The sheer variety of archaeological sites in Mexico is astounding, ranging from the vibrant wall paintings at Bonampak to the massive temples of Chichén Itzá. You can combine these with the Caribbean Sea’s brilliance, enormous canyons, and dense jungles to create an energizing concoction of cultures and landscapes.
The Aztecs were the first to settle in Mexico City, which is now congested, polluted, and gloriously chaotic. The pace slows after the capital. Colonial cities, built on the riches of the silver mines, are undoubtedly proud of their architectural achievements. The mountains and desert plains of Querétaro are a different world, but they are conveniently close to Mexico City. There, people quietly go about their daily lives, farming and making crafts to sell at the local markets.
The culinary crown jewel of Mexico is the city of Oaxaca, which features vibrant markets, a variety of eateries, and food carts selling local delicacies like mole amarillo and empanadas filled with courgette flowers and molten quesillo (a cheese similar to mozzarella). Enroll in one of the cooking classes or market tours that are provided by the numerous restaurants in the area.
For the deepest cenotes, the highest volcanic peaks, and the Antigua and Pescado rivers’ raging rapids, adventurers swarm to Mexico. Off the coast of Quintana Roo, the Caribbean offers excellent diving, while on the west coast, surfers ride enormous rollers alongside the stunning beaches of the wild Pacific and Baja California. If you’re lucky, you might see hammerhead sharks, dolphins, and California grey whales in the Sea of Cortéz, one of the planet’s richest marine feeding grounds, which is located in the far north-west.
- Take the dizzying train ride from the Baja Californian deserts through the Copper Canyon’s deep gorges.
- Visit Baja California to go whale watching and swim with the whale shark, the largest fish in the world.
- Explore Palenque’s jungle-covered ruins and Chichén Itzá’s impressive pyramid.
- Give yourself a treat by purchasing exquisite jewelry from Taxco’s silversmiths or arts and crafts from Oaxaca or San Cristóbal de las Casas.
- On a Sunday morning, visit the floating gardens in Xochimilco and take a mariachi-led punt through the network of canals with the locals.
- Visit Guadalupe and get up close and personal with a great white shark.
- Ask the locals in Santiago, which is north of Los Cabos, how to get to Sol del Mayo, a 12-meter waterfall with a stunning water hole.
- Take a stroll through Tulum’s Mayan ruins while admiring a stunning Caribbean coastline.
Plan your trip to coincide with the Semana Santa (Holy Week), which is a time of great color and celebration across the nation, or the Night of the Radishes, an Oaxacan festival known for its elaborate sculptures made from radish. Sit on the right side of the carriage going to Creel and the left side going to Los Mochis on the Copper Canyon Railway for the best views.
While most of Mexico is safe for tourists, there are some states, particularly those close to the United States border, that should be avoided due to high levels of gang-related violence. Keep an eye on FCO warnings and consult the locals as the situation can change fairly quickly.