San Luis Potosi is one of a group of old Silver Mining cities, which includes San Miguel, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Zacatecas and Alamos. You can discover all these places individually with Mexperience as part of the Colonial Cities section.
These cities all lie north-west 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. You’ll see real people living real lives; 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 its a great region to consider if you want to treat your family to a real cultural experience in Mexico.
San Luis Potosi is the capital city of the state bearing the same name. At 2,000m (6,000 feet) above sea level, it’s one of Mexico’s highest cities, and lies at the heart of the interior plateau in Mexico. Read the related article about getting used to altitude with Mexperience.
With a population nearing 700,000 San Luis Potosi is a thriving city, and one of Mexico’s most historically significant places—so much of Mexico’s formative history revolves around it and this region.
San Luis Potosi was the capital of Mexico twice during its history. Benito Juarez ran an exhiled government there in 1863, when the French installed Maximilian as a foreign ruler over Mexico. It was in San Luis Potosi where Juarez handed down Maximilian’s death sentence three years later in 1867. (Maximilian was executed in Queretaro).
Like the other ‘Silver Cities’, San Luis Potosi’s wealth was derived from the silver mines in the area. This was the largest and most developed of the silver cities and its colonial inheritance of magnificent building, art and public spaces reflects this. San Luis Potosi’s elegant colonial center has been well preserved and remains true to its roots.
Today, San Luis Potosi hosts one of Mexico’s main universities, Universidad Autonoma San Luis Potosi, so it’s a lively, young and very vibrant town— features that complement its culture well. The city shows both the positive and negative signs of the expansion, growth and modernization fueled by modern industries that now sustain the city. But at its heart, this city is loyal to and proud of its place in Mexican history and strives to uphold her grandeur.
San Luis Potosi is a must-see on any heartland colonial tour of Mexico; for history buffs, arts and crafts shoppers, or the leisure traveller, this city will certainly reward you with its many splendors.
The center of the city has been excellently preserved and has a great colonial feel and atmosphere about it.
The colonial center is mainly closed off to traffic, making it very pedestrian-friendly. The Plaza de Armas is the main square, hosting the city’s amazing Cathedral, and the Palacio de Gobierno, which is where Benito Juarez governed Mexico on two occassions; once in 1863 and again in 1867. Both are a ‘must’ visit in San Luis Potosi.
The Palacio Municipal, with its striking arches, began life as a safe haven for priceless art and sculpture. The city’s violent history put paid to all of that and, after passing through the hands of nobles a couple of times, it finally ended up belonging to the state and today plays the role of city hall.
The city has several noteworthy plazas, including Plaza de los Fundadores (Founder’s Plaza), Plaza de San Francisco and Plaza del Carmen.
The city’s main park, Alameda, is a great place to rest in the shade of the trees and observe the theater of life put on by the Potosinos, the locals.
Museums and Art in San Luis Potosi
There are several art and history museums in San Luis Potosi. The main ones include:
Museo Nacional de La Mascara: (National Mask Museum) offering permanent and temporary exhibits of masks and other national art.
Casa de la Cultura: For Mexican crafts, art and archaeological finds, visit Casa de la Cultura, located on the west side of the city – you’ll need to take a cab.
Sala German Gedovius: For International art, as well as local exhibitions, visit the Sala German Gedovius, which is adjacent to Teatro de la Paz, the city’s main theater.
By Air – You can fly to San Luis Potosi from the US and and other points in Mexico including Mexico City, Guadalajara and Leon. The airport is just 7 miles from the city center. For detailed information about flights and flying, see the Mexperience guide to Air Travel in Mexico.
By Bus – You can travel to San Luis Potosi on a luxury bus from Mexico City, Guadalajara, Leon, Monterrey and Aguascalientes. For detailed information about bus transportation read the Mexperience guide to Bus Travel in Mexico.
By Car – Driving to San Luis Potosi is very fast and efficient on the inter-city highways that connect this region with the USA and Mexico City. See additional information about Driving in Mexico and Mexico’s Toll Roads on Mexperience.
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.
Easter Week – Celebrations take place all week, including special concerts, parties and exhibitions.
Festival Nacional de Danza – takes place during the last two weeks of July.
Feria Nacional (National Fair) – takes place during the last two weeks of August.
Festival de Arte Primavera (Spring Art Festival) – takes place during the last two weeks of May – but check with the local tourist office, as this last event is not annual.
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 are found throughout the downtown area of San Luis Potosi, especially in the area around the main plaza. During business hours, they and the local 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.
Being a large city, San Luis Potosi offers a wide range of culinary experiences for the visitor—from traditional regional favorites to nouvelle cuisine with international influences. One popular local speciatly is enchiladas potosinas, with its signature red-orange tortillas, made by adding mild chilis. Look for it at any street stand or small restaurant.
El Pozole. Highly recommended as the place to try enchiladas potosinas and other traditional favorites, such as pozole, a maiz soup. Casual dining. Corner of Calle Caromona and Arista, Centro. Tel: (444) 814 9900.
Chaires. For ice cream, coffee and light snacks, this place is ideal for a nibble while people watching. Plaza de Armas, Centro. Tel: (444) 811 3291.
Fonda Orizatlan. Exquisite cuisine highlighting Huastecan specialties. Fine dining, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (no dinner Sun.) Pascual M. Hernandez 240. Tel: (444) 814 6786.
San Luis Potosi has a selection of good night spots to suit those looking for culture and those looking for a party.
Locally Hosted Parties – Check with your hotel 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.
Night Bars / Restaurants – There’s a good variety of late night entertainment in San Luis Potosi to keep you entertained into the early hours.
Milk-based, sugary sweets and candies are a specialty here; and you’ll be able to buy a variety of these almost anywhere in San Luis Potosi.
There are also several arts and craft centers, including FONART, a government-sponsored artisan center where you can get your hands on high quality authentic Mexican arts and crafts at reasonable prices.
San Luis Potosi enjoys year-round, warm and generally dry weather. Because of its altitude, the climate is spring-like all year round. The weather here is ideal for taking part in a variety of outdoor sports and activities and for taking in the local culture, architecture and scenery. Rain is seldom a feature here; April thru November is the ‘rainy season’, but as with most monsoon areas, rains tend to be fierce and brief in the late afternoon, leaving the evenings dry and cooled off. You may want to pack a warm pullover for the cooler evenings, especially in the winter months.
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