Discover in this 2024 travel guide San Cristóbal de Las Casas, located in Chiapas, an incredible state in Mexico. If you want to get off the beaten path in Mexico, you’ve come to the right place! We stayed about 2 weeks in San Cristóbal de Las Casas so we can tell you all about it. So here’s the top things of what to do in and around San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
If you want to know more about what to see in Chiapas: here’s the complete guide including our itinerary.
About San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal de Las Casas is a Pueblo Magico of Chiapas, in the south of Mexico, which are towns with a strong historical past and are particularly charming. The town is situated at an altitude of 2200 metres, in the centre of the Sierra Madre mountain range in the heart of the Chiapas. San Cristobal de Las Casas is one of the oldest cities of Chiapas, which can be seen in its colonial architecture. Another particularity of the town is that several indigenous languages are still spoken. Also, there are indigenous villages in the region around San Cristobal de Las Casas.
How to get there?
We took a colectivo from Tuxtla. It’s an easy trip to do, about one hour. It’s also possible to come from Palenque by bus (with the ADO company).
What to do in San Cristobal de Las Casas?
There’s so many place to explore in and around this town. San Cristobal de las Casas is a lovely mountain town with an amazing colonial architecture. There are many squares, lovely colorful streets, and an amazing architecture, all this surrounded by hills.
The Plaza principal and the Cathedral of San Cristobal Martir
This is the main square so it will be difficult to miss. Every evening, a market is held here. Also, I recommend taking a look inside the cathedral.
Plaza de los Mexicanos
The town is composed of several lovely squares. Among them, Plaza de los Mexicanos. Away from the busy streets, this is a cute square to enjoy some calm and get off the beaten path.
Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman
The church is not so easy to spot as it is surrounded by an outdoor artisanal market. You’ll need to cross it to get to the Church. It’s a beautiful example of the Mexican colonial art, with its pink façade and overloaded with ornamental figures and indigenous symbols.
Mercado de la Caridad y Santo Domingo
It is an Artisanal market, opened every day, where we discovered many stalls full of creativity and ancestral traditions captured in a myriad of textiles, embroidery and jewellery. You’ll find plenty of jewellery made from amber, which is the main mineral mined in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
One of the biggest market I got to see. Lost yourself in this huge market where you can find everything.
The Arco del Carmen
Erected in 1677, it is considered “the most striking colonial building in the city”. This building formerly served as the entrance gate to the Royal City and is another example of architecture from the Colonial period.
Enjoy the view from the Mirador del Arco / San Antonio
Once at the Arco, you can take the “Andador La Penitencia de San Cristobalito” that will bring you to the Templo de San Cristobalito and the Mirador which offers a really nice view on the city.
It’s a place a little higher up, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet and admire the city with the mountains in the background.
Visit the Iglesia de la Guadalupe
Don’t miss a visit to the Iglesia de la Guadalupe, an emblematic site in the town, place of religious celebration. The church is situated at the top of a hill so you’ll need to climb quite some steps to reach it. But once arrived at the top, you won’t regret your efforts. It offers a beautiful view on the city and a great spot to enjoy the sunset. It is at the foot of this church that the biggest celebrations of the year take place. For instance, we were in San Cristobal de Las Casas for the National festivities of Virgen de Guadalupe and we could enjoy parades and celebrations.
The Na Bolom museum
The museum Na Bolom is a space dedicated to the memory of the Danish archaeologist and explorer Frans Bolom and his encounter with the Mayan culture in the depths of the Lacandon jungle.
Where to eat?
📍Kukulpan: A super cute restaurant and coffee to enjoy authentic meals for breakfast or lunch.
📍Frontera Artisan Coffee: A great place to taste the local coffee. The inner courtyard is a lovely place to take a break.
📍Viña de bacco: certainly not the place to discover the local specialities, but it is a super nice spot to enjoy a glass of wine!
📍Oh La La: Take a break and warm up to enjoy a good hot cholocat in a cosy atmosphere.
Where to stay?
📍 Casita Mamazotas: THE hostel where you should stay if you’re looking for nice company, cosy place and fair price. The two owners are great and super friendly. They shared lots of tips with us and the rooms are comfortable.
What to do around San Cristobal de Las Casas?
The region around San Cristobal de Las Casas has a lot to offer. Indeed, the landscapes are very diverse in the surroundings. There are plenty of places to visit, which are another opportunity to discover more about the culture of Chiapas.
The waterfalls El Chiflon
El Chiflon is a series of 5 waterfalls, one of which is one of the highest in the state of Chiapas, reaching a height of 120 metres. The place is so spectacular that it’s well worth seeing. The waterfalls are impressive, and the clear blue water magnificent. We loved this stop on the Chiapas itinerary.
Exceptionally, we took a day trip with an agency. The reason is that it was much simpler and cheaper than going by our own means. The park is quite huge so we didn’t meet that many people. Except at the end of the tour, where the highest of the 5 waterfalls is located. it’s always the same disadvantages of doing it with an agency, the visit time is limited. But we were able to make the most of it.
We went there on the same excursion as the El Chiflon waterfalls. Change of atmosphere arriving at the Lake Montebello. The waterfalls are located in an area with a tropical climate, but when we arrived in the Montebello lakes region, we discovered a completely different kind of weather, much more colder. This is what makes the Chiapas itinerary so special, offering a wide range of very different landscapes to discover.
But back to this lakes region. It is located on the border with Guatemala. Surprisingly, I felt like I’d arrived in Switzerland. The photo speak for itself.
Chamula, an indigenous village
Located close to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chamula is known for its atypical celebrations in the San Juan church (located on the main square). It was clearly an experience out of the ordinary and different from anything else we did on our Chiapas itinerary.
So what makes it so atypical? The practice of rituals that are quite unique and unusual. The atmosphere inside the church is very special, the air is charged with the smell of incense and the smoke from thousands of candles on the floor. Families come to pray and bring offerings with them. It’s not allowed to take picture inside so you’ll find out for yourself. If you plan to visit this place, it must be done with the utmost respect. Obviously, as a foreigner, you must not disturb or bother the families.
Rock climbing session in the surroundings of San Cristobal de Las Casas
As climbing enthusiasts, when we heard there were some good spots to climb in the area, we really wanted to give it a go. There are some clubs organizing climbing sessions, they organise everything, from transport to equipment.
The Canyon del Sumidero
The Sumidero Canyon is one of the deepest and most spectacular canyon in Mexico. It is about 35 million years old and formed by the Grijalva River over 13 km long, completely surrounded by a luxurious nature and cliffs up to 1000 m high. Such a place hosts a privileged and fragile ecosystem: monkeys, crocodiles, great variety of birds, endemic fauna and flores species. This National Park is a unique place in Mexico and in the world, considered as sacred for the local indigenous population.
You can visit the Sumidero Canyon from San Cristobal de Las Casas. The only thing is that you’ll probably visit it with a tour operator. The good point is that you don’t have to plan anything, but you’ll be visiting the Canyon at the same time of many others tourists. Except if you have or rent a car, of course. All information about visiting the Canyon del Sumidero here.
Places not visited but recommended near San Cristobal de Las Casas
Here is a list of places we did not visited but which were recommended to us :
- The indigenous villages Zinacantan and Ocosingo
- The Grutas del Mamut and Grutas del Dragon
- The Parque Ecoturistico Rancho Nuevo
- The Ruins of Tonina
- Sima de las Cotorras : probably the one I regret most not having been able to visit, which is a huge sinkhole. But we were lucky to visit a similar spot in the Huasteca Potosina.
That was our 2024 Off the beaten path guide of San Cristobal de Las Casas. The town is full of beautiful spots and stands out for its colonial architecture. It’s a great place to visit the surrounding area and the natural wonders of the region. Follow us on Instagram to discover more.