If you only have a few days to explore the state of Queretaro, I recommend taking the Wine & Cheese Tour with stops in the magic towns, or Pueblos Magicos, of Bernal and Tequisquipan. We did this tour on our first visit. This ultimately led us to fall in love with not just the city of Queretaro, but the surrounding area as well. This particular tour is not offered online. We signed up for it at the tourist kiosk by the Templo de San Francisco. The tour was completely in Spanish which made some things hard to understand, but you have to reserve a few days in advance if you hope to get a tour guide that speaks some English.
This was an all day tour. It started about 8:30am in the morning, and the meeting place was by the Plaza in Centro historico. The bus will pick you up from your hotel if you are outside the Centro historico area, but prior arrangements must be made.
We first visited the cheese farm Flor de Alfalfa. They drove us through the pasture areas where the cows were grazing. Inside a building they have attractive displays and a video showing the process of the milk pasteurization and cheese aging. At the end of the tour under a huge covered gazebo, they bring out samples of 5 different cheeses they specialize in. Our favorite was the jalapeno peppered cheese.
Next stop was Bernal, home of the third largest monolith in the world. Bernal is a small town, easy to walk around and peruse the gift shops of traditional clothing, linens and candy. Bernal is also known for its goat milk caramels. Pick some up for a tasty souvenir for yourself or family back home. There wasn’t time to hike Pena de Bernal, but plenty of souvenir shops and local foods are available at the base.
Finca Sala Vive Freixenet was our wine stop on the tour. This is the largest winery in the area and one of the largest exporters of wine in Mexico. In the late 1970s, the Freixenet Group from Spain bought land in the Americas and chose the state of Queretaro because of its ideal microclimates. Freixenet planted their first vineyards in the early 1980s and released their first cava in 1986. After a tour of the facility on how they create their cava and other wines, there was time to enjoy some food and a bottle of bubbly. Freixenet hosts many wine tastings and events throughout the year.
The tour definitely saved the best for last. Tequisquipan is the postcard perfection of a Mexican town. Wine bars, cobbled streets, boutique hotels, and restaurants are all centered around a beautiful plaza with an enormous pink neoclassical church, the Santa Maria de la Asuncion. Kids can ride the train around the plaza while parents enjoy a lazy day people watching and eating ice cream. Vendors with handcrafted items set up carts along the side streets. There’s plenty of shops, but it didn’t feel touristy.
This tour hits the highlights of the area. Between Bernal and Tequisquipan lies a very rich agricultural landscape with many other farms and wineries. If you are pressed for time, I recommend this tour, but if you have a few days, stay in Tequisquipan and really experience Mexican life.
Before you go…
Check out these other tours and Pueblos Magicos that you can visit from Queretaro: