Are you planning your next Mexico vacation and want to try somewhere new? If you are then you need to know where the best vacation spots in Mexico are. In this blog post, I asked 10 of my blogging friends and fellow Mexico connoisseurs where their favorite places to vacation in Mexico are. As well as a few classic best vacation spots in Mexico, like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, there are a few off-the-beaten-path places that you may not have heard of before.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared for anything! Travel insurance has always been high my list of things to get before I travel but now more than ever its at the top of my list.
I’m pretty sure we have all had travel plans messed up because of COVID and not all insurers covered this. So when looking for travel insurance it’s important to check it covers travel disruption due to COVID-19, Hey Mondo, Passport Nomads, Safety Wing, and Travel Insurance Master all provide cover for this.
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single trip cover, annual multi trip cover, and long term travel cover. You even have the option to start the cover when you are already on your trip, although you won’t be covered for the first 72 hours. For me my favourite feature is their app which offers you a 24/7 Dr chat and the ability to file a claim direct in the app.
Passport Nomads provides the most comprehensive cover for Digital Nomads. The game changer with them is that you have a red card and if you find yourself in need of medical care you just contact them and they will pre load your card with the funds to cover your treatment, meaning you won’t need to pay out of pocket and then put in a claim later.
Safety Wing is great value with monthly cover starting at $39. It’s super easy to use and it just renews each month. They have an excess of $250 and it’s simple to make a claim through their website. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy and I like that it renews on a monthly basis, so I don’t have to pay out a big lump sum up front.
I also use Travel Insurance Master for some short vacation type trips.
If you are doing shorter trips or an extended backpacking trip then Hey Mondo or Travel Insurance Master are the best option. If you are a digital nomad or planning travel of at least 6 months then go for Passport Nomads or SafetyWing.
The 10 Best Vacation Spots In Mexico
As Mexico’s capital and largest city, it should come as no surprise that Mexico City is one of the best places to visit in Mexico. Home to over 20 million people, this land-locked city is famous for its culture and the unique landscapes that surround it. It is busy, vibrant, and the perfect place to explore.
Arriving in Mexico City by airplane is exciting in itself. From the plane window, before you land, you’ll see a huge sprawling urban jungle surrounded by mountains and volcanos – an image that is rather unexpected for many visitors.
Then once in the city, there are so many different places to explore all offering different experiences. Head to the neighborhood of Condesa for tree-lined parks and manicured gardens. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Centro, or visit Roma for trendy streets filled with street art and exciting nightlife. There are plenty of hotels and hostels in Mexico City in each of these neighborhoods to choose from so you can spend a few nights and enjoy. It’s also worth checking out vacation rentals with cozycozy if you want to compare different options in one place. Claire also wrote a super detailed guide to accommodation in Mexico City you can read here. You can also look for cheap flights on WayAWay.io, which offer travelers on the best rate for the airline.
There are tons of things to do in Mexico City to keep you busy as well. You must head to the massive central plaza where you can enjoy stunning architecture at the cathedral and even check out ancient ruins only steps away! That’s right, you can see ruins right in central Mexico City! A guided walking tour of the city is a great way to learn about the rich history and culture of the city and visit other important sites such as the stunning post office and cultural center. You can easily spend a couple of days just wandering the city.
Be sure to also venture on a day trip to Xochimilco where you’ll float down a canal in a colorful boat. Also, be sure to venture to the nearby Teotihuacan, a huge ancient Aztec ruin site. Food tours are also very popular in Mexico City and you’ll be spoiled for choice with some of the best tacos in the world! If you can, be sure to get some amazing street tacos recipes along the way so that you can bring the fun home with you!
Oh, and if you love museums, there are literally dozens in Mexico City!
Bailey from Destinationless Travel
Oaxaca City is one of the best places to visit in Mexico and should be high on your Mexico bucket list. There are so many exciting things to do in Oaxaca that you won’t know where to begin. Still, an excellent place to start is by walking around the city center. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you should admire the churches, the architecture, and the magical colors.
Arguably, the best time to visit is for Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), where the city’s celebrations are extraordinary. If you can’t stay for this, then don’t worry though, there are many remarkable things to do in and around the city.
Visit the Zocalo, the museums, and the botanical gardens, and browse the markets. You can also visit Hierve el Agua, located 45 minutes out of the city center, accessible by taxi, bus, and tour buses. It is a popular spot because the spectacular scenery is unlike anything you’ve seen before – a frozen waterfall and thermal pools.
I personally love Oaxaca City because it was the first time I tried Mezcal. It was at a tasting room called Mezcaloteca, and I went with my friends who were living in the city. We learned, laughed, and felt free. It was everything I imagined Mexico to be – and more. After that, we had local specialties at the open-air Tiacoula Market and craft beers at Mezcalerita’s rooftop. Oaxaca will always hold a special place in my heart.
By Rachel from Average Lives – an affordable travel blog focusing on itineraries, outdoor adventures and road trips.
Uxmal is a stunning Mayan archeological site that is part of the Ruta Puuc and one of the best places to visit in Yucatan. If you are planning a holiday that involves more than just the beaches of Mexican Riviera Maya, you should definitely consider visiting.
What makes Uxmal special is how beautifully set in nature it is – the low bushes of Yucatan surround the many buildings, and iguanas have made themselves at home here. The easiest access point to visit Uxmal is Merida, from where you can hop on the Ruta Puuc bus, or join a guided tour. If you have your own car, this is a perfect place for a road trip.
At its peak, Uxmal boasted a population of 25000 people. You are better off exploring the site with a guide, as it is actually more spread out than you’d imagine. A good guide will be able to take you to the best viewpoints and explain the significance of the various buildings, including the ball court where the “pelota” was played.
Make sure to visit Uxmal early in the morning, before the large groups of tourists arrive, and before it gets unbearably hot. There isn’t much share, so you will need a hat!
Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across The World – Claudia Tavani is a former human rights lawyer who started My Adventures Across The World in 2015 with a view of helping others live their dream trip.
Whether you love city life, nature hikes, art, and culture, or prefer laying on the beach until further notice (me too), Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone. On the surface, Puerto Vallarta seems like just another resort town, but upon arrival, you’ll discover there is a rich culture and magnetic energy that can’t be captured in a single travel photo.
The city is filled with local street food and markets, famous art galleries, live music, and friendly people. It’s no wonder Puerto Vallarta has a large number of ex-pats and travelers who return year after year.
The best things to do in Puerto Vallarta include eating your heart out in Versalles (the “foodie hub” of Puerto Vallarta), walking along the Malecon downtown, hiking to the Mirador, exploring La Marina, partying in Zona Romantica, and going to a drag show at The Palm.
Looking for something unique? For an authentic Mexican experience, head to the Sunday market in Mojoneras, a traditional open-air market that opens at 9 am every Sunday. The market is filled with local food, clothes, art, second-hand items, and more. Make sure to come hungry and try La Tuba (juice), chilate (chocolate drink), elote en vaso (corn in a cup), tamales, and of course, tacos.
Puerto Vallarta is also the perfect spot for day and weekend trips around Mexico. Go for a day trip to El Tuito (small pueblo magico), camp on the beach in Mayto (secluded beach), take a bus to Sayulita and San Pancho, and spend a romantic weekend in Yelapa.
As an LGBTQ+ traveler, Puerto Vallarta’s thriving gay scene is what originally drew me to this colorful city. Zona Romantica, the gay neighborhood in the heart of the city, is famous for being one of the largest gay communities in the world. PV is home to gay resorts, gay tours, gay-owned businesses, and Los Muertos, the gay beach. A city with hundreds of queers and a street lined with drag bars must be fabulous, yeah?
Thinking about traveling to Puerto Vallarta? Click here for everything you need to know before you hop on the plane. And if you are thinking about getting dental work done in Mexico, read this.
Courtney (The Explorer) is an LGBTQ+ travel content creator and 7-year nomadic traveling human originally from Chicago, USA.
Drive just an hour from the bustling city of Puerto Vallarta and you will find Sayulita, a colorful beach town near the lush jungle and mountainside. The bohemian town is one of the best places in Mexico for its surfing and artisan culture. I personally love Sayulita because of its laid-back free-spirited vibe. Rather than mega-resorts, you will find quirky boutiques and Airbnb at an affordable prices.
Surfers have been coming to Sayulita to surf since the 1960s. Book a lesson with one of the surf schools and learn how to catch some waves. The rolling, gentle waves in Sayulita are great for beginners.
After a morning surf, unwind at Playa Sayulita beach and pick one of the beach huts to get a relaxing and affordable massage.
Sayulita is also known for its trendy food scene with a variety of restaurants serving authentic Mexican fare, plant-based cuisine, and seafood. Explore the vibrant town and find a spot to eat for lunch. Afterward, walk the streets lined with colorful buildings and shop artisanal boutiques for housewares, bohemian clothing, and jewelry.
If you are a fan of The Bachelor, you may be excited that the filming location for Bachelor in Paradise is only 10 minutes away from town. Hotel Playa Escondido sits in a beach cove and has its own private beach. Guests can stay at the hotel or book a spa treatment when the show is not filming.
Kick back and enjoy this boho paradise!
Cecily of Groovy Mashed Potatoes – a travel blog featuring unique travel experiences, fun itineraries, and offbeat places to help you plan your dream trip.
Holbox is a beautiful island located in Yucatan, Mexico. While it’s actually quite large only a small portion of Holbox is inhabited making it feel like the perfect beach getaway.
There are no cars allowed on Holbox and the main way of getting around is by golf cart. You can rent these on the island or call a golf cart taxi to help you get around. Holbox is known for its incredible nature and wildlife.
You can see whale sharks (from May until September), manta rays, flamingos, and even bioluminescent plankton here so definitely make sure to take a boat tour. There are many different ones to choose from depending on what you want to see. You could go snorkeling, swimming or even diving.
Of course, there are plenty of other things to do in Holbox and beaches to spend the day at. The sea is usually very calm and shallow in Holbox so it’s perfect even for inexperienced swimmers. The island has motley been spared by the crowds of tourists that populated Yucatan’s other islands like Isla Mujeres or Cozumel.
Holbox is far more authentic and you won’t find large resorts or chain restaurants here, just lots of smaller boutique hotels. Definitely try the delicious Mexican street food and go out for drinks in the evening to one of the small beach bars.
Victoria from www.guideyourtravel.com
Need to book transportation in Mexico?
I highly recommend booking all of your Mexico transportation with GuateGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from my time living in Guatemala and they really do look after their customers. So if anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them and they are always there to help.
If you book through them you will pay a little more than if you book in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security in my opinion. Click here to search for transportation in Mexico.
Escape the party cities of Playa Del Carmen or Cancun to relax and enjoy this beautiful island. One of the best, and most relaxing vacation spots in Mexico is Cozumel. It’s like being on a Hawaiian Island, but for only half the cost.
You can spend your days snorkeling at one of the beach clubs, visiting Eco Parks, exploring Ancient Mayan Ruins, eating great food, making chocolate, and going scuba diving on one of the most beautiful reefs in the world.
Although this island is only 40 minutes away from the hectic life of Cancun, it feels like you are a world away. If you love to snorkel, one of the best spots is at the Money Bar. There is no fee to enter the beach club, so you can snorkel as long as you would like. If you are looking for a more authentic experience, Mayan Cacao should be on your list. Take a tour of their factory, make chocolate, get a drink, and learn more about Mayan Culture.
If you are traveling with a family, you don’t want to miss the fun eco-parks. Chankanaab is my favorite because there is so much for kids to do. Take your little ones to snorkel, hang out in the lagoon, or play at the playground.
What I love about Cozumel is the people. Everything is so nice and willing to offer a helping hand. Plus, the food is amazing. Two of the must-have places are Gordito Burrito and the Lobster Shack. We became obsessed, so you’ve been forewarned.
Corritta from It’s a Family Thing, and we are a full-time travel family currently living in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Tulum is no longer the hidden gem it used to be, but it is still a special place. Less touristy than Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Tulum is growing into an extremely popular destination in the Yucatan Peninsular, yet it manages to keep an alternative vibe.
Tulum town center is a cheaper place to stay, with some great local restaurants and cheap accommodation. However, most people prefer to stay on the beachfront in the Hotel Zone, which is much more expensive – you pay for the gorgeous view!
If you can’t afford to stay on Tulum beach, you can certainly spend a lot of your time there if you like – hire a bike so you can get around easily and explore the area.
One thing you don’t want to miss is the Tulum Archaeological site, which has the most picturesque Mayan ruins you could hope for, perched on a cliff above the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Remember to take your bathing suit so you can take a dip to cool off while you’re there!
The other must-do activity in Tulum is swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the cenotes. You can arrange a tour to visit several of these natural freshwater pools or choose a couple to visit yourself. You can even go cenote diving with crocodiles if you’re brave enough!
I adored Tulum as it felt more real than the resort destinations further up the coast, and visiting Tulum alone gave me the chance to get to know the town properly. I ate at local restaurants, sunbathed on beautiful beaches, and dived in the cenotes – a unique experience I will never forget.
Claire – This Travel Lover. Claire is a solo travel expert and helps women to enjoy their solo travel adventures safely and sustainably through her blog and podcast This Travel Lover.
Looking for a reputable tour company in The Riviera Maya?
I’ve been working with Turismo Channel in Playa del Carmen for years and they are who I send all of my family and friends to when they visit the Riviera Maya. I really can recommend them enough for tours, private airport transfers, and rental cars. Vanessa and Oliver are personal friends of mine and I have 100% faith that you will have a wonderful time with them.
You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen has it all: beautiful beaches, amazing food, vibrant nightlife, and endless things to do.
One of the top things to do while in the Yucatan region is to check out cenotes, or natural water-filled sinkholes. Just outside Playa del Carmen is Cenote Azul, a stunning cenote tucked into tropical vegetation. A swim in the freshwater amongst the jungle vibes will have you cooled off from the Caribbean heat in no time!
In the evening, head over to Playa’s iconic Fifth Avenue where you’ll find lively beach clubs and bars as well as chic restaurants all along a pedestrian promenade lined with shops. It’s the perfect place to end the day, and no matter what your travel style is, there’s something for everyone on Fifth Avenue.
I’ve been to Playa a handful of times over the years, and continue to return for the beautiful beach sunsets I just haven’t found anywhere else. Despite having visited over 60 countries, there’s something so special about Playa and the friendly, down-to-earth locals I’ve gotten to know. It’s also conveniently located close to so many amazing destinations and activities, from Cancun and Tulum to adventure parks and archeological ruins.
If you ever have the chance to visit Playa del Carmen, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Michelle – After getting paid to travel to all seven continents, Michelle shares tips on her blog Wander Eat Write on how you can do the same.
Are You Looking for Excursions in Playa del Carmen?
If you are looking for all kinds of excursions and car rentals in Riviera Maya, take a look at what my friends from Turismo Channel have! You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours).
A short boat ride from the popular tourist destination of Cancun will take you to Isla Mujeres, a small island paradise. This island is much quieter and more relaxed than Cancun and the white sand and blue water are perfect for a relaxing few days spent on the beach.
The best beach is Playa Norte, which you can find right on the northern tip of the island. This long stretch of white sand is lined with palm trees and the calm, turquoise water is perfect for swimming in. This is often regarded as one of the best beaches in Mexico and having spent a few days here it is easy to see why.
Between May and September, there are whale sharks swimming in the waters between here and Isla Holbox. You can take a boat trip out to find these gentle giants and snorkel with them as they cruise through the water. It’s an incredible experience to get to swim alongside the largest fish in the sea.
The reason I love Isla Mujeres is that they really lean into the island way of life. Things around here are always very laid back, nobody is ever in a rush and you can be sure of a totally relaxing few days spent lying on the beach, snorkeling, diving, driving around the island on a golf cart, and enjoying lots of good food.
Luke, one of the faces behind Wild About BC, is all about finding off-the-beaten-path adventures and is passionate about photography and documenting all of the beautiful places he has been able to visit.
To save hassle don’t forget to check out natvisa.com for an online tourist card application as you plan your trip to some of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. This form will be needed in order to enter Mexico. You will be given a paper form to complete on the plane if you fly in, but doing it online before you enter saves time.
Laura | In Travel
Wednesday 28th of April 2021
Omg yes! So many of these were already on my bucket list so I've added the rest :)