San Sebastian: Where time is suspended

Juan Pablo Pinzón
San Sebastian's Main Square

San Sebastian is a small town in the state of Jalisco, very close to world-famous Puerto Vallarta. For those who want to go beyond the sumptuous hotels and get away from the ordinary to have a matchless, enriching experience during their vacation in Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastian is a magical place to visit.

Located about 31 miles from Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastian is a small town in the heart of the mountains, secluded amidst an oak forest, keeping silently a cultural treasure that can be felt in the colors, tastes, and aromas of its gastronomy, in the simpleness of its architecture, and in the hospitality of its people.

Cobble-stoned streets The town was founded in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, due to the thousands of people that wanted to accumulate gold and other metals found in the area. San Sebastian reached its peak during the Colonial period when it became one of the most important mining towns. Today, almost 500 years after its foundation and 200 years after the mineral boom ended, proud inhabitants remain in the town while dozens of tourists visit this magic corner of Mexico everyday.

The journey, a spectacle by itself The journey from Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastian is a spectacle in itself due to the natural beauty of its surroundings. Once you enter the town you will find red-tiled, pitched-roof houses and cobblestone streets, where time seems to have frozen. Taking a stroll around streets that preserve their original layout from hundreds of years ago is just like going into a huge outdoor museum where unique architecture is the masterpiece and where there are no limits between past and present, just as if you had walked through time.

The local church Do not forget to visit the local church, a building dating from the 17th century, famous not only for its architectural beauty but also for the sacred art kept there. You can visit Hacienda Jalisco as well, a hotel with cozy guestrooms, which features a small museum. After a culture-filled day, those who fall in love with the sunset will surely want to spend the night in San Sebastian, which is a great opportunity to discover the excellent service of the area's workers and the friendliness of its inhabitants.

Besides the different cultural and tourist attractions, there are several restaurants featuring authentic Mexican fare, from traditional snacks, tamales and "birria" (young goat meat cooked in a stock pot with seasonings, served usually in tacos), to refined dishes prepared with exotic ingredients, and fresh-fruit desserts.

If you visit San Sebastian in January, you will find a lively ambience in the entire town, due to its annual religious celebrations, featuring traditions such as cockfighting, traditional dancing, and horseback riding by Charros.

Whether you arrive by car or by the popular, light-plane service offered from Puerto Vallarta, you will surely be astonished by the cultural richness that you find. Seize the opportunity to discover a place that has never stopped being rich, but has only exchanged material and mineral richness, for a natural and cultural one; a place where abundance never disappeared; it is no longer in the mines but now is found in the people, in their hospitality, in their faces, in their smiles.

Where time is suspended