Mexico is a land of rich culture and history, boasting an array of tourist attractions perfect for visitors from all walks of life. From ancient ruins and colonial-era towns to beaches and resorts, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Mexico.
To help you plan your next trip, I’ve compiled a list of the 15 Best Places To Visit in Mexico. Whether you’re interested in exploring the country’s natural beauty, vibrant cities, or rich history and culture, you’re sure to find something on this list that piques your interest.
Best Places to Visit in Mexico
1. Cancun and the Mayan Riviera
No list of top tourist attractions in Mexico would be complete without mentioning Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. Located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, this is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Cancun is the region’s most famous resort town and is a great place to stay if you’re looking for all-inclusive resorts, nightlife, and beaches. The Hotel Zone is the most popular area to stay in, but there are also a number of great hotels and resorts in the downtown area.
Playa del Carmen is another popular resort town and is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere. The town has a number of great restaurants, bars, and shops, as well as a number of beaches that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, then Tulum is the place for you. This small town has a number of great hotels and resorts that are set along the beach. There are also a number of Maya ruins in the area that are well worth visiting.
No matter where you stay, you’re sure to have a great time in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. The beaches are beautiful, the food is great, and there’s plenty to see and do.
2. Chichen Itza
Located in the northern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and is perhaps the best-known archaeological site in Mexico. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and attracts around 2.6 million visitors each year.
The main attraction at Chichen Itza is El Castillo, a towering pyramid that stands some 30 meters high. Built in the shape of a Mayan temple, it has a staircase leading up to a temple at the top. El Castillo is believed to have been built between 1050 and 1300 CE, and it’s thought to have been used as a temple, an observatory, and a ceremonial center.
Climbing to the top of El Castillo is one of the most popular things to do at Chichen Itza. And while it’s not for everyone (it’s a pretty steep climb), the views from the top are definitely worth it.
Other highlights at Chichen Itza include the Temple of the Warriors, a large complex of buildings that once served as a military academy, and the Great Ball Court, where Maya athletes would play a game similar to soccer.
Chichen Itza is located in the state of Yucatan, and it’s around a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cancun. If you don’t want to drive, there are plenty of tours that will take you there from Cancun and other nearby resorts. Just be prepared for the crowds. Chichen Itza is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mexico, and it can get pretty busy, especially during peak season.
3. Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a city on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Bay of Banderas. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, thanks to its sandy beaches, lush jungles, vibrant nightlife, and many upscale resorts.
There’s plenty to see and do in Puerto Vallarta, but some of the top things to do include exploring the Old Town, going on a jungle tour, visiting the Los Arcos marine park, going on a whale watching tour, and taking a sunset cruise.
Puerto Vallarta is also a great place to shop, with a number of malls, markets, and shops selling everything from souvenirs to handmade arts and crafts. And, of course, no visit to Puerto Vallarta would be complete without enjoying some of the city’s famed seafood dishes.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, there are many excellent resorts in Puerto Vallarta, including the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort, and the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center.
So if you’re looking for a place to relax, enjoy the sun, and have a good time, Puerto Vallarta should definitely be on your list of top places to visit in Mexico.
4. Mexico City’s Historic Center
When it comes to top tourist attractions in Mexico, the Historic Center of Mexico City is hard to beat. This is where the Aztecs founded their great city of Tenochtitlan in 1325, and it’s easy to spend a couple of days exploring all the historic sites and buildings.
Start your visit at the Zocalo, which is the political and ceremonial heart of the city. This is where the country’s first constitution was proclaimed in 1813, and it’s also home to the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Templo Mayor.
From there, wander the streets of the historical center and admire the colonial-era architecture. Some of the highlights include the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Palacio Nacional, and the Casa de Azulejos. Make sure to also visit the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, which is one of the best museums in the world. Here you’ll learn all about the history, culture, and religion of the indigenous people of Mexico.
And if you’re looking for a break from all the history, head to Alameda Park, where you can relax in the shade of the trees or enjoy the views of the city skyline.
As you can see, there’s a lot to see and do in the Historic Center of Mexico City. So, if you’re planning a trip here, be sure to add this to your list of places to visit in Mexico.
Do you like snorkeling or scuba diving? If so, you’ll love Cozumel. This small island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the world’s top dive destinations.
The reefs around Cozumel are teeming with marine life, and there are more than 20 dive sites to choose from. I recommend the Palancar Reef, which is one of the largest and most popular dive sites in the world.
In addition to diving, Cozumel is also a great place to relax on the beach, go for a swim, or try your hand at windsurfing or kitesurfing. Playa San Francisco is a particular favorite, with its white sand and turquoise waters. Other popular beaches include Playa Palancar and Playa Mia Beach Club.
And if you want to take a break from the beach, Cozumel also has a number of interesting museums, including the Museum of the Island of Cozumel, which tells the story of the island’s history, and the San Gervasio Archaeological Site, an ancient Maya temple complex.
Cozumel is also home to a number of great restaurants, bars, and cafes. And if you’re looking to buy some souvenirs, the island is famous for its silver jewelry.
6. Copper Canyon
If you’re looking for things to do in Mexico that are off the beaten path, then Copper Canyon should definitely be on your list. This vast canyon system, which is actually made up of six separate canyons, is located in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in the northern part of the country.
It’s significantly larger than the more famous Grand Canyon in the United States and is often referred to as Mexico’s Grand Canyon. The Copper Canyon is a popular destination for hiking and camping, and there are a number of different trails that you can take to explore the area.
If you’re not the outdoorsy type, then you can also take a train ride through the canyon on the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway. This is one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world and takes you past towering cliffs, through tunnels, and over bridges.
Copper Canyon is definitely one of the top places to visit in Mexico and a great way to get off the beaten path. You’re sure to have an unforgettable experience here.
7. Historic Morelia
Located about 200 miles west of Mexico City, Morelia is the capital of Michoacan state. This beautiful colonial city is renowned for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque architecture and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Founded in 1541, Morelia was originally known as Valladolid. However, in 1828, it was renamed in honor of independence hero Jose Maria Morelos.
Morelia’s historic center is a great place to stroll around and take in the sights. Top attractions here include the Cathedral of Morelia, which was completed in 1744. Other notable landmarks include the Palacio de Gobierno, the Casa Natal de Morelos, and the Aqueduct of Morelia, which was built in the 17th century to bring water to the city. The Aqueduct of Morelia is one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico and is definitely worth a visit.
Morelia is also a great place to try regional specialties like enchiladas placeras (a type of enchilada served with beans, cheese, and cream) and tamales de fiesta (a type of tamale made with chicken and green mole sauce).
But what sets Morelia apart is its large student population. With more than 100,000 students attending the city’s universities, Morelia has a youthful vibe that’s evident as soon as you arrive. So if you’re looking for a city with Spanish colonial charm and youthful energy, be sure to add Morelia to your list of top places to visit in Mexico.
Just a few hours by bus from Mexico City is Guadalajara, the capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco and the country’s second-largest city. Founded in 1542 by Spanish settlers, Guadalajara is a colonial-style city with a number of impressive churches and mansions.
The city’s historic center is anchored by the main square, Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by a number of important buildings, including the Cathedral, the Palacio de Gobierno, and the Teatro Degollado.
Guadalajara is also known for its mariachi music and as the home of tequila. If you’re interested in learning about the production of this Mexican spirit, you can take a day trip to one of the many nearby distilleries.
In addition to its colonial architecture and rich cultural heritage, Guadalajara is also a modern city with a lively nightlife scene. The neighborhoods of Chapultepec and Tonala are particularly popular with tourists and offer a wide range of bars, clubs, and restaurants.
9. San Ignacio Lagoon
Do you love whale watching? Then you’ll definitely want to add San Ignacio Lagoon to your list of things to do in Mexico. This lagoon, located in Baja California Sur, is one of the best places in the world to see gray whales.
Every year, between January and April, these massive creatures come to the lagoon to mate and give birth. And because the lagoon is relatively shallow, it’s easy for visitors to get close to these magnificent creatures on boat tours. In addition to whale watching, there are a number of other activities to enjoy in and around the lagoon. These include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and bird watching.
I was lucky enough to see a number of gray whales during my visit, and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you’re interested in whale watching, I highly recommend adding this spot to your list of top places to visit in Mexico.
10. El Tajin
El Tajin is an ancient Mesoamerican city that flourished between 600 to 1200 CE. It’s located in the present-day Mexican state of Veracruz and was once the capital of the Tajin Kingdom.
The city is best known for its well-preserved pyramids and temples, many of which were built using a unique mosaics-and-fill style of architecture. El Tajin was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and is now one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico.
In addition to its many pyramids and temples, El Tajin is also home to a number of plazas, ball courts, and palaces. One of the most impressive structures on the site is the Pyramid of the Niches, a building with 365 niches, each of which contains a different statue. El Tajin is also famous for its ball courts, of which there are four on the site. These were used for a game similar to basketball that was played by the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples.
Overall, this is one of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico and is a great place to learn about the country’s rich past.
As one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, Oaxaca should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Mexico. The city is known for its colonial architecture, stunning mountain scenery, and indigenous culture.
There’s plenty to see and do in Oaxaca, but some of the top tourist attractions include the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman, a beautiful Baroque church built in the 16th century; the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and the Cathedral of Oaxaca, another beautiful colonial-era church.
Oaxaca is also home to a number of excellent museums, including the Rufino Tamayo Museum and the Oaxaca Textile Museum.
If you’re looking for things to do in Oaxaca, then you’ll certainly want to check out the city’s traditional markets. Here, you can find everything from fresh produce and handmade goods to Oaxacan specialties like chocolate and mezcal.
No visit to Oaxaca would be complete without trying some of the local cuisines, and there are plenty of great restaurants to choose from. Be sure to try the mole, a type of sauce made with chocolate, chili peppers, and a variety of other ingredients.
Overall, I had an amazing time in Oaxaca and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a culturally rich travel destination. Its mix of history, culture, and traditions makes it one of the top Mexican attractions.
12. Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas is a resort town at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. A popular destination for tourists, it’s known for its beaches, scuba diving sites, and marlin fishing and golfing.
Cabo San Lucas’ beaches are some of the best in Mexico. Playa El Medano is a wide, sandy beach that’s great for swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing. For a more secluded experience, try Playa Solmar, a secluded cove flanked by cliffs.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular activities in Cabo San Lucas. There are many dive sites accessible from the shore, as well as boat trips to more remote sites. The waters around Cabo San Lucas are home to a variety of marine life, including manta rays, sea lions, eels, and sharks.
If you’re looking for a challenge, try your hand at marlin fishing. Cabo San Lucas is one of the best places in the world to fish for marlin, and there are many charter boats available for hire. When it comes to nightlife, Cabo San Lucas has plenty to offer. The town is home to a number of bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as a lively casino scene.
Whether you’re looking for beaches, activities, or nightlife, Cabo San Lucas is sure to have something to offer.
13. Cenote Dos Ojos
Located 22km north of Tulum, Cenote Dos Ojos is one of Mexico’s most popular cenotes. A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, that forms when the roof of a cave collapses. Cenote Dos Ojos is actually two cenotes connected by an underwater cave. The name Dos Ojos, or “two eyes,” comes from the two pools that make up the cenote.
The caves are connected by a series of underwater tunnels and are home to a wealth of plant and animal life, including stalactites and stalagmites, bats, and a variety of fish. This is a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, and there are a number of tour operators offering trips into the caves. I went with Cenote Dos Ojos Dive Center and had a fantastic time.
If you’re looking for something a little less adventurous, you can also take a dip in one of the cenote’s pools or simply enjoy the views from the observation deck. Either way, Cenote Dos Ojos is an unforgettable place and one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico that is well worth a visit.
Guanajuato is a beautiful colonial city in central Mexico with a rich history and culture. Founded in the 16th century, Guanajuato was an important silver-mining town during the colonial period. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Guanajuato is its unique architecture. The city’s narrow, winding streets and alleyways are lined with colorful buildings, many of which are adorned with intricate Moorish designs.
However, the highlight of this city is undoubtedly the underground streets and tunnels. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries to move water and waste away from the city. These tunnels were once used by smugglers to avoid detection by the authorities. Today, the tunnels are open to the public and can be explored by foot or bike. They offer a unique way to see the city and avoid the traffic above ground.
Other top attractions in Guanajuato include the Juarez Theater, considered to be one of the most beautiful theaters in Latin America, and the Museum of Quixote, which is dedicated to the life and work of Miguel de Cervantes.
15. The Ancient Fortress of Tulum
Finally, I end my list of top places to visit in Mexico is the ancient fortress of Tulum. Built by the Mayans, this is one of the best-preserved examples of Maya architecture and was also one of the few to be constructed with walls.
Tulum is located on a 12-meter high cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and is surrounded by a wall that is almost 5 meters high in places. Inside the fortress, there are a number of temples and palaces, as well as a number of dwellings that would have been home to the Maya who lived here. The views from the clifftop are simply stunning, and it’s easy to see why Tulum was chosen as a defensive position.
The most famous building in the fortress is the Temple of the Frescoes, which gets its name from the well-preserved murals that can be found inside. These murals depict scenes of Maya life and are thought to date from the 13th century.
Tulum was an important Maya city, but it was also one of the last to fall to the Spanish conquistadors. It finally fell in 1518, and today, it’s one of the most popular Mexico attractions not to miss.
These are 15 of the top tourist attractions in Mexico that should be on your list. Whether you’re interested in history and culture, natural beauty, or just want to experience the country’s vibrant atmosphere, you’re sure to find something to your liking. So, start planning your trip today and discover all that Mexico has to offer.