San Miguel De Allende: Why This Destination Is Popular With Expats!

San Miguel de Allende is one of my favorite places on earth.

The town of about 65,000 people (120k including the surrounding areas) has so much going for it. It’s a Unesco Heritage Site. It has an incredible history, the art scene is wide, unique boutique shops, great food, and incredible charm. 

All reasons why San Miguel de Allende is so popular with ex-pats.

San Miguel De Allende Is Popular With Expats

Unesco Heritage Site

In 2008, the Unesco World Heritage Association granted San Miguel de Allende the high honor of being named a Unesco World Heritage Site. Local officials will work with the prestigious organization to preserve it’s folklore and rich culture as it grows. 

To be a Unesco World Heritage Site, a place has to be of outstanding universal value. You can imagine why San Miguel is loved so much by not only ex-pats but many local Mexicans. You just have to experience being there to understand its charm. 


Perhaps the thing I love the most about San Miguel is its architecture. I mean, it’s unlike any other place I’ve been to. Uniquely baroque and very colonial, the buildings in this town give it it’s folklore.

One step inside the famous Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, and it’s like you’re transported to another land. Large and Shiny Chandeliers hanging from its cathedral ceilings sparkle with perfectly clean crystals.

Many of the hotels and churches adorn their entryways with beautiful hydrangeas and marigolds. Especially if a wedding or baptism is happening. And I love how every building in town is painted in some shade of red, yellow, orange, green, or some other bright color. This place just feels happy to me.

But the thing I love the most, and perhaps what made me fall in love with San Miguel de Allende, is how the city transforms at night. The big church in the city center is illuminated to show the contrast of its style and highlight the giant bell. The quaint cobblestone streets are dimly lit from the accent lights on the hotels and restaurants. San Miguel de Allende at night is so romantic! The way the buildings hug the narrow streets make the unique shops and galleries really stand out.

Eclectic Shops and Boutiques

You don’t have to be into art to appreciate the unique artists that showcase their art in San Miguel de Allende. Many small art galleries have blown glass chandeliers, unique Mexican home decor, and hand made pieces for the perfect souvenir.

On one occasion, I made my way into a narrow unassuming alleyway and found myself surrounded by 5 different shops. I bought artisanal chocolates, wine, a rug, and a scarf within a 5 step radius. If shopping is your thing, you’ll find unique gifts and home decor all around San Miguel.

I could spend all day shopping, not buy a single thing, and still felt like I shopped all day. There is so much to look at. But the best part of it all is that you walk and walk and walk, and yet you’re never really far from anything. It’s a very walkable city.


It’s always a plus when a city is small enough that you can walk anywhere, but not so small that you get bored of it quickly.

Every corner has a convenience store, a restaurant, a fonda, a bar, a hotel, and some sort of boutique shop. There is an area in San Miguel de Allende where you can spend all night restaurant and bar hopping
But prepare to bring your most comfortable walking shoes because San Miguel de Allende is hilly and bumpy!

I learned this the hard way. After a full day of walking around in some platform sandals, I quickly realized why most people wear flat shoes around town. The cobblestone streets are beautiful to look at, but man, do they take a toll on your feet and shoes.

It’s The Gourmet Capital Of Mexico

I feel like San Miguel de Allende could be a fashion show of restaurants. Dining at any of the trendy restaurants in town is a whole experience. The restaurants are beautiful, intentionally decorated for its space, as soft music plays in the background.

It’s definitely a scene of see and be seen. It reminds me of Aspen, Colorado. A lot of the restaurants are a mix of Mexican and European fusions. You’ll never get bored of the food scene in San Miguel because you’ll find everything from Italian, French, Steakhouse, German, Russian to Japanese food. Some magazines and publications have called SMA the gourmet capital of Mexico.

For me, part of the reason I love Mexico is for its amazing food! Something that in San Miguel de Allende can either be fine dining or street dining. I like them both.

If you’re in the mood for something a little more laid back, one of the many fondas has inexpensive and great food! A fonda is more like a small and casual restaurant. Their menus are much more original in Mexican cuisine, and they’re usually everywhere.

Some of these places are extremely affordable. But don’t be fooled by the price because these places might be cheap, but they are tastier than anything you’ll find at a Tex-Mex restaurant back home. I especially like to eat quesadillas and tamales if a place like this has it on their menu.

You can drop me off in San Miguel for an extended amount of time, and I would never get bored of the food scene. I don’t live in San Miguel de Allende, but sometimes that’s actually more of a plus than a minus. I think I would go broke, trying out all the spots that look good.

The Weather Is Pleasant Year-Round

Okay, seriously, this is probably the number one reason Canadians and Americans living up North come to San Miguel and never leave.

Every day, temperatures range between 75-85 during sunlight and 65-55 at night.

During the day, the air is cool but not cold. Fresh but not humid. It’s truly spring-like weather year-round. You see ladies wearing cute maxi dresses and the men short sleeve polos with shorts or jeans. It’s casual here, and the weather allows you to wear light clothing. So you truly do feel lighter and comfortable all day long.

The way you feel when you are comfortable is reason enough for the weather in San Miguel to help you live a stress-free life.

Natural Beauty

I could walk around different neighborhoods in San Miguel de Allende and be content. I like admiring the natural beauty all around town.

What’s so amazing about San Miguel de Allende is that most houses and buildings are adorned with draping bougainvilleas and green plants on their facade.

It makes it seem like it was purposely done so in an elegant manner. The truth is that most of these plants and flowers are wild and grow so fast here. Most of them get pruned from time to time, but the elegance they bring out in a building is unlike other towns in Mexico.

You can tell there is a lot of pride in the curb appeal in San Miguel. Locals take care of their homes, their parks, and their environment. There isn’t any trash on the streets, something special for a Mexican town—especially one with so much tourism.

Are You Convinced?

To truly experience everything that this pueblo magico has to offer, you have to visit San Miguel de Allende!

If you found this article to be helpful, or you just want to say hi, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

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