Where should you go in Mexico? The land of the Maya is one destination to be discovered. Here we’ll let you know which places you should not miss!
Sombrero, guacamole, tequila, chihuahua and Narcos: no, Mexico is far more than just that. In the heart of Central America, Mexico is a concentration of heavenly beaches with crystal clear water, wild nature, colonial cities with timeless charm, among the most beautiful archaeological sites in the world and who could forget a lively nightlife? From the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, Mexico is everything to discover and should automatically be included in any traveller who is worth their salt’s bucket list. As always, we provide you with our travel tips in purely random order. This is our list of the best places to visit in Mexico!
What to see in Mexico: 15 top places to visit
If you ever had any doubt about the best places to visit in Mexico, then put Chichén Itzá at the top of your list. The country’s best-known archaeological site, as well as one of the seven wonders of the world and did I mention a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chichén Itzá is a Mayan archaeological complex located on the Yucatán Peninsula. These ruins were part of one of the most important centres of the region between the sixth and eleventh centuries and are incredibly well preserved.
Every year they are visited by more than 1 million travellers from all over the world. The site could be a tad crowded! To enjoy Chichén Itzá in peace, we recommend you to stay in one of the nearby towns and arrive early in the morning, so you can immerse yourself and breathe in the unique atmosphere that you can find here. If you are staying in one of the centres of the Riviera Maya, you can reach Chichén Itzá on a day trip. Of course, you will have to deal with the crowd!
What to see in Mexico City
The Mexican capital is one of the largest and most populous cities in the world. Until a few years ago, its reputation was somewhat tarnished by an overly high crime rate and general safety for inhabitants and travellers was not exactly among the best. In recent years, Mexico City has been changing its appearance. Public spaces are undergoing major transformations and internationally renowned restaurants are opening in various neighbourhoods. Fortunately, we should say: Mexico City is an incredible cultural centre that must be preserved at all costs.
What should you see in Mexico City, a city of almost 1,500 square kilometres? Despite its enormity, we’ll give you a list of the “unmissable” spots.
Among the Mexico city must see places, don’t miss the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is located in the city centre, in the Zocalo (main square), together with the Government Palace, where you can enter and admire the frescoes by Diego Rivera, the famous Mexican artist and husband of Frida Kahlo. Of course, you can also visit the painter’s house museum, Casa Azul, where you will feel like immersing yourself in one of this timeless artist’s paintings. For a day trip, we recommend going to Teotihuacan, one of the most important Mesoamerican archaeological sites in Mexico.
Are you wondering where to go in Mexico? We have the answer: Tulum! It’s the perfect destination for anyone seeking crystalline white beaches and translucent sea but at the same time wants to discover the history of Mexico. Here is one of the most evocative and fascinating Mayan archaeological sites in the whole country. The ruins of Castillo are perched on a cliff overlooking the sea and are one of those places that would seemingly only exist on postcards. Instead, everything is true and, of course, invaded by tourists. To enjoy the visit and the view without having to make your way through the crowd, the best time is always first thing in the morning. In addition to the archaeological site, Tulum also enjoys the Caribbean sea and the dream beaches. One of the best things to do in Tulum is undoubtedly to enjoy these incredible places!
The Yucatán peninsula is home to enchanted places that are true wonders of nature. The cenotes are natural freshwater pools that are formed due to the collapse of the limestone roof that forms underground caves. In the region of Yucatán there are over six thousand! The Maya considered the cenotes as sacred wells (hence the name) and for the populations of that time they were real reserves of water. Indeed, the inhabited centres were built near the cenotes.
The cenotes are really numerous and some are more trodden than others. Among the most beautiful and worthy of note is the cenote El Jardin del Eden, a real paradise. Yet its name is already a small giveaway! The most evocative (and photographed) is Ik Kill, a 40-metre deep cave immersed in the jungle, with lianas and vegetation that descend from above. Here you can make sensational dives! Do not forget Dzinup and Samula, just a few kilometres from Valladolid are these two cenotes that are proper underground caves. Definitely mystifying!
Do you want to discover cenotes? Set off on a 13-day itinerary in Yucatán!
We’re staying in the Yucatán Peninsula, which apparently has some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Mexico. In the region’s northernmost area is Las Coloradas, a place that seems to originate in a galaxy far far away. Part of the Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, Las Coloradas is a pink saltwater lagoon and has enjoyed the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The colour is due to the presence of tiny crustaceans that contain beta-carotene, which gives the water its pink hue. Even the flamingos that live in these parts really go wild for these small crustaceans.
This place is decidedly magical and fairytale, and not only for the lagoon’s colour. To get here we advise you to rent a car. We are in quite a remote area of Mexico and so you will not run into too many people. This is absolutely one of the places you should visit in Mexico, at least until this paradise remains rather unknown to mainstream travellers!
Barranca del Cobre
The state of Chihuahua is one of the most incredible places to visit in Mexico. For once, we are no longer in Yucatán! If you are wondering what you should see, the Barranca del Cobre is one of the destinations that we recommend you push to the top of your list! This canyon is one of the most spectacular on the entire planet. It is four times larger than the Grand Canyon in the United States. We’ll let you get your head around what you can feel in front of this “giant” of nature that has gorges up to 1500 metres deep!
Barranca del Cobre literally means “copper canyon” and the colours immediately reveal why it has been given this name. It can be reached thanks to the Chepe Regional train, a historic train that connects the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidentale to the Pacific coast. We recommend you stop for at least two days, so you can do one of the many hiking trails that let you discover the most beautiful views of the canyon. Here you can also ride the longest zip line on the planet. 2545 metres in length and a staggering speed of up to 130 km/h, pure adrenaline!
Returning to the coast, along the Yucatán peninsula, but this time we recommend an island. Cozumel Island is located off the Riviera Maya and is the largest of the Mexican islands. If you like water sports and during your trip, you want to spend some time snorkelling, we definitely recommend coming here. The Cozumel reef is a paradise of underwater treasures to be discovered. You can take diving lessons and explore the submerged natural beauties. The beaches then deserve a mention. Cozumel will not disappoint, we promise that!
Janitzio Island, Lake Patzcuaro
Mexico is obviously not just about beaches and archaeological sites. In November the whole country turns into the traditional festival of the dead, which is celebrated on the night of 2 November. The Dia de Los Muertos is felt all over Mexico but there are certain regions where this festival is felt more intensely than others. If you want to participate in the celebrations, Lake Patzcuaro is undoubtedly an area where the celebrations are more authentic, in the state of Michoacán.
Right in the middle of the lake is Janitzio Island and this is where you want to be on the night of 2nd November. It’s the heart of the party. The streets, cemeteries and houses are decorated with the typical flowers of the Dia de Los Muertos, the cempasúchil, and everything is tinged with yellow and orange. The streets are invaded by stalls where you can buy typical sweets or calacas and calaveras, skeletons and skulls decorated with flowers that represent death. Attending these traditions first-hand is incredible. Undoubtedly, one of the most representative holidays in Mexico.
Definitely the most touristy place in Mexico, Riviera Maya is the coastal strip to the northeast of the Yucatán peninsula consisting of beaches with fine white sand and the Caribbean sea that you only see on postcards. Simply put: the fabric of dreams. What are the best places to visit in this part of Mexico? We have already mentioned Tulum, which alone deserves a place in the ranking for its beauty, and Cozumel Island, which is located just off the Riviera. Obviously, more inland in the surrounding area, you will also find countless cenotes.
We cannot fail to mention Playa del Carmen. An ancient fishing village that nowadays, is one of the busiest places in all of Mexico. Playa del Carmen still maintains a more traditional look than nearby Cancún, which is one of the American students’ favourite destinations during their spring break. Cancún is mainly a place to visit for a celebration. The nightlife here is unbeatable and the skyscrapers make it almost an American city – but only in appearance!
Los Cabos, Baja California
On Mexico’s Pacific coast lies a strip of land called Baja California, which is practically the extension of American California, with the same landscapes and dream climate. Here the sun shines practically all year round. If you want to explore this area of Mexico, we suggest you take a trip to Los Cabos. Here are all those surfers who don’t want to spend exaggerated amounts to surf in California – by the way, the temperatures in Los Cabos are pleasant even in winter.
If you’re looking for nightlife, head on over to Cabo San Lucas. Roughly the equivalent of Cancún but on the Pacific coast! From November to March, you can visit this area of Mexico if you enjoy whale watching. The area of the Vizcaíno Ecological Park is one of the best places to visit in Mexico to spot grey whales, which come there to mate and reproduce in that period.
Agua Azul, Chiapas
We have beaches, the sea, canyons, archaeological sites, cities… what else can you see in Mexico besides all this? There are also waterfalls. Surrounded by greenery, in Chiapas, the Agua Azul waterfalls are the most beautiful and evocative in the whole country. The colour of the water is spectacular, an intense blue (hence the name!).The landscape is made even more magnificent by the natural pools that form on the river bed. Here you can stop to take a dip: the water is really inviting!
This area was hit in 2017 by a strong earthquake that actually changed the course of the Xanil River and, consequently, also changed the appearance and water capacity of the waterfalls. The local population has toiled to restore the Agua Azul flow.
Following the capital, the second-largest city in Mexico is Guadalajara. This is an ideal destination if you are interested in discovering the culture of Mexico and its traditions. Here you can find numerous museums and historic buildings, such as Hospicio Cabañas, a UNESCO World Heritage historic hospital complex, the regional museum of Guadalajara and the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan. Guadalajara is the home of tequila and mariachi. Yes, the traditional musical groups that wear the typical sombrero during their performances!
The Sumidero Canyon is a truly evocative place. Never would you associate such a place with Mexico. Nevertheless, in this land of Central America, there is also this landscape. A narrow and deep canyon that almost resembles the northern landscapes of Europe. Located in Chiapas, this canyon is as old as the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is part of the Sumidero Canyon National Park. What’s the best way to visit? Onboard a boat – the excursions set off from Chiapa de Corzo. Do not miss this charming and enchanted place if you are nearby!
This is the capital of the homonymous state and one of the best places to visit in Mexico. Oaxaca is a picturesque colonial city that still maintains the Mexican spirit, both in appearance and traditions. Its historic centre, along with 34 other sites throughout Mexico, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you want to experience a truly authentic place in Mexico, Oaxaca is the ideal destination for you. The local cuisine is delicious. The streets are lively thanks to the colourful buildings and there is no shortage of places of interest. Even in Oaxaca, the Dia de Los Muertos is very popular. Consider this city if you want to celebrate the feast of the dead!
Let’s close this list of the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico with… another archaeological site! Palenque is located in Chiapas and is definitely less known than Chichén Itzá but we it’s perhaps more evocative. Immersed in the greenery of the jungle, the ruins of Palenque sprout from the tree leaves and they seem almost abandoned. At first glance, it reminds us of Tikal, the largest of the ancient ruined cities of Mayan civilisation. Also immersed in the jungle, but in this case inside Guatemala. The Palenque complex consists of several buildings, including a square-based tower, the only one in the history of Mayan architecture.
Have we planted that seed of fascination for Mexico in you? Discover all WeRoad itineraries!