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Visit the colonial city of San Cristobal, explore the mayan ruins of Palenque, Yaxchilán, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, then relax at the beaches of the Mayan Riviera.
Tour the landscapes and indigenous communities of the Copper Canyon in an unforgettable train ride, go whale-watching in Baja California and enjoy the sun and sand of Los Cabos.
Visit Mexico City and explore the colonial treasures of its surroundings, visiting the towns of Tepoztlán, Taxco, Valle de Bravo and the breathtaking Cacahuamilpa caves.
Soak in the rich traditions and gastronomy of Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca, then kick back at the picture perfect beaches of Mazunte, San Agustinillo and Huatulco.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the ruins of Chichen Itza are one of the most beautifully restored and famous Maya sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. Experience the unique acoustics in the carved ball court of Gran Juego de Pelota and stand in awe at the mighty pyramid of El Castillo, then admire the stunning carvings of the Platform of the Skulls.
Spanning an idyllic stretch of Caribbean coast, the Riviera Maya is dotted with charismatic beach resorts, world-class restaurants and the lush ecoparks of X’Caret and Xel-Há. Spot tropical fish while snorkelling or diving at Isla Cozumel, go shopping in the boutiques of Playa del Carmen and Cancun, then wander the spectacular cliff-top ruins of Tulum.
Surrounded by Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages, San Cristobal de las Casas is a charming colonial town of cobblestone streets and colourful markets. Learn about traditional medicine at the Museo de la Medicina Maya, join a boat trip along the spectacular Sumidero Canon and shop for indigenous textiles and handicrafts in the street markets surrounding Templo de la Caridad.
Spend an afternoon at the National Museum of Anthropology, which is considered the world’s most important institution dedicated to American indigenous civilisations. Witness the famous Stone of the Sun, ancient Mayan murals and Zapotec jade masks, together with a full-scale replica of the tomb of King Pakal from Palenque’s Templo de las Inscripciones.
Founded on silver and gold deposits in the 16th century, UNESCO-listed Guanajuato is one of the most romantic cities in Mexico, with elegant colonial buildings and colourful houses. Guanajuato is renowned for its arts scene, with ballet and theatrical performances staged within the opulent interior of Teatro Juarez and the birthplace of acclaimed artist Diego Rivera now open as a museum dedicated to his life and work.
Surrounded by valleys that are rich in indigenous cultures, Oaxaca is set around a picturesque colonial core, with world-class art galleries, vibrant markets and a scattering of atmospheric ruins. Admire the baroque facade of the Temple de Santo Domingo, experience the 360-degree panoramas from the ruins of Monte Albán and be inspired by the unique stone mosaics of Mitla.
From freshly caught seafood dishes along the Pacific coast to tacos al pastor in the streets of Mexico City, be inspired by the diversity of traditional Mexican cuisine that has been listed by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Sample delicious mole sauces and tasty tlayudas tortillas in Oaxaca, feast on chiles en nogada in Puebla and try Mexican-style ceviche “cooked” in fresh citrus juice.
The Yucatán lures visitors with its ancient Maya ruins, together with stunning cenote sinkholes and mesmerising dive sites. Admire the colourful mansions of Merida, relax on the idyllic sands of the Costa Maya and Riviera Maya, then stand in awe at the iconic temples and ball courts at Chichen Itza and along the Puuc Route.
The southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas are renowned for their indigenous villages, captivating colonial cities and soaring ruins. Experience the cultural landmarks of charismatic Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas, explore the jungle-swathed temples of Palenque and the ruins of Yaxchilán, then relax on the extensive beaches at Huatulco, Mazunte and Zipolite.
Bajío is dotted with opulent colonial cities dating to the silver boom of the 17th and 18th centuries, together with the stunning waterfalls of Huasteca Potosina. Explore the UNESCO-listed streets of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, photograph the charming architecture of San Miguel de Allende and experience the “ghost town” of Real de Catorce in the Sierra Madre Oriental.
Considered the birthplace of both tequila and mariachi, Jalisco is home to the lively capital Guadalajara, together with the vibrant beach resort of Puerto Vallarta. Wander the UNESCO-listed streets of Morelia and experience the Day of the Dead festivities in Patzcuaro, then go horse riding to the dramatic summit of Volcan Paricutin and witness millions of butterflies in the Santuario de la Mariposa Monarca.
Head north to ride the famous “Chepe” Copper Canyon Railway through scenic pine forests, dramatic canyons and indigenous villages, then travel to where the desert meets the ocean in Baja California. Relax in the lively beach resorts of Los Cabos, go whale watching in La Paz and discover the spectacular underwater landscapes while diving at Cabo Pulmo.
Created over millennia by bubbling mineral springs, the “frozen” waterfalls of Hierve el Agua appear like natural infinity pools cascading over the cliff edge. While the name translates as “the water boils”, the pools are actually cool and make for a unique bathing experience while taking in the magnificent panoramas of the Oaxaca Highlands.
Famed for its talavera (painted ceramic tiles), Puebla has a bounty of beautifully preserved colonial buildings that have seen the city designated a UNESCO site. Witness the early baroque architecture and dazzling frescoes of its Cathedral, discover pre-Hispanic artefacts in the outstanding Museo Amparo, then sample the elaborate dishes of Puebla’s world-class cuisine.
With crystal clear waters that offer a glimpse into the subterranean world, cenotes were considered sacred by the Maya as a portal to the gods. Go snorkelling in the contrasting tropical waters of Cenote Dos Ojos (“two eyes”), swim beneath the long tree roots that dangle into Cenote Samulá and plunge into the limestone pools at Ik Kil Parque Eco-Arqueologico.
With its steep, winding streets draped in silver mining history, UNESCO-listed Zacatecas is packed with colonial buildings, grandiose churches and excellent museums. Witness the Mexican folk art collection within the opulent Museum Rafael Coronel and join a guided tour through the Mina El Eden, then soak up the views across Zacatecas while zip-lining across Cerro de la Bufa.
One of the most cosmopolitan cities in Baja California, La Paz also makes a great base for whale watching during the annual migration seasons. Whale sharks can be spotted from October to March and an abundance of grey whales arrive between December to April, while March through to July is the best time to see immense blue whales.
Celebrating the return of those who have passed away, Dia de Muertos takes place on November 2 each year, with street processions, cultural performances and colourful offerings all over the country. Join in the festivities at the week-long “Skull” Festival in San Miguel de Allende, witness the illuminated cemetery of Mexico City’s San Andres Mixquic community and experience the indigenous Purepecha rituals on the island of Janitzio.
Set within a lush corner of San Luis Potosi, Huasteca Potosina is renowned for its magnificent swimming holes and waterfalls that flow off the Sierra Madre Oriental. Photograph the stunning falls of El Meco and ride a boat beneath the seven cascades of Los Micos, then go abseiling down the Cascada de Tamul that plunges more than 100 metres into the Rio Santa Maria.
Nestled in Mexico’s central highlands, UNESCO-listed San Miguel de Allende is one of the country’s most attractive colonial cities, with graceful cobblestone streets and a thriving arts scene. Admire the pink pinnacles of the neo-Gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church and explore the stunning botanic gardens that surround the Charco del Ingenio spring.
Taking place on the last two Mondays in July, this colourful festival brings together communities from the seven different regions of Oaxaca to illuminate the capital in folkloric music, song and dance. Experience the traditional costumes and authentic regional dishes, with markets selling local textiles and ceramics, as well as a Mezcal Fair showcasing this hand-crafted alcoholic drink.
Encompassing awe-inspiring canyons and pine-blanketed highlands, the Copper Canyon region is one of the most breathtaking landscapes in Mexico. Travel along the epic “Chepe” Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacifico to soak up the magnificent vistas and native Tarahumara culture, then ride the adrenalin-pumping cable car across the canyon at Parque de Aventura Barranca del Cobre.
Considered the home of mariachi, Mexico’s second largest metropolis hosts an annual festival that sees its streets ignite with parades, folk dances, rodeos and charrería competitions. It takes place over ten days each September, with Mariachi performers flocking here from across the world to showcase their musical talents in the beautiful Benito Juarez Theatre.
The cultural capital of the Yucatan, Mérida is a vibrant blend of colonial mansions, tree-lined plazas and fine museums. Witness the outstanding collection of artefacts in the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, dine in one of the restaurants along historic Calle 60 and experience 17th-century life on a henequen plantation at one of Merida’s atmospheric haciendas.
Mexico’s most spectacular natural phenomena sees millions of monarch butterflies flock to this forested reserve in late October/early November each year. The best time to visit is in February when the warm, sunny weather sees them take to the sky in brilliant flurries before they mate and their young return to the Great Lakes region of North America.
Experience Zapotec village life on a guided eco-adventure in the Pueblos Mancomunados to discover the history, ecology and folklore in this spectacular region of Oaxaca. Scenic walking trails weave between its eight remote villages, with lush cloud forests, stunning waterfalls and caves to discover.
Combining an upmarket hotel strip and international shopping malls with a local downtown core, Cancun has long been one of the Yucatan’s most popular beach resorts. Swim in the turquoise waters of Playa Delfines, take a day trip to charismatic Isla Mujeres, then go diving to explore the 500 life-size sculptures that have been submerged in the artificial reefs of the Museo Subacuatico de Arte.
Located on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, the Los Cabos Corridor stretches between the lively beach resorts of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. Take a boat trip to photograph the jagged rock formation of El Arco, embark on an off-road ATV or parasailing adventure to discover the desert landscapes and enjoy the excellent dining and nightlife on offer.
Exuding European chic with its international restaurants and designer boutiques, Playa del Carmen is set on an attractive stretch of Caribbean coast that boasts powdery white sands. Kick back on a sun lounger beside the idyllic waters and party into the early hours in Playa’s renowned bars and clubs.
With its dramatically-positioned ruins and cenote-dotted interior, Tulum is one of the most photogenic beach destinations in Mexico, with boutique resorts and an exclusive atmosphere. Wander the temples and palaces of the ancient Maya ruins and go swimming in the jade-green waters below, then venture into the jungle-clad interior to discover sacred sinkholes and the magnificent Sian Ka'an biosphere reserve.
Backed by palm-covered mountains and home to eclectic boutiques, Puerto Vallarta is a charismatic beach resort with traditional Mexican architecture that is set around the blue waters of Bahia de Banderas. Relax in the beautiful coves to the south of Vallarta, explore the mountainous jungle by horse-back and watch the sunset while strolling along the waterfront malecon.
In stark contrast to the busy resorts of the Caribbean Coast, Oaxaca’s magnificent stretch of Pacific coastline is dotted with laid-back beach towns and wildlife-filled lagoons. Watch olive ridley turtles clambering ashore to nest on Playa Escobilla, surf the legendary waves at Puerto Escondido and indulge at one of the many eco-resorts in Mazunte, Zipolite and San Agustinillo.
Surrounded by healthy coral reefs teeming with marine life, Isla Cozumel is one of Mexico’s premier scuba diving destinations. Drift along the coral-covered Santa Rosa Wall, go snorkelling in the Palancar Gardens and swim in the warm, sheltered lagoon waters of Cozumel’s southwest beaches.
The centrepiece of what was one of Mesoamerica’s greatest pre-Hispanic empires, UNESCO-listed Teotihuacan is renowned for its immense stepped pyramids and grand palaces, within a stone’s throw of Mexico City. Take in the panoramas atop the Pyramid of the Sun (one of the largest of its kind in the world) and discover the astronomical symbolism of the Pyramid of the Moon.
Among the most impressive examples of Maya architecture in Mexico, the evocative UNESCO ruins of Palenque are surrounded by jungle where howler monkeys, toucans and ocelots roam. Discover the stately Temple of the Inscriptions where one of the Maya world’s greatest emperors is buried, wander the corridors and courtyards of El Palacio and witness the sacred pyramid carvings in the Group of the Crosses.
Once rivalling Tikal for dominance over the southern lowlands, the UNESCO-designated ruins of Calakmul are now enveloped by rainforest where pumas, white-lipped peccaries and jaguars reside. Witness its carved stelae and murals depicting daily life, then climb to the top of one of the largest temples in the Maya world for expansive views across Calakmul’s biosphere reserve.
Renowned for the elaborate ornamentation on its palaces and pyramids, Uxmal is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed set of ruins built in the distinct Puuc architectural style. See the geometric designs of the Governor’s Palace and the carved mythology of the House of the Turtles, then bear witness to the unique, elliptical walls of the soaring Pyramid of the Magician.
One of the most evocative ancient cities in Mexico, El Tajín features impressive pyramids, ball courts and sculptures depicting human sacrifice that have been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Learn about sacrificial rituals in the Juego de Pelota Sur, photograph the magnificent Pyramid of the Niches and witness the daily indigenous Totonac performance of the voladores rite.
Boasting a spectacular setting above a horseshoe in the Rio Usumacinta, the ruins of Yaxchilán are famed for their ornamental facades and carved stone lintels. Wander the maze-like passages of El Laberinto and admire the relief carvings of Edificio 33, keeping an eye out for depictions of the shield-and-jaguar symbol that represents the Jaguar dynasty of rulers.