The world's best small city for 3rd time in a row

For The 3rd Time In A Row, This Mexican City Has Been Named The World's Best Small City

The news that a city has won a coveted title, not once or twice, but three times in a row, is something that impels curiosity and wonder.

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.


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.


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.


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.

  • 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, 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.

A world of exciting adventure, colorful food, action-packed festivities, and stunning landscapes awaits in Mexico. While the country is geographically very close to the United States, the culture tends to be worlds apart in many ways. In order to blend in with the locals and avoid making an embarrassing blunder, it’s best to brush up on the local etiquette before visiting.

Centuries of tradition are still upheld in Mexico, which has been influenced by the customs of a handful of cultures. A land where time moves slowly and the locals are as warm as the shining sun, Mexico should definitely be on your bucket list. Check out these 10 etiquette tips you should know before you go!

10.- Greeting People Is Always Important

In Mexico, it’s important to always properly greet the people that you interact with. This means that if you walk in late to dinner, you should greet everyone at the table rather than just doing a communal wave. If you greet everyone separately, you’ll leave a much better impression, according to Frommer’s.

Handshakes are normally common between men, while it is usual for women to kiss each other on the cheek. If you’re unsure, the safest thing to do is offer a handshake. It’s also considered the height of rudeness to reject a handshake.

9.- Don’t Be On Time; Be Late

It’s not so often that you are advised to be late when trying to show manners. But in Mexico, the opposite applies to the general principles of many western cultures in this regard. Lonely Planet explains that it’s actually polite to be at least 30 minutes late when visiting a Mexican home. In fact, arriving up to two hours late is acceptable when attending a party.

Business appointments, weddings, and funerals tend to be stricter, but generally, it’s ruder to be on time than it is to be late.

8.- Avoid Using First Names With People You Don’t Know

When meeting someone for the first time in Mexico, it’s always polite to use their title followed by their surname. It’s better not to use their first name unless you know them well or you’re invited to do so. This can sometimes be confusing because Mexicans have two surnames.

7.- Only Barter Where It’s Appropriate

A lot of tourists are under the impression that all prices in Mexico are up for negotiation. In reality, that’s not true. Hachette Book Group advises that, although there are some locations in the country where it’s appropriate to barter, most vendors will not lower their prices. This is especially true in Mexico City.

You have more chance of successfully bartering in an artisan market, but not at food markets. Keep in mind that many vendors can’t afford to drop their prices significantly anyway. They may offer a slight discount, but it probably won’t be anything major.

6.- Remember That Everything Moves At A Slower Pace

One of the most important things to know about Mexico before you go is that everything moves at a slower pace. If you accept this, you’ll be less likely to get frustrated and lash out when you experience the incredibly relaxed vibe.

In a restaurant at home, you might think a waiter is inattentive if they don’t bring you the bill when you’ve finished eating. In Mexico, this happens all the time because bombarding you with the check would be considered too forceful. Prepare for things like this and try not to be in too much of a hurry!


5.- Try To Be Friendly

Mexicans are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. If you really want to fit in and immerse yourself in the local culture, then you should try to be friendly too. Sometimes Mexicans will come into your personal space and affectionately touch you, but this isn’t meant to be an aggressive gesture. They’re just genuinely warm people.


4.- Learn A Few Words In Spanish

No matter where you’re traveling, it’s always polite to learn at least a few words in the local language. Expecting locals to speak English in their own country is a little arrogant, even though there’s a good chance to do. Learning a few words and phrases in the local language is just a sign of respect and courtesy.

According to Fodors, if you’re going to speak any Spanish, be sure to use the formal form of you rather than the informal version (usted instead of tu) when talking to strangers or elders. It’s just polite!

3.- Tip The Appropriate Amount

Tipping is common throughout Mexico, and exactly how much you should tip depends upon where you are in the country. Rough Guides explains that in touristy areas, American-influenced tipping practices tend to prevail. Here, you’d leave at least a 15-20 percent tip. Elsewhere, it’s normal to leave a 10-15 percent tip.

It’s not expected that you tip taxi drivers in Mexico, but it is customary to tip housekeepers and porters at your hotel. You should also tip the bag boys at supermarkets and car parking attendants.

2.- Be Respectful When You Enter A Church

Mexico is a country with a strong Christian tradition. The churches throughout the country should be treated in the same way as any other religious site. It’s important to always be respectful when entering a place of worship.

This means that clothes should lean toward the modest side. It’s not expected that women cover their heads, but it’s not the best idea to wear overly short clothing. Pay attention to signs that indicate that photography is prohibited. It’s also a good idea to leave sightseeing until church services have concluded.


1.- There May Be Conservative Attitudes

While in Mexico, you may come across locals who have more conservative attitudes than what you’re used to. The best way to respond to this is with politeness, even though you might not necessarily agree with their stance.

For example, you might be asked why you don’t have children or when you’re getting married. These questions might seem too personal at home, but the values in Mexico tend to be a little different. Try not to take attitudes and questions like these personally as they’re just a reflection of the culture rather than of you.

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