The Pueblo Magico town of San Cristobal de las Casas
When planning my trip to Mexico my mother had suggested that we visit San Cristobal de las Casas in the Chiapas region. Besides being a beautiful place, she had good memories from a previous visit and was considering the possibility of making San Cristobal her new base in Mexico.
We flew together from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. From there it is about an hour’s drive to San Cristobal de las Casas. Having spent the last 3 weeks travelling around Northern and Central Mexico, Chiapas instantly felt very different: the vegetation is green and lush, the towns are smaller and separated by longer distances, and the temperatures – especially driving up the mountains towards San Cristobal – are much cooler. Everything reminded me of the Eje Cafetero in Colombia, the lush and mountainous region where Colombia’s coffee is grown. The similarities aren’t far off – like Eje Cafetero, Chiapas is one of the best coffee growing regions on earth.
San Cristobal de las Casas is a really pretty place with a colonial feel. ie. colourful streets, low-level buildings with large courtyards, and lots and lots of churches. And like Oaxaca (which is 600 km to the north) you’ll see many indigenous women – dressed in beautiful wool skirts and colourful shawls – selling arts and crafts.
The geographical setting of the town is unique: San Cristobal is 2,200 meters high and you’ll see clouds passing just above the tops of the surrounding hills. You are literally in the clouds. The altitude also means a cool climate (very cold in winter) and variability. When I was there in June there was rain, usually heavy downpours, followed by blue skies. The weather could change quickly.
Arriving in San Cristobal, we checked into our Airbnb (one of the nicest Airbnb apartments I’ve stayed in anywhere).
Some views from our rooftop terrace:
Around San Cristobal de las Casas
We spent the next 5 days walking around town, exploring the markets, and drinking a lot of coffee (our favorite café is Frontera, near the artisan market). Some photos from around town.
.Below: colourful streets and buildings in town.
.Below: right in the heart of the artisans market is the Templo y Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It was built in 1547 by Dominicans from Seville, Spain
We enjoyed San Cristobal de las Casas immensely. Besides being very pretty, it is safe, walkable, and has great food and coffee. The artisans on sale, especially the fabrics, are the best I’ve seen anywhere both in terms of quality and price. The Tzotzil women who knit these are incredibly talented.
Could you live in San Cristobal de las Casas as an Expat?
I mentioned up top that my mother was considering San Cristobal as a place to live. Spending 5 days there she concluded that it wasn’t a place that she could see herself living long term. While it has many pluses, it also has a few negatives:
1) It’s too remote (an hour from the airport at Tuxtla Gutiérrez)
2) It’s too cold and the weather variable
3) Although larger than most of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos, the town might be too small as a permanent base. She thought, long term, that one could feel very isolated in a place like San Cristobal de las Casas.
Despite the above, San Cristobal de las Casas is a great place and maybe the most beautiful of the Pueblos Magicos I’ve visited.
– Accommodation. We stayed in this Airbnb apartment. It was great. Hotels. A few recommendations: Hotel Grand Maria, Hotel Diego de Mazariegos and Sombra del Agua. All tasteful and located right in the center.
– Flights. The closest airport is Tuxtla Gutiérrez International Airport (code TGZ), which is about 1 hour by bus (about 45 min by taxi) from San Christobal. There are regular flights to Mexico City.
Related: A Detailed Travel Guide to Mexico
Related: The Best Pueblos Magicos in Mexico?
Have you been to San Cristobal de las Casas? Could you live here?
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