Last updated on July 8th, 2019 at 09:41 am
We have spent 18 months in Mexico over the past five years. And in fact, as I write this article, we are starting another four months of exploring this amazing country. People ask us why we love it so much and why we keep returning. The simple truth is we’ve found so many reasons to visit Mexico that we just can’t stay away for long.
Mexico is huge! It’s also diverse, exciting, beautiful, and yes, sometimes challenging. All part of why there’s so much on offer regardless of what you’re looking for. Whether you want a relaxing beach vacation, a vibrant city escape, a cultural immersion, a party week, a nature retreat or a foodie haven, Mexico has it all and more.
But don’t just take our word for it. We’ve asked our friends and fellow travelers to share what it is they love about Mexico and of course we’ve topped it off with some of our own favorites. Coming up you will find personal picks for best places to visit in Mexico, fun Mexico tourist attractions, popular Mexico vacation spots and many more amazing things to do in Mexico.
Travelers Top Reasons to Visit Mexico
Beach Towns and Beaches in Mexico
Mexico may be best known as a top beach vacation destination and you won’t get any argument from us or our fellow travelers. From the lively surf and golden sands of the Pacific Coast to the unbelievably warm, clear, turquoise water of the Caribbean there’s no denying that this is a country full of beautiful beaches and wonderful beach towns.
One of the nicest places to visit in Mexico is Tulum, in the state of Quintana Roo, Yucatan Peninsula. Easy to reach from both Cancun airport (it’s an easy bus ride of about 2 hours) or even from Valladolid, in Yucatan State, Tulum provides great access to some of the most beautiful attractions in the area, and it’s home to one of the best beaches in Mexico.
Most people travel to Tulum to visit the beautiful archaeological site. As opposed to many in Mexico, this is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yet, it remains a favorite thanks to the incredible location, right on the Riviera Maya and facing the blue waters of the Caribbean sea. While the site is nice to explore, the cherry on the cake of a visit is the access to the beautiful beach below. It’s recommended to wear your swimming suit and carry a towel to make the most of it.
Tulum beach is fabulous. Picture a long stretch of the finest white sand, lined with palm trees and with the clearest waters you could hope for. Hidden among the trees there are some lovely bars and restaurants, and even some boutique hotels. Driving south, you’ll gain access to the Sian Ka’an Reserve, a protected area.
Another site that is easily accessible from Tulum is Koba, at about 45 minutes drive. As opposed to Tulum, this is quite spread out and there is a lot of walking or biking to do. But the good news is that this is the only site in Yucatan where you can still climb a pyramid.
Tulum also has a great selection of places to stay and many good restaurants. Biwa is a fabulous resort not far from the center. A very good restaurant is El Asador, on Avenida Satellite Norte.
Read more about the best beaches in Mexico at My Adventures Across the World
Playa del Carmen
The first time I went to Playa del Carmen, about 15 years ago, it was a charming fishing village-turned beach town that made a perfect escape from the more touristy Cancun. Since then it has grown into a rival for Cancun’s tourism and is now one of the top vacation spots in Mexico.
Some may say the growth has spoiled the once small village but change is inevitable. Plus, when the town sits on the shores of some of the most beautiful coastline in the country people will want to vacation there.
Today, Playa del Carmen is alive with all-inclusive resorts, fabulous restaurants, bars, shops, and activities to appeal to all ages. Popular 5th avenue is where most of the action is and provides 22 blocks of excitement. Here you can dine on everything from street tacos to 5-star cuisine, sip on a cold Cerveza or margarita, sample tequila and shop for local products and international labels.
Just a couple of blocks away from 5th Ave is a long stretch of white sand and turquoise water. Playa Mamitas is the most popular spot with beach clubs playing music, vendors selling everything under the sun, and bronzed bodies everywhere. However, if you want something a little more low key just wander down the beach a while until you find a quieter spot.
Playa del Carmen also makes a great base for exploring the incredible Yucatan which is full of Mayan ruins, magical cenotes, adventure parks and of course more spectacular beaches.
Read more about Playa del Carmen at Live Dream Discover
When we first went to Mexico we decided to stop for a while in a place where we could relax and enjoy beach life without spending a ton of money. We considered Tulum and Playa del Carmen but at the end we opted for Isla Holbox – and we’re so glad we did!
The island is right off the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula, between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea, and it’s still relatively offbeat. It’s easy to reach with a quick ferry crossing, and even though it’s hardly a local secret, there are far fewer tourists compared to other Mexican beach locations.
No cars are allowed on Isla Holbox, so most people rent bikes or golf carts to get around. The best thing about Holbox is its chilled atmosphere, and the opportunity to relax on semi-deserted beaches. The island is really quite large and most people congregate in the closest section to the main town, so if you want to have a place to yourself you just need to travel a little further. You can also opt to rent an apartment or B&B away from the town to enjoy the quiet atmosphere of Holbox at its best. We stayed near the island’s westernmost tip, and only saw a handful pf people on the beach each day.
Holbox is also a great place for whale shark tours, and also to see bio luminescence at night. The only issue is that you won’t want to leave!
Read more from Margherita at The Crowded Planet
One of my favorite places in Mexico has to be the small beach town of Puerto Morelos on the Yucatan Peninsula. Nestled halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos is a charming, sleepy fishing village, that hasn’t yet fully exploded with tourism like its neighbors. It’s a town of two halves, the beach side and La Colonia, which is the more local, found on other side of the highway and the mangroves.
On the beach side you’ll find most of the hotels and guesthouses, along with plenty of small bars, restaurants and a few shops to keep you occupied. One of the highlights of Puerto Morelos has to be the beach; it’s one of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in the Riviera Maya. Just 500 metres off shore is the protected Mesoamerican Coral Reef, as you can imagine the snorkeling here is fantastic – we saw spotted eagle ray, turtles and barracuda just by snorkeling from the beach and even more out on a snorkeling tour.
La Colonia is where most of the locals live and where we based ourselves for 6 weeks. This side of the village, there are several local shops and a selection of small local eateries, serving delicious food. It is also where Carnaval celebrations are held in February which is lots of fun. This is where to stay if you want to get a real taste of authentic Mexican life (and food).
Another excellent reason for visiting Puerto Morelos is La Ruta de Los Cenotes or The Cenote Route. It’s a 35 km trail that extends from Puerto Morelos towards Leona Vicario boasting some of the most stunning cenotes in Mexico, hidden deep in the jungle either side of the main road.
Puerto Morelos is the perfect place for either a relaxing beachy getaway or a more activity based break – there’s something for everyone. It can be easily reached by ADO bus from both Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Read more about a snorkelling tour in Puerto Morelos at Can Travel Will Travel
Puerto Vallarta is a resort town located on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the Jalisco state. You can reach it directly from the US or via a short domestic flight from Mexico City.
We love Puerto Vallarta because it’s well renowned for being super welcoming for the LGBTQ community with a terrific gay scene and one of the in Mexico Pride events we’ve been to.
Aside from Pride, Puerto Vallarta offers so many activities for all travelers. We love the beaches, the most famous being “Playa Los Muertos”. There are also many excellent beach clubs like the Sapphire Ocean Club and the Mantamar, which have their own private beachfront area with deck chairs, along with pools and restaurants. Watersports are also popular in Puerto Vallarta, ranging from snorkelling, kayaking, jet ski, paddle boarding and even scuba diving.
The Los Arcos islands is a stunning rock formation jutting out of the ocean, which has become one of the iconic symbols of Puerto Vallarta. We rented a yacht for the day with a group of friends, which allowed us to sail right up and around the Los Arcos, where we also did lots of kayaking and snorkelling.
Further inland you can visit a “raicilla” (pronounced rye-see-ya) brewery. Raicilla is an alcoholic drink popular in Mexico made from the agave plant, similar to tequila and mescal. It is unique because it is only allowed to be produced in the Jalisco Province of Mexico. It is made by roasting the agave in an above-ground brick or clay oven, which gives it a more floral-like flavor. As Raicilla is not yet famous internationally, this is the only place you can try it and bring back a few bottles as a souvenir.
Read more from Stefan & Sebastian on Nomadic Boys Gay Travel Website
While staying in Puerto Vallarta I decided to drive to Sayulita for a day of exploration. Sayulita is a small village by the sea with a thriving fishing history and a laid back atmosphere just 25km away from the larger, all-inclusive capital of Nayarit.
The town is small, with about 6,000 inhabitants, a long stretch of beach and a relatively important digital nomad community that has found the town’s vibe, the hip cafes and bars and the affordable prices appealing. The proximity to an airport is also a plus.
While today it is a small beach enclave like many other in Mexico, Sayulita used to be an important coconut plantation and was later discovered as a surfing destination.
You can spend your days at the beach and sea, with various marine activities like snorkelling, surfing, diving, fishing, or whale watching, go horse riding in the beach or hills or practice yoga, a growing trend with more studios and retreats opening up. But the best way to enjoy Sayulita is to simply relax, sit down at one of the cafes or restaurants and relax with some great food and a drink.
And if you need more action and a larger choice, Puerto Vallarta is sure to have you covered.
Read more from Mar Pages at Once in a Lifetime Journey
For those looking for beautiful white-sand beaches and massive world-renown parties, Cancun is the place to be. For those looking for a quiet laid back beach vacation on the Pacific coast, Ixtapa is the place to go. Ixtapa and its neighboring town of Zihuatanejo are wonderfully scenic, blessed with rugged cactus-covered landscapes, a variety of beaches, and a quiet atmosphere mostly void of mass tourism like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.
My first time visiting Ixtapa was on a road trip from Mexico City. Located 8-hours West of Mexico City, it’s close enough for those wanting peace and quiet but not close enough to attract the mega crowds like Acapulco. There are basically two parts to Ixtapa. There’s the Mexican town of Zihuatanejo, which is where people fly in, and then there’s Ixtapa itself, a town made for tourism, which is a mere 10-minute drive from Zihuatanejo.
Accommodation can be found in both areas but most opt for Ixtapa, which is a dedicated beach resort town with many hotels dotting the coastline. Ixtapa has become a favorite of mine and even became the destination for my wedding, which was held at the stunning Mexican-designed Las Brisas hotel and its private beach. Here, every room has a view of the ocean and even though I’ve been to 35 countries, I’ve never seen a sunset like the ones I’ve seen in Ixtapa. The sun is big and orange and with the coastline facing West, each night is spectacular.
While there isn’t as many activities and attractions as one would find in the more popular beach destinations, you’ll still find plenty of things to do, such as fishing trips, horseback riding tours, scuba diving, a plethora of restaurants, bars, and of course, relaxing on the beach or crashing into the waves. Beaches are supposed to be relaxing and few Mexican beaches rival that of Ixtapa.
Read more from Matthew Bailey at Must Do Canada
History and Culture of Mexico
Mexico is a country with a rich and interesting history and culture. Ancient civilizations such as the Olmecs, the Maya and the Aztecs all left their mark long before the Spanish took over and later the country struggled though decades of war, rebellion and revolution before gaining independence. Since then there have been plenty of internal challenges for Mexico but the people have managed to maintain and preserve many of their traditions as well as incredible examples of ancient architecture and artifacts.
The Coba Ruins are just a short trip from Cancun and my favorite experience from my short time in Mexico. I loved that it was a little more remote and felt pretty rugged compared to some of the bigger ruin sites in the area. You can either visit on your own by renting a car or by taking a tour to see the ruins. From Cancun, it’s between a two and three-hour drive depending on the route you take. It will be less than an hour from Tulum of Valladolid.
There is no need to purchase tickets ahead of time, you can get them at the entrance gate. Once you’re in, there will be people offering bikes for rent, but you definitely don’t need them. It’s not as far to walk as they make it sound, so unless you just really want to bike, they’re not necessary. The main attraction is the Coba Pyramid and you can still climb to the top of it, which was pretty cool to be able to do.
There are tons of other smaller pyramids and structures around the area so plan to spend a whole day, or at least most of a day, here. There are other structures you can climb while some are roped off. This is a great option for a day trip to see ruins in the Yucatan.
Read more from Megan at Red Around the World
Semana Santa in Taxco
Spending Semana Santa in Taxco is a fascinating experience. Semana Santa is the Holy Week starting on Palm Sunday and ending a week later on Easter Sunday. It is a big deal in Mexico and there are celebrations throughout the country, but the small hill town of Taxco has maintained traditions that have been long forgotten in most places. Medieval Spanish colonial ideas of penitence through pain, combined with indigenous concepts of blood and sacrifice, are alive and fully embraced in Taxco.
The Easter week sees daily parades in which the events in the Bible of Jesus’ last week are re-enacted with the use of statues. Palm Sunday sees crowds of people carrying ornaments made of palm fronds parading behind a statue of Jesus on a donkey. Monday is the Procession of the Virgins, in which dozens of statues of the Virgin Mary are paraded through the narrow cobblestone streets, accompanied by lines of women in lace veils, carrying large candles and shrouded in smoke from incense burners.
Things start to get gory on Tuesday with the Procession of the Souls of Purgatory. Penitents, stripped to the waist, but wearing black hoods and black pants tied with rough rope, carry enormous heavy crosses on outstretched arms or bundles of sharp thorny sticks on their shoulders; or drag heavy chains between their feet while they are bent over double; or lash their back with sharp thorns, their acts of self-flagellation paying penitence for their sins. These painful – and gory – demonstrations of repentance continue on the following days in Wednesday’s Procession of the Santísima Trinidad (the Holy Trinity), Thursday’s Procession of Jesus Christs and Good Friday’s Procession of Silence. Other parades reenact the events of Christ’s arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and his funeral procession the next day.
Taxco is 2 hours and 40 minutes southwest of Mexico City by bus or car. Many Mexicans travel during Semana Santa, so booking transportation and accommodation in advance is highly recommended.
Read more about spending Semana Santa in Taxco at Travel Collecting
Day of the Dead in Mixquic
In the southeast corner of Mexico City lies a community called San Andrés Mixquic – a village that takes so long to get to that you might not even realize it’s part of Mexico City. This neighborhood ironically comes alive once a year during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. What was for most of the year a population of about 16,000 people going about their daily lives explodes by tens of thousands more as it prepares for one of the most authentic Dia de Muertos celebrations you’ll find in this part of Mexico.
Street vendors sell food to tourists, bands play on the main stage, and street performers do their thing in the neighborhoods. The whole time, locals have busily been preparing for the return of their ancestors this night. Every flower imaginable is used to meticulously decorate each grave in town, but marigolds are the star of each canvas. Their petals also line paths throughout town, showing ancestors their way home.
At night, as the sun sets, the graveyard becomes a sea of candlelight as families sit with their loved ones, remembering those who passed before them. It is truly a sight to see.
Getting to Mixquic, while a long drive, isn’t too hard. Just take an Uber, a taxi, or the Metro. Getting back to Mexico City is another thing entirely. Those tens of thousands more people place an almost unbearable strain on the local cellular network. If you’re looking for an Uber – or even directions on Google Maps – you might be out of luck. Try to arrange transportation in advance. Here are a few things to know before you go to Mixquic.
Read more things to know before you go to Mixquic at RTW Guys
Ten years ago, I visited Teotihuacan, an ancient pyramid complex located close to Mexico City. At that time, it was the first ancient historical site I had ever seen. It’s one of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Dating back to the 1st millennium, Teotihuacan was known as the sixth largest city in the world during its epoch.
Today, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an impressive complex of pyramids and ruins, some of which can be climbed for impressive views of the surrounding landscapes. I’ve since been to Teotihuacan three times and never get tired of both the views and the history. It truly feels like stepping back in time thousands of years. It makes a great addition to unique bucket list ideas and actually sparked my interest in trying to see every UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world.
Teotihuacan is located approximately 50-kilometers from Mexico City, taking roughly 1-hour by car or bus. For anyone visiting Mexico City, a day trip to Teotihuacan is highly recommended. If you don’t have a car, there are many tours making the day trip each and every day, usually leaving in the morning and returning in the evening. It’s a very easy site to visit and is very popular. However, there are a lot of touts selling goods within the grounds of Teotihuacan. With good bargaining skills, this is actually a great place to buy souvenirs. At the same time, touts can become annoying at times, so if you’re not interested in buying anything, simply say “no gracias” and keep moving.Teotihuacan can be visited any time of year and is highly recommended.
Read more from Matthew G. Bailey at Live Limitless
Tequila, Mexico is a fantastic weekend spot, easily accessible from Guadalajara, Jalisco. Colonial charm, combined with amazing food and tequila, make this spot a must when visiting Jalisco.
Your Tequila weekend starts in Guadalajara. There are several options to get to the little town. Are you in a party mood? Taking the Tequila Express is the way to go. The train only runs on weekends, so be prepared. A two hour ride, combined with tequila, takes you through endless agave fields, where you can witness cowboys hand chopping agave plants first hand. A “tequilier” will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the potent drink.
A note on the train: the experience is a roundtrip experience with a day tour of Tequila included, so if you want to stay in Tequila, inquire with the train line as to whether it is possible. Alternatively, the bus or a driver is necessary.
Upon arrival in Tequila, check into the Hotel Solar de las Animas, a stunning hotel with a rooftop bar and hot tub. Try lunch at La Antigua Casona and stroll around the town square. A visit to Jose Cuervo is a great education on the production of tequila. Fun fact: they’ll even take you down into the cellars for a special tasting. You’ll get to meet Ismael, the jimador who tends to the agave crops. He is now the face of Jose Cuervo. Reserve you ticket and experience ahead, as it is a popular destination.
Dubbed “Mexico’s Magical Town”, Tequila has more than just tequila. Try horseback riding, a visit to La Parroquia Santiago Apóstol, meander the winding, cobblestone streets and stop for a drink at La Capilla.
Read more from Melisa at The Roaming Family
Museums in Mexico City
One of my favourite things about Mexico actually really surprised me. Mexico City has the highest number of museums in any city in the world – except for Paris. Before arriving in Mexico City, I knew about tacos, about Frida Kahlo and the Day of the Dead, but I had no idea that there were so many cultural things to do in Mexico City. Most people seem to talk about how dangerous Mexico City is, not how cultural it is, so I loved the fact I could visit so many wonderful museums in one place. Some museums such as the Soumaya Museum are free all the time, and others offer free entry on Sundays, although most are definitely worth paying the entry fee.
My favourite museum in Mexico City has to be The National Museum of Anthropology. A huge museum in Chapultepec Park, the Anthropology Museum tracks the history of man in Mexico from the development of homo sapiens through to the Spanish Conquest and beyond. The museum has exhibition rooms on all of the pre-Columbian civilizations in Meso-America (modern-day Mexico), including the Mayans, Teotihuacan, Oaxaca and the Mexica, also known as the Aztecs. The prize piece has to be the incredible Aztec Sun Stone. This huge circular stone is beautifully carved, and measures over 3.5 metres across and weighs over 20 tons.
The museum costs $75 MXN (approximately $4 USD), and you may struggle to see it all in one visit as it is so big! If you are short on time, choose which rooms you want to visit first, and do not miss the Mexica room. The fascinating exhibit about Teotihuacan is also very useful to visit before you go to the archaeological site just outside the city.
Read more from Claire Sturzaker at Tales of a Backpacker
Chichén Itzá is one of the main tourist attractions in Mexico and a place you must add on a Yucatan itinerary. It’s a crowded place as everyone visits but there is a way to visit the site alone AND climb Chichén Itzá. Opening time is 10AM but early morning tickets are available which allow access from 8AM to 10AM. The trick is however to go the day before at 6PM to the ticket counter and ask for pre-sunrise tickets which allow access from 6AM when it’s pitch dark. You’ll have to pay for about 6 tickets even if you just visit alone and climbing Chichén Itzá is extra.
Climbing Chichén Itzá is my favorite thing I have done in Mexico. It was just me, my son and one other tourist in the archaeological park. Watching the sun rise behind the pyramid is magical just as Mayans did ages ago. After sunrise you can climb to the top for amazing views. You then must check out first the places of interest closest to the entrance. This way you’ll be always ahead of the visitors that come in at 8AM and even 10AM. I was able to photograph the whole park without any other visitors and during golden hour. Visiting Chichén Itzá before sunrise and climbing it is worth the money and something, I highly recommend everyone to do.
Read more from about a Yucatan Itinerary at CTB Global
Guachimontones Pyramids in Jalisco
After a short, one-hour road trip from Guadalajara, Jalisco, you’ll find yourself in Teuchitlán and at the steps of the prehistoric Guachimontones Pyramids. What makes them so mind boggling is they are the largest round pyramids in the world!
Unlike the more touristy pyramids you’ll find throughout Mexico these are one of a kind, and totally unique! To get to the pyramids you walk up the driveway lined with trees; when you reach the top of the hill you will notice the monuments overlook the town and lake below. After walking around the site a bit, we relaxed in the shade of a tree, sipping a refreshing michelada and daydreamed about what life was like living amongst the pyramids on the hill.
On your drive back, stop at the rustic pulquería at the entrance of the pyramids. There you can enjoy a mug of pulque made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. The beverage can be incredibly filling and contains some things that are good for the body! Even if the flavor is not your cup of joe, it’s still a great thing to try and a cultural experience! Enjoy!
Read more from Ashley at Blissy Life
Nature and Adventure
Mexico ranks high for biodiversity and varied Eco-systems and is named as one of only 18 mega-diverse countries in the world. This means that there’s an abundance of things to do and places to see in Mexico for nature and adventure lovers.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve
Three hours south of Cancun on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve. This protected 5,200 square kilometer preserve has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987.
Buses run from Cancun to Tulum and from there you can take a taxi to the preserve. Better yet, drive yourself or join a small tour. The highway is quite good and well-marked, and the preserve is only a little over an hour south of Tulum. The preserve’s remoteness and size make it nearly impossible to navigate on your own. But not to worry, there are a number of tour companies that promote sustainable tourism and environmental protection that will give you a memorable adventure.
In the preserve are jaguars and pumas, turtles, an incredible number of birds, and 23 known Mayan archaeological sites. You can snorkel on the protected coral reef, bird watch and fly fish, but one of the most fun and refreshing ways to experience the preserve is on a Muyil float tour, floating through the mangrove channels cut by the Mayans centuries ago to reach the sea.
The sun here can be intense but sun blocks are restricted so be sure to wear sun protective clothing, sunglasses, a good hat and bring extra water. Biodegradable insect repellent is allowed. Most tours will provide a lunch of regional food along with fresh fruit and small snacks. Be sure to check. Visit here anytime of year that you would normally visit Cancun or the Yucatan Peninsula and remember to pay attention to hurricane season.
Read more from Lori at Travelinmad
Swimming with Whale Sharks
Originating approximately 60 million years ago, the migratory whale shark can be found in warm, tropical oceans all around the world, from Central America east to Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. But Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula was the site of the largest gathering of whale sharks ever recorded, with more than 400 spotted feeding on spawn from the little tunny (a type of tuna) off the coast of Isla Mujeres in 2011.
Today, whale shark season– which typically lasts from June through September– has become a booming business for the ecotourism industry of Cancun and the surrounding areas. The annual afuera (or gathering spot) draws thousands of travelers each year, with around 200 boats licensed to lead swimming with whale shark tours. Fortunately, there are so many whale sharks that it didn’t feel crowded during our late June tour from Isla Holbox with VIP Holbox.
Beyond the licensing requirements, there are quite a few rules in place that are designed to ensure that people behave responsibly while swimming with whale sharks in Mexico. No more than 10 passengers are allowed on a tourist boat, and no more than two people and one guide from each boat should be in the water at any given time. Our VIP Holbox guides instructed us not to get closer than 6 feet from the whale sharks (though sometimes the animals made it clear that they didn’t get the memo), and touching or trying to ride the gentle giants is strictly prohibited.
We spent about an hour at the afuera, with each 2-person team getting three chances with swim with whale sharks. The animals– which average up to 35 feet long and weigh 20,000 pounds– seem overwhelmingly ginormous up close. And though they tend to swim in what looks like slow, lazy circles as they feed, they’re surprisingly fast. By the time we got our masks, snorkels, and fins on and jumped in the water, our first whale shark was long gone.
Still, once you get it right, it’s a life-altering experience that reminds us of how small we humans are by comparison. The 6- to 8-hour tours– which cost around $150 and depart from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, and other Riviera Maya hotspots– aren’t cheap. But ours included snorkeling with sea turtles and manta rays, a stop at an island teeming with birds, and fresh ceviche. And the memories of this incredible experience were worth every penny as you can see in this video.
Read more from Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel
Experiencias Xcaret Eco-Parks
Visiting one, or more, of the Xcaret theme parks is one of the top things to do in Riviera Maya. This group of parks offers a variety of activities and experiences ranging from water sports to adventure to local culture and food.
It all started with Xcaret nature park where you can spend the day swimming in underground rivers, walking along jungle paths, admiring local plant and animal life and learning all about the Yucatan history and culture. In the evening take in the very impressive live performance, Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.
If you love marine life and snorkeling then Xel-Ha should be your choice with acres of pristine coves, cenotes and ponds set in the lush Yucatan jungle. Aside from snorkeling there are various other water activities as well as zip lines for the adventurous.
Then there is Xplor adventure park with ziplines, amphibious vehicles, and a slew of other exciting activities. Xenses is all about awakening your senses with 15 activities on land, air and water. Xavage is the newest member of the Experiencias Excaret family and is also the most extreme with adrenaline pumping options like white water rafting, aerial rope courses, off-road vehicles, zip-lines and jet boats.
All the parks have a good selection of food and drink and some even have all-inclusive options. However, we have to mention that we do not promote the swimming with the dolphins activity for our own ethical reasons.
Read more about Xcaret Parks on Live Dream Discover
MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum
There aren’t many places in the world where you can visit a museum underwater. But you will find one on the east coast of Mexico, in Cancun.
And don’t think it’s too crazy for you. They have made it accessible and fun for almost anyone. The museum is divided into a few galleries that visitors can scuba dive, snorkel or admire through a bottom-glass boat and stay dry. The shallow galleries are a short boat drive away from the shore – so even those prone to seasickness can enjoy it. The deeper gallery – which is suitable for scuba diving – is a bit further from the coast, near Isla Mujeres. The three galleries are not close to each other. If you want to visit them all, you will need to book different tours.
When you compare prices, check if the extra fees for boat docking are included in the cost to avoid surprises. Trips to the Cancun Underwater Museum are easy to organise as the tour operators provide snorkel equipment. Make sure you protect your skin from the sun, with a hat and a reef-safe sunscreen.
I particularly like that the Cancun Underwater Museum is an ecotourism activity. The sunk statues created artificial reefs that attract visitors and relieve the pressure on the other local natural reefs. It also makes the adventure very different from usual coral reef experiences.
Read more from Eloise at My Favorite Escapes
My favorite place in Mexico has got to be the beautiful Bacalar Lagoon. Located about 3 hours south of Tulum or 5 hours south of Cancun airport via ADO bus, it’s a bit out of the way to get to but trust me, it is worth every bit of the journey! You could also fly to Chetumal and then take a bus about 1 hour to Bacalar as well, or enter overland from Belize via Chetumal and then take the ADO bus to Bacalar.
I love Bacalar Lagoon (also called Lake Bacalar or the Lake of Seven Colors) for its immense beauty and relative lack of development compared to other places up and down the coast of Quintana Roo. While sure, there are plenty of guesthouses and restaurants catering for tourists, it is nothing like Tulum or Playa del Carmen, and it truly has the feeling of a place that’s yet to be discovered by mass tourism in the way most other places along this stretch of the Mexican coastline have. Its colors are truly astounding, and the “Lake of Seven Colors” moniker is actually understating it a bit – it seems impossible to count the number of shades that make up this beautiful lake.
A few highlights include the Cenote Negro, one of the deepest cenotes in all of Mexico where the limestone cavern drops at least 90 meters in a matter of just a few strokes, from a relatively shallow 2 meters depth to an impossibly black depth. Cenote Azul is similarly impressive and deep.
The sunrises in Bacalar Lagoon are also unmissable, as you don’t get much of a sunset due to the lake’s orientation. I particularly loved taking a sunrise paddle board tour, which departed from the hostel I was staying at, The Blue Monkey. Finally, you should also visit the town center/Zocalo, particularly the San Felipe Fort, as well some of the fantastic restaurants downtown where you can get anything from hand-rolled pasta to fresh, hand-made quesadillas stuffed with squash blossoms and all other sorts of Mexican delicacies.
Read more about Bacalar Lagoon at Eternal Arrival
Diving in Cozumel
One of our favourite things in Mexico was scuba diving in Cozumel. Cozumel island is set in the Caribbean Sea just off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and is home to the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park. The park protects the Meso-American reef, which is the second largest barrier reef system in the world.
We had high expectations for diving in Cozumel, and we were not disappointed. The waters are crystal clear with excellent visibility and the marine life was plentiful— the park is home to over 100 coral types and more than 260 species of fish.
What we loved most about Cozumel diving was the variety. There are over 40 dive spots offering wall dive sites, reef sites, and cool cavern structures to swim through. It also has plenty of options for every level of diver, from complete beginners to the advanced. Plus, with the consistent temperatures, it’s the perfect activity no matter what time of the year you visit Mexico.
Our favourite dive was at Punta Sur which is divided into two areas, the Cathedral, teaming with marine life, and the Devil’s Throat with its amazing tunnels and caves. The colours, the coral, the caverns and the opportunity to get up close and personal with amazing sea life make diving in Cozumel a must when visiting Mexico!
Read more about scuba diving in Cozumel at Drink Tea & Travel
Las Coloradas: Pink Lakes
Far from Cancun, in the eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula, sits one of Mexico’s most unique features: the pink lakes of Las Coloradas.
Plankton, brine shrimp, and algae help create the distinct color of the pink (and orange–they don’t all look exactly the same!) lakes.
Located within the Rio Lagartos Biosphere, the pink lakes have exploded in popularity in recent years, going from an obscure rural attraction to an Instagram sensation.
Today you’ll see plenty of other visitors around, photo stands set up, and clear signs stating that you can’t get in the water (those weren’t around when I visited in early 2017)–but if you’d like to see an incredibly interesting piece of Mexican topography, the pink lakes are still worth a visit.
Be warned, though: the only thing to really do at the lakes themselves is to look at and photograph them, which is a delight for some and a chore for others. If that doesn’t appeal, this may not be the day trip for you!
It’ll take 5-6 hours to reach the pink lakes from Cancun, so if you’re visiting multiple spots on the peninsula, I highly recommend waiting to get a bit closer before visiting the pink lakes. I visited as a day trip from Valladolid and loved having the easier turnaround time (though we did need to hire a private taxi to go).
Read more from about the pink lakes at Our Escape Clause
One of the best things about Mexico is all the beautiful cenotes there are to explore. A cenote is a naturally formed sinkhole, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock. When the rock collapses, it reveals a secret subterranean world of natural swimming pools. Most cenotes are full of fresh water filtered by the earth, making the water so clear that you can see straight through them.
There are thought to be over 6000 cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Half of these aren’t even documented, but there’s no shortage of cenotes open to visitors to take a swim in. My favorite cenote that I visited in the Yucatán Peninsula is Cenote Samula.
I love Cenote Samula because there is a ray of light that comes into the cenote from the top and highlights the blue water and tree routes growing down to the water. The best time to visit cenote Samula is mid-afternoon when the sun is directly overhead. It shines into the water making for a spectacular sight and photo. Plus, it’s a great way to cool off from the Mexico heat!
There is another cenote, Xekeken, next to Samula that you can also visit. The entrance fee to get into one cenote is 80 pesos and both cenotes are 125 pesos. The cenotes are a 15-minute drive from the town Valladolid, just head west on the 180 highway towards Chichen Itza. It is also possible to bike here from Valladolid or take a tourist bus which leaves from the main plaza in Valladolid.
Read more from Explore with Lora
Hierve el Agua
Around 40 miles east of Oaxaca City you find the incredible mineral pools and dramatic petrified waterfalls of Hierve el Agua. The name “Hierve el Agua” means “the water boils.” The mineral springs bubble 80°F water up from fissures in the earth and releases oxygen into the emerald cliff-top pools. Surprisingly, the thermal water is chilly but refreshing and reputed to be beneficial for the skin and health.
The other attraction on site is the natural petrified waterfalls. Over thousands of years, the mineral-laden water spilled slowly over the cliff, calcifying and creating an illusion that the falling water is frozen.
Hiking is a must to get from one area to another within the complex. How far and how much you want to see is up to you, your fitness level, and which of the numerous trails you want to take. It’s a short, easy hike to get to the thermal pools with the stunning vista of the Sierra Madres Mountains on the horizon. The hike to cascada chica, the larger of the two waterfalls, is longer, more difficult, and steep with a lot of loose rocks on the path.
Hierve de Agua was my very favorite experience in the entire State of Oaxaca. But it’s not easy to find or get to. The site is in an isolated region with rough terrain. The area is desert and dry, with the only water source coming from the springs from the rock formations, so make sure to have plenty of water.
Read more from Patti Morrow at Luggage and Lipstick
SUPing in Puerto Vallarta
One of my absolute favorite things about Mexico is SUPing in Puerto Vallarta (SUP = stand up paddleboard). Thanks to Puerto Vallarta’s location in one of the largest bays in the world, the scenery is incredible. The Sierra Madre mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to the sea. It’s possible to rent a board and head out at your leisure or you can join a tour and paddle out to the famous Los Arcos (The Arches).
Los Arcos is a National Marine Park located out at sea between Mismaloya Beach and Las Gemalas Beach just south of Puerto Vallarta’s city center. The area is teeming with wildlife including an array of colorful fish, dolphins, giant manta rays, sea turtles, and birds that nest atop the granite rocks protruding out of the water. Over the years, the granite rocks have formed tunnels that you can paddle through. Once you’ve had your fill of floating through the tunnels, grab a snorkel mask and check out what lies below the surface of the water. This is the best area for snorkeling in Puerto Vallarta!
The tour lasts about 3 hours in total. It takes about 20 minutes to paddle from Mismaloya Beach to Los Arcos, depending on your level of fitness. Then you’ll spend a few hours paddling through the tunnels, learning about the animals that live in the area, and then paddling back to the beach. It costs about $65 per person and you can book it with my friend Felix through his Airbnb Experience.
Read more from Rachel at Grateful Gypsies
Snorkeling in Huatulco
While most people think of Mexico’s Caribbean coast when they think of scuba diving or snorkeling in Mexico, there are also opportunities to explore the underwater marine world on the Pacific coast i the state of Oaxaca. Thanks to its pristine waters, abundance of plankton, relatively remote location and rigorous environmental protection of Huatulco National Park (a UNESCO Biosphere), there is an abundance of marine life. You can expect to see dolphins, sea turtles, porcupine fish, parrotfish, needle fish, grouper, snapper and angelfish as well as manta rays and eagle rays while snorkeling in Huatulco. Coral reefs and underwater caverns are also highlights. It’s even possible to see migrating whales between December and March.
While it’s possible to go snorkeling from shore, the best and safest way to plan a snorkeling trip is to take an organized tour with a reputable company. Tour companies such as PADI certified Hurricane Divers will take you to several snorkeling sites, provide lunch and most importantly will follow internationally recognized safety rules and regulations. They also respect the environment by not anchoring in the coral or harassing marine life. When snorkeling anywhere, be sure to wear UV swim clothing rather than sunscreen for sun protection in order to avoid damaging the delicate marine ecosystems.
Read about snorkeling in Huatulco at A Taste for Travel
Help free baby turtles in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Who has dreamed of watching baby turtles hatch on the beach and then scurry to sea? It’s an extremely difficult phenomenon to witness in person, especially with the dwindling numbers of turtles and increasing need for people to protect and help turtles during the most vulnerable time in their lives.
Bacocho Beach in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca is a turtle haven. The species that thrive in these waters are called Olive Ridley, and good news for you, they breed and lay eggs all throughout the year! Not only did we see several olive ridley turtles mating while we were on a dolphin tour, but because this beach is so popular with these turtles, they also have baby turtles hatching all the time as well.
Unfortunately, however, Mexico has a dark history with turtles, which makes their conservation necessary. Instead of leaving the nests on the beach, conservationists patrol the beach 24 hours a day and dig up and protect turtle nests from people and predators. Then at 5 pm every day, visitors can come down to the beach shack to pay $100 pesos to let go their own baby turtle back to the sea. All of the money raised goes back into the turtle conservation.
The turtle release is well organised and there are always hundreds of baby turtles that need the help from you for their safe travel to the sea. The departure will pull on your heartstrings and will be sure to delight and amaze you, probably more than you’d expect. This was one of my favourite ever travel experiences and I highly recommend doing this if you travel to the spectacular coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Read more about Oaxaca at Castaway with Crystal
Rancho La Puerta in Tecate
Just over the border from San Diego, CA in Tecate is a world-class spa: Rancho La Puerta, which has been enticing guests into its sage-scented gardens since the 1940’s. Most guests spend a week here choosing from a buffet of relaxation and fitness activities…everything from meditation and walking a labyrinth to massages and aqua fitness classes. What many don’t know, however, is that once every month or so, the Ranch offers a “Saturday at the Ranch” for day trippers. Many of those activities are available to day trippers, too…including the complete menu of spa services.
It’s a beautiful (and economical) way to sample a taste of what’s on offer here. With a reservation, the Ranch will dispatch a bus to meet San Diego guests in Mission Bay and drive them over the border to Rancho La Puerta. The day rate includes a massage, buffet breakfast and Mediterranean lunch under shady trees in the courtyard. In between body treatments and meals, guests will also enjoy a cooking demonstration at La Cocino Que Canto (“The Kitchen that Sings”) and tour of the Ranch’s incredible 40 acre organic garden. Week-long guests typically enjoy celebrity chefs here. Put Rancho La Puerta on your Mexico bucket list!
Read more about Rancho la Puerta at Explore Now or Never
Mexico Cities and Food
Mexico is not all about the beaches. There are many incredible cities to visit in Mexico and the food scene is varied and delicious everywhere you go. Urban centers are especially inviting as they are often overflowing with cultural sights and events, beautiful architecture, exciting nightlife, great shopping and amazing local and international cuisine.
In a region studded with spectacular colonial cities, Guanajuato stands out as the crown jewel. Popular among Mexican tourists for its opulent architecture, storied history, and prominent cultural events, Guanajuato attracts surprisingly few foreign visitors. It’s about a five-hour bus-ride northwest of Mexico City; Del Bajío international airport is also an hour away.
I’ve attended Spanish school in Guanajuato twice for extended periods and fell in love with the city. The best way to get to know it is simply by wandering its maze of steep, picturesque alleyways, discovering charming tree-filled plazas and unexpected vistas of baroque churches. At sunset, take the funicular up to the El Pípila monument for breathtaking panoramic city views.
Take in the rich Art Nouveau interior of the Teatro Juárez, considered one of the most beautiful theaters in the country. The adjacent plaza often features live music and dance in the evenings. If you speak a little Spanish, don’t miss the fun of a nighttime callejoneada, a festive musical tour led by costumed performers reciting amusing folktales and singing popular songs. Another enjoyable evening excursion is a Bars and Tacos Night Tour with Mexico Street Food Tours.
As a university town, Guanajuato’s historic centro can get noisy, especially on weekends, so if you’re a light sleeper it’s best to stay just outside the center. Fortunately, Guanajuato is very walkable, and there are lots of good options within a 15-minute walk of the main plaza.
Read more from Ingrid Truemper at Second-Half Travels
San Miguel de Allende
For those that prefer to have an authentic Mexican experience, San Miguel de Allende is the perfect place to head. Although it is landlocked and far away from resort areas, the city is full of culture, architecture, and history all interspersed with an urban vibe. Plus, the center of town is reserved for pedestrian traffic, which makes strolling the stone streets and perusing artisan shops worry-free.
While you are in town, be sure to grab drinks and guacamole at Don Taco Tequila, visit a rooftop bar like Vorhal, sample chocolate at Johfreg, and have dinner with a view at Quince. For souvenir shopping the Artisan Market (and the surrounding shops) should also be on your to-do list. Casa de la Cuesta is a bed and breakfast situated in the city’s hub and offers 7 quaint rooms and a stunning view of the landscape.
The Mask Museum is located on Casa de la Cuesta’s property and is filled with ceremonial masks, which gives great insight into tradition and history in rural Mexico. San Miguel de Allende is about a 2 hour drive from the closest airport, yet shuttles are easy to schedule and readily available. This active town is filled with expats, who have definitely found a hidden gem for whiling the hours away, and it is a lovely place for you to do the same.
Read more from Jennifer Prince at Travel Like a Prince
For people who travel for food, Mexico offers so much great cuisine. Many of the dishes are ones that you might see at Mexican restaurants around the world, like tacos, which are a staple of the Mexican diet. Some dishes, though, are ones that many travelers have never seen or heard of before.
One dish is aguachile, which could be described as a cousin of ceviche, but there is more to it than that. Similar to ceviche it is served “raw” but cured in citrus and spices. Aguachile differs in that it is marinated in water, lime juice, and chiles, making it more spicy than the average ceviche. Aguachile translates to spicy water. Normally it is made with prawns or fish, topped with additional chiles, fresh avocado, onions, or cucumbers, and served on a crispy tortilla.
This is definitely a must-eat dish while traveling in Mexico. One of the best places for aquachile is at its namesake restaurant in Playa del Carmen, Los Aguachiles. In addition to two locations in Playa, they also have locations in Cancun and Tulum. The food is a little more expensive than other local restaurants, but the quality of the food, and in particular the fish and seafood is to die for. Pair one or two aguachiles with a cold and spicy cucumber mezcal cocktail.
Read more about people who travel for food at With Husband in Tow
Xalapa, Veracruz (pronounced “halapa,” for those unfamiliar) is a not-so-small city located about 5 hours southeast of Mexico City. It’s location, nestled in the jungles of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains and near the Gulf coast of Mexico grants it a temperate, humid climate, resulting in gorgeous, lush vegetation. For this, Xalapa is known as the “City of Flowers.”
It is the capital of the state of Veracruz and is characterized for having a particularly diverse culture where arts and education predominate. Curiously, this has been true since its foundation: Xalapa was the meeting point between four pre-Hispanic cultures, Totonaca, Toltec, Chichimeca and Teochichimeca. You can learn all about these cultures in Xalapa’s famous Museum of Anthropology, one of the most important in all of Latin America.
This colorful, colonial city is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Mexico’s art and culture. Sip locally produced coffee as you admire some art in one of the countless coffee shop-galleries throughout the city. Later, visit the Museo de Antropologia and catch a performance at the Teatro del Estado! And of course, you can’t forget to visit some of Xalapa’s scenic city parks. My personal favorite is Parque Los Berros because on the weekends there are a selection of adorable ponies offering rides to local kids!
Xalapa is surrounded by a collection of pueblos magicos (towns the Secretary of Tourism deems to contribute something special and unique to Mexican culture) as well as charming villages, including Coatepec, Teocelo, Xico, Jalcomulco and Naolinco, each of which could be visited on a day trip from the city center.
With stunning scenery, a vibrant arts scene, and the best coffee you’ve ever tasted, Xalapa is definitely one of Mexico’s hidden gems. But don’t just take my word for it, come see for yourself!
Read more at Janine in the World
Food in Oaxaca
Oaxaca is an essential destination for traveling foodies and the best part is that anyone can successfully eat their way through the city, provided they know what to look for and where to look for it. From Mexico City, Oaxaca de Juarez (the capital of the state) is an hour long flight or a 7-hour bus ride.
The most sought after items from its culinary repertoire include the larger-than-life tyaludas, intricate moles in a variety of flavors, and the smoky libation known as mezcal. Begin your DIY food tour at Mercado 20 de Noviembre, a famous food market and purveyor of classic Oaxacan munchies like chapulines (fried grasshoppers) and drinking chocolate, which usually contains ground almonds, vanilla, and cinnamon. The western part of the market is where you’ll find made-to-order barbecued meats.
For tyaludas, check out Tyaluda El Negro, a no-frills canteen specializing in decadent tyaludas paired with condiments like salsa, pickled red onions, and guacamole. A tyaluda is a plate-sized corn tortilla smeared with a spicy black bean puree and finished with shreds of quesillo (fresh cheese) and sizeable chunks of protein. The tortilla is then folded over and charred on a grill; or it can be served open faced, where it resembles a pizza. Normally, tyaludas are rarely served with condiments so the ones at Tyaluda El Negro are special.
You can find an assortment of moles at Restaurante Catedral, a classy establishment near Santo Domingo Church. My personal favorite is the black mole, but the green and yellow moles also come highly recommended. Last but not least, enjoy a nightcap of mezcal at La Mezcalerita, a mezcal bar with a lovely terrace. Rub shoulders with the locals, who are either casually sipping on straight mezcal, or enjoying one of the 50 domestic beers on their menu. ¡Salud!
Read more from Izzy at The Next Somewhere
It’s fair to say that Mexico City is having a moment. Named by National Geographic as the top destination to visit in 2019, Mexico’s capital should definitely be on your travel radar. The city long held a reputation for being polluted and dangerous but these days travellers come for its rich history and colourful street culture as well as the fantastic weather and amazing food, which I rate as some of the best in the world!
To understand Mexico City, start your visit in the Historic Centre where the Aztecs founded their capital Tenochtitlan in 1325. When the Spanish arrived, they used the centre to create what is now modern-day Mexico City. At the heart of the centre lies El Zocalo, one of the largest city squares in the world, flanked by the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Nearby are the remains of the Templo Mayor, a large Aztec temple complex. You could spend days exploring el centro historico but whatever you do, don’t leave until you’ve visited the 44th floor of the Torre Lationamericana for a bird’s eye view of just how big this city really is.
But that’s not all; visit some of Mexico City’s museums including the amazing Casa Azul, the childhood home of Frida Kahlo; stroll around el Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere and home to a castle; and ride a traditional trajinera (boat) along the ancient waterways and canals of Xochimilco. Whether you spend a couple of days here or a couple of weeks, I can guarantee that you will fall in love with Mexico City.
Read more from Katja at Globetotting
Food in Guadalajara
Mexico is so much more than beachy resorts and all-inclusives. When you are ready to discover some cities, make sure Guadalajara is at the top of your list! Mexico’s second largest city is located in the state of Jalisco in Western Mexico. The birthplace of tequila and mariachi, the city has a vibrant cultural scene, plenty of historic sites and a growing food scene of amazing regional cuisine. There is no shortage of tasty food here — from popular street food like tacos al pastor and the messy and decadent torta ahogada, a sandwich stuffed with fried pork dripping in sauce, to higher-end restaurants with tasting menus and fusion dishes.
Popular Hueso (meaning bone in Spanish) is a must-try. Set in a converted house in Guadalajara’s leafy Lafayette neighborhood, the concept is based on sharing, with big, wood communal tables and an ever-changing menu of large platters of meats, fish, and veg almost all sourced here in Jalisco. Rated one of the best restaurants in Mexico, Lula Bistro’s chef, Darren Walsh, serves tasting menus of Mexican classics with a modern, Euro twist. Finally, for dessert, don’t miss the beautiful and decadent creations at La Postreria, where they experiment with desserts in a scientific way and also offer classes so you can try your hand at making some of your own amazing sweets.
Read more about Where to Eat in Guadalajara from Lisa at LLWorldTour
Puebla is such an underrated gem! Just two hours away from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, Puebla is the perfect destination for a long weekend. Puebla is not to be missed if you are looking for delicious food: you have try the traditional delicacy of Mole Poblano, an incredibly rich sauce, and Cemita sandwiches made with pork, avocado, and a thousand other ingredients at Mercado El Carmen.
Take a bus tour of Puebla and admire the great street art in the colorful neighborhood outside of the historical center is one of the best things to do in Puebla, as well as getting a great view over the city and the peaks of Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanos from the Centro Civico 5 de Mayo Park.
Your best option to get to Puebla is taking an ADO bus (the most important bus company in the country) from either Terminal de Oriente (TAPO ADO) or Central del Norte stations. When you get to Puebla, you’ll need to take a taxi to downtown Puebla. If you’re looking for a special boutique hotel, I recommend staying at Meson Sacristia de la Compania. This super instagrammable hotel is all pink and it definitely doesn’t lack a personality!
Read more about Best Things to do in Puebla at Every Steph
The Vineyards of the Guadalupe Valley
When you think about Mexico, you probably don’t think about wine. You certainly aren’t thinking it is one of the world’s great wine destinations. But you’d be wrong. It is.
Two hours south of San Diego in the Baja, the Guadalupe Valley is rapidly becoming one of the hottest wine regions in the world. Experienced wine makers are moving here from Napa, Sonoma, Tuscany, Spain, Chile, and Argentina to establish new vineyards. There’s some serious talent turning out some truly remarkable vintages.
The Guadalupe Valley has the same climate as Sicily and the same soil characteristics as the Cote du Rhone in France. Blessed by hot dry summers and humid, mild winters, the grapes thrive in this region. It is perfect for Malbec, Petite Syrah, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and even Chardonnay, with the odd Tempranillo and Sauvignon Blanc thrown in.
If you love wine, the Guadalupe Valley absolutely needs to be on your bucket list. The good news is that it is incredibly easy to get here. Just two hours south of San Diego, you can rent a car and drove south of the border for a long weekend in the vineyards.
Staying in the heart of the Guadalupe Valley can be expensive but is absolutely worth it. Otherwise, there are many moderately priced accommodation options in the town of Ensenada.
Read more from Lance and Laura at Travel Addicts
If you’re seeking beautiful, cultural and steamy Mexico, Mérida awaits. I love it because it’s so accessible (direct flights or an easy, plush 3-hour bus ride from Cancun, Playa or Tulum) and can provide a fulfilling one-stop destination or a perfect jumping off point to explore the rest of the Yucatán.
Colorful Mérida has a reputation of being safe and reflects quintessential Yucatan culture. Enjoy its food, dance, markets, a stroll around its plazas and colonial buildings and homes, and plenty of history and art. Mérida’s location lends itself to many day trips.
A quick drive to the north of Mérida are the gulf beaches including Progreso or quieter ones and Las Coloradas (the pink lakes). At 1.5 hours to the west is Celestún where you can take a boat ride to view flamingos and experience brackish water where salt and fresh waters meet. Swim in the extraordinary and ethereal cenote caves or visit a hacienda.
There are also plenty of Mayan ruins nearby. The famous, Chichén Itzá (get there before it opens to avoid the crowds and some of the heat) is about 1.5 hours away, Uxmal (large, impressive and you can climb them) is a little over an hour from Mérida and the Mayapan ruins are only a 25-minute drive. Along the Ruta Puuc are the lesser known ruin sites, Sayil, Xlapak and Labna. From there you’re close to Kabah. While these four are located close together, it will take you close to 2 hours to arrive. From there you’re close to Uxmal so you could make it a day of Mayan exploration. Lastly, the Dzibilchaltún ruins are the closest to Mérida.
Read more from Erika at Latin Atlas
Condesa and Roma, Mexico City
Mexico City is gigantic and made up of many distinct neighbourhoods, all with their own individual character. My favourites are the bohemian La Condesa, a fashionable, leafy area with tons of stylish cafes, restaurants and shops, and Roma, which is similar to La Condesa, but with a more hipster edge. They are right next to each other and have a distinctly European vibe, with wide, tree-lined streets and stately art nouveau buildings – they’re the kinds of places that are a treat to simply walk around. Highlights of the area include the lush Parque Mexico, which is perfect for strolling, and the atmospheric El Pendulo bookstore (it’s not the famous branch in Polanco, but is still pretty special).
There’s a plethora of places to eat, but one unmissable option is Mercado Roma, a covered market with counters from some of the city’s best restaurants. The tacos at Azul Antojo are some of the best in the city and the churros at El Moro are always an excellent treat. Other favourite restaurants in the area include Milo’s, Orígenes, and Ojo de Aqua.
The best places to stay in the La Condesa and Roma include: Condesa DF, a trendy hotel with a beautiful open courtyard; Casa Goliana, a design hotel in Roma Norte; and La Valise, a 3-room guesthouse with impeccable style.
Read more things to do in Condesa and Roma on Bridges and Balloons
I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that this list is nowhere near complete. If you love Mexico, as we do, I’m sure there are many other places you would add yourself. If you have yet to discover the magic of Mexico then our hope is that our fellow travelers have enticed you to get there as soon as possible and discover your own favorite reasons to visit Mexico.
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Born in England, Sarah developed her wanderlust at a young age as she traveled around Europe with her parents. As a young adult she spent every penny she could on experiences as opposed to possessions. Eventually she found a way to earn a living doing what she loved: traveling, writing and capturing images of the wondrous world we live in. When not on the go Sarah enjoys time in her “sometimes home” of Vancouver.