I recently took a trip to Bernal in the state of Querétaro, México and although I've seen quite a bit of photos and done my fair share of reading on this pueblo mágico, this place far exceeded my expectations. The iconic monolith that is Peña de Bernal is breathtaking and photos do not do it justice. However, there is more to the pueblo of Bernal than the monolith. We'll get into that a little bit later, but first let's talk about to get there.
How To Get to Bernal
If you are thinking about heading to Bernal you're likely coming from the cities of Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, or México City.
From San Miguel de Allende and Querétaro:
If you're starting your journey from San Miguel, you are going to want to make your way to the local bus station (central de autobus) and take about an hour and a half ride to Querétaro. From the central de autobus in Querétaro, you can then take a local bus to Bernal. Unfortunately, there are no first class buses from Querétaro to Bernal. However, the second class buses aren't too bad. The major downside is they make many stops so can be a bit slow. Google maps will tell you this journey will take about an hour, however expect about an hour and a half with stops. This is a very safe part of México, however it's always a good idea to keep a close eye on your belongings while riding second class buses as people get on and off frequently.
From México City:
If you would like to be adventurous, you could take a string of local buses between the number of small pueblos between the México City and Bernal, however this is probably more trouble than it's worth. I recommend taking a first class bus (such as Primera Plus) from México Norte bus station to the station in Querétaro and then following the instructions from Querétaro above. The ride from México City to Querétaro should take about two and a half hours.
What to do in Bernal
The main reason you're probably coming to Bernal is to check out the monolith, Peña de Bernal. This rock is an incredible site to see and well worth the trip. Personally, I recommend taking the walking path, which will take you about half way up the rock and give you great views of the pueblo and farmland below. You'll want to be in decent shape and have some good shoes as the hike can be strenuous going up and has some uneven terrain. If you want to take things to the next level, you can go even higher up, but you'll need some climbing equipment. Even if you're not up for the hike, the views of the monolith are incredible from the ground as well.
The town of Bernal itself is also a site to see. The colorful colonial center with the church as its centerpiece is an experience in itself to wander around. You'll find local artisanal goods, bakeries, quiet cafes, and restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, you'll find a whole lot of places selling gorditas here. However, the most famous is El Negrito. This place makes blue corn gorditas that are delicious. El Negrito is the perfect way to reward yourself after hiking up the monolith.
Need a Place to Stay in Bernal?
Whether you decide to stay in the night in Bernal or just take a day trip from your base in Querétaro or Mexico City, I highly recommend Airbnb. With Airbnb you can find beautiful furnished apartments right in the best parts of town and often cheaper than a hotel. Click the banner below to receive $40 off your first stay.
More on Pueblos Mágicos?
Want more guides on pueblos mágicos? Check out my other guides:
Also check out my friend Jake's site Nomadic Hustle. He recently did a series of guides on pueblos mágicos in Sinaloa.