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Getting There & Departing

By Plane -- Air access is good, with frequent flights in and out of the León/Guanajuato (also known as León/Bajío, code BJX) airport, 27km (17 miles) from downtown Guanajuato. The taxi ride costs about 400 pesos. The airport has an ATM, pharmacy, and gift store. It also has rental car counters: Avis (tel. 477/713-3003), Budget (tel. 477/713-1404), Hertz (tel. 477/771-5050), National (tel. 477/771-3371), and Thrifty (tel. 477/713-8522).

American Airlines' number in Mexico is tel. 01-800/904-6000, Continental's is tel. 01-800/900-5000, and Delta Airlines' number is tel. 01-800/123-4710. Aeroméxico (tel. 01-800/021-4000) and its affiliate, Aeroméxico Connect, fly to and from Los Angeles, Tijuana, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, and Ciudad Juárez. Volaris (tel. 01-800/122-8000 in Mexico), a discount domestic air carrier, flies to and from Tijuana.

There are airline ticket offices in León and at the airport. In Guanajuato, travel agencies can arrange flight reservations.

By Car -- From Mexico City, take Tollway 57D north toward Querétaro and follow signs for Tollway 45D west toward Irapuato. This road bypasses the cities of Celaya, Salamanca, and Irapuato, where it turns north. Before Silao, there's a turnoff for Hwy. 110 east. The route is a four-lane road that takes 4 1/2 hours. From San Luis Potosí, the quickest way to Guanajuato is through Dolores Hidalgo (3 hr.).

By Bus -- The bus station in Guanajuato is 6km (3 3/4 miles) southwest of town. From Mexico City's Terminal Norte, you'll have no trouble finding a directo (nonstop bus) to Guanajuato. Servicios Coordinados/Primera Plus (tel. 01-800/375-7587 in Mexico) and Estrella Blanca (tel. 55/5729-4388) run express buses (5 hr.). You shouldn't have to wait more than a half-hour. Try to catch one of ETN's (tel. 01-800/800-0386 in Mexico) superdeluxe buses with extra-wide seats that recline far back (10 per day). They're worth the extra money.

From San Miguel de Allende, ETN has three nonstop buses; Primera Plus/Servicios Coordinados has nine. These go vía la Presa (the short route -- 1 1/4 hr.). Don't take buses that go via Dolores Hidalgo. There is also service to Guadalajara (4 hr.), Morelia (usually via Irapuato, 2 1/2 hr.), and elsewhere.

Orientation

Arriving by Plane -- The only transportation from the León/Guanajuato airport, 27km (17 miles) from downtown, is a private taxi. You pay for the cab (420 pesos) inside the airport. There is no shuttle service.

Arriving by Car -- Try not to lose your sanity while finding a place to park. Such a winding, hilly town defies good verbal or written directions. Be alert for one-way streets. Consider parking your car until you leave town, because the frustration of driving in the city could spoil your visit.

Arriving by Bus -- The bus station is about 6km (3 3/4 miles) southwest of town, on the road to Celaya. Cabs cost about 40 pesos. At night there can sometimes be a scarcity of cabs. Try to schedule your trip to arrive during the day.

Visitor Information

The state tourism office is at Plaza de la Paz 14, across from the basilica (tel. 473/732-9492). The handiest place to get information is at a kiosk in the Jardín Unión. It's staffed daily from 9am to 8pm.

City Layout

Guanajuato is a town of narrow streets, alleys, and stairs, and small, picturesque plazas. The hilly terrain and tangle of streets are difficult to represent on a map. You'll soon learn that maps aren't drawn to scale, nor do they show every street and stairway. The best way to get oriented is to visit the overlook at El Pípila, and one by one make out the major landmarks.

The small plaza at the center of the city, Jardín Unión (known as the cheese wedge, for its shape), is where students, locals, and visitors gather. Facing the Jardín from the direction of El Pípila are both the Teatro Juárez and Templo de San Diego. From this plaza, you are within walking distance of many of the major sights.

Getting Around

Walking is the only way to get to know the historic district of this labyrinthine town. For longer stretches, taxis are reasonably priced and abundant, except between 2 and 4pm when office workers are trying to get home for the midafternoon meal. As usual, you should establish the price before setting out.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.