San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas): Top 15 Things to Do


15 Amazing Things to See and Do in San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas is the cultural capital of Chiapas and one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico, nestled at an altitude of 7,200 ft.

It has a unique charm with its churches, small plazas, cobblestone streets and hidden courtyards.

It also offers many options for tours in the nearby area, perfect for lovers of culture and stunning scenery.

I spent a week in San Cristobal de las Casas and didn’t have time to see everything, as the area is full of attractions and activities.

To help you plan your trip, I have prepared this guide of the 15 best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas, with all the best places to visit and activities.

And at the of the articles, you will also find my suggestions of restaurants and hotels for all budgets!

So, what are the best things to do in San Cristobal de las Casas? Where to stay?

Visit San Cristobal: the must-see places

1. The Zócalo

This is the main square of the city, where vendors and friends gather to enjoy a moment in the sun. You can also admire the cathedral with its beautiful ochre facade, built in the 16th century and rebuilt in the 17th century.

Unfortunately, the cathedral was closed when I visited San Cristobal, as were many other churches, because the structure was badly damaged by the big quake of 2017.

  • A Free Walking Tour is available every day from Plaza de la Paz. You can check the website for the latest schedules (click here). You’ll get to see part of the cathedral and learn more about its history and architecture.
The Cathedral of San Cristobal in Las Casas. Photo Marcos Ferro

2. The Church of Guadalupe

The Guadalupe Church is a small and beautiful church that was built in 1835 on a hilltop.

You can enjoy a lovely view of San Cristobal and the surrounding mountains after climbing the 79 steps. The climb might be a bit challenging because the church is at 7000 ft above sea level.

  • How to Visit the Guadalupe Church: It’s easy to get there. Just follow the Real de Guadalupe street. The entrance is free.
guadalupe san cristobal de las casas
guadalupe san cristobal de las casas

3. Na Bolom

Na Bolom is a cultural association that was founded by anthropologist Gertrude Duby and archaeologist Frans Blom. Their mission is to protect the Lacandon people, an indigenous community living in the jungle of Chiapas, near Guatemala.

The association aims to preserve the Lacandon’s environment and cultural heritage. The Lacandon are one of the most isolated indigenous groups in Mexico, and their population has dwindled to around 500 people.

The visit starts with a video that tells the story of the foundation and why it matters. The museum displays a collection of various Lacandon objects and clothing, photos from the couple’s expeditions in the 1940s, books, and more.

Frans was a big fan of colonial religious art, so the museum also showcases beautiful pieces in the building’s neoclassical chapel. In the courtyard, you can watch Mayan weavers at work.

Besides the museum, the association also runs a hotel and a restaurant.

  • Visit Na Bolom: 33 Guerrero Street, San Cristobal de las Casas. Admission 60 pesos. Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Na Bolom website
museo na bolom san cristobal
museo na bolom san cristobal
na bolom san cristobal
na bolom san cristobal

4. The Textile Center of the Mayan World

Discover the Textile Center of the Mayan World, a unique museum that showcases the rich and diverse culture of the Mayan people through their textiles.

The museum is part of the Cultural Center of the Altos de Chiapas (Chiapas Highlands), which also includes the Museum of the Highlands of Chiapas. This museum tells the history of the region, from pre-Hispanic times to the present day, with a focus on the colonization, city foundation, evangelization, and role of the Dominican order.

Altos de Chiapas
The “Altos de Chiapas” is a vast region in Chiapas, with a rich and diverse culture, mostly indigenous. It covers 17 municipalities, including San Cristobal de las Casas. 

The Textile Center of the Mayan World has a stunning collection of about 500 pieces of exquisite Mayan textiles, full of detail and color. You can see textiles from different parts of Mexico and Central America, mainly Chiapas and Guatemala.

Don’t miss the drawers, where most of the pieces are stored. And feel free to ask questions to the guardian, who is very knowledgeable and passionate about the topic!

  • Visit the Textile Museum: it is located next to the Temple of Santo Domingo de Guzman and the artisan market. Admission 65 pesos. Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 3 pm.
  • Facebook Page of the Museum
museo altos chiapas san cristobal
museo altos chiapas san cristobal
museo textil maya san cristobal
museo textil maya san cristobal

5. Santo Domingo Church

The temple and former convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman, a 16th-century masterpiece of baroque architecture in Chiapas.

Built by Dominican friars, this stunning building has a façade that is a true tribute to Mexican colonial art, with a mix of classical and indigenous elements. You can see various saints, native angels, mermaids, vine leaves, two sleeping girls, and more on the intricately carved stone surface.

The interior of the church is equally impressive, with a carved wooden pulpit covered in gold and eight wooden baroque altarpieces from the 16th to 18th centuries. However, the church may be closed due to the earthquake damage in September 2017. If you get a chance to go when it is open, don’t miss this opportunity to admire its beauty and history.

  • Visit the Santo Domingo church: Calle General Utrilla No. 22 and Av. 20 de Noviembre. Admission is free.
iglesia santo domingo san cristobal
iglesia santo domingo san cristobal

6. The markets of San Cristobal

Explore the markets of San Cristobal de las Casas, where you can find a variety of products, from sweets and handicrafts to fresh food and local dishes.

There are several markets in the area, but these are the three that you should not miss:

  • Mercado de Dulces y Artesanías: This small market, also known as “Mercado de San Francisco”, offers the famous Mexican sweets (cookies, candies, etc.) and lots of local handicrafts. You can also hop on “El Coleto”, a tourist streetcar that takes you on a one-hour tour of the city. The market is located at the corner of Avenida Insurgentes and Hermanos Dominguez, and it is open daily from 7 am to 8 pm.
  • Santo Domingo handicraft market: This is a real maze of stalls, located in front of the Santo Domingo church. Here you can find textiles, embroidery, jewelry, basketry, etc. made by artisans from San Cristóbal, San Juan Chamula and Zinacantán. The market is on Av. 20 de Noviembre s/n, Barrio del Cerrillo, and it is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm.
  • Mervado Viejo (Old Market): This lively covered market, also known as “downtown market” or Mercado José Castillo Tielemans, is about 8 blocks from the main square. You can buy anything here, from fish and meat to fruits and vegetables. It is also a great place to try some local dishes. The market is on Belisario Dominguez, Barrio del Cerrillo, and it is open every day from 6 am to 6 pm.
mercado dulces artesanias san cristobal
mercado dulces artesanias san cristobal
mercado san cristobal
san cristobal de las casas market

7. San Cristobalito Church

One of the surprises I found in San Cristobal de las Casas was the church of Cerrito de San Cristobal or San Cristobalito. I stumbled upon it as I was wandering down Hermanos Dominguez street, after a visit to the candy market. I saw some stairs leading to a small church and I decided to check it out.

It was quite a climb, but it was worth it. The church, built in the 18th century, is simple and small, but its attraction is the view. From there, you can see the whole city of San Cristobal de las Casas and its surroundings. It was amazing!

There are benches to rest on, so don’t worry if you are not in great shape. You can go at your own pace and enjoy the scenery.

iglesia san cristobalito
iglesia san cristobalito
eglise cerrito san cristobal
cerrito san cristobal church

8. Taste the Pox

If you want to try a traditional Mayan drink, you should taste pox, a very important alcoholic beverage for the Mayan communities of Chiapas. They use it for ceremonial and medicinal purposes, and they make it by hand (homemade, without measuring the ethyl alcohol content).

But don’t worry, you can also find some quality pox that won’t knock you out. 😆

The best place for this tasting is La Posheria, a cozy shop that opened its doors promote this drink. You can sample for free the different products they offer: Pox “natural” with 39% ethyl alcohol content and 53% for the adventurous ones, as well as pox in different flavors, such as coffee, cocoa, coconut, mango, and more. They are all delicious!

I brought back a small bottle (120 pesos) of coffee pox from my trip: it was gone in no time! I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with my friends.

  • Visit La Posheria: Andador Real de Guadalupe 46-A, San Cristobal de las Casas.
pox chiapas
pox chiapas

9. El Chiflón

El Chiflón is an amazing natural site, a must-see in San Cristóbal and in all of Chiapas!

Of all the sites I discovered during my stay in Mexico, El Chiflón was one of the most captivating for its natural beauty.

There are 5 waterfalls, (the highest, the Velo de Novia, almost 400 ft high), with pools of crystal clear turquoise water, all surrounded by lush vegetation.

You can walk by yourself, peacefully, following the only path there and back, so you won’t get lost!

  • Visit El Chiflón waterfalls: if you have limited time in Chiapas, the easiest option is to book a tour that combines El Chiflón and Lagunas de Montebello, two of the most scenic places in the region. You can book it here:

My advice
Check out My Ultimate Guide to El Chiflón with everything you need to plan your visit, whether you want to go on your own or with a tour. 
The foot of the Velo de Novia Waterfall, El Chiflón, Chiapas

10. Montebello Lakes

If you love nature and beauty, you should not miss Lagunas de Montebello National Park, one of the most beautiful places in Chiapas and Mexico!

This huge area of more than 6,000 hectares is home to a rich biodiversity, with its 59 lakes and stunning mountains. It was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2009 .

You can’t visit all the lakes and lagoons, but with 4 or 5 of them, you will get to see a spectacular sight. Each lake has a different color, from blue to green to turquoise, depending on the sunlight and the minerals in the water. You can also enjoy some activities, such as kayaking, hiking, or horseback riding.

  • I suggest that you follow my example and book a tour to Lagunas de Montebello (which includes El Chiflón) since public transportation is quite tricky. You can book it here

My advice
To learn all about this beautiful park with practical information, check out My Complete Guide to Montebello Lakes! 
lago pojoj montebello
lago pojoj montebello

11. Sumidero Canyon

The Sumidero Canyon National Park is a protected natural area of more than 21,000 hectares, located an hour and a half from San Cristobal.

You can explore it with a boat ride on the Grijalva River, which lets you admire its high walls dotted with caves and various natural formations. You can also enjoy a panoramic view of the surroundings by visiting its viewpoints.

But trust me: To make the most of your visit, do both the boat ride and the viewpoints!

  • I decided to join a tour of the Sumidero Canyon, which is definitely the best option if you don’t have a car. It includes the boat tour, the viewpoints and a stop in the town of Chiapa de Corzo, a charming colonial town. You can book it here:

My advice
Don’t miss My Complete Guide to the Sumidero Canyon with all the useful information and tips to plan your visit.
Cañon del Sumidero
The Grijalva River in the Sumidero Canyon

12. San Juan Chamula

San Juan Chamula is a Tzotzil community that lies a short distance from San Cristobal de las Casas.

I was eager to go there because I heard that its church was amazing.

And it truly is: the place has a mystical atmosphere, blending Catholic and Mayan traditions, and astonishing rituals take place there, led by an “ilol”, a healer. It is a unique world that you should definitely see at least once in your life.

  • I wanted to learn as much as possible about San Juan Chamula so I chose a guided tour that also included the traditional village of Zinacantan and I loved it! The guide explained everything and helped me to respect the local rules. You can book it here: 

My tip
To learn more about the rituals of this fascinating community, don’t miss My Guide to San Juan Chamula! 
iglesia san juan chamula
iglesia san juan chamula

13. Zinacantán

This is another Tzotzil community that is famous for its stunning handicrafts and garments embroidered with flowers.

I was completely captivated by the symbolism of the local beliefs that the guide explained to us in the makeshift church (the “real” church has been closed since the earthquake of September 2017).

Another interesting aspect is to learn about the traditional weaving techniques. You can also try pox, the liquor of Chiapas, and homemade tortillas!

  • Visit to Zinacantán: to explore the beautiful village and its traditional handicrafts, I recommend the guided tour of Zinacantán, which also covers the nearby village of San Juan Chamula. I’m sure I would have missed a lot of fascinating details about the symbolism and history of the place if I had gone without a guide:

My advice
For more photos, practical information and tips, I invite you to read My Complete Article about Zinacantán
Demonstration of traditional weaving techniques in Zinacantán

14. Rancho Nuevo Caves

Rancho Nuevo Ecotourism Park is a natural area that is only 9 miles away from San Cristóbal.

The main attraction of the park is the Rancho Nuevo caves, which are inside a mountain and have amazing rock formations. You can explore them with a guide and a flashlight. But you can also enjoy other fun activities for the whole family in the park: hiking, horseback riding, zip-lining, and more.

You can bring your own lunch, but you can also try the chorizo quesadillas, the local specialty, at one of the small restaurants in the park. They are delicious and filling!

  • Visit the caves of Rancho Nuevo: the entrance to the park is free, but you need to pay 30 pesos to visit the caves and 15 pesos per car. The caves are open daily from 8 am to 5 pm.
  • How to get to Rancho Nuevo: you can take a bus from San Cristobal (20 pesos, 20 min). Look for the one that goes to Teopisca and tell the driver that you are heading to Rancho Nuevo. These combis depart from Diagonal Arriaga street, behind Santo Domingo church, near the market. If you prefer a cab, make sure to negotiate and agree on the price in advance.
grutas rancho nuevo
grutas rancho nuevo

15. Palenque, Misol Ha and Agua Azul

You can explore three amazing destinations in Chiapas in one day with this tour from San Cristobal, which will take you to Agua Azul, Misol Ha, and Palenque. You will have a full day of adventure, as you depart very early in the morning (5-6am) and return to San Cristobal around 10pm.

The trip includes:

  • Agua Azul: a series of small waterfalls in the Agua Azul Biosphere Reserve, where you can admire the rich diversity of fauna and flora. The water has a beautiful blue color, thanks to the minerals and sunlight. This is a perfect spot for taking photos.
  • Misol Ha: a stunning waterfall that plunges 100 ft into a pool, creating an impressive spectacle. You can swim in the pool and walk through the cave behind the waterfall. Fun fact: this place was used as a filming location for the movie Predator (1987) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Palenque: one of the most important cities of the Mayan world, hidden in the jungle. A must-see in Chiapas and Mexico, it has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. You can visit the temples of La Calavera, Reina Roja, El Palacio, the Plaza de las Cruces, the ball game, and the Temple of the Inscriptions where the remains of the great Mayan leader Pakal are preserved.

If you have already decided the dates of your trip to Chiapas, you can book the tour to Palenque and Aguas Azules from San Cristobal here:

My advice
If you are planning to visit Palenque, you should read my Ultimate Guide to Palenque, where I share all the useful information you need to enjoy this amazing place.
bar hotel puerto vallarta maxwell residences
Les ruins of Palenque

Bonus: Tours and transfers to Guatemala

Did you know that Chiapas shares a border with Guatemala, and that you can visit some of its attractions from San Cristobal de las Casas?

For example, you can take a tour to Panajachel, a beautiful town on the shore of Lake Atitlan, or to Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in Guatemala.

You can also visit Palenque and continue to Flores, Guatemala, instead of going back to San Cristobal de las Casas. Flores is a charming island town that is the gateway to the famous Tikal ruins.

These are not essential visits in San Cristobal, but they are great options if you want to explore more of the region and its culture.

panajachel guatemala
panajachel guatemala

Where to stay in San Cristobal?

There are several charming hotels in the city. Here are the best hotels in San Cristobal de las Casas, for different budgets:

  • The Coffee Bean Hostel: A very cozy hostel with nice common areas, a restaurant and bar, a garden, terrace with hammocks, pool tables and several breakfast options, starting at 12 $usd in a shared dorm!
  • Parador Margarita: Only 3 blocks from the main square and the bus station, it is a small haven of peace with a garden and very comfortable beds. Wifi and breakfast are included, only 46 $usd per night!
  • Hotel Diego de Mazariegos: A magnificent 18th century mansion with a preserved Mexican colonial style, a charming interior courtyard with a fountain and classic decoration in warm tones. The hotel has two restaurants and a bar. Wifi and breakfast included, from only 73 $usd per night!
  • Casa Lum Hotel Boutique: My favorite hotel in San Cristobal de las Casas! It is a small and sophisticated hotel decorated between modernity and traditional design. Includes a great restaurant, a terrace with a panoramic view over the city and a garden. A few steps from the main square, it is the ideal place for lovers, from 164 $usd per night!

Where to eat in San Cristobal

San Cristobal de las Casas is a popular tourist destination, with a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars to suit any budget. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Belil, Sabores de Chiapas: It was during my 2nd trip to Chiapas that I discovered the Belil restaurant by chance. The rain had caught me in the middle of a walk (in July, it was to be expected!) and I had taken refuge at the first place on my way. What an amazing surprise!

It’s a restaurant with an artisanal boutique offering mainly traditional Chiapas dishes and drinks (meat, fish, veg, desserts).

I almost tried the mole de San Cristobal or the asado coleto (pork stew), but ended up falling for the croquetitas estilo Soconusco – 3 banana, black beans and Chiapas cheese balls – (90 pesos) and the Caldo tlalpeño (110 pesos), a tasty soup quite common in Mexico, always very comforting.

A cute place, with excellent value for money and above all very friendly service, I can definitely say that this is my favorite restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casas!

Address: C. María Adelina Flores 20, Zona Centro, open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily

san cristobal de las casas restaurant belil
san cristobal de las casas restaurant belil
croquetas Soconusco restaurante belil
croquetas Soconusco restaurante belil
  • Amor Negro Café: This coffee shop is located on the second floor of a beautiful modern wooden complex that houses several restaurants.

For breakfast, I tried the poached eggs ($60 pesos), which were similar to eggs Benedict. The hollandaise sauce had a touch of honey and the bacon was thin and crispy, very delicious.

The coffee was also excellent.

For lunch, I recommend the Juliet salad with smoked salmon, sundried tomatoes, olives, organic lettuce and honey vinaigrette.

The place has a good wifi connection and some outlets. Very convenient for travelers with laptops. Address: Miguel Hidalgo 4, San Cristobal de las Casas. Open daily from 8:00 to 22:30. Facebook Page

cafe amor negro san cristobal de las casas
cafe amor negro san cristobal de las casas
  • Café Carajillo: a charming cafe with an artistic flair, a nice ambiance and a friendly staff, located on the pedestrian street of Real de Guadalupe.

It’s a great place for a satisfying breakfast with a flavorful coffee. They sell coffees grown by Tzotzil families from Chiapas, honey, chocolate, jam. They have a good wifi connection and some outlets (ideal for working).

Address: Andador Real de Guadalupe No. 53, San Cristobal de las Casas. Open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sundays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., closed on Wednesdays. Facebook Page

cafe carajillo san cristobal chiapas
cafe carajillo san cristobal chiapas
  • Cacao Nativa: This is the place to try chocolate made with cacao from Chiapas (popsicles, drinks, etc.)

The bitter hot chocolate is scrumptious, but if you want to try something more authentic, I recommend two traditional drinks of pre-Hispanic origin, made with cocoa, corn and chile: pozol and tascalate.

They have several locations. Open every day from 8 am to 10 pm. Facebook Page

pozol chiapas
pozol chiapas
tascalate chiapas
tascalate chiapas

You should also not miss the chance to try two delicious typical dishes from Chiapas:

  • La sopa de pan: a hearty chicken broth with vegetables, boiled egg, plantain and bread. I recommend you try the one at El Mercadito restaurant. Address: Avenida Diego Dugelay, 11.
  • Chiapaneco tamale: it is the traditional tamale of the region, made of corn flour and stuffed with Chiapaneco heavy cream cheese, queso de bola (a cheese from Chiapas, more specifically from Ocosingo), pork, green olives and prunes. It has a bit of spice and a hint of sweetness. The one at the restaurant L’Eden, of the Posada el Paraíso is a pure delight… one of my best gastronomic memories of Mexico! Address: Calle 5 de febrero, 19.
tamal chiapaneco
tamal chiapaneco

Tourist map of San Cristobalde las Casas

Here are all the tourist attractions and restaurants mentioned in the article: this will help you locate them more easily and plan your visit better when you arrive.

How to get to San Cristobal de las Casas

To get to San Cristobal de las Casas, you need to fly to the Angel Albino Corzo airport in Tuxtla Gutierrez, and then take a transfer (van) to San Cristobal (1h15).

You can find several companies that offer this service at the exit of the airport. I chose ADO/OCC, because I knew them well: they have departures every hour, and you can save some money if you buy the round trip ticket.

You don’t need to know the exact date (it can be an open ticket), just go to the OCC counter in San Cristobal (on Real de Guadalupe street, corner General M.Utrilla).

bus tuxtla gutierrez san cristobal
bus tuxtla gutierrez san cristobal

Rent a car in Mexico

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore San Cristobal de las Casas and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

san cristobal de las casas chiapas roadtrip
Driving to San Cristobal de las Casas

How to go to Chiapas by plane

There are no direct international flights to Chiapas, so you will need to fly to Cancun or Mexico City first and then take a domestic flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Palenque or Tapachula.

To find a cheap flight to Chiapas, or an international flight to Mexico, I recommend you to use our flight comparison tool in partnership with Skyscanner, which guarantees you the best price!

Book your trip now and save money!

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visit san cristobal de las casas mexico
visit san cristobal de las casas mexico

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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