It rarely happens that a city, a Nobel Prize title-holder, a corporate organization, or a sports team wins a title back to back. In the FIFA Men’s World Cup, for instance, only two countries have ever done that. Therefore, the news that a city has won a coveted title, not once or twice, but three times in a row, has shocked people. We’re talking about San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era city situated in the central highlands of Mexico that, for an incredible third time in a row, has been named the “Best Small City in the World.”
Yet, while the news might be surprising and the award even appears contrived, those who’ve been to Mexico’s most beautiful city know that San Miguel de Allende has everything needed to enchant visitors and more than deserves the improbable feat. Here’s what to know about San Miguel de Allende and why it keeps winning this prestigious title.
UPDATE: 2023/04/06 12:12 EST BY NOAH STAATS
San Miguel De Allende Continues To Take Home The Crown For World’s Best Small City
This article has been updated with tips for making the most of a Mexican vacation to San Miguel de Allende – the best small city in the world – including newer population estimates and awards this city has recently won.
Why Does San Miguel De Allende Keep Being Named The World’s Best Small City?
The “World’s Best Small City Award” is a title usually conferred by Condé Nast Traveler, a monthly magazine published by Condé Nast. Condé Nast is not an unfamiliar name in travel circles. Founded in 1909 by Condé Montrose Nast, an American publisher, and entrepreneur, the mass media company has grown into a household name over the years and a market leader with several renowned brands spread across the globe.
The “Best Small City” prize was the outcome of the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The process involves the readers of the monthly publication independently selecting their best small city destinations, after which the publication ranks the destinations and then announces the envied winners. The “Best Small City” awards were announced on Tuesday, October 4, 2022.
The town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
- San Miguel de Allende has been given the title “World’s Best Small City” three times by Condé Nast.
- This Mexican city is known for its charm, food, culture, and people.
- San Miguel de Allende beat many other global cities, including San Sebastián, Cambridge, Salzburg, and British Columbia.
Other small cities that got a top-five mention in the awards include the city of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada—which came just behind San Miguel de Allende at position 2—and San Sebastián in Spain—which came at position 3. Home to the world-famous Butchart Gardens and exuding a look as charming as it is bucolic, Victoria, often known as the most British town in Canada, very much earned its position.
And boasting one of the finest beaches within a city on the globe, the food-famous San Sebastián was a worthy competitor to San Miguel de Allende, the eventual winner. Rounding off the top 5 were Cambridge, United Kingdom, and Salzburg, Austria (which is perfect for a weekend trip), the birthplace of music legend Mozart.
What Makes San Miguel De Allende The World’s Best Small City? What Should People See?
San Miguel de Allende, also known for its magic hidden hot springs, has won Condé Nast’s “Best Small City in the World” five times. Known for its photogenic Spanish architecture, San Miguel de Allende won the “Best Small City Award” in 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021, and now 2022. Mérida, the capital of Yucatán, interrupted San Miguel’s winning streak in 2019.
With that improbable record, San Miguel, once named the American culture capital by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals, may cement its well-established reputation as the go-to-pace for pleasure-seeking vacationers in the Americas.
The town of San Miguel in Mexico
- Condé Nast describes San Miguel de Allende as a jewel.
- This city has been considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
- San Miguel has been called the American culture capital by the International Bureau of Cultural Capitals.
When announcing the 2022 “Best Small City Awards,” Condé Nast Traveler heaped glowing praise on the Mexican city, describing it as “a jewel.” The town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, has a beauty that, while not impossible to describe, is challenging to capture in words. According to UNESCO World Heritage, San Miguel is “an exceptional example of integrating different architectural trends and styles based on a 16th-century urban layout.”
With countless churches, historic buildings, and one-of-a-kind cuisine: it’s no surprise that visitors return to San Miguel time and time again. Although this city is of a smaller size (174,615 inhabitants as of 2020), there are so many things to see guests may need to extend their vacation.
Many ex-pats also come to live in San Miguel because of its low-cost housing and vibrant culture. Some people choose to continue their vacation permanently in this stunning Mexican city.
Reasons That San Miguel De Allende Should Be The Next Stop For Future Travelers To Mexico
Not only is San Miguel De Allende stunning, but it’s also a place filled with vibrant Mexican culture and heritage. There is a reason this Mexican city continues to top lists of best cities: it offers residents and tourists the very best of Mexico.
Of course, the “Best Small City Awards” by Condé Nast Traveler came as an outcome of the magazine’s readers voting on their best picks. And one might agree that the magazine’s readers are many, well over 5 million monthly readers, and might have had different reasons for picking San Miguel as their favorite small city.
Some will mention the city’s architecture, a glittering melting pot of various styles and eras. There’s the Classical and the Neo-classical, the Baroque and the Gothic. And a vibrant dash of the Moorish. We’ve not mentioned the many beautiful monuments and statues that give the city a remarkable visual appeal.
- What Airport Do I fly Into In San Miguel de Allende? Del Bajío International Airport in Guanajato and Querétaro Intercontinental Airport in Querétaro.
The Parish of San Miguel Arcánge in San Miguel de Allende: best city in the world
The Parish of San Miguel Arcánge, perhaps the city’s most famous attraction, is an architectural masterpiece that is difficult to fathom. Regarded by many as the focal point of Mexico’s finest city, it dominates the city’s skyline and consumes the landscape in an artfully flirtatious, graceful, and bold manner. Here’s the truth: There are churches and the Parish of San Miguel Arcánge. And make no mistake; this is a page of San Miguel’s aesthetic book.
This could be the perfect destination for a religious pilgrimage and the ideal stop for those who love history and old structures. Regardless, wherever one goes in San Miguel de Allende: there’ll be something worth photographing.