Welcome to my series on solo travel for the Fly 40+ Black woman in Mexico! In this series, I am sharing some of my favorite solo travel destinations in Mexico. I am happy to kick off this series with a solo travel guide to Querétaro, Mexico, one of my favorite, but often overlooked cities in Mexico – Santiago de Querétaro, aka Querétaro City, or just Querétaro.
As some of you may know I immigrated to Mexico in May 2021. I just decided to jump off the hamster wheel get out of the rat race and live a slower and more peaceful life.
In addition to enjoying living in Mexico, I also very much enjoy solo travel around Mexico. If you have been with me since I began my relocation journey, then you know that I wrote about my visits to 9 cities in Mexico when I was trying to decide where to live. You can grab A Tale of 9 Cities: A Guide to my Mexico Research & Relocation Trips to learn more. I was supposed to visit Querétaro during those relocation trips but I fell in love with San Miguel de Allende and I never got there until after my move to Mexico. However, Querétaro has her own special charm and deserves a visit when you are in Guanajuato state as the state of Querétaro sits right next door.
This summer I am visiting several cities and towns in Mexico and sharing my favorites for solo travel. I will give you an honest opinion about whether I think they are safe, affordable, and enjoyable places for “us” Fly 40+ solo travelers.
So without further ado, let’s talk about my solo visit(s) to Santiago de Querétaro, the capital city of the state of Querétaro, also known as (aka) “Querétaro.”
Querétaro, also called “Querétaro City is 2.5 hours from Mexico City by car and 50 minutes from San Miguel de Allende by Car. Its international airport is a major transit point for those visiting San Miguel de Allende. Its historic center “Centro Historico”, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
Climate in Querétaro
Queretaro is located at an altitude so the city maintains an eternal spring-like climate throughout much of the year. The city is situated over a mile high (1,820 meters). The cool & dry mountain air provides moderate temperatures. It gets a little warm between April and June but once the rainy season begins the climate becomes temperate again. Temperatures are usually around 78 to 85° during the day and in the 50s to 60° in the evenings between June and September. Temperatures then switch to between 68 to 78° highs during the spring and winter months and from the 50s to even low 30s at night. Summer month weather begins in April to June when it is hottest.
Getting to Querétaro
If flying to Querétaro the best airport is the Querétaro international airport (QRO). You can fly directly into that airport from Houston both DFW and IAH have direct flights.
Mexico has no COVID-19 testing requirements for entry. Upon arrival, take a taxi into the city. Taxis cost about 350 pesos ($18 USD) if you’re going to Centro. The taxi stand is right outside of the arrival’s entry point. Just walk over to your left to the kiosk and tell them where you want to go.
If you are already in Mexico you can get to Querétaro by plane or luxury bus. Check out BusBud.com to check your route and buy a ticket.
Getting Around Querétaro
Uber works in Querétaro and is a great way to trip around the city center, especially on very hot days when walking is not as fun. Overall, the city is walkable if you choose to stay in the historic Centro or right outside of it. It is surprisingly flat considering its altitude and location.
As with all of Mexico, Spanish is the primary language spoken in Queretaro. If you are not fluent I recommend downloading Google Translate and purchasing a language guide ¿Como se Dice? Practical Spanish Phrases & Words for Travelers to help you communicate throughout your visit.
Where to stay in Queretaro
Querétaro is a proper city with beautiful suburban towns and subdivisions outside of the Centro area. Neighborhoods like Millenio3, Alamos, El Refugio, and Juriquilla Are all quite popular places to live and stay if One wants to be in a lot quieter location than Centro. Querétaro is also home to one of the largest shopping malls in Mexico the Antea Mall And my favorite Paseo de Querétaro.
I stayed in an Airbnb right outside of Historic Centro about a 5-minute drive. It was a great location for me. Close enough to walk on a nice day but far enough away not to hear any of the day-to-day noise that’s common in Mexican historic Centro locations.
Here’s a link to my review of the short-term rental I found on Airbnb where I stayed on my YouTube channel:
If you would rather stay in a hotel, check out Booking.Com for boutique hotel options that are budget-friendly and comfortable.
Safety in Querétaro
Querétaro is known for being one of the safest cities in Mexico. As a result, it is a great place to visit as a female solo traveler, especially for those of us over 40. Historic Centro is also incredibly clean and well maintained. Despite its safe reputation, it is still important to exercise situational awareness and common sense as a female solo traveler. Grab the BaldGirlWillTravel: A Guide to Travel Safety and Security for Solo Female Travelers and ensure you follow the safety tips to ensure a safe solo travel experience.
Places to Eat in Querétaro
The restaurant options are plentiful. And run the gamut from authentic regional Mexican fare to really great Chinese, Japanese and Thai options. I had excellent Chinese food in Querétaro at a restaurant called Fa-Yian. And of course, you can have American fare like The Olive Garden, Chili’s, and even PF Chang’s.
I highly recommend the following restaurants in addition to Fa-Yian
Restaurante La Llave – authentic Mexican, the enchiladas were amazing!
Sayil Centro – Authentic Yucatecan cuisine. Definitely get dessert the Tres leches is delicious!
Other honorable mentions:
Carranza 50 Terraza & Grill
Things to Do in Querétaro
Take a Walking tour of Historico Centro. I booked a walking tour of historic Centro on Airbnb experiences. It was really excellent. I learned a lot about the history of not only the city but its role in the history of Mexico it so particularly around Mexico’s independence. I highly recommend the tour. Book it HERE. Check out Viator and TripAdvisor for other tour options in Querétaro.
The tour started near the Aqueduct and took me on a scenic walk thru the Historic Monuments of Queretaro. Here is a link to the description by UNESCO.
My favorite monuments are:
Fuente de Neptuno – Fountain of Neptune, Roman God of the Sea (1797)
Fuente de los Perritos – The puppy fountain dedicated to the benefactor of Queretaro
Monumento de La Corregidora – Large statue of female Mexican independence hero doña Josefa Ortiz
There are several museums to visit in Centro. I recommend the following:
- The Art Museum of Querétaro Hours: 10-6. Closed Mondays.
- Querétaro Regional Museum – Housed in a monastery, the museum contains many artifacts with significance to Querétaro’s past, spanning centuries from its indigenous roots to independence and on through the modern era.
Hours: 9-6. Closed Mondays.
Make sure you go up to the Mirador. Great overlook of the City. A perfect place for those Instagramable shots as well as a great view of the city!
Visit El Cerrito archaeological zone to see the Pyramid
The pyramid was found in 2005 and is definitely worth a visit. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Centro. Hours: 9 am to 4 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Entry Fee: 65 pesos. Visit the Website
DayTrip to Peña de Bernal and Tequisquiapan
A trip to Queretaro is not really complete without a visit to the neighboring Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) of Bernal and Tequisquiapan and at least one stop for a tasting at a winery.
I took a day trip and visited Pena de Bernal, Tequisquiapan, and the La Redonda Winery (Vineyards La Redonda). The day trip experience was amazing and I highly recommend making the time to see both of these magical places when you are in the Querétaro. Here is a quick summary of my Daytrip.
Peña de Bernal
The first stop on my day trip was Pena de Bernal and it may be one of my favorite places in Mexico so far. Pena de Bernal means Bernal’s Peak in English. It is 1,432 feet tall and is one of the tallest monoliths in the world.
What is a monolith? A monolith is a prominent mountain, boulder, or tower that consists of a single, large rock. In most cases, monoliths are composed of hard, erosion-resistant igneous or metamorphic rock and are exposed by erosion of the surrounding landscape.
Source: TreeHugger (https://www.treehugger.com/largest-monoliths-world-4869091)
It is listed as being the 4th largest monolith in the world. It is in San Sebastian Bernal in the state of Querétaro. It has been named one of the 13 wonders of Mexico and it deserves the hype! It is believed the rock formation came from a volcano. Many people visit the town of Bernal to hike to the top of the monolith. I am no hiker! I just wanted to see it with my own two eyes and it was well worth the trip.
We took a golf cart taxi up to the path that is taken to hike to the peak. You will find little stalls and a market up there and the view of the town below is gorgeous. I stopped my trek there and just admired Bernal from afar.
In the valley of the monolith sits the town of San Sebastian Bernal. It is quaint, rustic, and charming. Of course, there is the open-air markets and shops where you can buy trinkets, textiles, and clothing. You can also stop into Dona Coco and have their famous Gorditas. Gorditas are a type of sandwich pocket made from small corn tortillas and stuffed with meat, veggies, and/or shrimp. They are amazingly delicious. This was my first time having them but definitely not my last. My guides talked me into trying a Michelada a drink made from beer, tomato juice, and spices. I didn’t love it but I will try it again with other flavorings.
Tequisquiapan is a Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town) located in the southeast of the State of Querétaro. It is a weekend destination for residents of Querétaro and Mexico City. It has a mild climate similar to Querétaro and is well known for its natural water springs and wine and cheese shops. At the center city lies the beautiful Iglesia Santa Maria de la Asuncion in the Main Plaza. I arrived a couple of weeks after the annual Feria Nacional del Queso y el Vino (the National Cheese and Wine Fair) that highlights wine and cheese from the Querétaro region. The festival takes place every June. Highlights of my visit to Tequis was stopping in an ice cream parlor and trying their cheese ice cream red wine float. The parol features several ice creams made from local wines and ice cream made from regional cheese. Here is a video of my visit. The ice cream float was amazing and I highly recommend stopping through when you are in Tequisquiapan. Here is a video of that adventure.
In addition to many wine and artisan cheese shops, there is an Artisanal market where you can purchase wicker and rattan and other handcrafts and folk art. The town is also home to several water parks and hot springs. While I did not time to visit, I definitely have it on my list for my next visit. The ones mentioned to me were Balneario La Vega, Parque Acuático El Oasis, Parque Acuático Termas del Rey, Fantasía Acuática and Balneario San Joaquín. There are also hot air balloons that take off each morning I am afraid of heights so that was a no for me! Tequisquiapan is perfect for a day trip or weekend visit if you are in the Querétaro city area. If you want to avoid the crowds, try visiting on a weekday instead of the weekend when I hear it is packed to the gills with visitors. I visited on a Tuesday and it was perfect for me.
La Redonda Winery
“Tequis” as many call it, is a part of Querétaro’s Ruta de Vino (Wine Route) and home to the wonderful La Redonda winery which was my final stop on the day trip that took me from Querétaro’s to Pena de Bernal, Tequisquiapan and the winery. We stopped at the winery and sampled their Ruby Rose and a cheese platter. I was too tired to do a full winery tour so I plan to return to the area just to do a one-day winery hop. La Redonda’s Ruby Rose is amazingly delicious and I now regularly keep a bottle at my place.
Exoleisure Hosts and Tours
I highly recommend doing a day trip to Pena de Bernal and Tequisquiapan with Exoleisure (www.exoleisure.com). You can reach them on Facebook and Instagram at Exo.leisure. I enjoyed the tour with them because they made it fun and include information about Mexican history and culture made the tour even more enjoyable and informative. Their prices were more than reasonable. If you’re visiting Querétaro and want to do a tour, reach out to Berto and Nat (Alberto and Natalia), you will be happy you did.
Dating and Social Scene in Querétaro
Querétaro is definitely where the boys are 😊 My Tinder was popping and I definitely could’ve been out every night of the week if I wanted to. It’s definitely a fun place to be if you’re a single solo traveler.
There are lots of cool bars and restaurants in Centro Historico to explore alone or on a date.
Final Word on Querétaro
Querétaro is a perfect place to do a solo travel trip. Especially if you’re a person who’s not interested in being in a tourist-heavy environment like me! It’s also only a 50-minute drive away from San Miguel de Allende another magic city you will want to visit! You easily do a day trip there.
It has a vibrant and gorgeous historic center packed with fascinating Mexican history. Great shopping options all across the city and wonderful places for day trips like San Miguel de Allende, Bernal, and Tequisquiapan.
Enjoy this video log of my visit to Queretaro.
Queretaro is a definite must-visit and I highly recommend it!