Reasons to Visit
Mexico is an historian’s paradise with an abundance of ancient sites from Olmec to Zapotec to Mayan at every turn. Added to the excitement of being able to transport you back in time to when these cities were teeming with life, the setting of these magnificent ruins is an attraction in itself, whether it is being engulfed in jungle surrounded by the howls of monkeys or atop a plateau with a magnificent view.
Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is famous for its white sand beaches and turquoise sea, perfect for relaxing, and we have some wonderful hideaways to recommend. The Pacific coast and the Baja peninsula are also well-known for their beaches, rolling surf and dramatic coastline. Less visited by the British, we have researched a fantastic selection of hotels here from boutique, activity based, friendly eco-lodge or plush resort-style.
You will find some of the best preserved examples of colonial history throughout many of Mexico’s cities. They not only retain some beautiful classic architecture but something of their historical soul which has been incorporated into modern bustling lives. They are a delight to simply wander round, or to shop, browse markets, sit in cafes, absorb local life and visit museums.
On the 1st of November, Mexico celebrates its 'Day of the Dead', a colourful synergy of ancient cultures and Catholicism, involving decorated skulls, candles, banners and parades. Celebrations take place across the country but there's something particularly enchanting about experiencing this tradition in the colonial towns and it's well worth timing your visit to coincide with these festivities.
Mexican food varies tremendously by region due to climate, geography and the degree of Spanish influence. Absolutely delicious, it suits all tastes, from fresh ceviche to sizzling steak to the more traditional tortillas, frijoles (beans) and guacamole. For the more adventurous, dishes such as spicy mole sauce (a combination of chocolate and chilli) or Chiles Rellenos (chillis stuffed with meat) work perfectly. All washed down with a swift tequila or an ice-cold Corona!
Whether it be visiting the colourful market towns around Oaxaca, the bustling colonial cities, the Indian highland villages of Chiapas or the harsh mountain communities of the Tarahumara around the Copper Canyon you will experience a diverse range of fascinating cultures during a trip to Mexico.
The Sea of Cortez and Baja California is fast becoming known as 'Mexico's Galapagos'. Best experienced by a wilderness focused adventure cruise this remarkable area is prolific with whales and dolphins and other wildlife during November-April.
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Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Mexico - here are a few of their favourite things to do
An immensely diverse country, Mexico has a rich cultural heritage and a fascinating history.
Physically, the land includes scorching deserts, lush rainforests, rocky mountains, deep canyons, stunning beaches and sparkling, turquoise seas.
The pre-Colombian age saw mighty empires rise: amongst them Aztec, Maya and Toltec. Each has left a legacy of ancient ruins, and though some have been cleared, many are still disguised by dangling lianas and the roots of tall trees that have over time engulfed them.
Traces of these civilisations live on in quaint highland villages, where indigenous people still wear customary dress as they browse market stalls and transform Christian churches with their own ancient gods.
Every city shows signs of the 500 years of Spanish occupation, with Castillian architecture, cobbled streets and baroque cathedrals all setting the tone in the colonial towns.
All this is enhanced by delicious Mexican food and by the constant background cadences of traditional music.
With a population of over 106 million and 52 different spoken languages Mexico is also a land of contrasts; modern versus ancient, manic versus serene and rich versus poor; a country that caters for all tastes but is not without its challenges.
Mystical, jungle-clad Palenque is the largest and most famous of the Mayan sites, which once commanded an area stretching across the coastal plain as far as the Gulf of Mexico.
In the north of Mexico lies the beautiful, remote, rugged canyon system, generically-known as the Copper Canyon. The best way to see the Copper Canyon is by the famous Chihuahua al Pacifico train.
El Fuerte is a quaint Hispanic Colonial town that was founded in 1564, and a great place to base yourself before embarking on your Copper Canyon journey.
The buzzing metropolis that is Mexico City is a fascinating contrast of old and new, grey and green, rich and poor; a place to love or loathe. Founded by the Aztecs in the 14th century on the site of a great lake, the city now stretches right across a vast valley.
One of the oldest colonial cities on the continent, Puebla is located 110 kilometres from Mexico City in the Valley of Puebla at an altitude of around 2,200 metres.
One of Mexico’s most delightful and popular cities, easily reached by plane from Mexico City, Oaxaca lies in a high valley in the south of the country and is surrounded by fascinating Zapotec ruins and traditional villages.
The stretch of Caribbean coast known as the Mayan Riviera is a delightful area of beautiful white sandy beaches and warm turquoise seas.
The archaeological site of Tulum is spectacularly situated on a cliff top, majestically overlooking a palm-fringed beach and the turquoise Caribbean sea.
Slightly off the beaten track on the Gulf of Mexico, the state of Veracruz is known for its deep caves, high mountains, fast rapids, fertile lush plantations and a diverse bird population.
The Yucatán is rich in culture, history and natural scenery. From the well known archaeological sites of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal to the lesser-visited ruins, such as Kabáh and Cobá along the Puuc route, you can take a step back in time and discover the ancient Mayan culture and traditions that were once such an integral part of this fascinating land.
12 hours (Direct)
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
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Further reading:Tours in MexicoWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout MexicoCountry Guides
Other countries in Central America, Mexico & Cuba:BelizeCosta RicaCubaGuatemalaHondurasNicaraguaPanama
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