I have just recently returned from Puerto Vallarta and I am an adventure, culture, culinary sleuth for each and every destination I take on. I consider every destination as a once-in-a-lifetime event because there are so many possible travel destinations I may just never get back.
My preference for smaller groups in touring is something you have seen time and time again on my site, from shore excursions on cruises to local destinations. The excursions I took to learn all about San Sebastian del Oeste was done via private driver and my family only, equaling 5 plus the driver and his guest.
We learned a lot, experienced the culture, walked the town and enjoyed questions being answered without interruption. Lavishly live a trip to San Sebastian del Oeste out loud and learn who offers the best private driver tour for this destination.
Where Is San Sebastian del Oeste?
We headed out on a journey that was about 1 and a 1/2 hours away and that would last about 8 hours total. I will tell you to dress in ankle crop pants ladies or bring a sweater, it gets very chilly in the mountains of San Sebastian. If you plan on walking the streets, I suggest tennis shoes (especially if you continue to La Bufa and the Sierra Madres top elevation point)
San Sebastian del Oeste is a city in the western part of the Jalisco, Mexico. In fact, it is about an hour and a half drive from Puerto Vallarta (depending on where you are staying) to this destination.
San Sebastian was the old mining town that began in the early 1600’s. What is amazing is that when you go to La Bufa you can see just how snuggled and nestled this town is in the mountain valley, but the realization does not strike until you see this from the top of the Sierra Madres.
The town offers traditional cobblestone streets, quaint Mexican architecture, narrow alleys, walkways, a museum, a plaza, a church, and a few restaurants. The town is nestled by pine trees, and it is just like it was frozen in time without a need for change. It is an impressive sight that offers endless photo opportunities.
Best Private Driver Tour For San Sebastian del Oeste
You want to hire a reputable company that has good vehicles in great working condition. Your Best Private Driver might include some incredibly tight, curvy roads that will have you nervous as you ascend and descend (trust me, experience speaking here). Luiz was absolutely perfect and he drove safely and carefully while getting us to places you can’t even believe exist (the roads)
Who’s That Private Driver?
I hired Vallarta Transfers and Incentives for our private tour of the city. I don’t like big groups and I don’t just want to be dropped off and picked up like some of the tour services do. My family prefers to walk about, listen to the culture from someone that knows it, and then ask questions as we go. That is just what happened as we toured with Best Private Driver.
This is the company I used for picking transferring to and from the airport and yes I booked them for this tour as well. The company is VERY responsive to email inquiries and wastes no time to set you up, so you can just get your holiday started. Our driver was Luiz and he was a wealth of knowledge providing us a ton of insight on the way to San Sebastian.
The roads to access San Sebastian are windy, steep and can offer some serious road hazards, I would totally suggest a tour and not a car ride by yourself.
First Stop Bridge Of Progress
Our first stop was at the Bridge Of Progress, this is over the gorge and it is the most beautiful photo opp you will encounter for a bridge. Luiz walked my husband and daredevil boys down below ( I personally would not suggest this if you are afraid of heights, etc)
My husband and boys loved this little extra exploration. As a side note, there is food, water, and a restroom available at this stop, do take a peso or two to leave a tip for the bathroom usage.
The Grand Entrance
Before progressing into the beautiful town we stopped for this family photo.
Next Stop Cafe De Altura
We went into this coffee factory without even knowing what it was. As we entered these tazas (cups) were on the table as small as shot glasses to sample the coffee. Then we moved into the coffee bean tree groves and then we saw limons as well.
The smell of fresh coffee wafted in the air. Don’t get excited it is not a brewhouse, it is a simple table with small cups for tasting. However, that said, it may be the best coffee you have had anywhere.
I could not resist I purchased coffee to bring home as the price in incredibly inexpensive and the taste is outstanding, a perfect souvenir for my savvy culinary expectations for coffee. A great take home because it is packable and a wonderful way to start our morning in the USA.
Truly think about bringing home a few bags because you can and it is delicious and aromatic, everything we crave in coffee.
When the road begins to shake, you are on the infamous cobblestone and you are about to enter the city of San Sebastian. Open your eyes wide because it is breathtaking and truly old Mexico.
It is everything I craved Mexico would be, with a butcher shop, a bank, a silversmith, a few restaurants, and even shoe vendors on the street. In the middle of the piazetta you can often find vendors selling their wares, however, they were not there the Wednesday we were there.
Museum & Jail
As we walked towards the museum we also noted the municipal building and the schoolyard. Anywhere you looked there was something wonderful to take in. Suddenly it happened we were in Jail! HA!
We went to the museum and learned all about San Sebastian and the people that it created it for a nominal fee of about $1 per person. The lady there provided us a reading guide in both English and Spanish to understand what we were looking at. The window is probably what got me the most ( I will not ruin the surprise for those that are traveling there).
La Iglesia ( The Church )
NO matter what angle you look at the town center is always near. Look for the steeple of the church you are in the center of the town and the church is near. This view is up from the municipality. There are shops in those areas that you see, including for the people living there not just tourists. Clothing, food, all can be purchased.
This is on the way through the courtyard behind the building you see above. No matter where I looked I marveled at the beauty of the location. Look at the perfect sky and the church steeple. How can you do anything but be amazed by this small and historic location?
I believe the most intriguing part is the fact that people really live here and it is a destination and a home to people. Often destinations we travel to are just ‘set up’ for tourists but this is an actual home and destination. LOVE the authenticity.
This is the church the inside is impeccable, impressive, and beckons the camera to capture all that it offers. This is the entrance we went through to gain access to the church. Now let’s take a look inside.
Remember to always say a prayer in each new church you visit. I do. I love visiting churches and the moment I have waited for in Mexico was here. Since I began speaking Spanish in 6th grade through College Iglesia was a word of reference. (I don’t know why) Iglesia is here!
The history, the tradition, the culture just overtakes you as you walk through and learn. Take a look at the floors, are they not gorgeous? I would love this tile inside of my home because the colors are splendid.
The traditional wood pews, the stonework, the altar, the gold. There is just so much to look at I could not stop snapping photos and enjoying.
Need just one more look? I do! The Altar and the candles, the statues. It’s powerful and moving. I got chills with the encased statue to the left in this upper photo. Then we walk out and see this.
Look at the landscape architecture, the skyline, the mountains. It is all breathtaking and amazing. Rooftops of tile, flowers in bloom, cobblestone streets, just so authentic, and surreal. This is an experience, an escape, a day journey, the one YOU want to take. Yes, it is an hour away from Puerto Vallarta but look how amazing it is here.
The Silver Shop (Plateria)
Let’s call this your shopping district. You literally go into what looks like a small house. It’s crazy. We have traveled so much and it is so much more fun to shop this way than the flea markets.
True artisans working their magic and right at their work locations. Yes, I do get excited at the small things but that is what makes travel fun. We are so off the beaten path here and the area is rich in culture.
From the church, we walked on to the Silver shop where the shop owner showed my children how silver is created and they were captivated. Additionally, it should be noted you can purchase jewelry there for very inexpensive prices ($2-5) and it is all authentic silver not plated.
Look at the streets. Yes, they are hard to navigate by foot, not even at all, but the walk through the town is invigorating and allows me to capture photos I may never see again. The area is quaint and a quintessential piece of Puerto Vallarta that you definitely want to get to.
Walking Through The Town
As we walked I was consistently mystified by the beauty. It is as though San Sebastion del Oeste is frozen in time. From the buildings, roads, to the alleys are all just so authentic. Perhaps here I felt like I was in Argentina. So many have asked me if we were there with this photo. Honestly, we were in Puerto Vallarta.
Can you imagine if we had a child on a motorbike here without a car seat? There is it the norm. It was just so different. I understand this with all the travel that I take part in. However, sharing may evolve your views and interests. Just in one photo a bike, a horse, and a motorbike. OLE!
We moved throughout the town a bit more. Walking, strolling and discovering and then got into the van and headed to La Bufa. La Bufa was quite the road, narrow, quirky and tough to get up. Our driver Luiz maneuvered the roads like a pro. He took us to the top of the Sierra Madres at 4863 Feet above sea level. (at this point that is how high we were)
Once there, we parked and walked on a trail to get to the very top. There we took advantage of the beautiful scenery for incredible photos. Famished from the journey, we traveled back into the town of San Sebastian del Oeste to eat.
Did you know there are incredible pizzas waiting to be eaten by you while you are in San Sebastian? We stopped at El Fortin and ate pizza, salad, and beverages for 5 and I do not even think we had a bill of more than $20. We ate before we drove back to Puerto Vallarta.
There is so much to see, there is plenty to do and this trip is for every age. Kids will love seeing horses on the street and walking around. Adults will appreciate the culture and history that the town is so filled with.
It was nice to have a day reprieve from the sunshine and beaches in Puerto Vallarta. A good day to travel there was Wednesday. I highly suggest a private driver for your group. Get here early too, because as the day progresses so do the tourist crowds.
Lavishly live passport travel out loud and enjoy San Sebastian del Oeste and La Bufa.