The 22 Best Mexican Destinations to Travel in 2023
Mexico has destinations for all tastes and interests, so if you are looking for a place to rest, relax, explore and go on adventures, you will surely find the perfect location within the Mexican territory.
There are a lot of beautiful beaches and archeological destinations in Mexico and many ideal places to delight yourself with Mexican gastronomy or to get to know the culture.
So read on to learn more about the best Mexican destinations for your next vacation.
Although the possibilities are almost endless, I’ve selected the 22 places that I think are best and remain the most visited and sought after year after year.
Top 22 Mexican Destinations
1. Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
A paradise on earth: Playa del Carmen, a place that has gained so much popularity that it has become one of the most visited places by Mexicans and foreigners.
With vast lodging options, water activities, and rich nightlife, it offers travelers an attractive combination of things to do.
The most fashionable place in the Yucatan Peninsula has grown with the arrival and establishment of North Americans, South Americans, and Europeans, who have added their influence to the local gastronomy.
Nowhere in Mexico will you find such a variety of flavors within a few feet of each other.
The most visited place in Playa del Carmen is Quinta Avenida (fifth avenue), lined with trendy clubs, various restaurants, and high-end retail stores.
During the day, tourists prefer to sunbathe, swim on the beautiful beaches and enjoy cocktails in front of the immense ocean.
2. Tulum, Quintana Roo
The beauty of the landscapes is always guaranteed in the Yucatan Peninsula, and Tulum could not be different.
This Magical Town in the Mexican Caribbean is one of the best beach destinations, with white sand and turquoise water.
Tulum is also known for its preserved ruins of an ancient Mayan port, found on a high cliff on the Caribbean Sea, the only archaeological site that has been built overlooking the ocean.
In addition to its many beautiful cenotes, there is a wide variety of marine activities, such as diving and snorkeling, nature reserves, water parks, street art, restaurants, and much more, just a few meters away.
Read more about Tulum.
3. Cozumel Island, Quintana Roo
Cozumel Island is ideal for those who appreciate nature. It is in front of Playa del Carmen and has become a growing destination for its crystal clear waters and incredible marine life.
It is one of the favorite destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling.
On the island, you will find Chankanaab, an ecological park that surrounds a lagoon with underwater caverns and is home to dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles.
This earthly paradise is almost untouched. Desert beaches, wild natural parks, and dazzling landscapes await exploration.
Read more about Cozumel and its beaches.
4. Izamal, Yucatan
Every building in Izamal is painted yellow, earning the name “La Ciudad Amarilla” (The Yellow City), a singularity that will stay in your memory forever.
Izamal is built on 12 small hills on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city that still preserves the vestiges of its enormous power: cenotes of ritual sacrifice are found all around.
Seeing the ancient Maya ruins in the middle of the city is an enriching cultural and historical experience.
Izamal is worth your visit, even on a day trip from Mérida, the capital of the state of Yucatán (about a 50-minute distance).
Read more about Izamal.
5. Mazatlan, Sinaloa
Once famous for its 20 kilometers of beach, Mazatlan (known as The Pearl of the Pacific) is again attracting tourists to its historic sites, educational museums, and white sandy beaches.
Its hotel offerings are as wide-ranging as they are expensive.
So, if you’re on a budget, head for Old Mazatlan, the historical center where prices are lower, life is not as fast-paced, and the local culture is preserved.
If you need a break from the sun, go to the city and catch a show at the Angela Peralta Theater, visit one of its many museums, or enjoy a traditional meal at restaurants in Plazuela Machado.
Read more about Mazatlan.
6. Guadalajara, Jalisco
Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest and most important city, known mainly for its tequila and mariachi.
From its streets and squares have emerged great exponents of Mexican folklore music, such as Alejandro Fernandez, Pedro Fernandez, and Vicente Fernandez, all with international fame.
Guadalajara has countless museums and cultural sites, such as the Neoclassical Degollado Theater, which preserves the country’s history.
Its cathedral is one of the most imposing: it has two golden towers that distinguish it.
Read the complete guide to Guadalajara.
7. Los Cabos: One of the trendiest Mexican destinations
Los Cabos is where the sun shines all year round and the desert meets the sea beautifully.
This municipality in the tip of Baja California Sur comprises Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and the Scenic Corridor (the highway connecting San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas).
Los Cabos is one of the most visited Mexican destinations for its beautiful natural landscapes and spectacular lodging offerings.
Surfers and divers love Los Cabos for its pleasant climate and prime ocean conditions.
It is also famous for its world-class golf courses and sport fishing, which attracts more than 2 million tourists annually.
8. Mexico City
This list would be incomplete without Mexico City, not only because it is the capital but also because of its thriving cultural scene, numerous fine dining restaurants, and a subculture of young bohemians and hipsters.
What was once known as a high-crime metropolis is now a safer city with transformed and regenerated public spaces.
You may want to read: 10 Best Family Beaches in Mexico: Fun, Sun, and Adventure!
History provides an unsurpassed supply of museums dedicated to preserving Mexico’s heritage.
It is estimated that Mexico City will soon be among the world’s great metropolises, like New York, Rome, Paris, and Berlin.
Read the complete guide about Mexico City.
9. Mérida, Yucatan
Merida is the capital of yucatan. Most tourists come from the coast and seek to escape from the sun and sand to experience Mexican culture in museums, art galleries, restaurants, and theaters.
It also boasts a wealth of well-preserved colonial buildings, a vibrant cultural scene, and a rich Mayan heritage.
The city’s focal point is the Plaza de la Independencia, which houses the fortress-like Mérida Cathedral and the white limestone Church of the Third Order.
10. Chichen Itza, Yucatan
There’s a reason why UNESCO declared Chichen Itza a World Heritage Site in 1988. It is one of the most famous and best-preserved Mayan sites.
Tourists love the day trip to see its mystical pyramids and temples, one of them, the Kukulkan, chosen in 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Near Chichén Itzá, several impressive cenotes, and smaller archaeological sites are also worth a visit.
11. Akumal Beach, Quintana Roo
Akumal, which means “Place of the Turtles” in Mayan, is a gorgeous beach on the Yucatan Peninsula and a nesting site for hundreds of sea turtles.
Tourists -from nearby destinations such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum- can’t resist the temptation to swim with these reptiles and enjoy the Aktun Chen Natural Park, known for its caves, cenotes, and subway rivers.
To the north, the bay has a curved beach, while the Yal-kú lagoon is full of colorful tropical fish, rays, and barracuda.
Read more about Akumal Beach.
12. Holbox Island, Quintana Roo
Although its waters are not as crystalline as those of the other beaches of the Mayan Riviera, Holbox Island is just as rich for swimming and resting.
One of its main attractions is that you can dive with whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean.
It is common to see boats full of travelers willing to live this adventure in the summertime when the impressive marine mammal approaches the coast.
Isla Holbox is also a refuge for more than 150 bird species, including flamingos and pelicans.
13. Copper Canyon: One of the most unique Mexican destinations
The majestic Barrancas del Cobre (copper canyon), located in the Sierra Tarahumara, is the longest and deepest in the world, even deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
You can camp in its impressive forests. The ever-changing tones and shapes of the sierra seem to melt into the horizon, and it is home to indigenous people who live isolated from the world.
Although the canyon can be explored by hiking, biking, and horseback riding, the ideal is to take a train that runs through the Copper Canyon from Chihuahua to Los Mochis, through tunnels, and across the Sierra Madre.
Read more about the Copper Canyon Train experience.
14. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Puerto Vallarta is a city on Mexico’s Pacific coast that attracts tourists from all over the place.
You will find everything from lively nightclubs, beautiful beaches, and colonial buildings to lush forests.
English is widely spoken, and although it has a lot of travelers, its tranquility and friendly people make it an alternative to Mexico’s prominent tourist destinations.
The Malecon (boardwalk) is one of its main charms, full of contemporary sculptures, bars, and night spots.
Read more about Puerto Vallarta.
15. Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas
Within the state of Chiapas lies the Sumidero Canyon, a fantastic natural site that attracts hundreds of travelers for its impressive walls along the Grijalva River.
The scenery is best appreciated when you enter this natural immensity from a boat.
Many tourists flock to the Sumidero Canyon for biking, swimming, hiking, camping, and picnicking. It is also popular among extreme sports enthusiasts.
Read the complete guide about the Sumidero Canyon.
16. Marietas Islands, Riviera Nayarit
In the west of Mexico, between Punta Mita and Puerto Vallarta, lies the Marietas Islands, a natural paradise home to abundant marine life and a sought-after destination for scuba diving.
The caves and rock formations are spectacular, so it is common to see them in landscape photographs in tourist promotion magazines everywhere.
Islas Marietas has been declared a National Park, and only a few companies are authorized to take tourists to this natural wonder.
Check with your hotel host or concierge for more information on this fantastic tour.
17. Palenque, Chiapas
Just as impressive, if not more, than the ruins of Chichen Itza are those of Palenque, a Mayan city located in Chiapas, in southern Mexico.
Travelers often forget to visit them because they are not as popular, but the number of people who come to appreciate these monuments does not diminish with time.
The ruins are nestled in the middle of the forest, surrounded by impressive waterfalls and caves waiting to be explored.
Read more about Palenque.
18. Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo
The Magical Town of Isla Mujeres, 13 km off the coast of Cancun, can be explored on a day trip.
Isla Mujeres is ideal for diving and snorkeling, but its main attraction is swimming with whale sharks at certain times of the year.
Renting a golf cart or bicycle to tour the island is advisable. Many inexpensive hotels will allow a comfortable stay and enjoy water parks and marine museums.
The promenade near the ferry terminal is the best place to dine. The most popular food here is seafood, of course.
Learn more about Isla Mujeres.
19. Agua Azul Waterfalls, Chiapas
Cascadas de Agua Azul is a natural wonder in the state of Chiapas, 60 km from Palenque.
It is a protected area with a stretch of shallow canyons and cliffs, where you can see the white-turquoise-blue water mixing with natural pools.
The vegetation is mountain jungle and in some parts covers the river. It is an ideal place to observe exotic fauna.
20. Oaxaca City
On the Mexican Pacific coast is Oaxaca, a colonial city that differs from the rest for not being at the forefront of development but with its cultural roots still intact.
The historic center is one of more than 30 in Mexico that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is home to a great indigenous culture, vibrant arts and crafts scene, colorful festivities, delicious local cuisine, and dazzling natural beauty.
One of the best Day of the Dead festivals is held in this city from November 1-2.
Read more about Oaxaca City.
21. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
In San Miguel de Allende, you will find a relaxed pace of life. A small colonial city that was a central axis in the Mexican War of Independence.
There are few places to visit, but its beautiful alleys and colorful Spanish baroque architecture can be appreciated everywhere you walk.
One of its best-known sites is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, with spectacular pink towers that stand out over the main square.
Read the complete guide on San Miguel de Allende.
22. Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
The Magical Town of Todos Santos is about an hour from Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California peninsula.
With an unbeatable climate, it is a meeting place for artists, surfers, and travelers searching for adventure, natural beauty, and a chill lifestyle.
The community, with friendly locals, is known for its numerous art galleries and museums.
The spectacular beaches with strong waves are ideal for extreme water sports.
Learn more about Todos Santos.