2 weeks and was a hard time doing the itenerary as I will only be there for 5 days! I came across this page and wow 😳 I am just so thankful that it is so well written! Thank you thank you!
Heather Widmer says
Thanks so much for the comment! We’re so happy to hear that you found our article to be helpful. I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy beautiful San Cristobal just as much as we did!
Peter Terp says
San Cristobal de las Casas is a wonderful city. I think you sum up the best of the city really well
Thanks for a really good article
I visited the city back in 2007 and loved every minute of it.
Heather Widmer says
Thanks for the kind comment and sharing our sentiments on what a great city San Cristobal is!
Aysha Sandoval says
Love your blog!!! Thanks for sharing all this helpful information. My sister and i are planning to go July and he were wondering whats the nearest airport to San Cristobal de las Casa?
Heather Widmer says
Hey Aysha, thanks so much for the comment and kind words 🙂 The closest airport to San Cristobal de las Casas is in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, about 80 km away. Enjoy your visit!
lannie loeks says
Heather Widmer says
Hey Lannie, thanks for the comment!
It’s a really beautiful place
I’ll join everyone else in thanking you for your detailed posts! I found your Oaxaca posting first and definitely found it useful. I reached San Cristobal today and was wondering if you have any other information about cabanas by Lagunas de Montebello. Finding out anything for where to stay there – other than in Comitan – is proving difficult.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Steph, thanks for the comment. We’re so happy to hear that you have found our guide helpful. We only visited Lagunas de Montebello as a day trip, so unfortunately we don’t have any information on cabanas from our first-hand experience. I do recall passing some basic refugios while touring the area. This is a place that we’d love to return to one day and do an overnight visit or two. Please let us know if you find accommodation, we’d love to hear about your experience.
Karla Velazquez says
My son and I we are going to visit San Cristobal de las Casas on May for the first time, this post makes me more excited for our next trip to this magical town.Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences in Chiapas, Mexico. I’m a Mexican and its always nice to see how people from other countries enjoy ours. 🙂
Heather Widmer says
Hi Karla, thanks for the comment! We have no doubt that you and your son will enjoy San Cristobal de las Casas just as much as we did! It truly is a extraordinary city. We had such an amazing time exploring your country, and look forward to returning.
Elena Edwards says
Thank you SO MUCH for this blog post! Your information guided our 1 1/2 weeks in San Cristobal, including sites and how to go about getting to/from them via public transit or walking and a couple of food choices, too! It is evident you must have spent a LOT of time putting this blog post together after much information gathering and your personal experiences, so I just wanted you to know it is much appreciated by us and I’m sure by many others who may or may not have left a reply to your post. Muchas gracias! 🙂
Heather Widmer says
Hey Elena, thank YOU so much for the kind words! We’re delighted to hear that you found our guide helpful. San Christobal truly is a magical place and it’s fantastic that you were able to spend some time exploring 😀
Melissa L Chapman says
Thanks for the information! Is it too cold to swim in all of these beautiful places?
John Widmer says
Your welcome – glad you’ve found it helpful. 🙂 During our visit in February/March we saw a few brave people swimming at the waterfalls but personally we found it to be a bit too cold (but we’re from FL, where we’re used to warm water, lol). During the summer months we’ve heard the water is slightly warmer and makes for great swimming. No swimming in Sumidero Canyon though – there’s crocs in there! (Although we did see some local children in the river – yikes!)
There are 4 of us expats that live at Lake Chapala near Guadalajara that have plans to go to San Cristobal for Thanksgiving week. Thanks for all this great info which I am sure will be looking at each day as we decide what to do.
Heather Widmer says
Hey Joni! Thanks for the comment! We have no doubt that you’ll love San Cristobal just as much as we did. Enjoy your trip this November!
Rachel elliott says
Heading to San Cristobal tonight from Oaxaca and have used a couple of your blogs for inspiration. They are great and so full of useful information.
Thanks for sharing!
John Widmer says
So glad to hear these blog posts have proved helpful! Puts a big smile on our faces. Hope you’re having an awesome trip through Mexico and that you enjoy San Cris as much as we did!
Thanks so much for writing this detailed post. We are heading to San Cristobal for the Independence Day weekend, and you have given us some great ideas. Best info I´ve found yet!
John Widmer says
So happy to hear this info was helpful to your travel planning! There are so many fun things to do in San Cristobal! And I’m sure there will be some sort of fiesta going on for Independence Day weekend. Enjoy!!
Olga K. says
We just came from San Cristobal where we spent one week. I was very happy to find your blog before our trip and I used it extensively to prepare. Thanks so much for putting it together. It was a great help. La Lupe restaurant was amazing. So the Palenque and waterfalls. San Juan Chamula church is still inside of my mind!
Heather Widmer says
Hi Olga. Thanks so much for the kind words, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed San Cristobal as much as we did!
Thanks for sharing this information. We just arrived to San Cristobal and your thorough guide has definitely helped plan our day trips!
John Widmer says
Nice! So glad to hear this was helpful. We hope you guys enjoy Chiapas as much as we did. It turned out to be one of our favorite places in all of Mexico. Something just clicked with us and we crave coming back. Enjoy your time there!!!
Wow so much to do. El Chiflon Waterfalls looks beautiful as does Agua Azul Waterfalls! I would love to do a little caving, and my son would love Grutas de Rancho Nuevo he loves big slides and I think he would enjoy zip lining.
I had no idea there was this much to do around San Cristobal de las Casas.
Francesca @onegrloneworld says
What an absolutely stunning destination – I can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before this post! I was already sold when you discussed the different churches at the beginning, and by the time you got to El Chiflon waterfall I was absolutely sold! Definitely keeping this post for future reference because I am adding it to my list! Thank you!
Holy cow — This is a seriously detailed post. Impressive!
I’ve been to several parts of Mexico and loved it, but haven’t made it to San Cristobal de las Casas yet. The canyon tour looks awesome!
John Widmer says
Thanks Lillie! You’ve got to add San Cristobal to your list for next time that you’re in Mexico. It’s a such a beautiful area with so much to offer. The Sumidero Canyon tour is definitely a must-do day trip here. It’s spectacular! The picture we posted in this article and video really don’t quite to it justice.
Vicki Mattingly says
Chiapas looks beautiful! I’ve been wanting to go there for years (it was a no-go zone when I was in Mexico in the 90s). I’m hoping to go back to Mexico next year and maybe to the San Cristobal de las Casas area. I’d be curious to see the interior of the Templo de San Juan. But, no chicken sacrifices for me, thanks.
We spent 8 months traveling and living in Mexico a couple of years ago but never made it to San Cristobal. We loved the country so much that we plan to go back again this winter and will now add San Cristobal to our list.
John Widmer says
You have to put it on your list when you return to Mexico. It’s such a pleasant place, full of adventure! We already want to go back ourselves 🙂
Great guide – I never knew there were so many cool things to do in and around San Cristobel de la Casas! The caving looks incredible and those slides would be so much fun! And as for those waterfalls, beautiful! This is definitely a destination to add to my list for when I Make it to Mexico!
John Widmer says
We didn’t either! The caving were an easy and fun but those waterfalls were really spectacular! Who knew, right?
Betsy Wuebker says
What a thorough collection of activities and sightseeing in San Cristobal de las Casas and environs! There just has to be more than one thing for everyone on your comprehensive list! I am not familiar with this region at all so I enjoyed learning about everything it has to offer.
John Widmer says
We didn’t know much about this region before venturing this way either. We were pleasantly surprised to discover just how much Chiapas has to offer. There really is something for everyone here.
This post is so filled with enticing adventures and gorgeous pictures, that it makes you want to hop on the plane and just go there right away. I wouldn’t have guessed that San Cristobal de las Casas can be so beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.
John Widmer says
Always happy to provide a little travel inspiration. We hadn’t really given San Cristobal much thought before deciding to stay there for a month, yet all the adventure we had throughout the area now makes it one of our favorite destinations in Mexico. We had no idea. What a pleasant surprise!
Wow! You guys fit a LOT of information in to this post! Who knew that there was such a diverse landscape and variety of things to do in Mexico, let alone in just this small area of the country. Very cool 🙂
John Widmer says
Yeah, many people tend to think of Mexico as beaches & palm trees. At least, that was our skewed vision of the country for a while. There’s so much more to this fascinating country and the mountains around San Cristobal de las Casas really proved that for us. It’s a very cool place indeed (literally)!