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best places to visit in mexico

Best Places to Visit in Mexico: Unveiling the Country’s Hidden Gems

Situated in the southern part of North America, Mexico is one of the most popular vacation destinations. With its year-round warm weather and destinations like the bustling Mexico City and the breathtaking Cancun, there’s something for everyone. Whether you prefer beaches, historic ruins, mountains, nature, colorful cities, quaint villages, or nightlife, Mexico has it all. 

But with so many options, planning your trip can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the country’s hidden gems, helping you discover the best places to visit in Mexico and make sure you have a fantastic experience.

Coastal Delights


One of the best places to visit in Mexico, Quintana Roo’s top vacation spot drew over 21 million tourists in 2023. Its stunning beaches, perfect weather, and crystal-clear waters attract many visitors, but Cancun offers much more than that. Situated on the Yucatán Peninsula, the city is surrounded by lush jungles and serene cenotes, making it ideal for nature enthusiasts. 

Once you’ve had enough sun and enjoyed the views, take some time to explore marine life. For those who like action-packed vacations, there are plenty of thrilling activities to choose from, such as snorkeling, jet skiing, and visiting the Cancún Underwater Museum, which showcases fascinating sculptures underwater. And if you’re into nightlife, Cancun won’t disappoint you. There are lots of bars and clubs to choose from, offering great crowds, fantastic drinks, and an amazing atmosphere. 

Riviera Maya

While many tourists flock to Cancun, fewer venture to the Riviera Maya, giving you easier access to its beautiful beaches. And trust us, with white sand, turquoise waters, and clear skies, the Riviera’s beaches are among the best in the world. Whether you decide to visit Tulum, the popular Mamitas Beach in Playa del Carmen, or Puerto Morelos, you’re in for a treat. 

In addition to stunning beaches, the Riviera Maya is home to archaeological sites where you can explore the ancient Maya culture. Just a 45-minute drive south, you’ll find the Tulum archaeological site. You can also visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to observe a variety of wildlife, including birds, turtles, dolphins, and crocodiles in their natural habitat. If you want to feel off the grid but still within a quick drive from a large city, visit the sleepy fishing village of Puerto Morelos.

Baja California

If you travel south from San Diego, you’ll enter Baja California and then Baja California Sur in Mexico. The Baja Peninsula is renowned for its stunning beauty, constant sunshine, and luxury retreats, especially in Los Cabos, which enjoys around 350 sunny days per year. 

With a vast Pacific coastline, the Baja Peninsula is a haven for surfers. Wine enthusiasts can explore the picturesque wine valley on a short tour from Ensenada. La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, attracts visitors with its peaceful beaches and the chance to swim with whale sharks. A boat trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Isla Espiritu Santo is also a must-do. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state is Cabo Pulmo, boasting North America’s most diverse coral reefs, which is home to hundreds of marine species. If you want to feel the magic of Old Baja, we recommend you visit the picture-postcard-perfect San Jose Del Cabo.

Puerto Vallarta

Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Bahía de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta boasts stunning coastal views, lush mountains, and beautiful beaches like Playa Las Gemelas and Playa Conchas Chinas. There’s a wide range of water activities for all types of travelers, whether you’re into swimming with dolphins or relaxing on a luxury yacht tour. 

Despite its popularity, Puerto Vallarta has retained its traditional Mexican charm with cobblestone streets and white-washed houses, while still offering modern conveniences. Explore the historic center (El Centro) which is filled with quaint restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques. Don’t miss out on visiting iconic landmarks like the Puerto Vallarta Pier and Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.

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Urban Adventures

Mexico City

Mexico City, the largest city in Mexico, is rich in history and culture. It blends modern skyscrapers with well-preserved colonial buildings, bustling markets, lush gardens, and parks, and is home to over 22 million people. 

Top attractions in Mexico City include the large public square Zócalo, Chapultepec Castle, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Palace of Fine Arts. You can dive into the city’s cultural scene by catching a show at one of its 160 theaters or exploring Diego Rivera’s famous murals at the Palacio Nacional. Don’t miss visiting Casa Azul, also known as the Frida Kahlo Museum, or experiencing the excitement of a lucha libre match at the Arena México. To complete your visit, venture to the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán, located just 30 miles from the city.

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Oaxaca, the capital of Oaxaca State, is a tranquil city renowned for its delicious cuisine and status as Mexico’s main mezcal-producing region. It boasts charming restaurants, bars, and bustling markets, with colorful buildings and cobblestone streets adding to its allure. 

Must-visit sights include the UNESCO-listed Historic Centre of Oaxaca and the nearby Monte Albán archaeological site. During the start of November, the city comes alive with Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Venturing into the surrounding mountains reveals quiet villages with fresh air and fewer tourists. Don’t miss Hierve el Agua, a stunning petrified waterfall formation located about an hour from Oaxaca.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a traditional Mexican town that sits in the Sierra Madre Mountains of central Mexico, boasting a mix of Mexican and European cultures. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s just 150 miles from Mexico City and is home to well-preserved colonial buildings with vibrant colors and intricate details. 

San Miguel is renowned for its art institute, workshops, and galleries, making it one of the best places to visit in Mexico for creative types. Explore the local shopping and art scenes, and don’t miss the pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. 

Cultural Gems

Mayan Ruins

If you love history, exploring Mayan temples and ruins is a must. Mexico is home to many Mayan sites scattered across the country. Chichén Itzá stands out as the most famous, named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Tulum is another must-visit, boasting well-preserved ruins by the Caribbean Sea. Coba, a newer archaeological site, keeps revealing more treasures with each visit, making it worth returning to explore further.

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Pueblos Magicos

Mexico has 132 special towns known as “Pueblos Magicos” or “magical towns.” While they’re not actually magical, each one is chosen for its unique charm and commitment to tradition. These small villages boast charming architecture and a relaxed atmosphere. No matter where you are in Mexico, you’re likely close to one of these towns. Many are within driving distance of Mexico City, like Bernal in Querétaro. San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato, is one of the most famous, earning UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008.

San Juan Teotihuacan

Another cultural gem to put on your must-visit list is Teotihuacán. Just outside Mexico City, this ancient city is renowned for its impressive pyramids, including the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, some of the most important Mesoamerican pyramids ever built. Covering eight square miles, the site also features temples, palaces, and residential buildings. While not as famous as Chichén Itzá, Teotihuacán is more affordable and easier to reach from central Mexico.

Practical Tips for Exploring Mexico

Here are some practical tips to help you navigate Mexico more easily:


There’s a great Metro system in Mexico City and smaller ones in Monterrey and Guadalajara. Outside these cities, you’ll mostly need to use buses. Opt for first-class (primera clase) buses. These are somewhat more expensive than second class but also much faster, and comfier, and often have extras like snacks and Wi-Fi.

Safety Considerations

In Mexico, violent crime typically involves disputes between drug gangs and does not target tourists. However, to stay on the safe side, avoid drugs and areas known for cartel activity, like Michoacán or Sonora. 

Tourists often have issues with minor thefts like pickpocketing, which happens in many parts of the world. Be vigilant, especially in crowded places like buses or markets where thieves are active. Avoid wearing expensive jewelry or flaunting large amounts of cash, as it could attract thieves. If your hotel doesn’t offer a safe, keep your valuables locked in your luggage. Additionally, it’s best to avoid renting luxury cars, as they’re more likely to be targeted by thieves.

Avoid drinking tap water or using it to brush your teeth in Mexico. Stick to bottled water instead. Ice served at bars and restaurants is typically safe, as it’s made from purified water.

Itinerary Planning

  1. Figure out how much you can spend on your trip: Mexico offers plenty of options, from budget-friendly accommodations to fancy beach resorts. All-inclusive packages can save you money and make planning easier.
  2. Find the best places to visit in Mexico: Mexico has many great places to explore, from beautiful beaches to lively cities. Take time to look into the best Mexico destinations and find the one that matches your interests and preferences. 
  3. Choose your accommodation: Look for a place to stay based on your budget and desired locations. You can explore options like all-inclusive resorts, beachfront hotels, or vacation rentals.
  4. Check the weather: Mexico has different climates in different regions and times of the year. Look at the weather forecast for where you’re going and pick the best time to visit based on what you want to do.
  5. Book your flight: We suggest you start looking for flights around three months before your trip if possible. Sign up for Matt’s Flights to get alerts about the best deals.
  6. Learn a few basic Spanish phrases: Even though English is spoken in many tourist areas and resorts, knowing some basic Spanish words and phrases can make your trip more enjoyable. Simple greetings, asking for directions, and ordering food can help you connect with locals and better experience the culture.

Conclusion – Best places to visit in Mexico

Planning a vacation to Mexico is exciting but it can also be overwhelming. When you prepare ahead, you’ll have more fun and worry less about logistics. From staying up to date with the best flight deals to choosing the best places to visit in Mexico, planning ahead will ensure that your Mexican vacation is full of relaxation, adventure, and cherished memories. So, pack your bags and get ready for an amazing trip to Mexico!

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