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The Bajio is a mountainous region in central Mexico. A rich silver-mining area in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Bajio saw an explosion of fabulous wealth for the time, and the cities there grew to be large and spectacular. By the 19th century, though, the silver lodes were emptied, and the cities became depopulated. They retain their amazing architecture and traditions, however, making them a joy to visit. Travelers in search of "the real Mexico" will find what they're looking for here. The region is full of colonial history, cultural traditions, and natural wonders with many quaint small towns that have been designated as Pueblos Mágicos.


Bajio regions
  Aguascalientes (Aguascalientes)
Visitors come to see the capital city's colonial architecture, and the San Marcos Fair, and it offers activities such as hiking, sport fishing and cycling in the Sierra Fría nature reserve.
  Guanajuato (Guanajuato, Dolores Hidalgo, León, San Miguel de Allende)
The most important colonial tourist destination in the country, it has several "colonial gems", architectural beauty and archaeological zones.
  Querétaro (Querétaro)
Querétaro offers colonial cities, wine tourism, and ecotourism opportunities.
  San Luis Potosi (San Luis Potosi, Real de Catorce, Xilitla)
The state lies mostly on the Mexican Plateau, with the eastern part descending into the tropical valley of the Tampaon River
  Zacatecas (Zacatecas, Jerez de García Salinas, Sombrerete)
Best known for its rich deposits of silver and other minerals, its colonial architecture and its importance during the Mexican Revolution.


Map of Bajío
  • 1 Aguascalientes – Large state capital with a fascinating history of colonial, revolutionary, and industril progress...but the thermal waters aren't very hot.
  • 2 Guanajuato – Imagine a beautiful valley filled with a Spanish colonial city in a three-dimensional maze of passageways, underground romantic tunnels and a rim road along the clifftops. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 3 León – The city is known for its leather works. Leon is also famous for its State Fair in the second half of January through the middle of February, the international Hot Air Balloon festival in Oct, and its beauty as a modern Mexican City.
  • 4 Querétaro - Colonial churches and plazas in a city rich with history and charm, a commercial hub known for a large festival during holy week. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 5 Real de Catorce – An old mining ghost town and the area where the Huichol Indians make their traditional pilgrimage for visions and the gathering of peyote.
  • 6 San Luis Potosi - State capital and important regional hub with charming colonial core filled with old churches, plazas, and museums.
  • 7 Zacatecas – A high-elevation city of immense colonial charm. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 8 San Miguel de Allende – Expensive but charming town with narrow hillside streets and a large arts community.
  • 9 Dolores Hidalgo – Mexico's cradle of independence where Father Hidalgo issued his famed cry for freedom. A hub for ceramics production.

Other destinations[edit]

  • 1 Huasteca Potosina - mountainous region of tropical forests and rivers, traditionally populated by the Huastec indigenous culture, but today home to an even larger number of Nahua
  • 2 Camino Real de Tierra Adentro - silver mining road stretching from Mexico City north to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in use from the 16th through 19th centuries. UNESCO World Heritage site.


Silver mining profits built the cities of the Bajio region in the 17th and 18th centuries

In the pre-hispanic era, the Bajio was home to the semi-nomadic Chichimeca people, who were regarded by other Mesoamerican civilizations as "barbaric". The Bajio was a region without large permanent settlements, until the Spanish discovered silver in the mountains in the 16th century. Mines, cities, churches, and roads were built as immigrants flooded the area. Major cities were built as the mines generated fabulous wealth. The boom continued for nearly two centuries until the big silver lodes were depleted.

The Bajio is an area rich in history. In the 17th and 18th century, it was the backbone of Spain's route to the riches of the New World as the Camino Real was blazed (Camino Real de la Tierra Adentro (a UNESCO World Heritage site) begins in Queretaro and extends north into what is now the United States, ending in Santa Fe, New Mexico). In the early 19th century, the Bajio was central to Mexican Independence. In 1810, Father Miguel Hidalgo proclaimed freedom in the Bajio town of Dolores (now known as Dolores Hidalgo. In 1867, the illegitimate empire of Maximilian I was ended in Queretaro, where Meximilian was tried and convicted and then executed by firing squad. The Bajio saw its share of political machinations and outright battles during the Revolution of the early 20th century. In 1915, Pancho Villa's Division del Norte was defeated at Celaya.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Aeropuerto Internacional de Guanajuato (Aeropuerto de Bajio) BJX IATA is the largest airport in the Bajio region. It is centrally located, midway between Guanajuato and Leon. The airport has flights to most major Mexican airports and receives international flights from Houston, Dallas, and Chicago.
  • Queretaro Intercontinental Airport QRO IATA offers domestic flights to major Mexican airports and international flights to Houston and Dallas. QRO is the hub airport for regional carrier TAR.
  • San Luis Potosi Aeropuerto Internacional Ponciano Arriaga SLP IATA is a regional airport serving major Mexican hubs and international flights.

Although not part of the Bajio region, Benito Juarez International Airport (MEX) in Mexico City can be a good gateway airport for travelers to the Bajio region because the airport has an in-terminal bus station with frequent direct buses to cities in the Bajio.

By bus[edit]

Bus service is outstanding throughout the Bajio region. All major cities have large central bus stations with frequent service throughout the region. Buses to cities in the Bajio region depart Mexico City from the Terminal del Norte. Several regional lines serve smaller towns.

Get around[edit]

By bus[edit]

Bus service in the Bajio region is excellent. Major bus lines operate executive-class and first-class buses between all major cities in the region. The only cities that are a bit inconvenient for buses are Queretaro (which has its main bus station outside the core downtown on an outlying trunk highway) and San Luis Potosi (which doesn't have one single Central de Autobuses, but instead has different company specific terminals on the outskirts). See the Mexico article for general information about using buses in Mexico.

A variety of second-class lines operate local buses to all small cities and will stop for passengers almost anywhere along a major highway.

Here's a few representative routes with fares in January 2023:

  • Leon to/from Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, or Zacatecas - 2-1/2 hours, M$300-400, executive and first-class buses on each of these routes operate about every 15 minutes (ETN, Futura, Primera Plus)
  • Aguascalientes to San Luis Potosi - 3 hours, Estrella Blanca buses run every couple hours, M$150 on a second-class bus (Rojo de los Altos) to M$500 on an ejecutivo-class bus (Futura Select)
  • Queretaro to San Miguel de Allende - 1-1/2 hour, M$200, buses go every hour (Futura Select, ETN)

Guanajuato to Queretaro - 2-1/2 hours, M$300, ETN

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are the best option for getting around within a given city, but they might work out for longer distances too. Many of the cities and tourist sites are close enough that the convenience and flexibility of the taxi might be worth the price difference of the bus.


  • Franciscan missions in the Sierra Gordo of Querétaro. UNESCO World heritage site.
  • Colonial city centers, many historic silver mining cities, such as that in Zacatecas, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • San Marcos Fair (es: Feria Nacional de San Marcos), in Aguascalientes. The unofficial national fair of Mexico. Held for three or four weeks beginning around the end of April.
  • Las Siete Luminarias in Valle de Santiago.
  • Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is the historic "Royal Road" silver mining road, passing through numerous charming towns (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)


  • Bullfights - San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas are known for having some of the best bullfights (as well as the best bulls and matadores) of any Mexican city. The bullfighting season is generally centered around the summer and fall months. Tickets should be purchased in advance as the fights typically sell out.
  • San Marcos Fair (Feria Nacional de San Marcos) - Aguascalientes hosts Mexico's biggest and boldest festival for 3 weeks in late April (San Marcos Day is April 25). The fair includes a carnival midway, a livestock show, bullfights, a beauty pageant, numerous concerts from top performers, and food stands galore.


There are some wonderful restaurants in the colonial silver mining towns that make up the Bajio region. Most restaurants serve food that is similar to food in other parts of Mexico, but there are some regional specialties to be aware of.

  • queso guaje - an artesanal cheese from the Huasteca Potosina region
  • cajeta - a caramel sauce made from goats milk, popular throughout Mexico, it originates from Celaya
  • empanadas de picadillo - pastry stuffed with spiced ground beef
  • enchilados mineros - enchiladas stuffed with diced potatoes, grated cheese, and a guajillo chile sauce, a specialty in Guanajuato, but served throughout the Bajio
  • cuete encacahuatado - a hearty, and very unusual main dish, thick-sliced roast beef is covered in a peanut and tomato sauce spiced with cloves, pepper, and cinnamon
  • pipian is a type of mole originating in Oaxaca, but it's become the dominant kind of mole in the Bajio


Mexico is generally a beer drinking country, and the Bajio region is no exception. The big national brands can be found everywhere, but more interesting are the beers being produced by the young craft brewers opening up local brewpubs and regional craft breweries. The phrase to use when asking waiters for a good, local beer is cerveza artesanal. Quite a few restaurants and bars serve craft beers, you just need to ask.

In Bajio, brewpubs and beer bars are in all the major cities. Some are chains, like "The Beer Company" (at least 5 locations in Bajio), but there are also many locally owned pubs serving unique beers that are often quite distinctive.

Artesanal craft breweries are generally located in Queretaro or Guanajuato. The breweries may offer tours (see the "Drink" section in individual city articles in this region for details). Regional craft beers available in the Bajio as of 2023 include beers from Hercules, Toro, and Tlaxco.

Wine is becoming increasingly popular in the Bajio, where several young winemakers have built cellars in various parts of the region. Queretaro is particularly interesting with three very large wine producers centered around the town of Ezequiel Montes and a growing number of artesanal wineries in the same area, which the state is now promoting as the Ruta del Vino. The state has an annual wine and cheese festival in the town of Tequisquiapan.

Stay safe[edit]

Most of the Bajia region is relatively safe for travelers, but normal precautions are wise. You should also research current events for any region you travel to in order to find out about recent safety concerns. See the main Mexico article for country-wide safety concerns. As of December 2022, the U.S. State Department advises against travel in Zacatecas and to use caution in Guanajuato's southern cities (such as Celaya, Irapuato, and Salamanca).

Go next[edit]

If you follow the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (historic silver mining route), you could go north into the wide open spaces of Northern Mexico, or southeast into Central Mexico, with its wealth of museums and cultural attractions.

This region travel guide to Bajío is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.