Mexico offers so much more than the high octane holiday resorts which it’s has become famous for. Explore a little further afield than the package vacation favorites and you’ll unearth deserted coastlines, remains of ancient and important civilizations and peaceful national parks. Although selecting the most picturesque places is, of course, subjective, here are my choices for 20 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Mexico…
1. Yucatán Peninsula – ancient Mayan ruins, incredible jungle swimming holes and stunning beaches
The Yucatan peninsula sits on the southern tip of Eastern Mexico. A popular and attractive area to visit, the peninsula is known for its unique geology, natural beauty, outstanding coastline and ancient Mayan ruins.
The state’s national parks shouldn’t be missed nor should the incredible underground lakes otherwise known as the Cenotes.
A video showing the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico…
Our cool and unusual hotel pick for the Yucatan Peninsula – Chablé Maroma
- Carretera Federal 307 Km 51 Punta Maroma, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Click here to book with Booking.com
Hotels and Airbnbs in Yucatán Peninsula
2. Oaxaca City – for great gastronomy, culture and historic architecture
Covering a part of Mexico’s south coast, this world heritage city offers both natural and man-made beauty. Famous for its indigenous people and ancient cultures as well as a vibrant art and craft scene – the city makes an exceptional travel destination.
When visiting, make sure you explore some of the colourful colonial architecture and also the surrounding area which is abundant with deserted stretches of coastline, thick forests and photogenic waterfalls.
Our cool and unusual hotel pick for Oaxaca City – Hotel CasAntica
- Av.Morelos 601, 68000 Oaxaca City, Mexico
- Click here to book with Booking.com
Hotels and Airbnbs in Oaxaca
3. Isla Holbox – a beautiful island and once Mexico’s best-kept secrets
The Island of Holbox or Isla Holbox according to locals is an island that attracts tourists and Mexico’s natives alike. It is your classic Caribbean style beach filled with spectacularly colored buildings matched by crystal clear waters.
The word Holbox means Black Hole in Ycatec Maya, but you will not feel the name matches the island’s personality. Walking along the shore, shopping in the shops, or just enjoying the view of native birds such as flamingos and pelicans will make for an enjoyable afternoon as you simply sit back, relax, and enjoy all that Isla Holbox has to offer.
The beauty of Isla Holbox captured on drone…
Our cool and unusual hotel pick for Isla Holbox – Casa Sandra Boutique Hotel
- Calle Igualdad Costado De Sec Tec, 77310 Holbox Island, Mexico
- Click here to book with Booking.com
Hotels and Airbnbs in Isla Holbox
4. Bernal – a pretty, quaint and under-the-radar town
Few places hold true allure to tourists these days, but Bernal is an exception to that notion. It is said that the residents of Bernal, Mexico actually live longer than in other parts of the country. The reasoning for this is largely due to the laid back atmosphere of the area.
Locals prefer to take life as it comes and limit stress as much as possible. One visit to Bernal and you will realize that their way of thinking is largely beneficial to anyone. However, Bernal is not without plenty to do. Bernal is home to the third-largest natural monolith in the world where tourists and locals enjoy the challenge of climbing to the peak.
Hotels and Airbnbs in Bernal
5. Lago de Patzcuaro – a lake which considered one of the beautiful attractions in Mexico
Finding your way to an impeccably beautiful beach is a given in Mexico, but if you prefer your waters to be still, Largo de Parzuaro is the perfect place to go. This lake is an average of 5 meters deep and provides a calm place to enjoy the scenery and relax your cares away.
Largo de Parzuaro was formed via a volcano and is home to a number of aquatic and semi-aquatic animals including the rough footed turtle and the Mexican garter snake. The beauty of Largo De Patzcuaro was the inspiration behind Pixar’s Coco.
6. Isla Mujeres – a beautiful and relaxing island off the Yucatán Peninsula coast
Just a short boat ride from the package holiday favourite Cancun, Isla Mujeres (otherwise known as the Island of the Women) is a perfect tropical paradise which is a world away from the craziness of the mainland. It’s a small island with not an awful lot going on – but that’s the island’s main selling point. Swim, snorkel or just indulge in the sweet art of not doing very much at all.
7. Celestun – a village known for being home to large flocks of beautiful flamingos
Located on the already amazing Yucatan Peninsula, Celestun is famous in its own right. Apart from being one of the most beautiful places in the country, it is home to native flamingos, a sea of pink flamingos, to be exact.
This seemingly sleepy town is an environmentally friendly area drawing not just flamingos, but many other wildlife to Reserva de la Biosfera Ria Celestun. Bring your camera and plenty of sunscreen when visiting Celestun. You will enjoy your time taking pictures and relaxing along the shores of this picturesque area of Mexico.
8. Puerto Vallarta – a cosmopolitan resort town known for its beaches, water sports and nightlife
This cosmopolitan resort located on the country’s west coast Puerto Vallarta is a picky vacationer’s dream. It’s also the perfect choice for those on a limited time frame who want to get a taste for all aspects of Mexican life.
The gorgeous stretches of sand along Banderas Bay is one of the biggest draws and so is the pretty old town of Puerto Vallarta which offers traditional architecture, stylish restaurants and plenty of interesting shops.
9. Cabo San Lucas Arch – a graceful and striking natural coastal rock formation
The coastal city of Cabo is a tourist hot spot and visitors love its sandy beaches, world-class diving locations and holiday atmosphere. Although the highlight of Cabo is undoubtedly the beautiful natural rock formations that jut out from the turquoise sea. The Cabo San Lucas Arch sits at the meeting point of two seas and has rightly earned its place in Mexican legend and folklore.
10. Mahahual – gorgeous beaches, old-world colonial flavor and Mayan ruins
The splendor of the Caribbean coastline attracts visitors from around the world and Mahahual is among the most popular areas to visit. Unlike other, more touristy areas, Mahahual is just a small fishing village on the surface, but those have visited have marveled at the beautiful turquoise waters and serene nature of the area.
Things move a bit slower here and that is what the locals and visitors seem to love about Mahahual. Throughout the year, temperatures never reach above 85 degrees F making for a relaxing day at the beach any time of the year.
11. Morelia – a historic colonial building lined with well-preserved 17th- and 18th-century buildings
Relaxing on the beaches of Mexico is a great way to spend your time, but if history is what you seek, your destination should be Morelia. This area has seen its fare share of battles including during the Mexican War for Independence and monuments to the many battles fought can be seen throughout the city as well as many beautiful sites to enjoy.
Among the most popular historic sites is the Temple of San Francisco built-in 1610. The interior of this temple has been painstakingly kept in pristine condition by locals and officials. Their efforts have drastically paid off as it is one of the most photographed temples in Morelia.
12. Isla Espiritu Santo – considered to be one of the most beautiful islands in Mexico
Located in the Gulf of California, Isla Espiritu Santo is the 12th largest island in Mexico. Rare creatures inhabit this UNESCO protected landmass including the black jackrabbit, who is not known to inhabit any other part of the world.
Isla Espiritu Santo was voted as one of the most beautiful places in Mexico and is known as one of the top 12 places to visit in the world. Visitors have the opportunity to see dolphins, whales, sharks, and turtles, to name a few of the animals inhabiting the area. Snorkeling in the area is highly encouraged.
13. Campeche – known for its preserved baroque colonial buildings, military architecture and walled historic district
Declared a World Heritage site in 1997, Campeche has attracted its share of visitors. Officially, it is known as the Free and Sovereign State of Campeche. A few notable tourist attractions in Campeche include Becan Ruins, Zona Arquelogica Edzna, and Calakmul Archaeological Zone.
Visitors can also enjoy Chicana Mayan Ruins and Fuerte Museo San Miguel. With a history dating back well over 3000 years, Campeche is the place to soak up the illustrious history of Mexico, but also relax along the picturesque coastline.
14. The Copper Canyon, Chihuahua – a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of six canyons
This area in the north of Chihuahua is a beautiful environment made up of cliffs and caves. The cliffs join together to make a formation bigger than America’s famous Grand Canyon. Visit for stunning panoramic vistas as well as inspirational canyon walks where the sheer size of nature really helps put life in perspective!
15. Valladolid – a city filled with historic colonial buildings and is also home to one of the best cenotes
A trip to the Yucatan Peninsula would not be complete without visiting Valladolid. The city itself is well worth a visit and is known for its important colonial buildings (including the 16th-century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena) and Mexican folk art and furnishings.
It’s also home to one the best cenotes the world has to offer. With over 6,000 cenotes in existence throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, Zaci is said to be among the best. What is unique about this particular cenote is the fact that it is not on the outskirts of the city like others, but right in the middle of Valladolid. For just a few pounds, you can enjoy the park-like setting of Zaci, so be sure to put that at the top of your to-do list.
16. Lacandon Jungle – a lush, green jungle perfect for exploring nature and meeting with the indigenous people who call it home
Stretching from Chiapas, Mexico all the way down to the southern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula, you will find the Lacandon Jungle. Just like one would think, this illustrious jungle is full of amazing wildlife and photo opportunities around every corner.
Lacandon Jungle is part of the reserve that is the largest rainforest in all of North America. The Lacandon people within the jungle have their own language, but most of the inhabitants of the area have adapted well to speaking fluent Spanish as well.
17. Chiapas – a region where stunning pine-forest highlands, beautiful rainforest jungles and attractive colonial cities exist side by side
A subtropical paradise characterized by dense rainforest jungles and ancient Mayan ruins, the Chiapas is certainly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico. A southern Mexican state bordering Guatemala, highlights include the river-carved Canyon of Sumidero, the lakes at Montebello and the ancient ruins at Palenque.
18. Chichen Itza, Yucatan – a stunning and historically important complex of Mayan ruins
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza stands as a testament to the might of the Mayan civilization. Dominated by the imposing El Castillo structure this site of extreme archaeological interest is also one of the most stunning spots in the country and should be on everyone’s list of extraordinary places to visit in Mexico.
The important site is located in Tinúm Municipality, Yucatán State and when planning your trip make sure you allow for a full day to visit – the area occupies around a 2.5 square mile radius.
19. Horsetail Falls, Monterrey – a unique and beautiful natural waterfall
The Cola de Caballo (or horse’s tail) waterfalls in Monterrey draws a huge number of visitors. The cascades are a great photogenic attraction and the surrounding area is also popular with outdoor activity and nature enthusiasts. Book a hotel in a nearby resort and choose from hiking, bungee jumping or canyoneering.
20. The Bufadora, Baja California – the second largest marine geiser in the world
This sea cave in Baja California is a stunning sight not to miss when visiting Mexico. With the cave at sea level, the tidal surges create a massive spouting geyser accompanied by an eerie sound that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Join the other people gathering around the cave and sit back and enjoy the show.
The rest of Baja California is also worth exploring – the earth’s second-longest peninsula the region spans hundreds of majestic mountains and gorgeous beaches.
Of course, it’s impossible to mention all the beautiful places in Mexico in a Top 10 list. Still want more? Then head for the famously fun resort town of Acapulco, the historic colonial city of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende the romantic city which hails from the 16th-century city, the protected Marieta Islands, the birthplace of tequila Guadalajara and Riviera Nayarit – the spot that calls itself “Mexico’s newest beach destination.” Enjoy Mexico!