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San Sebastian Del Oeste is a little gem in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains. But despite its small siz, there are enough of things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste to keep you busy for a day.
Located in the cloud forest about 1,5 hours from Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastian Del Oeste provides a welcome respite from the hot temperatures and busy streets. I took a day trip to San Sebastian from Puerto Vallarta and had tons of fun! This place is quiet and offers a taste of authentic Mexico, so you can get a break from the beach and parties in Puerto Vallarta.
San Sebastián is a former mining town with a colonial heritage. Spanish miners who settled here used it as a base for mining in the area. When you walk around, you will find some gold smiths and shops selling jewelry made from locally sourced materials and adorned with opal and obsidian.
San Sebastian flourished throughout the 19th century before the revolution of 1910 caused mining to decline. Today, this pueblo still has plenty of charm, and the residents do their best to preserve local history.
Most buildings here are original constructions that house hotels, restaurants, museums, and traditional Mexican haciendas.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SAN SEBASTIAN DEL OESTE, JALISCO
1. Climb El Cerro De La Bufa
The highest point above town, El Cerro De La Bufa offers panoramic above-the-clouds views of the surrounding mountains, and you can even see Puerto Vallarta in the distance! Summiting La Bufa is one of the most popular things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste.
I took a tour of La Bufa with one of the local guides on the main square and aboslutley loved it. It felt like a real advanture and I also had a chance to meet locals and practice my Spanish.
Prices typically starts at around 1,000 Pesos, and it’s better to wait until more people show up (or do it with your friends) because you will all split the price. After you get in a pick-up truck, you make your way along the steep winding road that brings you to the famous overlook.
You can also drive to La Bufa in your car, but only do if you have a four-wheel drive. The road to La Bufa has many twists and turns and gets narrow.
I only recommend doing it on your own if you are a good driver and can handle a steep, challenging drive up the mountain.
Wear proper footwear and put on some layers because it’s cooler at La Bufa. Get to the top early morning before the clouds begin to form. This will allow you to get some good photos and also see the coastline in the distance.
2. Wander the cobblestone streets of San Sebastián Del Oeste
There’s no better way to learn this town than by walking around its cobblestone streets. It’s a small pueblo and you can explore it on foot in less than one hour before setting down for lunch in one of the local restaurants.
I suggest making a stop at El Galletero Magico, is a local bakery that sells tons of delicious treats. Here you can get freshly baked bread and goodies that are made by the owner on spot. They also have some vegan options.
3. Visit El Templo San Sebastian
El Templo San Sebastian (La Cathedral De San Sebastian Martir) is one of the main historic landmarks in this pueblo. It dates to the 18th century and has undergone several renovations since then. Inside, the church boasts a bright aquamarine color that contrasts with blue and pink vaults.
Next to the temple is a 19th-century portal of San Sebastián, where you can buy souvenirs and artisan artworks.
4. Check out an organic coffee plantation at La Quinta Mary
If you are a coffee lover, a visit to La Quinta Mary is one of the best things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste. Not only will you learn about the production of organic coffee, but you will also see beautiful macaws.
5. Rent an ATV
The best way to explore San Sebastian and its surroundings is by renting an ATV. You can find several people who offer ATV rentals at the main square. Bring cash, as local vendors don’t accept credit cards, and brush up on your Spanish, as it will make the process easier.
6. Visit the Santa Gertruda’s Mine
San Sebastian was founded as a mining outpost, and the area still has many old mines. The Santa Gertruda mine is one of the few mines in the area that still provides access to tourists and locals.
It used to be one of the most important mines in the area, and the precious metals were stored here before they were shipped to Spain. As someone who loves history, I found this tour to be very interesting.
It is less than 30 minutes from San Sebastian and you can reach it by walking tour or by ATV.
7. Check restaurants in San Sebastián Del Oeste
- Jardin Nebulosa – one of the top rated restaurants in San Sebastian Del Oeste, Jalisco, this cozy place serve gourmet versions of traditional Mexican food as well as craft beer.
- Las Catrinas de los Arrayanes – another popular restaurant, this place gets good reviews, and I can personally attest to it!
- Galletero Mágico – this small locally owned bakery has the best pastries in San Sebastián and the owner is very friendly.
- Comedor La Lupita – One of the best restaurants in San Sebastián Del Oeste, if you want to try traditional Mexican food like mole, quesadillas and chuletas ahumadas. Prices are lower than average and portions are pretty generous.
Best hotels in San Sebastian Del Oeste
- Hotel Nogal – One of the most popular hotels in San Sebastián Del Oeste that has a garden, shared lounge, a restaurant and bar. Guests enjoy a free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.
- Hotel Mansion Real – This hotel looks like mansion and offers beautiful decorations and a quiet location that’s perfect if you want to spend a night here after exploring the town.
- La Galerita De San Sebastian – A beautiful casita with gorgeous mountain views, this small hotel has a terrace, free private parking and great breakfast.
Where is San Sebastian Del Oeste located?
San Sebastian Del Oeste is a pueblo in the Sierra Madre Mountains in Jalisco. San Sebastian is one of the best day trips from Puerto Vallarta if you are looking for a change of scenery and want to learn more about the history of the region.
How to get to San Sebastian Del Oeste?
The easiest way to get to San Sebastián get Oeste is by taking a guided tour or renting a car in Puerto Vallarta, the closest city that has an international airport with daily flights from Mexico, United States and Canada.
➡️ Check my guide to renting a car in Puerto Vallarta
How far is San Sebastián Del Oeste from Puerto Vallarta?
San Sebastián Del Oeste is about 67 km (41 miles) away from Puerto Vallarta, and the drive takes about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Distances to San Sebastián Del Oeste
- Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastian Del Oeste – 41 miles (76 km)
- Sayulita to San Sebastian De Oeste – 43 miles (70 km) via JAL 544
- Guadalajara to San Sebastian Del Oeste – 157 miles (253.3 km)
How to get to San Sebastian Del Oeste from Puerto Vallarta?
The best way to get to San Sebastian Del Oeste is by car. Public transportation is an option but taking a drive is a lot quicker. I recommend renting a car with DiscoverCars, one of the top rental car companies that has many types of cars at affordable rates.
There’s no direct bus from Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastián Del Oeste, but you can take a bus from Puerto Vallarta to Talpa De Allende and ask your driver to drop you off in La Estancia just outside of town. You can then flag down one of local taxis to help you get to the center.
A car rental
A bus from Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastián will take longer than any other type of transportation, so I recommend just renting a car in Puerto Vallarta for your road trip. A car will give you more freedom, so you can spend as much time as you want in this town and explore surrounding areas.
I rented a car and had an awesome road trip, and I’m sure you will too!
One thing to note is that this place has limited parking space, so if you are visiting on a weekend or busy holiday, arrive early.
A guided tour
Guided tours are great options because they offer convenience and the most value. A tour will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel, and it also includes an English-speaking guide who will give you an overview of the area.
Best tours of San Sebastián Del Oeste
Things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste: FAQ’s
Is San Sebastian Del Oeste a pueblo mágico?
San Sebastian Del Oeste is a pueblo mágico. Pueblos mágicos or “magic towns” are designated by the Mexican government because of their cultural and historical significance. There are over 130 pueblos magicos in Mexico, and Jalisco is one of the states with the highest number.
Is San Sebastián del Oeste worth visiting?
San Sebastián Del Oeste is one of the most beautiful places to visit Jalisco. Surrounded by the mountains, this small town offers plenty of charm and history with great restaurants where you can try Mexican dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.
What is San Sebastián del Oeste known for?
San Sebastian del Oeste is known for its mining history, and spectacular mountain views. A designated pueblo magico, it was a major mining center in the New Spain during the colonial period.
What’s the weather like in San Sebastian Del Oeste?
San Sebastian Del Oeste sits at the altitude of 4,856 feet. It has a humid climate with cooler temperatures with an average of 19 degrees Celsius. In winter, it’s not uncommon to see snow in the surrounding mountains. Bring some layers, as it’s cooler here than along the coast.
Still, San Sebastian Del Oeste is great to visit at any time of the year. Winter is dry and summers have more rain, but there’s also more greenery. I visited San Sebastian Del Oeste in summer, and loved the green mountains and fresh cool air.
Is San Sebastián Mexico safe?
Yes! San Sebastian Del Oeste is safe for visitors. It’s a small pueblo, and most locals know each other. As a visitor, you are safe to walk around during the day and stay for the night.
What is the best time to visit San Sebastian Del Oeste?
San Sebastian Del Oeste is gorgeous during any time of the year. Winters have less precipitation, but the vegetation is drier during this time. Summers have more rain and August and September is the hurricane season in Puerto Vallarta. June and July are perfect to see the lush vegetation and hike in the mountains.
What other places can I visit near San Sebastian Del Oeste?
San Sebastian is a short distance from two other pueblos magicos, Mascota and Talpa De Allende. Mascota and Talpa De Allende are more off the beaten track, and international tourism is not quite as big there as it is in San Sebastian.
Visiting these pueblos magicos is a great way to experience authentic Mexico, learn Spanish, and mingle with locals, but to do so, you will need to rent a car.
Best things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste Jalisco: final word
San Sebastian Del Oeste is a perfect getaway from Puerto Vallarta. It has a lot of charm, history, and spectacular scenery. It’s a great place to recharge and enjoy a slower pace of life before continuing your adventures. Once you spend some time here, you will want to come back here to enjoy the magic of this town.