things to do in mexico

35 Best Things To Do in Mexico [in 2024]

Mexico is nothing if not vibrant – brilliantly blue waters lap onto white sands, stunning wildlife wow at every turn, and rich cultures greet visitors with even the shortest of stays. So much more than just Mexico’s best resorts, there are endless reasons to fall in love with this country.

After traveling to Mexico countless times I can say that it’s one of the most spectacular destinations I’ve ever visited, and I still feel like I’ve just scratched the surface of what Mexico has to offer. From exploring colorful cities to staying in one-of-a-kind jungle retreats and the poshest resorts on Mexico’s best beaches, these are the best things to do in Mexico.

mexico things to do
Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel

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Best Places To Visit in Mexico

Plenty of the best things to do in Mexico – from chowing down on tacos to taking a cooking class or exploring one of 170+ “magical towns” in Mexico – can be done no matter what part of the country you visit. But if you’re looking for the best places to visit in Mexico, these are the destinations to add to your itinerary.

1. Mexico City

Mexico City is its own world to discover. From street eats to some of the world’s best bars and restaurants, it’s a foodie destination that has to be experienced first-hand – but it’s also so much more. This cultural capital has incredible diversity, unending options for entertainment, and more history and art than could be admired in a lifetime.

2. The Best Beaches in Mexico

The beaches of Mexico are legendary. Beaches on the Caribbean-facing Yucatán peninsula are known for pristine white sand, Pacific coast beaches tend to be more dramatic or golden but no less impressive. Beaches in Baja California range from pebbly stretches populated by marine life to white sand bays that could put the Yucatán to shame.

3. Charming Central Mexican Cities

Increasingly, travelers are trading Mexico’s coasts for its interiors. Central Mexican cities like Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato have their own incredible charm and are a major draw for travelers looking for the perfect mix of cuisine, culture, and the effortless cool of a destination that has yet to lose itself to over-tourism.

dia de los muertos parade mexico city

35 Things To Do in Mexico

1. Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

There is no bad time to visit Mexico, but there is no time like mid to late October and early November, as the country dresses up and goes all out to celebrate Día de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead. Storefronts, restaurants, squares, and hotels drip with bright orange marigolds, and dramatic altars spring up everywhere. Sugar skulls, catrinas, and colorful papel picado banners transform even the most mundane into a visible feast.

Every local will have their own recommendations for where and how to celebrate Día de los Muertos in Mexico, but with celebrations and parades taking place around the country, there’s no bad place to enjoy the holiday. Having celebrated in both San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City I can attest that both are great places to enjoy the holiday.

A blockbuster event of Día de los Muertos is the Día de los Muertos parade in Mexico City. With numerous bands, colorful catrinas, and crowds of curanderos carrying incense and calling upon the holiday’s age-old roots, it’s an impressive spectacle. It draws crowds upon crowds of spectators, so get there at least an hour and a half early for any chance of catching it.

2. Spot Murals by Diego Rivera

Learn about the most important details of Mexican history and culture in dramatic full color by taking in the larger-than-life murals of Diego Rivera. As one of Mexico’s most famous artists, overshadowed only by his wife Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera is known for his sometimes controversial but always evocative works.

In addition to visiting the Diego Rivera Museum, make sure to take in some of Rivera’s most famous murals that cover the walls of some of Mexico City’s most important buildings. The city’s domed Palacio de Bellas Artes is home to a number of Rivera’s controversial works. The Palacio Nacional, home to Rivera’s grand staircase mural and many more, welcomed the artist for 22 years as he completed murals at the institution.

Visit each spot independently or take a Mexican murals walking tour of Mexico City with a guide to get the inside scoop on the artist and his work. It’s a great way to get even more context about Mexican muralism as well.

Reviews and Bookings: Mexican Murals Guided Walking Tour of Mexico City

templo de la purisima concepcion san miguel de allende

3. Explore San Miguel de Allende

The small central Mexican city of San Miguel de Allende has been awarded Travel + Leisure’s prestigious title of the best city in the world – yes, the entire world! – too many times to count. To be honest, I was skeptical of the claim… until I visited San Miguel de Allende for the first time.

The colorful streets of San Miguel de Allende are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and were formerly one of Mexico’s first pueblos mágicos – magical towns – before receiving their even more impressive UNESCO designation.

Beyond the abundant charm of the historic streets, plazas, and churches of San Miguel de Allende, there are plenty of reasons that make visiting San Miguel de Allende one of the best things to do in Mexico. Cool markets with authentic artisan products, cutting-edge art galleries and boutiques, and a thriving culinary scene are just the start.

Just four hours north of Mexico City, it’s a great addition to time in Mexico and one of the best places to visit in Mexico. Stay at Casa de Sierra Nevada, a Belmond Hotel during your visit; comprised of six 17th- and 18th-century homes, this stunning Belmond property perfectly captures the richness of San Miguel’s history, with a taste of luxury.

Plan a Trip to San Miguel de Allende

fairmont mayakoba
Courtesy of Fairmont Mayakoba

4. Stay at a Resort on the Yucatán Peninsula

Mexico’s Caribbean-facing Yucatán Peninsula is by far the best part of Mexico for beaches. The unending stretches of white sand rival the best beaches in the Caribbean and are lined with everything from affordable all-inclusives to some of the world’s most luxurious resorts. Enjoying a chilled-out resort vacation here is easily one of the most popular things to do in Mexico.

Resorts stretch up and down the peninsula’s eastern coast. While smaller towns like Playacar, Punta Maroma, and Puerto Morelos draw plenty of travelers as well, these are the resort destinations that stand out:

Cancun

Mexico’s most famous resort town is known for its oversized resorts that boast every amenity. All-inclusive resorts are the name of the game here; you’ll find some incredibly posh resorts in Cancun, but most tend to be relatively affordable.

Where To Stay in Cancun

Read More: 8 Best Things To Do in Cancun

Playa del Carmen

About an hour and a half south of Cancun, Playa del Carmen is Mexico’s second most important resort destination. Playa del Carmen boasts a range of types of resorts, but it is known for having some of the nicest, most luxurious resorts in Mexico – and by extension, the world.

Where To Stay in Playa del Carmen

Read More: 12+ Best Things To Do in Playa del Carmen

Tulum

You’ll find few resorts in Tulum! Tulum is known for its small boutique hotels and beach bungalows. If you bristle at the idea of an all-inclusive in busy Cancun but want the stunning beauty of the beaches of the Yucatán, Tulum might be the perfect place for you.

Where To Stay in Tulum

5. Swim With Whale Sharks in Isla Mujeres

If you’ve ever wanted to swim with whale sharks, Mexico is the place for you. Just off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is one of the best places on Earth for swimming with these gentle giants. During the animals’ seasonal migration – from June 1st through September 15th – getting into the water to swim with whale sharks is easily one of those things to do in Mexico that you’ll never forget.

Whale shark expeditions from Cancun are the best way to enjoy the experience hassle-free. Organized transport makes it easy to enjoy the experience and allows travelers to skip the step of making it to Isla Mujeres via public transportation.

However, Isla Mujeres is also an incredible place to stick around for a few days, especially if you’re looking for a retreat away from Cancun’s busy hotel zone and some of the best beaches in all of Mexico. At its heart, it’s really just a laid-back Caribbean island – but with so much to offer.

Reviews and Bookings: Whale Shark Swimming Trip in Isla Mujeres from Cancun

frida kahlo coyoacan
R.M. Nunes / Shutterstock

6. Visit The Frida Kahlo Museum (La Casa Azul) in Coyoacán

Few artists are as recognizable as the illustrious Frida Kahlo, making a visit to The Frida Kahlo Museum located in her personal home easily one of the best things to do in Mexico City. The home is known as La Casa Azul for its brilliant cobalt hue, and is located in the former village of Coyoacán, now swallowed up by the expanse of Mexico City but as charming and cool as ever.

It’s crucial to pre-book tickets online for the experience – they’ll allow you to skip the line for tickets, which almost always sell out. Or, book a guided tour of the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum; both are musts if you’re interested in Mexican art.

Make a full day out of your visit to the museum by taking time to stroll and explore the Coyoacán neighborhood. You can also find guided excursions to the Frida Kahlo Museum that include a visit to Xochimilco for a ride on the colorful boats that slice through ancient Aztec waterways.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

7. Explore the Mysterious Ruins of Teotihuacan

Home to the Aztecs, Mayas, and numerous other ancient cultures, Mexico is littered with astounding ruins you won’t want to miss.

Located just outside Mexico City, the mysterious city of Teotihuacan is a particularly impressive site worth adding to your itinerary. This ancient city predates the Aztecs – in fact, it’s thought that the Aztecs arrived in the area and wondered who had built this sprawling metropolis. You’re bound to be just as impressed.

The ruins of Teotihuacan make for a great half-day trip from Mexico City and are an excellent addition to time in Mexico City – truly a must! Visiting on your own via taxi or Uber is relatively easy, or book a small group excursion from Mexico City with a guide or even a private tour. Either option will include transportation to the city for a hassle-free experience.

whale watching baja california sur
Courtesy of Visit Baja Sur

8. Go Whale Watching in the Sea of Cortez

Few places in the world are as renowned for whale watching as the Sea of Cortez, that skinny strip of sea that separates the Pacific Coast of the Mexican mainland from Baja California. It’s an area so rich with marine life that oceanographer Jacques Cousteau famously called it “The World’s Aquarium.”

When waters are cooler in the winter months, starting in November through March or April, numerous species of whales are visible in the area. The height of whale watching season is February, so book in advance for the opportunity to spot these gentle giants.

Whale-watching tours departing from Baja California Sur cities like Loreto and La Paz, though fiercely regulated, are the kind that will wow you, allowing you to get quite close to whales and their babies. Laid-back Loreto cultivates the perfect beach town vibe and is a great base for the experience, while larger La Paz with its stunning Balandra Beach is another popular base for whale watchers.

9. Try a Temazcal Ceremony

Mexico is increasingly one of the most popular destinations in the world for wellness travel, with much more to offer than just a margarita on the beach for those looking for relaxation. If you’re looking for a newly popular wellness experience – with ancient roots – trying a temazcal ceremony is one of the best things to do in Mexico.

Performed by a temazcalero trained in leading these ancient Mesoamerican ceremonies, the temazcal usually includes a greeting and guide before entering a small, hot sweat lodge. Participants sit in a circle around the hot stones and local medicinal herbs that help cleanse the body and mind.

You’ll find temazcal ceremonies increasingly included on the wellness roster of upscale resorts and spas in Mexico, though long-time local practitioners are popular in smaller towns. Staying in Mexico City? The W Mexico City offers the only temazcal in the heart of Mexico City – their massages are also heavenly and the best I’ve ever had, no exaggeration!

san miguel de allende streets

10. Visit Mexico’s Pueblos Mágicos

There’s magic in Mexico. Pueblo mágico – magical towns – dot the country and offer visitors “cultural richness, historical relevance, cuisine, art crafts, and great hospitality,” per their official definition by the Mexican government.

There are currently more than 170 towns and cities around Mexico that are counted among the nation’s pueblos mágicos. Add at least one of these impressive places to visit in Mexico to your itinerary – these are some of the country’s most impressive:

  • San Cristobal de las Casas | Chiapas
  • Tequila | Jalisco
  • Taxco | Guerrero
  • Loreto | Baja California Sur
  • Cholula | Puebla
  • Dolores Hidalgo | Guanajuato

11. Work Remotely

There are a million reasons to fall in love with Mexico, so many, in fact, that many visitors never want to leave. Increasingly, working remotely from the country has become one of the most popular ways to experience all that Mexico has to offer.

Visitors from countries like Canada and the United States can stay in Mexico for up to six months without needing to extend their stay or apply for residency. This makes it somewhat of a haven for remote workers, with Mexico’s Temporary Resident Visa making it possible for many to live and work in Mexico for up to four years without permanent residency.

You’ll find digital nomads working remotely from every corner of Mexico, but notable digital nomad communities can be found in bustling Mexico City and along the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula like Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Smaller beach towns like Mazatlan on the Pacific Coast and oceanfront spots in Baja California are also popular with remote workers, though make sure internet speeds are up to snuff.

tacos in mexico city

12. Eat Tacos

Eating as many tacos as you can is easily one of the best things to do in Mexico – does it even need to be said?! Wherever you go in Mexico, you’ll never be too far from a good street vendor selling what will probably be the best tacos you’ve ever tasted.

Here’s how to order:

  • Al Pastor – pork is slow-cooked on a vertical spit and shaved, served with pineapple
  • Cabeza – braised or steamed meat from a cow head sounds weird but is fatty and delicious
  • Barbacoa – slow-cooked lamb or goat is cooked underground in a traditional style
  • Suadero – beef brisket
  • Carnitas – similar to pulled pork, carnitas is made of pork shoulder
  • De Canasta – meaning “tacos from a basket,” these tacos can be filled with potatoes, beans, pork rind, or really anything, and are generally steamed and served by walking vendors in cities

Concerned about the safety of street food? Stick to street stalls with lots of people already eating at them and with food that looks freshly prepared. Or, take a taco tour! You’ll find them in almost every major city, and they’re the best way to experience a place’s food culture.

Travel Essential

Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from SafetyWing or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.

chichen itza mexico
JosseBlanco / Depositphotos

13. Visit Chichen Itza

Located midway between charming Mérida and the beaches of the eastern Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is an archeological site that will wow you, so much so that it is counted among one of the seven wonders of the world.

With its dramatic principal pyramid, one of the most recognizable landmarks in Mexico, it’s long been a popular destination. However, the site is quite large and contains a number of incredible buildings, smaller pyramids, and other ruins you won’t want to miss.

Chichen Itza can be visited as a day trip from many of the Yucatan’s most popular destinations. Book online ahead of your trip to reserve a spot for the experience:

Many day trip excursions – by far the easiest way to visit the site, include lunch and stops at nearby sites like cenotes for swimming.

san miguel de allende cooking class

14. Take a Cooking Class

Take Mexico home with you by taking a cooking class during your travels through the country. Whether you’re looking for the best recipe for mole or some inside tricks to recreating your favorite tacos at home, cooking classes are often affordable and a great way to connect with locals as you learn.

This is one of the best things to do in Mexico no matter where your itinerary takes you. Check online with Viator to discover cooking classes near you – every city in Mexico will have one! Many cooking classes combine a market visit with cooking – in my opinion, these are the best kind, as you’ll get a two-for-one experience from the class.

15. Surf on the Pacific Coast

Save the Caribbean side of Mexico for a more relaxed beach vacation: if you’re looking for some serious surfing, head to Baja California and the Pacific coast of the Mexican mainland for an unforgettable experience.

Towns on the Baja California Peninsula, like Todos Santos and Los Cerritos in Baja California Sur, are well known for their great surfing waves, while Ensenada in Baja California Norte is also extremely popular.

Meanwhile, spots in the Oaxaca State on the Mexican mainland are an additional surfing paradise. Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido is a particularly popular surfing destination, while Mazunte also boasts its own incredible waves and cool beach town vibes.

Surf schools are common on busier beaches around Mexico. Most beaches that are popular with surfers will offer some form of beginner lessons for would-be surfers.

Read More: Baja California Sur | Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

bahia concepcion baja california sur
Courtesy of Visit Baja Sur

16. Go Beach-hopping in Baja California

While the beaches of the Baja California peninsula tend not to be as white and pristine as those on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, they offer their own type of magic. While Yucatán Peninsula beaches are mostly built up with resorts and increasingly face seaweed blooms, the beaches of Baja are often spotless and crowdless, with just a handful of locals and RVs and vanlifers soaking up the rays.

Both coasts of the Baja California Peninsula have plenty to offer in terms of beaches. El Requesón at Bahia Concepción and Playa Balandra in La Paz are highlights of the eastern coast, while the beaches at Todos Santos and Los Cerritos are the west coast beaches in Baja California Sur you won’t want to miss.

17. Go Diving

Mexico is one of the most renowned diving destinations in the world, with countless spots you’ll want to explore on both coasts.

On the Caribbean side of the country, Isla Mujeres near Cancun is known for its spectacular diving, while the Palancar Reef off the coast of Cozumel offers some of the most spectacular reef diving in the region.

Baja California’s Sea of Cortez is known for its unmatched marine wildlife, so it’s a great place to surf, dive, snorkel, and more. Cabo Pulmo is the place to go for encounters with sea lions and seals, plus stunning diving, while beach towns like Loreto boast spectacular diving with incredible fish and smaller marine life.

For a totally unique dive experience, try a dive within one of the cenotes in the Yucatán Peninsula. Diving in the cenotes near Tulum and Playa del Carmen is an unforgettable experience, and while some require more experienced cave diving training, there are plenty of cenote dives that even beginners can enjoy.

acre los cabos mexico
Courtesy of Acre

18. Enjoy Farm-to-Table Cuisine in Los Cabos

There are so many reasons to visit Los Cabos – wellness experiences, incredible resorts, and nightlife are just the start – but the farm-to-table cuisine you’ll find in Los Cabos is itself a reason to hop on a plane. Despite much of Baja California Sur being arid and desert-like, bountiful seafood and rich ingredients make it a destination foodies keep coming back for.

Local favorites like Tamarindos, and Flora Farms in San José del Cabo helped birth the trend and have long been leaders in the farm-to-table gastronomy movement in Los Cabos. Hilltop Monte Cardón makes the most of its stunning desert setting, offering the most impressive sunsets in Los Cabos to accompany handcrafted meals at this slow food farm-to-table concept.

Acre in San José del Cabo has a famously delicious and fresh farm-to-table kitchen, as well as cool treehouse-like accommodations that are worth sticking around for.

19. Visit the Markets in Oaxaca

Culinary delights await on every street corner in Mexico, but few true foodies will debate that Oaxaca is the true culinary capital of Mexico. Oaxaca’s unmatched culinary scene is one of the reasons that the central Mexican city has earned the title of the best city in the world by Travel + Leisure for two years running, edging out San Miguel de Allende for the award.

The region’s indigenous communities have led to the ultra-diverse gastronomic traditions of the area, known as the home of dishes such as banana leaf tamales, tlayudas, and mole.

Oaxaca is packed with numerous markets and too many distinguished restaurants to count, but make sure to head to Mercado Benito Juárez, just two blocks off of Oaxaca’s Zocalo, for the good stuff. The 20 de Noviembre market is particularly famous for its pasillo de humo – the hall of smoke – where marketgoers can buy fresh meat and have it prepared for them.

Where To Stay in Oaxaca

merida mexico
jdross75 / Depositphotos

20. Explore Mérida

An inland city in a region of Mexico known for its beaches, the vibrant city of Mérida still manages to shine as easily one of the most attractive and charming cities in Mexico. With historic churches, colorful streets, and plenty to see and do, it’s easy to fall in love with Mérida.

Nearby cenotes make perfect swimming holes, while cultural sites like Chichen Itza – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – make Mérida the perfect addition to any itinerary.

Don’t worry, Mérida has plenty for beach lovers as well. The heart of downtown Mérida is just 40 minutes away from what are some of the best beaches in Mexico, in fact. If you’re looking for a perfect beachy getaway but with some additional cultural and historical richness, Merida will be the perfect spot for you.

Where To Stay in Merida

Playa Viva
Courtesy of Playa Viva, Photo by kevsteele

21. Stay at a Jungle Retreat

Mexico is famous for its beach resorts, but it is also home to sustainable eco lodges and jungle retreats that make for a totally unique stay experience in Mexico.

Boutique properties like Playa Viva in Zihuatenejo perfectly fit the bill. Beautiful eco-luxury rooms, including treehouse-style accommodations and private casitas, help guests fully integrate into the property’s lush, untouched landscape. Playa Viva fully embodies the feel of a jungle escape, but close to the beach, it also provides the best of both worlds.

Looking for a true jungle immersion? Las Guacamayas in Chiapas combines basic yet cozy, eco-friendly accommodations with all the excursions and activities you’re looking for to experience the best of the flora and fauna of Mexico’s extensive tropical forests.

Read More: 25 Best Eco Resorts Around the World

22. Ride the Tren Maya

The majority of travelers who visit resort towns like Playa del Carmen and Cancun on the Yucatán Peninsula do little more than stick to their resort during their vacation. Mexico’s new Tren Maya project is seeking to change that, offering visitors an easier-than-ever way to experience the incredible ruins, cuisines, and cultures that exist just miles away.

Charting a circular course around the peninsula and reaching archeological sites like Palenque and Chichén Itzá as well as cities like Valladolid and Mérida, the Tren Maya train system promises to transform the travel experience in one of Mexico’s most popular regions.

The first section of the Tren Maya won’t debut until the end of 2023 – connecting Cancun to Campeche – and the full train’s planned path won’t take shape until later in 2024. However, it promises to be an important new way for travelers to connect with disparate communities and important historical and cultural sites across the Yucatán Peninsula.

tunki rooftop casa de sierra nevada

23. Enjoy Some of the World’s Best Bars

Mexico City is increasingly one of the world’s most buzzy capitals for cocktails. An impressive showing in 2023 earned the Mexican capital four out of fifty spots on the list of the World’s Best Bars, drawing evening more attention to Mexico City for mixologists.

Handshake Speakeasy, Licoreria Limantour, Hanky Panky, and Baltra Bar all earned one of the coveted spots on the list of the World’s Best Bars. With such an extensive list of bars to visit, you may be busy during the entire duration of your stay in Mexico City.

Headed to San Miguel de Allende? There’s an incredible outpost of Handshake Speakeasy hidden on the rooftop of Casa de Sierra Nevada, a Belmond Hotel, known as Tunki Rooftop by Handshake. The cocktails, and the sunset views, are spectacular; even as a mixology beginner, I was highly impressed.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

24. Go Trekking in the Sierra Norte Mountains

Hiking may not be one of the many things to do in Mexico that first comes to mind, but adventure-minded travelers know that Mexico has its fair share of treks worth adding to your bucket list.

Head to the Sierra Norte Mountains in the state of Oaxaca for an excellent array of treks to choose from. One of the best routes cuts through gorgeous landscape to visit eight pueblos mancomunados, indigenous villages in the area. It’s a varied trek, doable for those without extensive experience, and one of the more off-the-beaten-path hidden gems of adventure travel in Mexico.

Alternatively, several impressive volcanoes in Mexico are favorite hiking spots, including Nevado de Toluca and Iztaccihuatl. Less than an hour from Mexico City, the Ajusco Summit Trail is a favorite route to enjoy as a day trip.

cenotes mexico
diegograndi / Depositphotos

25. Swim in Cenotes

The beaches of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula are legendary, though the crystal clear cenotes the region is known for may offer an even more memorable spot for swimming. These limestone sinkholes are often filled with fresh water and surrounded by lush jungle, a part of extensive cave systems that cut through the area.

There are cenotes all over southern Mexico, but most of the well-known cenotes are in the Playa del Carmen and Tulum areas. Rent a car and visit the area yourself or head out with a local guide for the experience. Cenote Azul, Cenote Dos Ojos, and Gran Cenote are the most famous, but can get busy during the high season of travel.

26. Taste Mexican Spirits

If you thought Mexico City’s award-winning bars were the height of your spirits experience in Mexico, just wait until you visit some of the artisanal mezcal and tequila distilleries behind the ever more impressive growth in Mexican spirits.

Travelers can find a decent mezcal or tequila tasting just about anywhere in Mexico, but if you’re looking to get to the source, planning a trip to Oaxaca is a must. Home to mezcal, Oaxaca offers impressive distilleries you can’t skip, like Mezcaloteca and Mezcaleria V Sentidos. Casa Silencio is an eco lodge retreat and mezcalería you’ll love.

If mezcal isn’t your flavor, check out the home of tequila instead. The eponymous town of Tequila in the Mexican state of Jalisco is its birthplace, but tequila distilleries dot the states of Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas, running through the western and central areas of Mexico.

loreto baja california sur
Courtesy of Visit Baja Sur

27. Visit Spanish Missions

Dotting the coast and desert landscape of Baja California, historic Spanish missions form an intriguing network snaking up the coast, charting an epic road trip route just begging to be driven.

On the eastern coast of Baja California Sur, the Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó founded in 1697 is considered the first lasting mission in the region. If you’re looking to hop from mission to mission in Baja – a great way to experience the best of this richly diverse region – the laidback beach town of Loreto is a fantastic base.

Stop by the town of San Javier to see the beautiful Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó located in an oasis in the desert before dining at San Javier Farm for farm-to-table cuisine. From there, head to lush La Purisima in the heart of the desert. It is home to the impressive mission known as Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Cadegomó, founded in 1712 by Jesuit missionaries.

Where To Stay in Loreto:

Travel Essential

Don’t head out on your adventure without comprehensive travel insurance! Good travel insurance may cover lost or stolen gear, medical emergencies, delayed or canceled flights, and more. Check out the policies available from SafetyWing or compare plans using Visitors Coverage.

28. Wander Through Historic Puerto Vallarta

Ritzy Punta Mita may be the talk of Mexico with its larger-than-life luxury resorts, but nearby Puerto Vallarta has long been the most glamourous spot on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and with good reason.

Puerto Vallarta is the perfect mix of beautiful beaches, great cuisine, and historic highlights. While there is plenty to do here, exploring the historic heart of Puerto Vallarta has long been a joy for travelers, boasting charm and character that newer beach destinations just can’t.

For a taste of historic Puerto Vallarta, stay at Casa Kimberly. This boutique hotel is the former home of Elizabeth Taylor, and oozes old Holywood glamour from every nook and cranny. Ocean views from the hotel’s prestigious spot on the hillsides of the historic center of town are unforgettable.

Reviews and Bookings: Casa Kimberly

puebla mexico
naticastillog / Depositphotos

29. Explore Puebla

Just a short drive south of Mexico City, Puebla is a destination that every traveler should consider adding to their Mexico itinerary.

Founded in the 1500s in an area populated by Cholula and Tlaxcala indigenous settlements, Puebla garnered an impressive architectural mix over time thanks to an important position on the road between interior Mexico City and the port of Veracruz. Its unique and beautiful historic architecture has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

Puebla is also home to the great pyramid of Cholula; one incredible fun fact about Mexico is that this is the largest pyramid by volume in the entire world. It’s topped by the impressive church known as the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, built on the top of the pyramid during Spanish colonial times to repurpose an exciting site of spiritual importance. Today the site holds mass while indigenous religious rites.

Puebla makes for a perfect day trip from Mexico City, but those looking to experience the full richness of Puebla should plan on spending at least one or two nights here.

Where To Stay in Puebla

30. Visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

Head south of the busyness of the Yucatán Peninsula, past even the beaches of Tulum, until you hit one of Mexico’s most beautiful and lush natural sites – the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Sian Ka’an received the coveted status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to a special mix of stunning natural beauty and beaches, as well as the 20+ known Mayan archeological sites that dot its forest.

Explore the reserve on a Sian Ka’an day trip from Tulum or stay at Casa Chablé in the heart of the reserve for the full experience. Casa Chablé is the most impressive and luxurious place to stay within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, from the impressive and award-winning Chablé hotel group.

Reviews and Bookings: Casa Chablé

san juan chamula mexico
Doctor_J / Depositphotos

31. Visit the San Juan Chamula Church

Located in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, the small town of San Juan Chamula is a majority indigenous village where you’ll hear much more of the Tzotzil language than Spanish. San Juan Chamula’s main claim to fame is its unique church, where curious visitors will witness how Catholicism and indigenous religions coincide and mix in totally unique ways.

The church’s walls are lined with paintings of Catholic saints, but to the locals, they all represent Mayan gods. No Catholic will recognize the practices of the church, where copal resin incense burns and hundreds of candles illuminate the space, with nary a pew present. Visitors will see families gather with curandero spiritual leaders and healers who offer sacrifices, cleanse with eggs, and use local agua ardiente distilled liquor instead of wine.

San Juan Chamula is located just minutes from San Cristobal Las Casas, one of the most beautiful pueblos mágicos in Mexico. Make sure to add a visit to the church to your itinerary while you’re in the area – attending one of these masses is a unique experience that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

Reviews and Bookings: Visit to San Juan Chamula from San Cristobal Las Casas

32. Watch Lucha Libre

If you’re looking for a culturally relevant, amusing, and enjoyable way to spend an evening on your trip, taking in a lucha libre Mexican wrestling match should be at the top of your list of things to do in Mexico. While many travelers are only familiar with lucha libre from the movie of the same name, it’s long been a popular form of entertainment in Mexico.

Mexican wrestling is dramatic, truly much more entertainment than sport, and makes for an unforgettable experience. Crazy masks, dramatic movies, and an energetic fan base make watching lucha libre matches one of the best things to do in Mexico. Most travelers tend to catch a lucha libre match in Mexico City, but you’ll find them around the country.

bacalar mexico
tomasadzke / Depositphotos

33. Visit “the Maldives of Mexico”

Known for its impossibly clear waters, Bacalar could easily be mistaken for the Maldives despite not even being located directly on the ocean. The area’s Lagoon of Seven Colors is aptly named for the seven distinct shades of blue, turquoise, and green for a view you won’t believe.

Just a few miles north of the border of Belize, Bacalar is an incredible destination for an affordable beach getaway, and something totally different to what you’ll find in the rest of the region. Take a boat ride across the lake, or chill at a hotel located along the lagoon’s sandy shores – it’s all laid back in Bacalar.

Where To Stay in Bacalar

34. Visit The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City

If you’re to choose just one from among Mexico’s countless museums to your personal list of things to do in Mexico, make it the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropoligia) in Mexico City. Located in Chapultepec Park, this museum contains a wealth of Mexico’s most important ancient historical and cultural artifacts. Even the most museum-weary traveler will be impressed.

Highlights of the impressive collection include the Aztec Stone of the Sun and numerous artifacts from pre-Columbian indigenous civilizations like the Olmecs and the Mayas. Spend two hours exploring the halls of this extensive museum or get lost for an entire day inside its walls. It’s a must-visit museum if you’re headed to any of Mexico’s ruins later on in your visit.

islands of loreto
Courtesy of Visit Baja Sur

35. Sail to the Islands of Loreto

Located in the heart of the Sea of Cortez, the five islands off the coast of Loreto are a dream for divers, sailors, hikers, and everyone in between. Visiting the islands of Loreto, part of the Loreto Bay National Marine Park UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the best things to do in Mexico for travelers planning a visit to Baja California Sur.

Depart from Loreto or even La Paz on multi-day sailing excursions across the Sea of Cortez to swim, snorkel, and dive your way through what is known as “The World’s Aquarium.” Along the way, you’ll visit hidden white sand beaches like Honeymoon Beach on Danzante Island and others for the most incredible beach days.

If you’re not up for a multi-day sailing excursion, plenty of day trips to the islands of Loreto depart from the port of Loreto as well, a must for every visitor.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.