I’m a little bit in love with San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico. I’m sure by the time you have finished reading this guide to San Cristobal de las Casas you will know just how much. I’d probably live there if it didn’t get to sold during the winter. So for now I’ll just have to make do with visiting there when I can.
There is a lot of do in San Cristobal and many fun day trips you can take to other places in Chapas. But in this San Cristobal de las Casas guide I’ve tried to keep it just about things to do in the main town.
Wether you are backpacking in Mexico or planning a stand alone visit to Chapas, don’t skip over San Cris.
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I also use Travel Insurance Master for short trips.
Read my full travel insurance post here where I go into detail about all 4 companies.
Confession time. My last trip to San Cris was for one reason, and one reason only. To go shopping! I wanted to buy a new purse and some cute things for my room in Playa del Carmen. I was also in need of some new clothes and accessories. If you want to buy Mexican textiles, leather goods, and jewelry then San Cristobal is the best place to do it. The Artisan Market is huge and packed full of beautiful things.
Just up the road from the artisan market in San Cristobal is the food market. It’s on every day and it sells everything. It can be a bit overwhelming at first. so take your time to wander around and go hungry so you can try all the delicious food! If you are on a budget you can save money by shopping and eating here.
Ok, ok. I know this is a super kitch and touristy thing to do. But it’s also a lot of fun and gives you a hour’s break from all the walking! The tour is in Spanish so if you haven’t learnt to speak Spanish yet you will miss out on some information. But don’t worry, you can still admire the view. They will take you to the church with the steps (for the classic San Cris pic) and also to a small coffee shop. I’d recommend buying coffee from there as it’s cheaper than most places in town. The tour costs $50-$70 pesos, don’t forget to tip, and leaves from the central plaza.
Whenever I visit San Cristobal de las Casas I always spend at least one night at La Vina de Bacco. The wine is like 20 pesos a glass, and you get free tapas with each glass you order. Normally I just order something small to eat and then fill up on the free tapas! It often gets full in here to get there early for a seat.
On the main plaza, there is a bar and restaurant called La Terraza. To get one of my favorite views of San Cristobal go there. It’s especially nice around sunset. They have a restaurant with a full menu, but on the small terrace, they only serve smallish bar snacks.
Have you ever been to San Cristobal if you haven’t spent at least one day just chillin drinking coffee? It’s hard going to find a bad coffee shop in San Cris. But my personal go to is Amor Negro. It has great coffee, the food is pretty good, and the wifi is super fast! It’s a great place to get some work done, if you don’t mind the ambient coffee ship noise.
Yeah, I know, why would I ever suggest eating Italian food in Mexico?!? But for some reason San Cris has a lot of very good pizza places. So be sure to try at least one before you leave. I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
There are a lot of fantastic day trips from San Cristobal de las Casas you can take. The most famous one is this day trip to Canyon de Sumidero. Here you will find a lot of wildlife such as birds, crocodiles, and monkeys. It’s a boat trip that takes you down the river to see the high canyon walls to a waterfall. It really is one of the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas.
As well as the daytime artisan market there is a night market just in from of the church that starts at 6pm each evening. It has mostly the same stuff you can find in the main market, but sometimes you can find some better bargains here. If the temperature drips and you need to buy something warm to wear, you will find an abundance of jumpers, and woolen shawls here too.
In most regions of Mexico you will find a regional alcoholic drink. Oaxaca has Mezcal. Jalesco has Tequila. And Chapas has Pox (pronounced posh). I personally really like it and it’s always my drink of choice while I’m there. It’s smooth like Mezcal and can be drunk with some slices of orange. Be sure to buy a few bottles before you leave as it’s hard to find outside Chapas. I recommend trying both the coffee pox and cinnamon pox!
Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress.
Best San Cristobal Tours: Click here to check out the top San Cristobal tours
Best San Cristobal Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in San Cristobal
Best San Cristobal Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in San Cristobal
Wondering what to eat in San Cristobal de las Casas? I’m going to list a few of my recommendations here, however I strongly suggest taking a read of this post by my good friend Foodie Fashpacker. I pretty much just ate my way around his recommendations anyway.
If you like wine and tapas, you will love it here! A glass of wine will cost you from $20 pesos (that’s around $1 USD) and with each glass you get a small tapas dish. If you love good cheese they have cheese plates that I would recommend too.
It’s very easy to eat here in a budget if you don’t mind eating from the more basic restaurants. For lunch, I’d recommend walking around the outside of the markets. there are many places where you can get a set lunch menu (menu del dia) for less than $100 pesos. I’d also recommend going to the food market for breakfast or lunch. Go into the market and find your way inside to the food area.
In the evening you can take the short walk over to the nighttime street food area. It’s around Fray Bartolome de las Casas. There you will find an array of amazing local street food at local prices… go hungry.
Looking to keep costs down while traveling to San Cristobal de las Casas? Mexico is a pretty cheap place to travel especially if you are earning money in dollars, pounds or Euros. So even eating out in the most expensive restaurants really isn’t so expensive. That said there are a few ways you can save even more money if you are on a backpacker’s budget.
If you stick to eating hostel breakfast, menu del dia for lunch, and street food for dinner you can probably get by spending around $150-$200 pesos a day. That’s around $7-10 USD.
San Cristobal is small, so you can pretty much walk everywhere. For anywhere out of town there is an extensive public transport network. If you want to travel to and from the airport you can book a place on a colectivo for $250 pesos each way.
Other than the local Oxxo’s there aren’t any supermarkets in the centre of San Cris anyway. So unless you want to take a taxi out of town you will be doing all your shopping at the merecardos anyway. If you want to save money on your food bill shop there and make sure your accommodation has a kitchen.
Want to know the secret to not getting ripped off? Learn some basic Spanish. Not only will you be able to negotiate prices, but you will also earn the respect of the locals who will repay you by not giving you silly prices to start with.
I personally travel to San Cris with very little. Last time I went with an empty suitcase… so I could fill it up and bring it back with me. Things are cheap there. So if you are worried about not having warmer clothing, don’t be. You can pick up some things very cheaply there.
When packing for San Cristobal de las Casas, the first thing you need to know is that it stands at an altitude of 2200 m. That means that even during the warmer summer months, the temperature can drop down at night. So you are going to want to pack some warmer clothing.
Its a jeans and t-shirt kind of place. So I’d leave the hot pants and vest tops for the beach towns. During the day it can get pretty warm so shorts are fine, but at night you are going to want something warmer.
If you are wondering where to stay in San Cristobal de las Casas I have two places that I highly recommend. One for solo travelers, and another for couples and groups.
In general, if you are traveling solo I would strongly recommend staying as close to the central park as you can. This is purely so you don’t have far to walk back alone at night time. If you are a couple or a group, there are a few places that are a short walk away that I love.
Although it’s in general very safe, I personally don’t feel comfortable walking too far at night alone.
This is the place I stayed at the first time I went to San Cris and I loved it. It’s a super cute place in a great location. I always felt safe walking back here at night and it has a nice kitchen you can cook in.
This is my hostel pic. Dorm beds are very cheap and the location is great.
If you have a bit more to spend on accommodation this place is in a perfect central location, and it is attached to the best coffee shop in town. Win win.
I stayed here recently with some friends and it was perfect. It’s located in between the two markets (artisan and food) and a 10-minute walk from the main plaza. Personally I wouldn’t like to walk back here solo, but I felt very safe here with friends. Not only is the place adorable and spotless, it has the BEST breakfast. If you read the reviews, you will see that, and it’s no lie. Honestly, staying there was cheap, and then having such a big breakfast saved us even more money on food. They also have a kitchen you can use for cooking.
Great location and perfect for couples.
Another great location and I love the decor here.
Everyone wonders, is there an airport in San Cristobal de las Casas? Sadly no, there isn’t. But there is one just an hour away in Tuxtla.
Most people arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas either by flying in to Tuxtla, or on a bus from Guatemala. Although its not uncommon for people to take a bus from Oaxaca or somewhere else on their Mexico itinerary.
There are 2 main way to get from tuxtla airport to San Cristobal de las Casas, and both are very easy.
The main co-working space in San Cristobal de las Casas is Centralita. I wasn’t there long enough to need to use it, and I managed to find half decent wifi in Amore Negro to do what I needed to do. But if you are a Digital Nomad in San Cristobal de las Caras, here are a few places to work from.
This is the main coworking space in San Cristobal de las Casas. I didn’t go, but my friend did as she needed to teach online. She told me it was very easy to find and the wifi gave her no issues while teaching. A daypass here will cost you just $95 pesos.
Not so great if you need to be in a quiet environment for calls. But the wifi here is solid! It’s also a really nice environment to work from and the coffee and food is great.
I love working from here, but the wifi isn’t so great. It’s ok for writing, not so great if you need to upload or download anything. They do have the best coffee in town though and OMG their cheesecake…
What can I really say about safety in San Cristobal de las Casas? To me it has always seemed like a super safe place to be. Wether I’ve been traveling solo, or in a group, I’ve never felt unsafe here.
Of course, it’s important to issue the usual caution that you need wherever you are in the world. But other than being wary of pickpockets and trying not to go walking down dark alley ways alone at night, I’d be very surprised if you had any issues at all here.
🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for San Cristobal?
🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in San Cristobal?
I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.
🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in San Cristobal?
👩⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?
I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here
✈️ Any flight recommendations?
📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?
I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.
With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.
🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?
🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?
No this is really going to depend on you. The last time I went it was November and although the weather during the day was glorious, in the mornings and evenings it was so cold I wanted to cry. Cold is fine, if you have heating. But it’s just not really a thig in San Cris, you just get an extra blanket!
So if you prefer the warmer weather I’d advise traveling there between May and September for the milder temperatures.
But in all honesty, there is no bad time of year to visit, just go prepared. And remember if the cold get’s to be too much for you, just take a bus to Pelenque!
LIKE IT? PIN IT!
Where would we be without the trusty Lonely Planet Mexico book?!? It really is the best all-around guide to Mexico. The only issue I ever have with these books is that often the information can be outdated, but if you want to really explore Mexico, not just the tourist trail version of Mexico then get this book on your Kindle. It’s oftern free if you have a kindle unlimited subscription.
It’s all about the food here in Mexico. Especially in Oaxaca, thought of as the culinary heart of Mexico. This Mexican cookbook is the first true introduction to Oaxacan cuisine by a native family, each dish articulates their story, from Oaxaca to the streets of Los Angeles and beyond.
The book showcases Mexican “soul food” serving up 140 authentic, yet accessible recipes using some of the purest pre-Hispanic and indigenous ingredients available.
As much as I don’t want to perpetuate Mexico’s reputation as a county full of cartels, drugs, and danger. It can’t really be ignored, and I know many people are interested in learning more. So I’ve included Midnight in Mexico on my list of books to read. It’s a true crime book written by a Mexican-American journalist and migration lawyer. It’s about as close to the truth as you can get. Being. journalist here in Mexico is one of the most dangerous arrears you can have. But Corchado is known for never shying away from the truth reporting on government corruption, murders, and the drug cartels of Mexico. In 2007, Corchado received a tip that he could be their next target, he had twenty-four hours to find out if the threat was true…
Are you even alive if you don’t know who Frida Kahlo is? If you are a Friday fan then this is the perfect fictional accompaniment to your Mexican vacation. Especially if you will be visiting Mexico City.
Using several of Frida’s notebooks as inspiration acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this touching fictional account of her life. Through the book, you are taken on a magical ride through this imagined life of Freida
An old, but a goodie! This one is for all of you lovers of romance novels! It’s described as:
“A novel of passion, food, and magic, Like Water For Chocolate is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit – and recipes.”
Forbidden love, family obligations, and seduction by food… what more could you ask for in a novel!
I must confess, my friend Mexico Cassie wrote this book. That doesn’t mean it’s not a bloody brilliant guide to moving to Mexico, because it is. As someone who moved to Mexico there was so much of this book that resonated with me, even though I moved here myself, without a family.
She goes in to great detail about the visa application process and some other notoriously tricky things like trying to buy a car or find a good school for your kids.
If you are considering a move to Merida, or anywhere in Mexico actually this is a great read!