Mexico offers thrills of all kinds, whether it’s surfing and snorkeling off sandy beaches along the Pacific, Caribbean, and Gulf coasts, sampling agave-based spirits, or spotting wildlife like flamingos, ocelots, and sea turtles. You can clamber up snowcapped volcanoes, explore ancient ruins, hike tropical jungles, or wander cacti-filled deserts.
Mexico is a cultural powerhouse, home to North America’s largest city, Mexico City, and a dynamic mix of smaller towns with vibrant art, music, and nightlife. The sprawling megalopolis is an exhilarating, modern hub with deep historical roots, a place where you can visit the home of painter Frida Kahlo or salsa till sunrise. Not a dancer? Stop by the Zócalo plaza for live music, or head to lively cafes in the Roma neighborhood (just west of the city’s historic center) for people-watching and a tamarind- or hibiscus-flavored agua fresca. If you’re in town on a weekend, join thousands of locals for a stroll or a bike ride along Paseo de la Reforma, closed to cars until 2 pm every Sunday.
Reasons to go:
- Aztec ruins: Climb the towering Pyramid of the Sun and stroll the Calzada de los Muertos (Road of the Dead) in the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacán, near Mexico City. Within the capital itself, you can explore a circular temple mound at the less-visited archaeological site of Cuicuilco.
- Street eats: Tacos are mind-bogglingly good in Mexico, but don’t miss other treats like flautas—deep-fried, rolled-up tortillas stuffed with beef or chicken and slathered with sour cream or guacamole. If you’re ravenous, fill up on a torta, a hearty sandwich served on a soft bun called pan telera and loaded with various fillings, from chorizo to spit-grilled pork called al pastor.
- Colonial architecture: Mexico’s complex colonial history is on display at the 16th-century Palacio de Cortés, built by Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés in Cuernavaca. Admire the massive Diego Rivera mural there, and then make your way to see the intricate carvings that adorn the facade of the nearby cathedral, whose construction began in 1525.
- Deep-sea fishing: Charter a boat and try your luck at big-game fishing off the Pacific coast in the resort town of Mazatlán. Hook gigantic yellowfish tuna, dorado, or sea bass, and look out for marine life like bottlenose dolphins and migrating humpback whales.
- Specialty shopping: The Zona Piel in León is a sprawling district of shops and stalls where you can buy an enormous range of leatherware, from jackets and colorful sandals to belts and wallets. To browse contemporary Mexican designs in jewelry, clothing, and art, head to Mexico City’s Tráfico Bazar.
When to go
December to April is Mexico’s dry season, and it’s the best time to spot migrating humpback whales off the Pacific coast. The country is typically a little cooler between December and February, but temperatures still mostly fall in the 70s and 80s, depending on the region and the elevation.
In early November, Mexicans celebrate the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) to remember friends and family who have died. The vibrant festivities traditionally feature face painting, sugar skull candies, and elaborate altars of flowers, food, and drink.
If you’re planning to visit Mexico’s ancient sites, arrive first thing in the morning to take advantage of cooler temperatures and to snap crowd-free photos from the tops of pyramids.
Ready to book your trip? Check out our hotels across Mexico to find the perfect home base for your adventures.