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Sasha Savinov By
Posted 29 Oct, 2017 | 15 Comments
Posted in: Mexico, Travel Blogs

What are the best places to visit in Mexico? With bustling cities, pristine beaches, colorful hill towns, ancient ruins, and natural wonders, Mexico is the gift that keeps on giving for travelers. Unfortunately, many skip Mexico entirely thanks to its less than stellar reputation.

While there are certainly dangerous areas, most of the best places to visit in Mexico are quite safe. Would you skip out on the Grand Canyon because you read about violence in Chicago? I didn’t think so! Check out this list of the 12 best places to visit in Mexico and start planning your trip to the land of tequila and tacos.

1. Mexico City

When it comes to the best places to visit in Mexico, we have to start out with the country’s vibrant capital city. Mexico City (or DF as it’s known to locals) is one of the liveliest cities out there. There are so many things to see and do here that even a week isn’t really enough.

Spend your days visiting museums on a wide range of topics, from anthropology, to art, to history, and even tequila. You can also see the ruins of the former Aztec capital city and a stunning cathedral right downtown.

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Mexico City
A view of DF from Chapultapec Castle.

Sightseeing is great in Mexico City, but it’s the culinary and nightlife scenes that make it one of the best places to visit in Mexico. Foodies and party animals alike will be in paradise here. You’re spoiled for choices with a bounty of street food, international restaurants, bars, and clubs. Every night out can be a great one in this city!

Check out the “Streets, Beats & Eats” of Mexico City in this video tour.

Where to Stay in Mexico City


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Mexico City. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Cozy room – From $35 / Night, Rating 9.6. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Boutique Apartment Centro Histórico-402 – From $65 / Night, Rating 9.6. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Guest House Villa Mishkan – From $105 / Night, Rating 10. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to compare prices on all accommodation options available in Mexico City on Booking.com

2. Guadalajara

Mexico’s 2nd largest city definitely lives in the shadow of the capital, but Guadalajara has enough going on that you should also include it when choosing your places to visit in Mexico. After all, this is the birthplace of tequila and mariachi.

In addition to sampling both (ideally at the same time), there are quite a few cultural sights to take in. Most of these are located in the Centro Historico and are easily visited in a day.

guadalajara mariachi band. this is one of the best places to visit in Mexico

For sports fans, Guadalajara is home to two football teams. You can catch the wildly popular Chivas or the ultimate underdog Atlas for a wild, beer-soaked good time.

No visit to Mexico would be complete without an evening of lucha libre, and the Estacion Pub runs a great party bus to the arena every Tuesday night. Be sure to grab a colorful mask as a great souvenir. When backpacking Mexico, don’t miss Guadalajara and the party nights!

Where to Stay in Guadalajara


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Guadalajara. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Casa Zalaoui GDL – From $24 / Night, Rating 9.4. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Once21 Apartment – From $53 / Night, Rating 9.8. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • San Pietro Boutique Hotel – From $65 / Night, Rating 9.5. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to compare prices on all accommodation options available in Guadalajara on Booking.com

3. Monterrey

Do a quick Google search of the best places to visit in Mexico, and you probably won’t find the country’s 3rd largest city on there. Known more as an industrial city, Monterrey often flies well under the radar of tourists. Surrounded by epic mountains, it’s actually a great choice for eco-tourism and you can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and more, all within reach of the city.

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Monterrey
Epic mountains are just one cool thing about Monterrey.

In the city, you can enjoy a stroll through the Macroplaza to take in some cutting edge architecture. After visiting the massive Mexican History Museum, take a boat cruise up the manmade river to Parque Fundidora and stick around for sunset. Be sure to work up an appetite and dig in to a plate of cabrito (slow roasted goat), the local specialty.

Where to Stay in Monterrey


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Monterrey. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Monterrey Mexico Suites – From $27 / Night, Rating 8.9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • MV Suites – From $47 / Night, Rating 9.1. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites Monterrey Valle – From $73 / Night, Rating 9.1. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available in Monterrey

4. Puerto Vallarta – Definitely One of The Best Places to Visit in Mexico!

Forget the tourist trap of Cancun and head instead to Mexico’s west coast for your beach vacation. Puerto Vallarta has been making lists of the best places to visit in Mexico for decades now and for good reason. While it is well-known as an all-inclusive resort and spring break party destination, PV is so much more than that.

Adventure junkies will love this place, as you’ve got sky diving, bungee jumping, and paragliding all on tap here. Speaking of on tap, PV has two craft breweries and several fantastic cocktail bars. The real fun goes on outside of the resorts in town, where the party goes all night. There are endless things to do in Puerto Vallarta!

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Puerto Vallarta
Playa de Los Muertos in PV.

Having spent six months in Puerto Vallarta, I can say with confidence that this is also a great place to live. Although it’s on the coast and is wildly popular, it’s surprisingly affordable. Read more about the cost of living in Puerto Vallarta and you’ll be ready to move there as well.

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Puerto Vallarta. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Casa Adriana – From $19 / Night, Rating 8.3. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Hotel Boutique Rivera Del Rio – From $99 / Night, Rating 9.5. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to compare prices on all accommodation options available in Puerto Vallarta

5. Huatulco

How does a pristine and undeveloped stretch of beach sound? If you’re into that, you should probably be planning a trip to this gorgeous part of Oaxaca. Huatulco is home to nine bays and thirty-six beaches, and many of them of them are ecological preserves where development is not allowed. It’s actually the only resort area in Mexico that has won a Green Globe award.

In addition to sunbathing, you can also visit nearby coffee farms and waterfalls or join in a rafting or cycling trip. This hidden gem is mostly popular with domestic tourists, but it won’t be long until the secret is out. This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Mexico this year, so start planning!

Where to Stay in Huatulco


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Huatulco. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Hotel Plaza Delphinus – From $23 / Night, Rating 8.0. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Villa Blanca Huatulco – From $64 / Night, Rating 8.9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Casa Danna Huatulco – From $102 / Night, Rating 9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available in Huatulco

*Bonus, check out nearby Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca too!

6. Tulum

Once upon a time, Tulum was considered an off-the-beaten-path destination in Mexico. The path has definitely been beaten now, as more and more travelers flock here for the white sand and turquoise waters. That being said, you’ll still find far smaller crowds here than you will in nearby Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Just be sure to get to the ruins early in the morning to avoid the dreaded tour buses.

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Tulum
Hit the beach and a cenote in Tulum.

The beaches are great here, but you can’t come to this part of Mexico without taking a dip in a cenote. These sinkholes are abundant in the Yucatan, and they’re a great place to do a bit of snorkeling or scuba diving. Back in town, you’ve got tons of choices to wine and dine the night away. Although not a hidden gem, Tulum is still one of the best places to visit in Mexico.

Looking for more Mexico posts? See Also:

Things To Do in San Pancho – A List of The Top 15

Things To Do in Playa del Carmen – A List of The Top 21

Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta – A List of The Top 20

Things To Do in Guanajuato – A List of The Top 10

Backpacking Mexico – Top Reasons To Travel Here Now

Where to Stay in Tulum


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Tulum. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • ContainME Eco Chic Hotel – From $27 / Night, Rating 9.3. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Casa Che Tulum – From $45 / Night, Rating 9.4. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Casa Colonial – From $100 / Night, Rating 9.8. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to compare prices on all accommodation options available in Tulum on Booking.com

7. Teotihuacan

When visiting Mexico City, be sure to set aside a day to explore the ancient city of Teotihuacan. It was the largest pre-Colombian city in the Americas, with a population of around 150,000 at its peak. As the legend goes, this is the place where the gods planned the creation of man.

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Teotihuacan
The Pyramid of the Sun

Here you’ll be able to climb on some of the largest ancient pyramids in the world. After taking in the views from atop the Temple of the Sun, you can sit down to lunch in a cave. La Gruta is located right outside of the ancient city and is the perfect place to cool down. Oh yeah, the food is pretty good, too!

Enjoy this short video tour of the ruins.

Where to Stay Near Teotihuacan


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties near Teotihuacan. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Posada & Spa Jade Teotihuacan – From $30 / Night, Rating 9.2. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Posada Jatziri – From $32 / Night, Rating 9.3. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Casa de Barro – From $40 / Night, Rating 9.2. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available near Teotihuacán on Booking.com

8. Palenque

Located in the state of Chiapas (which in itself is one of the best places to visit in Mexico), the Mayan ruins at Palenque are much smaller than some of the more well-known sights. Surrounded by jungle and far from any major city, it also means that they’re far less crowded. In addition to exploring the ruins, you’ve also got several waterfalls and caves in the area to check out.

While some visit the ruins on a long day-trip, you’re better off basing yourself in one of the cool forest hideouts. Spending the night at one of these funky spots allows you to get an early start and take in the ruins before the hottest part of the day.

Where to Stay Near Palenque


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties near Palenque. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Cabanas el Porvenir – From $27 / Night, Rating 8.7. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Hotel Paraíso Inn – From $68 / Night, Rating 9.3. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Winíka Alterra – From $82 / Night, Rating 9.3. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to compare prices on all accommodation options available near Palenque on Booking.com

9. Chichén Itzá

As one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it should come as no surprise to see Chichén Itzá on a list of the best places to visit in Mexico.

Be prepared to be awestruck by the amazing El Castillo (The Castle), which was built to honor a Mayan serpent deity. This is one place where it’s well worth it to shell out a few extra pesos for a guide, so you can learn the fascinating details of this impressive structure.

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Chichen Itza
Hands down one of the best places to visit in Mexico.

While hordes of tourists descend upon the site on a daily basis, it’s very easy to escape the crowds. Stay at a hotel a few miles up the road rather than visiting on a day-trip, and you’ll almost have the place to yourself in the early morning. Even the vendors and touts aren’t going yet when the doors open.

Where to Stay Near Chichén Itzá


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties near Chichén Itzá. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • La Casa de las Lunas – From $30 / Night, Rating 9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Hotel Chichen Itza – From $43 / Night, Rating 8.5. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows – From $99 / Night, Rating 8.9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available near Chichén Itzá on Booking.com

10. San Miguel de Allende

A longtime favorite destination for “Mexpats,” San Miguel de Allende was recently awarded the Best City in the World by Travel + Leisure. This charming, colorful city boasts a temperate climate, a vibrant arts scene, and a beautiful church at its center. Outside of town, you’ve got hot springs, horseback riding, cycling, and more.

Best Places to Visit in Mexico - San Miguel de Allende
What a beautiful city!

While it’s true that San Miguel is somewhat of a “Gringolandia,” that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a local experience here. It’s one of the best places in Mexico to study Spanish, and there are several options for homestays where you can live with a local family and get lots of practice.

Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in San Miguel de Allende. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • La Catrina Hostel – From $17 / Night, Rating 8.6. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Casa San Miguel 20 – From $47 / Night, Rating 9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Shangrila Boutique Bed&Breakfast – From $81 / Night, Rating 9.7. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available in San Miguel de Allende on Booking.com

11. Oaxaca City

This beautiful colonial city is the capital of the state by the same name, and it definitely earns its spot on the list of best places to visit in Mexico. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced wa-HAH-ka. Here you’ll find some of the best cuisine in Mexico, bustling markets, and a thriving arts and crafts scene.

streets of oaxaca city one of the best places to visit in mexico

Oaxaca is also home to the Guelaguetza festival, which highlights the indigenous culture of the area and is focused primarily on traditional dancing. The city also throws one of the biggest celebrations in the country for the Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Where to Stay in Oaxaca


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Oaxaca. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Hostal Mixteco Naba Nandoo – From $16 / Night, Rating 9.5. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Agrado Guest House – From $53 / Night, Rating 9.9. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Casa Catrina – From $80 / Night, Rating 9.6. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available in Oaxaca on Booking.com

12. Guanajuato

Once a thriving silver mining town, Guanajuato is now a huge draw for tourists and expats. It’s a gorgeous city located on the steep slope of a ravine, with a name meaning “Place of the Frogs.” Walking around town, you can admire the colonial architecture and bright houses, pausing to chill in tree-filled plazas or quaint cafes.

 Best Places to Visit in Mexico - Guanajuato
Colorful Guanajuato from above.

It’s a very cultural city, with plenty of museums, theaters, music venues, and festivals. Be sure to join a walking tour with the city’s famous callejoneadas, a band of musicians and story-tellers who lead you through the meandering alleyways on a musical journey like no other.

There are numerous things to do in Guanajuato, including a great food tour, for those of you who want to eat all of the tacos and then some:

Where to Stay in Guanajuato


Here is a list of the top 3 rated, affordable properties in Guanajuato. Click on the links and check them out for yourself!

  • Las Enredaderas – From $25 / Night, Rating 9.3. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Apartamento Terraza Boulevard – From $55 / Night, Rating 9.8. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com
  • Alma del Sol Bed & Breakfast Inn – From $81 / Night, Rating 9.8. Click here to see the latest price on Booking.com

Click here to see all accommodation options available in Guanajuato on Booking.com

These Are Just Some of The Best Places to Visit in Mexico!

These are just 12 of the best places to visit in Mexico, a list that could easily top one hundred. It’s a vast, diverse, and incredible country with a fascinating culture. From its lively capital to its ancient ruins, pristine beaches to colorful colonial towns, Mexico ticks all the boxes for a perfect travel destination. Don’t believe the fear-mongering hype out there and come see for yourself!

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Sasha Savinov

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Sasha is an English teacher, language student, blogger, and video producer. He and his wife run Grateful Gypsies, where they write about life abroad, long term travel, and live music. Follow Sasha on his website, social media accounts below and on YouTube.

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15 thoughts on “12 Best Places To Visit in Mexico

  1. There are certainly dangerous areas in the world, not just Mexico, look at what’s happening in the U.S. crime happening all over the country every day, central and south America are also dangerous places so why just pick on Mexico? American media/government have done so much harm to Mexico’s image in the world.

  2. Great picks! I’m definitely on board with Palenque being one of the coolest Mayan ruin sites I’ve ever seen. And it wasn’t *nearly* so crowded as Chichen Itza where I found it a bit like being in a zoo. Plus in Palenque you can climb on the ruins and in Chichen Itza everything is strictly hands-off (understandably).
    Your suggestion for Huatulco is intriguing – I like finding quiet places that aren’t overrun (yet). One of my favourite remote Mexican beach towns is Xcalak, way at the southern tip of the Yucatan peninsula.
    Thanks for helping me find some places I hadn’t thought to visit in Mexico!

  3. Thanks for the article, Sasha! My husband and I are planning a first-time trip to Mexico. I’m hoping you or another reader could give some feedback on my thoughts.

    As a couple:
    Like to backpack, so we are up for a good hike
    Recently married, so are not opposed to some beach time/pampering
    Have traveled in U.S.A, but never in a non-English speaking country without a “guided-tour” scenario. We are adventurous, so we are up for “figuring it out” as we go, but a little nervous.

    Travel goals:
    Would like to see Paricutin volcano–one of the natural wonders of the world
    Huatulco sounds like a good beach for us . . . less crowded/touristy and many recreational activities, but we are up for other suggestions

    Our questions:
    Transportation? I would think renting a car would be a sensible option to get around. Is this a good idea in Mexico? Or, is public transportation a better option?

    It seems like flying in and out of Mexico City would be best, especially if renting a car. Thoughts?

    I appreciate any tips you (or anyone) can send our way!

    Cheers,
    Nita

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