From sandy palm beaches to fiery volcanoes and gigantic mountains to deep abyss canyons, Mexico boasts of a diverse range of destinations. The land of extremes and the home of the remarkable Mayan and Aztec civilizations is affluent in Native American heritage and colonial Spanish rule. Its indisputable ancestry and cultural essence that spans over millennials are an intriguing and mesmerizing sight. And we know it’s hard to pinpoint the best places when there are too many options. Hence, we have curated a checklist of the must see places in Mexico, and have made it easier for you to wander through the diversified land of cute chihuahuas, cheap tequila, and delicious tacos. And, without further delay, scroll down to see our top picks for the must see places in Mexico.
Built by the Spaniards in 1521 on the ruins of the ancient Aztec Empire of Tenochtitlán, Mexico City is the oldest city in North America. Even though it is a densely populated bustling city, it has a perfect balance of industrialization and cultural heritage. Three of the must see places in Mexico City; Templo Mayor (a temple built by the Aztec civilization during the 13th century), Palace of Fine Arts (a prominent cultural center), and the Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México (an iconic and impressive Metropolitan Cathedral). The biggest advantage you have is that all the ancestry and significant places, including Palacio Nacional and the Mexican murals by Diego Rivera, are all situated on the city’s massive main square, Zócalo, which gives you ample time to spend in the city.
Once an eminent and dominant Mayan city on the Yucatan, Uxmal now bears numerous ruins to represent the glorious era it once lived through. Because of its fascinating structures and architectural patterns, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in the Puuc region, which means hills, Uxmal is the first relief spot you find away from the foothold of the peninsula. At the entrance to the center of the city, you will be first greeted by the Pyramid of the Magician, which translates into the House of the Dwarf, the tallest in the region. Other prominent architectural remains are House of the Pigeons, House of Turtles, House of the Old Woman, and Cemetery Group built in the pre-Columbian era style influenced by the Puuc style.
Playa del Carmen
Who wouldn’t love palm beaches? Playa del Carmen is bliss for daring adventurers, as it is a top scuba diving and snorkeling destination in the world. Playa del Carmen, also fondly referred to as the heart of the Riviera Maya, is a city located along the Caribbean Sea. Once a fishing village, it is now a cosmopolitan beach town and a hipper with a wide range of entertainment options. Discover the best-kept secret of the Yucatan Peninsula. Reveal and relish in Río Secreto, which translates into River Secret with bright turquoise-colored water, is an underground river and caramel-colored limestone cave collection. While you enjoy your time in the stretches of pristine white sand, don’t forget to visit Xel-Há, an inlet and a lagoon filled with rich flora and fauna.
San Miguel de Allende
The perfect blend of Baroque, Neo-classical, and Neo-Gothic architectural mix, San Miguel de Allende is a paradise of colonial Hispanic and Mesoamerican architecture. Named after the city’s founding Saint and a Hero in the Mexico War of Independence, it consists of picturesque and magnificent buildings. Located high on the hills, its artistry and grandeur are undeniable seductions that attract millions of tourists to the city each year. The focal point of the cobblestone city’s landmark is its remarkable Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, a neo-gothic colossal church of pastel pink stone,
Let your hair down, breathe in the gentle breeze, and relax in the calmness that Zipolite, the beach town offers. Situated north of Puerto Angel, renowned for its relaxing nature and distinctive hippy vibe, this place should undoubtedly be in your must see places in Mexico. The prominent feature of the region is Roca Blanca a peaceful and natural beauty untouched by urbanization, which makes it an ideal spot for surfing, swimming, fishing, or a casual walk along the stretches of impeccable coastline. Zipolite is Mother Nature’s favorite child because she creates unique masterpieces of perfect sunset each day.
Cabo San Lucas
Want an endless array of adventurous activities? Then, Cabo San Lucas is the ideal destination for you with amenities for jet-skiing, banana boating, parasailing, snorkeling, kitesurfing, diving, and horseback riding. The city consists of unspoiled beaches with flawless waters like San Lucas Bay, Lover’s Beach, Divorce Beach, and El Medano Beach which, adds to its marine beauty. One can never feel weary of the magnificent sight of the splendid stone arch, El Arco, the natural rock formation at Land’s End.
Guadalajara is a fusion of a booming metropolitan city that bursts of history and cultural heritage. The iconic feature of the city is the formation of a huge cross by four massive and colossal plazas with the grandiose La Catedral de Guadalajara in its center. This provides tourists effortless access to authentic foods while cherishing the aesthetic of the city. Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan, Minerva Roundabout, Colomos Forest, and Vallarta Arch are other noteworthy places of the town. Mariachi a genre of local Mexican music, which originated in this city is a common sight and sound in Guadalajara.
Welcome to the party town of Mexico! A city where you can find glee in amusement and entertainment day and night. Its fine and amber beaches that stretch out across the moon-shaped coastlines of the distinguished Acapulco Bay earned it its heyday name “Pearl of the Pacific”. Its vibrant nightclubs and plethora of bars keep it a pulsating city at the night. La Quebrada's intimidating clifftops in Old Acapulco, Playa Condesa, ancient Fort of San Diego, and Playa Icacos should be included in your must-see places in Mexico list. The mitigating waters of the lagoon Pie de la Cuesta offer a secluded and suitable romantic scenario exclusively for Couples.
Great Pyramid of Cholula
Did you know that the globe's largest pyramid is not in Egypt? Yes, you heard it right. The largest pyramid ever built on the planet lies hidden underneath the hills in Cholula, Mexico. Encompassing a massive area of more than 45 acres as its base, The Great Pyramid of Cholula is twice the size of The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. The main reason for its paltry popularity is the fact that the Spaniards when they invaded Mexico, built a colonial church on top of the pyramid. This archaeological site offers many rewards for adventure seekers with an extensive and extraordinary tunnel system that spans five miles.
Mexico is famed for its ancient archaeological ruins and palm-fringed beaches. But what if you could find the perfect amalgam of both? Tulum’s spectacular coastline, salty sands, mild breezes, along with the grand and incredibly well-preserved Mayan ruins, makes it one of our favorite picks as well. It is the proud host of the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula’s best cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, a gorgeous sinkhole with rugged limestone walls and sapphire blue water. You can delve into cave and cavern diving, snorkeling, exploring rivers hidden under stalactites in a canopy, and also visit the iconic ruins of the Temple of the Frescoes, Temple of the Descending God, and El Castillo.
Puerto Vallarta is an old town with a picturesque coastline, adjoining famed Malecon boardwalk, and the balmy breezes of the Bay of Banderas set in the charming backdrop of emerald green Sierra Madre mountains. The essence of its culture and tradition will lure you into its boulevard streets of Old Vallarta to leaf through its flea markets. Walking tiptoe on the exquisite pebble stone Malecon boardwalk, sipping tequila while sailing on the emblematical circular pier Los Muertos Beach, and admiring the astonishing beauty of sculptures and in El Centro are second to none experiences worth having.
A historic capital, a beach resort, or a romantic town? Well, Mazatlán is the impeccable fusion of all three. Its alluring long stretches of golden sandy beaches and deep blue seas is an amicable place for intense aquatic activities like surfing or diving. Or, if you prefer to embark on kayaking or sailing, head to the three sister islands, Isla de Lobos, Isla Pájaros, and Isla Venados natural reserves to divulge in them. Its neoclassical and baroque architectural styles will take you on an impressive artistic journey. Explore the second-largest natural lighthouse in the world, Cerro del Crestón, for a splendid view of the southern end of the city's peninsula and the Pacific Ocean.
Dubbed as Mexico’s most photogenic town, the bright yellow town Izamal will give you seclusion from the inundated tourist attractions. This beautiful place was named after the supreme Mayan deity Itzamná, and the city illustrates the religiosity and devotion of the Mayans through a dozen temple-pyramids built in the middle of the town. This answers the riddle as to why the Spaniards built an opulent Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a Franciscan monastery with towering atriums and frescoes. The charm of Izamal, the city of three cultures, is its cobblestone streets painted in golden yellow to honor the Mayan Sun God.
It’s Spring throughout the year in Cancun with dazzling white sand beaches, crystal clear aquamarine color water, and good hippie vibes. You can lay down your blanket and relax by the pool, or dive into subaquatic caves, or browse through the thick jungles with splendid mangroves, or discover mystical cenotes, Cancun is the blend of serenity and entertainment. Playa Delfines, ruins of EL Rey Mayan village, El Meco archaeological site, and Isla Mujeres will doubtless serve your quest for daring and unique experiences.
Remember the 2012 hoax about the end of the world? The mysterious Mayan astronomical calendar, constructed on the time temple inside the Chichen Itza, serves as the source of the rumor. Chichen Itza is not only one of the new seven wonders of the world, but it is also the most renowned for its construction techniques, stone monuments, and artistic works. The distinguishing feature of the site is that it demonstrates the advanced astronomical knowledge of the ancient civilization and carries visitors into the world of Indiana Jones. The Temple of Kukulkan, The North Temple, El Mercado, and the enormous Sacred Cenote adjoining the pyramid are places of immense grandeur and majesty and are worth exploring.
Nevado de Toluca
This complex stratovolcano should be ranked top in your must see places in Mexico list if you are a daring nature enthusiast. Even though the volcano is still considered to be active, the last eruption occurred 3,300 years ago and is declared a safe place to visit by the government. Magnificently standing at over 4,500 meters, the white snow-capped Nevado de Toluca Volcano is a surreal landmark. The two summits on the crater rim are worth hiking for their picturesque view on the lakes Sol and Luna that reflects glaciers and clouds.
Cozumel is the paradise for divers with transparent water and hidden coral treasures of Palancar and the Columbia coral reefs. Blessed with immense natural wealth, the island brims with lush jungles, subterranean lagoons, and gorgeous beaches with crystalline water; that you will never find yourself exhausted from activities to do at Cozumel. San Miguel de Cozumel, the island’s capital, offers many distractions like clubs, bars, and flea markets away from nature’s tranquillity. And you would find many Mayan ruins inside the dense jungles and distant from the coastline, as the island was once a pilgrim place of ancient Sun worshippers.
The capital of the Yucatan Peninsula is famed for its steep colonial heritage and treasures of ancient civilizations. Its distinctive nature is its blend of the culture and artistry of the predecessors and the invaded conquerors. Fondly named as the ‘White City’ to symbolize its huge white buildings, Merida’s slender streets and vast central plazas are strikingly impressive. The ancient Mayan city Dzibilchaltun, the neoclassical Palacio del Gobierno, and the mansion-turned museum Casa de los Montejo are few places you must stop by when in Merida.