The 17 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico
Between ancient cities, paradisiacal beaches, and impressive national parks, discover our selection of the most beautiful places to discover in Mexico!
Renowned for its traditions, colors, and diversity, Mexico promises its visitors a unique journey. Few countries can also boast of such cultural and historical richness!
Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Mexican territory is divided into 31 states extending superb sandy beaches, important Mayan and Aztec archaeological sites, equally spectacular forests volcanoes, and canyons.
Have you always dreamed of visiting Mexico but don’t know where to start? A trip to explore all the treasures of this nearly two million km2 country certainly won’t be enough for you, but our pick of the 17 most beautiful places might help you choose!
- The Mayan archaeological sites
- San Cristóbal de Las Casas
- The Cacahuamilpa caves
- Bacalar lagoon
- The islands of Quintana Roo
- The Agua Azul waterfalls
- Nevado de Toluca volcano
- Other pre-Columbian archaeological sites
- The Barrancas del Cobre
- Espiritu Santo Island
- Playa Escondida
- Hierve El Agua
- The Lagunas de Montebello National Park
1. The Mayan archaeological sites
In pre-Columbian times, the Mayan civilization occupied an extensive territory over the present-day states of Guatemala, Belize, part of El Salvador and Honduras, and the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. It explains many ancient Mayan cities, considered absolute archaeological wonders, in this part of the territory.
Chichen Itza (5th-10th century), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and elected as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is the most famous and visited Mayan archaeological site. But there are many more that are worth your attention if you are planning to visit Mexico. Among them, the majestic:
- Calakmul (Campeche)
- Uxmal (Yucatan)
- Kabah (Yucatan)
- Palenque (Chiapas)
- Tulum (Yucatan)
2. San Cristóbal de Las Casas
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, located over 2000 meters above sea level in the mountains of Chiapas, is a city from the Spanish colonial era in Mexico.
Tzotzil Indians and Westerners who have fallen in love with the cultural capital of Chiapas cohabit in the narrow and colorful alleys of this charming and cosmopolitan city to do in Mexico.
If you are passing through San Cristobal de Las Casas, take the opportunity to visit the pretty Tzotzile Church of San Juan de Chamula, a few kilometers away. The traditional indigenous shamanic religion is still practiced there, and there is an indescribable atmosphere.
3. The Cacahuamilpa caves
Are you wondering what unusual experience to do in Mexico? Why not explore the most impressive caves in the world, those of Cacahuamilpa!
This National Park, in the State of Guerrero, is made up of eight large caves linked together by tunnels, and in which it is possible to observe stalactites and stalagmites several meters high.
Wonder and thrills guaranteed!
A cenote is a natural well of fresh water, sometimes partially salt water, formed by the collapse of a limestone base located above a cave or an underground river.
The cenotes being considered as sacred places by the Mayan civilization, sacrifices and rituals therefore took place there. There are nearly 10,000 of them on the Yucatan Peninsula, but we have selected some of the must-see cenotes for you:
- Gran Cenote (Tulum)
- Dos Ojos (Tulum)
- XKeken (valladolid)
- Azul (Puerto Aventuras)
- Ik Kil (near Chichén-Itzá)
- Noh Mozon (Pyxia)
- Zaci (Valladolid)
- Angelita (Quintana Roo)
5. Bacalar lagoon
Are you about to visit Mexico? Direction Quintana Roo, in the south-east of the country, to relax your feet in the Bacalar lagoon ! The one we call the lagoon with 7 shades of blue changes from turquoise blue to deep blue, depending on the sunshine and the depth of the water.
People go there to kayak, cycle along the lagoon in search of cenotes (Cenote La Bruja , for example) or simply enjoy the soothing atmosphere of the place, in an idyllic setting.
From the Riviera Maya to the Yucatan, the must-see Tulum could not be absent from this top of the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico.
Imagine the remains of the unique Mayan city built by the sea, overlooking beaches worthy of the most beautiful postcards stretching for miles and miles, all on the edge of a lush jungle.
Some of the most beautiful cenotes in Mexico are found around this Eden on the Caribbean coast.
On the list of things to do in Mexico, we find the old mining town of Guanajuato, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The presence of universities makes it a lively and cultural student city, and every corner has some pretty surprises in store for you (flower-filled squares, monuments with colonial architecture, groups of musicians, the alley of the kiss, the Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato basilica.).
To enjoy an exceptional view of the whole city and its colorful houses, we recommend that you climb the hill of the Pipila monument. Breathtaking!
8. The islands of Quintana Roo
The state of Quintana Roo is full of nuggets to visit in Mexico, and the islands below are undoubtedly one of them:
- Holbox, a small island of 56 km2 in the Gulf of Mexico, is the ideal place to stroll on a white sand beach, snorkel, and observe pink flamingos or whale sharks.
- Cozumel, or the land of swallows in Yucatec Maya, is an island in the Caribbean Sea whose seabed is renowned as being among the most beautiful in the world.
- Isla Mujeres, off Cancun, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, appeals to snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, especially with its underwater museum.
So, do you like diving in crystal clear water?
To visit Mexico is to visit the Pueblos Magicos, or magical villages, of which Cholula is a part. Located in altitude, at the foot of the still-active Popocatepetl volcano, this village fascinates with its Great Pyramid, which is none other than the largest pyramid in the world.
At the top of the hill that covers this pyramid, the Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios church dominates the plain, offering a striking spectacle, with the volcano as a backdrop.
10. The Agua Azul waterfalls
Return to Chiapas to explore the Agua Azul Waterfalls Special Biosphere Reserve, which means blue water. This series of waterfalls, and emerald blue that seems almost unreal, is formed thanks to the junction of three rivers through the jungle. A pleasure for the eyes!
Note: since the powerful earthquake of September 2017, the course of the rivers has been modified, causing the Agua Azul waterfalls to almost dry up.
11. Nevado de Toluca volcano
The Nevado volcano, also known as Xinantécatl, is located in the Toluca Valley, Mexico.
The view of its crater is simply magnificent, like its two lakes, Lac de Lune and Lac du Soleil. Hiking enthusiasts? The Nevado de Toluca volcano is for you!
12. Other pre-Columbian archaeological sites
Other pre-Columbian archaeological sites are of significant importance in the history of Mexico and for the civilizations that have succeeded there. We find, among others:
- In the state of Veracruz, El Tajin was built by the Native American people of the Totonacs (5th-12th century). The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Teotihuacan (1st-7th century), in the State of Mexico, means Place where the Gods are created. Its name testifies to the power and influence of this Mesoamerican city. The site is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The majestic ruins of the Zapotec archaeological site of Monte Alban overlook the Oaxaca valley and are also listed as World Heritage by Unesco.
- The 20 most beautiful places to visit in Spain
13. The Barrancas del Cobre
Are you planning to visit Mexico and, more specifically, the State of Chihuahua? You should take a tour of the imposing copper canyons located in the middle of the Sierra Madre.
The best way to explore the Barrancas del Cobre is by taking a seat on the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico, or El Chepe, which connects Chihuahua and Los Mochis along the main canyon.
14. Espiritu Santo Island
The uninhabited island of Espiritu Santo in the Gulf of California is a natural treasure still preserved where it is good to walk on deserted beaches. But to say that it is uninhabited is actually not entirely true since the island is home to a large colony of sea lions, which you might be lucky enough to meet.
Espiritu Santa is designated by Unesco as a biosphere reserve.
15. Playa Escondida
On the Marietas Islands, off the coast of Nayarit, there is an unusual beach known as Playa Escondida, or the Hidden Beach, because of its shape: an open-air cave. It is accessed at low tide after swimming through a cave.
As you will have understood, Playa Escondida has to be earned!
16. Hierve El Agua
What to do in Mexico to be amazed? Meet in the mountains, in front of the surprising thermal baths and waterfalls of Hierve El Agua.
The reason? Hierve El Agua results from an extraordinary geological formation since its waterfalls are formed of mineral salts, and therefore petrified in the rock. Impressive!
17. The Lagunas de Montebello National Park
To end on a high note, we present the Lagunas de Montebello National Park, a Unesco biosphere reserve in the Chiapas region. This exceptional natural site includes fifty lakes and lagoons of various sizes and colors, surrounded by small mountains covered with forests.
Here is a setting very different from those we are used to seeing in Mexico!
The 17 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Mexico