Coahuila’s wine industry is as underrated as the state itself, even though Parras, Coahuila’s wine-producing town, is home to Mexico’s oldest vineyard and winery. Casa Madero was founded in 1568, and to this day continues to produce some of Coahuila’s best wines. Tours of the property and vineyards are available too, which makes this a must-visit when in the northern border state.
Coahuila’s walled, subterranean tunnel, known as the Canal de la Perla (Pearl Canal, literally translated), is actually quite a mysterious spot, principally because no one has a clue who or when it was built. After being discovered in 2003, theories abounded that it served as a bomb shelter, while others believe the Canal de la Perla was an underwater canal. Nowadays, it serves as a pedestrian walkway and can be found in the historic centre of Torreón, Coahuila.
There’s nothing better than trying out some of the local specialties when you’re traveling. After all, food is a way to connect with culture. With that in mind, when in Coahuila you have to try a discada, sometimes known as chatarra. Originally made of a meaty mixture that combined chorizo, venison, beef, tomato and onion cooked on a comal, there are now several variations on the classic discada. You’ll have to go to Coahuila to try them all, though!
The Sierra del Carmen is part of the Coahuila branch of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, and shares more characteristics with US mountains than Mexican ones. There, you can find oak forests, firs and almost 500 species of bird, as well as plenty of creepy crawlies.
Cuatrociénegas (sometimes written Cuatro Ciénegas) is just one of Coahuila’s pueblos mágicos (magic towns), and while Parras brings the wine, this particular village brings the impressive natural attractions. In fact, while Cuatrociénegas is principally known for its hot springs and strikingly blue pools—you can snorkel in some of them, like Poza Azul—the surrounding biosphere is also home to a unique ecosystem, plenty of native animals and gorgeous desert vistas, such as the Dunas de Yeso (white sand dunes).
Admittedly, much of the Coahuila appeal lies outside its principal cities of Torreón, Monclove and Saltillo, but you should consider exploring the latter of those, if only for a few hours and to check out the museums. Saltillo is home to the Museo del Desierto (Desert Museum), Museo de las Aves (Bird Museum) and Museo del Sarape, which makes it a potentially intriguing destination for both nature and culture fiends.
No, we haven’t suddenly got Mexico confused with Spain—there really is a Mexican Bilbao too. It’s in Coahuila and it’s home to some incredible sand dunes (there aren’t any pintxos though, unfortunately). Made of almost blindingly white sand, produced by years of erosion and the supposed existence of a sea that once covered the area, the Dunas de Bilbao are also a popular camping spot and have been used as a filming location for many films, like (allegedly) Dragon Ball Z, Todo por nad, and Saving Private Pérez.
Speaking of Coahuilan filming destinations, cinema fans might enjoy a visit to Piedras Negras, Coahuila’s fifth-biggest city and one that’s popular among expats in the state. In 1993, the well-known film adaptation of the book of the same name, Like Water for Chocolate, was shot on location there, while 2007 saw the production of No Country For Old Men roll into town. Plus, Piedras Negras celebrates International Nacho Day every October 21, because the dish was actually invented here!
Finally, if you’re ready to relax, head to the Termas de San Joaquín. A spa and hotel, the Termas de San Joaquín offers all the typical treatments, like facials and massages, as well as underground hot water pools that look like they were torn straight from a Roman postcard. The best news? They’re open all year long, from Tuesday to Sunday.