Best Places to Visit in Mexico – 2019 Go Here Not There

Whether its breathtaking beaches that you are after, charming colonial towns, incredible archaeological ruins or delicious local cuisine, Mexico has it all!

Mexico certainly makes for an unforgettable vacation destination. Mexico is home to incredible cities such as Mexico City and Guadalajara, as well as picturesque towns in San Miguel de Allende and Sayulita. This amazing country has so many different sides to it that there truly is something for everyone in Mexico to enjoy.

If you are interested in spring break in Cancun, tequila tasting in Tequila, or celebrating Dia de Los Muertos in Oaxaca, here are the 15 best places to visit in Mexico! Let’s check them out!


woman standing on a sandbank in Isla Holbox Mexico - Places to visit

1. Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox is that paradise island we all hope to find one day. We’ve spent a year traveling in Mexico, and no other island or beach in Mexico compares to Holbox.

Isla Holbox is an island, located in Quintana Roo on the north coast of the Yucatan Penisula. It’s super easy to get from Cancun in under 2 hours, click here for our Cancun to Holbox transportation options. Most people heading to the Yucatan head to Cancun, Tulum, or Playa del Carmen and have never heard of Isla Holbox until now.

It’s a slow-paced kind of island, with no cars only, bikes and golf carts. You can easily explore by foot, which is the best way to find those hidden gems. When you first start researching the island and how to get to Isla Holbox, you’ll realize there are no roads here from the mainland! The only way to Isla Holbox is by ferry or private plane.

We’d suggest spending at least three days in Holbox and even longer if you have the time. There are tons of things to do in Isla Holbox that will keep you busy. One of the most popular attractions is swimming with the Whale Sharks from mid-May to mid-September.


Aerial View of Sayulita - Places to visit in Mexico

2. Sayulita

Despite being not far from Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita couldn’t be more different. The city attracts surfers and yogis instead of adventure junkies and party animals. With its laidback charm and beautiful setting, it is a delightful place to stop by.

You can simply lounge on the beach or enjoy its relaxed pace of life. As it is surrounded by jungle, there are lots of great trails for you to explore, and horseback riding and mountain biking are both very popular. All in all, it’s a lovely city that is definitely worth checking out if you have the chance!


3. Merida

A beautiful place to visit in Mexico, Merida is a great city to head to if you want to explore Mexico’s rich cultural heritage. It has lots of delightful colonial architecture and is a center for Mayan culture, language, and cuisine.

The capital of the Yucatan Peninsula is a fascinating place. While wandering through its streets, you’ll come across lots of museums, art galleries, cultural landmarks, and many more things to do in Merida. The Plaza Grande is the center of life in the city and is surrounded by impressive historical buildings, which include a glorious cathedral, palace, and town hall.

Merida is a lot less touristy than many other places in Mexico. As such, it is an excellent base from which to explore the archaeological sites, ecological parks, and beaches that lie nearby.


Drone photo of Bacalar Mexico with long pier and hut at the end - Places to visit in Mexico

4. Bacalar

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Bacalar, then it’s already on your Mexico bucket list. Bacalar is most known as Laguna de Bacalar, which translates in English to “Lagoon of Seven Colors.” It gets its’ name from all the shades of blue in the water.

Bacalar is located near the border of Belize, in South East Mexico. We always suggest renting a car in Mexico so you can take several day trips. Bacalar is a great day trip from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum. If your schedule always we’d highly suggest spending a night in Bacalar, so you have enough time to see the town and lake thoroughly.

One of the most popular things to do in Bacalar is taking a boat tour of Laguna Bacalar. There are tons of boat tours you can join, or you could rent a kayak too. Click here to see all the tour options. If you decide to book a tour in person, make sure it’s in your preferred language, tours are either Spanish or English.

Related Article: Everything you NEED to Know Before Visiting Bacalar


Agave field in Tequila Mexico

5. Tequila

Located not far from Guadalajara, the municipality of Tequila is famous for – yep, you guessed it – its tequila! The region has lots of great distilleries for you to check out; these show you how it is produced and also give you a shot or two to try out.

The town of Tequila itself is full of souvenir shops selling tequila-related merchandise. Besides that, there aren’t that many things to do in Tequila other than go for a walk in the beautiful countryside around it. Tequila is best visited as a day-trip from Guadalajara, or as a memorable and fun stop on the way to the coast.


San Miguel del Allende at night

6. San Miguel de Allende

Currently the American Capital of Culture, San Miguel de Allende is well worth checking out for several reasons. It is a great place to head to if you want to kick back and relax. Located in the center of Mexico in the Bajio mountains, the small colonial city has lots of lovely little alleys for you to explore.

While there aren’t that many things to do in San Miquel de Allende, the colonial architecture and feel about town more than makes up for it. As well as being home to a vibrant art and culture scene, San Miguel de Allende also has a large expat population. Lots of retirees have moved here for the relaxed pace of life, meaning there is a slightly American and European feel to it.

If you ever get fed up of wandering around town, the surrounding countryside has lots of trails, hot springs, and outdoor activities for you to check out.


The beach in Playa del Carmen in front of Elements condos and vacation rentals

7. Playa del Carmen

There are many reasons you’ll love Playa del Carmen, for us it was gorgeous beaches, Playa del Carmen restaurant scene, vast hotel options, only 45 minutes from Cancun airport, and all the amenities you could need. We have a deep connection to the Playa, we called it home for six months one winter and have been returning every year since.

You could spend your entire vacation never leaving Playa del Carmen, or you could explore the area as there are tons of day trips from Playa del Carmen. Every trip we try and go a day trip and swim in a few cenotes. There are tons of cenotes in Playa del Carmen to check out, skip the beach for a da,y and cool off in a cenote.

Make sure to check out our complete Playa del Carmen guide. Complete with where to stay in Playa del Carmen, things to do in Playa del Carmen, tips for renting a car in Playa del Carmen, best restaurants in Playa del Carmen, and more.


Whale shark feeding in La Paz Mexico - Places to visit in Mexico

8. La Paz

Most visitors to Baja California Sur head past La Paz and straight onto Los Cabos. La Paz itself is a lot less crowded and developed than its two neighbors, which is excellent if you want a relaxing, peaceful vacation.

The main La Paz attractions – other than its stunning beaches – is the abundant marine life that lies just offshore. While in La Paz, most people go whale watching, try out some of the watersports on offer, or take a boat trip to some of the nearby islands. The city’s beautiful waterfront has lots of cafes, restaurants, and bars for you to check out. At night, there are quite a few good nightclubs to party at.


Aerial view of the Mayan ruins in Tulum Mexico - Top places to visit

9. Tulum

The secret about Tulum is out, Tulum is now one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico and the Yucatan as a whole. We still visit Tulum on every trip. We head to some of our favorite places to watch the sunset and grab dinner. Getting from Cancun to Tulum is super easy, with several options.

Tulum is actually divided into two parts, Tulum Beach and Tulum Town. When looking where to stay in Tulum and your budget is under $250 a night you most likely will end up staying in town as there are very little affordable hotels in Tulum Beach area. No matter if you stay on the beach or in town you’ll want to rent a car or a bike so you can get between the two. Click here to check rental car prices in Tulum on Discover Car Hire often for as low as $2 a day (yes, you saw that right).

Even though Tulum isn’t what it was 10+ years ago, it is still worth a visiting for the day or if your budget allows an entire vacation. There are so many things to do in Tulum and the surrounding area you’ll never be bored!


10. Todos Santos

A famous surfing destination, Todos Santos is located in Baja California Sur. Its spectacular desert-like scenery and beautiful beaches make it a lovely place to vacation. Due to its relaxed pace of life and a good vibe, lots of artists now call it home. As such, there are several interesting art galleries for you to check out around town.

While Todos Santos has become a bit more developed and gentrified in recent years, it is still a great place to visit and is ideal if you’re looking to go surfing or want to just lounge on the beach.


Isla Mujeres Beach one of the best places in Mexioo

11. Isla Mujeres

Known as ‘Island of Women’ in English, Isla Mujeres is a small island that lies just off Cancun in the Caribbean. It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Mexico if you’re after a peaceful and relaxing vacation.

Once a Mayan sanctuary to the goddess Ixchel, the island is as idyllic as they come. It is lined with beautiful white sand beaches that contrast delightfully with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. The surrounding waters are full of marine life.

While visiting Isla Mujeres, many people opt to take a whale shark or dolphin watching tour, or go fishing, scuba diving or snorkeling. In addition to all this, there are lots of great seafood restaurants and bars on offer, where you can watch a glorious sunset over the sea.


Cozumel Coast Aerial Drone

12. Cozumel

Cozumel is an island located in the Yucatan, getting to the island from Playa del Carmen is really easy by taking the Cozumel ferry. Cozumel is most famous for its coral reefs and great diving & snorkeling. Even if you aren’t a diver or snorkeler, there are still tons of things to do in Cozumel that make it worth the visit.

Whether you visit Cozumel on a cruise ship, stay for a week, or just a day trip from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is one of the best places in Mexico! Cozumel is a small island, but there is so much to see and do we HIGHLY suggest renting a car. If you’re not sure about that, make sure to read our renting a car in Cozumel article, which is full of tips & things to know. Click here to check rental car prices in Tulum on Discover Car Hire often for as low as $8 a day (yes, you saw that right). In order to get the cheapest price you’ll have to book in advance online, prices in person are $50+ for daily rentals.


Day of the Dead in Oaxaca Mexico

13. Oaxaca

Located in Oaxaca State in the south of Mexico, the city of the same name is a very laid back place to visit and has a beautiful colonial center for you to wander around. There is a vibrant art and cultural scene.

Oaxaca is one of the best cities to head to if you want to come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for Mexican history and culture. One of the country’s most impressive archaeological sites Monte Alban lies just outside of Oaxaca. Oaxaca markets have lots of indigenous products and local cuisine to try.

While it is usually a relaxed and quiet place, the city comes alive during the Guelaguetza festival, which showcases local indigenous culture. Oaxaca is one of the best places in Mexico to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos.


Stone arch of Cabo San Lucas - Cruise the sea of Cortez

14. Los Cabos

Los Cabos is one of the best places to visit in Mexico. Los Cabos is made up of two towns – Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo as well as the multitude of resorts that lie along the beach in between them. While Cabo San Lucas is quite touristy and has some pounding nightlife for you to enjoy, San Jose del Cabo is more laid back and has a more authentic feel.

Lying at the tip of the Baja California Sur, Los Cabos is a very popular destination. It is blessed with great year-round weather, and its lovely beaches are perfect for kicking back and relaxing on. In addition to this, it is also famous for its wealth of outdoor activities, including surfing, scuba diving, and golf.


15. Mazatlan

With over 20 kilometers of beaches on offer, Mazatlan is a lovely place to visit if you want to just lounge on the beach and bask in the sunshine. The gorgeous Centro Historico is also wonderful to explore – if you can ever tear yourself away from the beach.

Machado Square is the undoubted highlight, surrounded by stunning old buildings and colonial architecture. Another lovely thing to do is stroll along its almost endless boardwalk; here, you’ll find many great bars, restaurants, and clubs. The city is renowned for its nightlife.

One of the best times of year to visit Mazatlan is during Carnival. When Mazatlan is taken over by floats, fireworks, and people looking to have a good time.


sunrising over the mountains behind Puerto Vallarta - Where to go in Mexico

16. Puerto Vallarta

Lying on the west coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is located in a stunning setting. The glittering Banderas Bay lies before it, and jungle-covered mountains rise up behind it. The seaside resort town has lots to offer guests and is one of the best places to visit in Mexico.

Whether it’s lively nightlife that you’re after or gorgeous beaches, fantastic restaurants and world-class shopping, Puerto Vallarta has you covered. In addition to this, it is also renowned for its wealth of adventure things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Whale watching, scuba diving or kitesurfing are on offer, while canopy walks and zip-lining are also very popular. The city’s beautiful boardwalk is home to lots of great hotels, bars, and nightclubs. It is here that you’ll find the best places for Puerto Vallarta nightlife.


Mexico City View

17. Mexico City

Although the sprawling capital city can be a tad overwhelming at first glance, Mexico City is a vibrant place that shouldn’t be missed out on. It is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, a fantastic array of restaurants, and lots of lively nightlife.

Mexico City has many historical and cultural landmarks to check out, with the Aztec Templo Mayor and massive cathedral just two of Mexico City’s attractions and most impressive sights. As well as all this, its vast array of fascinating museums mean that one could spend months here without seeing everything.

The lively and energetic capital of the country is undoubtedly one of the best places in Mexico to visit. The only question is, how long will you end up staying here!?


Guadalajara Mexico

18. Guadalajara

One of the best places to visit in Mexico, Guadalajara is the second-largest city in the country and has a ton of things for you to see and do. Its stunning Centro Historico has lots of amazing colonial-era buildings to explore.

Scattered around all the delightful plazas, you’ll find a plethora of fascinating museums, which look at everything from art and history to local culture and science. As it is famous for being the birthplace of both tequila and mariachi, it should come as no surprise that Guadalajara has lots of fantastic restaurants, bars, and nightlife to enjoy.

While in town, try and head to a soccer match; the city is passionate about its two teams – Chivas and Atlas. Just make sure to wear the right soccer jersey!


Acapulco skyline view

19. Acapulco

With beautiful beaches, pounding nightlife, and spectacular sea, sun, and sand on offer, it is no wonder that Acapulco is a very popular spring break destination. The city’s stunning setting on the west coast of Mexico has long attracted people to its shores. As such, there are lots of great restaurants, bars, and nightclubs to choose from.

Acapulco has a couple of different parts to it, with some being more authentic and Mexican and others more touristy in nature. When visiting the city, a must-see thing to do is to watch the death-defying La Quebrada divers who dramatically hurl themselves off the top of the cliffs surrounding Acapulco into the sea below.


20. Islas Marietas

Lying just off the coast of Mexico not far from Puerto Vallarta, the Marieta Islands are a top-rated tourist destination due to their incredible marine life, and fantastic scuba diving conditions. As military tests once took place on the islands, they are all uninhabited (but are now protected). These tests created lots of fantastic rock formations, and one of the most incredible things to see is ‘hidden beach’ which is only accessible at low tide.

Several boat tours take visitors to Islas Marietas. Scuba diving or snorkeling in the surrounding waters is an unforgettable experience that definitely makes it one of the best places to visit in Mexico.


Cancun Beach & hotel zone

21. Cancun

One of the most popular places to visit in Mexico, Cancun is renowned for its all-inclusive resorts, stunning beaches, and, of course, the spring breakers who descend upon the city each year to party and go wild.

While there is undoubtedly this side to the city, Cancun does have a more authentic part to it – although you may have to go out of your way to find it. Away from the incredible nightlife, there is lots of delicious food for you to try and amazing nature to discover.

The spectacular ruins of Chichen Itza make for an unbelievable day trip. All in all, there is enough things to do in Cancun to make it one of the best places to visit in Mexico, even if you’re not interested in visiting during spring break!


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