Without a doubt, the most promoted destination in Mexico must be the Riviera Maya. At least where I am from, Argentina, I don’t know any compatriot who has visited any destination other than Cancun and Playa del Carmen. And of course, Mexico City, either to make a stopover or, mainly, for work.
But Mexico is much more than that and certainly the tourist offer is really huge. The hotel and tourism industry in Mexico is the largest in Latin America and the income they generate is very important for the country.
In this post I want to recommend some of the best destinations to meet in Mexico. The list is based exclusively on destinations I know.
It is a good destination to begin to know the country, it even merits an exclusive trip. Some only make a passing visit, since they have to stop or are for work and limit themselves to visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacan (Edo. De México), Xochimilco or, if they have more time, maybe only the historic center and the house from Frida Kahlo.
But the interesting thing about this city is the possibility of merging with its culture and customs. Experience what it is like to eat tacos at a place in the past, go on a Sunday walk to Chapultepec Forest or Mexico Park, visit the Merced Market, or even travel by microbus or subway to the most remote points of the city.
San Miguel de Allende
Corn seller in San Miguel de Allende
Just 4 hours from Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is a village in the middle of the mountain, very colorful and picturesque. It falls into the category of colonial towns, since its constructions are very old.
We will find some characteristics that will be common in Mexican inland villages, such as its central squares. These squares are usually known in Mexico as “zócalos”, but they are far from the squares of other cities or colonial towns, since in Mexico they are true gardens. They are very well-kept green spaces, with lots of vegetation, water fountains and almost all of them have a construction in the center that now I don’t remember what it is called, but it’s like a kind of round stage with a roof.
San Miguel de Allende is famous for being a favorite destination for painters and artisans to live. That’s why you will find many art galleries and craft stores.
The prices of tourism-oriented services will seem higher than in Mexico City, but it is enough to get a little away from the center, and get lost a little through the little streets of the town, to find cheaper options.
Guanajuato – Peace Square
Formerly it was a very rich city thanks to the existence of large silver mines. Today the mining activity was greatly reduced, but it is still an important city and is the capital of the homonymous state.
The particularity of this city is, without doubt, its alleys and tunnels . The layout of the streets is totally capricious and the alleys that can only be traveled on foot are very common. On the other hand, the city is covered by an extensive network of underground tunnels with occasional exits to the outside, through which mainly vehicles circulate, but can be accessed pedestrian if desired without greater risk than breathing a little smog from cars. To access the tunnels there are several pedestrian entrances, similar to the subway (or subway) entrances, but it is important to have a map so as not to get lost.
The care of the city’s gardens and historic buildings deserves a special mention, thanks to which it seems that we will go back to another time, some centuries in the past.
In Guanajuato you can taste typical Mexican dishes of all kinds but without a doubt the mining enchiladas are the most local.
A very little known destination, which is not even on the map of any Argentine travel agency. Its main attraction is the San Marcos Fair that takes place every year (with the exception of 2009, for the A H1N1 flu) between the months of April and May. But the city has points of interest beyond this fair.
The city is mainly famous for its gardens, highlighting the garden of San Marcos . It also has very beautiful temples, such as San Marcos, the cathedral and the temple of San Antonio.
A much more original construction is that of the Encino temple , a bit far from the center, but really unmissable. In front of this temple we find the homonymous garden and a pedestrian street with restaurants among which Rincón Maya stands out .
Recommended: the death museum and a ride on the tourist tram that will give you a good screenshot of the city in 45 minutes.
Another colonial city with very interesting architecture, characterized mainly because the vast majority of old buildings are built with a limestone of almost pink color. As in many cities of the country, the historic center is currently protected by municipal laws that determine rules so that the new constructions keep harmony with the historical ones.
Morelia is very famous for its sweets, being in the center of the city the museum of the candy, belonging to a private company producing these products.
It is the fourth largest city in Mexico, by the number of inhabitants, after Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. It is four hours from Mexico City on a road with beautiful mountain landscapes.
The architecture of this city is striking, where the buildings are covered by tiles and have beautiful decorative works done in what appears to be plaster.
Very close to Puebla is the city of Cholula , listed as one of the oldest in pre-Columbian America.
Puebla has some typical dishes such as mole poblano , Arabic tacos and chiles en nogada (in July).
Market in Oaxaca
City and State share the same name (to be precise, the city is officially called Oaxaca de Juárez , cradle of the first indigenous president of Mexico). The whole state has interesting destinations to meet.
The capital city is located in the middle of the state and is the right place to get to know the culture of rural and indigenous Mexico. In the surroundings of Oaxaca it is common to find many common towns or ejidos , which live according to ancient customs.
Oaxaca is also famous for mezcal, chapulines and dishes such as mole and tlayudas. The state is also famous for its chocolate production, butler being one of the most popular brands.
On the other hand, the state of Oaxaca is rapidly gaining popularity for its beaches in the Pacific, such as Bahías de Huatulco .
The most common is that we Argentines know the Yucatan peninsula “sideways” as we went to Cancun or Playa del Cármen and did the tour to Chichen Itza. But the peninsula is an unmissable place with its jungles, its heat, its humidity, the cenotes, the ruins and even the Mayan toponymy.
My recommendation to get to know the area is to rent a car and get to know cities like Mérida, Valladolid, Izamal or Mogul . Undoubtedly, coastal fishing villages have a unique charm. Places like Telchak Puerto, Celestún, San Felipe or Rio Lagartos are excellent places to get away from civilization, enjoy the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and taste tasty fish.
The area of the peninsula is also planted with Mayan ruins, some more famous than others, such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Ek-Balam . To tour the area, it is advisable to base in the city of Mérida, the most important in the region, just one hour from the beaches of Celestún or Progreso.
Yucatecan food is totally different from what you can find in the rest of the country. Here are famous dishes like cochinita pibil, panuchos, papadzules and salbutes. For breakfast, recommended are the motuleños eggs.