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San Sebastian Del Oeste Jalisco is one of nine pueblos magicos in the state and among the most unique to visit!
This magic town has preserved its colonial architecture and traditional way of life, making it an excellent destination for those seeking an authentic Mexican experience.
It’s also an easy day trip from Puerto Vallarta. While other nearby towns are all about the sun and sea, San Sebastian Del Oeste offers an entirely different experience.
In this guide, I’m sharing the best things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste, how to get there from Puerto Vallarta, and where to stay overnight.
History of San Sebastian Del Oeste Jalisco
San Sebastian dates back to 1605 when it was settled by thousands of silver miners looking for natural resources.
The mines stopped working during the 1910 revolution when foreign companies moved elsewhere, and since then, the population has dramatically declined. Today, only around 600 permanent residents remain!
Fun fact: It was actually the mining boom in the Sierra that created a need for Las Peñas, which later became Puerto Vallarta!
While the mines are now gone, what makes San Sebastian special today is that many of the town’s original structures and cultural traditions still stand. It truly feels like you are stepping back in time!
Today, it’s one of nine Pueblos Magicos in Jalisco, a designation the Mexican tourism board has awarded communities that have maintained their original architecture, traditions, history, and culture over time.
Since the town is nestled in the Sierra Mountain ranges, San Sebastian also offers cooler mountain temperatures throughout the year, making it the perfect break from the heat of Puerto Vallarta.
It’s such a neat sensation to go from tropical greenery to pine trees in under two hours, making it one of the most unique places to visit near Puerto Vallarta.
San Sebastian Del Oeste Tours
One of the best options for visiting San Sebastian is to go on an organized tour. Rather than worrying about driving, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. And a few glasses of raicilla!
Having a local guide lets you learn about the town’s fascinating history, and most tours include a stop at a coffee hacienda and tequila distillery. Here are the most highly rated San Sebastian Del Oeste Tours.
Private San Sebastian del Oeste Tour
⭐️ 5/5 star rating | 🕕 6-8 hours | Check availability here
If you’re traveling as a large group or family, one of the best options is this private San Sebastian del Oeste tour.
Since it’s a private tour, you’ll get picked up at your Puerto Vallarta accommodation and enjoy a scenic drive to San Sebastian in the comfort of a private van with just your group.
The price includes the tour guide and use of the van, and you can choose a 7, 13, or 18-passenger van for this tour.
You’ll have a guide and driver who will show you the historical and cultural highlights, plus take you to a tequila tasting. As it’s a private tour, you can request custom stops.
What’s included on this tour?
- Private driver and van
- Tequila Tasting
- Professional guide
- Hotel/port pickup and drop-off
- Bottled water
Great experience. Enjoyed every minute. Our driver was knowledgeable and made the trip fun. Would recommend to anyone wanting to get away for a day and learn about a new area.– Jim (read more reviews here).
San Sebastian Tour from Puerto Vallarta
⭐️ 4.5/5 star rating | 🕕 7 hours | Check availability here
This highly rated tour is run by Vallarta Adventures, one of the top tour companies in Puerto Vallarta.
It leaves from their office in either Marina Vallarta or Nuevo Vallarta, so this is a good option if you’re staying in Nuevo Vallarta.
You’ll hit all the main highlights of San Sebastian on this tour. Walk around the quiet streets to see the colonial architecture and 18th-century church, learn about the village’s history, and see how locals cultivate coffee and agave.
What’s included on this tour?
- Transportation from Puerto Vallarta or Nuevo Vallarta to San Sebastian
- Professional guide
- Lunch and bottled water
Excellent, well planned tour with an extremely knowledgeable guide. Well worth the money and time.– Matt (read more reviews here)
BOOK A SAN SEBASTIAN DEL OESTE BELOW
How to get to San Sebastian del Oeste from Puerto Vallarta without a tour
San Sebastian Del Oeste is a small town nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains. While it’s only about 65km from the center of Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastian del Oeste, it takes about an hour and a half to get there due to the winding mountain roads.
Renting a car
The most convenient option is to rent a car from Puerto Vallarta and drive there yourself, which my friends and I did. It’s about an hour and a half drive on a beautiful route through scenic roads, villages, and mountains.
The drive is a massive elevation change as you go from sea level to 4855 feet (1,480m) altitude in just an hour and a half!
When searching for a rental car, look on Discover Cars as they search all vendors so you can quickly find the best deal.
There are no direct busses to San Sebastian, but you can take those traveling to Talpa de Allende. Then, when you arrive at La Estancia, get off the bus. Here you can grab a taxi to San Sebastián.
Honestly, with getting to the bus station in PV and all the transfers/taxis, I’m not sure the bus would be worth all the hassle. I recommend renting a car or going by tour instead.
Things to do in San Sebastian Del Oeste
Walk around the town
The pace of life is slow here, but that’s all part of the charm. One of the best things to do here is to spend a few hours exploring the town’s cobblestone streets and admiring the colorful colonial buildings, appreciating that it is a town truly tucked away from time.
It’s easy to get lost in the town’s charming ambiance and forget about the stresses of modern life.
Wander through the white houses with red tiles, and check out the well-preserved 18th-century church in the town square. The church’s impressive facade features a mix of Baroque and Neoclassical styles, and the interior is adorned with ornate altarpieces and artwork.
Then, grab a coffee from a local cafe and breathe in the mountain air while sipping on it on one of the benches in the central plaza.
While in town, you can also shop for authentic silver at La Plateria!
If you want to learn more about the history of San Sebastian’s heyday as a colonial town in the 1700s, you can hire a local to take you on a walking tour.
A highlight of the town is the Hacienda Jalisco, a former mining estate turned museum. The hacienda provides a glimpse into San Sebastian’s mining past and offers visitors a chance to learn about the town’s rich history and culture.
Visit an organic coffee farm
Since the mines have shut down, San Sebastian is now known for cultivating coffee and agave on its mountainsides.
If you want to learn about coffee production, you can stop at Cafetalera La Quinta, a XIX century Hacienda on the way into town that still operates as a small family-run coffee plantation. There, you can walk among coffee plants, try a coffee, or buy a fresh bag to take home.
Another authentic experience to have in San Sebastian is visiting a raicilla distillery.
Raicilla is a type of traditional Mexican agave spirit that is similar to mezcal and tequila. It is made from the agave plant, which is native to Mexico and is produced in San Sebastian. You can see giant agave plants near the town!
In San Sebastian del Oeste, several small producers still make raicilla using traditional methods passed down through generations. You can tour a raicilla distillery and learn about the process of making this unique and delicious spirit.
Additionally, there are several restaurants and bars in the town that serve raicilla cocktails, providing a delicious way to experience this traditional Mexican spirit.
If you want to learn about tequila production in Mexico, the best place to go is the birthplace of it in Tequila Jalisco, another pueblo magico.
Eat lunch at a local restaurant
While in town, grab lunch at a local family-run San Sebastian Del Oeste restaurant.
For a truly unforgettable experience, I can’t say enough good things about Jardin Nebulosa. This farm-to-table restaurant uses ingredients collected from the surroundings of the Sierra Madre Occidental.
On Sundays, they offer a five-course brunch paired with drinks, which included the best raicilla cocktail I’ve ever had!
Fonda Eva Maria is another solid good option closer to the main square, with typical regional dishes.
Visit La Bufa
For those seeking outdoor adventure, San Sebastian del Oeste is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. The town is situated within the Sierra Madre Occidental Biosphere Reserve, with plenty of hiking trails and scenic viewpoints to explore.
One of the best things to do in San Sebastian is rent ATVs from town and drive up to Cerro De La Bufa, a gorgeous viewpoint high up in the clouds. Alternatively, taxi trucks will take you in the back of them, but it is a very bumpy experience.
On ATVs, the drive up the mountain is so fun.
The views at the top are breathtaking. The first time I visited it was cloudy, but watching the clouds roll in and out of the mountains was mystifying.
On my second visit, I got lucky and had a completely clear day. I couldn’t believe the difference in views! You get a great view of the town and can even see as far as Puerto Vallarta.
Hotels in San Sebastian Del Oeste
Since the town is small, one day is sufficient to see San Sebastian. But If you want to spend the night instead, there are a few hotel options.
Hotel Boutique Hacienda Caudillos is a good choice, with a hot tub and concierge service that organizes tours for guests.
Villa Nogal Hotel Boutique offers gorgeous views of the mountains from their outdoor terrace, as well as a variety of amenities, including a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge, a garden, and concierge service.
What to bring to San Sebastian del Oeste Jalisco
San Sebastian has a much cooler temperature than Puerto Vallarta, with an average temperature of 19 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), so you’ll want to bring some warm clothes here.
When I visited in June, I had my sweater on the whole day. However, I was comfortable in a tank top while the sun was out in March.
Make sure to include layers in your Puerto Vallarta packing list if you plan to visit San Sebastian!
Although it typically rains in the winter, a rain jacket is also a good idea. It ended up raining on us when we went in early June!
Comfortable shoes for walking/hiking, especially if you plan to rent ATVs, as there are some hiking trails around La Bufa to explore.
Sunscreen – at that elevation, the UV is powerful.
FAQ: San Sebastian Del Oeste
San Sebastian del Oeste is generally considered a safe destination for tourists visiting Mexico. The town is located in the state of Jalisco, which is a popular tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors every year. Tourists are generally well-received in the town and are treated with hospitality and respect.
Absolutely! San Sebastian del Oeste is definitely worth visiting for anyone seeking an authentic experience in Jalisco. This charming “pueblo magico” is nestled in the mountains and has managed to preserve its colonial architecture and traditional way of life.
San Sebastián del Oeste is known for its charming cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings, making you feel you have stepped back in time. It’s also known for producing raicilla, a traditional Mexican agave spirit similar to mezcal and tequila. Lastly, the town is known for its natural beauty as it is situated within the Sierra Madre Occidental Biosphere Reserve.
Sebastian del Oeste is located about 65 kilometers (40 miles) east of Puerto Vallarta, which is approximately a 1.5-hour drive. The drive from Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastian del Oeste takes visitors through scenic mountain roads with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
While renting a car and driving to San Sebastian del Oeste is possible, many visitors choose to take a guided tour or hire a private driver to explore the town and surrounding area. This can be a convenient and stress-free option for those who are not familiar with the area or who prefer not to drive on unfamiliar mountain roads.
I hope this guide can help you plan a trip to San Sebastian Del Oeste! It is one of Mexico’s hidden gems and best day trips from Puerto Vallarta, so don’t miss it if you’re in the area.
Looking for more day trips from Puerto Vallarta? Check these out!