Justin Foulkes

Northern Central Highlands

From cobbled lanes and shaded plazas to vast deserts and cloud forest, Mexico's northern central highlands is a region as varied as its history, cuisine and cultures. It was here that enormous mineral wealth created rich colonial cities before revolutionary activity left ghost towns in its wake. Known as the Cuna de la Independencia (Cradle of Independence), the territory is renowned for its part in the country's fight for autonomy, spurred on by the famous Grito de Dolores, which called the Mexican people to arms against the Spanish.

Unmissable highlights of the region include arty and achingly gorgeous San Miguel de Allende, the waterfalls and the turquoise-colored water of the Huasteca Potosina and the grand colonial silver cities of Guanajuato and Zacatecas. Elsewhere you'll find pre-Hispanic sites, art museums, nightlife, crowded festivals and artesanías shopping to rival anywhere else in the country. Get ready to join the (exceptionally loud) party.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northern Central Highlands.