After being told by many travelers “Oh you’ll LOVE San Cristobal. It’s like Antigua but BETTER” I was pretty pumped to visit.
Thankfully my high expectations were met, I did indeed LOVE San Cristobal and would rate it in my Top Three Cities for this trip (Antigua, Guatemala and Valladolid, Mexico are my other faves).
You won’t believe this, but San Cristobal de las Casas is a colonial city (big surprise I know). The Spanish really got busy building theses things. As was constantly communicated to me, it is very similar to Antigua. This has a lot to do with the pastel buildings, cobblestone streets, mountainous surroundings and thriving Mayan culture. Pleasantly too, the vegetarian/healthy food scene was pumping and yoga houses were sprinkled around the downtown area. This always gets a big tick of approval from me.
Shortly arriving into SC, I decided this would be a good base for a week. I wanted to do some Spanish lessons and just stay in one spot to catch my breath. Moving about so constantly gets tiring!
Other than simply being a nice city to hang about in, SC is close to lots of great attractions. Between my Spanish lessons, I managed to explore a little. Here is what I got up to, in and around the city.
About an hour out of town is the village of Chiapas de Corzo, and its main attraction the Sumidero Canyon. Being the well-prepared traveler I am, I looked into getting to the canyon on my own and discovered that was a pointless endeavour. The canyon is toured via boat, everyone that visits goes on exactly the same one. Going with a your includes this boat tour and a shuttle service to and from. Getting a public bus or collectivo has been described as quite the nightmare; a longer journey, often difficult or poorly timed connections and all for roughly the same price as a tour from town. My hostel, being the best hostel in Mexico (not joking, they have won this award several times) offered such a tours along with many others, which I opted in for.
An hour along the highway brought us to the boat on the river. We cruised through the canyon for around 2.5 hours. It is very beautiful, with rugged mountains on each side of the water in all kinds of cool shapes. We went past a few cool waterfalls, including one which looked like a Christmas tree, this was my fave.
We spotted a couple of crocodiles, a monkey and lots of brown pelicans. Once we got to a wall (I think it was a dam), we headed back. Parts of the river were filled with so much rubbish, the water was not visible. Mainly made up of plastic bottles, this apparently comes via drains from the town.
After the canyon, we had a bit of time the main part of town to look around and get some lunch. There were surprisingly few places to eat around the main square. We finally found a restaurant near the water and enjohed some Mexican food and beer.
Moxviquil Nature Reserve
I took a walk up out of town (about 25 minutes) to the Moxviquil nature reserve and garden. The reserve was established to protect and cultivate Chiapas’s flora, especially those varieties that are endangered. The orchid garden is one of the attractions, but I skipped this. Instead, I did the short hike up through the forested grounds. The view wasn’t anything special, just a a glimpse of the city below. I did stumble across a cave at the top which was cool. You needed to climb downs bit to get to the entrance.
The forest itself was nice. Nothing spectacular but a great place to get a dose of Vitamin N close to the city.
After making my way down the hill, I exited the reserve via an art garden. This was really cool! There were lots of sculptures, cool mosaics and other colourful pieces scattered around.
Colonial cities are packed with lovely churches. I didn’t count them in SC, but there are MANY. It felt like everywhere I turned there was another church. I love how each is so different I colour, size, style and character.
I’ve noticed that most cities with a hill or mountain, also have a church on that mountain. This is the case with Iglesia del Cerrolita (below), perched up on its hill.
…and Iglesia de Guadalupe (below), which has a great view of Real Guadalupe, the city’a main steeet.
Asta Bandera (Giant Mexican flag)
Just beyond Iglesia del Cerrolita, is a little reserve with a giant Mexican flag. I came across this by accident when I went looking to see what a green patch was on google maps. The green patch is a little forest area behind the flag. While I exploring up there, I saw lots of people sweating it out, running around the paths and up and down the stairs near the church. A great place for a walk just outside of town.
Simply enjoy the city!
San Cristobal is generally a nice city to hang out in. The food and bar scene is great, the central area is always bustling and there’s a great vibe around.
There is so much to do in and around, just don’t forget to take some time to soak it all in.
Im now ducking down to the coast for a few days. You’ll find me in the little town of Mazunte!