When many people think of Mexico, they imagine the bone-dry deserts pictured in movies and the white sand beaches of Cancun and the like. However, this country is so much more. Beaches, architecture, art, history, culture, and breathtaking cenotes only top the list of reasons to visit Mexico.
San Miguel de Allende
To begin your time in Mexico, visit San Miguel de Allende for intense food and culture immersion. Be sure to keep your camera handy as the city is full of rich, colorful architecture that is sure to keep you snapping pictures. While wandering the streets, snack on roasted corn on the cob and spend the afternoon taking a local dance class, soak in hot springs, shop at the artisan market, and sip on Sangria at the Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar.
As the country’s capital, Mexico City is home to one of Mexico’s the least expensive airports to fly into. It’s easy to get around via uber or their extensive metro system. Join the locals for lunch in a vertical garden, and indulge in ice cream from Heladeria Santa Clara for dessert. Be sure to set aside time to visit the Frida Kahlo museum, La Casa Azul, for a look inside the world of one of the most influential artists of the 21st century. While in Mexico City, many make it a point to visit the Teotihuacan pyramids, one of the largest cities in the world during ancient times.
Looking to stay in the city? Make your way to Mariachi Square and submit your requests to one of the (many) mariachi bands on Mariachi square and prepare to be serenaded. Another option is to spend the evening watching hilariously, over the top Lucha Libre, aka Mexican wrestling.
Oaxaca, one of the top 5 tourist destinations in Mexico, is a colonial city with lots of archaeological sites. Zocalo square is a great place to grab a coffee or shaved ice and get acquainted with Oaxacan culture. Next, visit the 400+-year-old Templo de Santo Domingo. While dress code isn’t strictly enforced, as a courtesy guests are encouraged to keep shoulders and knees be covered while inside of the church.
Looking to sip on some local firewater? Venture 45 minutes outside of the city to any of several Mezcal distilleries for a complimentary tour and plentiful tastings. Need your nature fix? Hierve El Agua appears to be a giant waterfall but is actually petrified stone. Bring your bathing suit and swim in one of the spring fed swimming pools and soak up the amazing views. Visiting in November? Join the masses for an extravagant celebration of Dia de Los Muertos.
Go cenote hopping in Merida! What is a cenote? A natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. Back in the day, they were the only source of water in the jungle for the Mayan civilization and as such are considered sacred. Explore, float or scuba dive in one of these underground wonderlands.
Just one hour south of Merida is Chichén Itzá, one of the new seven wonders of the world. Plan to hop on a tour or take a self-guided one and get ready to have your mind blown.
Playa del Carmen
Looking for a tropical paradise, but not interested in fighting crowds? Just south of Cancun, Playa del Carmen may be the place for you. Tired of relaxing on the pristine, white sand beaches? Take a swim with sea turtles in Akumal (bring your own snorkeling gear and it’s free!), visit the Xcaret Eco-Archaeological Park, or venture out on any of these awesome day trips from Playa del Carmen. It would be a shame to miss out!
Mexico’s wet season begins in May and Lasts until October, with hurricane season running from June to early November. The best time to visit is between December and April, during dry season!
Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes, a bathing suit, plenty of sunscreens, and a good camera. It may be helpful to order Pesos from your bank before leaving, or if you have family in Mexico you can easily send money ahead, to be picked up there.
From crystal clear waters to the astounding Mesoamerican pyramids, the rich culture, history, architecture, and cuisine in Mexico should definitely earn this country a spot on the top of your travel wish list.