How to spend a weekend in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a World Heritage Site, complete with a mix of beautiful and bright Baroque and neo-Gothic architecture within a 16-century Spanish colonial layout.

Your time spent here will involve walking along cobblestone streets, admiring the architecture, visiting various museums, galleries, boutique clothing stores, cafes and rooftop bars. After a few days in this gorgeous and vibrant city, you’ll realise why it’s become one of the most popular spots to visit in Mexico and will spend your time plotting ways to make a quick return.

About San Miguel De Allende

San Miguel De Allende was founded in the 16th century and is located roughly four hours drive from Mexico City. The city was named by the monk who founded it, Juan de San Miguel, and a war hero in Mexico’s War of Independence, General Ignacio Allende.

The city feels like you’ve stepped into a Mexican fairy tale; cobblestones and brightly coloured colonial facades, a beautiful neo-gothic pink stone church as the focal point, all surrounded by lush, green mountains.

There is something for everyone in this beautiful city; a temperate climate year-round, a vibrant art scene, delicious restaurants with authentic Mexican cuisine and mountains to hike.

Best things to do during your visit

1. Hang out in the main plaza (Jardín Allende)

San Miguel’s main plaza hosts the symbol of the city- Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel- a neo-gothic parish church. The original church dates back to the 1600s, but the facade we see today was designed in 1880.

Grab an Esquites from a street vendor, find a park bench to sit on and watch this vibrant city come to life around you.

2. Take a walk to a viewpoint

San Miguel de Allende looks amazing at street level, but it looks even better from above. The walk to the viewpoint, El Mirador, is only a 15-20 minute walk from the main plaza and boasts views over the whole city and beyond.

3. Grab drinks at a rooftop bar

There’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon on holidays than kicking back and enjoying a few cocktails at a trendy bar overlooking the beautiful city you’re visiting. I spent an afternoon at the Lunas Roof Top Bar. Being a little further out of Centro than some other rooftop bars, you get sweeping views of the city. I highly recommend this place for its charming atmosphere along with reasonably priced alcohol and charcuterie boards.

4. Eat your way across town

Authentic Mexican food, non of this tex-mex stuff the Western world is used to eating, is truly something special! During my two weeks in Mexico I tried so many different flavours, spices and herbs I’d never tasted in my life; it was delectable and such a fun experience!

Something I like to do is ask the waiter what the local favourite dish is on the menu or what’s a “must-have” meal and go with that! I’m a vegetarian so I had to miss out on many of the local top picks, but many delicious veggie options had just as much flavour (in my opinion).

My favourite restaurants and cafes I visited were La Parada, a Peruvian restaurant for lunch and Panio for an authentic Mexican breakfast.

5. Go on a walking tour

As I’ve said in every single blog post I’ve written, my favourite thing to do in a city is going on a walking tour. It’s a great way to get your bearings in a city. I love learning about the history and current politics of the city. It’s also a great opportunity to get tips on the best restaurants and bars to visit from a local.

6. Experience a local festival

Planning your trip around a main Mexican festival is a great way to experience their culture! One of my favourite parts of visiting Mexico was how deeply engrained Mexican culture, cuisine and language is all over the country. I was in Mexico during Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which made my whole experience even more special getting to witness this beautiful holiday.

7. Visit Fábrica La Aurora

Fábrica La Aurora has a number of galleries and artist’s studios, located on the site of an historic textile factory. You can still see a number of the machines from the factory as you explore. There are a number of cafes and restaurants as well that you can enjoy during your visit.

8. Have a coffee in a secret courtyard

There are so many unsuspecting courtyards throughout this city, you just need to wander around and you’ll stumble into one.

9. Marvel at the beautiful architecture

The architecture in this city and the tiny details everywhere are what make this city so unique. I had so much fun wandering up and down the streets, snapping as many pictures as I could trying to capture that perfect moment!

Best time to visit

People who travel to San Miguel de Allende love it for its seemingly eternal spring. Winter is the high season, with clear days and chilly nights; summer is the rainy season; fall is fiesta season, boasting tourists, parades, and fireworks.

May is the hottest month, with an average high of 30°C and January is the coldest month, with an average high of 23°C. I visited in November and the weather was perfect.

Where to stay

We wanted to stay somewhere central, so we could walk everywhere in the city. We stayed at Hotel Villa Santa Blanca; it was an incredibly simple stay with a bed and a bathroom. However, the only time we were in the room was to sleep, so this hotel did the job.

How to get to and around the city

We drove 4 hours to San Miguel from Mexico City. There are three airports available to get you to San Miguel de Allende depending where you are coming from. Your options are to; 1. Fly to Del Bajio Airport, Leon/Guanajuato then drive 1 hour. Fly to Juarez Intl, Mexico City then drive approximately 4 hours. Fly to Queretaro Airport then drive 1 hour to San Miguel.

The best way to get around San Miguel de Allende is on foot. Some of the most exciting discoveries in the city can only be found along its winding walkways. Just be sure to pack comfortable sneakers; cobbled, narrow streets can be tough on feet.

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, I hope this blog post has convinced you to add this charming city to your itinerary! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever visited San Miguel de Allende or it’s now on your bucket list.

Planning your trip to New York City

There is no place in the world like New York City. It is an iconic destination for many reasons including the blend of world-class museums, delicious food, bustling streets and giant skyscrapers. However, for the same reason New York is unique, it can also be overwhelming. Whether you want to visit for a week or just a couple of days, it is important to plan if you want to make the most of your trip.

If you’re visiting for the first time or the 100th time, there’s always something new and exciting to discover. It is a city of eight million inhabitants, and you can bet there is something for everyone to enjoy!

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Understanding New York’s boroughs and neighbourhoods

New York City is made up of five boroughs; The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Within the boroughs are different neighbourhoods. Each borough and neighbourhood offers a different vibe. This is why it’s important to do your research. If you only have a few days in the city (or even two weeks), you want to make sure you’re covering what you want to see because you won’t get everywhere.

Now, it is important to know a bit of New York geography when visiting. As this will save you a lot of time! In New York, when someone says “downtown,” they mean “in a southerly direction” or any of the neighbourhoods below 14th street. “Midtown” means the neighbourhoods in the middle section of Manhattan, between 14th Street and 59th Street. This section also happens to be the busiest, most office-building-filled part of the city. And “uptown” means “north” or any of the neighbourhoods in Manhattan above 59th Street.

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When to Visit NYC

There isn’t the best time of year to visit New York. It’s always busy, and there’s always something to see, learn or do no matter the weather. Figuring out when to visit depends on what you want to do, as each season has its perks.

For me, I would never visit in winter because (I imagine) it is far too cold for my Australian-self. However, winter is great for those who want to experience a white Christmas or watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. There are slightly fewer crowds and more discounts as well.

Spring and Autumn are the most enjoyable times to visit in my opinion. You’re either going into summer or coming out of it, so the weather is pleasant. Spring-time also means beautiful flowers over the city, and in the Autumn you’ll see the foliage across Central Park- what a sight. Visiting in these months means New York is very walkable, so you get to see a lot more of it!

Summer can be sweltering hot in NYC. Try walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in 35-degree heat- not fun! Summer is also the busiest season as everyone in the US is on holidays. However, this also means that a lot is going on!

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Where to stay

Where you stay is going to depend on which borough and neighbourhood you prefer and how much money you want to spend. The closer to the heart of the city, the more money you’re going to pay. Manhattan is the more popular destination because it’s where most of the tourist attractions are; making it one of the most expensive areas to stay.

That being said, Manhattan is a large borough. Do you want to stay in the Upper East Side, Tribeca or Noho? I suggest writing an itinerary and marking where you want to visit and what you want to see on a map and stay in the area where the majority of your tourist attractions are to minimise long commutes and make the most of your day.

There are hotels, hostels or AirBnbs all over the city, providing lots of variety when it comes to location and cost.

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Travel tips

  • Tipping is essential:
    • For table service at a restaurant, make sure to tip between 15-25% of the total cheque
    • Tour guides depend on tips, generally, a 15-20% guideline applies
    • Taxi drivers should be tipped 10-20% of their fare
  • Metro Card: If you’re here for a week or more, consider getting an unlimited seven-day card for $33, which you can buy at a kiosk in any MTA station.
  • Subway: Understanding the Express v. Local Subway is necessary! Don’t get on the express subway or bus unless you’re sure that it’s going to stop off where you want it to.  The regular train will stop at the majority of the stops while the express trains will skip on average half the stops.
  • Museums: A lot of the museums have a free day or specific hours where you can visit for free. Check out their websites.
  • Pizza: The dingy whole-in-the-wall pizza stores are the tastiest
  • Times Square: This is the worst, most horrific part of New York (arguably the whole world). Avoid this area unless you want to see a broadway show; then I suggest you get in and out as fast as possible.
  • Time to spend: New York City is SO BIG and I would recommend no less than four days. If you want to get a real feel for New York City, you need to spend at least a week.
  • Friendly: New Yorkers are very friendly! If you are lost on the subway or on the street, just ask someone! 9/10 times someone will be a local and will be more than happy to help.

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If you do decide to visit you’ll learn what a crazy, vibrant and magnificent city it truly is. The city looks just like the movies, but to understand it, you must experience it for yourself.

NYC is a city of immigrants, in a budding symbiotic relationship. Whether you’re after knishes and bagels, Chinese food or a Korean bbq, Colombian meats, Yemeni tea, Himalayan food or cannolis, you’ll find whatever you desire.

New York City can be an overwhelming city to visit, but if you take the time to understand it, you’ll fall in love with its grittiness, craziness, quirks, beauty and charm. You’ll start to understand why so many people move here and make this city their home.

If you’ve been to NYC, let me know your favourite thing about it!

7 best things to do in Hobart

Hobart may be a small city geographically and population-wise, but it has a lot to offer! With a vibrant art scene, delicious restaurants and produce, surrounded by beautiful natural attractions it is no wonder Hobart is becoming a very popular destination to visit.

Don’t miss:

  • MONA
  • Salamanca Markets
  • Battery Point

Things to do and top attractions in Hobart-

  • 1. Shop for trinkets at Salamanca Markets

Salamanca Market is located on Hobart’s waterfront and is one of Australia’s largest outdoor markets. It is open 8:30-3pm every Saturday with more than 300 stalls filled with arts, crafts, jewellery, fresh food and produce and homewares.

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  • 2. Be awed by art at MONA

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is an art museum located within the Moorilla winery in Hobart. It is the largest privately funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere. MONA is a phenomenal art museum, with artworks ranging from ancient, modern and contemporary from the David Walsh collection. It is immersive, fun and weird. This should not be missed on a trip to Hobart!

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  • 3. Walk Hobart’s waterfront

Take some time to walk along the waterfront. Start from the beautiful sandstone buildings at Salamanca Place and stroll around to the docks at Brooke Street Pier. Whilst here it would be a crime not to get stuck into an iconic box of fish and chips.

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  • 4. Go on a free walking tour around Salamanca and Battery Point

One of my favourite things to do in any city I visit is to go on a free walking tour. I went with this company, who were really great! It was a 2 hour tour of Hobart, Salamanca and Battery Point where I learnt about Hobart’s fascinating history (which is quite different to mainland Australia) and other great tips and facts about the beautiful city.

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  • 5. Taste craft beer

Craft beer is very important in Hobart! For a great craft beer check out Shambles Brewery or Hobart Brewing Company. If you’re looking for a place with a cool vibe on a Friday or Saturday night, check out Preachers in Battery Point. It is a hip bar with a bus parked in the courtyard! You can get craft beers, cocktails and burgers.

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  • 6. Salivate over Hobart’s delicious food scene

A large portion of your time in Hobart should be spent scouting out delicious restaurants and eating until you can’t any more. All of the produce is amazing quality, and fish is a must. There are so many delicious cafes, bakeries, restaurants and food stalls in Hobart- I barely even touched the surface!

For brunch I recommend checking out Born in Brunswick. Get the potato and pecorino hash, celeriac and black sesame remoulade with smoked crème fraîche and a fried egg, you will not be disappointed! Cargo Bar for pizza in Salamanca was really good and had a great vibe. Jack Greene, just next door to Cargo Bar, has half price burgers every Sunday!

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  • 7. Go on a day trip to Bruny Island

Bruny Island is a small island located off the south-eastern coast of Tasmania. You can get here by taking the barge with your car; you will definitely need a car to drive around the island. We visited the Neck Lookout, Cape Bruny, South Bruny National Park, and Bruny Island Cheese Company. One day on the island is more than enough time, I wouldn’t recommend staying over night unless you are after a very remote getaway.

Make sure you keep an eye out for the white wallabies which are located on Bruny Island. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot one, so let me know if you do when you go!

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Accomodation

I stayed at Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse which is a multi-award winning boutique hostel suitable for backpackers, groups of friends, couples and families. It’s located in central Hobart in the historic village of Battery Point- which in my opinion, is the most beautiful part of the city! If you’re visiting Hobart, I definitely recommend staying here. The place was perfect, complete with two french bulldogs to play with!

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Everything you need to know about Tasmania’s Bay of Fires

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Bay of Fires is a truly beautiful part of the world. Located on Tasmania’s north-east coast, expect to be greeted with iridescent blue water, white sandy beaches and huge, granite rocks splashed with orange lichen. The juxtaposition between the blue and orange is a magnificent sight to see.

The area is well known for its bird watching and beach activities such as snorkelling and diving, with scenic reefs, corals, and varied sea life. Whilst driving along the roads keep a look out for native Australian animals such as kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons (a real marsupial, found only in Tasmania).

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Getting here:

To get to this picturesque destination, we drove to Eddystone Point Lighthouse from Launceston airport. It was a 2.5-hour drive, with a large part of it on a dirt road. Luckily, there were barely any other cars on the road, which is what you can largely expect during your whole trip around Tassie.

Allow for a few hours to wander up and down the coastline here, taking in the beautiful scenery. You never know what you’ll find; we spotted a wobbegong (carpet shark) in the shallow waters!

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Binalong Bay:

From Bay of Fires, we needed to make our way to Coles Bay. We stopped off at Binalong Bay, a small coastal town situated at the southern end of the Bay of Fires, just in time to watch the sunset over the ocean. There isn’t much here, but it made for a peaceful stopover on a multi-hour drive.

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