San Cristóbal de las Casas
Eco-friendly travel guide to San Cristóbal de las Casas advises how to be a responsible tourist. Learn how to explore the attractions in a sustainable way and how to respect the local people and culture. Make your trip green by supporting locally owned hotels, organic restaurants and other businesses. Read more on how to protect the environment by making conscientious choices and how to travel green in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico.
- Air quality: 3 / 5
- Exploring by foot: 3.5 / 5
- Exploring by bicycle: 3.5 / 5
- Public transportation: 3 / 5
- Parks: 3.5 / 5
- Outdoor activities: 4 / 5
- Locals' English level: 3.5 / 5
- Safety: 3.5 / 5
- Accommodation: US$15 - $35
- Budget per day: US$45 - $160
- 1 Responsible Travel
- 2 Air Quality and Pollution
- 3 Respect the Culture
- 4 Top 10 Places to Visit
- 5 Explore
- 6 Eat
- 7 Drink
- 8 Activities
- 9 Accommodation
- 10 How to Get There
- 11 Moving Around
- 12 Sustainable Shopping
- 13 Recycling
- 14 Work and Study Abroad
- 15 See Also
San Cristóbal de las Casas is a municipality and a town in the Central Highlands region of Chiapas in Mexico. It is also known by its native Tzotzil name, Jovel. The city lies in a small valley surrounded by hills and the municipality is mainly made up of mountain terrains. The town is known for its history and indigenous population. The well preserved Spanish colonial layout represents the architecture, with cobblestone streets, red tile roofs, and artistry iron balconies embellished with flowers.
The Cathedral, the Casa Na Bolom museum, and the Santo Domingo church are the major landmarks of the city. There are some natural attractions like caves and rivers. The Los Altos Museum has regional history and textile exhibits. The market outside the building sells a variety of handicrafts and colorful weavings.
- As a responsible tourist, you should always opt for using public transport like the bus to cover long distances while scouting the famous destinations in San Cristóbal de las Casas.
- Try to visit the local markets for food and lodging. This will help to increase the economy of the local economy. It is one of the most effective ways to fulfill your duty as a tourist.
- To move around within the city you should opt for taxis. It is suitable for covering short distances in no time as the drivers are well aware of the streets and locations. You can schedule your tour according to your preference with keeping in mind the duties of a responsible tourist.
- You can visit the town to enjoy the wonderful view of the city from the outlook. You can praise the beauty of nature while being amused by the freshness of the weather.
- Have your meals in the local restaurants in the city. The street foods markets located in different areas of San Cristóbal de las Casas are very popular among the tourists. You must definitely try these delicious street foods.
- During your stay in San Cristóbal de las Casas, opt for the hotels that are harmless to the environment. This will help you to perform your responsibility as a tourist better, and at the same time, it will keep the atmosphere clean and pollution-free.
Air Quality and Pollution
San Cristóbal de las Casas’ air quality is moderately safe. In some areas, the pollution rate is high. The tiny particles that are present in the air is a big threat to the health of people. The level of pollution keeps fluctuating every day. Therefore, the government has taken certain actions ever since these issues begin. This group of authorities is motivating the people to perform their role to improve the air quality by using low fuel-based machines and imply the same for the means of transports as well. The government is working hard to make the atmosphere of the city better.
The country is constantly getting better day by day. These official bodies have also taken important guidelines to reduce the number of running such gadgets that extend the pollution rate. The management is constantly trying to understand the concept and taking the necessary measures to cope up with the problems related to pollution. By applying these measures, they have handled the situation and managed to control the impure air quality to a certain level. Till date, the rise in pollution rate has been taken care of to an estimated rate. So, planning a trip to San Cristóbal de las Casas is safe.
Respect the Culture
Apart from being based on the services and commerce, San Cristóbal de las Casas is known as the cultural capital of Chiapas. Also, it is popular for portraying the rich culture of the city. Several festivals celebrated in the city reflect the culture. One of the most famous celebrations includes the rituals performed during the Holy Week. The processions include both silent and chanting marchers. A crowd gets dressed in pointed hoods and carries heavy platforms with religious statues. Another one is the Feria de la Primavera y la Paz which runs concurrently with the Holy Week. It is especially held on Holy Saturday and is celebrated with costumes and music.
The Festival Cervantino Barroco is the historic center that invites artists from different parts of Mexico and other countries. It is held every year and is known for holding various forums like concerts, conferences, exhibitions, and plays. The traditional culture is associated with the indigenous groups which are known for the making of textiles including weaving, with amber products. The popularly known area for crafty items is the tianguis. It is another masterpiece that portrays the culture of the town. The Palacio de Gobierno is the city hall that is considered as the masterpiece of Neoclassical construction and depicts the world-class architecture and culture of the town. This place consists of a series of arches.
Top 10 Places to Visit
Every year we can see that people from different parts of the world visit San Cristobal de las Casas. The reason behind this thing is that it is the best city in Mexico which has some wonderful holiday destinations. If you want to know what they are then, here their names are mentioned below.
- Santo Domingo - Start your journey with this beautiful church and get to see some lovely handicrafts over here. This place becomes a point of attraction for most of the tourists and reminisces the periods of history.
- Arco del Carmen - After the church, you can move on to this nice palace which promotes the cultural heritage of the city. It is not only loved by the locals but also people from different parts of the world.
- Orquídeas Moxviquil - A botanical garden where you can get to see some lovely flowers and plants. If you are a lover of botany then, this place is a must-visit for you as it offers you something very different.
- Cathedral of San Cristobal - It is said that it is the holiest cathedral where you can visit and wish for your best thing. So visit here very soon because later on, the bookings would be houseful.
- Galeria Studio Cerrillo - This art gallery is beyond words because here you can get the best paintings of Mexico. So if you are an art-lover then definitely visit this place.
- Zologico coleto - A zoo where you will find different varieties of animals and many other creatures. Come here and you would get an opportunity to interact with them.
- Iglesia de la Merced - This church was established in the 18th century and is famous even today. Here the architecture is beautiful and entices the majority of the people from various parts of the globe.
- Museo de Culturas Populares de Chiapas - One of the finest cultural center which showcases the Mexican culture in full details. Here you will also get some exhibitions which are not found in any other cities of Mexico.
- Reserva Huitepec - A deep dark forest where you can find mushrooms and many rubber plants. Besides this thing here you can also come for seeing some beautiful birds.
- Grutas Del Mamut - A cave where you can visit and find a very exciting thing. It is interesting and will give you a great adventure.
Exploring is the best part of the trip as it helps you to have the best experience. In order to explore the city, you have to visit other places like some city parks, national parks, landmarks, and museums. Their names are mentioned below and you will also enjoy them to the fullest.
- Feria Park - This park is awesome and here you will get some fun rides and games. They are not only loved by the kids but also by the adults who are over-aged.
- Bicicleta Park- Here the ambiance is calm and you can come here to have a little bit of relaxation. Another thing about this place is that there is no specific time to come here. You can visit here at any time of the day.
Now besides touring if you are willing to explore wildlife then, national parks are the best examples. There you can get some animals and other creatures which are very rare. Here are the two main national parks where you can visit during your holiday trip.
- Lagunas de Montebello National Park
- Huitepec ecological reserve
Unfortunately, you would not find any beaches in the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. But do not worry because there are nearer districts where you will get some better beaches. Till that time you can enjoy a landmark and the most famous museums.
- Sweets and Handicrafts Market Amber - The main market where you can get to purchase some Mexican handicrafts and candies. This is the real landmark which is located in the center of the city.
- Amber Museum - In this museum, some fossils are displayed which were too relevant in the 16th century. Have a tour of this place and you will definitely find something very new and different.
- Kakaw Museum - It is named after cocoa and chocolate which is famous all over Mexico. This place shows you some artifacts which are made of chocolate.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is famous for serving international cuisines that are full of flavors. There are a wide variety of Mexican dishes. Another most popular thing is the wine served in the regions of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Foods made with meats like ham and sausages are very popular among tourists. A variety of fusion dishes are available here that you can try. The city is also known for its outstanding dish called tamales, which is available in several varieties. It is the specialty of Mexican foods and is very much in demand. These local foods are authentic and will assuredly suit your taste buds.
You will find a variety of street foods in almost every corner of the city. Some popularly known foods to taste in San Cristóbal de las Casas are pit barbequed chicken and a salad of palm in vinaigrette and cheese. Other traditional dishes include Sopa de pan, atole de Granillo, and Asado coleto. These dishes are easily available and do not cost much. While preparing the dishes, they make sure to serve hygienic foods. These dishes are tempting and flavourful. The town also offers a variety of sweets including coconut candies, bread with processed Manchego cheese, crystallized fruits, a caramel spread called cajeta, and various others. You can choose from the options available, according to your taste preferences.
Traditional Local Restaurants
- Cardmomo Cocina Hindu – This is one of the popular restaurants located in Barrio Guadalupe, San Cristóbal de las Casas. Popular for serving delicious Indian food, this place also serves Mexican food, besides the international cuisines. Offers a variety of mouth-watering dishes at a reasonable price. You will get quality wine here as well. The traditional tapas made in Spanish style is a must-try. Make sure you book a table beforehand as it gets filled quickly.
- El Caldero – This restaurant is famous for its beautiful sightseeing as it is located about 2000 meters above sea level. The piping hot soup served here is the star of this restaurant. It is also known for serving a delicious menu that includes various types of caldera ranging from pork to chicken. You will get options in vegetarian dishes. Make sure to visit the place and indulge in the savory presented by the restaurant.
Vegetarian and Vegan
San Cristóbal de las Casas has several vegan restaurants, so if you are a vegetarian do not worry. Here are some vegetarian restaurants you can refer to dining, during your stay in the city.
- Santo Nahual – This restaurant is located off the central square. Being part of the international vegan restaurants, it serves some of the best vegan foods. It is a funky restaurant decorated with bamboo and other interesting items. They provide quality food and wines. The background music played will make you feel relaxed. The staff are friendly and perform their duty well. You will get a variety of options here that will suit your taste buds.
- Trattoria Catanzaro – This restaurant is located at the Calle Profesora Maria Adelina Flores. It is highly recommended for the vegetarian cuisine served here. Not only visitors but the locals also prefer dining here. This place is famous for serving south Italian dishes like pasta, lasagne, and others. From meals to dessert, you will get everything. The ambiance is calm and comfortable. The cost of the food is very reasonable and the staff here are friendly. The taste of the food is commendable. This makes them enough to attract you to visit this place.
Being a Mexican town, San Cristóbal de las Casas is highly influenced by Mexican dishes. Cazueleja is the common and famous street food in San Cristóbal de las Casas. It is basically a roll that is stuffed with cheese, egg, and spices. The city has many local stalls that serve the best street foods. These street foods are famous among the locals as well as the tourists. It includes a variety of dishes made with meats, pork, and chicken. All these food items are available at a reasonable price and are worth trying.
Feeling thirsty is something natural, and at times like this, if you get some soothing drink is like a blessing. Exploring cities will raise the urge of drinking something. Hence, you should try the cocktails offered by the city. San Cristóbal de las Casas is popular for serving Chiapas. It is a champion and is not only popular in the city but also across the country. Experiencing a huge crowd of tourists the town serves quality wine that is popular among the locals and visitors.
Other drinks include posh made from sugar cane. These drinks have their own flavors that get infused with your taste buds and make you feel relaxed. You will also get fresh fruit drinks. Besides, the city also offers non-alcoholic drinks like tea, coffee, carbonated drinks. These drinks make you feel fresh and are highly affordable.
The tap water of San Cristóbal de las Casas is unsafe to drink. Though necessary measures have been taken to improve the water quality. As it leaves the sewage treatment plant, there is a chance that it picks the pollutants on the way to the tap, therefore you are recommended to ask the locals and hotel staff about the quality of water before using it. Further, keep in mind that different cities have different mineral contents in water. Thus, you can purchase the bottled water available across the city at reasonable prices.
- Carajillo Café – This café is located at Calle Real de Guadalupe and is considered to be one of the best places in town. With great ambiance and attentive service, this café serves the best coffee and desserts. You can feel the essence of the roasted beans blended with the freshness of the evening. It has a simple and cozy ambiance. Besides, this café offers a breakfast and brunch menu with delicious options. It is also a good place for late-night enjoyment.
- Frontera Artisan Food & Coffee – This café is located at the Avenida Belisario Dominguez. Known for its fresh and healthy serving of breakfasts, lunch, and brunch, this place offers gluten-free options. This place has a calm ambiance with a beautiful courtyard and soothing atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor sitting arrangements. The hotcakes are truly delicious and a must-try. Some of its flavorsome snacks will give you the best feeling. The quality of food is highly rated. The staff are of friendly nature and perform their duty attentively. But don't miss out on the freshness of the coffee served here.
- Dos Amores – This pub is located in the Avenida Cristobal Colon. It is famous in the city for serving quality Mexican crafted beer ranging from low to high cost. The visitors have rated this place excellent and a must-try for beer lovers. The smoothness and taste of the beer attract many locals as well. The ambiance of this pub is simple. They also serve some food that will perfectly complement the choice of beer. With friendly staff and good service, this place provides an amazing time to enjoy yourself with your friends. Do prefer visiting this place to feel the pleasing and fresh atmosphere.
The things-to-do list in San Cristóbal de las Casas has many activities that one can prefer to look for. Starting from sightseeing to enjoying the fascinating scenery, this town offers several options. This pretty town has the most important sites that attract a lot of tourists. The Cathedral is a popular attraction in the center of the town and looks like a plaza. Its gold leaf flanked interior makes it a remarkable place. Next is the Templo Santo Domingo. With its pink facade, this is the most beautiful church in the town.
You can prefer walking the pedestrian on the streets of Real de Guadalupe and enjoy the local life. Apart from sightseeing, you can opt for admiring the natural beauty around the town and the adventure offered by the state. The Sumidero Canyon Boat Tour is a must-do activity during your visit to San Cristóbal de las Casas. The canyon has higher walls at which there are some points of waterfalls that cover the whole canyon wall. Also, you might get the chance to witness spider monkeys or crocodiles.
Another amazing thing to admire is the El Chiflon Waterfalls. It is a series of cascades that end with the extensive Velo de Novia waterfall. You can prefer this place for a picnic or can opt for stopping at one of the cafes to enjoy the sound of the stream. There are benches and hammocks where you can relax. Also, you can opt for swimming in the blue sparkling water of the stream. You can also consider visiting the Lagunas de Montebello National Park, El Arcotete, and others. Visiting Templo de San Juan in San Juan de Chamula will offer you activities like hiking, cycling, and horse riding.
Yoga and Retreats
As you are continuously moving while scouting the city, your mind and body need to relax. It is very important to take care of your body during your traveling duration. There are several yoga centers in San Cristóbal de las Casas that can help you to regain your energy and keep your mind peaceful. After attending a few sessions, you will feel more calm and energetic. You can also practice meditation to calm your mind during your tour of the city. You can select the best yoga center for your sessions depending on your preference via online platforms.
While traveling to different parts of the world, accommodation is the most vital requirement. Getting a place to stay and relieve your tiredness is very important. As the city remains crowded with visitors, the accommodation facility is highly maintained and built with all required necessities. You will find accommodations ranging from expensive to reasonable ones. Therefore, you can choose accordingly. The options of accommodation include green hotels, apartments, hostels, and guest houses.
Green hotels are the only eco-friendly option that will help you to stay safe in the city and improve the environment. You will be able to get green hotels at the price of all the other accommodations. Here are some of the green hotels that will give you nice benefits and facilities.
- Casa del Alma Hotel Boutique & Spa
- Casa Lum
- Sombra del Agua Hote San Cristobal
- Hotel Parador Margarita
- Mision Grand San Cristobal de las Casas
Hostels and Guest Houses
If you are planning to stay in the town for a few weeks, then the options of hostels and guest houses are the perfect one. These lodging systems are highly affordable and provide nearly all the basic facilities that you would get in an average hotel. You can compare various options and then make reservations through online platforms. Here is a list of some highly-rated lodging.
- La Abuelita
- Hostal La Isla
- Puerta Vieja Hostel
- Ocho Barrios
- Gaia B&B Guest House
- La Tozi Galeria Hotel
- La Chulada
Apartments are highly recommended for the ones who are scheduling to stay in the city for study or business purposes. Their lodging duration is for more than a month. Therefore, booking an apartment beforehand would be more beneficial. These apartments are available on a rental basis and are ranging from low to high cost. You will get all the required facilities. Some rental apartments are:
- J&K Suite
- Casa Kuxlejal
- Cabanas El Paraiso
- Casa Perez Jolote
- Loft Mexicano
Couchsurfing provides you the best accommodation facility, especially when you want to spend less or if you are worried about your low budget tour. Though it is cheap in price yet it will provide you lodging to live in the city at a low cost. As an eco-friendly tourist, this will also be beneficial for you, to interact with the locals and understand their way of living. This will also help you to learn the local language of the town. With almost all facilities, this method of lodging helps you to observe some of the amazing features of the city.
Camping is an effective way to experience adventure in the city. There are many campgrounds in the city where you can have fun along with admiring the beauty of Mother Nature. The city offers few camping sites to enjoy their stay close to the greenery. Also, you will get basic facilities on these camping sites like bathroom, accommodation, kitchen, etc. these camping sites have some fascinating views surrounded and also offer outdoor activities.
How to Get There
San Cristóbal de las Casas is connected with various modes of transport. To get to the city, the most convenient way is by plane or bus. If you are coming from other nearby cities to San Cristóbal de las Casas, then you can prefer collective Suburbans, taxis, or colectivo as well.
Airways are considered to be the fastest mode of transport to travel. Not only is it convenient, but also saves your time, so you can utilize it in other ways. The airport in Tuxtla Gutierrez is the closest airport to San Cristóbal de las Casas. The price of the tickets may vary depending on the airline you select.
The bus facility available is considered safe. It is the best transportation facility to get in the city from nearby locations at a reasonable price. The bus companies have their stands and stations scattered around Av Insurgente and Carretera de las Americas in Barrio San Diego.
There is such a railway route to get to San Cristóbal de las Casas. Hence, you can opt for other means of transportation available.
Using hitchhike, you can travel to this city that will help you get a very good travel experience. You will have to take the help of hiking and lifts to reach the destination. It will take a lot of time to reach the city and helps to see different beautiful places on your way. You can take the help of other people to take the lift and reach the city.
You can opt for public transportations from Tuxtla to reach San Cristóbal de las Casas. Taxis, collective Suburbans, and Colectivo. As the taxi drivers are well aware of the direction, you will face no problem reaching your preferred locations. You can get the tickets for colectivos directly from the travel agents in Antigua Guatemala and San Cristóbal de las Casas
The public transportation services provided by San Cristóbal de las Casas are well linked. It is the most effective way to scout the city. You can use public buses or cars to move around the city. You can also opt for traveling around by rental cars or bicycles. Taxis are also available for hire, based on the location to want to go and for long do you want to hire the taxi. You can negotiate the prices accordingly.
As an eco-friendly tourist, walking through the lanes and streets of San Cristóbal de las Casas is considered as one of the best ways to scout the city. You can get in the places that are allowed for only pedestrians and explore them. This way of exploring the interior of the city will help you to walk around the markets of the cities without missing anything. Walking on the roads will also help you to understand the directions easily. Hence, this will help you to closely observe city life.
In San Cristóbal de las Casas you will find many bicycle vendors who provide bicycles in rent at a minimum cost for a whole day. It is a great option to cover nearby spots and explore the city. This will help you to explore the nearby localities a bit faster than walking. You can also ride the bicycle for your own adventurous fun.
There is no facility for an electric vehicle in San Cristóbal de las Casas. But, there are chances to introduce such electric cars in the future.
Public transportation is the main form of traveling within the city. The availability of a van or small bus is considered to be most effective. These bus routes are connected to various attractions and provide good service. Providing low-cost service, many visitors refer to this means of transport. Further, the fare rate is subject to change on a yearly basis.
Tram, Train and Subway
There are no tram, train, and subway options in the city. But the shuttle options are available in the city.
San Cristóbal de las Casas provides a variety of items that you can purchase from the markets of the city. Buying something from the place you visited is likely to be a gift from in the city for your loved ones. Therefore, shopping is very important.
Some popular food markets of the city includes Tianguis Artesanal en Plaza Santo Domingo, Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías, San Cristóbal de las Casas Municipal Market, and others. You will have a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, sweets products, local cuisine, and many others. The market sells fresh food items. You will get these food items at an affordable price. There is a lot to explore in this market as it has multiple options.
The Mercado de Artesanias de Santo Domingo is the famous flea market in the city. It offers several arts and crafts items, traditional Chiapan clothing and textiles, handmade gifts, jewelry, and leather goods. Another famous market is the San Andres Larrainzar. Located a little outside of San Cristóbal de las Casas, this market is known for selling beautiful textiles and traditional clothes of its Tzotzil Mayan people. This traditional and colorful market is held on Sundays.
Second Hand Stores
There are several thrift stores in San Cristóbal de las Casas, located in different regions of the town. This includes the community Against Violence Thrift Store, Pieces, Yellow rose New & used Cav Thrift Store and others. This thrift store provides a variety of donated items to needy individuals and families at no cost. But usually, the items are sold at minimal costs. As an eco-friendly tourist, you should opt for purchasing items from these stores. These stores are often run for charitable purposes.
The demand for sustainable clothes has increased in almost all countries. The usage of basic materials extracted from organic plants, natural dyes, etc. to produce clothes keeps the environment eco-friendly and ensures the safety of your health. Many fashion brands are shifting their production focusing on eco-fashion.
Controlling pollution to a certain level is very important. It helps to keep the atmosphere pollution-free. San Cristóbal de las Casas takes necessary measures to manage the pollution by working on eliminating the machines that generate harmful gases. This will keep the city free from impurities.
Gathering wastes and disposing of them is an essential way to manage the wastes. The waste of the city mostly produced from the industrial sector and transportation. Some of these wastes can also be recycled after monitoring. Therefore, San Cristóbal de las Casas is working on minimizing the waste products to give people healthy life.
Work and Study Abroad
There are many students and workers in the city from different corners of the world that you will meet during your exploration. The high education system and different benefits help the students a lot to save a lot of money. Apart from that, there are also many jobs available that will help you to get a nice earning.
The exchange student program is one of the best facilities that help you to study in the universities of other countries at a very low cost. You will need to get nominated by the home institute to get this facility. Also, the home institute needs to have a partnership with the other university to get this program. You can check online services to know which countries and universities have a partnership with your home institute.
Au pair option is also available in the city that you can get using online services. This work includes taking care of an older person, children, or the household in exchange for a place to stay, food, and some pocket money. This provides a way of living for the people who are new to the city. Basically, in this, an individual works for a host family in a foreign country.
San Cristóbal de las Casas offers volunteering programs in some areas, where people join as a helping hand for the betterment of the city. As an eco-friendly tourist, you should participate in volunteer programs like taking care of pets or teaching any language. This will help you to contribute to your role positively.