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Albuquerque Travel Guide

About Albuquerque

Rich in history and natural beauty, successively home to native American farmers, Spanish colonists and Yankee pioneers, Albuquerque represents the USA at its most culturally diverse. The setting is magnificent; New Mexico's largest city spreads across the broad high-desert valley of the mighty Rio Grande, surrounded by majestic mountains and glowing mesas. To cap it all, a twenty-mile stretch of Route 66 itself, America's fabled "Mother Road", cuts from east to west right through the centre, peppered with vintage diners, motels and gas stations.

At an elevation of 1,615m (5,300ft), Albuquerque is one of the highest metropolitan areas in North America. It's also at the heart of a technological corridor that kickstarted into life during World War II, and remains home to labs dedicated to researching nuclear weapons. It's a lab of a different kind that's helping with the city's tourism resurgence, though - the meth lab. As the location for much of the television series Breaking Bad, it's been attracting to fans to take location tours, enjoy blue meth sweets and Breaking Bad bath salts, and even dine at Los Pollos Hermanos (actually a burger bar called Twisters).

Albuquerque's broad ethnic mix, as reflected in the city's architecture, artwork, festivals and food, is certain to pique your interest. This is the centre of Southwestern culture and some 22 Native American tribes, each with its own language, customs, and traditional way of life, and including Pueblo, Navajo and Apache peoples, call the surrounding region home.

To get a bird's-eye view of Albuquerque's truly spectacular scenery, take a tram to the top of the 3,050m (10,000ft) Sandia Mountains. This desert wonderland offers reliable sunshine throughout the year, so there are plenty of outdoor activities on offer like biking, hiking and hot air ballooning. You can also make excursions to see ancient cliff dwellings or petroglyphs, while the Hispanic heritage is still vibrantly celebrated in numerous local villages.

When it comes to leisure, nightlife options range from casinos and brewpubs to wine bars and restaurants. This is also a leading arts centre, boasting some great museums and galleries, plus a packed calendar of events.

Food-lovers are sure to be wowed by the diverse gastronomy. Many popular dishes are Mexican-influenced, and include green chilli made into a spicy sauce that's ladled over enchiladas, burritos and stuffed sopaipillas (fried pastries).

You can wash them down with something unexpected. Spanish missionaries planted vineyards here 150 years before they appeared in California, and the local wines are just another example of a city that never fails to surprise and delight first-time visitors.

Key facts

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town

A short walk north of Old Town, this 11-storey hotel blends Native American, Mexican, Spanish and Western cultural traditions and includes a fitness centre, two well-respected restaurants and bars, and an Olympic-size outdoor swimming pool. There's even a wedding chapel, should you decide to get hitched.

Embassy Suites Hotel Albuquerque

One of the city's most attractive hotels, on the northeast edge of downtown, this all-suite property features a full-service day spa and a lovely open atrium with a cascade and meandering water trails. Each of its sizeable suites features a separate living area with sofa bed, armchair and well-lit work/dining table, wet bar, refrigerator, microwave and coffeemaker.

Hotel Andaluz

Built just before World War II by local-born Conrad Hilton, as the flagship property for his new hotel chain, this magnificently restored downtown gem is a delightful place to stay. Guest rooms are beautifully furnished and very comfortable, while the public spaces are superb, and include an excellent Spanish restaurant.

Hotel Blue

Just west of downtown along legendary Route 66, this four-storey 1960s hotel has spacious, airy rooms at reasonable rates, decorated with a certain Art Deco flair. The rooms are on the small side, but there's complimentary breakfast, coffee, and a free shuttle service to and from the airport, bus or train station.

Sandia Peak Inn

There's nothing very fancy about this modest low-slung motel, just across the Rio Grande from the Old Town, but it's clean and comfortable, and offers some of the best value rooms around.

Los Poblanos Historic Inn

Set close to the Rio Grande, amid lavender fields and lush formal gardens, Los Poblanos Inn is one of the most prestigious historic properties in the Southwest. Rooms are designed in a classic New Mexican style with kiva fireplaces, carved ceiling beams, hardwood floors, and antique furnishings. Relax in the enticing Spanish hacienda-style courtyard, or alternatively, explore the extensive gardens and organic farm. A very special place to stay.