Whenever I find some free time in my busy schedule, I like to jet away to a bustling metropolis in a foreign city or to a beautiful beach town in an exotic locale, which is why I love the convenience factor of HotelTonight. If I want to take a spontaneous trip abroad, I always know I can rely on HotelTonight to find a great last-minute hotel. So when I recently decided to explore the quaint Mexican town of Querétaro, I pulled up the HotelTonight app right away and booked a last-minute hotel in Querétaro.
As the capital of the state of Querétaro, this town is steeped in history and boasts a rich culture. Unlike the towns that dot the coast of Mexico, Querétaro isn’t flooded with tourists and expensive hotels. Rather, it’s a smaller, authentic Mexican town filled with cobbled alleys, pretty plazas and beautiful colonial architecture. From the moment I arrived in Querétaro, I was infatuated with the laidback lifestyle of the locals, and I made it my mission to see this city from their point of view.
The heart of Querétaro is its Centro Historico, where you can wander past Baroque monuments from the 17th century, old colonial buildings and authentic Indian houses. I spent my first several hours in Querétaro strolling through these old, storied streets, and I got the flavor of the city immediately. Querétaro is a city that is proud of its culture and its history, and you can see this around every adobe corner and in every colorful shop you pop into. There are plenty of sights to visit in the Historic Downtown, so I’d recommend allotting at least half a day to explore this neighborhood.
One of my very favorite parts of traveling to a new city is tasting the local cuisine, which is why I was excited to stumble upon the Mercadito in Querétaro. This small market is located in the Centro Historico, and it features stalls of local vendors selling fresh foods and artisanal products. It’s a great place to pick up some tasty gifts for friends back home, or to even purchase food for an afternoon picnic.
If you love history, particularly ancient history, you can’t miss the chance to visit El Cerrito Archaeological Site during your stay in Querétaro. The giant pyramid in El Cerrito was once a place of worship for locals, and it was originally built around 300 BCE. This ancient archaeological site will take your breath away, and you just might learn a few interesting tidbits during your visit. I spent a couple of hours in El Cerrito, which is easy to access via car, and I simply couldn’t stop marveling at the ancient pyramid that has withstood the test of time.
That night, I returned to the center of Querétaro and spent the evening around the Plaza de Armas. This city square commemorates the independence of Mexico, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also happens to be surrounded by terrific restaurants and bars, so it’s a great neighborhood to explore once the sun sets. Thanks to a few friendly locals, I found a great spot for dinner, and I enjoyed delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine among dozens of Querétaro locals.
Cerro de Las Campanas is a national park, but it’s not like the national parks you may be picturing, as this park is a historic hill in the middle of the city, not an expansive stretch of natural terrain. It was at this very spot where the Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg was executed, officially liberating the Mexicans of the French intervention. The park played a significant role in Mexican history, and thus it’s one of the most cherished sights in Querétaro. I didn’t want to travel all the way to Querétaro without visiting this beloved national park, so I hiked up the hill to the sight. For those who don’t want to trek up the hill, Cerro de Las Campanas is easily accessible by taxi or bus. Regardless of how you choose to get to this national park, I’d definitely recommend checking it out while you’re in Querétaro.
Querétaro certainly isn’t one of the best-known destinations in Mexico, but that was one of the reasons why I loved it so much. This charming Mexican city isn’t swarming with tourists, so I was able to get a great beat on the city within hours of arriving. The people, the sights and the food in Querétaro are all worth a trip to this Mexican town, even if you’re just taking a spontaneous weekend getaway. If you do choose to plan a spur-of-the-moment trip to Mexico, be sure to ease some of your travel worries by booking your last-minute Querétaro hotel through HotelTonight. Planning last-minute trips has never been easier thanks to HotelTonight.