We bumped into a group of kiwis travelling through Mexico and they only had two full days to spend in San Cristobal De Las Casas. Having lived here for a month I didn’t believe this was nearly enough time to see the beauty of San Cris but I quickly itemised an itinerary that would allow them to see the best of San Cristobal in such a small window.
San Cristobal De Las Casas used to be San Cristobal but took on the De Las Casas in honour of Bartolome de las Casas. Interestingly he gave up his native slaves deciding African slaves were more humane to use and then realised slavery itself should be abolished. He helped petition to the Spanish crown to change laws about slavery particularly for the indigenous people. If you read any history on San Cris DLC you will come across stories of injustice towards indigenous people and the protest from these people to earn basic rights such as being able to earn money, to vote and even to own land. But that’s a separate topic. San Cris allows you to immerse yourself in many different cultures that blend in this beautiful town and that’s what you will get to see and taste as you experience this beautiful town.
If you have the option to stay longer than two days – DO! But for those who only have three nights here, this is what we recommend.
On your first day in San Cristobal De Las Casas, it’s important to soak in the atmosphere. There are so many churches to see so close to each other that you will most likely come across at least five in one walk from one side of town to the other. Along the way, make sure you book your tour to Canon Del Sumidera. Even in peak season you will be able to find a tour operator to take you the next day. Check out our post about the churches.
There are four must see churches in my opinion, but it’s the stops along the way that can enhance your experience:
– Iglesia de Santa Domingo
– Iglesia de Guadalupe
– Iglesia el Cerrito
– Catedral de San Cristobal De Las Casas
Here’s how to find them.
Just as all roads lead to Rome, you’ll find you end up in the centre square as you work your way through this list. Here you will see the Catedral de San CristóbalDe Las Casas. I don’t know the name of this church but it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is usually a bustle of activity especially at night when a night market often is held in the square.
From the central square ask for directions to the street called Real de Guadalupe. It’s a pedestrian mall for two blocks and then it becomes a slow ascent to the base of a hill. On top of this hill is Iglesia de Guadalupe. This church is actively pilgrimed during the festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the first week of December until the 12th. More on that here.
Along the way there are many restaurants and cafes to enjoy as well as little art galleries. We enjoyed a t-shirt shop very close to the church and Ajay loved the flavoursome rotisserie chicken in a little restaurant about a block from the church called Pollo a la Lena.
High on top of another hill is a church which I think is called Iglesia de San Cristobal or Iglesia El Cerrito. To get to this one from the centre is a bit of a ticky-tour but worth the meandering.
From the centre of town take a walk down the street called Avenida Insurgentes. This is my favourite street because it has my favourite restaurant El Caldero. You’ll spot it two blocks from the town square. Here you can order lots of local dishes. My favourite was the vegetarian soup. We only found this place because of a tummy bug we caught and our Airbnb host told us to get soup from El Caldero. Hopefully you don’t catch any of the dinner queues when you go there.
From here you can keeping walking down Insurgentes another couple of blocks and you will see another church next door to a market place called Mercado de Dulces y Artesanias Amber. Inside this market place is a place serving a delicious hot guava juice. For only a few pesos it’s well worth a try.
Another block down is Iglesia de Santa Lucia.
At this point, take the street called Alvaro Obregon and then immediately turn right on Miguel Hidalgo so that you are heading back towards the centre of town. You’ll see Arco Del Carmen and Iglesia Del Carmen. Turn left and you’ll see the steps going up the hill to Iglesia El Cerrito.
After visiting this church and the playground behind it come back down to Insurgentes to grab yourself a freshly brewed Chiapas coffee or cacao drink. I liked the 50% cacao drink with water and cardamom in Cafe el Tostador and the “Carmelo” a 70% cacao drink from Cacao Nativa. By the way these cacao drinks are best with water – order “cacao con agua” not “con leche” which means “with milk”.
This church is by far my favourite and not just because of it’s ornate facade. There is a market place in front of this church that features textiles from Mexico and Central America. It’s fascinating to walk through and stretches into a maze.
Take the time to walk beyond this church and you will find the food market which sells local produce including live chickens and turkeys.
To reach Iglesia de Santa Domingo use the pedestrian mall on the street called Avenida 20 de November. Keep walking for a few blocks and you can’t miss it.
Assuming you booked the tour on Day 1, today will be a visit to Canon Del Sumidero. Choose the one that includes spots from on top of the canyon. Check out our trip to this place here.
It’s super easy to get around because there are taxis and colectivos everywhere.
A colectivo is a minivan that operates like a bus where you pay per person. It has a set route but will pick you up and drop you off anywhere on the route. It doesn’t have to be a specific stop. However, there are colectivos that travel outside of town. These do have specific stops but we didn’t use them. We found the taxis affordable given we were a family of six. We often paid 30 pesos to get home from the centre of town and we would pay 50 pesos to travel from the central area to the outskirts if we wanted to go to the mall or the cinemas.
Getting around Mexico with a family is super easy using the luxurious ADO buses which are comfy, spacious and cheap. Wherever you are in Mexico you will be able to book an ADO to San Cristobal De Las Casas. Make sure your bus has a toilet though because the stops are not long enough for a family break and they only offer snacks or Subway at most ADO stations.
The alternative is to fly into Tuxtla, the capital city of Chiapas, and then take a taxi for about 800 pesos which is a one hour trip. The taxi will take you to your accomodation.
The other option is to fly into Tuxtla and then catch one of the ADO Aeropuerto buses that regularly travel back and forth from Tuxtla to San Cristobal. Be sure to book the shuttle bus. If you book a bus that is traveling from far away and this is a small part of it’s complete journey then you may find your bus is late due to travel delays.