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 everywhere you go in the beautiful dress of the Indigenous women and the products sold at the markets here.
But a new generation has come along too, breathing new energy into the city. San Cristobal has become a multicultural destination that thrives on art and community interaction in the form of cafes, galleries and community events.
For these reasons and more, San Cristobal is simply not to be missed off your Chiapas itinerary. If you’re visiting soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this fascinating town in Mexico.
Also, check out our list of the best activities in San Cristobal!
Is San Cristobal de Las Casas worth visiting?
It may be a place steeped in tradition but San Cristobal has also attracted a community of immigrants from other regions of Mexico and all over the world. This means one thing: you can expect delicious food from a wide range of cuisines. And San Cristobal is one of the most affordable cities in all of Mexico so it definitely won’t break the bank.
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’ll 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 low 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 remotely.
Located in the mountains of Chiapas
Situated at an elevation of 2,200 m in the mountains of Chiapas, San Cristobal has warm sunny days and chilly nights. This landscape means that the city itself is rather hilly, with beautiful views opening up everywhere you turn. And, it’s a great place for hiking.
How long should you spend in San Cristobal?
San Cristobal is a place that you can discover for a few days… or fall in love and end up staying for months! You’ll certainly meet many travellers who have.
This colonial city is a place to slow down, enjoy some great food and wine, and adapt to the slow pace of life lived by the locals. Four days is enough to do all of the must-do things in San Cristobal, but we encourage you to stay longer and embrace the city.
Where to stay in San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal is a relatively small city surrounded on all sides by mountains. Really, there’s only one place to stay and that’s in the centre of San Cristobal.
The best area to stay in San Cristobal — close to the historic centre
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.
How much is accommodation in San Cristobal?
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 and 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, and Spanish. You name it and you’ll probably be able to find it in San Cristobal.
With so many choices, we’re here to help you out! Below are our top 4 favourite spots in San Cristobal:
La Vina de Bacco — delicious wine and tapas from $1
This wine bar has become iconic amongst visitors to San Cristobal de las Casas. La Vina de Bacco is always busy, no matter the time of day.
Why? They sell glasses of wine starting from just $1 and with each glass, you also get a free tapa and popcorn. It really doesn’t get better than this!
The staff are incredibly friendly and the bar’s lively atmosphere makes it the perfect place to get the night started. The wine list is very extensive so if $1 wine is not your thing, you’ll find some nicer ones on offer too. Remember to get in early to get a table!
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 one restaurant, you can sample a whole host of different traditional dishes.
Alongside your usual suspects, 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 small family-owned restaurant, hidden away on a quiet little street.
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 and picking your base, protein, vegetables and sauce. Dishes start at just 50 MXN ($2.80).
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 hit the spot.
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 San Cristobal de Las Casas
Getting around San Cristobal de las Casas is super easy! It’s exactly what you want when on holiday or travelling. The city is relatively small with most things 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.
San Cristobal is the perfect walkable city (although there are a few hills that will get your heart rate up). No matter where your accommodation is, everything should be within walking distance.
The main walking street, lined with restaurants, bars and tour agencies, is pedestrianised so no need to worry about those crazy drivers.
There are 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.
Taxis cost around 30 MXN ($1.70) – 40 MXN ($2.30) 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.
Colectivos advertise where they’re going with signs displayed on their windscreen. 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 food shopping. The average ride should cost 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 ($1.00) each way.
If you’d rather travel at your own pace and not have to worry about anyone else, you could consider renting a car. But we’d only recommend doing this if you want to explore more of Chiapas. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.
To get the best deal, make sure to check out our 10 Tips for Cheap Car Rental.
How to get to San Cristobal de las Casas
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Oaxaca||5-12 hours||from 1,004 MXN ($57.00)||Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas|
|Palenque||6-11 hours||from 418 MXN ($24.00)||Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas|
|Puerto Escondido||4-13.5 hours||from 992 MXN ($57.00)||Puerto Escondido to San Cristobal de las Casas|
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in San Cristobal. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of things to do in San Cristobal. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in San Cristobal.
Hotel Bo - Treating Yourself
Many people say that Hotel Bo is ‘one of the best places they have ever stayed in’. You’re certainly treating yourself if you decide to stay here. Alongside the stunning flower-filled gardens ideal for relaxing in, there are modern and cosy rooms, a gym and onsite restaurant.
The hotel’s restaurant treats guests to upmarket Mexican cuisine and international dishes in an beautifully-designed environment. 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.
- Stunning and relaxing garden
- Exceptional restaurant
- Onsite gym
- Large and modern rooms
Double rooms start from $80 per night
Casa Lum - Treating Yourself
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.
- Onsite, highly rated restaurant
- Excellent location
- Socially and environmentally responsible ethos
- A intricately designed city oasis
Double rooms start from $80 per night
Sereno Art Hotel - Mid Range
This 4 star hotel really does feel like it was designed by artists, with it’s spectacular wall art and intricate details. The decor is an interesting blend of urban and rustic pieces.
The courtyard is truly stunning, with fairy lights creating the appearance of a starry night sky. Another star of the hotel is it’s restaurant. Their food can’t be raved about enough!
- Delicious food served in their onsite restaurant
- Creative and stunning decor
- Great location
- Cosy and large rooms
Double rooms between $40-$80 per night
Posada del Abuelito - Budget Friendly
Posada del Abuelito is a friendly 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.
Their delicious complimentary breakfast 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 best part? The hosts do an excellent job of making everyone feel at home.
- Homely atmosphere
- Great location
- Delicious breakfast included
- Rooms are bright and spotless
Double rooms between $15-$40 per night
Puerta Vieja Hostel - Budget Friendly
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 the best place to meet other travellers in San Cristobal.
- Free breakfast and dinner
- TV lounge and table tennis
- Great atmosphere
- Close to the main square
Dorm rooms from $9 per night, including breakfast and dinner
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