25+ Fantastic Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico
San Cristobal de las Casas is a beautiful, diverse, “pueblos magicos” that is found in the picturesque mountains of Chiapas State in Mexico. With its charming and decorated cobblestone streets, bustling markets, lively plazas, hip neighborhoods, and trendy coffeeshops, there are endless things to do in San Cristóbal de las Casas. This enchanting city is a highlight on any trip to Mexico.
The secret is out on how cool San Cristobal de las Casas is, oftentimes it is referred to as “San Cris.” This breathtaking city deserves at least three days to explore properly. However, it’s easy to spend a lot more time in this special city.
There are a wide range of San Cristobal de las Casas attractions, from modern museums, tranquil gardens, and delicious eateries boasting welcoming outdoor seating. However, the city maintains deep ties to its Indigenous roots, and it can be seen in the nearby villages and markets. There is something really special about spending quality time here.
Some of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas are actually the endless day trips, like the popular Sumidero Canyon. There are super long day trips to long lost ancient Mayan city of Palenque and hidden-gem national parks. There are so many things to do in Chiapas and countless places to see, a road trip through Chiapas is the best way to explore this intrepid state.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. This is all about all the incredible things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas. Take the time to fall in love with this delightful city nestled oh so cozily in the lush mountains.
Here’s over 25+ fantastic ideas and things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico.
Table of Contents
- How to Get to San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas Mexico
- San Cristobal de las Casas Basic Travel Guide
- Relaxing Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas
- More Adventurous Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas
- Cultural Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas | Day Trips to Indigenous Villages
- Foodie Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas
- More Food! The Best San Cristobal de las Casas Restaurants
- Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas
- Bonus Things to Do in Chiapas Mexico
- The Absolute Best Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico
How to Get to San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas Mexico
Where is San Cristobal de las Casas? It is located in Chiapas, the southern most state in Mexico. Reaching the city can be a long-haul trip. However, the “isolation” of the city makes it less visited by tourists.
Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas via Bus
Many travelers will arrive to San Cristobal de las Casas from the nearby state of Oaxaca.
✔ More Oaxaca Travel Guides | Oaxaca to Mitla Exploring the Culturally Rich East Oaxaca Valley | San Jose del Pacifico Mountains & Magic Mushrooms | The Best Oaxaca Beach Towns | How to Visit Chacahua Oaxaca | Discover Beautiful Santiago Apoala Oaxaca
The bus company ADO offers a convenient night bus from lovely Oaxaca City to the capital city of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez. After a quick layover, the bus continues into San Cristobal de las Casas.
🚌 Oaxaca to San Cristobal de las Casas Bus Logistics | Bus Company: ADO | Catch the buses in Oaxaca here: 5 de Mayo 1016, Barrio de Jalatlaco | Average Online Ticket Price: $550 pesos ($27.75 USD) | Duration: 12 hours | Current departure times: 21:00, 22:30 | Purchase online tickets here
Guatamala to Mexico Border Crossing
Another way to get to Chiapas is by crossing the Guatemala border. A popular border crossing is in the tiny village of Tziscao, close to Montebello National Park.
Tuxtla Gutierrez International Airport is the closest airport to San Cristobal de las Casas. This airport is an hour and a half from San Cristobal de las Casas and a half hour from Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Tuxtla Gutierrez is the capital city of Chiapas.
San Cristobal de las Casas Basic Travel Guide
San Cristóbal de las Casas is the most popular city to visit in Chiapas State. The state of Chiapas can have a bad reputation of being unsafe since it is also one of the poorest states in Mexico. In reality, it has one of the highest concentrations of Indigenous populations in Mexico. Many of the villages have begun to patrol their natural resources and cultural sites. In my opinion, Chiapas State is more “misunderstood” than anything.
San Cristobal de las Casas can take a little more effort to reach, since it’s nestled in the mountains, but it’s so worth a visit. The riches of this enchanting city often become make the city a favorite destination in Mexico.
This is a basic San Cristobal de las Casas travel guide.
Best Time to Visit San Cristobal de las Casas
There is a distinct rainy and dry season in Chiapas Mexico. The rainy season begins in May and ends in October. During this time, the popular Chiapas waterfalls may appear brown from the mud and rainfall. However, a perk of the rainy season is there are less tourists. Some of the Chiapas hiking activities can be more of a challenge due to muddy paths or rivers being high.
Chiapas dry season is from November to April. There is a better chance to see more wildlife during this time. Dry season also means colder nights, but waterfalls like Azul waterfalls will be vivid turquoise in coloring.
San Cristobal de las Casas is cooler than most places in Mexico, due to the altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 m). Once you move down the mountains, the climate becomes hot and humid from the jungle. April and May are the warmest months in Chiapas.
Is San Cristobal de las Casas Safe?
Again, Chiapas state is quick to be called unsafe. In the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, take standard precautions, have a basic awareness of your surroundings, and keep up to date with current political situations. Be mindful of your belongings in busy marketplaces.
Many of the nearby communities are part of the “Chiapas rebellion,” which means the villagers are taking back their ancestral Indigenous lands. You will have to pay entrance fees to access these communities, and oftentimes the police is not welcomed or allowed in town. The Chiapas rebellion is directed towards the government and not tourists. Many of the villages are happy to tourists, just always respect their laws, wishes, and pay the entrance fees.
As a solo female travelers in San Cristobal de las Casas, I never felt unsafe.
Useful Tips for San Cristóbal de las Casas
San Cristobal de las Casas is a delight to walk. The cobblestone streets are easy to wander and get lost on. There are many neighborhoods within the city, and there really isn’t a “bad neighborhood” in the city. However, just keep your wits about you and valuables close.
San Cristobal de las Casas has many collectiovs that connect the entire city and nearby villages. They are cheap and a breeze to navigate. San Cristóbal de las Casas has an ADO bus station and many collectivos stands that connect to all the popular places to visit in Chiapas.
There are many ATMS located throughout the city. Like in most places in Mexico, cash is king.
Now that all the logistics are out of the way, here’s what to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Relaxing Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas
The list of San Cristobal de las Casas things to do is endless! The city obviously became a favorite of mine during my travels in Mexico.
Here’s 11 ideas of tranquil things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
San Cristobal de las Casas Free Walking Tour
One of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to go on the Free Walking Tour. These tours are the best way to get a feel and local perspective. The Free Walking Tour in San Cristobal is no exception! In fact, this is one of my favorite walking tours in all of my travels.
The tour starts in the city hub of Plaza de la Paz. Twist through the charming streets, all while learning the about the city’s past and more present history. San Cristobal de las Casas is extremely political and has been the heart and wav of social change, including now the feminist movement. The voices of the Indigenous communities are powerful and are sending ripples of inspiration across the globe.
The tour is interactive and stops in at museums, popular restaurants, rooftop bars and more. The Free Walking tour also provides inspiration on what to do in San Cristobal de las Casas during your trip. Of course, the tour always tries to promote local business and tourism, which I love!
Daily English Tours: 10:00, 17:00 | Join the Free Walking Tour here: Plaza de la Paz | Duration: +/ 2 hours | The tour is free, but guides rely on tips! Share the love | More info here
Get Lost on the Colorful Streets
One of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to simply get lost along the colorful streets. Each street twists through charming barrios, past colorful churches, and is filled with character. The city is incredibly easy to walk and explore.
Browse the Many Artisan Markets in San Cristobal de las Casas
There are a wide range of different markets in San Cristobal de las Casas, from artisan to completely local markets.
The two most popular artisan markets in San Cristobal are the Market of Sweets and Amber and the sprawling market stalls that surrounds the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. The Market of Sweets and Amber has lots of clothing, jewelry, and treats. There are food stalls located outside the market serving up typical dishes of the region for budget friendly prices. The lively stalls around the Santo Domingo church focus mostly on beautiful clothing, bags, purses, jewelry, and other handmade items. Both are worth a stroll through.
The principle market of José Castillo Tielemans is San Cristobal de las Casas most vibrant local market. The market is huge, busy, and always packed. There are many vendors selling outside the market if you don’t wish to enter the always crowded inside.
Enjoy Plaza de la Paz
Yes, the free walking tour starts in Plaza de la Paz, but this inviting plaza seems to be the heart and soul of San Cristobal de las Casas. During the day, the plaza is full of children playing, vendors selling, and oftentimes there are performers dancing, singing, and providing entertainment. There are lots of little food stalls, so sample the delicious street food and sit back and people watch.
At night, the Plaza de la Paz is filled with locals setting up makeshift stalls where they sell handmade artisan goods. Rain or shine, the vendors make it work. The night market of Plaza de la Paz is an awesome thing to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Stroll Along Calle Real de Guadalupe
It’s impossible to miss the buoyant street of Real de Guadalupe. In fact, wandering this street is one of the top things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
The street is lined with cozy coffeeshops, buzzing restaurants, shops, and intimate bars. There are always musicians playing at any given time of the day, which makes the street full of life and energy. The street is a little more quiet in the mornings and afternoons, but at night, it’s full of people spilling onto the streets and filling up the outdoor patios of popular bars and restaurants.
Follow the picturesque street all the way to the stairs that lead to Guadalupe Church to get another spectacular view of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Explore the Barrio del Cerillo Neighborhood
There are many neighborhoods in San Cristobal de las Casas, but there’s something exceptional about Barrio del Cerillo. Maybe it’s the bright and colorful staircases that lead you here, or maybe it’s the open hilltop plaza. There’s a wide range of hip places to eat in this neighborhood, brew pubs, and trendy places to grab brunch. One of the main streets in the barrio is lined with colorful flower pots and there’s tons of funky street art. One of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas it to wander and get lost along the attractive streets of Cerillo Barrio.
Appreciate the Gardens at Casa Corazón de Jade
If wandering through the Barrio del Cerrillo, make sure to stop in at the Casa Corazón de Jade. This small, but delightful garden offers a small cafe selling fresh tea from the garden grounds. There are lots of benches, flowers, and green space to lie out and relax. These gardens showcase the curative and healing powers of plants and the importance of cultivating them.
These cute botanical gardens also offer different cultural activities.
Casa Corazon de Jade | Find it here: Navarro 5, Barrio del Cerrillo | Hours: Wed – Sun, 10:00 -16:00 | Admission Fee: $10 pesos (50¢) | FaceBook Page
Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Controversial & Colorful Street Art
Almost anywhere you wander in San Cristobal Mexico, you will find incredible street art. Many of the artwork is politically fueled for social change and addresses current political landscapes. This is more than art, this is inspiration and a cry for progress.
Visit a Museum
There are many diverse museums to visit in San Cristobal de las Casas. Many of the museums in San Cris focus on textiles, precious stones, and the ancient Mayan culture.
Here are a few of the most popular museums in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Jade Museum | Museo Mesoamericano del Jade | This small museum is all about the most powerful and valuable material for the entire Mesoamerican civilization, Jade. There are many replicas of artifacts, and explores the historical and significance of Jade to Prehispanic cultures.
Find them here: 16 de Septiembre, 16 | Hours: Daily, 12:00 – 20:00, closes at 18:00 on Sundays | Admission Fee: 35 pesos ($1.75 USD) | Official Website
Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya | An extremely well museum that focuses on the different textiles and embroidery techniques of the Mayan culture. In the museum, find exhibitions showcasing the different styles and methods of local artisan weavers in Chiapas. The museum’s mission is to help preserve these ancient techniques and to help support the local communities.
Find them here: Upper floor of the Ex Convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán | Hours: Thursday – Sunday, 10:00 – 15:00 | Admission Fee: $65 pesos ($3 USD) | Official Website
Amber Museum | Museo del Ámbar | The Museum of Amber is located in an old convent and boasts over 300 pieces of amber artifacts on display.
Find them here: La Merced, Calle Diego de Mazariegos | Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00 – 14:00 & 16:00 – 19:00 | Admission Fee: $20 pesos ($1 USD) | Facebook Page
Admire an Art Gallery
One of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to wander in and admire an Art Gallery. All of the art galleries are free to enter and oftentimes have a gift shop attached. Some boast their own coffeeshops or even a movie theater.
Kikimundo is a great gallery and highlights the work of Kiki Suárez, originally from Germany, but has called San Cristobal de las Casas her home for over 30 years. The gallery showcases her colorful and self-taught artistic style, which focuses her vibrant life in Mexico and highlights social issues for women and people with disabilities.
La Antigua Galería de Arte & Café is an airy open space that showcases a wide variety of local artists in a coffeeshop setting. The walls are filled with beautiful works of art and there is a separate room housing local textiles. La Antigua has a full service coffee menu and sells artisan chocolate. This space also acts as a cultural center that hosts musicians and other community events.
Kinoki San Cristóbal has it all. A rooftop terrace, a restaurant, and a movie theater. This local hang out shows a variety of independent films and documentaries. Although not technically a gallery, this cultural space serves is more like an alternative cultural arts center with epic views live music, and a focus on diversity.
Spend Time in a Bookshop
Another unique thing to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to spend some time in a bookshop. The city boats a wide range of small independent bookshops. Many of them have new and used books. With the many expats, many of the bookshops offer English books. There were three oof my favorite bookshops in San Cris.
More Adventurous Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas
If looking for some more adventuresome things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas, climb the steps of San Cristobalito Church or head outside the city to one of the many ecoparks with hiking trails, caves, and lots of green space.
Climb the Stairs of San Cristobalito Church
Although not too wild, the climb up to San Cristobalito Church is nice. The views from the church are not spectacular, since there are many large leafy trees obstructing the view. Instead, appreciate the climb and enjoy the views from the large staircase. The hilltop church is nice and there are lots of small trails that can be casually walked behind the church. It’s worth to spend an hour wandering around, popping in the church, and relaxing under the shade provided by the trees.
Explore El Arcotete Ecopark
Wonder what to do in San Cristobal de las Casas to appreciate the surrounding nature? A top thing to do just outside the city is to visit El Arcotete Ecopark. Since the city is snuggled so perfectly into the mountains, there are lots of beautiful natural places just steps from the city.
El Arcotete Ecopark has a tranquil river walk that leads to a widemouthed open cave. Onsite, find picnic tables, hiking trails, and grassy spaces. For an additional fee it’s possible to explore the impressive cave system with guide.
El Arcotete Ecopark Logistics | Entrance Fee: 10 Pesos (50¢) | Entrance Fee for enclosed caves: 15 pesos (75¢) | Last collectivos departs from the park at 18:00 (10 pesos)
El Arcotete isn’t too far from the city and is walkable, but the best option is to take a collectivo from the city.
🚐 Collectivos to El Arcotete Ecopark | Cost: 10 Pesos (50¢) | Look for white collectivos with green writing to Arcotete | Wave them down on the main road to Arcotete or across from Frontera Restaurant
More Places to Hike & Picnic in San Cristobal de las Casas
El Arcotete Eco park may be the most popular, but Grutas de las Golondrinas and the Grutas de Rancho Nuevo are two local parks that boasts caves. These two ecoparks are another popular place to visit from San Cristobal de las Casas.
If looking for a great picnic spot, Finca del Obispo has a nice park with grills.
There are lots of ecoparks on the outskirts of the city, so if you have time, visit at least one.
Plan a Chiapas Road Trip
Looking for one of the most intrepid things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas? Plan an epic road trip through Chiapas!
Optional bucket-list places to visit in Chiapas:
- Centro Ecoturistico Cascadas el Chiflón
- Chucumaltik Cenote
- Lagunas de Montebello National Park, make sure to take the scenic Cinco Lagos Hike.
- Ecoturistico Center of Las Nubes and the incredible Las Nubes Waterfall
- The Lost Mayan City of Yaxchilán
- Bonampak Archaeological Site
- The untouched Chiapas Waterfalls of Cascadas Las Golondrinas
- The Mayan Ruins of Palenque
- Chiapas Waterfalls of Misol-ha, Roberto Barrios, and Agua Azul Waterfalls
✈ Mexico Travel Planning | The Ultimate 7 Day Chiapas Road Trip
Cultural Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas | Day Trips to Indigenous Villages
One of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to visit one of the many Indigenous communities.
➯ San Cristobal de las Casas Travel Guide | 8+ Best Day Trips from San Cristobal de las Casas
San Juan Chamula
There’s a controversial buzz around the small Indigenous village of San Juan Chamula. The church here is famous for its unique chicken sacrifice rituals which have put it on intrepid and curious traveler’s bucket-lists. Even the pope has made a visit to San Juan Chamula to witness what happens inside this church.
The rituals inside the dimly lit church are a unique mixture of Catholicism and beliefs that have been passed down well before the pre-Hispanic times. Step inside the dark church, it is filled with thousands of candles and the ground is covered in hay. Healers chant, chickens and people cry, all while the incense burn. Be an observer of the families praying together, drinking the medicinal liquor of Pox, all while sipping on Coca-Cola to help burp out evil spirits. A somber walk through the San Juan de Chamula church feels like transcending time.
San Juan de Chamula has a truly unique and original Sunday Market. These villagers still don their typical traditional clothing and the main plaza is filled with men of the nearby villages to discuss regional business. At the end of the day, they take their ceremonial parade through town.
San Juan Chamula is one of the best and most original day trips from San Cristobal de las Casas.
How to Get to San Juan Chamula Chiapas
There are multiple San Cristobal de las Casas tours that depart daily for San Juan Chamula Chiapas. Due to the market, Sunday is the best day to visit San Juan Chamula. Since the people here are superstitious, less chicken sacrifices are performed on Wednesdays. It’s easy to visit Sann Juan Chamula via public transportation.
🚐 San Cristobal de las Casas to San Juan Chamula | Catch the Collectivos here: Calle Honduras 8, Barrio de Mexicanos | Cost: $18 pesos (90¢) | Duration: 30 minutes
Zinacantan Village | Zinacantán
Zinacantan is another Indigenous village close to San Cristobal de las Casas and San Juan Chamula. This village is known for their bright textiles in purples and pinks and their beautiful weaving capabilities.
The best way to witness the weavers is to wander into an artisan’s homes. Women cooperatives are found all throughout the village. The weavers use a tedious technique which is all done completely by hand. If you don’t visit someone’s home, there are markets lining the main plaza close to the church.
The main church and chapel are worth a stop. The alters are decorated with hundreds of beautiful flowers and intricate animal carvings on the alters. If you can visit early Sunday morning before 9, there is beautiful flower market in the center of town.
How to Get to Zinacantan Village
Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula can be visited as a full day tour from San Cristobal de las Casas. There are many guided tours, or visit independently. Collectivos depart frequently to Zinacantan.
🚐 San Cristobal de las Casas to Zinacantán | Catch the Collectivos here: Calle Honduras 8A, 14 de Septiembre | Cost: $22 pesos ($1) | Duration: 30 minutes
Chiapas de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is another “pueblo magico” found in Chiapas State. The small town boasts a large and beautiful plaza, a bustling public market, and the Exconvento de Santo Domingo that is home to a museum. Walk down the street of 5 de Febrero all the way to the river. This street is lined with local artisans selling typical products from the region. Look for the beautiful traditional black dresses lined with colorful flowers, available to purchase for women, children, and dolls alike.
Chiapa de Corzo is a popular village close to San Cristobal de las Casas due to its access to the beloved Sumidero Canyon. Chiapa de Corzo is an alternative gateway for independent travelers to reach the canyon by a guided boat tour.
Sumidero Canyon | Cañón del Sumidero
A trip to the Sumidero Canyon National Park is easily one the most popular things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas. From San Cris, multiple tour companies offer daily departures to the canyon. Cañón del Sumidero can be toured in two ways, either by car to admire the vistas from above, or by hopping in a shared boat that speeds through the scenic gorge. If taking a tour, there’s a chance to combine both as a long and full day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico.
The Sumidero Canyon boat tour zips through the scenic canyon and includes stops at waterfalls and other highlights. There’s a good chance you will see monkeys in the trees and crocodiles sunbathing in the river. Sadly, the river is seeing higher levels of pollution in the form of plastic waste. There are cargo boats filled with garbage, which you can see the tour center is trying to clean the river.
How to Get to Sumidero Canyon
It is possible to access Sumidero Canyon via public transportation; however, it is cheaper and easier to reach by an organized Sumidero Canyon tour. There is no other way to access the canyon by boat, unless you go with guide. Onsite, pay for a wristband and wait for a boat to fill and depart.
Cañón del Sumidero Logistics | Average Boat Tour Price: $350 pesos ($17.50 USD) | Boat Fare Without a Tour: $270 pesos ($13.50) | Standard tours include round trip transportation to the canyon and the option to add on the viewpoints
Foodie Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas
There are a wide range of incredible San Cristobal de las Casas Restaurants serving up typical dishes, ethnic food, and street food. There is no shortage of rooftop terraces, wine bars, brew pubs, and more. The food scene is San Cristobal de las Casas is as exciting and diverse as the city itself.
Sip on a Chiapas Coffee in a trendy cafe
What about where to find the best Chiapas coffee? Chiapas coffee region is famous for producing some of the best coffee in Mexico. So, San Cris has a plethora of cozy coffeeshops and specialty stores to purchase fresh beans to take on the go.
For top end coffee beans, try Carajillo Café. They work directly with local coffee farmers close to San Crisobal de las Casas Mexico. The store offers samplings and are more than happy to grind beans on the spot. Bonus, they sell hot and fresh cups of coffee to-go.
It’s hard to go wrong on coffee in San Cristobal de las Casas, but Libre Café has an excellent coffee selection that is brewed with love. A cooperative group of women artists have a small shop, Espabilocafe that serves up delicious fresh coffee from the Moka pot.
Sample the Cleansing Liquor of Pox
Pox is more than more a liquor, it’s a traditional cleansing drink that has been passed down since just after the Spanish conquest. Pox, pronounced poshe, is made from sugarcane, corn, and wheat. The word is derived from the Tzotzil language and pox literally can be translated to “medicine”
Oftentimes you can find the local communities drinking Pox in churches since it’s used as a cleansing and ceremonial ritual. Today, Pox is being revitalized and it’s making notable appearances at trendy cocktail bars. Many places are starting to distill the liquor and fusing it with diverse flavors including hibiscus and even chocolate.
A great place to sample Pox in San Cristobal de las Casas is at La Espirituosa, which serves up its own artisan brand labeled Poxna. This intimate tasting room offers free samples and a whole lot of history. Poxna is one of the best artisan Pox distillers in San Cristobal and the tasting room is special.
Before taking a sip of Pox, say “Kolaval,” which literally translates from Tzotzil to mean thank you.
Hang Out at a Brew Pub
There are lots of colorful brew pubs in San Cristobal de las Casas. Nierika is a brewery that has a lively open courtyard and some tables on the interior. On the weekends there is oftentimes live jazz on Fridays and other cultural music on Saturday and Sunday. They have a simple bar food menu.
Another fun brewpub is Cervecería Naufragio. This is one of those cool places without a sign and feels kind of underground. Inside the space offers outdoor and lots of indoor seating. Find live music, games, and a pingpong table. This brewery is only open Thursday – Saturday.
Sip on Wine at La Viña de Bacco
One of the top things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to have a glass of wine at the tapas bar La Viña de Bacco. The outdoor seating is always full. Order a glass of wine or beverage, and just like in Spain, get a free tapa. Although Spanish based, they serve a lot of unique Mexican wines. La Viña de Bacco is found on the heart of Calle Real de Guadalupe. Bands like to set up here and play for the always full street terrace patio.
Find them here: Real de Guadalupe 7 | Hours: Daily, 13:00 – 00:00 | Facebook Page
Catch a Sunset from a Rooftop Bar
There are incredible rooftop bars scattered throughout city. So of course, one of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to enjoy at least one rooftop terrace!
For city center views, head to Ginger Bar. This hip cocktail bar has a lovely outdoor terrace and funky and extra colorful indoor seating. Of course, anywhere along Real de Guadalupe has great nighttime city views that make for superb people watching. A little out of center of town, La Maldita Restaurante Hostal Bar has an excellent pano view of San Cris. El Mirador Restaurante Terraza Bar has a lovely view, but closes early, so is better for daytime views.
Treat Yourself to a Heavenly Dessert
Want a delicious pastry? What about a dessert that tingles your tastebuds and shoots you to the moon? Stop by Oh La La! Pasteleria for all things chocolate, sweets, pies and fruit tarts. This place is so popular, you can find two in town. I prefer the smaller and more intimate location at the end of Real de Guadalupe.
Find them here: Av, Real de Guadalupe 2 | Hours: Daily, 8:30 – 22:00
More Food! The Best San Cristobal de las Casas Restaurants
San Cristobal de las Casas has a fairly diverse “up and coming” foodie scene. However, in center and around many of the main attractions of the city the hip cafes and restaurants are primarily catering to the tourists, especially the “gringos.” Prices may be higher. Finding a middle ground and more local place to eat can be a challenge, but I highly recommend the below San Cristobal de las Casas restaurants.
Food Stalls Outside Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías Ámbar
Outside the Sweet and Amber Market in the center of town is one of the best places to grab a typical dish of food in San Cris. There are food stalls set up along both sides of the market and each food stall offers a wide range of culinary dishes. Personally, I enjoyed eating here because it was mostly locals and families. The outdoor seating provided great people watching.
At night, multiple hamburger and hot dog carts open up on the street right before the market. After 23:00, a quesadilla stand opens in the plaza. This is a great place to nibble on street food.
Find these varied food options outside the market
El Caldero de La Abuela
El Caldero de La Abuela is one of the best San Cristobal de las Casas restaurants to grab a “caldero,” or hearty soup in the city. These wholesome soups are comforting, especially on a rainy day when the mountain air can feel a little extra crisp. This small “hole in the wall” restaurant caters to both tourists and locals alike.
Find them here: Av Diego Dugelay 4C | Facebook Page
Want a super fresh loaf a bread? Craving a melt in your mouth sweet pastry? What about a quick slice of pizza to go? Roots Bakery has all these options and more! This is a small and yummy bakery that is close to many cheese and specialty shops. A perfect shop to grab the final touches of everything you need to enjoy a picnic in San Cristobal Chiapas.
Find them here: Av Diego Dugelay | Facebook Page
Located in the beautiful artisan space of Casa la Venta, Satori Pizzeria offers delicious pizzas hot out of a wood-burning stove. Each handmade pizza is made with love and topped in fresh ingredients. The outdoor patio space is shared between a few cute restaurants and small artisan shops making it a great place to relax for the afternoon. Beer and wine available.
Find them here: Chiapa de Corzo 19 | Facebook Page
Sarajevo Café Jardin
One of the best spots for brunch in San Cristobal de las Casas is the hip and trendy Sarajevo Café Jardin. On the weekends there is always live music, usually a piano player. The food menu has a fun and modern twist on classic Mexican dishes. The coffee is excellent and the ambiance even better. There is both indoor and outdoor seating.
Find them here: Flavio A. Paniagua 32 | Facebook Page
Jardín del Jaguar Café Restaurante
An excellent outdoor garden space that serves coffee, fresh juices, and a simple cafe menu. Jardín del Jaguar Café Restaurante is perfect place to “escape the city.” This small cafe is connected to the nearby Casa Na Bolom, which houses a museum and hotel.
Find them here: 29220, Av. Vicente Guerrero 33 | Facebook Page
➜ Psst... wanna savor the garden and sleep at Hotel Na Bolom? Book here
Frontera Artisan Food & Coffee
One of the best San Cristobal de las Casas restaurants is Frontera Artisan Food and Coffee. The garden patio here is excellent, the coffee delicious and food comforting. Frontera is popular for brunch, but is almost always busy. Plenty of musicians play in the inviting outdoor garden. Prices are a little higher, but portions are large.
Find them here: Belisario Domínguez 35 | Facebook Page
Te Quiero Verde
Of all the top San Cristobal de las Casas restaurants, Te Quiero Verde is probably the most delicious for vegans. But, the food is so good, carnivores will also be left satisfied. Te Quiero Verde serves up vegan burgers, pastas, tacos, and more. The inside is cozy and there is a small, but lovely garden out back.
Find them here: C. Niños Heroes 5b | Facebook Page
Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas
San Cristobal de las Casas has many different hostels and hotels to choose from for any type of budget. In general, hotels in San Cristobal de las Casas are more affordable compared to more popular destinations in Mexico.
➜ Find the perfect place to stay in San Cristobal de las Casas
Best Hotels in San Cristobal de las Casas
A few of the more popular hotels in San Cristobal de las Casas are found close to Centro or in the Barrio del Cerrillo. If looking for a hip and funky space, try Sereno Art Hotel. A doors over, Hotel Posada Primavera has rustic rooms with two lovely garden patios.
➜ More hotel options in San Cristobal de las Casa
San Cristobal de las Casas Hostels
There are lots of San Cristobal de las Casas hostels, but my favorite is Hostal Casa Gaia. This is a family run house and the owners are so friendly and keep the place absolutely spotless. There’s a nice outdoor space, access to a kitchen, and simple private and shared rooms.
On the other side of town, La Abuelita Hostal & Terraza is a great hostel option in San Cristobal de las Casas. The hostel is clean, has a large kitchen, excellent common spaces, and has shared and private rooms. Try to score the private room with the giant terrace.
➜ More hostel options in San Cristobal de las Casas
Bonus Things to Do in Chiapas Mexico
Yes there are so many things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas, but the adventures are endless in the state of Chiapas!
The towering Chiflon Waterfall, the turquoise Montebello Lakes National Park and the ancient Mayan city of Palenque can all be done as long day tours from San Cristobal de las Casas. Some of these day trips from San Cristobal de las Casas begin at 4 am.
Vist El Chiflon Waterfall
The Chiflon Waterfall can be done as a day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas. At this towering waterfall, find an ecotourism center that offers a hiking path which leads to the stunning Cascadas el Chiflón. Along the route stop by the river and appreciate a few smaller waterfalls. In Chiflon Ecopark there are many picnic areas that line the river, tiendas selling snacks, and simple restaurants serving fast food.
Cascades el Chiflón Logistics | Admission Ticket: $50 pesos ($2.50 USD) | Hours: 8:00 – 17:30 | Find it here: Google Map Location
Explore Montebello National Park
Montebello National Park boasts over 50 turquoise blue lakes with some of Chiapas most spectacular hiking trails. If exploring as with a tour group this day tour will probably only stop at the most popular lake: Laguna de Montebello. While Laguna de Montebello is nice, there are a plethora of enchanting lakes to explore. For some of the best hiking in Lagunas de Montebello, visit Lake Pojoj and enjoy the lovely Cinco Lagos Hike.
Lagunas de Montebello National Park Entrance Fee: $50 pesos ($2.50 USD) | Official toll booth: here | Additional Laguna Fees: Laguna Montebello: 25 pesos / Laguna Pojoj: 25 pesos | Make sure to hold onto your original National Park Entrance ticket, it’s checked frequently!
This national park has hiking trails, offers row boat rides, and horseback riding. To make the most of your time at Lagunas de Montebello National Park, sleep in Tziscao and enjoy the park at your own pace.
➜ Book a cabaña in Lago Tziscao here
Tour Palenque & Chiapas Waterfalls
One of the most popular things to do in Chiapas is to visit Palenque National Park in the jungle. There are buses that run to Palenque, but since they take over 9 hours, a one day trip for independent travelers is impossible.
Step back in time and stand next to the ancient Mayan ruins that make up the lost city of Palenque. This site is picturesquely encircled by the lush jungle mountains. Oftentimes, in the early morning, the fog rolls in and covers the site in a mystical haze.
Palenque Fees & Logistics | There are TWO Entrance fees | Palenque National Park Entrance Fee: $90 pesos ($4.50 USD) | *Hold onto your admission wristband | Palenque Archaeological Site Entrance Fee: $80 pesos ($4) | Hours: 8:30 –17:00, last admission at 16:00 | Museum included in the ticket price, opens later at 10:00 | Official Website
At the height of the Maya Empire, Palenque was one of the most influential sites in the entire Maya Empire. Shockingly, what we see today is only 5% of the once powerful city, the jungle has reclaimed and hidden the rest with unknown secrets and treasures. The Palenque ruins are beautiful and a must visit destination in Chiapas Mexico.
➜ Find the perfect place to sleep in Palenque | Piedra de Agua Palenque has private rooms with outdoor bathtubs and seating areas, parking and close to the main Palenque National Park Entrance
Agua Azul Waterfalls & Other Chiapas Waterfalls
Almost all of the tours to the Palenque ruins includes a stop at least one waterfall. Usually it is Agua Azul Waterfalls, which is the most visited waterfall in all of Chiapas.
Cascada de Agua Azul has almost fallen victim to its own beauty. Today, many vendors have set up multiple stands selling trinkets, souvenirs, and food that distract from the falls. The once tranquil path that follows along this waterfall is loud and the shops are eyesores to the natural beauty. While Agua Azul is unique in its own right, Misol-ha waterfall and Robert Barrio waterfall have still maintained their natural charm.
My favorite Chiapas Waterfall lies close to the Guatemala Border at the Ecotourism center of Las Nubes.
Other Notable Ancient Mayan Archaeological Sites
While Palenque is the most popular ancient Mayan Archaeological Site to visit, there are plenty to choose from in Chiapas.
Reclaimed by the Lacandona jungle, Yaxchilan Archaeological Zone is worth the effort to visit. Hop on a boat in the village of Frontera Corozal and take a boat down the scenic river. Wander through the Yaxchilan ruins. It’s not uncommon to hear howler monkeys in the background or see a snake slithering up the crumbling staircases of this once powerful ancient Mayan city.
Another notable Mayan Site to visit is Bonampak, which is famous for its colorful painted walls.
The Absolute Best Things to Do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico
There are so many awesome things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico. From wandering the charming cobblestone streets, visiting a museum, to browsing one of the many artisan markets any type of traveler will find something appealing in this “pueblo magico” in Chiapas Mexico. This mountainous southern city in Mexico offers a wide range of ecoparks and stunning nature. Sample typical dishes of the region or enjoy the diverse cuisine that is found in San Cris.
Besides enjoying the city, one of the best cultural things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas is to take a short day trip to one of the nearby indigenous villages. The entire state of Chiapas is filled with natural, cultural, and ancient Mayan wonders.
With so many incredible things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas, it is often a highlight on any trip to Mexico.
Did this article convince you to visit San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico? Have you done any of these “best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas?” Is there anything you loved in San Cris that is missing from this list? Did you fall in love with San Cris as much as me? Let me know in the comments below!
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I am hooked on a PBS Mexican cooking show that features travel stories on different states in Mexico. They should feature this town. I hope to visit one day.
really? Who hosts the show on PBS? I fell in love with Rick Bayless and his passion and love for authentic Mexican food! San Cristobal has almost a more modern food scene, which is unique in itself!
I got stuck at the Guadapul. The street indeed looks so lovely.
Yes!! The streets are all soooo lovely ☺️
Wow what a beautiful city to explore in Mexico! I haven’t been to any places in Mexico yet, but this is definitely on my list after reading your post!
Thank you so much for shining a light on this beautiful region of Mexico. I feel like most visitors to this country rarely venture out beyond the walls of their resorts. And yet Mexico has such a rich and varied culture. And even though I’ve never visited this area I like that you mentioned that the region is misunderstood. I find this type of misunderstanding to be applied to many impoverished regions in the world. Beautiful and informative article. San Cristobal de las Casas is now on my bucket list. Thank you!
Thank you so much Bea for your thoughtful comment! You have summed up perfectly what I am trying to show, how to encourage people to travel in a different way, to connect with the authenticity of a place and the people who inhibit it. I hope you make it to San Cristobal de las Casas and relish in the magic!✨