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If you’re looking for an unforgettable destination with plenty of activities to offer, look no further than Peña de Bernal. Located in the heart of Mexico, Peña de Bernal is a charming and picturesque pueblo mágico known for its iconic rock monolith, which is the third largest in the world. In this blog post, I’ll share the top things to do in Peña de Bernal, from hiking to wine tasting and everything in between. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a foodie, Peña de Bernal has something for everyone. Whether you’re going for the weekend, or just a day trip from Querétaro, prepare yourself for an unforgettable trip to this hidden gem in Mexico!
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Where is Peña de Bernal?
Peña de Bernal is in the Querétaro province, just one hour northeast of the capital city of Santiago de Querétaro. The state of Querétaro sits almost in the exact center of Mexico, and is a 4-hour drive north of Mexico City (Ciudad Mexico, CDMX).
What is Peña de Bernal known for?
Peña de Bernal is most well known for the massive rock monolith that sits on the northwest edge of town. While there are surprisingly a ton of things to do in Peña de Bernal, this monolith is certainly the biggest draw. It can be seen from any point in the city and can be used to locate yourself if you somehow get lost.
The other thing this pueblo mágico is known for, are the gorditas negras, black gorditas. A gordita negra uses black corn dough for the base, which is then formed into a perfect flat circle. Then you stuff the base full with your choice of items: cheese, beans, mushrooms, chorizo, etc. A gordita somewhat resembles a pupusa in its shape.
Which days should you visit Peña de Bernal?
As with all pueblo mágicos in Mexico, the tourism drastically increases on the weekends. Queretanos will often come here as a quick and easy weekend escape from the big city to do some hiking, or shopping. If you can avoid a weekend, do, and try to head over Monday-Thursday.
How much time do you need in Peña de Bernal?
You can easily visit for just one day if you’re coming from Querétaro, as it is just one hour away. How much time you spend depends on which activities you want to do. There are museums, wine tours, 4×4 tours, hiking, and dining. So make sure to budget your time based on your interests.
I went just for the day and spent 6 hours there. In my opinion, the time was sufficient but not enough. In those 6 hours, I had time to wander the centro, do a little shopping, have a coffee, do the hike, and eat gorditas.
If I were to do it over again, I would definitely spend at least one night there, maybe two. There were definitely more things to do in Peña de Bernal than I had originally anticipated, and spending a night or two would allow you to fully soak in the town and its energy.
Where should I stay in Peña de Bernal?
Good decision! I highly recommend staying a day or two in this cute little pueblo mágico. Here are a few places I recommend:
The Hotel-Ito is an incredibly cute hotel in the center of town, with beautiful tile work on the outside façade. The entrance is right in one of the main plazas in town, Plazuela Fuente de la Reforma. There is a rooftop restaurant with an amazing view of the monolith. There is also a hotel bar, and several of the rooms have balconies.
This boutique hotel is located on a very small, cute street lined with shops. Average room prices are 1000 pesos- 2000 pesos/night ($50-$100). Rooms have a private bathroom and include linens and towels. The hotel offers free parking, and there is also a great rooftop to see the monolith.
This hotel is located right next to the main plaza of the town, Parque de Bernal.Average room prices are 1000 pesos- 2000 pesos/night ($50-$100). There is a terrific rooftop patio with a view of the monolith, along with a bar and restaurant.
This is one of the more affordable hotel options in town. The rooms are clean, but definitely more on the basic side, but they are fine for sleeping. There is a small swimming pool, free parking, and 24 hour reception.
How can you get to Peña de Bernal from Querétaro?
Getting to Peña de Bernal from Querétaro is very easy. There are three options:
There are several buses going between Peña de Bernal and Querétaro all day, leaving from Terminal B at the Central de Autobuses Querétaro. The main company is called Flecha Amarilla, and costs 73 pesos ($4) each way. As of April 2023, the schedule for buses going from Querétaro to Peña de Bernal is:
7:35, 9, 9:35, 11:35, 13:35, 15:35, 17:35, 18, 19:02, 20:10.
The return buses to Querétaro leave every hour, usually at the :30 (15:30, 16:30, 17:30, etc). You can find the bus stop on the corner of Benito Juarez (the main road) and Allende.
If you haven’t already, download the app BlaBlaCar. It’s an app like Uber/Didi, but you can find ride shares between cities. Check BlaBlaCar to see if there are any rides going to Peña de Bernal on your desired day. The ride should cost about 80 pesos ($4.50) in a private car. The main meeting point for BlaBlaCar in Querétaro is in the La Comer parking lot near the Stadium.
Of course the pricing can change depending on time and demand, but you can expect to pay around 500 pesos ($28) to reach Peña de Bernal from the Querétaro city center. This might be a good option if you’re traveling with friends, or you’re in a hurry and need a quicker ride. Keep in mind that it might be tricky trying to get a ride back to Querétaro.
What Can you do in Peña de Bernal?
Tours in Peña de Bernal
On every corner, you’ll be offered various tours; there is certainly no shortage of things to do here.
Ride a 4×4
The quad tours (recorrido en cuatrimoto) usually last about 75 minutes, and will take you around town, to lookout points on both sides of the monolith, sometimes include wine tastings or other food items.
Here are a few 4×4 tour companies:
Ruta en Moto: firstname.lastname@example.org; 442-712-8347
Fere Tours: 419-113-6004
Wine & Cheese Tour
This area is famous for wine & cheese tours, and you’ll see them offered all over the state of Querétaro. Depending on the company you use, there are options for an 8 hour tour, 3 hour tour, or under 2 hours. The tours include transportation, guides, and tastings.
Here are a few wine & cheese tour companies:
MiTour: email@example.com; 441-213-7541
Fere Tours: 419-113-6004
Scale the Rock Face
If you’re more on the adventurous side, you can scale the side of the monolith. The tour lasts 5 hours and includes equipment, guide, lessons, photos, water.
Tour company offering Escala:
Fere Tours: 419-113-6004
The city tour lasts 75 minutes and takes you around to the main streets, a historical hotel, fountains, churches, etc. It also includes transportation, a guide, and sometimes tastings.
City tour companies:
MiTour: firstname.lastname@example.org; 441-213-7541
Museo de la Máscara
Cost: 30 pesos
This is a small museum with masks from around the world. It began as a mask competition, but grew to become a permanent exhibit. Just two small rooms, but worth the price.
National Cinema Museum “Rosalío Solano”
Cost: 30 pesos
This is a small museum about the filmmaker Rosalio Solano, who is originally from Peña de Bernal.
There are a lot of clothing shops around town, and interestingly enough, I found the shops here to be the most unique. They had different styles of embroidery on the clothing than I had seen elsewhere in Mexico. I ended up buying a few pieces.
Stroll around the centro
Walking around the center of Peña de Bernal feels like walking around a movie set, and someone said, “Make it look like old timey Mexico.” The buildings are well preserved, the colors are bright, and you can smell gorditas being cooked on every corner. Many great photo opportunities here.
Take a picture with the “BERNAL” letters
As with all Mexican towns, there are letters spelling out the name of the town. The Letras de Bernal is blessed with an incredible backdrop, the massive monolith. There is also a round plaza just in front. If you go early enough in the morning, you can get a great shot without a ton of people around.
Eat and Drink
As mentioned above, gorditas are delicious in Peña de Bernal, and not to be missed. You can find very affordable local restaurants selling gorditas, as well as quesadillas and other classics, all around town. The more expensive restaurants will be in the centro, and prices will go down the further out you go. I got gorditas (20 pesos each) from a small restaurant called Gorditas Bernal, just across from Letras de Bernal, on Calle Colón. Delicious.
If you’re looking for a great coffee shop, I had the best chai tea latte in a place called Veintidós Café. I only got a drink, but they had a whole breakfast menu that looked amazing. The inside décor is so cute, and there are a couple small tables in the front if you want people watching with your coffee.
Hike the Monolith
Hiking the monolith is an absolute highlight of visiting. For more details, see below.
How long does it take to hike Peña de Bernal?
There are so many things to do in Peña de Bernal, but hiking the monolith is easily the most rewarding. The time it takes will really depend on your footwear, level of fitness, how often you go hiking, and how comfortable you are with steep inclines.
You can calculate your potential time, based on my experience. I hike a lot and I’m in pretty good shape. I also grew up in Colorado, so I have always been comfortable with hikes, includes, and rocky terrain. Unfortunately, I went to Peña de Bernal without realizing the potential hiking opportunities, so I was wearing some very simple Mexican huarache sandals. No grip. That said, I felt comfortable going up the entire time. There were a few slippery points where I went more slowly, but overall I was fine. It took me about 60 minutes to hike up to the highest possible point. Coming down took about 30 minutes.
If you go prepared with the proper footwear, clothing, spf, water, and a hat, you should be fine.
How much does it cost to go to Peña de Bernal?
The cost to enter the hiking area is 30 pesos ($1.67). To reach the ticket booth, you need to walk up the hill about 800 meters from the town center. You can also take a small motorized tuk tuk (I really don’t know what they call them in Mexico) for 50 pesos from the town center to the entrance. The tuk tuk will drop you off at the entrance to a small, curvy trail lined with michelada sellers. Keep walking about 3 minutes, and you’ll reach the ticket booth. It’s at the end of the path next to a restaurant.
What should I bring to Peña de Bernal?
If you plan to hike up the monolith, you should be prepared so you can have a more enjoyable time. It gets hot up there!
Good hiking shoes (tennis shoes are fine)
Money (30 pesos to hike)
Is Peña de Bernal worth visiting?
Absolutely, yes! I went to this small pueblo mágico thinking I would just walk around for a few hours and then head back to Querétaro. As it turns out, there are plenty of things to do in Peña de Bernal, and a visit will be completely worth your time.
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