Up behind Puerto Vallarta in the Sierra Madre Mountains is an old mining town that has a completely different atmosphere than Puerto Vallarta. At 4,500 ft. with pine trees, the air is crisp and clear and at night it can be quite cold.
In the surrounding valley you’ll find cattle, corn and coffee plantations. This local coffee is excellent and you can sample and purchase it in town.
Founded in 1605, San Sebastian del Oeste was one of the gold and silver mining centers of Mexico. At one time a provincial capital of 40,000 people, you will find it strangely deserted with only about 600 people living there now.
The Plaza, it’s Bandstand and surrounding buildings are typical of the colonial period.
The mines were, in part, responsible for the start of Puerto Vallarta. Then know as Las Peñas and consisting of just a few huts at the mouth of the Rio Cuale, it was used to supply the mines with salt which was taken by mules up to San Sebastian and other mines in the High Sierras and used in the smelting process. The silver and gold from the mines was sent, again by mule train through Guadalajara and Mexico City to Veracruz, where it was sent, once a year, to Spain
The mines are long gone, although the ruins of them are still there, some distance from the town..
There are a few restaurants in town but not many places to stay. One great restaurant is Montebello, an Italian Restaurant run by my old friend Coco and her husband Walter.
If you face the Town Hall (on the east side of the square) her place is down the side street on the right, Pipila # 11, call 297-2883 or ask anyone. Open 1-9pm, closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
The church, dedicated to San Sebastian, was originally built in the 1600s but was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1868.
It is a joy to wander around in this is very peaceful town, which has changed little in hundreds of years. More Photos
By bus, two hours, cost about 140 pesos.
Three ATM Red Line busses leave every day to Talpa de Allende from the corner of Calle Lucerna and Calle Havre, red on the MAP in Colonia Versalles, at 9AM, 2:30PM and 6:00PM. You can purchase your ticket there when you leave or purchase the tickets one day in advance. The busses do not go all the way, but stop for a 5 min break at La Estancia, where the side road goes to San Sebastian. It was usual to then hitch a ride from someone going there, now there are 8 taxis at La Estancia to take you the rest of the way for 100 pesos. The bus from La Estancia back to PV is at about 8:30am, 2:00pm and 6:30pm but check at La Estancia where the schedule is posted.
Vallarta Adventures has a tour by land on Monday, Tuesdays, Wednesday & Friday, cost US$92 per person, US$83 if you book here. Info.
Superior Tours will take you for US$32 per person, if you can get 10 people together (the whole van is US$320) or US$69 with a minimum of 4 passengers – Info Click Here
You can also drive there yourself, with the new road and bridge about two hours – see Map.