San Cristobal de Las Casas is a magical fusion of the new and the old. Tradition is deeply ingrained in the culture of this colonial city, which you can see by the dress of the women as you walk down the street.
But a new generation has come along too. Breathing a new energy into the city, San Cristobal now thrives on community interaction and collaboratives in the form of cafes, galleries and community events.
For these reasons, San Cristobal has become a popular destination amongst visitors looking to explore a colonial city and the stunning nature of the surrounding Chiapas region. Plus, it’s also super affordable!
A glimpse at an authentic and affordable Mexican city
The selection of restaurants are very diverse and guarantee delicious food. And the fact that they’re cheap means you can’t feel guilty for eating tons of food.
If you’re a wine lover, San Cristobal is the place to be. There’s a wine bar that offers glasses of wine and tapas for $1 (we talk more about this later). The wine bar is a great place to start your night, before heading to any one of San Cristobal’s numerous bars and clubs.
With affordable accommodation and living costs, San Cristobal is starting to hit the digital nomad scene. The abundance of cafes and co-working spaces has made the city the perfect place to work.
Located in the mountains of Chiapas
Situated 2,200 meters in the mountains of Chiapas, San Cristobal boasts warm sunny days but a chillier climate during the nights. This also makes the city a great place for hiking.
San Cristobal is a place that you can discover for a few days or fall in love with the colourful streets and end up staying for months!
If you stay close to the Historic Centre you’ll be immersed in the colourful colonial streets and close to the markets, restaurants and bars.
Even if you’re only a few streets from the centre, you’ll still be surrounded by peace and the daily lives of the locals.
Staying close to the centre doesn’t always mean higher prices either. No matter where you stay, you’ll be able to find a cheap but beautiful hostel, hotel or Airbnb.
There aren’t many big chain hotels in San Cristobal de las Casas. Instead, the majority are quaint and beautifully decorated, family-owned hotels/homestays.
Good quality hostels and hotels start at $8 a night. What a bargain!
Where to eat in San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal de las Casas is a food lover’s dream destination. For a relatively small city, it has an extremely diverse range of cuisines and restaurants. You can get pretty much anything – Mexican, Thai, Indian, Italian, Spanish. You name it, you’ll probably be able to find it in San Cristobal.
With so much choice, we’re here to help you out! Below are our 4 favourite spots in San Cristobal:
La Vina de Bacco – delicious wine and tapas for just $1
This wine bar has become famous amongst visitors to San Cristobal de las Casas, who can’t help but be amazed at the super low prices. La Vina de Bacco is always busy, no matter the time of day.
Why? They sell glasses of wine for just $1 and with each glass, you also get tapa and popcorn. You can’t really ask for much more!
The staff are incredibly friendly and the bar’s atmosphere is the perfect place to get the night started, plus line your stomach with the selection of tapas available.
El Tacoleto – the best tacos in town
El Tacoleto knows how to make a great taco. They’ve taken traditional Mexican street food and placed it in a welcoming little restaurant with the friendliest staff.
Take your pick of soups, tacos, quesadillas and amabres. Just in the one restaurant you can sample a whole host of different traditional dishes.
Alongside your traditional tacos, El Tacoleto also offers Marlin tacos which are definitely worth a try.
Tok Tok Wok – an incredible ‘build your own dish’ Asian restaurant
Tok Tok Wok is a family-owned small restaurant, hidden slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the main square.
Straight away you’ll feel like you’re having dinner with the family. The restaurant also has a different way of ordering. You get to build your dish from scratch using a check-sheet.
You get to pick your base, protein, vegetables and sauce. Dishes start at only 50 MXN ($2.50).
Cardamomo Cocina – rich and flavourful Indian cuisine
Something that’s hard to find across Mexico is good Indian food. If that’s what you’ve been craving, then Cardamomo Cocina will satisfy those cravings.
The thoughtfully decorated restaurant is a great option for vegetarians too. If you do make it to this restaurant, we recommend either the Butter Chicken or Butter Paneer.
How to get around in San Cristobal de Las Casas
Getting around San Cristobal de las Casas is super easy! Exactly what you want when on holiday or travelling. As we mentioned before, the city is relatively small with most things centred around the historic centre.
Walking will probably be your main form of transport, but to get to some locations a taxi or colectivo may be more practical.
Below we break down the ways to get around San Cristobal:
San Cristobal is the perfect walkable city. Exploring the city can easily be done by foot as restaurants or bars will probably always be within walking distance, no matter where your accommodation is.
The main walking street, lined with restaurants, bars and tour agencies is pedestrianised so no need to worry about those crazy Mexican drivers.
There’s plenty of taxis roaming the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas or waiting around the popular tourist areas like the bus station and main square.
Taxi’s cost around 30-40 MXN ($1.50-2) to get to most places within San Cristobal.
If where you’re trying to go is too far to walk, then colectivos are a cheap and easy way to get around the city.
They advertise where they’re going with signs displayed on their windscreen. So all that you have to do is flag the right one down on the street.
A lot of them go between different markets and a few go to the large Walmart just outside of town if you need to do some shopping. The average ride should cost you only around 8 MXN ($0.40).
If you’re looking to visit San Juan Chamula, one of the indigenous villages on the outskirts of San Cristobal, then a colectivo is a great way to get there. Head to the colectivo station by the market. The journey takes 30 minutes and costs 18 MXN ($1) each way.
If you’d rather travel at your own pace and not have to worry about anyone else then you could consider renting a car.
We’d only recommend doing this if you want to explore Chiapas, otherwise it’s not worth it. You also have to make sure you have somewhere to keep the car whilst you’re in the city.
We’re not quite sure how Puerta Vieja Hostel makes money, but we’re definitely not complaining. For just $9, you get both breakfast and dinner included in the price. On top of that, they even offer a free burger and cocktail night every Friday!
There’s plenty to keep you occupied within the hostel too. There’s table tennis, a TV lounge and a large garden for chilling in. The hostel is also only seconds away from San Cristobal’s main square. It’s a great place to meet other travellers.
Free breakfast and dinner
TV lounge and table tennis
Close to the main square
Dorm rooms from $9 per night, including breakfast and dinner
Posada del Abuelito is a cozy and colourful hostel situated inside one of San Cristobal’s stunning colonial buildings. The heart of the hostel is the perfect place to chill, surrounded by plants and hammocks.
The delicious breakfast that’s included sets you up perfectly for a day of exploring the city. The communal kitchen also means you can dabble in a bit of cooking yourself. The atmosphere created by the hosts will make you feel instantly at home.
Rooms are bright and spotless
Private rooms start from $11 per night, including breakfast
You couldn’t be more at the heart of San Cristobal than at Casa Lum. The popular walking street filled with restaurants and bars are literally on your doorstep.
Contemporary style and colonial architecture coexist in harmony at Casa Lum. This is clearly exhibited throughout it’s 8 rooms and delicious restaurant.
Another thing we love about this place, they’re also a social and environmentally sustainable hotel.
Many people say that Hotel Bo is ‘one of the best places they’ve stayed in’. You’re certainly treating yourself if you decide to stay here. Alongside the stunning gardens brimming with flowers, there’s modern and cosy rooms, a gym and onsite restaurant.
The hotel’s restaurant treats guests to upmarket Mexican cuisine and international dishes in a thoughtfully lit dining room. Their exceptional breakfast is the perfect way to set you up for a day of exploring San Cristobal. Trust us, you won’t want to leave once you arrive at Hotel Bo.