Mexico is a country that offers a wide range of vacation destinations, including the beautiful beaches of Cancun and Cozumel, the colonial cities of Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, and the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza and Palenque.
Traveling to Mexico has been on everyone’s bucket list for years. It’s classic, the archetypical “spring break” destination, almost a rite of passage from high school graduation to real adult life. And while you may have promised yourself a trip to Mexico City or Cabo, it’s always good to branch out and try something new. Whether you’re looking for a beach vacation or a more land-based experience (or both), here are six trips that will turn your expectations on their heads — and make your friends jealous!
The Mayan Riviera, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico: The Tropical Paradise that knows how to party. All eyes are on Mexico once again for being the home of some of the best vacation places in the world. Whether it is an all-inclusive Caribe Hilton or a quiet retreat on one of the deserted beaches, Mexico has everything to offer. These exciting cities and beaches are famous for their Cancun vacations or even a romantic retreat in Puerto Vallarta. If you want to try something different this time and enjoy your vacation in style, then you should check out these top rated resorts in Mexico.
Cancun is one of the most popular beaches in Mexico. The city is known for its crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and lively nightlife. Cozumel is another popular beach destination in Mexico. The island is known for its beautiful reefs and coral formations that are home to many types of tropical fish.
Mexico City is one of the largest cities in North America with a population of over 20 million people. The city has some great museums such as the Museum of Anthropology (which houses artifacts from ancient civilizations), National Museum of Anthropology (featuring pre-Hispanic art), Museo Nacional de Antropología (which displays archaeological remains from ancient civilizations), Museo Rufino Tamayo (dedicated to modern art), Museo de Arte Moderno (contains works by Mexican artists such as Frida Kahlo), Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño (a private collection of pre-Hispanic art). In addition there are many other attractions
If you haven’t yet planned your holiday, you’re going to find here a list of the best places in Mexico to visit, as well as a detailed guide on how to get to these places from anywhere in Mexico.
The nation’s long-standing political capital clearly stands at the forefront of Mexico’s cultural scene as well. Remember that this is where many of the country’s top muralists left behind their most important works, such as Diego Rivera’s cinematic murals in the Palacio Nacional and the social-realism work of José Clemente Orozco in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Art, music, dance and theater are everywhere in Mexico City – even a gondola ride along the ancient canals of Xochimilco wouldn’t be complete without the accompaniment of a mariachi ballad.
A stroll through the buzzing downtown area reveals the capital’s storied history, from pre-Hispanic and colonial-era architecture to the contemporary megalopolis. Old-school cantinas and intriguing museums sit alongside edgy contemporary galleries and glamorous plazas displaying a treasure trove of artisanal and designer shopping. This is culturally diverse Mexico at its best.
Rediscover the magic of old Baja by visiting the largely undeveloped east coast, discovering world-class diving off Cabo Pulmo, the only significant reef on the west coast of North America and, at 27 sq miles (71 sq km), one of the largest and most successful marine protected regions in the world. In this beautiful place you can expect to see black coral bushes along with schools of horse-eye jacks and triggerfish. Depending on the seasons and currents, you may also spy hammerhead sharks, huge manta rays and whale sharks.
You don’t necessarily need a 4WD to enjoy the drive out here along the spectacular Eastern Cape (from the south) coastal road or through the Sierra de la Laguna (to the west), but the road can get rough at times. You will escape the crowds and find a very mellow scene that can be hard to leave.
Copper Canyon Railway
The Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacífico (Copper Canyon Railway) remains one of Latin America’s best rail trips. Trains climb from sea level at Los Mochis to the adventure-minded town of Creel via the sensational rocky landscapes of the Copper Canyon. Vistas from your window include alpine forests, subtropical valleys, Tarahumara villages and glimpses of some of the world’s deepest canyons. Overnight en route at cinematic lodges overlooking the canyon’s edge, or stay for days of exploring, hiking, horseback riding and even zip-lining in one of Mexico’s most breathtaking destinations.
This highly individual southern city basks in bright upland light and captivates everyone with its deliciously inventive version of Mexican cuisine, gorgeous handicrafts, frequent colorful fiestas, colonial architecture, booming arts scene and fine mezcals distilled in nearby villages – Oaxaca City is actually considered the capital of mezcal. Within easy reach of the city are the superb ancient Zapotec capital, Monte Albán, dozens of indigenous craft-making villages with busy weekly markets, and the cool, forested hills of the Sierra Norte, perfect for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
Oaxaca is a complex but intensely attractive city whose majestic churches and refined plazas have deservedly earned it a Unesco World Heritage badge. Flowing through handsome yet tranquil streets, life pulsates with an unadulterated regional flavor. See it in the color palette of historic boutique hotels, a meet-the-producer artisan store, satirical street art, bohemian bars and been-around-forever street markets. Trust us: there’s far more to this city than just pretty churches.
Do yourself a favor and get to this region. Unlike in the overdeveloped Cancún and Riviera Maya, you can still find quiet fishing villages on the Costa Maya that put a premium on sustainable development, such as Mahahual and Xcalak, both of which boast some of the best dive sites on the Caribbean coast. Then head inland for Laguna Bacalar, a laid-back lakeside town known for its mesmerizing scenery, a 295ft-deep (90m) cenote and an old Spanish fortress.
Reserva de la Biosfera Santuario
Canopies of golden-orange butterflies cover the forests and hillsides in the Reserva de la Biósfera Santuario Mariposa Monarca (Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve), perhaps Mexico’s most astonishing yearly natural phenomenon. It’s the kind of annual event to plan your trip around – between late October and mid-March the migrant monarchs cover every surface, clinging together in clusters that weigh down thick branches of the oyamel (Abies religiosa or `sacred fir’) trees and changing the landscape into a permanent sunset as the butterflies winter far from the freezing Great Lakes.
When the sun rises and warms the forest, they take to the sky in gold and orange flurries, descending to the humid forest floor for the hottest part of the day. The best time to see them is on a warm, sunny afternoon when they carpet the ground brilliantly – they don’t fly as much in cool weather (55 degrees or lower). It is one of the planet’s most spectacular migrations and not to be missed. Note that the entrance fee includes a mandatory guide, who works for tips; the minimum recommended amount is M$220 per guide per day.
Take a dramatic Maya ruin, plonk it down beside the achingly beautiful white sands and turquoise-blue waters of the Caribbean and you’ve got the rightly world-famous Tulum. Add in accommodations for all budgets, from beachside shacks to top-end resorts, some fantastic restaurants and bars, and numerous attractions in the surrounding area from cenotes (limestone sinkholes) to other Maya ruins, and it’s no wonder many people come for a few days and find themselves staying for far longer.
Some may be put off by the fact that the town center, where the really cheap eats and sleeps are found, sits right on the highway, making the main drag feel more like a truck stop than a tropical paradise. But rest assured that if Tulum Pueblo isn’t to your liking, you can always head to the coast and find a tranquil, beachside bungalow. Exploring Tulum’s surrounding areas pays big rewards: there’s the massive Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an, secluded fishing village Punta Allen and the ruins of Cobá.