Beach Resorts

Puerto Vallarta Pacific resort and LGBT capital with dazzling beaches, stylish restaurants and hot nightlife.

Playa del Carmen The chicest resort on the Caribbean coast.

Zihuatanejo Combines a livable feel and characterfully intimate center with pleasant beaches and great nearby coastline.

Cancún North of the megaresorts you'll be pleasantly surprised to find Cancún's quiet side: Isla Blanca.

Cabo San Lucas Three main family-friendly beaches, excellent facilities, numerous bars and restaurants, and water sports.

Mazatlán Attractively renovated colonial center, an old-time 1950s promenade and fun-in-the-sun beach-resort strip.

San Carlos The best stretches of sand in the north also come with mountain vistas.

Getaway Beaches

Playa Zicatela This 3km strip of golden sand and crashing waves in Puerto Escondido is heaven on Earth for surfers.

Xcalak Timeless Caribbean coast with a wonderful barrier reef.

Playa Maruata Tranquil, low-budget Michoacán fishing village beloved by beach bums and sea turtles.

Barra de Potosí Palm-fringed white sands, calm waters and a lagoon full of birds and crocs.

Isla Holbox Escape the Riviera Maya and wander the sandy roads of this palm-fringed Gulf coast getaway.

Espíritu Santo Shallow waters, pristine sandy beaches and boat trips.

Reserva de la Biosfera Los Tuxtlas The reserve's mountain-backed beaches are the Gulf of Mexico’s ultimate chill-out spot.

Playa Escondida Battle your way along a rough road to reach this pristine sand crescent in southern Veracruz.

Luxury Spas & Hotels

Casa Oaxaca Boutique Oaxaca hotel dedicated to art, with gorgeous contemporary rooms and a colonial patio.

Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués Asian-influenced seclusion at this exclusive coastal retreat near Acapulco.

Posada La Poza Pacific-side retreat at Todos Santos with lush gardens, a saltwater pool and Jacuzzi, and a superb restaurant.

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende Join well-heeled weekenders beside the fabulous pool at this historic palatial hotel.

Pueblo Lindo A rooftop pool overlooks the white houses of Taxco scattered across the hills.

Siete Lunas Stroll through jungle from fashionable Sayulita to reach this romantic cliff-top retreat.

Hotel Museo Palacio de San Agustín So fabulous it's also a museum, this impressive, elaborately decorated hotel is full of antiques.

Hacienda de los Santos A 300-year-old hacienda turned stunning boutique hotel in the colonial town of Álamos.

Amuleto Perched high over Zihuatanejo, this boutique retreat offers the ultimate in de-stress.

Le Blanc Ultramodern, ultrachic, adult-only spa just steps away from the Caribbean.

Pyramids & Temples

Palenque Exquisite Maya temples backed by jungle-covered hills.

Chichén Itzá A vast Maya temple complex, its step-pyramid design testimony to the Maya's exceptional astronomy skills.

Uxmal Set in hilly Puuc, this large Maya site is a riot of fascinating carved-stone ornamentation.

Yaxchilán Impressive temples in a Chiapas jungle setting, reached only by river.

Monte Albán The ancient Zapotec capital sits spectacularly on a flattened hilltop site just outside Oaxaca.

Tulum These late Maya temples and pyramids sit right on a rugged stretch of Caribbean coast.

Calakmul High pyramids in a huge, remote Maya city, still largely hidden in protected rainforest.

Teotihuacán Massive Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, and mural-decked palaces, in Mexico’s biggest ancient city.

Tzintzuntzan Atmospheric Tarascan ruins with fantastic views of Lake Pátzcuaro, few crowds and unusual semicircular temples.

Edzná Marvel at the fine carvings at the Templo de Mascarones (Temple of Masks).

Historic Colonial Towns

Guanajuato The opulent mansions and winding streets of this university town squeeze into a picturesque valley.

San Miguel de Allende Artsy town of cobblestone streets and lovely stone architecture, with many foreign (mostly US) residents.

Oaxaca Gorgeous southern city with an indigenous flavor and stunning art and artisanry.

Zacatecas The magnificent cathedral in this former silver-mining city is the ultimate expression of colonial baroque.

Mérida Even if you're not big on architecture, the stately mansions here never cease to impress.

Álamos Wander the cobbled streets of northern Mexico’s colonial jewel, nestled in the verdant Sierra Madre foothills.

Todos Santos This former cane-milling town has streets lined with handsome 19th-century brick-and-adobe haciendas.

Puebla Dense with restored colonial churches and mansions, sparkling with azulejos (painted ceramic tiles).

Morelia Unesco-listed since 1991, Morelia is anchored by what is arguably Mexico’s most spectacular cathedral.

San Cristóbal de las Casas An indigenous highland town with winding cobblestone streets and old churches aplenty.

Shopping

Mexico City Everything from craft stores to boutiques to fashion, flea and food markets.

San Miguel de Allende A mind-boggling array of folk art from all over Mexico.

Guadalajara The artisans’ suburbs of Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are replete with classy ceramics, furniture and glassware.

Tepotzotlán Colourful beaded jaguar heads and animal forms made by the Huichol people.

Taxco One of the best places in Mexico for silverwork, especially jewelry.

Oaxaca Its black clay pottery is highly prized.

Puebla Famous for colorful Talavera ceramics.

San Cristóbal de las Casas Head here for woollen crafts and colorful textiles.

León Buy your shoes, belts and bags at this leatherworks capital.

Mérida The one-stop shop for hammocks, guayaberas (men's shirts), huipiles (long, sleeveless tunics) and handicrafts.

Mexican Cuisine

Mexico City Unrivaled countrywide fare, from fusion restaurants serving nueva cocina mexicana to the world's best tacos.

Seafood Baja California’s fish tacos, Veracruz’ huachinanago a la veracruzana and ceviche in Barra de Navidad.

Oaxaca Famed for its seven moles (chili-based sauces) and some of Mexico's best contemporary restaurants.

Puebla Home to mole poblano, chiles en nogada, tacos al pastor, escamoles (ant larvae) and festivals celebrating them.

Antojitos These ubiquitous 'little whims' made with masa (corn dough) include tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and tamales.

Guadalajara Mexico’s second city pitches forward-thinking fusion food against old staples such as birria (spicy-hot goat or lamb stew).

Baja Med Feast on Mexican-Mediterranean mélange cuisine in Tijuana and elsewhere in Baja California.

San Miguel de Allende One of Mexico's best dining scenes, combining quality Mexican fare with world-class fusion.

Yucatán Peninsula Flavorful dishes rooted in Maya culture, such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork).

Coatepec Wake up and smell the coffee at the highland home of Mexico's brew.

Museums & Galleries

Museo Nacional de Antropología Mexico City's National Anthropology Museum is chock-full of stupendous relics from pre-Hispanic Mexico.

Museo Frida Kahlo The poignant Mexico City home of the haunted artist.

Museo Nacional de la Muerte All things related to death in this Aguascalientes museum, but far from macabre.

Museo de Antropología A superbly designed Xalapa space with Mexico's second-best archaeological collection after Mexico City.

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca Excellent Oaxaca museum in a beautiful ex-monastery demonstrates continuities between pre-Hispanic and contemporary culture.

Museo Jumex One of Latin America’s leading contemporary-art collections at this Mexico City museum.

Horno3 Outstanding steel-making museum in the gigantic shell of a former blast furnace in Monterrey’s newest urban park.

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya World-class museum in Mérida showcasing more than 1100 well-preserved Maya artifacts.

Museo de la Ballena Excellent La Paz museum featuring the California gray whale and related conservation efforts.

Palacio de Gobierno Wonderful multimedia museum on Jalisco and Guadalajara history with two impressive Orozco murals thrown in.

Diving & Snorkeling

Yucatán Peninsula With the world's second-largest barrier reef, it's world famous for its abundant coral and tropical fish.

Banco Chinchorro Wreck-studded coral atoll off the southern end of the Caribbean coast.

Isla Cozumel Diving and snorkeling for all abilities at the island's 65 reefs.

Bahías de Huatulco A string of beautiful Pacific bays with several coral plates and more than 100 dive sites.

Xel-Há This eco-park on the Riviera Maya offers snorkeling in a beautiful natural aquarium.

Laguna de la Media Luna Has an underwater cave ideal for advanced diving.

Cabo Pulmo A magnificent coral reef and spectacular diving and snorkeling experiences.

Espíritu Santo Swim and snorkel with whale sharks, the world’s biggest fish.

Veracruz Excellent wreck diving, plus beautiful reeds around the Isla de Sacrificios.

Surfing

Puerto Escondido The Mexican Pipeline beach break is world famous, but Escondido has mellower waves, too.

Boca de Pascuales Legendary hollow, hard-breaking barrels – strictly for experts.

Troncones A long, strong, world-class left point break and some excellent beach breaks.

Sayulita Dependable, medium-sized waves, good for practicing or learning, with a mellow party vibe.

Ensenada There's a perfect point break at San Miguel.

Barra de Nexpa One of several spots with healthy waves along the little-touched Michoacán coast.

San Blas For intermediates and beginners, with many beach and point breaks, and one of the world’s longest waves.

Todos Santos The beaches surrounding this town offer some of the best swells in Baja.

Zipolite Clothing-optional beach on Oaxaca's unsullied coast that's also known for its big waves.

Hiking, Mountain Biking & Horseback Riding

Copper Canyon Bike down incredible trails, hike through extraordinary landscapes, or let the horse take the strain.

Pueblos Mancomunados These Oaxacan mountain villages are linked by a scenic trail network.

Rancho El Charro Horse treks into jungle-covered mountains behind Puerto Vallarta.

Bici-Burro Great mountain-bike outings from San Miguel de Allende.

Real de Catorce Explore the desert hills on foot, bike or horse from this magical old silver town.

Parque Marino Nacional Bahía de Loreto This beautiful national park is a world-class destination for a wide range of activities.

Pico de Orizaba Hikes in Mexico don’t get more breathless or challenging than scaling the country's highest mountain.

Cañón del Sumidero Skip the bus and pedal 86km from San Cristóbal to this Chiapas landmark.

Wildlife

Whales Watch whales in Baja California’s lagoons off Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta or Puerto Escondido (December to March).

Sea turtles Cuyutlán, Playa Colola, Playa Escobilla, Tecolutla and Xcacel-Xcacelito beaches are all major turtle breeding grounds.

Birds Mexico’s forests and coastal lagoons thrill bird-watchers. For flamingos head to Río Lagartos or Celestún.

Whale sharks Snorkel with gentle giants near La Paz, Baja, or Isla Contoy in Quintana Roo.

Parque Nacional Sierra San Pedro Mártir Look for California condors circling above, and bobcats, deer and bighorn sheep at ground level.

Reserva de la Biosfera Los Tuxtlas Explore the Americas' northernmost tropical rainforests in this impressively diverse reserve.

Reserva de la Biosfera Santuario Mariposa Monarca The fir trees in this reserve turn orange in winter with millions of monarch butterflies.

Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Look for pumas and pronghorn antelope amid petrified lava flows and sand dunes.

Kayaking & Rafting

Baja California The islands and estuaries off the east coast are the stuff of kayakers' dreams.

Puerto Vallarta Kayak along the lagoons or islands off the Pacific coast.

Veracruz Ride the white-water rapids plunging down from the Sierra Madre Oriental from Jalcomulco or Tlapacoyan.

Oaxaca Rivers near Bahías de Huatulco have waters suitable for everyone from beginners to experienced rafters.

Mulegé Enjoy the mangrove- and palm-lined Río Mulegé via a kayak or raft.

Lagos de Montebello Paddle around these turquoise Chiapas lagoons in a traditional wooden cayuco (canoe).

Tequila & Mezcal

Oaxaca The world's mezcal capital boasts atmospheric mezcal bars ranging from hip hangouts to connoisseurs' cantinas.

Bósforo Duck into this Mexico City hideaway for the finest mezcals in town.

Tequila Visit the distilleries of the Jalisco town that the drink is named after.

Expo Tequila A prime Tijuana place to taste and rate tequila from all over Mexico.

La Fundación Mezcalería This Mérida bar pours organic mezcals, and has nightly live music.