San Sebastian del Oeste
is 400 year old small colonial village about 65 km from Puerto Vallarta, in Mexico’s Pacific coast, a perfect day trip to evade Puerto Vallarta’s busy streets and fine beaches for at least a day. Most hotels can arrange trips for you, but it is much cheaper if you rent a car or go there on your own. The drive will take you along a winding road that meanders between the mountains that limit Puerto Vallarta’s southern side, and although bumpy and not well indicated, it is seldom busy, allowing you to reach San Sebastian in about an hour and a half.
Accommodation in San Sebastian del Oeste is very easy to find, as there are plenty of cheap hotels and haciendas of all prices that will cater any need you might have. A good yet cheap place to stay in might be Hotel del Puente: this 300 year old hacienda has basic yet clean rooms that should suffice your one night accommodation needs, and is in any case worth visiting if only to learn what these old houses looked like and take some photos.
San Sebastian del Oeste is the kind of place you visit to simply get away from it all. This once mining town has cobbled streets and old houses that were walked in the past by a population of 20,000 that made money from the over 30 precious stone mines that surrounded the city. Today, however, it has a population of barely 600 that survives from the income generated by the tourists and visitors who usually arrive from Vallarta.
Though easily visited in a day, Liza and I decided to spend a night here, indulging ourselves in local food and simpy letting time go by if for a change. San Sebastian del Oeste has small cobbled streets that we walked along for an hour or so and had lunch at El Fortin, a small restaurant in the main square that had been recommended by some friends. We found the food tasty and inviting, however the prices were high considering the serving size.
After lunch we visited a few of the haciendas in town and the small organic coffee shop in the town’s outskirts, and decided to enjoy a Cafe de Olla once the sun was setting whilst speaking with a Mexican who had just moved there after living in Toronto for almost 7 years. What a change!
That night we had a simple mexican dinner in a cenaduria, a small restaurant that serves affordable and simple dinner till late , and went to sleep right after as there is fankly not much to do once the sun sets and we would be making our way to La Bufa the following morning. La Bufa is the tallest mountain in the area, and with an altitude of about 2600m offers some great views of San Sebastian del Oeste, the mountains in the area, and on clear days the sea and Vallarta too! We drove with our mid size car despite some difficult spots, but I highly recommend you do so only if you have an SUV and don’t mind driving steep terrain for more than an hour and getting dirty or getting stuck in the unpaved road. Quads are available for rent too, and at 25 pesos/hour they can be a good alternative. In any case once up there you will appreaciate the effort you have made and will have the chance to enjoy the scenery. Don’t forget your camera because you’ll take great photos!
Once back in San Sebastian del Oeste we had a great lunch in the only italian restaurant in town, and made our way back to Puerto Vallarta shortly after. We had spent just over 24 hours here, yet this had been enough time to see what the village has to offer. It is a great escape from any of the hotels in Puerto Vallarta and a perfect example of what colonial Mexico used to be.
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What other colonial towns in Mexico would you recommend? Have you visited San Sebastian del Oeste? Please remember to share this post if you liked it!