We’re not taking new bookings for travel to Mexico at the moment. Our specialists can advise you on all the destinations you can currently book with us.

Tikal Alternative Central America destinations
Skip to content

The charming colonial town of San Cristóbal de las Casas, formerly known as the 'Ciudad Real', or the 'Royal City', was formed in 1528 by Spanish Conquistadors, led by Diego de Mazariegos after a four-year battle to pacify a hostile indigenous population.


The Spanish ran a regime of exploitation of the native peoples until in 1545 the Dominican Friar Bartolome de las Casas arrived in the town and in his position as bishop, began to fight for their rights. His name has been lent to the town in honor of his work although the indigenous problem did not disappear as became apparent in 1994 when several thousand lightly armed peasants occupied San Cristóbal demanding an overhaul of Mexico's antiquated political system and improved rights and conditions for the indigenous people of Chiapas.

Today's San Cristóbal reflects both the colonial history of the area and its indigenous heritage. Outside the low, colorful stone buildings, cobbled streets and colorful churches of the colonial era stand women in traditional dress selling artisan goods and locally made food.

Exploring Downtown

Downtown San Cristóbal is easily explored on foot and a pleasant afternoon can be spent wandering the streets, visiting some of its many museums, peering into courtyards or buying gifts and souvenirs. Chiapas is well known for its amber jewelry and there are some particularly good shops along 2 de Noviembre, the main pedestrianized street joining the Zocalo with the Church of Santo Domingo.

Outside the town, remarkable villages can be visited where colonial churches are vividly part of a pre-Hispanic age, with Christian icons all but buried among chanting shamans, idols and hundreds of flickering candles.

Speak to someone
who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Michael

Start planning your tailor-made trip to San Cristóbal de las Casas by contacting one of our Mexico specialists

Map of San Cristóbal de las Casas

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near San Cristóbal de las Casas

    Our expert guides to exploring San Cristóbal de las Casas

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting San Cristóbal de las Casas, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate San Cristóbal de las Casas at its best.

    • What to do in Mexico: our highlights guide
      Teotihuacan, Mexico

      What to do in Mexico: our highlights guide

      What to do in Mexico: our highlights guide

      Mexico’s character is many-sided. From cosmopolitan colonial cities and vibrant markets to mountain wilderness, sleepy Caribbean islands, vast cacti-covered deserts and a wealth of intriguing ancient ruins, specialist Carolyn shares her highlights.

      10 min read

      Read this guide

    Accommodation choices for San Cristóbal de las Casas

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit San Cristóbal de las Casas. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing San Cristóbal de las Casas

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting San Cristóbal de las Casas, and which use the best local guides.

    • San Cristóbal Walking Tour
      Cathedral de San Cristobal, San Cristobal de las Casas

      San Cristóbal Walking Tour

      San Cristóbal Walking Tour

      San Cristóbal de las Casas has a well established colonial center with wonderful examples of 16th century architecture which your guide will help you to explore on foot.

      View details
    • Montebello Lakes & Hacienda Santa Maria
      Montebello Lakes

      Montebello Lakes & Hacienda Santa Maria

      Montebello Lakes & Hacienda Santa Maria

      A two and a half hour drive south from San Cristóbal is the Montebello Lakes area. The area is a beautiful combination of lush green pine forests and deeply colored green and blue lakes that have formed over time in the karst scenery that dominates the area.

      View details