Best Places to Visit in Mexico This Year
Mexico is a huge country, covering over 750 square miles., or about three times as large as the state of Texas. It can be hard to know where to go, as there are many different tourist destinations. From resort cities to quieter art communities, here are some of the most beautiful places in Mexico. Whether you want a fun and thrilling vacation or to relax on the beach, these are the best places to visit in Mexico right now.
Looking for a place to stay in Mexico? Check out our list of the Best Hotels in Mexico!
Destinations in Mexico
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is one of our favorite places in Mexico, and perhaps the whole Caribbean. Located in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula, Playa del Carmen offers beautiful Caribbean waters, warm and comfortable weather, and soft-sand beaches. Whether you want to go snorkeling, visit an eco park like Aktun Chen, or see some Mayan ruins, this is the center of the Riviera Maya. Playa del Carmen really offers fun for any type of traveler. It’s a great place to visit if you are with your family, want to go out to clubs, or want to spend time in nature. You can check our our list of 15 Best Things to Do in Playa del Carmen for some ideas of what to do when you visit! If you’re looking for an awesome place to stay, check out the Pueblito Luxury Condohotel and the Club del Carmen. You can check out our post Playa del Carmen vs. Cancún – Choosing Your Vacation for a more in-depth look at Playa del Carmen and the neighboring city of Cancun.
Sayulita is another one of our favorite places in Mexico. Located over on the west side of Mexico in the state of Nayarit, Sayulita is a small town just north of the buzzing Puerto Vallarta. A haven for surfers from around the world, Sayulita has become a popular destination for tourists looking for a slow and easy vacation. With activities like horseback riding, canopy tours, lots of snorkeling, and much more, Sayulita is the place to go if you want to be outside and active. It’s known as a destination for those looking for a mellow, spiritual, and art-filled vacation. You can find things to do in Sayulita and guided tours here.
Cozumel is a little island off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, just a dozen miles from Playa del Carmen. The town is pretty touristy, catering to those seeking to snorkel, scuba dive, and relax in the little resort towns. There are tons of things to do in Cozumel, and you’re unlikely to find yourself bored. Cozumel has some of the best snorkeling in Mexico, and it’s definitely a place to go if you enjoy swimming with wildlife. The reefs are teeming with fish and wildlife, and there are many places on the island to rent gear. You can wander the island yourself, or find some awesome tours, horseback riding, and activities from Beach Tours Mexico. You can check out our gude on getting to Cozumel from Cancun for instructions on taking the trip to this beautiful island from the international airport! You can also read about the fantastic Scuba diving in Cozumel at https://therivieramaya.org/cozumel-scuba-diving/.
Tulum is another spot on the Riviera Maya, just south of Playa del Carmen. There are lots of things to do in Tulum, but the most famous is of course the Mayan Ruins. The history of Tulum is riveting, with the town resting as an important trade center for cotton, copper, and cacao. Today, you can see these Mayan Ruins on the beautiful Mexican coast. Tulum is home to great food, yoga centers, beautiful cenotes (see our post Cenote Azul in the Riviera Maya for more about cenotes), and more. You can always find something to do, or take a tour in Tulum. In our opinion, Tulum may top the list of the best places to visit in Mexico.
Mexico City may not seem like the traditional vacation spot in Mexico, but it is a wonderful place to visit. With over 8 million residents in the city and over 21 million in the metropolitan area, Mexico City is the second-largest city in the Americas. Visiting Mexico City, you can find almost anything you’re looking for. From the luxurious areas like Polanco to the hipper communities of Zona Rosa and Juárez, you can find something to do in this bustling city. There’s live music, fabulous art, delicious food, and beautiful areas of the city. If you like to travel and visit the bigger and busier places, Mexico City is a must! You can find tours and things to do in Mexico City from Viator, Trip Advisor’s touring website!
Cancún is one of the most well-known places in Mexico, especially as a party spot. Although this is a famous location for spring-breakers, there are many other things to do. As we share in our post 11 Awesome Things to Do in Cancun (Other than Partying), Cancún is full of activities for the whole family. From the underwater museum to beautiful cenotes, Cancún offers a ton of things to do. It’s one of the best places to visit in Mexico simply because of the amount of offerings available to visitors. Don’t write it off as just a party spot; there’s a lot to do here!
Mazatlán is a city on the west coast of Mexico in the state of Sinaloa. Over five hundred years old, this city is sometimes called the Pearl of the Pacific. You can visit Old Mazatlán, the revitalized old city which is now a hip artsy scene. You can go during their Carnival, which hosts almost a half million parading through the streets. Mazatlån also often makes lists of the best beaches in Mexico, with miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches. It’s definitely a less-trafficked location in Mexico than many other places on this list, which makes it one of our favorite places to go in the country.
Los Cabos is the area at the southern tip of Baja California. Los Cabos includes the two towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. It’s a popular tourist destination, with beaches lined with various resorts, spas, and luxurious hotels. There are tons of things to do in the area as it is host to over a million visitors every year from the United States alone. People go to Cabo to play golf in the deserts, fish in the Sea of Cortez and out on the Pacific, and stay in the beautiful all-inclusive resorts. We recommend Cabo if you’re looking for a vacation without much Mexican culture. If you just want to sit on a beach and be in the sun, Cabo may be the place for you!
Mérida is the capital of Yucatán, and is sometimes called the most underrated city in Mexico. Many people have not heard of this city of about 900,000, but it’s simply one of the best places in Mexico to visit. Mérida offers a more authentic Mexican experience than the more touristy destinations. You can find quality Mexican food, a hopping art scene, and some of the friendliest people around. Although the city is fairly large in population, it doesn’t feel crowded or overwhelming like other cities often do. Mérida is one of the safest cities in Mexico, just a half hour from beautiful beaches, and tons of things to do to experience Mexican culture.
Oh, how much we love Akumal. It has become much more crowded in recent years, with many big hotels popping up, but it is still a relaxing place to visit in Mexico. If you’re looking at Mexico beach destinations, Akumal needs to be at the top of your list! There are tons of fun things to do in Akumal like snorkeling with the sea turtles, visiting the local ruins, and spending time at the awesome animal sanctuary. You can also spend a day at Aktun Chen, the gorgeous eco park just outside of town. Because of the sea turtles, Akumal is a top destination in Mexico for snorkeling. There are family friendly resorts, couples resorts, and things for all types of travelers.
This is a popular destination for tourists in Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is a resort town with a population of about 250,000. The city hosts many all-inclusive resorts, luxurious hotels, and eco-friendly options. A popular destination for people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, Puerto Vallarta is simply a fun place to check out. You can check out the popping night life, the history of this town, wonderful shopping experiences, and much more. This is a great place to go for those who are active and want to be out and doing things. If you visit Puerto Vallarta, we can guarantee you won’t be bored on your vacation for even a minute!
Todos Santos is one of the more unique places to visit in Mexico. Located about an hour north of Los Cabos, Todos Santos is a great place for surfing. Todos Santos is a bit of a desert city, offering a unique experience that you don’t find in other travel destinations in Mexico. With awesome hotels and tons of culture, Todos Santos draws an artsy and mellow crowd. We recommend checking out Todos Santos if you want to hang out, enjoy live music, see local art, and steer clear of the bigger all-inclusive resort towns.
Zihuantenejo was one of the first places we went in Mexico that we really loved, and it still stands as one of the best travel destinations in Mexico. Popularized in the 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption, Zihuantanejo is located in the state of Guerrero. Known locally as Zihua, this paradise is still a relaxing spot to visit although the tourist town of Ixtapa is right next door. There are beautiful beaches, tons of culture, and lots of time to relax. We have gone to Zihuantanejo when we need a relaxing break from the chaos of life. If you’ve never been, we strongly recommend checking it out! Our favorite places to stay are Embarc Zihuantanejo and The Villas at Zihuantanejo.
Looking for a place to stay in Mexico? Check out our list of the Best Hotels in Mexico!