A guide to Mexico’s top vacation locations.
It’s 2022, and you’re ready to travel again! If you’re craving heavenly beaches and world-class cuisine wrapped in a vibrant culture, why not head to Mexico — where a buck goes far and beautiful things are behind every corner! To that end, we’ve curated a list of the 12 best vacation destinations south of the border.
The ideal vacation oasis for history and water lovers alike, Tulum is home to Mexico’s only oceanside Mayan ruins and some of the most exquisite underwater caves in the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s also a resort haven teeming with all-inclusive hotels and boutique shops.
Tulum Travel Tip: For insider information, local happenings, and tips for Tulum — in addition to other areas — check out Nicelocal.com.mx.
When booking a trip to Cancun, avoid spring break season — unless you want to rub elbows with a rowdy swarm of randy coeds. A fun spot for people who love a cocktail or 10, Cancun is bursting at the seams with restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. During the day, there are beautiful beaches to lay on, gorgeous cenotes to swim through, and eclectic shops to explore.
Cancun Travel Tip: Fall and winter are the best times to travel to Cancun.
If sun-soaked sand is your thing, then Huatulco is your place! Over 30 pristine beaches line the town’s perimeter, eco-tours are a growing concern, and the area snorkeling is also excellent. In recent years, top-notch restaurants have popped up in the region to accommodate an increasing stream of discernible travelers who’ve discovered this jewel of a city.
Huatulco Travel Tip: Don’t leave Huatulco without taking a picture in front of the butterfly mural, Huatulco’s answer to Collette Miller’s LA Angel Wings project.
4. Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen provides a traditional vacation experience. Soft-sand beaches give way to aquamarine waters, and the area features everything a discerning traveler could want — from first-rate golf courses to award-winning restaurants. When in town, don’t forget to check out “Portal Maya,” a 50-plus-foot bronze sculpture celebrating the Mayan Calendar at the Parque Los Fundadores entrance.
Playa del Carmen Travel Tip: Accommodation options abound in Playa del Carmen, and you can secure super vacation rentals in the offseason for very reasonable rates.
Thanks to surrounding silver mines, Zacatecas was a prominent gem for the Spanish crown during the colonial era. Today, visitors can learn about the area’s fascinating history in one of Zacatecas’s many museums. Geological enthusiasts should make time for Mina El Eden, a 16th-century mine exhibit that focuses on the region’s unique mineral bedrock.
Zacatecas Travel Tip: Take a ride on the cable car to the top of Cerro de la Bufa. The views are breathtaking.
Cozumel is an island off the southern horn of Mexico renowned for cruises and watersports. Due to its impressive coral reefs, snorkeling enthusiasts and SCUBA divers frequently flock to its surrounding waters, and the area’s white-sand beaches are postcard-perfect.
Cozumel Travel Tip: Enhance your trip by checking out ancient historical remnants at the island’s San Gervasio Archaeological Zone.
From afar, Guanajuato resembles a colorful lego city built into a mountainside. The tightly-packed, vibrantly painted square buildings snake their way up hillsides in this UNESCO World Heritage city that’s been operational since ancient times. But remember to bring comfortable flats for the steep inclines and cobblestone streets.
Guanajuato Travel Tip: Art lovers should plan their trips for October when the city hosts the Festival Internacional Cervantino.
8. Mexico City
The most populous conurbation in North America, Mexico City is one of the world’s key financial and cultural centers. The New York of Mexico, it’s filled with hundreds of landmarks — like the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Palace of Fine Arts — high-end hotels, incredible shopping for all budgets, and award-winning restaurants.
Mexico City Travel Tip: As a tourist, avoid taking the metro at rush hour — aka hora pico.
Puebla is the ideal vacation destination for people who want to feast their way through a historically significant city. Located about 85 miles southeast of Mexico City, Puebla is a colonial municipality that’s retained its old-world charm. When visiting, tour the churches, admire the buildings, soak in the emerald landscape, and savor the region’s incredible cuisine.
Puebla Travel Tip: For great live music after dinner, head to Callejón de Los Sapos.
Wreathed by the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains, 5,000 feet above sea level, sits Oaxaca — a picturesque place to experience total Mexican immersion. In Oaxaca, neighborhoods support vibrant local markets, and street-side cafes serve up seriously delicious food.
Oaxaca Travel Tip: Monte Albán is part of the Zapotec ruins in Oaxaca, and it’s a must-see. However, don’t go on Easter, Christmas, or other Mexican holidays when people flock to the site and it’s uncomfortably crowded.
11. San Miguel de Allende
Colorful old buildings line narrow, winding streets in the scenic outpost of San Miguel de Allende. A creative person’s paradise and popular enclave among expats who call it “San Mike,” the region is filled with trendy galleries and artisan studios. There’s always a festival in San Miguel de Allende, so plan a trip around one that most interests you!
San Miguel de Allende Travel Tip: Pack comfortable shoes because the best way to get anywhere in San Miguel de Allende is by foot.
Go to the postcard-perfect Mérida to gaze upon its signature white stone mansions on the Paseo de Montejo; stay for the colorful Sunday markets that pay homage to old-world Mexico. A cultural cornucopia, Mérida is also home to Mayan ruins, colonial-era architecture, and striking public art.
Mérida Travel Tip: While in town, take a sunset horse and carriage ride around an area park.
If you’ve never been to Mexico, the time to go is now. Deals abound, and there are loads of things to see and do. Bon voyage!