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25 Best Places to Visit in Mexico for an Unforgettable Vacation

25 Best Places to Visit in Mexico for an Unforgettable Vacation

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Are you thinking about planning a trip to Mexico but want to explore outside of resort areas? Keep scrolling to check out the best places to visit in Mexico worth checking out!
This list of the best places to visit in Mexico was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

By Sherry Arkfeld, Digital Nomad and a Dog

Are you looking for the best places to visit in Mexico? You’re not alone. Mexico offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to any traveler’s dream – from the sun-kissed beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula to the ancient ruins of the Aztec and Maya civilizations. 

With so many different locations, climates, and options, it’s difficult to decide where to go in Mexico. I’ve been living in Mexico for over a year and have been able to explore many of the wonderful cities.

Let’s take a look at the 25 best places to visit in Mexico so you can decide which will be perfect for your vacation.

From Ancient Ruins to Modern Cities: The 25 Best Places to Visit in Mexico

1. Ajijic

Ajijic is a charming and picturesque village located in Mexico’s state of Jalisco. Nestled along the shores of Lake Chapala, the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, Ajijic is renowned for its scenic beauty and pleasant climate.

Visiting Ajijic is like stepping into a postcard with its cobblestone streets and colorful colonial architecture.

Image of a town square in Ajijic Mexico

As you wander through the quaint streets, art galleries, and boutique shops, you’ll encounter a bohemian atmosphere infused with creativity. 

Exploring Ajijic’s surroundings is a treat for nature lovers. Lake Chapala invites you to enjoy leisurely strolls along the waterfront or get on the water in a kayak or paddleboard. 

For those seeking adventure, the nearby Sierra Madre Mountains offer opportunities for hiking, providing breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape.

Overall, Ajijic is a great destination for a unique off-the-beaten-path vacation.

2. Akumal

Nestled along the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Akumal effortlessly combines breathtaking natural beauty with a serene atmosphere. 

The name “Akumal” translates to “Place of Turtles” in Mayan. Snorkelers and divers from around the world are drawn to Akumal’s crystal-clear water to see the sea turtles

Akumal bay - Caribbean white beach in Riviera Maya, coast of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico

Beyond the coast, Akumal offers an array of attractions for nature enthusiasts. The Yal-Ku Lagoon, a picturesque freshwater inlet, provides the perfect opportunity for snorkeling among colorful tropical fish and lush vegetation. 

The nearby Aktun Chen cave system lures adventurers to explore its underground network of stalactites and stalagmites.

Akumal’s relaxed atmosphere allows for peaceful strolls along its powdery white beaches, while the town center boasts quaint shops, authentic eateries, and friendly locals eager to share their culture.

Akumal is the perfect destination for a relaxing beach vacation with a bit of adventure thrown in.

3. Cabo San Lucas

No list of the best places to visit in Mexico would be complete without Cabo.

Located in Baja California, Cabo San Lucas offers travelers an unforgettable experience that combines the tranquility of serene beaches with the excitement of exhilarating activities.

Image of Los Arcos rock formation at Lands End in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Cabo’s iconic landmark, the rugged rock formations of El Arco (The Arch), creates a postcard-worthy scene that’s best admired during a boat tour or a kayak excursion. 

The Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean converge off Cabo’s coast, offering unparalleled opportunities for water sports and marine exploration. 

Snorkeling and scuba diving reveal an underwater world teeming with colorful marine life, while fishing enthusiasts can indulge in sport fishing for marlin, tuna, and other game fish.

Cabo San Lucas is also famed for its vibrant nightlife and busy marina. The lively streets are lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs catering to visitors seeking entertainment and fine dining experiences.

Cabo is a great destination for anyone looking for a lot of fun activities in a beautiful environment. 

4. Cancun

Located on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is a world-renowned tropical paradise that has become synonymous with sun-drenched beaches, turquoise waters, and exciting nightlife. 

With its stunning Caribbean setting and abundance of activities, Cancun caters to a diverse range of travelers.

Check out the best all inclusive Cancun resorts for families recommended by top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of Beach umbrellas made of straw on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in Mexico

Water enthusiasts can explore the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest coral reef system in the world, through snorkeling or diving tours, where they’ll encounter an incredible array of marine life and coral formations.

Cancun also boasts a rich cultural heritage. The nearby ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza offer captivating glimpses into Mexico’s ancient past, making for rewarding day trips.

Cancun’s Hotel Zone hosts a busy nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and restaurants that come alive after sundown. Visitors can revel in dancing, live music, and a lively ambiance that lasts until the early hours.

For adventure-seekers, Cancun offers thrilling activities like zip-lining through lush jungles, swimming in cenotes (natural sinkholes), and exploring the eco-archaeological park of Xcaret.

Cancun’s perfect blend of tropical beauty, cultural wonders, and nonstop entertainment has earned it a spot among the world’s top destinations, making it an irresistible playground for travelers seeking an unparalleled vacation experience.

5. Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre)

Nestled within the rugged terrain of the Sierra Madre Occidental in northern Mexico, Copper Canyon is an awe-inspiring testament to the raw beauty of nature. 

Not only is Copper Canyon one of the best places to visit in Mexico, but it’s also one of the most unique.

Setting sun in the Copper Canyon, Barrancas, Chihuahua

Also known as Barranca del Cobre, this geological wonder is a collection of six distinct canyons, surpassing the Grand Canyon in size and depth. 

Encompassing a vast expanse of pristine wilderness, Copper Canyon offers a remote and enchanting escape for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Copper Canyon is home to the Tarahumara people, known for their rich cultural heritage and deep connection to the land.

Visitors can encounter their warm hospitality and learn about their traditional lifestyle, marked by centuries-old customs and crafts.

A highlight of any trip to Copper Canyon is the iconic Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway, better known as “El Chepe.”

El Chepe takes passengers on a memorable train journey through the heart of the canyons, providing an unparalleled perspective of the rugged landscape and remote settlements nestled among the cliffs.

For those seeking a profound connection with nature and a glimpse into Mexico’s indigenous heritage, Copper Canyon offers an extraordinary and unforgettable expedition into the country’s soul-stirring wilderness.

6. Cozumel

As one of Mexico’s most popular destinations, Cozumel is renowned for its beaches, lush jungles, and an underwater world that lures divers from around the globe.

Cozumel’s coral reefs are nothing short of extraordinary, boasting a diverse ecosystem that supports an array of marine creatures.

Check out this comparison of Cancun vs Cozumel by top family travel blog Marcie in Mommyland. Image of Dolphinarium in Cozumel Mexico with beach in background

Snorkelers and divers can explore the famed Palancar Reef and Chankanaab Park, immersing themselves in a world of colorful fish, sea turtles, and rays.

On land, Cozumel offers a multitude of attractions. Adrenaline-seekers can embark on thrilling off-road adventures through dense jungles or take a zip-line journey above the canopy.

The island’s ancient Mayan ruins of San Gervasio offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region.

Cozumel’s welcoming ambiance extends to its town center where visitors can browse artisan shops and enjoy local cuisine.

Cozumel’s laid-back vibe is perfect for families and other travelers looking for a stress-free, relaxing vacation.

7. Guadalajara

Located in the heart of Mexico, Guadalajara has a unique charm that effortlessly marries the country’s rich cultural heritage with a modern and vibrant atmosphere. 

As the capital of Jalisco, this dynamic city is celebrated for its lively Mariachi music, traditional tequila, and a captivating blend of colonial architecture and contemporary art.

Guadalajara Central Cathedral (Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady), in Jalisco, Mexico

Guadalajara’s historic center, with its majestic cathedrals and charming plazas, offers a glimpse into the city’s colonial past.

The iconic Cathedral of Guadalajara, adorned with intricate neo-Gothic spires, is a magnificent architectural masterpiece.

Music enthusiasts will find themselves entranced by the Mariachi bands, which have their origins in Guadalajara. The city’s Plaza de los Mariachis comes alive with these iconic musicians, creating a unique ambiance.

For a taste of Mexican heritage, visitors can tour the tequila-producing region of Jalisco, where they’ll learn about the intricate process of tequila production and enjoy tastings of Mexico’s signature spirit.

Guadalajara’s art scene is a reflection of the city’s creativity and innovation. The Instituto Cultural Cabañas, a UNESCO World Heritage site, houses an impressive collection of contemporary art and is a testament to Guadalajara’s commitment to fostering artistic expression.

While Guadalajara isn’t as well known as other Mexican cities, it has a lot to offer as a unique vacation destination.

8. Isla Holbox

Off the northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula lies Isla Holbox, a hidden gem with unspoiled landscapes and a tranquil ambiance. 

What makes Isla Holbox one of the best places to visit in Mexico is that it’s a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

The island’s shallow lagoons and mangrove forests provide a sanctuary for an array of bird species, including flamingos, pelicans, and herons. 

From June to September, visitors can embark on whale shark tours, swimming alongside these majestic creatures, the largest fish in the ocean. 

With no cars allowed on the island, Isla Holbox maintains a laid-back atmosphere, encouraging travelers to explore its sandy streets by foot, bike, or golf cart.

As the sun sets, the town center comes to life with a night market, where visitors can sample delicious seafood and local delicacies.

Untouched by mass tourism, Isla Holbox retains its authentic charm and natural allure, making it a cherished destination for those seeking a tranquil haven immersed in the splendor of Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

9. Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres, translated as “Island of Women,” is located off the coast of Cancun and is a haven for beach enthusiasts, boasting stretches of pristine shores where soft sands meet gentle waves. 

Marine life thrives in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island, making it an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving.

Isla Mujeres Mexico boats turquoise Caribbean sea Quintana Roo

The MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), an underwater sculpture museum, presents a surreal underwater world where art and marine life coexist in harmony.

To immerse in the island’s rich history, visitors can explore the ancient Mayan temple of Ixchel, the goddess of fertility and the moon, offering a glimpse into the island’s sacred past.

Isla Mujeres is another place where travelers have the opportunity to swim alongside whale sharks, a truly unforgettable experience.

The island’s town center is full of colorful buildings, charming shops, and lively restaurants offering a taste of local cuisine, including freshly caught seafood.

With its mesmerizing blend of natural wonders, intriguing history, and a relaxed island vibe, Isla Mujeres promises an unforgettable escape that leaves travelers longing to return to this idyllic paradise time and time again.

10. Izamal

Nestled in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula, Izamal is a charming colonial town with a unique blend of Mayan heritage and Spanish colonial architecture. 

Izamal is called the “Yellow City” because of its golden-colored buildings. It offers visitors a unique experience where ancient traditions and colonial charm come together.

Path leading up to the entrance of the colonial monastery in Izamal, Mexico

The focal point of Izamal is the Kinich Kakmo pyramid, a stunning pre-Columbian structure that dominates the landscape. This archaeological wonder, dedicated to the Mayan sun god, offers panoramic views of the town.

Izamal’s colonial heritage is evident in its cobblestone streets, adorned with colonial-style buildings and charming courtyards.

The most iconic of these is the Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a majestic Franciscan monastery built atop an ancient Maya pyramid. Its grandeur and significance make it a must-visit attraction.

The town’s rich artistic culture is celebrated through the work of local artisans, renowned for their crafts in embroidery, pottery, and filigree silver jewelry.

Visitors can explore the charming workshops and galleries and see the artisans’ skills that have been passed down through generations.

With its fascinating blend of Mayan history, colonial heritage, and beautiful traditions, Izamal remains a destination where time seems to stand still, enveloping visitors in its timeless charm and leaving a lasting impression of Mexico’s rich culture.

11. Lake Bacalar

In the southern part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Lake Bacalar is a hidden gem of natural beauty and tranquility.

Known as the “Lagoon of Seven Colors,” this magical freshwater lake fascinates visitors with its ever-changing colors, making it one of the best places to visit in Mexico.

Estromatolitos Stromatolites in Bacalar Lagoon of Mexico in Quintana Roo

Lake Bacalar’s stunning colors are attributed to the varying depths of its waters and the presence of limestone formations beneath its surface.

This unique phenomenon creates a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of blues, greens, and even silver hues, offering a sight to behold and an unparalleled experience for swimmers, kayakers, and nature enthusiasts.

The lake’s tranquility extends to its shores, where travelers can relax on soft sandy beaches or take a boat tour to explore its hidden coves and mangroves. 

Aside from its natural wonders, Lake Bacalar holds historical significance, dating back to Mayan times when it was a strategic trading route and a source of fresh water for the indigenous populations.

For those seeking serenity and an escape from city life, Lake Bacalar is a tranquil haven that promises to soothe the soul and revive the spirit.

Its enchanting colors and untouched beauty make it an idyllic destination, where time slows down, and the wonders of nature take center stage.

12. Mazatlan

Situated on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Mazatlán captivates travelers with its golden beaches, rich cultural heritage, and lively atmosphere.

Known as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” Mazatlan offers a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and cultural exploration.

Mazatlan, Mexico-10 December, 2018: Big Mazatlan Letters at the entrance to Golden Zone (Zona Dorada), a famous touristic beach and resort zone in Mexico

Mazatlán is a paradise for beach lovers and water enthusiasts. The popular Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) stretches along the coastline, offering resorts, restaurants, and beach clubs.

A stroll through the historic Old Town, or “Centro Historico,” reveals charming plazas, cobblestone streets, and beautifully restored buildings that transport visitors back in time.

At the heart of the Old Town is the iconic Angela Peralta Theater, a majestic neoclassical gem that hosts cultural performances and concerts, paying homage to the city’s love for the arts.

Adventure-seekers can embark on thrilling excursions, such as deep-sea fishing, ATV tours, and even zip-lining over lush tropical landscapes.

As the sun sets, Mazatlán comes alive with a range of bars, clubs, and beach parties to dance the night away.

Mazatlán’s warm hospitality and diverse attractions make it a captivating destination, welcoming travelers to savor the best of Mexico’s coastal beauty and cultural treasures in one unforgettable experience.

13. Mérida

Mérida, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is a captivating city with a rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality.

Known as the “White City” for its elegant colonial architecture, Mérida offers a journey back in time, where the past seamlessly intertwines with modern life.

Cathedral of San Ildefonso in the central square Merida capital of Yucatan Mexico

Mérida has a lot to offer, but its status as the safest city in Mexico makes it by far one of the best places to visit in Mexico. 

Mérida’s historic center showcases an array of stunning colonial buildings, including the majestic Palacio de Gobierno and the grand Catedral de San Ildefonso, both offering a glimpse into the city’s colonial heritage and impressive architectural legacy.

In Plaza Grande, visitors can savor traditional Yucatecan cuisine, sample local delicacies, and shop for handcrafted souvenirs.

Cultural immersion is at its best in Mérida’s numerous museums, such as the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, which showcases the rich and diverse history of the Maya civilization that once thrived in the region.

Beyond the city limits, Mérida serves as the perfect starting point to explore the wonders of the Yucatan Peninsula, from the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal to the beautiful cenotes and coastal towns.

With its warm climate, rich heritage, and friendly locals, Mérida welcomes travelers with open arms, inviting them to experience the timeless tapestry of Mexico’s past and present, all in one captivating and unforgettable destination.

14. Mexico City

At the heart of Mexico lies a metropolis like no other. Mexico City is an extraordinary blend of ancient history and modern cosmopolitan living.

Many people say Mexico City isn’t one of the best places to visit in Mexico, but the absolute best. 

Colourful Mexican gondolas at Xochimilco's Floating Gardens in Mexico City.

As one of the world’s largest and most exciting cities, Mexico City captivates visitors with its energy, awe-inspiring architecture, and a wealth of cultural treasures that showcase the nation’s diverse heritage.

The city’s historical significance is visible in its many iconic landmarks, such as the towering Metropolitan Cathedral and the ancient ruins of Templo Mayor, remnants of the once-mighty Aztec civilization. 

Strolling through the Zócalo, the main square, immerses visitors in a living history that has shaped Mexico’s identity for centuries.

Mexico City’s art scene is equally impressive, with world-class museums like the National Museum of Anthropology and the Frida Kahlo Museum, offering glimpses into the nation’s ancient past and the life of the iconic artist.

Chapultepec Park, one of the largest urban parks in the world, provides a tranquil oasis amidst the city’s urban hustle. Here, visitors can enjoy leisurely walks, picnics, and visits to the Chapultepec Castle, offering panoramic views of the city.

Mexico City is a captivating destination that leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of those who visit, making it an unforgettable experience.

15. Monterrey

Nestled in the northeastern region of Mexico, Monterrey is a captivating metropolis that seamlessly blends modernity with the rugged beauty of its surrounding landscapes. 

Known as the “City of Mountains,” Monterrey invites travelers to experience its urban culture while offering numerous opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Monterrey Mexico

Monterrey’s skyline is adorned with sleek skyscrapers and architectural wonders, a testament to its status as a thriving industrial and economic hub. 

The Macroplaza, one of the largest squares in the world, serves as the heart of the city, featuring fountains, gardens, and the iconic Faro de Comercio, a towering monument symbolizing Monterrey’s industrious spirit.

While Monterrey’s urban appeal is undeniable, nature is never far away. The Cerro de la Silla, an iconic mountain formation that resembles a saddle, is a striking backdrop to the city, inviting hikers and climbers to conquer its peaks and be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views.

For those seeking a more leisurely escape, Parque Fundidora offers a tranquil oasis amid the industrial landscape, with sprawling gardens, museums, and cultural events that celebrate Monterrey’s heritage.

Cultural immersion awaits at the MARCO (Museum of Contemporary Art), which showcases impressive collections of contemporary Mexican art.

Additionally, the Barrio Antiguo district entices visitors with its charming streets, art galleries, and vibrant nightlife.

With its urban dynamism, natural wonders, and warm-hearted locals, Monterrey offers an unforgettable journey of exploration, capturing the essence of Mexico’s diverse landscapes and urban energy in a single captivating destination.

16. Oaxaca City

Oaxaca City is known for its pre-Hispanic traditions, colonial architecture, and exquisite cuisine.  

The historic center of Oaxaca is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting well-preserved colonial buildings and cobblestone streets that invite leisurely strolls. 

View on colonial buidlings in old town of Oaxaca city in Mexico

Oaxaca City is an artistic haven, with numerous art galleries, craft markets, and cultural centers showcasing the works of talented artisans.

Visitors can explore traditional handicrafts like intricately woven textiles, brilliantly painted alebrijes (wooden figurines), and pottery that celebrate Oaxaca’s artistic traditions.

Nature lovers can venture outside the city to explore the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Monte Albán, an ancient Zapotec archaeological site, offers a glimpse into Mexico’s ancient past, while Hierve el Agua mesmerizes with its petrified waterfalls and natural mineral springs.

With its authentic charm and cultural treasures, Oaxaca City is an unforgettable destination.

17. Playa del Carmen

Situated along Mexico’s stunning Caribbean coastline, Playa del Carmen is a sun-soaked haven with powdery white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant atmosphere. 

Once a quaint fishing village, this coastal gem has transformed into a thriving resort town that offers an irresistible blend of relaxation, adventure, and Mexican charm.

Aerial view of Playa del Carmen public beach in Quintana roo, Mexico

The breathtaking beaches of Playa del Carmen invite visitors to unwind on their soft sands while the gentle waves provide a refreshing escape from the tropical heat. 

Snorkelers and divers can explore the nearby Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef system in the world, teeming with colorful marine life and captivating underwater landscapes.

The busy Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) is the heart of Playa del Carmen, lined with boutique shops, trendy restaurants, and lively bars. Here, visitors can savor delicious Mexican cuisine, shop for souvenirs, and immerse themselves in the town’s nightlife.

For adventurous souls, nearby eco-parks like Xcaret and Xel-Há offer a wealth of exciting activities, from swimming in cenotes to zip-lining through the lush jungle. 

Exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum and Cobá, perched atop coastal cliffs and surrounded by lush vegetation, offers a glimpse into Mexico’s rich historical heritage.

Playa del Carmen also serves as a gateway to the enchanting island of Cozumel, accessible by a short ferry ride

Whether seeking relaxation on pristine beaches, thrilling underwater escapades, or a taste of Mexico’s cultural riches, Playa del Carmen promises an unforgettable experience that lingers in the heart long after the journey ends.

18. Progreso

Progreso, on the Gulf of Mexico, is just a stone’s throw away from the city of Mérida. Progreso is the perfect escape for those seeking a laid-back atmosphere, pristine beaches, and a taste of local culture.

Progreso’s main draw is its seemingly endless stretch of white sandy beaches that invite visitors to unwind under the warm sun or take refreshing dips in the clear, inviting waters. 

The town’s relaxed ambiance is a refreshing departure from the typical tourist destinations, allowing travelers to slow down and savor the simple pleasures of life.

One of Progreso’s distinctive features is its remarkable pier, the longest in the world, extending nearly four miles into the Gulf. 

Progreso is also famous for its meteorite museum, with an educational and entertaining program about the meteor that hit nearby Chicxulub Puerto and wiped out the dinosaurs.

While Progreso itself exudes tranquility, it also serves as a gateway to exploring the Yucatán Peninsula’s rich cultural and historical heritage. 

Nearby attractions include Chichen Itza, the enchanting cenotes (natural sinkholes), and the charming colonial city of Mérida.

Whether you’re strolling along the malecón (boardwalk), sampling local delicacies, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Progreso promises an unforgettable experience that captures the heart and soul of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

19. Puerto Escondido

On Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Escondido is a hidden coastal gem with unspoiled beaches, world-class surf breaks, and a laid-back atmosphere.

Translated as the “Hidden Port,” this seaside town offers a tranquil escape for those seeking sun, sand, and surf.

Bay in Puerto Escondido with hotel and lighthouse, Mexico

Playa Zicatela, often referred to as the “Mexican Pipeline,” draws surfers from around the world with its colossal waves and thrilling surf conditions.

For those less experienced, nearby beaches like Playa Carrizalillo and Playa Puerto Angelito offer gentler waters for swimming and learning to surf.

Puerto Escondido’s rustic charm is evident in its town center, with colorful buildings, quaint cafes, and bustling markets.

The Mercado Benito Juárez is a hub where visitors can taste local delicacies, shop for artisan crafts, and immerse themselves in the town’s authentic culture.

Beyond the surf and sand, the region’s natural wonders await exploration.

The nearby Manialtepec Lagoon, glowing with bioluminescent plankton at night, provides a magical experience on night tours, while nearby ecotourism ventures offer opportunities for birdwatching and exploring the lush mangroves.

Puerto Escondido’s warm climate and tranquil ambiance invite travelers to unwind and connect with nature.

Watching the sunset from the tranquil beaches or enjoying fresh seafood at beachfront eateries are cherished moments in this picturesque paradise.

20. Puerto Vallarta

Nestled along Mexico’s Pacific Riviera, Puerto Vallarta is a captivating destination with its stunning tropical landscapes, vibrant cultural scene, and warm hospitality. 

This coastal gem, embraced by the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains and the azure waters of Banderas Bay, offers an irresistible blend of relaxation, adventure, and Mexican charm.

Los Arcos Amphitheater at Pacific ocean in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The pristine beaches of Puerto Vallarta, like Playa de los Muertos and Playa Conchas Chinas, invite travelers to bask in the sun, take refreshing dips in the sea, and enjoy the gentle ocean breeze. 

Water sports enthusiasts can indulge in snorkeling, paddleboarding, and sailing, while seasonal opportunities for whale watching and swimming with dolphins add a touch of wonder to the coastal experience.

The heart of Puerto Vallarta lies in its charming old town, also known as “Zona Romántica.” Cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings adorned with vibrant bougainvillea, and the iconic Malecón boardwalk create a picturesque setting for leisurely strolls. 

Puerto Vallarta’s culinary scene is a delightful fusion of flavors, blending traditional Mexican dishes with international influences.

From local street tacos to upscale dining experiences, the city’s restaurants offer a delectable array of dishes that cater to all tastes.

For those seeking adventure, the lush jungles of the Sierra Madre Mountains offer thrilling zip-lining excursions and ATV tours, while the nearby Marietas Islands house hidden beaches and an underwater wonderland for snorkelers and scuba divers.

With its tropical beauty, cultural richness, and coastal charm, Puerto Vallarta promises an unforgettable experience that captures the essence of Mexico’s Pacific Riviera.

21. San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s the perfect destination for travelers seeking a blend of culture, history, and artistic inspiration.

San Miguel de Allende’s historic center is characterized by cobbled streets, charming plazas, and magnificent colonial architecture.

Parroquia Archangel church Jardin Town Square Rafael Chruch San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Parroaguia created in 1600s.

The iconic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, with its neo-Gothic façade adorned with pink stonework, graces the town’s skyline and serves as a symbol of its heritage.

Artists and creatives from around the world flock to San Miguel de Allende, drawn by its bohemian atmosphere and lively arts scene.

The town’s galleries, workshops, and art schools are a testament to its artistic history, inspiring visitors with diverse expressions of creativity.

A visit to El Jardín, the central plaza, offers a glimpse into the town’s social life, where locals and tourists gather to enjoy music, dance, and street performances amidst a backdrop of picturesque buildings.

Beyond the town’s limits, visitors can explore nearby thermal springs, vineyards, and archaeological sites, immersing themselves in the beauty of the surrounding countryside.

San Miguel de Allende’s warm and welcoming community adds to its allure, fostering an atmosphere of inclusivity and camaraderie that makes visitors feel like they belong.

22. Sayulita

Sayulita, once a tranquil fishing village, has blossomed into a vibrant surf town that offers an irresistible mix of beach bliss and a carefree atmosphere.

Sayulita’s sun-kissed beaches, like Playa Sayulita and Playa de los Muertos, beckon visitors to unwind on their soft sands, soak up the rays, and embrace the gentle rhythm of the Pacific Ocean. 

The surfing village of Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico

Surfing enthusiasts flock to the town’s waves, which cater to all skill levels, creating a surf culture that adds to Sayulita’s unique allure.

The town’s streets are lined with colorful buildings adorned with murals and art installations, creating a bohemian ambiance that reflects the town’s artistic spirit. 

Artisans’ workshops and boutiques showcase a delightful array of handcrafted goods, from woven textiles to beaded jewelry, making Sayulita a treasure trove for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

The town’s plaza, adorned with a picturesque bandstand, is the center of Sayulita’s social life. The nightly mercado showcases local musicians, dancers, and artisans.

Nature enthusiasts can explore the surrounding jungles and wildlife reserves, such as the nearby Islas Marietas, a protected sanctuary home to an abundance of marine life and hidden beaches.

A destination that embraces the essence of laid-back beach living, Sayulita offers an unforgettable escape where time slows down, and the allure of Mexico’s Pacific coast becomes a cherished memory.

23. Teotihuacan

Located just outside of Mexico City, Teotihuacan stands as a testament to the ingenuity and grandeur of Mexico’s ancient civilizations.

Known as the “City of the Gods,” this awe-inspiring archaeological site preserves the remnants of a once-thriving pre-Columbian city, which was one of the largest and most influential in Mesoamerica.

Panorama of Pyramid of the Sun. Teotihuacan. Mexico. View from the Pyramid of the Moon.

At the heart of Teotihuacan lies the Pyramid of the Sun, a colossal structure that captivates with its sheer size and historical significance. Climbing to its summit rewards visitors with sweeping views of the ancient city and the surrounding landscape.

The Pyramid of the Moon is a testament to the city’s sophisticated urban planning and religious practices.

The Avenue of the Dead, a wide and imposing avenue flanked by ceremonial complexes and platforms, connects these monumental structures, further revealing the city’s intricate layout.

Visitors can explore the meticulously preserved ruins of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, adorned with intricate carvings of feathered serpents, and the Palace of the Jaguars, featuring majestic stone sculptures that reflect the city’s artistic achievements.

Teotihuacan’s museums, including the Teotihuacan Museum and the Museum of the Murals, offer further insights into the ancient city’s history, art, and culture, providing a deeper understanding of its significance in Mesoamerican civilization.

Beyond its architectural wonders, Teotihuacan holds an air of mystery, as historians and archaeologists continue to unravel the secrets of its rise and fall.

The site’s significance as a religious and ceremonial center adds to its enigmatic allure, making it a pilgrimage destination for both historians and curious travelers.

A visit to Teotihuacan is an unforgettable journey back in time, allowing visitors to connect with Mexico’s ancient past and marvel at the achievements of the civilizations that once flourished here.

24. Tulum

Situated along Mexico’s stunning Caribbean coastline, Tulum seamlessly blends ancient history with breathtaking natural beauty. 

The star attraction of Tulum is the ancient archaeological site, a former Mayan port city dating back to the 13th century.

Ruins of the Mayan fortress and temple near Tulum, Mexico
This is a temple near Tulum.

The iconic El Castillo, a majestic pyramid overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is a symbol of Tulum’s historical significance and offers an unparalleled panoramic view of the coastal landscape.

Tulum’s ancient ruins are unique in their proximity to the beach, allowing visitors to combine cultural exploration with leisurely beach activities.

Playa Ruinas, the beach below the ruins, invites travelers to bask in the sun and take refreshing dips in the waters, making it a picture-perfect spot to capture the essence of Tulum’s blend of history and natural splendor.

Beyond the archaeological site, Tulum’s eco-tourism opportunities beckon nature enthusiasts. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a chance to explore lush mangroves, cenotes, and diverse wildlife, providing an unforgettable glimpse into Mexico’s tropical ecosystems.

Tulum’s laid-back vibe is evident in its town center, which boasts boutique hotels, art galleries, and charming eateries. Visitors can savor fresh seafood tacos, sip on local cocktails, and shop for handcrafted souvenirs, all while experiencing the town’s artistic and cultural flair.

As the sun sets, Tulum’s beach clubs and bars come alive, offering a chance to revel in the captivating beauty of the Caribbean night sky while dancing under the stars.

Tulum’s enchanting allure extends to its warm and welcoming community, reflecting the essence of Mexico’s hospitality and making travelers feel right at home.

With its ancient ruins, Caribbean charm, and bohemian atmosphere, Tulum is a destination that captures the heart and imagination, leaving visitors with memories of a truly magical and unforgettable experience.

25. Valladolid

Valladolid, in the heart of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, was founded in the 16th century. Valladolid boasts a wealth of architectural treasures, making it the perfect destination for those seeking a glimpse into Mexico’s colonial past.

The heart of Valladolid lies in its picturesque main square, known as the “Zócalo,” surrounded by beautifully restored colonial buildings, quaint cafes, and local shops.

Cancun, Mexico. May 30, 2021. Footpath amidst garden and fountain with San Servacio church in Valladolild

The Catedral de San Gervasio, an impressive structure with neo-classical and baroque influences, stands as a symbol of the town’s rich religious history.

The vibrant colors of Valladolid are evident in the town’s streets and houses, with pastel facades and ornate wrought-iron details creating a harmonious blend of architectural styles. 

A stroll through the town’s streets offers a captivating journey through time, revealing hidden courtyards, charming plazas, and delightful artisanal boutiques.

For history enthusiasts, nearby Mayan archaeological sites like Chichen Itza and Ek Balam offer opportunities to explore ancient temples and learn about the fascinating civilization that once thrived in the region.

Nature lovers can venture to the nearby cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear waters, offering a refreshing escape from the Yucatan heat and a chance to connect with the region’s natural beauty.

With its colonial charm, rich heritage, and inviting atmosphere, Valladolid offers a captivating and authentic Yucatecan experience that captures the essence of Mexico’s colonial past and leaves a lasting impression on all who wander through its enchanting streets.

Mexico Places to Visit FAQs

What are some of the best places to visit in Mexico for history lovers?

History enthusiasts should explore Mexico City’s historic center, Teotihuacan’s pyramids, Chichen Itza, and the Mayan ruins in Tulum.

What’s the best time to visit Mexico’s popular tourist destinations?

The best time to visit Mexico is generally during the dry season, from November to April, when the weather is pleasant and less humid.

Are there any hidden gems among the best places to visit in Mexico?

Yes, places like San Cristóbal de las Casas, Izamal, and the Marieta Islands offer unique experiences and are less crowded than other destinations.

What are the best beach destinations in Mexico?

Mexico’s best beach destinations include Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas.

Is it safe to travel to popular tourist destinations in Mexico?

While there are regions in Mexico with travel advisories, popular tourist destinations are generally safe with normal precautions. Always check local travel advisories and follow local laws and guidelines.

What are the best places to visit in Mexico for food enthusiasts?

Foodies will love exploring the culinary scenes in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guadalajara, famous for traditional and modern Mexican cuisine.

What are the best cultural sites to visit in Mexico?

For cultural experiences, visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Guanajuato, Mexico City’s Historic Center, and San Miguel de Allende.

What are the best places to visit in Mexico for a family vacation?

Families can enjoy destinations like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, and Merida, which offer a blend of beach, history, and family-friendly activities.

Final Thoughts: Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Mexico has no shortage of amazing cities to visit. Whether you want white-sand beaches, exciting cities, or a sleepy fishing village, you’ll find it in Mexico.

With such a diversity in climate and landscape, it’s hard to say which of the best places to visit in Mexico is the absolute best. It all depends on what you’re looking for in your perfect vacation. 

If you want to surf all day, you’ll find amazing waves. If you want to explore lesser-known Mayan and Aztec ruins, you can find places where you may be the only ones there. 

If you want to lie on the beach and sip margaritas, Mexico has no shortage of wonderful destinations for you. 

No matter what your perfect vacation looks like, chances are, you’ll find your ideal destination in one of the cities on this list.  

Looking for more Mexico travel resources? Find out the best kid-friendly Cabo resorts, the best things to do in Cabo with kids, Cancun travel tips, the cutest small towns in Mexico to visit for the Day of the Dead, how to spend Spring Break in Mexico with kids, best all-inclusive Cancun resorts for kids, Cancun vs Cozumel, 15 Best Things to Do in Riviera Maya for Families, Cabo vs Cancun, Cancun vs Tulum, Puerto Vallarta resorts for families, kid-friendly Tulum resorts, top all-inclusive Mexico family resorts, and our review of the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya!

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