municipality of Jalisco State, Mexico
North America > Mexico > Pacific Coast (Mexico) > Jalisco > San Sebastián del Oeste

San Sebastián del Oeste is a small colonial town in the western part of Jalisco. It's a town whose history and mining tradition reaches back into the pre-Hispanic era and whose old homes and rolling cobblestone streets invite meandering explorations. The town has been designated one of Mexico's Pueblos Mágicos.

Understand edit

The town was settled in 1605 under the direction of Francisco Cortés de San Buenaventura, nephew of Hernan Cortes (he who conquered the Aztecs). San Sebastian attracted miners due to the discovery of gold in the area and mining became its chief source of income and fueled its growth through the early 20th century. The Mexican Revolution changed its fate in the 1910s, when the mines shut down and the local population declined from its peak of almost 20,000. The town's population was about 630 in 2020, making it essentially a ghost town, and one of Mexico's smallest towns to be designated as a Pueblo Magico.

Get in edit

Map of San Sebastián del Oeste

By car edit

From Puerto Vallarta, drive east on Jalisco state highway JAL-544. It's a good, modern road with through a mountainous area. Very scenic, with lots of mountain passes and a few twisty sections along the way, but it's an easy drive because you don't need to make any turns or get off the highway until you get to La Estancia, where you'll take the turnoff to San Sebastian. From downtown Puerto Vallarta, it's 90-minutes of drive time for the 68-km trip.

By bus edit

Autotransportes Talpa Mascota (ATM) operates five buses per day from Puerto Vallarta to the nearby town of Estancia. From there, it's a 10-minute taxi ride into San Sebastian. The 90-minute bus trip costs about M$220 (Sep 2023). The buses are clean, comfortable and modern.

Get around edit

The town is compact and walkable, and some of the best-known sites are best accessed via well-maintained, marked hiking trails (even when they're far enough that you might be tempted to drive or bike it). There are usually a few taxis around the zocalo, and hotels can call a taxi for you. Uber and other ride-hail apps do not serve this town.

See edit

Inside the San Sebastian church
  • 1 Parroquia de San Sebastián Mártir (San Sebastian Church), Juárez 1. The town's main church is an unpretentious neoclassic structure built by the Franciscans in the 18th century. Although the exterior is rather plain, the interior is an impressive baroque style with an arched vaulted nave, renovated in 1897. A small museum behind the church preserves a number of antique objects from the parish's storied past.
Hacienda Jalisco
  • 2 Hacienda Jalisco, Camino a San Sebastián del Oeste, +52 322 244 2542. The hacienda was built to house mining operations for precious metals. The building has been restored as a combination hotel and museum containing historic documents and artifacts from the mining era. The hotel preserves historic traditions and even uses oil lamps rather than electric lighting.
  • 3 Santa Gertrudis Mine, Sendero. Follow the walking and you'll eventually reach the old mine, which is basically a dark hole in the side of the mountain. This was one of the mines that produced gold for the Hacienda Jalisco during colonial times. It's not a developed tourist site, and there are no tours or gift shop. If you are bold and have a flashlight, there's nothing stopping you from going in by yourself (other than common sense).

Do edit

  • 1 Mirador de San Sebastián del Oeste. Hiking area with spectacular overlooks providing views of the town and adjacent forests. The trail is just over 5 km and will take about an hour to walk. Bring water. Good shoes and a walking stick are recommended.

Festivals edit

  • Fiesta de San Sebastian - January 20, the most important festival of the year honors the town's patron saint. The celebration includes charreadas, a midway fair with rides and games, and regional music and dances.

Buy edit

Eat edit

  • 1 Jardin Nebulosa, Gral Aguirre 110, Centro, +52 322 158 5043. Su 10:00 - 16:00, M Tu Th 13:00 - 21:00, F Sa 13:00 - 22:00, closed W. Takes regional cooking up to the level of fine dining and beyond. Exquisitely prepared dishes, most using locally sourced ingredients and traditional Jalisence recipes. Cocktails prepared with local raicilla. M$400.
  • 2 Fonda Eva Martin, Hidalgo 7, +52 322 297 282. 09:00 - 17:00. Home-cooked regional and traditional Mexican cuisine served in an inviting rustic colonial dining room. Hearty food, generous portions, reasonable prices. M$200.
  • 3 Comedor La Lupita, Gral Aguirre 183, +52 322 297 2803. daily 09:00 - 17:00. Bright cheery dining room with colonial decor. Very family friendly. Regional and traditional Mexican cuisine. Does its own baking in-house and the sweetbreads for breakfast in the morning come out still warm. M$200.
  • 4 Mi General Steak y Burgers, Gral Aguirre 128. Upscale chophouse with a beautiful outdoor patio dining area. They specialize in Angus beef and most steaks are M$500 and up, all the way to a huge Tomahawk cut that they say serves 2 (or maybe 1 very hungry carnivore). Range of house cocktails including several based on locally made raicilla. M$500+.

Drink edit

Raicilla edit


Tequila is usually the drink of choice in Mexico, and most especially in the state of Jalisco where it is revered as a part of Mexico's most cherished heritage. In a small area of western Jalisco that includes San Sebastián del Oeste there's a much more localized tradition that few Mexicans and even fewer foreigners have ever heard of, and that's the story of a spirit called raicilla. Like tequila, raicilla is part of the mezcal family. Its production methods are basically the same as for mezcal, but it is made from a blend of certain varieties of agave grown in the local area. Basically, raicilla is a mezcal made from a blend of Agave angustifolia ("Chico Aguiar" or "Yellow"), Agave maximiliana, Agave inaequidens and Agave rhodacantha. Raicilla is sometimes labeled as de la costa (coastal) or de la sierra (mountainous). Raicilla from San Sebastian is de la sierra and each brand can have differences in flavor or aroma that are attributed to local growing condition (the terroir concept, as in wine). It's an interesting drink that you might never get another chance to try, so carpe diem and pass the bottle!

  • 1 Hacienda Don Lalin, Centro. M-Sa 10:00 - 15:00, closed Su. Small, family-operated raicilla distillery that welcomes visitors to see their operation, sample their products, and learn more about raicilla and its many variations.
  • 2 Bar Gariton, Ponce de Leon 1. Th-Su 21:00 - 02:00, closed M-W. Rustic old-fashioned bar that's long on character. Feels like it was old 300 years ago. They serve up several of the locally made raicillas and have some tasty raicilla-based cocktails, like the Chavo del 8.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • 1 Hotel D'Cervantes, Lerdo de Tejada 13, Centro, +52 334 246 6265. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Bare bones budget hotel with quaint colonial decor and convenient location near town square, but rooms are not well maintained and lack amenities. Good for budget travelers. M$650.

Splurge edit

  • 2 Hotel Las Galeritas de San Sebastián Villas, Camino a La Galerita 62, +52 322 297 3040. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Upscale boutique hotel for the demanding traveler with a fat wallet. Rustic mountain lodge feel. Breakfast served outdoors in a natural setting. M$3200.
  • 3 Hacienda Caudillos, Sendero el Nogalito 2, +52 656 626 9292. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Upscale colonial-style hacienda with well-furnished, clean, spacious rooms that are inviting and comfortable. On-site restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Jacuzzi spa. M$3000.
  • 4 Villa Nogal, Cuauhtemoc 102, +52 322 294 9880. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Upscale boutique hotel with well-appointed large, immaculate rooms. Manicured gardens with walking paths and outdoor seating areas. On-site restaurant serving French cuisine. M$4000.

Connect edit

Although the town has cell service and you'll probably get good signal, it's often 3G, even in 2023. The signal does drop in places as you get outside the town.

Go next edit

This city travel guide to San Sebastián del Oeste is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.