Weekend in Querétaro

Recently, Julian, a few friends and I took a weekend trip to the nearby state of Querétaro. I’m always looking for an opportunity to visit the many beautiful cities and towns within driving distance from Mexico City. So when a family friend invited us to tour his vineyard in Querétaro, we decided to make a weekend out of it.

Historic Center, Querétaro City

Querétaro is a small state about three hours from Mexico City. Its capital, Querétaro City, is a charming colonial city filled with history. In fact, its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We left Mexico City early Saturday morning and spent the day in downtown Querétaro City walking through its cobblestone streets and admiring its many beautiful churches and grand colonial houses. It was a lovely way to spend the day as Querétaro City is very pedestrian friendly, clean, and safe.

I love the grand colonial architecture, just look at this door!

We had a wonderful lunch at Alioli and would highly recommend it

How adorable is this pink elementary school??

Querétaro City is full of beautiful old churches and cathedrals, there seems to be one on every corner!

 

I can never resist a Mexican market!

Templo y Convento de la Santa Cruz- Mexican Emperor Maximilian was jailed here before his execution

Inner courtyard of the Templo y Convento de la Santa Cruz

Bernal

Once the sun went down, we headed for the nearby town of Bernal. Bernal is a designated pueblo magico (“magic town”) and is known for La Peña, the world’s third tallest free-standing rock. We stayed the night at Casa Mateo, a boutique hotel with impressive views of La Peña.

Casa Mateo

La Peña de Bernal

The next morning we rose early to climb the famous monolith. The climb to the top of Bernal is not too strenuous but it is very steep in parts and requires a decent level of physical fitness. On our way up, we saw many Mexicans climbing with their small children and this made me so nervous!! By foot, it takes about 30 minutes to get halfway up. After that point, you can’t go any further without serious rappelling equipment. Tip: Make sure to get there early in order to avoid noon-day sun, bring lots of water, and wear shoes with good traction.

Fun fact: Residents in the tiny town of Bernal insist that la Peña has mystical healing powers. Some say it exudes a magnetic force, others say its energy comes from giant Amethyst crystals buried deep within its core. Interestingly enough, the town is reputed to be home to more centenarians than any other town in Mexico.

Julian showing some curious kids the bird’s-eye perspective of his drone flying over la Pena

Downtown Bernal

After a quick change and shower, we explored the quaint town of Bernal. Unfortunately, we had very little time to see Bernal before we had to leave for a tobacco factory tour. 

Real Fábrica de Tabaco

In 1779, the original Real Fábrica de Tabaco was built and it became the second most important tobacco plant in New Spain. In recent years, entrepreneurs from Querétaro decided to revive this tradition, creating a modern Real Fábrica de Tabaco but maintaining time-honored cigar-making methods. At the factory, visitors are able to see expert cigar-makers in action and learn about the cigar-making process.

At Real Fabrica, they make a cigar called “Black Chazaro” from the best black tobacco of Veracrúz

There’s a beautiful courtyard in the center of the factory where you can enjoy your cigars

De Cote Vineyard

Finally, we made our way to De Cote Vineyard for a delicious lunch, tour of the facilities, and, of course, wine tasting!

Along with its history and colonial architecture, Querétaro is known for its wines and cheese. There is a long wine-making tradition in Querétaro with the Spanish planting the first vines in the 16th century. De Cote opened its doors in 2014 and since then has won many awards for its wines.

Spend an afternoon touring the sprawling vineyard on foot, bike, or on train. Afterwards, grab a bite to eat in the more casual bistro or dine on the terrace for a more sophisticated menu and unbeatable view.

Getting a tour of the very modern facilities from the owner himself

Querétaro was the perfect weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. If you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten path in Mexico, go to Querétaro. I promise you won’t regret it!


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