We have often considered settling down in Mexico when we retire. Each time we visit México, we love it! We haven’t visited everywhere in the country but love to add a new destination each time we go down. So we combined our extensive travels with Nathan of The TRVL Blog to showcase the best places to visit in Mexico.
Top Places to Visit in Mexico
Mexico is a country made up of 758,000 square miles and 31 states. Bordering the United States and the Latin America countries of Belize and Guatemala, Mexico is a land of pyramids, jungles, beautiful beaches, and sprawling resort towns.
From the bustling capital city, Mexico City, to the quiet towns of Baja California Sur, Mexico gives you all the variety you need. Mexico is diverse and on our list of must-visit places in Mexico, we’ve included a variety of destinations to suit all tastes. So sit back and start planning your trip to Mexico today.
1. Yucatán Peninsula
When exploring the Yucatan, there are so many destinations that it is best to settle on one place as your base so that you can go back again and again. Consisting of the Mexican States of the Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Campeche chances are you are going to visit the Yucatan Peninsula.
Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is by far one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico. Jutting out between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea this beautiful peninsula is the most popular tourist destination in Mexico. It houses some of Mexico’s top attractions and destinations. It houses the popular beach towns of Cancun, Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen and so much more. At 197,000 square km (76,300 square miles) there is a lot to see and do here.
Book this whale shark adventure (that we booked as well) from Cancun. Whale shark tours occur in the Yucatan from May to December. Get Your Guide is the company we went with and they have free cancelation within 24 hours of the tour.
Cancun is the most famous of all the cities in the Yucatan Peninsula. This resort town is party central and a popular tourist destination for students on Spring Break. It was the first place we visited in Mexico and probably the first stop for most people and with good reason.
A lot of people will say not to go to Cancun, but we still like it. We’ve been back a couple of times and Cancun makes for a great base to explore the Mayan Riviera. Read everything to do in Cancun at Best Things to do in Cancun, Mexico
There are plenty of resorts to suit all budgets and types of travel including all inclusive resorts that cater to couples-only and adults-only resorts for a quieter more romantic escape. The last time we visited Cancun we stayed on the Cancun Riviera at The Excellence in nearby Puerto Morales and loved the luxury all-inclusive escape.
From Cancun, there are countless day trips, water sports, adventures, and Mayan ruins to explore. So don’t let its reputation turn you off, it’s popular for a reason. The long stretch of sandy beach along turquoise waters of the Hotel Zone is second to none and the place to stay. Read more: The Best Cancun Day Trips
Our favorite hotels in Cancun are:
Famous for the ancient ruins of Tulum Tulum is located in the south of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.. While these ruins aren’t our favorite in Mexico, they do have the most awe-inspiring setting of all the Mexican ruins.
Sitting atop high cliffs on the Caribbean Sea, the ancient Mayan city of Tulum had the best view in the house. What makes Tulum popular to tourists besides day trips to the ruins, is its stretch of white sandy beaches. Read more: The Best Tulum All Inclusive Resorts
Where to Stay in Tulum
Generations Riviera Maya Resort is one of the best all-inclusive resorts if you want to be situated right on the coastline. Kore Tulum Retreat is a stunning adults-only resort amid Tulum’s Hotel Zone. When we say central, we mean it; you are just steps away from Tulum’s archaeological sites. Bahia Principe Grand Tulum is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Tulum. Its all-inclusive resort package includes all meals – giving you a definite head start on saving money when staying in Tulum.
4. Rio Secreto Cenote
The resorts along its turquoise waters are quieter than the other resort areas making for a more off-the-beaten-path vacation than the busier city of Cancun. If you want to explore Cenotes, this is the place to do it, Tulum has a high concentration of these breathtaking underground sinkholes. Read more: Cenotes in Photos – Discover Mexico’s Extraordinary Underground Caves
One of our first proper scuba diving trips was to Cozumel and with good reason. This island off the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea, Cozumel a popular tourist destination for divers drawing visitors to explore its waters from around the world to view its marine life and coral reefs. This island has some of the best scuba diving on earth within its waters. Don’t worry if you are not a diver, you can go snorkeling as well.
Many people visit Cozumel on a day trip from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but staying on this island truly has a Caribbean vibe. There are all-inclusive resorts on Cozumel, some small Mayan ruins, and plenty of beautiful beaches. The downtown markets are a fun place to shop and like many Mexican tourist destinations, there’s plenty of nightlife and dining. Read more: The Best Cancun Day Trips
Where to Stay in Cozumel
Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa: Located on a half-mile of private beach, this luxury resort is a paradise for water sports enthusiasts, particularly divers and snorkelers, with the island’s best coral reefs nearby. Hotel B Cozumel: Combining traditional Mexican design with contemporary style, this boutique hotel offers a unique, artsy vibe. With a location right on the Caribbean Sea, it features a private beach area, a seaside hot tub, and opportunities for snorkeling. Secrets Aura Cozumel: This adults-only all-inclusive resort is perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway.
6. Riviera Maya
This stretch of resort area spans from just south of Cancun to Punta Allen which is south of Tulum. The Riviera Maya, (or Mayan Riviera as we like to call it) in southern Mexico houses the best resorts of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel. Chances are if you are looking for an all-inclusive resort, you will set your sights on the Riviera Maya.
This stretch makes for a great base as most tours pick you up right at your hotel and hotels have shuttles to major attractions. Plus, with its location on the Gulf of Mexico, the waters are warm and calm with coral reefs right off the shore making for the perfect beach vacation. Check out: Rio Secreto Cenote – Mexico’s Magical Underground Caves
7. Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres, “The Island of Women” is mostly visited on a day trip from the mainland but there are resorts on the island where you can stay in paradise.
With white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and an abundance of marine life, it’s perfect for water sports, scuba diving and snorkeling or swimming with sea turtles. it is a quieter place in Mexico for a vacation. (unless you stick around the beach where daytrippers come in to party).
The small island is easy to get around by motorscooter or bicycle making for the perfect laid-back vacation. Isla Mujeres is the jumping-off point for whale shark tours and this once-in-a-lifetime tour is something everyone should do when visiting Mexico. Read more: Swimming with Whale Sharks Cancun – A Massive Adventure
8. Chichen Itza
We were lucky during our visit to the ancient city of Chichen Itzá so many years ago that we could still climb to the top of the Grand Pyramid El Castillo at this UNESCO World Heritage Site then. While you can no longer go up, it is still worth visiting as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World.
This ancient Mayan city is the mother of Mayan Ruins in Mexico with impeccable grounds that have been well preserved.
This is one of the most popular day trips in Mexico and can become very crowded, so if you really want to explore Chichen Itza, consider spending the night nearby so you can get there early to avoid the tour buses. If you want to book a day trip to see it, make sure to combine it with a dip in one of the nearby Cenotes. Read more: 7 Wonders of the World – the New, The Natural, and the Ancient
9. Playa Del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is another famous Mexican beach destination. Located an hour south of Cancun on the Riviera Maya, this is a lovely beach town with plenty of nightlife, shopping, and dining. All of the day trips and activities that you do from Cancun can be done from here and tour operators will pick you up from your hotel.
This resort town has grown a lot over the years and it is no longer the sleepy town we first visited in 1998, but there are still quiet portions. We recommend booking a vacation rental when visiting Playa del Carmen so you can enjoy the beach and the nightlife like a local. Search for places to stay in Playa del Carmen with TripAdvisor.
Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
10. Los Cabos – Cabo San Lucas
Located on the west coast of Mexico on Baja California Sur, Los Cabos is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico for those living on the West Coast of North America. Los Cabos is a municipality that actually consists of two towns, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.
The resort strip of Cabo San Lucas lies between the two towns and is filled with all the activities one would expect on a Caribbean Vacation. Albeit, this body of water is on the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Cabo San Lucas is a touristy town where you’ll find partying and nightlife whereas the beach town of San Jose del Cabo has a more authentic feel where you can get a taste of true Mexican culture.
Todo Santos and San Jose del Cabo are great alternatives with plenty of accommodation options. Read more: Sea Kayaking Baja Mexico – A Remarkable 10 Day Journey
Where to Stay in Cabos San Lucas
The Resort at Pedregal: This luxury resort offers an exclusive and secluded setting on a private coastal bluff. It features plunge pools in every room. ME Cabo by Melia: Located on Medano Beach, this stylish, modern resort is known for its vibrant pool scene and proximity to downtown Cabo’s nightlife. Pueblo Bonito Los Cabos Blanco Beach Resort: This all-inclusive resort offers a family-friendly environment with a prime location on El Médano Beach, one of the most swim-friendly beaches in the area.
Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico and we were completely blown away by the beautiful scenery, Mayan Ruins, and the beautiful colonial town of San Cristobal de Las Casas. Make your base in San Cristobal de Las Casas for an out-of-the-ordinary Mexican vacation. The historic center feels as if you have stepped back in time with cobblestone streets weaving through churches and Spanish architecture. The Indigenous People wear their traditional dress as they do their business in this charming town of southern Mexico.
Visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque and climb its pyramid in solitude and hike through Canyon del Sumidero. The canyon is as old as the Grand Canyon and reaches 300 meters (1000 fett) into the air. Explore its caves and waterfalls and spider monkeys play overhead.
Where to Stay in Chiapas
San Cristóbal de las Casas: This charming colonial city in the highlands of Chiapas is full of color, culture, and history. Palenque: If you’re interested in Mayan history, consider staying in or near the town of Palenque, which is close to the famous Palenque archaeological site. Tuxtla Gutiérrez: As the capital city of Chiapas, Tuxtla offers a variety of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences.
Izamal is a charming small town located in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, known as the “Yellow City” because of the color of its buildings, particularly the impressive Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a massive 16th-century Franciscan monastery built on top of a Mayan pyramid.,
The Yellow City is built on and around several ancient Mayan pyramids. The most significant of these is Kinich Kak Moo pyramid, one of the largest in Mexico, which visitors can climb for a panoramic view of the City of Hills.
Izamal is one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Mágicos” or “Magic Towns,” a designation given by the Mexican government to towns that offer unique cultural and historical significance. It’s one of the oldest cities in Yucatán and was an important religious center in the ancient Mayan civilization.
Where to Stay in Izamal
Hotel Rinconada del Convento: Situated in a beautiful colonial building, this charming hotel offers spacious rooms arranged around a tranquil central courtyard. With its close proximity to the Convent of Saint Anthony of Padua. Hotel San Miguel Arcangel: This boutique hotel boasts a blend of colonial and modern styles. Its comfortable rooms, beautiful gardens, and swimming pool provide a relaxing retreat after exploring the city. Located near the city center, it’s an excellent base for exploring Izamal’s main attractions. Macan ché Bed & Breakfast: This eco-friendly B&B offers a unique, peaceful setting with lush tropical gardens. Macan ché emphasizes sustainability and local culture, serving homemade breakfasts featuring local ingredients. It also boasts two pools, hammocks for lounging, and is just a short walk from Izamal’s main sites.
13. Copper Canyon
Speaking of canyons, Copper Canyon in Northern Mexico is larger than the Grand Canyon in Arizona! Consisting of six canyons it is a popular place in Mexico to explore by train. Hop aboard the Copper Canyon Railway (The Chihuahua-Pacifico Railway) and take the scenic route from Chihuahua to Los Mochis. Instead of just taking the train, make sure to stay overnight in a hotel overlooking one of the deepest canyons on earth. There is plenty of adventure to be had at Copper Canyon from zip lining, hiking, and horseback riding.
Copper Canyon, or Barranca del Cobre, is located in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. It’s often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States, although Copper Canyon is actually larger and deeper. Copper Canyon provides a blend of natural beauty, cultural immersion, outdoor activities, and culinary exploration, making it a unique destination in Mexico.
14. San Miguel de Allende
One of the most popular places in Mexico for ex-pats is the beautiful colonial city of San Miguel de Allende. It attracts those who wish to enjoy its laid-back lifestyle on an extended trip. For a vacation in Mexico, it isn’t at the top of the list, but for someone traveling around or looking to spend the winter in the country, this is an excellent choice. If you have explored most of the hot spots in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende is the place for you.
This charming town is located just 170 miles from downtown Mexico City, its historic center is filled with rich history and beautiful Spanish-colonial architecture, and the neo-gothic church of La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel stands proud at its heart.
Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende: This luxury resort beautifully captures the charm of the city’s rich cultural heritage. Hotel Matilda: A boutique hotel that seamlessly combines traditional Mexican architecture with contemporary design. Casa de la Noche: This bed & breakfast is located in a historic former bordello, adding a touch of intrigue to your stay.
Located just 2 hours from Mexico City in central Mexico, Puebla is another captivating destination in Mexico that is beloved for its culinary scene and stunning colonial architecture. The city’s Historic Centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with beautiful buildings and streets filled with colourful tiles (talavera).
Puebla is renowned in Mexico for its cuisine. It’s the birthplace of mole poblano, a rich and complex sauce often served over chicken, and chiles en nogada, a stuffed pepper dish that reflects the colors of the Mexican flag.
It is home to the Puebla Cathedral, a Roman Catholic church in the city’s Historic Centre that’s notable for its stunning architecture and the nearby Chapel of the Rosary (Capilla del Rosario) is considered a masterpiece of Mexican Baroque architecture.
Just outside Puebla, you’ll find the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which is considered the world’s largest pyramid by volume. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in pre-Columbian history.
16. Puerto Vallarta
I first heard of Puerto Vallarta on the Love Boat when Captain Stubing took his passengers on a Mexican cruise during one of its special episodes. It only took about 30 years to finally make it there, but we thoroughly enjoyed one of the earliest resort areas in Mexico. Located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is a beach town that has been a top draw for tourists for decades.
With all-inclusive resorts similar to the likes of Cancun, visitors can indulge in food and nightlife, beautiful beaches, and watersports. The colonial town of Puerto Vallarta sits among the jungle mountains reaching up from the sea and it is one of the premier places on earth to see humpback whales as they migrate through from December to March. Go horseback riding on the beach or scuba diving off its shores. Puerto Vallarta is a place for relaxation or adventure.
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa: This luxury resort is set within a nature preserve, offering a blend of beachfront relaxation and adventurous activities. Hotel Playa Los Arcos: Located in the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta. It features three pools, including one for adults only, and offers nightly entertainment. Its location is excellent, within walking distance of the city’s popular beach, Playa Los Muertos, and numerous shops, restaurants, and bars. Casa Kimberly: This boutique hotel is the former home of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It offers a glamorous and romantic setting with suites named after Taylor’s films, a stunning pool with a jacuzzi, and a rooftop restaurant.
17. Riviera Nayarit
Located a little farther up Mexico’s Pacific Coast from Puerto Vallarta is Riviera Nayarit. Less visited than the likes of Puerta Vallarta, the beach town of Riviera Nayarit has been a popular surfing spot for years. Sayulita has been a secret to ex-pats and bohemians who enjoy the artistic lifestyle, pristine beaches, and world-class surfing. Explore its fishing villages and enjoy the laid-back beach life as you relish the slow pace of its relaxing beach vibe.
Explore Parque Nacional de la Tovara which is fed by the Pacific Ocean as you enjoy some of the best bird watching in the country. Keep an eye out for crocodiles, and turtles as you enjoy a boat trip through this scenic park. Enjoy the port city of San Blas and stay in a small boutique resort to enjoy its many amazing beaches and colonial history. Or enjoy the authentic Mexican charm of the quiet fishing village of Bucerías:
18. Tecaté – Rancho La Puerta
Tijuana may be the more famous town on Mexico’s northern border, but nearby Tecate is where we took a quiet retreat at Rancho le Puerto. This wellness retreat is a sanctuary in the mountains and has consistently been named one of the best spa destinations in the world by Condé Naste Traveler. Located just outside the small town of Tecate, we crossed the border from San Diego to explore this lesser-visited place in Mexico. Tecate is the gateway to Mexico’s wine route and to the state of Baja California.
19. Mexico City
What can I say about the Mexican capital city of Mexico City? It’s impossible to pinpoint one sole aspect of Mexico City, as to why it deserves its name on this list. Is it the food, architecture, museums, art galleries, bars, or shopping? The city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is filled with significant historical buildings, like the Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace.
Mexico City is home to a staggering number of museums (over 150), including the world-renowned National Museum of Anthropology, Frida Kahlo Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city’s culinary scene is one of the best in the world, offering everything from street food stalls to high-end restaurants. It’s the perfect place to sample authentic Mexican cuisine like tacos, tamales, and enchiladas, as well as regional dishes from all over the country.
Just outside Mexico City, you can visit the ancient city of Teotihuacan, home to some of the largest pre-Columbian pyramids in the Americas. Read more and start planning your visit with 10 Best Things to do in Mexico City for an Epic Trip
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City: This luxury hotel, situated on the grand boulevard of Paseo de la Reforma, offers spacious rooms with views of the courtyard or streetscape. Hotel Carlota: A trendy boutique hotel in the Cuauhtémoc neighborhood, Hotel Carlota is a stylish choice for design lovers. Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico: Overlooking the Zócalo, this historic hotel is known for its stunning Art Nouveau stained glass ceiling and early 20th-century Parisian-style decor.
20. La Paz
The Baja California Sur capital is a charming city with creative street art and strong coffee with the Sierra Madre Mountains looming in the distance. This charming beach town is known for its gorgeous beaches most notably, Balandra Beach. Think white sands and crystal clear waters hidden away within a bay. Within the bay the water doesn’t rise above your legs, making it possible to walk all the way to a deserted castaway-style beach on the opposite side.
Development is forbidden around the area of Balandra Beach, so there are no ugly resorts lining the beach. In fact, there are no buildings for miles. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Not only is Balandra Beach the best beach in Mexico, but it’s also one of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. Read more and start planning 19 Best Things to do in La Paz, Mexico
Where to Stay in La Paz
CostaBaja Resort & Spa: This upscale resort overlooks the Sea of Cortez and is adjacent to Mexico’s only Gary Player-designed golf course. Hotel Catedral La Paz: Located in the heart of La Paz, this boutique hotel combines modern comforts with touches of traditional Mexican design. Hyatt Place La Paz: This hotel offers a balance of comfort and convenience. With its spacious rooms, outdoor pool, fitness center, and complimentary breakfast, it’s a solid option for both business and leisure travelers.
21. Oaxaca City
If you’re a foodie, you’ll be right at home in Oaxaca City. Nestled at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Oaxaca City Around every corner in this bustling city, you will find local Oaxacan delights to stuff your face with. If you’ve never tasted Oaxacan cheese, now is your chance. Mole is also the thing to try here. Mole comes in many different flavors, so prepare for a serving of hot chicken smothered in a flavorsome thick sauce.
As with many Mexican cities, the colonial architecture will keep you occupied for hours upon hours. When you’ve finished eating your way through and exploring Oaxaca City, take a day trip to Hierve el Agua. Roughly translating to ‘the water boils’ Hierve el Agua is the site of natural springs, where solidified minerals cascade down the cliff’s edge to look like waterfalls. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
22. Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido, located on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca and is a popular destination in Mexico known for its beautiful beaches. It is particularly known for its surfing at Zicatela Beach, known as the “Mexican Pipeline.” It’s one of the best surf spots in the world, attracting professionals and serious amateurs. There are also beaches with calmer waters suitable for beginners. and surfing.
In addition to Zicatela, there are several other gorgeous beaches to explore, such as Playa Carrizalillo, Playa Manzanillo, and Playa Principal. These beaches are great for relaxing, swimming, and snorkeling.
The area around Puerto Escondido is rich in biodiversity. Laguna de Manialtepec, a few kilometers north of the town, is famous for its bioluminescent plankton. There are also opportunities for wildlife spotting, including birds, turtles, and whales. Puerto Escondido is known for its sea turtle conservation efforts. Visitors can participate in release programs, where baby sea turtles are released into the ocean.
Oaxacan cuisine is one of the most renowned in Mexico, and Puerto Escondido is no exception. You can find delicious seafood dishes, traditional Oaxacan mole, tlayudas (Oaxacan pizza), and mezcal, a traditional Mexican spirit. And this city has excellent nightlife with beachfront bars, clubs and live music venues.
If you adore food, especially seafood, you will love Ensenada. Every corner in Ensenada is home to no-frills food stands serving up simple-yet-delicious deep-fried prawn or fish tacos.
A soft flour taco, topped with deep-fried prawns, shredded crunchy lettuce, zesty lime juice, a squirt of sour cream, and fiery chili sauce. What more could you ask for? It doesn’t stop there, Ensenada is home to an award-winning ceviche stand. La Guerrerense is the award-winning stand in question. The awards are well deserved. There’s not a day that’s passed where I haven’t thought about that mixed ceviche taco I devoured from La Guerrerense.
24. San Augustinillo
On the Pacific coast of Mexico lies the small fishing village of San Augustinillo. The neighboring towns Mazunte and Zipolite often get the acclaim for this area of the Oaxacan coast, but I’d recommend making a beeline straight to San Augustinillo and forgetting about the more popular and built-up neighboring towns.
There are minimal hotels, cabanas, and restaurants lining the beach in San Augustinillo, so there are no crowds of tourists here. The chances are you’ll have a large area of the beach to yourself. If your thing is relaxing on the beach or catching some waves with the surf or bodyboard, the charming village of San Augustinillo is the place for you.
Could any trip to Mexico be complete without visiting the home of tequila, Tequila? OK, this could get a bit confusing. Tequila the drink is named after a town in central Mexico named Tequila. This traditional Mexican town is where the drink tequila is produced. Too much tequila? Get used to it, the one and only theme of your day in Tequila will be drinking lots of tequila.
There are distilleries spread across this town, so head for one and learn how the humble agave plant transforms into one of the world’s most popular drinks and of course, sample their own style of tequila. One place that you cannot miss while you’re in the town of Tequila is La Capilla, named in the top 100 bars in the world.
Often referred to as the “Maldives of Mexico” because of its stunningly clear, blue lagoon Bacalar is an incredible place to visit in Mexico. lso known as the Lake of Seven Colors, Laguna Bacalar is the second largest natural freshwater lake in Mexico and is known for its stunning blue and turquoise colors. This lagoon is perfect for swimming, kayaking, sailing, and paddleboarding.
Compared to more popular destinations like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, Bacalar is a quieter and less crowded place, which makes it an excellent location for a peaceful and relaxing getaway. Plus, it has a reputation for being eco-friendly with a focus on sustainable tourism. This approach has helped preserve the natural beauty of the area.
I’ve seen some stunning lakes in my time, but the bright blue waters of Bacalar Laguna knock every one of them out of the park. Bacalar is one laid-back place, so it’s nice to kick back and relax for a couple of days.
Don’t spend all your time chilling out and relaxing by the tranquil Laguna though, there are 16 square miles of lake to explore. Rent a kayak and explore the lake yourself. The water is nice and calm, ensuring the perfect conditions for kayaking. Also, take a speed boat tour and spend the morning exploring the cenotes around the lake.
The first word that springs to mind when I think of Guanajuato is colorful. If there’s one thing they do well in Guanajuato, it’s sprucing up their buildings with bright colors. Located in central Mexico, Guanajuato is full of culture, history, and unique attractions. Guanajuato’s city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its beautifully preserved Spanish colonial architecture and cobblestone streets.
One of the unique features of Guanajuato is its subterranean network of tunnels, originally created for flood control, which now helps manage the city’s traffic. Walking through these tunnels is an adventure in itself and make sure to visit Alley of the Kiss (Callejón del Beso) a narrow alleyway famous for a tragic love story akin to Romeo and Juliet.
Guanajuato is conveniently located in the heart of Mexico, within easy reach of other notable destinations like San Miguel de Allende and Querétaro, and Mexico City.
Querétaro is a vibrant city located in the central part of Mexico. It is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture and excellent wine. Querétaro is considered one of the best places to visit in Mexico because of its historic center which is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its beautifully preserved colonial architecture. The city’s baroque buildings and narrow cobblestone streets are among the most impressive in Mexico.
One of Querétaro’s most iconic landmarks is its massive aqueduct, built in the 18th century. It consists of 74 tall stone arches that stretch across a distance of 1.3 kilometers, offering a remarkable sight.
Querétaro is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico, which makes it an attractive destination for travelers. Plus, Querétaro’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring other parts of central Mexico. It’s within easy reach of Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato.
There are a few places on the Yucatan Peninsula that I couldn’t possibly leave off this list. The town of Valladolid is beautiful. There’s a central plaza overlooked by a stunning cathedral with plenty of bars and restaurants housed in pastel-colored buildings, serving up local specialties.
Having said that, the main reason Valladolid makes this list is down to the cenotes which you’ll discover around the outskirts. Rent a bike and cycle to Cenote X’Keken and Samula. Take a dip in the refreshing waters of the limestone cave cenotes and marvel at the endless stalactites hanging down above you.
30. Isla Holbox
If you haven’t heard of Isla Holbox yet, where have you been? The popularity of this Mexican island has rocketed in the last few years and it’s easy to see why. People are flocking from all corners of the globe to Isla Holbox. At the moment, the island isn’t as developed as the likes of Isla Mujeres. However, who knows in the future?
The main draw of Isla Holbox is the opportunity to get up close and personal with whale sharks from June-September. As well as swimming with whale sharks visit the ecological reserve Yum Balam, kayak in the mangroves, go flamingo spotting, grab yourself a beer at a beach bar, or spend the day floating around in the crystal-clear waters.
Being the capital city of the Yucatan Peninsula and the cultural hub of Mexico, Merida is often hailed as one of the best places to visit in Mexico because of its cultural heritage. But it also has a warm and welcoming atmosphere, delicious local cuisine, and close proximity to significant archaeological sites.
The city is known for its colonial architecture, colorful streets, and historic landmarks, it is a city of beautiful. With art galleries and fine cuisine It’s also a gateway to some of the most important Mayan archaeological sites, such as Uxmal and Chichen Itza. It is close to the beautiful Yucatan Peninsula, with its cenotes (natural sinkholes), wildlife, and beautiful beaches. It’s a short drive from the city to Progreso, a port city known for its beach and seafront promenade.
Plus, Merida has a reputation for being one of the safest cities in Mexico, which makes it a comfortable and welcoming place for tourists. The locals are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
Where to Stay in Merida
Casa Lecanda Boutique Hotel: This small luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of Mérida. Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel + Spa: This award-winning boutique hotel on the prestigious Paseo de Montejo is renowned for its unique pink façade. Hotel El Conquistador: Located near Mérida’s historic center, this hotel offers comfort and convenience. It features a swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, and spacious rooms.
Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico after Mexico City and the capital of the state of Jalisco. One of the best places to visit in Mexico for culture, Guadalajara is the birthplace of mariachi music, a symbol of Mexican culture. The city hosts the International Mariachi Festival annually, with performances, parades, and competitions.
Just outside Guadalajara is the town of Tequila, where the world-famous spirit is produced. You can take a tour of the tequila distilleries, see the blue agave fields, and learn about the process of making tequila. The city also has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, street art, and local crafts.
The city also has and impressive architectural heritage, from the grand Guadalajara Cathedral and the Hospicio Cabañas (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the modernist buildings in the Colonia Americana neighborhood. Guadalajara is home to several beautiful parks, including the Guadalajara Zoo, one of the most important zoos in Latin America, and the Barranca de Huentitán, a stunning canyon on the outskirts of the city.
Acapulco is located on Mexico’s Pacific coast and is a renowned beach resort city that has long been a favorite destination for both domestic and international tourists. It is most famous for its golden sandy beaches. The city’s bay is lined with high-rise hotels and restaurants, and the beaches, such as Playa Condesa and Playa Icacos, are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
The city is known for its party atmosphere, with plenty of places to dance and enjoy music into the early hours of the morning. One of Acapulco’s most iconic attractions, the La Quebrada Cliff Divers are a group of professional divers who perform daring jumps from cliffs as high as 35 meters into the ocean below, a must-see spectacle for any visitor.
Despite being a modern city, Acapulco has some interesting historical attractions. The 17th-century Fuerte de San Diego, for example, is a star-shaped fortress that now houses the Historical Museum of Acapulco, offering insights into the region’s history. From the Chapel of Peace (Capilla de la Paz), located at one of the highest points in the city, you can enjoy stunning panoramic views of Acapulco Bay.
Where to Stay in Acapulco
Banyan Tree Cabo Marques: Located on the cliffs of the Pacific Ocean, this luxury resort offers private villas with plunge pools, some with ocean views. Las Brisas Acapulco: This iconic hotel located on a hillside offers a unique experience with private casitas, each with its own or shared pool. Hotel Emporio Acapulco: Located on the main tourist strip of Acapulco, this hotel offers a range of amenities including several outdoor pools, restaurants, a fitness center, and a spa. Its location right on the beach, and proximity to shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, make it a convenient choice for many travelers.
34. El Cuyo
El Cuyo is a sleepy fishing village located on the Yucatan Peninsula’s north coast, in the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve. Although not as widely known as some of Mexico’s other beach destinations, it’s a place of unspoiled beauty that offers tranquility and an authentic local experience.
Unlike more crowded destinations like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, El Cuyo offers long stretches of relatively untouched and uncrowded beaches, providing an ideal setting for relaxation and escape from the hustle and bustle. Located in the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve, El Cuyo offers excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting. The area is known for its flamingo colonies and is home to a wide variety of other bird species. Depending on the time of year, visitors may also witness the nesting of sea turtles or catch sight of dolphins in the sea.
As a small fishing village, El Cuyo provides a taste of authentic Mexican life that’s harder to find in more touristy destinations. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, interact with the friendly locals, and immerse themselves in the laid-back lifestyle.
Monterrey, located in northeastern Mexico, is the country’s third-largest city and one of its most important economic centers. Monterrey is known for its modern skyline, featuring skyscrapers such as the Torre Ciudadana and the Pabellón M. The Faro de Comercio, a striking green laser monument in the city’s Macroplaza, is also a notable sight.
Speaking of the Macroplaza, it’s one of the largest city squares in the world and houses important buildings such as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Monterrey, the Government Palace, and several museums.
Despite being a bustling city, Monterrey is located near impressive natural attractions. The Cumbres de Monterrey National Park includes the iconic Cerro de la Silla mountain, and the Grutas de Garcia are stunning caves accessible by a scenic cable car ride.
36. San Luis Potosí
San Luis Potosí, both a city and a state in central Mexico, played a crucial role in Mexico’s independence and revolution. As a result, it boasts numerous historical monuments, buildings, and museums that chronicle the country’s past.
The city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is filled with well-preserved colonial buildings. Highlights include the ornate Cathedral of San Luis Potosí, Government Palace, and Plaza de Armas.
It’s home to the Huasteca Potosina, a region boasting lush jungle, waterfalls, caves, rivers, and the surreal landscapes of the Las Pozas garden in Xilitla.
Make sure to visit Real de Catorce. Located in the state of San Luis Potosí, this old silver mining town is now a “Pueblo Mágico” (Magic Town) and a popular tourist attraction. It’s known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and spiritual significance, as many believe it to be a place of energy and healing.
San Luis Potosí’s central location makes it an excellent base for exploring other regions of Mexico. It’s a short distance from several other major cities, such as Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City.
Mexico has Variety
Variety is Mexico’s middle name. After a day lounging on a pristine beach, you may find yourself tucking into fresh ceviche from a modest food stand on the side of the street or hitting the clubs for an exciting night out. Another day you’ll be wandering around the narrow streets of a city discovering colonial churches amongst the brightly painted buildings. The possibilities in Mexico are endless. So are you ready to choose one of these best places to visit in Mexico on your next trip? Start planning today!
Picturesque beaches are found north, south, east, and west of Mexico. What’s that I hear you say, you want more than beautiful beaches? From Cancun to Tulum and La Paz to Isa Mujeres, the beautiful beaches of Mexico are endless soft white sand that you can walk for days upon.
Don’t worry, the architecture in Mexico’s colonial towns and cities will have you occupied for days. Also, there’s the food, how could I go this long without mentioning Mexican cuisine? The variety of local dishes across the country will have you tucking into something new each meal. Forget about the Tex-Mex restaurants in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, get some traditional Mexican food down you at all of these other places to visit in Mexico.
Frequently Asked Questions about Places to Visit in Mexico
Where is the nicest place in Mexico?
This largely depends on what you’re looking for. For beach lovers, places like Cancun, , Tulum, and Puerto Vallarta offer stunning shorelines. For cultural enthusiasts, cities like Mexico City, Guanajuato, Oaxaca, and San Miguel de Allende are rich in history, architecture, and local traditions. Nature enthusiasts might enjoy the natural beauty of Chiapas or the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.
What did Mexico used to be called?
Before it was known as Mexico, the area was home to numerous indigenous civilizations, including the Aztecs and Maya. The Aztecs called their homeland “Anahuac.” After the Spanish conquest, the territory became known as “Nueva España” or “New Spain.” It wasn’t until the country’s independence in 1821 that it became “Mexico,” named after the Mexica people, the indigenous group known as the Aztecs.
What is the most American City in Mexico?
This could be interpreted in different ways. If you’re referring to a city with a significant American expatriate population, cities like San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala are known to attract many American retirees.
If you’re referring to cities with a lot of American cultural influence, cities closer to the border like Tijuana, Monterrey, and Ciudad Juarez have more American businesses and cultural influences due to their proximity to the United States.
Where in Mexico do the most Americans live?
The highest concentrations of American expatriates in Mexico are found in Mexico City, Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, the Lake Chapala area, and various cities in Baja California and along the Riviera Maya, which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas and Tulum.
Places to Visit in Mexico – Map
And these are the best places to visit in Mexico. Where is your favorite?
Plan Your Next Trip to Mexico with These Resources
This post was originally written by Nathan of The TRVL Blog. His website is no longer active and it has now been updated by The Planet D.