The northeast has never been Mexico’s main tourism draw, and news of cartel-related violence has turned off travelers even more. But the northeast’s history, sights and people are remarkable, and all the more rewarding for being unexpected. Monterrey is a lively modern city, while nearby Saltillo oozes colonial charm. You can check out the idyllic wine country of Parras and the unique desert ecosystem at Cuatro Ciénegas, one of Mexico’s most biologically diverse regions.
The security situation is serious but not paralyzing. Although news of the drug wars have faded considerably, border towns like Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, and the surrounding areas can be tense. Monterrey also has neighborhoods that are best avoided. That said, virtually all the violence pits one cartel against the other, and tourists are rarely affected. Keep your wits about you and discover the myriad treasures the northeast has to offer.