Chiapas region in Mexico is one of the most beautiful in terms of its nature and natural wonders. San Cristobal de las Casas is the second biggest city in this region and without a doubt – the most beautiful one. It has a lot to offer to all types of travellers and tourists. Cute and colourful streets with lively downtown surrounded by forever green mountains all around the city. It is well known for its beautiful architecture, cultural activities, delicious food and endless nightlife. It is a highland town located at 2200 metres in altitude which results in a very pleasant weather conditions. During summer it is sunny during the day, but the temperature is very steady throughout the days and usually is around 25-30 degrees. Nights are a bit chill with an average temperature or 12-18 degrees. We have spent more than two weeks in this amazing city and here is the ultimate list of what to do, eat, see and visit in San Cristobal de las Casas and around.
There are many options to choose from as variety of visitors dictates the supply. Due to a lot of backpackers staying in the city, the number of nice and neat hostels can be found around the center for about 100-200 pesos per night for one bed. Middle class hotels are usually oriented to families, as you can see a lot of families spending their time with children there. These can vary from 350 pesos per night for double room. Also some luxury class boutique hotels look very nice and are available in the center if you want to splurge on this.
We found AirBnB being a great option, as differently from more less touristic places in Mexico, the competition is quite high so the prices are very good. We have stayed at one place and ended up paying 180 pesos per night for a private room with private bathroom and it was very neat and clean. It is worth to check it as well, as the city is very safe, so you can do some more walking to the center and find nicer place for a bargain price around one or two kilometres away from the center.
The variety of restaurants and cafes is extremely huge, you can find different types of food on evert corner. Prices vary depending on the look of the place inside as well as the food they are offering. Also one restaurant can offer glass of wine for 20 pesos, while another restaurant right next to it and looking almost the same might sell it for 50 pesos. So it is worth to go through few places if you want to find cheaper and nicer one. As we did our research, we can highly recommend Las Carmelitas for breakfast (around 40 pesos for egg meal, juice and coffee) and lunch (60 pesos for full meal package with two dishes and a drink). They work just until 6pm so it is a great place to have proper breakfast or lunch only. They are situated in Calle Guadalupe, 50 meters away from the main square (website copy). Our highly recommended place to hang out in the evening is kazkasdevino, situated in one of the main pedestrian streets. It has delicious local quesadillas, tapas and a full list of wines. A glass of wine costs from as little as 20 pesos and can go up a lot as the variety is huge. Also you get a free tapas with every drink! It is usually very busy for obvious reasons, but it is worth to wait for a spot outside if the weather is good.
There are plenty of activities you can do in the city by walking. A lot of travellers choose to stay for a few days, explore the city and have a rest in a great weather. We want to share best ideas based in our experience:
Free walking tours are a great option to get to know the city better, visit main attractions and places. They are held every day either at 10am or 5pm and the meeting spot is in the main square. It takes about two hours and the guides are very nice and speak english.
At every time of the year there are some cultural activities happening in the city. When we were there, concerts in the main square with live music was happening almost every day as they were celebrating some kind of festivity. Also local food exhibition was taking place in a huge tent next to the main church, where you could try out various types of food and drinks. In the main palace, there was a photography exhibition happening so I guess you got the idea about rich cultural life that is always within this city.
At the end of one of main pedestrian streets there is a huge mercado, where you can find beautiful souvenirs, mexican clothes, jewelry, bags, shoes and a lot of other stuff for very good items. Don’t forget to negotiate the prices!
About two kilometres from the main square there is a botanical garden, where they have a very nice orchid greenhouse and depending on the time of the year – butterflies house. Also at the same place there is a nice hiking path which leads up to the mountain, where you can see nice overview of the city. At the top of the mountain there is a little cave that you can go into and then you go back down. This hike circle is around 2 kilometres and is quite a nice and relaxing attraction if you get tired of colourful and vibrant city.
Another argument why it is convenient to stay in San Cristobal de las Casas that there are a number of day tours you can take and see beautiful places around Chiapas region. There are a lot of agencies you can buy tickets from and you can go on the tour the next day. As a lot of them offer the same tours, it is worth to visit at least few and ask about the prices. They vary depending on an agency, time of the day and mood of the agent as we kept getting different prices all over from them and even in the same agency during different times they said different prices.
Finally we chose to visit Sumidero Canyon and Chiflon Waterfalls. We got a great price for the canyon, where we paid 250 pesos as the normal price is 300 pesos. But we came quite late to buy the tickets, and we think they needed just couple more people for the full van so decides to give as a discount. For the Waterfalls we paid 300 pesos, but the most common price was 350 pesos.
Tour to Sumidero Canyon was amazing and it is really worth to visit if you are there. There is around 1 hour drive with the bus to the river, 2 hours trip on a boat, after the bus stop at a small town Corzo for lunch and it drives you back to San Cristobal. Canyon itself and a boat trip was one of the most amazing things we saw in Mexico.
Our second tour was to El Chiflon waterfalls and Montebello lakes. It took all day, as the lakes are situated right in Guatemala border so at the end of the day it is quite a long drive. Waterfalls are spectacular, you can spend 2 hours there, but is barely enough, as you have to go through the jungles seeing smaller waterfalls when you approach the biggest one. Definitely worth to visit! As for the lakes, we have visited 5 lakes in total, so two of them were really nice while the others are not so much to see really. But all of the agencies offer the same package, so you will have to do all of them if you want to see the waterfall too. Really great trip, just you get a bit tired of being on the bus most of the time, so you might want to plan a more relaxed day afterwards.