Historically, mining has been one of the biggest economic contributors to Guanajuato, Mexico. The effect that mining has had on the city can be seen from the fine silver shops found near the Callejon del Beso, to the distinctive tunnels that route traffic off of the main roads and create a pedestrian friendly hamlet. The same technology used to bore mine shafts into the earth created the tunnels that cars take today. Taking a Guanajuato mine tour is a great way to learn about this influential economic driving force.
Most of the mines are located to the north of town off of Highway 110. Take Avenida Benito Juarez to the square where all the buses stop, west of Mercado Hidalgo. You can then hop on one of the buses towards Valenciana. Alternatively, you can book a tour guide or take a taxi. As always, negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in and beginning your trip.
Guanajuato Mine Tour Options
Museo de Sitio Mina Valenciana is the most famous mine in Guanajuato. Located north of town in the hills, you can hire an Uber, taxi, or find a bus that says “Valenciana.” When you’re there, do not miss the cathedral at the mouth of the mine. It is known for its extensive use of gold leaf and large art pieces inside. While there, you will truly feel the influence that the rich mine had on the construction.
Bocamina San Ramon appears to have leaned in to the tourism factor and have quite a lovely event space in addition to the mining museum. If you ask around you may be able to request an English speaking tour guide (not guaranteed). They have a lovely restaurant on site. Nearby Bocamina SanCayetano is a more “quick and dirty” tour where you descent 60m into a shaft and back out.
Mina el Nopal is the mine that I visited; it is also the mine that each photo in this post is from. It is closer to the heart of town. The home we were staying at was just up the hill from this mine so we simply stopped by one afternoon. The extensive tour (led in Spanish) was conducted by a student from the local university who was studying minerals and mining. You could tell that the topic was one close to her heart. We were able to go deep into the mine and throw stones into a shaft and hear just how far down it went. That was a little freaky!
If you don’t want to leave town, stop at the Museo de Mineralogía located at the University of Guanajuato. They have been rated one of the top 3 mineral museums in Latin America and you can learn some about the regional industry and see specimens of minerals and crystals.
It appears that each tour is approximately 35 pesos, or $2USD. You can also tip the guide if you want.
The majority of these tours are conducted in Spanish. It helps to have a fluent speaker in your group who can briefly translate the relevant points for you. When I visited, two in our group quietly translated and provided context, we were standing slightly to the back of the larger group to be less obtrusive.
Second thing to note- these tours are not for those with claustrophobia or have ever felt claustrophobic tendencies. Part of the appeal (for many) is journeying down into tunnels, but if that gives you the heebie-jeebies, please plan an alternative activity for that day.
Have you ever toured a mine in Mexico or elsewhere? I wonder how similar they are from country to country. I know I toured a mine in Colorado when I was in elementary school but I can’t remember what it was like. Share your experience in the comments!
All photos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.