Guide to Alamos

About Alamos

Alamos is one of a group of old Silver Mining cities which includes Queretaro, San Miguel, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas. You can discover all these places with Mexperience.

These cities are all situated northwest of Mexico City. Each has its own unique character, features and atmosphere – but together they make up some of Mexico’s best inland travel experiences. These cities are friendly places; the areas are not overwhelmed with tourists as some of the coastal areas can be.

It is in the colonial cities that the real Mexico begins to emerge. Experience magnificent scenery; stay at wonderful colonial hotels that offer terrific value for money; savor local foods and flavors as colorful and diverse as the cultures that created them. The road network in this region is well developed, and traveling through it is fast and efficient in most places.

These cities are safe: crime is low and it’s a great region to consider if you want to treat your family to a real cultural experience in Mexico.

Alamos is one of the lesser known of Mexico’s Colonial Cities situated in northwestern Mexico. It was nevertheless an extremely important silver mining center and like its sister “silver cities”, Alamos’s wealth was built on the significant lodes of silver that lay beneath the ground here.

In 1683, this silver was discovered and following the opening of a number of mines, Alamos became the wealthiest city in Mexico north of Guanajuato. 17th century Andalusian architects brought their designs and built fabulous mansions here. The city’s population ballooned to over 30,000; Alamos was a hive of activity—a real boom-town.

Following Mexican Independence from Spain, the city began a terminal decline; the Mint closed in 1896, and although a railway was installed for awhile, it served more as an escape route for its inhabitants instead of the inward investment channel it was designed to be.

The Mexican Revolution in the early part of the 20th century also took a huge toll on Alamos; it was attacked several times, and although fiercely defended by the Yaqui indigenous peoples, by the late 1920’s, their struggle was lost. The population decimated, the mines closed and the buildings left to decay, Alamos was left virtually a ghost town.

Events began to turn after William Levant Alcorn, an American farmer, visited Alamos in the late 1940’s and bought one of the decaying mansions there, restored it and opened a hotel. The publicity he brought to Alamos breathed new life into this once prosperous city, which in turn attracted further investment in the years ahead.

Following a steady stream of investors (principally from the USA) buying land and property here and making further investments to restore the old buildings, the introduction of new infrastructure and modern transportation links, modern-day Alamos has re-awakened.

Today Alamos is a picturesque colonial city offering visitors a glance into a world long past, with its narrow cobbled streets and Spanish and Moorish mansions and haciendas. Many of the old mansions have been converted into hotels and restaurants; their courtyards beam with the color of bougainvillea, and there is even a House Tour that you can take which will give you a further insight and ‘behind the scenes’ peek at the glorious architecture here.

In November 2000, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo declared Alamos a National Monument.

Alamos is situated between two major ecosystems: The arid and hot Sonora Desert to the north and the lush Sinaloa jungles to the south. As a result there are hundreds of different wildlife species to be seen here, some endangered, and the surrounding area is well known as a Mecca for bird watching.

Most visitors to Alamos arrive between November and February to take part in a range of outdoor pursuits (see Key Attractions), and the location is a favorite with Mexican families during the school summer holidays in July and August. The rest of the time Alamos is a quiet, serene and peaceful destination.

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Key Attractions

Colonial Center

Most of the activity in the colonial centre is focused around the Plaza de Armas. On Sunday evenings especially, people come here to stroll, and watch life go by for awhile.

Off the Plaza de Armas is the city’s elegant Cathedral built during the 18th century Alamos hey-days. Downtown you can also find the Museo Costumbrista de Sonora (Museum) that will enlighten you about Alamos’ boom times, although you’ll need to know some Spanish as it’s not bi-lingual.

The Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) is the main seat of local government, housed in a grand building as is typical in all of Mexico’s colonial cities.

Enjoying the Surrounding Natural Beauty

Horseback riding, hunting, fishing, rafting, hiking, mountain biking and swimming are popular pastimes here. Wildlife are in abundance and bird-watchers should know that Alamos is one of Mexico’s ornithological hotspots!

Local Vantage Points

La Carcel (The Jail) is no longer a jail, it’s a cultural centre located up on the hill from where you can get a good view of the city; however, for the best views head to El Mirador from where you can take in the whole of Alamos and the surrounding mountainside.

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Getting There & Around

By Air – The closest airports to Alamos are Los Mochis and Ciudad Obregon. If you fly into Los Mochis Airport, you will need to drive north on Highway 15D (tolled)  to Navajoa and then travel east towards Alamos. For detailed information about flights and flying, see the Mexperience guide to Air Travel in Mexico.

By Bus – Regular buses run from Navojoa to Alamos and back, generally every hour between 6 am and 6 pm. Buses from Alamos to Hermosillo, Guaymas and one to Phoenix AZ (USA) also run; check locally for schedules. For detailed information about bus transportation read the Mexperience guide to Bus Travel in Mexico.

By Car – Driving to Alamos from the southern border of the United States at Nogales will take you about 8 hours on Highway 15D (tolled) to Navojoa, where you’ll turn east towards Alamos. See additional information about Driving in Mexico and Mexico’s Toll Roads on Mexperience.

Car Rental – To explore Mexico’s colonial towns and cities, consider renting a car for your visit. Having your own car will give you more flexibility than using public transport options and, in some cases, offer you access to places which are otherwise difficult to visit without the use of a car. Read our guide to Car Rental in Mexico to learn what you need to know about car rental in Mexico and connect to the Mexperience Travel Center to reserve your Rental Car.

Local Buses – Local buses are available, but most of Alamos is accessible on foot provided that you’re not averse to a good walk!

Taxis – Taxis in most of Mexico’s colonial towns and cities are not metered, so agree your price before you get in. Taxi travel is very affordable in Mexico, in comparison to the USA, Canada and Europe, and so provides a viable means of public transportation in Mexico. Your hotel can arrange taxis for you; some post their rates on a board in the lobby; taxi hotel rates are usually higher than cabs you hail off the street. If you speak Spanish, you will have a distinct advantage and be able to negotiate a price with the driver. For detailed information, read the Mexperience guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico.

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Local Events Calendar

The single largest event of the year happens in late January when the week-long Ortiz Tirado Music Festival takes place in honor of Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado who was sometimes referred to as ‘Mexico’s Pavarotti’. The event lasts for 10 days and Alamos’ population increases dramatically during this time, so booking accommodation early is essential.

The Fiesta de La Virgen Concepción – The city’s Patron Saint, is held on December 8th each year. The celebrations include parties, competitions, processions, music and fireworks.

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Practical Information

Telephone: Connect to the guide about Communications in Mexico on Mexperience for detailed information about keeping in touch and the latest table of national dialing codes.

Exchanging Currency: Banks with ATM machines can be found in the downtown area of Alamos. During business hours, they and the Casas de Cambio will buy traveler’s cheques and cash from you as well. For detailed information about exchanging and managing your money, read the Mexperience guide to Money in Mexico.

Travel Insurance: We recommend that you are adequately covered with travel medical insurance and/or travel assistance insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Read the Mexperience guide to Travel Insurance in Mexico for full details and links to specialist insurance suppliers.

Internet Access: Internet cafes can be easily found in towns and cities across Mexico and WiFi is increasingly commonplace–from cafes, shops, hotels, and some cities even offer free WiFi in some defined public spaces.

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Restaurants

El Africano: International-Mexican food. Galeana 25. Tel: (647) 4281211

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When Night Falls

Alamos peaceful place at night.  People will enjoy the city’s cafes and restaurants after dark, but there are no nightclubs here.

Locally Hosted Parties – Check with yours and other local hotels about public parties they may be hosting during your stay. Traditional Mexican theme night parties are popular with the locals, and there’s a chance you could join a really special night out – the real Mexican way, and certainly on the eve of September 16th – Mexico’s Independence Day! Hosted parties usually include dinner, dancing, a show and / or live music (usually authentic Mexican Mariachis) plus all drinks for a fixed fee and are always excellent value for money! Ask at your hotel to find out what is happening locally.

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What to Buy in Alamos

The area around La Carcel (the old jail, now a cultural centre) often has artisans selling arts and crafts made locally.

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Local Climate

Because of its height above sea-level, the climate in Alamos enjoys year-round temperate weather with cooler winters, especially up in the mountains, so if you’re travelling in the winter, take some warm clothes.

During the summer monsoon season (July – September) Alamos witnesses some fabulous thunderstorms—natural sound and light shows that are a truly spectacular experience…just another one of the good reasons to visit Alamos in the summer!

Weather & Climates in Mexico

Learn more about the weather and climates through the seasons and regions by connecting to the Mexperience guide about Weather and Climates in Mexico

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