Located in northern/central Mexico, San Luis Potosi City has played a significant role in the country’s history. It is situated along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Inland Royal Road) also known as the Silver Route, that connected Mexico City and Santa Fe during the Spanish Colonization Era. Due to its commercial and cultural significance, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010, being the first Mexican state in obtaining such recognition.
When people think of San Luis Potosi, most immediately think of La Huasteca in the southern region of the state (both the state and capital share the same name). It’s understandable. La Huasteca has beautiful lagoons, waterfalls, rivers, and nature all around. The truth is, the state’s capital may not even be among the top options for tourists. That is indeed a shame. San Luis Potosi City is a jewel in the center of the country. Let’s discover the best things to do in San Luis Potosi City, shall we?
Walk around the Historic Center
One of the must-sees in any destination you visit is undoubtedly its Historic Center. San Luis Potosi City’s is really beautiful. It’s filled with old, cantera stone buildings and you can see a contrast between antiquity and modernity. By law, buildings in the downtown area cannot change the style of their facades. This is to preserve the colonial touch that so many of us love.
Plaza de Armas or main square. It has a beautiful kiosk in the center. Most Mexican cities have one in their main squares. There are several benches all around where you can sit under a shady tree. You can sit down and relax while you watch little kids playing around or grown-ups enjoying a lively conversation. It’s a gathering place for locals, especially on weekends. If you’re lucky, you can even watch a musical performance or a comedy show. And don’t forget to grab an elote (corn on the cob) while you’re there. Just don’t put too much chile if you’re not used to it.
Learn about the History
San Luis Potosi City played a major role in Mexican history. Every corner witnessed some important event. Take your time to read the explanations around monuments and buildings. Travel is about having fun and learning.
Not to miss:
- Government Palace, where President Juárez established the Supreme Court in 1862.
- Teatro de la Paz, a beautiful theater with French influences.
- Plaza de los Fundadores, plaza surrounded by buildings that were important for the social and economic development of the state.
- Edificio Ipiña, a building that was too modern for the time it was built.
- Jardín de San Francisco, a garden in front of a beautiful Baroque temple.
Admire the Architecture and Take a Lot of Pictures
Pick a pace while walking around the Historic Center. Whether you’re a professional or amateur photographer, you will find lots of photo opportunities all over the place. There are beautiful pink stone buildings that date many years back. They were built by the Spanish and have witnessed many important events in Mexican history.
Visit the Cathedral
Right next to the main square is the Cathedral. It’s one of the most beautiful churches in Mexico. This cathedral has a Baroque facade. Among its most notable attributes are the 24 statues of the Apostles (no other cathedral in the world has that): 12 made of marble and 12 made of cantera stone. Its two bell towers were made of different materials due to having been built in different periods. The inside of the church is also very beautiful. You are going to love it.
Visit a Museum
Very close to the main square, you will find the Museo Nacional de la Mascara (National Mask Museum). It’s an ex-mansion that hosts an enormous collection of masks and costumes from pre-Hispanic times to the present from all over the country. It’s the second-largest museum of its kind, only being surpassed by the one in Zacatecas City. In addition to its permanent exhibit, the museum also hosts temporary exhibits. Both kids and adults will have a fun, learning experience. I highly recommend it.
Another museum I recommend visiting is the Centro Cultural de las Artes. It’s on the outskirts of the Historic Center. The museum looks like a castle from the outside. It was originally a prison and served that purpose for many years, but it was eventually converted into a museum. It’s not only a museum but also an arts center where people interested in the arts can study to become a painter, sculptor, writer, etc.
Hop on a Bus or Trolley
Back to the main square, let’s say you would like to explore a little more, but you may feel tired by now. Don’t worry. There are trolleys and buses that you can hop on to tour the city. I recommend doing this activity at night to avoid sun exposure plus you will get a better view of the illuminated city. They give you a tour around important places in the Historic Center and provide detailed information on each one. It’s very informative and a cool activity to do with the whole family.
Eat Something Local
La Parroquia Potosina is one of the most well-known places to eat in San Luis Potosi City. It’s just a couple of blocks away from the main square. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner at reasonable prices. They also serve a breakfast buffet Thursday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you order a la carte, you have to try the enchiladas potosinas. They’re spicy corn tortillas filled with cheese and accompanied with beans, cream, and avocado, although they serve them with cecina (cured beef) in several places as well.
For dessert, you can’t miss Chocolates Constanzo. They’re an institution in this Mexican capital. You can find several locations throughout the city, but one of the biggest is downtown. You will find all kinds of chocolate for all tastes.
Connect with Nature
San Luis Potosi City has several options for nature lovers. For starters, you can visit the Parque Tangamanga, the second-largest park of its kind in Mexico. It’s only surpassed by Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City. This park has picnic areas, sports fields, museums, among other facilities.
If you want to break a sweat, then head over to La Ventana. This rock formation is 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) above sea level and is a challenge for trekkers.
Now, if adventure is your thing, then Sierra de Álvarez is for you. There are camping areas on site and caves where you can practice rappelling.
Visit a Hacienda and Mezcal Factory
Did you know that San Luis Potosi is one of Mexico’s top producers of mezcal? This alcoholic beverage comes from maguey, just like tequila.
You can visit a hacienda along with its maguey plantation. Afterward, you can visit a factory to learn about the making process of mezcal. Whether you’re a connoisseur or an amateur drinker, you will find this fascinating. In the end, you can buy some mezcal to bring back home. Cheers!
Spend a Night…or Two
A good option would be the Gran Hotel Concordia. It’s right in the heart of the Historic Center with access to several major attractions. Prices are very reasonable starting from 50 USD. This hotel is a protected historic building with all the facilities and services you expect from a modern hotel. They even provide transportation to/from the airport.
Of course, there are cheaper and pricier options at your disposal. But for me, Gran Hotel Concordia does the job. You can’t go wrong with it.
Best Time to Visit
There isn’t one. It depends on your preferences. The rainiest months are July, August, and September. For clear, rainless days the best time of the year for outdoor activities according to tourists is from late April to mid-June.
In terms of special events, some good times for visiting are:
- The Procession of Silence on Good Friday, an event to remember the passion of Christ.
- Fiesta de Luz, a video mapping show with lights and sound about the history of the state. Only available during holidays.
- Feria Nacional Potosina, in August. Good food, fireworks, rides, and concerts for the whole family.
How to Get There
Ponciano Arriaga International Airport is the airport that serves this Mexican capital. It is located about 16.5 km (25 miles) or 25 minutes from the city center. Domestic routes include Mexico City, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Queretaro, and Tijuana. As of October 2019, the only international routes operated out of this airport are Houston and Dallas. United Airlines operates direct flights between these two American cities and San Luis Potosi City.
San Luis Potosi City is conveniently located in the center of the country and has access to three major cities by land: Mexico City (417 km/259 mi.), Guadalajara (330 km/205 mi.), and Monterrey (515 km/320 mi.).
San Luis Potosi City is often overlooked by travel guides and tourists alike. Just like I’ve said plenty of times that there’s more to Mexico than just Cancun, I say the same thing about San Luis Potosi: There’s more to San Luis Potosi than just La Huasteca! The majority of visitors are Mexicans living in the U.S., although it seems that’s starting to change with the inflow of tourists from other parts. This Mexican capital has so much to offer everyone you won’t be disappointed.
That’s it for today. As always, feel free to comment or ask any questions you may have. See you soon!
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The next thing you have to do is secure your lodging. Whether you prefer a hostel, a guesthouse, a B&B, or a hotel, you can find them all on Booking. You can find lodging of all kinds ranging from cheap to expensive and somewhere in between. Many people have scored good deals using it.
Another popular option is Hostelworld. This website focuses on hostels as opposed to hotels.
Book a tour
In some places, you might want to hire a tour. Not all places are equally accessible to visit by oneself. It helps enormously when you visit with a local guide who can show you around and answer any questions you might have…all in your native language. My to-go place is Viator as they offer tours of all kinds and have a presence all over the world.
Rent a car
Public transportation is usually cheaper than renting a car, but it’s sometimes more complicated and time-consuming. That’s a reality. In some cases, it’s more convenient to rent a car. My recommendation is Rentalcars.com. Here you can compare rates and choose the one that fits you best.
Get travel insurance
Never travel without a travel insurance policy, especially during these days! Travel insurance can literally save your life. My personal recommendations are World Nomads and Insured Nomads. Both companies cover COVID-19 related incidents, which is crucial these days.
Just click on the “Plan your trip” tab at the top of this page, and you will find more resources like getting Mexican insurance for your foreign car, buying travel accessories, and learning Spanish. And, of course, don’t forget to check back often to read about more tips on Mexico travel.