8 Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico

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Mexico has beautiful beaches, historical cities, stunning archeological sites, plus incredible deserts, mountains, forests and modern cities. If you haven’t branched out to explore all that Mexico has to offer, you’re truly missing out on something special. We want to share what we think are 8 of the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico so you can get out there and start exploring.

Mexico is a great vacation spot for several reasons, besides being full of beauty and natural wonders. It’s in America’s backyard, making it reasonably easy for U.S. citizens, both in terms of travel distance, price and comfort. For those reasons, it’s a great option for summer travel.

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map of Mexico

All you need to get going are a few ideas of where to go so you can put the plan in motion. Mexico does not require a visa for U.S. citizens to visit, so just make sure your passport is up to date and you’re good to go.

Check out our guide to finding the best airfare, which includes the best days to travel as well as the tools we use to search for good rates.

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Beautiful Destinations in Mexico

Baja California

island on coast

Baja California stands apart as one of the most beautiful places in Mexico. The peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean from the southern end of California is the world’s second-longest peninsula at 750 miles. The whole of the peninsula is just one gorgeous seascape after another, winding all the way from California down to Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas.

As you may well imagine given this location, Baja California is gifted with spectacular seascapes, making it an ideal destination for myriad water-based leisure activities. In fact, the area has attracts thousands of surfers and sailing enthusiasts, in addition to the hordes of college students from the U.S. who have made Baja California their favorite spring break locale.

Go for a hike on the many trails in the San Pedro Martir National Park or in the Sierra Lagunas. Try cycling or mountain biking. The highway that stretches from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas is a particularly popular route for cyclists. Go kayaking at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Espiritu Santo, in La Paz. And take some time for wine tasting on the Ruta del Vino.

Getting There

To get to Baja California you can fly into San Diego then cross the border and continue drying south as far as you wish to go. Or fly into La Paz to start exploring in the southern tip of the peninsula.

Where to Stay

There are lots of options for places to stay in Baja California. For wine tasting, stay at the El Cielo Winery & Resort in the Valle de Guadalupe. We love the gorgeous CostaBaja Resort & Spa in La Paz and The Cape in Los Cabos. There are tons of luxury resorts in Cabo San Lucas, at the very south end of the peninsula.

Tours You May Enjoy:

Cozumel

coast with buildings

Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It’s a somewhat undeveloped island but is a premiere destination for water sports such as scuba diving and snorkeling.

Just off Cozumel’s coast is the world’s second-longest coral reef, the Mesoamerican Reef System. It is this natural wonder, coupled with the clear and pristine waters and white sand, that attracts divers from around the world.

One of the most unique activities on the island is the Museo Subacuático de Arte. It’s a museum of over 400 underwater sculptures that visitors can see. The beautiful clear waters make this a wonderful experience, as well as making for great viewing of the sculptures and sea life.

You don’t go to Cozumel for partying, like you might in Cancun. It’s much more laid back than that. So if you’re looking for a spectacular pristine natural landscape and long stretches of unspoiled beach, this is the place to do it.

Getting There

Sometimes you can find a flight straight into Cozumel’s international airport. That would be the best way. But if you can’t find a good flight into there, you can fly to Cancun, then drive to Playa del Carmen where you can get a ferry to Cozumel from the Playa del Carmen ferry dock.

Where to Stay

Most people stay on the west coast of Cozumel due to it being closer to main attractions and the main resorts. There are plenty fantastic and affordable luxury hotels, like the all-inclusive Cozumel Palace resort or the Adults Only Secrets Aura Cozumel.

Tours You May Enjoy:

Tulum

mayan ruins on coast

Tulum was built and settled during the late Postclassic Period in the same acrchitectural style as Chichén Itzá and other nearby sites. Its major draw for visitors is the location. The ruins are situated on 40-foot cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayas, likely as a trade port for the larger city of Coba.

It was at its height of action between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Visitors can enjoy beach access, as well as walks around the structures that make up the large complex. The beach has amazingly soft white sand and a beautiful view facing sunset, which no doubt was part of the design.

Tulum is located about an hour south of Cancun on the Mayan Riviera. It’s easy to get to from the resorts in that area and is often part of a packaged tour that includes other activities in the area such as snorkeling or swimming in a cenote. El Gran Cenote is nearby. Both can be reached easily by car.

Once you park, you’ll be charged a fee for parking, then you’ll need to walk a bit of distance to the opening of the ruins where you can buy tickets to get in. There are guided tours available from the ticket office as well.

Getting There

To get to Tulum, fly into the Cancun International Airport. From there rent a car and drive the hour and a half trip south to Tulum. You can also get a tour to Tulum from just about anywhere on the Riviera Maya.

Where to Stay

The two main areas to stay in Tulum are downtown and the beach. Staying on the beach will give you the best access to luxury hotels, as well as restaurants and boutique shops. We like the Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa and the Kimpton – Aluna Tulum for its close proximity to the ruins.

» Where to stay near Tulum

Tours You May Enjoy:

Puerto Vallarta

city on a coast

This beautiful resort city is on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. It’s known for it’s palm-fringed beaches, blue waters, and organic atmosphere that feels much more authentically “Mexican” than other resort towns like Cancun. The top things to do include visiting nearby beaches like Yelapa and Los Muertos, plus all manner of water sports.

The city center is home to the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church which is a shrine and church built in the 1700s. It is thought to be the place that Virgin Mary appeared to a Saint of the Catholic Church. The El Malecón boardwalk is another must-do in Puerto Vallarta with its many sculptures and sea views, where you end in the south at the Los Muertos Pier.

The area around El Malecón has lots of shopping, restaurants like Café des Artistes for a unique blend of French and Mexican cuisine and La Palapa, which has great seafood with a beautiful sunset view. Don’t miss out on the bars and nightclubs, like La Vaquita and Mandala.

Getting There

The most common way to get to Puerto Vallarta is by flying into Puerto Vallarta’s Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport. But many people also arrive there by cruise ship.

Where to Stay

The best areas to stay in Puerto Vallarta are El Centro, the historic center of the city with restaurants and beaches, and Zona Romantica with bars, nightlife, and is close to the Los Muertos Beach. We like the adults only All-Inclusive Grand Fiesta Americana and Casa Velas.

Tours You May Enjoy:

Isla Mujeres

island in the ocean

Isla Mujeres in Mexico is a great way to escape the tourist crush in Cancun. Roughly 9 miles offshore, the island contains the Mexican beach culture of a bygone era. Oh, and the name translates to “The Island of Women.”

El Garrafon National Underwater Park is located on the southwest end of the Island. If you’re interested in underwater fun, this park provides tremendous visibility in warm water.

If you’re looking for more of a beach town feel, the northern tip of the island should be your destination. Playa Norte’ offers nice beaches, restaurants, hotels and more or less everything you could need. Head out on Zacil Ha road and you can find some fairly isolated beaches.

Walk south from Playa Pescador and you’ll leave humanity behind. The same is true if you head north from Playa Lancheros. Just grab a map of the island or ask a local for directions.

Getting There

Isla Mujeres has an airport, but traveling by boat from Cancun is cheaper. There are numerous public ferries traveling to the island. Getting back and forth is no problem. Just make sure you check the schedule for return trips.

Where to Stay

Most visitor to Isla Mujeres stay in Cancun and take a day trip to the island. If you want to stay on the island, the north end is the best place to stay. Everything is close enough together that it’s in walkable distance, and there’s plenty of restaurants and things to do close to hotels. The Lotus Beach Hotel is a true stunner and Hotel La Joya Isla Mujeres is also a lovely choice.

Tours You May Enjoy:

Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula

Chichén Itzá is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico. In 2006, it was named as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. Built in the late Classic Period and into the Postclassic period, from about 800-1000 AD, Chichén Itzá was named by the Itza people who first settled the area.

The name means “mouth of the well of the Itza” because of the cenote (underground water supply) the inhabitants used as their fresh-water source.

As it was built over such a large span of time, there are multiple architectural styles present in the complex that stretch for more than three miles, branching out from the central focal point, El Castillo, which stands about 100 feet tall with carved serpent heads at the base of each side.  It is estimated that more than 1.2 million tourists visit Chichén Itzá every year.

You can visit Chichén Itzá on your own if you have a car. There are guides at the entrance who can show you around for a small fee. Or you can get in on a guided tour, where you’ll be picked up from your hotel and be accompanied by many other tourists. But, because of its popularity, the middle of the day can be rather packed.

Getting There

It can be a long day trip, at over 100 miles from Cancun, and about a 3-4 hour drive. You can drive there yourself if you chose, or you can get a guided tour and be picked up at your hotel.

Where to Stay

Most people stay elsewhere and take a tour to the park. If you choose to stay there, we recommend The Lodge at Chichen Itza, set in over 100 acres of landscaped gardens within Chichen Itza Archaeological Park. Staying here allows you to walk into the park from your accommodation when it opens, avoiding the heat of the day and the horde of tourists that arrive around 10am.

Tours You May Enjoy:

Mayan Riviera

city along the coast

Located on the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, the Riviera Maya is jaw dropping beautiful. The Mayan Riviera, a stretch of coastline on the Yucatan Peninsula running from just outside Cancun in the North to the ancient Mayan site of Tulum in the South is rapidly growing in popularity. Why has this previously quiet area of the Yucatan Peninsula become a magnate for tourists?

The best-known destination in the area is the beach town of Cancun. From Cancun, you can travel to the south down the beaches. Since the Riviera is not a defined area, it is generally agreed the town of Tulum is the southernmost point. Regardless of how you definite it, the beaches along the coast have something for everyone.

To get a better feel for the local culture, you should consider heading down the coast to explore the little towns dotting the coast. In places such as Tulum and Xpu-Ha, you can experience the laid back Mexican culture while staying in cheap cabanas. It’s a slow life, but truly amazing. Have you seen Corona Beer commercials showing people on the beach on thought, “Where is that?” This is the place.

The Riviera Maya is an incredibly beautiful collection of beaches. Next time you get a hankering for a beach vacation, check out this paradise.

Getting There

Fly into the Cancun International Airport. From there, you can drive if you rent a car. Or you can take a public bus from Cancun into Mayan Riveria.

Where to Stay

We have three wonderful resorts that we recommend that you will love: These three resorts are a product of Karisma Hotels and all of them offer a true luxury experience. They are: El Dorado Royale, an adults-only all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya; El Dorado Casitas Royale, a couples-only all-inclusive resort; and Generations Resort, a family-oriented all-suite, all-inclusive resort.

Mexico City

statue in a city

Mexico City is the largest and most densely populated city in Mexico and also the capital. Don’t let that scare you away from exploring this amazing metropolis that’s packed full of wonderful experiences.

There are many important historical sights in Mexico City. The Templo Mayor is a 13th century Aztech Temple that is still standing today, and the Catedral Metropolitana de México, a baroque cathedral left behind by the Spanish conquistadors.

The downtown area offers lots of shopping, as well as small shops, markets, and places to eat. There are several walking tours of the city that will show you sights and tastes that you wouldn’t have found in a quick lap of the city. Be sure to take a food tour to find some of the best foods you have to try in Mexico.

If you’re a foodie, check out our 3-day foodie itinerary for Mexico City. We also recommend these amazing restaurant experiences in the city and making time for a meal at Pujol.

Just about an hour outside the city is the Teotihuacan Pyramids, which are an absolute must see. Also be sure to visit the Zocalo, Roma Norte, and Juarez neighborhood, which will give you a great feel for this city.

Getting There

To get to Mexico City fly into the Benito Juárez International Airport which is only four miles outside the city center. From there you can take a taxi or use the metro.

Where to Stay

The best place to stay in Mexico City is the historic center. Luxury hotels here are affordable, and there are plenty of sightseeing opportunities right near the hotels. We recommend the Hilton Mexico City Reforma for its proximity to everything you’ll want to see.

Tours You May Enjoy:

Additional Tips for Travel to Mexico

thin beach

• Be sure to leave your travel itinerary and passport information with a friend or relative in case the originals are lost. It can also be helpful to carry a copy of your travel documents with you in a separate location from the originals.

• Avoid traveling with large amounts of cash. Credit cards are widely accepted and most areas visited by tourist will have an ATM machine. These are great options because they are safe, convenient and you get a favorable exchange rate. Another option is to use traveler’s checks.

• Using a fanny pack or travelers wallet for your cash and passport is a great idea.

• While they are making great strides in improving the water quality throughout Mexico, it is advisable to drink bottled water. In addition, avoid drinking beverages over ice as the ice may have been made from tap water.

• Wash vegetables and fruits in a purifying solution of some type.

• Before leaving, check with your health insurance provider so that you are aware of your coverage.

• If you are planning to drive over the border be sure to obtain a temporary import permit and all the necessary insurance.

CONCLUSION

Mexico is a gorgeous place and you’re truly missing out if you haven’t explored it. There are so many fantastic destination in Mexico to see and we hope you’ll book one of our suggestions above.

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Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico
8 Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico

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