Mexico is a diverse country offering a wide variety of incredible destinations and places to visit, from the pristine white-sand beaches of Tulum, to the breathtaking seaside cliffs of Cabo San Lucas and the bustling metropolitan areas of Cancun and Mexico City, to name only a few. From exciting cultural attractions and nightlife, to lush tropical jungles, exciting nature and adventure tours, world-class shopping and dining, Mexico truly does have something for everyone!
To help decide which areas you would like to see firsthand, we’ve put together this list of the 10 best places to visit in Mexico:
The Caribbean island of Cozumel lies just a quick ferry ride away from the city of Playa del Carmen, offering an ideal location in the heart of Mexico’s popular Riviera Maya region. Cozumel is one of the best places to visit in Mexico and home to a thriving cruise ship port and has become a Mecca for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts, thanks to the world’s second-largest barrier reef, which lies just offshore. At just 34 miles long by 11 miles wide, the island is largely undeveloped, with large expanses of jungle and untouched beaches. The main city of San Miguel is safe, with an ultra-relaxed laid-back vibe that is a far cry from the hype and late-night madness you can expect to find in some parts of larger cities like Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Situated in the state of Oaxaca on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Huatulco is a former fishing village that has transformed into a full-blown international vacation destination. Pronounced “wah-TOOL-coh,” the area is characterized by relatively few tourists (compared to Mexico’s other top beach destinations), stunning sunsets, lush jungle vistas, dry air and ultra-friendly locals. Visitors can expect to find secluded resorts, hidden secret beaches, coffee plantations and waterfalls, with the Sierra Madre mountain range as a backdrop. Huatulco offers you many places to visit with your family. Overall, the Huatulco region is home to nine bays with more than 30 different beaches, so be sure to bring ample mineral-based sunscreen and prepare to have a fabulous time!
Located about two hours south of the Cancun International Airport on Mexico’s only Caribbean coast, the ancient town of Tulum marks the southernmost point of the magical Riviera Maya region, which is also home to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Tulum is another of the great places to visit in Mexico, you can explore pre-Colombian Mayan ruins overlooking the sea, enjoy a world-class dinner, dance the night away, then attend an early-morning yoga class on the pristine white-sand beach. With a boho, eco-chic vibe, luxurious accommodations and ample positive energy to spare, Tulum is definitely among the world’s top “must-see” beach vacation destinations!
4. Playa del Carmen
Boasting a chic, European flair and ideally located just south of Cancun on the Mexican Caribbean Sea, Playa del Carmen is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city that offers world-class shopping, dining and beach clubs. As the place to “see and be seen” in the Riviera Maya, Playa – as locals often call it – is also home to one of the world’s longest pedestrian-only thoroughfares. La Quinta Avenida, which translates to Fifth Avenue in English, is brimming with places to visit, eat, drink, shop and be entertained. Offering vacationers easy access to everything from boutique hotels and condos, to fine dining, street food, sports bars, salons, spas and much more, you can find it in Playa del Carmen!
This narrow barrier island in southeastern Mexico has become a hotspot for beaches, golfing and nightlife in the Caribbean, serving as the gateway to the Riviera Maya region and offering beachgoers the ideal place to relax, recharge and blow off some steam. The beaches of Cancun are ideal for jet skiing, parasailing and kiteboarding, while local tour operators also offer a number of day trips to idyllic destinations like Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, or the ancient Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, which also happen to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Known as one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Mexico, Guanajuato is characterized by graceful churches, shady plazas, a lively atmosphere and colorful homes that appear to tumble down the surrounding hillsides in virtually every shade of fuchsia, red, yellow, blue and green. Because it has not been perfectly restored, the city retains a sense of realness where people actually live, work, study and play, avoiding any pretense of catering to tourism. Situated in the mountains of central Mexico, Guanajuato is a former silver mining town and UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies about one hour from the expat haven of San Miguel de Allende and that is why it makes it one of the wonderful places to visit in Mexico.
7. Mexico City
As the largest and oldest metropolitan area in North America, Mexico City has a population of more than 20 million people. Despite its size and bustling atmosphere, it is also one of the safest cities in Mexico to vacation and lies just a quick five-hour flight from New York City. Long recognized worldwide as a center of anthropological history and Latin American art, recent years have also seen a variety of new local businesses and other initiatives thriving in Mexico City, including an irresistible culinary scene and innovative public architecture on display.
Founded in 1546 when a silver mine was established nearby, Zacatecas was at the height of its prosperity during the 16th and 17th centuries. Built along the steep, sloping hillsides of a narrow natural valley northwest of Mexico City, this charming town boasts breathtaking views at every turn. There are also many notable historic buildingshere, including a cathedral that was completed in 1760, as well as a pink-stone governor’s mansion, an 18th century palace and the iron-framed Gonzalez Market, which dates back to 1886 and is located in the historic town center of Zacatecas. While here, be sure to take the cable car to the top of the nearby mountain, where you can enjoy memorable desert views of this historic frontier city.
Situated just a half hour from the Golf coast, at the northernmost end of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is another of best places to visit in Mexico, the charming colonial city of Merida is where many Mexicans go to vacation! The city is home to stunning examples of traditional Spanish architecture and there are also a number of gorgeous cenotes locatednear Merida. Pronounced “say-note-tays,” these cave-like underground freshwater pools and rivers offer a refreshing (and crystal clear) alternative to salty ocean water or standard swimming pools. Visitors can expect to experience an intoxicating mix of cultures in Merida, as well as delicious cuisine that incorporates local produce whenever possible, with plenty of new restaurants, boutique hotels and other shops to explore.
10. Cabo San Lucas
Last but definitely not least, Cabo San Lucas – or just Cabo, as locals often call this stretch of sun-kissed shores on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Characterized by soft sandy beaches, warm ocean waters and spectacular stone cliffs rising from the sea, it’s easy to see why this piece of paradise is also known as “Land’s End.” In Cabo San Lucas, it’s possible to party until dawn, then spend the next day swimming with dolphins and watch whales play in the water from the deck of a luxury yacht – what a fabulous way to cure a hangover! And whether you’ve been wanting to try jet-skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, kitesurfing, places to visit, diving or countless other activities, this is the place!
Do you have additional questions about where to vacation in Mexico? What do you think of these places to visit in Mexico? Post them in the comments!