Pueblo Magico: Valle de Bravo

IMG_3300Why should I go to Valle de Bravo?

Valle de Bravo is an excellent fresh-air getaway from the bustle of Mexico City, but it’s charms may keep you there much longer.

Blessed with mild temperatures and scenic vistas along Lake Avandaro, the Valley of the Brave offers a mix of active sports and leisure pursuits to please a wide variety of visitors.

In 2005, Valle de Bravo was named a “pueblo magico” and after having visited in early 2018, I can totally understand why!

Where should I stay in Valle de Bravo?

Valle de Bravo offers various accommodations, but I found vacation rentals to offer the best combination of price-point and quality.

For example, the average price for a one or two bedroom “entire home” on Airbnb is between $50-$125 or $25-$75 for a “private room.” If you are traveling with a larger group, it’s totally possible to rent a 4-6 bedroom property for between $200-$300 per night, whereas you’d likely pay twice that for the requisite number of hotel rooms.

During my stay, I selected a private room on Airbnb that essentially functioned as a private apartment. There was a shared entry point and I had access to all the facilities of the house, but the room itself was very separate from the rest of the home and even included its own terrace and jacuzzi tub.

What activities should I do in Valle de Bravo?

In Valle de Bravo, the most common thing to do is hang out along the waterfront of Lake Avandaro or to walk along the boutique-filled streets until you reach the town’s charming center square.

As I was walking along said streets, I noticed a killer deal for 2×1 artisinal mezcal shots. The mezcal had been purchased from a small-batch producer in Oaxaca and came garnished with chile-dusted orange slices and chapulines (fried grasshoppers!). The damage: 80 pesos or approximately $4 US at the time of my visit.

Other activities common to Valle de Bravo are boating, mountain-biking, and hang-gliding, all of which can be arranged by several tour providers.

Where should I go to eat and drink in Valle de Bravo?

Valle de Bravo may be a relatively small town, but there is no shortage of dining opportunities if you enjoy traditional Mexican food. I also noted a significant number of Italian restaurants that received strong reviews on TripAdvisor. Here are a few of my picks:

La Machinhuepa

This is a great place for a coffee or juice and some breakfast. A 16oz cappuccino will set you back $2 and their paninis and chilaquiles are both great options, too, for about $5. While you wait, they’ll bring out fresh bread with butter and jam. If it’s warm enough, sit at one of the two window tables for stunning views of the lake!

La Cueva del Leon

This restaurant proves that sometimes when a restaurant gets less than four stars on google, it’s still worth a visit. Perhaps the best views of the town square and La Parroquia de San Francisco de Asis (chapel) are from the second-story balcony seating at La Cueva del Leon.

I often use the “guacamole index” to figure out how a restaurant is priced in Mexico, and at 50 pesos ($2.60) for a large serving, this place is a steal. Although I didn’t get to try any of the main dishes here, I feel confident in recommending the place just on the strength of its position for people-watching and its delightful decor.IMG_3243

Mestizo

I turned up at Mestizo around 10:30pm on a Sunday night, which is understandably a slow time for a city that is known predominantly as a weekend getaway for the city-dwellers of CDMX.

However, this place has clearly become one of the spots the locals go after the tourists leave and it’s time to end the busy period with a few drinks and a late dinner. Beers were $2 and 8″ pizzetas with any combination of toppings were less than $3 each.

Come in the day-time and you’ll be treated to one of the best rooftop views of the lake available in the downtown area.

What is the weather like in Valle de Bravo?

The climate in Valle de Bravo is mild, considering it sits at 6,000 feet elevation.

How do I get to Valle de Bravo?

Almost all travelers will reach Valle de Bravo via Mexico City. Whether coming straight from Benito Juarez Airport or the city, plan on about two hours. The drive will involve a somewhat frustrating 3-5 stops at toll booths, which will set you back about $10-15 USD. Also plan on some traffic within the city-center of Valle de Bravo, as the streets are mostly cobblestone and can become congested.

For those already in another part of Mexico, Toluca Airport may provide a good solution, both from a cost and traffic-avoidance perspective. Leaving Mexico City, travelers will be heading through the Toluca area anyway to get to Valle de Bravo.

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