If you are looking for a full day activity, combining city life with nature I have the perfect recommendation for you: visit San Cristobal de las Casas and nearby El Arcotete. We loved the combination of a relaxed hike in nature, followed by food and drinks in San Cristobal. El Arcotete is still relatively undiscovered, so grab your chance to visit as soon as you can!

San Cristobal

San Cristobal is one of the most popular spots in the Chiapas province and it seems to be busy year-round. We actually were surprised at the number of tourists visiting in November, as this is the shoulder season in Mexico. We actually visited two times before, in August and it was equally busy. Don’t let that deter you from visiting San Cristobal, it is popular for a very good reason! The colorful, colonial style is beautiful, and you don’t see this style in many locations in Mexico. You’d be forgiven if you thought these pictures were taken in Colombia. San Cristobal is located in the Mexican highlands and with an elevation of 2.200m it is much colder than the rest of Mexico. We got super lucky with the weather and visited when it was almost 20 degrees celsius, so perfect dress weather. San Cristobal is surrounded by lush, green hills, making the city even more picturesque.

We visited San Cristobal as a daytrip from Tuxtla Gutierrez. Mexico is a very car friendly country and we were surprised that we could street park for free in the city center. The most famous landmarks in San Cristobal are the churches, of which some really have an outstanding design and I highly recommend a city tour to check them all out.

Iglesia de San Cristobalito: This is my favorite church in San Cristobal, it is located on top of a hill and you have to climb quite some stairs to get there. When you are up, you get the opportunity to enjoy views overlooking the whole of San Cristobal, which is super pretty.

Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzm├ín: Unfortunately this one was covered in scaffolding when we visited, so I couldn’t take any new, high quality pictures of the details on the exterior. This church is located a bit out of the city center in an area where there is lots of markets and it is incredibly crowded. Don’t let it deter you from visiting, but make sure to pay some extra attention.

Cathedral de San Cristobal de las Casas: This is the cathedral which you will find on the main square, its is painted in yellow and red and super picturesque. The square is burstling with people, but I was able to take these pictures in an unexpected quiet moment.

Over the past years San Cristobal really became a foodie town. As it is so popular with tourists, restaurants really try to make a difference and attract customers creating a vibrant food scene. We traveled with the recommendations of our Mexican friends and I would advise these restaurants:

Sarajevo Cafe: A very botanical cafe, with international and Mexican food options. Very good value for money, healthy food and beautiful surroundings.

Amor Negro Cafe: For the best coffee!

Mezcaleria La Surreal: We already visited this cocktail bar five years ago and it still was as good as we remembered. Very original cocktail choices, delicious bites and a good atmosphere. Terrace overlooking the main street and good options to sit inside if the weather is bad.

Pizzeria El Punto: If you are craving something different than Mexican food (which I honestly cannot imagine).

El Arcotete

If you want to factor in an extra activity in nature, I would recommend visiting El Arcotete. It is only six kilometers outside of San Cristobal, but it feels like a different world. We visited at 10AM in the morning and there was absolutely nobody there, we had the nature park to ourselves. In the park you can visit a stunning cave and enjoy bushwalks. The entrance fee to El Arcotete is only a few euros, but you need to pay a little extra to be able to visit the caves. We did note some zip lines, but these seemed not to operate in the off season. El Arcotete calls itself an ecotourism park and I must say I agree that it felt this way. It is relatively undiscovered with a lot of respect for nature. There is a little cafe where you can buy drinks and some snacks, but no full restaurant. If you bring a picknick you can have it in the little palapas near the entrance. I expect that El Arcotete is going to blow up in popularity over the next years as the access roads are currently being improved. Make sure to visit this hidden gem before it is too late!

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