25 Unique Places to Visit in Mexico You Have to See to Believe

Mar 2, 2021 | 15 comments

Looking for unique places to visit in Mexico?

You’ve come to the right place because the Top 25 best and most unique places to visit in Mexico are here waiting for you to discover!

Since the “best places” in Mexico are technically the one that you love the most, this list is a compilation of the most beautiful places in Mexico, historical places to visit in Mexico and pueblos magicos (magic towns) — with unique places for every kind of traveler.

In this article, you’ll find everything from tourist attractions in Mexico, like Teotihuacan pyramids near Mexico City, and the Uxmal pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula, two of the best ruins in Mexico. You’ll also discover Mexico places to visit you’ve probably never heard of, like Taxco, an old silver mining town, and Las Coloradas, the pink lakes in Mexico.

There’s also hidden gems and off the beaten path places like Las Pozas (AKA Xilitla, the Surrealist Gardens of Edward James), UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and tropical places to go to in Mexico, like Tulum and the MUSA Cancun Underwater Museum.

In short, if you’re looking for all of Mexico’s best places to visit that you didn’t know existed, they are all right here. For your travel planning convenience, they have all been added to the Mexico map below so you can see where they’re located in the country.

After you check out all the places, head to the end of this article for tips on Mexico travel and visiting places in Mexico safely. With no shortage of nice places in Mexico, cool places in Mexico and interesting places in Mexico — let’s get to this list of the 25 Mexico must see places already!

Pin this article for later

unique places to visit in Mexico

Unique Places to Visit in Mexico: Map

Each of the 25 unique places to visit in Mexico mentioned in this article have been pinned to the handy Mexico map below, so you’ll have a better idea of their location in Mexico. With such a big country — the 14th largest country, in fact — visiting places in Mexico, for many, will come down to location.

Besides physical location, these are all safe places to visit in Mexico. However, as no place on Earth is 100% safe, check out the Mexico Travel FAQ section at the end of the article for Mexico safety tips after you decide on places in Mexico to visit, and a FREE Printable Mexico Packing Guide.


Renting A Car in Mexico

The easiest, fastest and most convenient way to travel to most Mexican hidden gems is via your own private rental car.

While driving in Mexico is considered quite safe, you’ll be unfamiliar with Mexico driving laws, so make sure to read over the Mexico Driving Tips below to help you with how to drive in Mexico.

For a rental, Discover Cars is a great company that compares prices at numerous Mexico car rental agencies all over the country to get you the best price.

🚗💨 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips

1. Rent with a reputable company! As they say, “you get what you pay for.” For a reliable Cancun car rental company, go with Discover Cars.

2. Avoid driving at night. When you live in Mexico long enough, you start to realize many people simply avoid driving at night, if they can. If you do drive at night, stick to only main roads and highways.

3. Always use the couta, or toll, roads. Yes, they cost money, but they are much better maintained and generally considered safer. Pro tip: Bring cash for the tolls.

4. Download an offline map. Your signal will go in and out as you travel through rural areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, so download an offline map from Google or Maps.Me. You’ll also want to download some podcasts and music while you’re getting that map.

5. Speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. You don’t have to worry about conversion math here; just make sure the speed limit sign number matches your speedometer number.

6. Do not use your cell phone while you’re driving. Not only is this unsafe, it is also illegal. In fact, even having your phone in your hand is a ticket-able offense, so try not to even hold your phone while driving.

7. The rumors are true about the cops expecting bribes. If the cops pull you over, and they only will if you give them a reason to, they will expect a cash “payment” in exchange for not ticketing you.

8. Mexican roads are notorious for their abundant amount of topes (speed bumps). Make sure you keep your eyes on the road, as topes don’t always have signs alerting you to them.

9. Mexico’s gas stations are not self-serve. When you stop for gas, an attendant will pump it for you and take your payment. These people don’t actually work for the gas station, and live off tips. When they finish, it’s customary to tip them at least $10-20 pesos ($0.50-$1).

10. Mexico’s traffic lights go from green to yellow, to flashing yellow for a few seconds, to finally, a red light.

11. Make sure you purchase Mexican car insurance. You are generally not covered in any way through your U.S. company when you drive in any other country.

12. Most travel insurance policies cover driving. In case you’re wondering, Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?… The answer is hell yes! There’s a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important — maybe even more so when traveling during the pandemic.


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO: Pueblos Magicos

1. Las Posza: Xilitla Surrealist Gardens

📍 Las Pozas is located in Xilitla, Mexico, a pueblo magico (magic town), in San Luis Potosi state.

With no shortage of beautiful places in Mexico, Las Pozas (The Pools/The Wells) is in category all its own. This unique Mexico hidden gem was never completed to its full glory, but still makes for an incredible site in the small pueblo magico of Xilitla, Mexico, in San Luis Potosi state.

📌 What is a pueblo magico? Xilitla, and the next nine unique places to go in Mexico on this list are all what’s known as a pueblo magico, or magic town. There are about 135 pueblos magicos in Mexico, designated by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism as noteworthy for reasons including unique history and folkloric traditions, natural beauty and more. This is similar to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but exclusive to Mexico.

The Surrealist Garden of Edward James

Las Pozas was the vision of Edward James, a wealthy, eccentric British poet, and surrealist art collector. He arrived to Xilitla in the late-1940s, and began construction on the home he envisioned to be something straight out of a surrealist painting.

Located on a hillside in the rural Sierra Madre jungle, Edward James spent about 40 years constructing Las Pozas, before his death in 1984. Though it was never finished, his surrealist garden and its focal point, the nine pools (Las Pozas), is a magical place you have to see to believe.

las pozas surrealist garden of edward james in the forests of xilitla, mexico, pueblo magico (magic town) | unique places to visit in Mexico

“[Edward James is] crazier than all the surrealists put together. They pretend, but he is the real thing.” Salvador Dalí, the most famous surrealist artist of all time

To visit Las Pozas, you’ll want to spend at least one night in a Xilitla hotel, as it’s quite remote. Two of the best hotels in Xilitla are Posada Inkali Xilitla and Hotel Real de Lua. From there, you’ll drive your rental car or hire a taxi for the day to Las Pozas.

Though a bit of a trek, Edward James’ Surrealist Garden, with more than 30 fanciful concrete structures and sculptures, some more than 100-feet-tall, exists somewhere between fantasy and reality. Walking around, it almost feels like you’re in a dream.


UNIQUE Places to Visit in Mexico

2. Tulum

📍 Tulum, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Quintana Roo state in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Like much of Mexico, Tulum was once a sleepy backpacker’s destination with cheap hostels on the beach and lots of food stands to enjoy street tacos. While it’s still possible to visit Tulum on a budget, the Tulum of today is a chic place for a luxurious-yet-rustic destination on a Yucatan Peninsula trip.

RELATED ARTICLE 🏝 The Ultimate Tulum Travel Planning Guide for First Time Visitors

There are lots of cool things to do in Tulum, including exploring the famous Tulum Ruins archeological site, swimming in Tulum cenotes and renting a bike for the day to explore Tulum Town (AKA Downtown Tulum).

Beyond these, you can also just head to Tulum Beach, among the best beaches in Mexico, to swim in the Caribbean Sea.

Ven a la Luz at Ahau Tulum Resort
Jungle views at Azulik Tulum
Swings at Coco Tulum Resort

sian ka’an near tulum

Head a bit further south of Tulum, and you’ll be in the pristine Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve, a natural gem for nature lovers.

This protected 2,000-square-mile nature preserve has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve-World Heritage Site since 1987.

The Sian Ka’an preserve’s remote location and vast size make it nearly impossible to navigate on your own, but there are a number of sustainable tour companies that offer a memorable adventure.

One of the best Sian Ka’an tours is a Muyil River float experience, where you actually float with a  group tour through the channels in the lagoon.

Contributed by Lori of Travlin Mad

sian kaan tulum tour sees dolphins in the water | unique places to visit in Mexico
It’s common to see dolphins and other wildlife in Sian Ka’an. (Photo: Kay Tours)

sian ka’an tours


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

⭐️ BONUS: Tulum Cenotes

What are cenotes?

You’re probably wondering just what is a cenote (pronounced cen-no-tay). In short, cenotes are underwater sinkholes containing clear, freshwater. They are only found in a few places on Earth, with the largest concentration of about 6,000 cenotes in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Throughout the years of Earth’s existence, the native limestone rock once encasing the cenote water has collapsed or eroded. Depending on how much rock is gone, some cenotes are fully open like a swimming pool, some are partially open, and some are in underground caves, like Cenote Suytun.

Swimming in the cenotes is high atop many Mexico travel bucket lists. If this will be your first time visiting cenotes, check out this Cenote FAQ. You’ll find out what you need to bring, how much cenotes cost to enter, and how to visit cenotes with respect to responsible tourism in Mexico.

Calavera Cenote near Tulum
Azul Cenote near Playa del Carmen
underwater sinkhole called a cenote to swim in with blue water and vines going into the water - day trips from Merida
Ik Kil Cenote near Valladolid

Best Tulum Cenotes

There are cenotes throughout Yucatan, but some of the best cenotes in Mexico can be found not far from Tulum. Among the best Tulum cenotes, don’t miss Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote and Cenote Zacil-Ha. Located closer to Playa del Carmen but still not far from Tulum, Cenote Azul is another one of the best Yucatan cenotes.

Best Valladolid Cenotes

Not far from Tulum, the pueblo magico Valladolid, one of Mexico’s magic towns, is another area with Instagram worthy cenotes. Some of the best cenotes near Valladolid include Cenote Zaci, Cenote Suytun, Cenote Oxman, and Cenote Ik Kil, one of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatan

tulum Cenote tours


Unique Places to Visit in Mexico

3. Taxco

📍 Taxco, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Guerrero state.

Although Taxco pueblo magico is not on the main tourist trail, it is well worth visiting. A famous silver town in the mountains, many silversmiths still ply their trade today. In fact, you can see them creating silver jewelry and art pieces in their workshops, and buy directly from them.

Just wandering the steep, narrow cobblestone streets is enjoyable, but there are also dozens of ornate churches you can visit, including the ornate Baroque Church of Santa Prisca. The town’s churches play an instrumental role in the Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions in Taxco. 

large colonial church in taxco, mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico
The beautiful Parroquia de Santa Prisca y San Sebastian, or Church of Santa Prisca, the most famous Taxco church.

Every day of the week leading up to Easter, there are processions where figures representing the main people in the Bible’s Easter events are paraded through the streets to reenact the events.

In the afternoons and evenings, different processions feature hooded penitents, carrying heavy crosses or bundles of sharp thorny sticks on outstretched arms, or lashing their backs with sharp thorns. It’s a gruesome, but fascinating, connection to historical displays of penitence.

Located not far away, Taxco is one of the best places to visit near Mexico City. You can drive your rental car, take a bus or join a group tour. At about three hours south, Taxco is one of the most popular Mexico City day trips.

Contributed by James of Travel Collecting


UNIQUE Places to Visit in Mexico

4. Teotihuacan Pyramids

📍 Teotihuacan is a historic site in the pueblo magico of San Juan Teotihuacan, in Estado de Mexico (Mexico State), just outside of Mexico City.

Teotihuacan is a spectacular archaeological complex, and a must-visit on any Mexico City itinerary. Since it’s easily accessible, Teotihuacan is one of the best day trips from Mexico City at any time of year.

Teotihuacan is one of the best preserved pre-Columbian cities in the world, originally constructed prior to the Aztec arrival in Mexico, and many of its structures are still standing today. It is one of the top places to visit Mexico, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You’ll be absolutely awestruck by the Teotihuacan pyramids, including the Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Sun, the biggest pyramid at Teotihuacan. Unlike the Chichen Itza Mexico pyramids in the Yucatan Peninsula, you can climb the pyramids at Teotihuacan, which rival their Egyptian counterparts.

Teotihuacan pyramids hot air balloon ride in mexico city | unique places to visit in Mexico

🎈Teotihuacan Hot Air Balloon Tour: One of the most amazing ways to see this ancient archeological site from above, the only real way to appreciate its vastness.

Spend some time exploring the Avenue of the Dead, and check out the various temples and ruins, such as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, a temple dedicated to the most important god, Quetzalcoatl (pronounced ketz-al-coe-uh), the Feathered Serpent. The Museum of Teotihuacan Culture includes many artifacts and is also well worth a visit.

The site is located in the pueblo magico (magic town) of San Juan Teotihuacan, located 1-2 hours from Mexico City, depending on traffic. You can visit on a Teotihuacan tour, by Uber or bus; for a detailed guide, head to this article to find out how to get from Mexico City to Teotihuican.

Submitted by Tegan & Alex of Why Not Walk Travel Guides

MEXICO City PODCAST


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

5. Izamal: The Yellow City

📍 Izamal, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Yucatan state, in the Yucatan Peninsula.

A Yucatan hidden gem, the “Yellow City” of Izamal, Mexico is one of the 135 or so Mexico pueblos magicos (magic towns). What makes Izamal worth a visit is its bright yellow color, with all buildings in Downtown Izamal painted yellow — so don’t forget to grab your camera for travel photos when you visit.

Izamal also has an interesting history since it was built by Spaniards on top of the Mayan settlement. No one knows for sure why the entire town was painted yellow, however there are several theories about it, including that the Mayans painted it yellow in honor of their sun god.

The most prominent landmark of Izamal is Convento de San Antonio de Padua, which was built on top of the ancient Mayan pyramid, Pop-Hol-Chac, in 1561, to introduce Mayans to the Catholic religion. The town still has several Mayan pyramids, including Kinich Kakmo Pyramid, that provides a great panoramic view of Izamal and its surrounding areas.

Wandering the streets of Izamal is a lot of fun, however there’s very little shade so don’t forget your eco-friendly sunscreen and LifeStraw Reusable Water Bottle. As with the entire Yucatan Peninsula, the best time to visit Izamal is in the fall or winter, when the weather is cool and the humidity’s at bay.

As one of the best Merida day trips, you can easily travel to Izamal by driving your rental car or taking a bus from Merida. It is also a popular day trip from Valladolid, another one of the best pueblos magicos in Yucatan, about 1.5 hours away.

Contributed by Daria of The Discovery Nut Check out her Mexico travel podcast episode below where she offers Mexico tips, and talks about her solo travel adventures in Izamal and the Yucatan.

Yucatan, MEXICO PODCAST


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

6. San Sebastian del Oeste

📍 San Sebastian del Oeste, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Jalisco state.

As you make your way up the route to San Sebastian del Oeste, the hot, dry weather of Puerto Vallarta is replaced with cool jungle weather. The hustle and bustle of town is offset by a charming, historic village, which makes everything much calmer. 

A truly bucket list destination in Mexico, San Sebastian is only 67 miles away from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (though best done with a truck or SUV). If you aren’t renting a car, you can always take a group tour to San Sebastian, one of the best day trips from Puerto Vallarta.

The pueblo magico of San Sebastian del Oeste is one of those places to see in Mexico that feels like you’re stepping back in time. It was founded in 1605, and the haciendas and centuries-old homes bring you back to an earlier time in history, when this was a booming silver mining town. 

In and around town, you’ll visit beautiful colonial haciendas like La Galera, La Hacienda San and La Hacienda Jalisco, some of the best things to do in San Sebastian del Oeste. There’s also the Iglesia de San Sebastian, a small church dedicated to San Sebastian Martir, and built by Franciscan friars at the end of the 18th Century.

If you are up for an additional drive, and you have a 4X4, head up the Cerro de la Bufa (La Bufa Hill). This hillside trail is located 45 minutes away, and offers views all the way to Puerto Vallarta and the Pacific Ocean.

Contributed by Lina of Bucket List Places


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

7. Cholula

📍 Cholula, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Puebla state.

When looking for unique places to visit in Mexico, Cholula is one of those off the beaten path Mexico destinations you can’t afford to miss.

One fun fact about Choluna is that the largest pyramid on Earth (by volume), the Great Pyramid of Cholula, is located in this colorful pueblo magico.

The pyramid is in the Cholula Archaeological Zone, along with the or iconic yellow Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios church, one of the most beautiful churches in Mexico.

Located atop a cliff, when you visit the church you’ll also get some beautiful views of this colorful and well preserved colonial town below.

large, grand yellow church on top of a hill in cholula, mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico
The largest pyramid on Earth (by volume) is located beneath the famous yellow church in Cholula.

Located less than three hours away, Cholula makes a great addition to your Mexico City 5 day itinerary. One of the best Mexico City day trips, take a guided tour to Cholula and return back to the city on the same day. However you choose to visit, Cholula is one of those Mexico beautiful places far too few people have experienced.

Contributed by Daniel of Layer Culture

cholula tours


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

8. Tequila

📍 Tequila, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Jalisco state.

Santiago de Tequila, or simply, Tequila, is one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico. A well known word thanks to the drink, many visitors are often amazed to find out there really is a town called Tequila — and that the drink is named after this town, not the other way around!

For centuries, tequila has been made here. In fact, the drink tequila can only be called tequila if it’s produced in this town, in the state of Jalisco, and in very few other certified places in Mexico. All other distilled beverages made from the agave plant, which tequila is, must be labeled as mezcal.

🥃 Tequila Fun Fact: Much like how champagne is just sparkling wine that’s made in the city of Champagne, France, tequila is a mezcal that’s made in the city of Tequila, Mexico.

To learn firsthand how tequila is made, visit one of the many distilleries in town, which usually offer some form of a tour and a tasting. You can choose from smaller, craft tequila producers, or the more recognizable brands like Sauza, and the producer of the oldest tequila in the world, Jose Cuervo.

On some tours, you’ll even visit one of the many blue agave fields that surround the city of Tequila. The iconic landscapes with these beautiful agave fields have even been designated one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico.

Just 35 miles from Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state, Tequila makes a great day trip by bus or rental car. For a unique experience, the Tequila Express Train is an all-day Guadalajara to Tequila train tour that includes mariachi music, snacks and of course, plenty of tequila.

Contributed by Lori of Southerner Says

Tequila Tours


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

9. Valladolid

📍 Valladolid, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Yucatan state, in the Yucatan Peninsula.

One of the prettiest places in Mexico, Valladolid is a charming colonial town and one of the best places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Located about two hours by rental car or bus from both Merida and Cancun, and just one hour from Tulum, the town’s proximity to these top destinations has made it increasingly popular in recent years. However, Valladolid remains a unique, authentic and budget-friendly Mexico destination.

There are many things to do in Valladolid, and also right around the town, including visiting the cenotes near Valladolid. The best time to visit Valladolid is between October and May, as these months have sunshine, pleasant temperatures, and almost no rain.

The must see Valladolid site is its beautiful Iglesia de San Servacio church in the Zocalo (Main Square). From there, head to the colorful Calzada de los Frailes street, and then the Mercado Municipal (market) to buy some fresh fruits and veggies

Additionally, there’s many stunning Valladolid cenotes like Cenote Zaci, a beautiful open air cenote next to downtown Valladolid, perfect for a refreshing swim. Other cenotes worth visiting are Cenote Xkeken and Cenote Suytun, both located underground in caves with magical rock formations.

Also less than an hour from Valladolid, head to Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, one of the top places to visit in Mexico. It is located right next to another one of the best cenotes in Yucatan, Cenote Ik Kil.

Submitted by Carolin of Happy When Abroad


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

10. San Cristobal de las Casas

📍 San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, is a pueblo magico located in Chiapas state.

San Cristobal de las Casas is the cultural capital of the southern state of Chiapas, and the perfect base to explore the many things to do in Chiapas. As the one of the most well known Mexico travel destinations in Chiapas, San Cristobal is worth a visit in itself.

✈️ Traveling solo? San Cristobal is the perfect place for solo female travel in Meixco.

This beautiful colonial city and pueblo magico is truly charming with its cobblestone streets, and a mix of traditional shops and hipster cafes and boutiques. Much of its population is indigenous and retains traditions and customs from a far past, so visiting this city is like stepping back in time.

Some of the San Cristobal, Mexico places to see and best day trips include the village of San Juan Chamula, Sumidero Canyon, and the Palenque Mayan ruins. The best time to visit San Cristobal de las Casas is in the spring, from April to June. Located high in the mountains, it gets cold in the winter, and humid in the summer.

Contributed by Stefania of Every Steph

colorful streets of the colonial mexican town san cristobal de las casas, one of the most unique places to visit in mexico

⭐️ BONUS: Sumidero Canyon

📍 Sumidero Canyon is in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, about 45 minutes from San Cristobal de las Casas.

At only about one hour from San Cristobal de las Casas, and located in Sumidero National Park, the Sumidero boat tour is one of the most popular day trips from San Cristobal. Most tours will also take you to see Chiapa de Corzo, a nearby pueblo magico, and charming colonial town.

The beautiful Sumidero Canyon is an impressive natural wonder, formed more than 35 million years ago. Created by a geological fault, and carved by the Río Grijalva (Grijalva River), the canyon stretches about eight-miles and rises to 3,300-feet (1,000m) at its highest point.

In 2004, the Cañyon Sumidero was designated a Ramsar World Heritage Site as a wetland of international importance. The landscape encompasses an area of about 85 square miles, and is home to towering mountains, beautiful waterfalls, and endangered species including ocelots, crocodiles and spider monkeys.

Contributed by Rai of A Rai of Light

Sumidero tours


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO: Nature Sites

11. Islas Marietas: Hidden Beach

📍 The Marietas Islands are located in the Bay of Banderas, about two hours by boat from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Those traveling to Sayulita, San Pancho, or Puerto Vallarta, have the opportunity to cross the Islas Marietas (Marietas Islands) off their Mexico bucket list. On one of the islands, you’ll find the famous hidden beach in Mexico, the Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach) that you have to swim under a rocky wall to access.

As this Mexico hidden gem has become famous via YouTube, Instagram and social media, the Mexican government has had to limit the number of visitors to preserve this natural treasure. Now, only about 125 visitors per day are allowed on the island — so tours sell out fast and well in advance.

While a quick Google search might turn up a lot of results for “Islas Marietas tours,” know there are two very different Islas Marietas tours offered. With the first one, the less expensive of the two, you’ll boat near the island with the Mexico hidden beach, and swim and snorkel in the waters surrounding it.

On the other tour, which costs about double, you’ll be one of the lucky 125 who gets to go onto the Playa del Amor beach that day. If visiting one of the most secluded beaches in Mexico is a must see for you, book early for one of the 125 coveted spots to one of the cool places to visit in Mexico.


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

12. Las Grutas Tolantongo: Caves & Hot Springs

📍 Tolantongo Grutas is located in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico.

Though located about four hours away, Las Grutas de Tolantongo is considered one of the best places to visit near Mexico City. Really though, these natural hot springs are one of the most beautiful and Instagram worthy Mexico travel destinations in the whole country.

If you’re wondering What is Tolantongo? the short answer is that it’s one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico.

The longer answer is that Tolantongo is a natural water park, located high up in the mountains, in a canyon. It is surrounded by hot springs and underwater thermal pools, which heat the waters all year-long. In fact, the word tolantongo comes from the Aztec word tonaltonko, meaning “where it feels warm.”

blue water and natural infinity pools | Visit Las Grutas Tolantongo | unique places to visit in Mexico

RELATED ARTICLE 🧜‍♀️ Las Grutas Tolantongo: How to Visit Mexico’s Hot Springs

The word gruta means cave (or grotto), and there just so happens to be one at Tolantongo. In fact, this large site consists of four distinct natural areas: the river, the pools, the tunnel, and of course, the cave.

There’s also an onsite zipline, suspension bridge, regular swimming pools, hotels, campsites, about 10 restaurants, convenience stores, lockers, medical facilities, and more — Yes, this is a big place! When visiting, plan to spend the entire day as there are many things to do at Tolantongo.

While it’s possible to visit Tolantongo on a day trip from Mexico City or Queretero, it will definitely be a long day. As Tolantongo, Mexico, is quite remote, there are overnight options to stay in a Tolantongo resort hotel room or even go camping at Tolantongo.

However you choose to do so, a visit to Tolantongo, though it is rather remote, is worth it. As far as beautiful places, Mexico has a ton, but the fact that Tolantongo has warm waters year-round make this place very appealing no matter the time of year you visit Mexico.


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

13. Las Coloradas: Pink Lakes

📍 Las Coloradas is located in the state of Yucatan, Mexico, close to the town of Rio Lagartos.

Located on the northern coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, you’ll find a remote place straight out of your Instagrammable Mexico dreams — the pink lakes of Las Coloradas — and yes, the water is real!

Las Coloradas is one of the two pink lakes in Yucatan; the other is Laguna Rosada (Pink Lagoon) near Telchac Puerto, a Yucatan beach town on the Gulf of Mexico and not far from the colonial city of Merida.

Las Coloradas, the more famous of the two, is a popular Merida day trip, at about 3.5 hours away. Merida is the closest proper city to Las Coloradas.

You can access it from other Yucatan cities in the region, but there’s not much else around it, so public transportation can take some time.

woman making a heart shape with her two hands at the pink lakes in mexico | day trips from Merida, Yucatan | unique places to visit in Mexico

As it’s quite remote, and just one large pink lake, the trip to Las Coloradas is usually combined with a boat tour to see flamingos and other wildlife in the nearby Ria Lagartos UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Ria Lagartos is a river and wetland area in Rio Lagartos, Mexico, the closest town to Las Coloradas.

The easiest way to get to Las Coloradas is via tour or rental car. If not, it’s a long trip and you’ll want to spend at least one night in the Hotel Rio Lagartos. The first step is to take a bus to the city of Tizimin, then catch a connecting bus to the town of Rio Lagartos, and finally, a short taxi ride the rest of the way.

Contributed by Adrienne from The Haphazard Traveler

📌 LAS COLORADAS FAQ

Why is the water pink at Las Coloradas?

Las Coloradas has pink water because of the red algae, plankton and brine shrimp that live in this salty water. The salt content in this water is so high, this area has been used as a natural salt mine for centuries.

What is the best time to visit the Las Coloradas?

The pink color of the lakes shows brightest on very sunny days, and at midday, so any sunny day works to visit Las Coloradas. Do note that on overcast and non-sunny days, the water will not show up as a vibrant pink.

Is Las Coloradas worth visiting?

If you’ve checked, and the weather seems like it’s going to cooperate, then yes, the pink lakes are incredible and worth the trek.

Can I swim in Las Coloradas?

A few years back, the Mexican government stopped allowing swimming. The reason for this is because the high salt content can actually be toxic on the skin. While there’s not really anyone around to enforce people not getting in, there’s also not really hospitals around, so don’t risk your health for a photo.

Woman jumping at Las Coloradas pink lakes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico | first time solo travel destinations | unique places to visit in Mexico

FREE DOWNLOAD 📸 How to Get Awesome Solo Travel Photos + 5 FREE Presets


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

14. Huasteca Potosina

📍 Huasteca Potosina is a region that spans seven states in Mexico, with the area’s most visited places in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

The Huasteca Potosina is one of those absolutely natural and authentic off the beaten path places that all nature lovers must visit. Located in the state of San Luis Potosi, northeast of Mexico City, the Huasteca Potosina is part of the large Huastecas region, named after the pre-hispanic civilization settled there, the Huastecan.

It’s a spectacular area, with a great diversity of landscapes. Here, you’ll find everything from flatlands and hills made of calcified sand, to waterfalls, canyons, natural pools, and caves, all scattered throughout the region.

Visiting all the waterfalls, or cascadas, are among the best things to do in Huasteca Potosina. Tamul, Micos, Tamasopo, El Salto and Puente de Dios are the best waterfalls in Huasteca Potosina — but don’t miss out on seeing the Sotano de las Golondrinas (Cave of Swallows) either.

Located in different places throughout the region, if you want to see all the Huasteca waterfalls, plan to spend at least five full days in the area. The most central place to stay is a hotel in Cuidad Valles, Mexico, located in San Luis Potosi state.

From there, you’ll either get around by rental car, or hiring a taxi for the day. A private car is great for creating your own custom Huasteca Potosina itinerary, and for the freedom to move around each day. 

Taxis are a safe, inexpensive option, and as the driver will know the area very well, you can choose a different waterfall each day. No matter the option you choose, you’re going to fall in love with the Huasteca Potosina, one of the most beautiful places in Mexico.

Submitted by Isabella of Boundless Roads


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

15. Hierve el Agua

📍 Hierve el Agua is located in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Located more than 5,000 feet above sea level in Sierra Madre de Oaxaca mountains, you’ll find Hierve el Agua, an infinity pool surrounded by verdant valleys. Below the pools is a petrified waterfall — one of only two in the world! — which formed over thousands of years from the mineral-rich water that flowed down the cliff face.

Hierve el agua means boiling water, and its pools are warmed by the sun, so you’ll want to visit on a sunny day. As one of the most popular places in Mexico, and best things to do in Oaxaca City, try to arrive early to beat the crowds.

Before jumping in the pools, take your time to explore the entire site. You can hike down for better views of the petrified waterfall before cooling off in the water. The hike is moderately challenging to get down, but it’s an uphill climb back up, so don’t forget your LifeStraw Reusable Water Bottle.

It is easy to visit Hierve el Agua on your own, via public transport, in your rental car or with a group tour.

To go on public transportation, take a bus or colectivo (small, shared van) about one hour east of Oaxaca City to the pueblo magico of Mitla, which is also worth exploring. Then, look for the white pickup trucks that depart every 45 minutes or so, and make your way through the curvy mountain roads to Hierve el Agua.

Contributed by Julien of Cultures Traveled

colorful, festive flags in oaxaca, mexico, going from one side of the street to the other | unique places to visit in Mexico

RELATED ARTICLE ✈️ Traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico: Your ULTIMATE Oaxaca Travel Guide


UNIQUE PLACES & THINGS TO DO IN YUCATAN

16. Calakmul Mayan Ruins

📍 Calakmul is located in Campeche, Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The ancient Mayan ruins of Calakmul (pronounced cah-lack-mool) is one of the more off the beaten track Mexico destinations, but definitely worth a visit. Located in Campeche, Mexico, one of the three states that make up the Yucatan Peninsula, it has some of the most beautiful and best pyramids in Mexico.  

Calakmul’s remote jungle location is the reason many travelers don’t know about this hidden gem.

While big crowds flock to the more famous Chichen Itza Mayan ruins, Calakmul is much more difficult to reach and won’t get the same attention, though it’s one of the great places to visit in Mexico, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From the closest major city, Campeche City, it’s about a five hour drive in your rental car, including the two hour drive from the nearest main road into the jungles of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve. However, the trek is definitely worth it.

Calakmul was one of the biggest Mayan cities in ancient times, leaving us with the most beautiful buildings. It has some of the largest pyramids in Mexico, and you can even climb them! The views are amazing and you’ll never forget standing on top of the pyramid, higher than the highest trees with nothing but jungle in front of you.

Contributed by Maartje of The Orange Backpack


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

17. MUSA: Cancun Underwater Museum

📍 MUSA Underwater Museum is located in Cancun, Mexico.

The Cancun Underwater Museum is one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico, and a must see Cancun site for those interested in water activities and marine life. MUSA, which stands for Museo Subacuatico de Arte, is located underwater near Cancun and Isla Mujeres, in the Mexican Caribbean.

As one of the best places to visit in Cancun, Mexico, this is also one of the largest underwater sculpture gardens in the world. While diving or snorkeling at MUSA, you’ll see more than 500 pieces of art created by a variety of artists.

Though also beautiful, the main purpose of the art at this underwater museum in Cancun is conservation. The nearby reefs were being damaged by over tourism, and the art installations serve as both an attraction for the divers and snorkelers to visit, but also as a new habitat for marine plants and animals.

All of the artwork was created with a pH neutral (non-acidic) and environmentally-safe concrete, and then anchored to the ocean floor. Many of the installments have been in place for more than a decade — and the variety of ocean life that now congregate there is astounding.

One day, nature will completely overtake the sculptures and the artwork will be so covered with coral that you will barely see the original pieces. Instead, they will become new art, created by nature.

There are many tours that are available to take you to this amazing underwater museum. You can choose to dive, snorkel, or even take a glass bottom boat to be able to see and enjoy this fascinating place.

Contributed by Emily of Wear I Wandered

Cancun Underwater Museum Tours


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

18. Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve

📍 Sierra Gorda, Mexico, is located in Queretaro state.

Venture off the main tourist path to Queretaro, Mexico, located just three hours west of Mexico City by rental car or bus. This is a smaller state, but you’ll want to spend a couple of days in the Sierra Gorda of Queretaro.

Sierra Gorda is a surreal region with a unique diversity of ecosystems — from semi-deserts and oak forests, to gigantic cliffs overlooking barren lands, and old Spanish missions. The five Franciscan Missions of the Sierra Gorda, located throughout the area, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is a Biosphere Reserve? Biosphere reserves are learning places for sustainable development. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity. —UNESCO

small waterfall flowing in the woods in Sierra Gorda, Queretaro, Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico

If you want the full experience to see the most important sites in Sierra Gorda, consider spending at least 2-3 full days. There are so many interesting sites to explore, from the secluded waterfalls of El Chuveje and Puente de Dios, the breathtaking lookout of Cuatro Palos, and the five Franciscan Missions.

There are different ways to explore the Sierra Gorda. You can join an organized tour, or explore on your own by staying in Pinal de Amoles, Mexico, where you’ll find rustic accommodations and local guides. Slightly further away, there are nicer hotels in Jalpan de Serra.

Visiting Sierra Gorda is a very unique experience, as the territory is still virgin and locals are striving to promote ecological practices to protect it. Booking tours with local guides, and staying in the rustic eco-lodges in the mountains, supports the local economy and conservation efforts.

Submitted by Isabella of Let’s Travel to Mexico


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

19. Holbox Island

📍 Holbox, Mexico, is a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, located in Quintana Roo state.

For years, Isla Holbox was one of the best kept secrets in the Yucatan. However, this little piece of paradise has recently seen an increase in tourism because of its proximity to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, beautiful, unspoiled beaches, and small town feel.

Holbox is known as one of the safest places to visit in Mexico, and is slowly but surely becoming its own Mexico destination. Visitors are flocking to this island in the Caribbean Sea for everything from swimming in the crystal clear waters here, to swimming with the whale sharks in Holbox Island.

woman laying in the Caribbean Sea on a hammock in Holbox Island, one of the best beach towns in Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico

Whale sharks in holbox

If you visit during June-September, book a boat tour (with an ethical tour company, of course!) and head out to the deeper waters around Holbox to swim with the largest fish in the ocean, whale sharks. In case you were wondering, whale sharks aren’t sharks, and don’t even have sharp teeth.

bioluminescence in holbox

If giant fish aren’t your thing, there’s also kayak tours through the mangroves to see the Holbox flamingos in the Yum Balam Nature Reserve during the day. At night, head to Punta Mosquito (don’t let the name scare you off!) to see the Holbox bioluminescence at night.

How to get to Holbox Island has become easier over the last few years, but it is only accessible via the Holbox ferry dock in Chiquila, Mexico. Cars aren’t permitted on the island, but there are paid lots right next to the dock where you can leave your rental car for about $5USD per day.

Contributed by Christian of Unusual Traveler


Unique Places to Visit in Mexico: Cities & Sites

19. San Miguel de Allende

📍 San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is a located in Guanajuato state.

San Miguel de Allende is located in Mexico’s Central Highlands, about four hours northwest of Mexico City.

With its moderate year-round climate, beautiful architecture, and authentic Mexican cultural feel, many Americans and Europeans have relocated to San Miguel in the past few decades.

The town also attracts artists and foodies, and in fact, Bravo’s Top Chef TV show filmed in San Miguel de Allende during Season 12.

Centro Historico, the historic downtown, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here, you’ll find the town’s beautiful 17th-18th century Mexican Baroque buildings — including the iconic pink San Miguel de Allende church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel.

large pink gothic style church in san miguel de allende mexico in front of a well manicured park/garden with trees cut into topiary style circles and colorful buildings in colonial architecture styles surrounding the town square
The Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel and El Jardin (The Garden).

✈️ Traveling solo? San Miguel de Allende is the perfect place for solo female travel in Meixco.

One of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende, is just walk around the town’s narrow cobblestone streets, to admire and take travel photos of the historic and colorful buildings.

Start at El Jardin, the impeccably manicured garden in front of the Parroquia, and then head to Casa Ignacio Allende, a mansion-turned-museum. Make sure to have some churros at the famous Chocolates y Churros San Agustin cafe, before heading to Plaza Civica, to see more beautiful buildings, like the Church of Our Lady of Health.

Historic San Miguel de Allende is named after two individuals, Juan de San Miguel, a 16th century friar among the first people to settle the area, and Ignacio Allende, a Mexican independence fighter, born in this city. It’s rich history and immense beauty make it one of the must see places in Mexico.

Submitted by Džangir of Dr. Jam Travels

colorful street in San Miguel De Allende Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico

UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

20. Valle de Guadalupe: Wine Country

📍 Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, is located in Baja California Norte state.

Valle de Guadalupe is still a relatively unknown wine region in northern Baja California — for now! A very popular trip for Southern Californians, Valle, as it’s commonly called, is a delightful and safe getaway for groups and solo female travel in Mexico

The drive takes only two hours by rental car from San Diego, via the Tijuana or Tecate U.S.-Mexico border crossings. The vineyards of Valle de Guadalupe, both old and new, dot the landscape along Mexico’s Route 3, and this drive is beautiful.

With more than 120 vineyards, and top notch dining options and accommodations, Valle’s Wine Trail makes for a relaxed Mexico trip.

🏕 Want to try glamping in Mexico? Valle de Guadalupe has some amazing “glamorous camping” options, like Cuarto Cuatros, so you don’t have to drive after wine tasting.

a vineyard landscape in Valle de Guadalupe wine country, located in Baja California, Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico

For wine novices, Santo Tomas is a good place to learn the basics of winemaking. Here, you’ll experience a high-tech multimedia production and an easily digestible overview of viticulture. Besides that, their wine tasting room offers outstanding views.

For one of the most unusual winery experiences in Valle, head to AlXimia for a downright other-worldly experience. This family-owned and operated winery offers a unique philosophy based on science with a shout out to the medieval practice of alchemy.

If possible, time your visit to coincide with grape harvest season in late-August to early-October. If you’re really lucky, you may have the opportunity to see grapes being sorted and processed, which is quite a treat.

Contributed by Susan of Gen X Traveler


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

21. Merida

📍 Merida, Mexico, is the capital of Yucatan state in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The colorful, colonial city of Merida is known as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Mexico. Located in Yucatan state, it’s also near several beautiful Mayan ruins in Yucatan, like Dzibilchaltun, Mayapan, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Uxmal.

In fact, there are many amazing Merida day trips within just two hours of downtown. Having rich Mayan and colonial heritage, there are many things to do in Merida as well.

You’ll find beautiful Merida colonial architecture in Centro Historico, (Downtown, or Historic Center). There, don’t miss Museo Casa Montejo, a 16th Century mansion-turned-museum, and the Catedral de San Ildefonso (Merida Cathedral), one of the oldest cathedrals on the Americas Continent. 

Outside of a grand colonial church in Merida, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico  | unique places to visit in Mexico
horse drawn carriage in colonial city of Merida, Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico
Mexican monument with Mexico's flag on top called Monumento a la Patria in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on Paseo de Montejo | unique places to visit in Mexico

RELATED ARTICLE ✈️ Merida Yucatan Mexico: A Locals’ Guide to Things to Do, Hotels & More

For foodies, Merida is a great place to try traditional Yucatan cuisine — which differs from the Mexican food most visitors are used to. Some Yucatecan food favorites include cochinita pibil (suckling pig cooked underground), sopa de limon (lime soup), and marquesitas (crepes).

Merida is one of the most safe places to visit in Mexico, and in fact, was named the second safest city in North America, and the safest in Latin America, by CEOWorld Magazine.

As it’s still one of the up and coming tourist spots in Mexico, you can still enjoy Merida for relatively little money. However, this won’t be the case for long! With Merida’s proximity to other top Yucatan destinations, like Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, more and more people are traveling to Merida each year.

Contributed by Anna of Big World Short Stories

colorful teal, orange & red colonial buildings in merida, yucatan, mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico

RELATED ARTICLE 🏡 12 Stunning Airbnbs in Merida Mexico [Picked by a Local]


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

⭐️ BONUS: Uxmal Ruins

📍 Uxmal Ruins is located in Uxmal, Mexico, in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Uxmal (pronounced yoush-mall) is known as one of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico, with some of the best Mayan pyramids in the world. Located in the Puuc region of the Yucatan Peninsula, Uxmal has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Its impressive buildings are a tribute to the incredible architectural accomplishments of the Mayan people. The stonework at Uxmal is gorgeous with symbolic carved-stone motifs, common of all five sites on the Puuc Route, of which Uxmal is just one site. 

tall stone mayan pyramid at Uxmal | day trips from Merida, Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico
The Uxmal Pyramid of the Magician, the largest pyramid at the Uxmal Yucatan ruins site.

The Pyramid of the Magician dominates the entrance to Uxmal — and according to Mayan folklore, it was built by a magician in one night, hence the name. The ancient Mayan rain god, Chaac, is depicted in many structures, testimony to the importance of water to this agrarian society.

For those debating visiting Chichen Itza vs Uxmal, one main draw to Uxmal is you can climb the pyramids there and you can’t climb the pyramids at Chichen Itza. Take advantage of this by climbing up the Governor’s Palace for a panoramic view of the ancient Uxmal ruins.

Uxmal is located about 1.5 hours south of Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state, by rental car and bus. It is one of the best day trips from Merida, and having a car means you can visit all five sites on the Ruta Puuc — Labna, Kabah, Sayil, Xlapak and Uxmal.

Contributed by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

24. Xochimilco: Mexico City Canals

📍 Xochimilco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Mexico City.

Xochimilco (pronounced so-chee-mil-ko) is one of the best places to visit in Mexico City. Located in the southern part of the city near the beautiful Coyoacan neighborhood, Xochimilco is famous for an intricate network of canal, colourful gondola boats and floating food vendors and mariachi bands.

Besides being one of the top places to visit in Mexico City, the Xochimilco canals are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offer a fascinating insight into the Aztec civilization. Carved by hand, this prehispanic civilization once used the canals as a main thoroughfare for trade and commerce.

🧳 Wondering what to pack for Mexico City? Download this FREE Printable Mexico Packing Checklist now!

The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco is one of the best places to visit in Mexico City to take a trajinera boat ride through these ancient canals.

Nowadays, the atmosphere is electric on weekends, particularly Sundays. Expect hundreds of traditional trajinera boats traveling the canals, as the sounds of live Mariachi bands fill the air. Food vendors will float by too, serving an array of traditional cuisines and drinks, like pulque, a prehispanic alcoholic beverage.

However for a quieter and more relaxing experience, you’ll want to visit Xochimilco during the week. As you have to negotiate boat prices and coordinate tours with guides onsite, who may or may not speak English, the best way to go is a Xochimilco tour.

Those looking for a unique and creepy experience should take the long boat tour to the Isla de Muñecas, or Xochimilco Island of the Dolls. This Mexico dark tourism site is something straight out of a horror movie, with baby doll parts hanging from trees throughout the island.

Submitted by Char of Char’s Footsteps

colorful trajineras, gondola-style boats, at Xochimilco, Mexico City

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 4 Day Mexico City Itinerary: The Ultimate CDMX Travel Guide


UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

25. Guanajuato Mummy Museum

📍 The Guanajuato Mummy Museum is located in Guanajuato City, Mexico.

Looking for off-beat and interesting places to visit in Mexico? Look no further than the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guanajuato City, Mexico, and the Museo de las Momias AKA Guanajuato Mummy Museum.

Though not for everyone, this out-of-the-box museum is perfect for those who seek out the unusual and off-beat. In fact, the Guanajuato Mexico Mummy Museum is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico for dark tourism enthusiasts.

The Mummy Museum in Guanajuato is located about 15 minutes from downtown Guanajuato City. It boasts the world’s largest collection of natural, intact mummies, with about 100 on display. “Natural” here means the bodies mummified naturally due to the high mineral content in the ground surrounding Guanajuato, where they were buried.

mummified human body at guanajuato mummy museum in Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico
mummified human body at guanajuato mummy museum in Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico
mummified human body at guanajuato mummy museum in Mexico | unique places to visit in Mexico

The history of the Guanajuato Mummies

The story behind the museum dates back to the late 1800s, when a deadly plague swept through the Guanajuato area. Sadly, the plague claimed many lives, resulting in an extensive amount of burials in a short period of time.

A few decades later, Guanajuato’s government imposed a “burial tax,” and started making the living family members pay a tax on their buried loved ones. Since many relatives couldn’t afford to pay it, the corpses were exhumed, and they turned out to be mummified from being in the mineral-rich soil.

As one of the most popular things to do in Guanajuato, you’ll want to arrive early to beat and avoid the crowds, and even plan to visit on a weekday in the early afternoon, if possible. While there aren’t any explicitly gore-filled exhibits, the nature of the museum may disturb some.

Contributed by Kay of The Awkward Traveller

brightly colored home and buildings in the colorful colonial town of Guanajuato City, Guanajuato, Mexico, located in central Mexico, and a safe place for female solo Mexico travel
Mummies not for you? Historic Guanajuato City is also one of the most pretty places in Mexico, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UNIQUE PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

Mexico Travel Guide & FAQ

Is Mexico safe for travel?

If you’re wondering about Mexico travel safety, or even Is Mexico safe for solo travel? the short answer is Yes — for the most part. As travel safety is a complex question, head to Safe Travel in Mexico: 20 Tips for Solo Female Travelers for a much more in-depth explanation.

While Mexico is generally quite safe for visitors, do keep in mind that no place on Earth is 100% safe. For this reason, you’ll want to follow the 10 General Safety Guidelines and other travel safety suggestions below. These are the same ones you’d follow when traveling anywhere, and they will suffice in Mexico.

Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?

Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling.

I’ll be honest, when I first started traveling solo, I wasn’t insured. However, after years of solo traveling, I wised up… Now, I even have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important!

If Mexico travel safety is on your mind, get your free quote below now!

Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the free STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

After you’ve registered, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.

10 General travel safety tips
  1. Always listen to your intuition — because your intuition is always right.
  2. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
  3. Don’t walk home alone at night.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors… don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. This should be a no brainer, especially in the current travel climate — but get Travel Insurance from World Nomads, one of the biggest names in Mexico travel insurance. Get your free travel insurance quote below.
Do I need a visa for Mexico travel?

No, U.S passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico from the U.S. This is another reason why, in general, Mexico is one of the best travel destinations from the U.S.

When you arrive in Mexico and go through the Customs and Immigration line, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist visa. This is a small piece of paper that you need to hold on to so you can give it back to Immigration at the airport when you leave the country. 

There is no charge for the FMM, but if you lose yours, there is a charge of about $550 pesos ($27) to replace it. You’d also need to get to the airport about an extra hour earlier than you’d normally have to in order to do the lost visa paperwork… the bottom line: Don’t lose your FMM!

Do I need to learn Spanish to travel to Mexico?

If you stick to the most popular places in Yucatan, the on the beaten path places — then no, you can get by with just English.

However, it is good manners to learn at last some basic Spanish when you visit Mexico City. Pin and/or save the infographic above on your phone so you’ll always have the words and phrases you need, even if you’re off-WiFi.

However, it is good manners to learn at last some basic Spanish when you visit Mexico. Listen to Episode 13 of the podcast as travel blogger Elizabeth talks about how she learned eight languages, and gives great tips for how to learn language basics in easy, fun ways.

If learning Spanish isn’t in the cards for you, #NoJudgement! Pin and/or save the infographic above on your phone so you’ll always have the words and phrases you need, even if you’re off-WiFi.

List of useful spanish words and phrases

unique PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

What do I include on my Mexico packing list?

Mexico is a big country and has varied climates. While most Mexico beaches and beach towns have warm (even hot!) temperatures year-round, you’ll want to double check the weather in the specific place you’re headed, as there’s more temperature fluctuations than most people realize.

As a general rule, Mexican tend to dress on the conservative side. Even in hotter places and pueblos (small towns), jeans and long sleeves are the norm. While on beaches it’s normal to see shorts and sandals, in cities you’ll definitely stand out.

🧳 For a detailed guide on packing for Mexico, head to The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico.

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Need a more detailed Mexico packing guide? Download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below — it covers both Mexico beach packing and Mexico city packing. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.


Did we miss any unique places to visit in Mexico?

If there was anything — or anywhere — not covered, please join the conversation in the comments below!


Enjoy these related Mexico Blogs


Please join me on my Solo Travel & Mexico Travel adventures


¡Hola Chicas!

I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world!

I started this Blog and Podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel and Mexico travel off your bucket list… Read more

podcast cover-woman on a colorful colonial street

A solo travel podcast

meets Mexico travel podcast

🎧 Click to Listen Now

         

Affiliate disclosure

This page may contain affiliate links, meaning that when you make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Affiliate links cost you nothing to use, and help keep my content free! It’s a win-win for us both 👯‍♀️ 

I’d L❤️VE to hear from you!

15 Comments

  1. Diane

    What a beautiful and diverse country! This post definitely makes me want to plan a visit while I’m still so close…I live in California right now. I mean it’s right there!

    Reply
  2. Josy A

    Squeee I love this kind of quirky list! This is soooo much more exciting than the obvious sites (although I would have thought cenotes might count as more obvious than the other places.)

    I particularly love the surrealist garden, those amazing pyramids and the bright colours of Guanajuato City!! Huasteca Potosina looks seriously stunning too.

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Josy: So glad you liked the list ❤️ I too love venturing off the beaten path, so this was a fun one to compile. I’ve found that if you’ve been to Mexico, or know someone who has, you’ve probably heard of cenotes, but interestingly enough, I come across sooo many people unaware they exist.

      Reply
  3. Kitti

    Okay this is probably the best list I’ve seen! I’d visit every single one you mentioned here without a doubt! I cannot wait to explore Mexico 🙂

    Reply
  4. Clarice

    This post fills me with so much wanderlust! Mexico has so much more to offer than just the big spring break resorts. My favorite places to explore typically tend to be off the beaten path. I’m dying to check out the Grutas Tolantongo hot springs!

    Reply
  5. Shelbs

    So glad you posted this! We’ve seen everyone headed to Tulum and we’re like – there has to be more to Mexico! lol great post

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Shelbs: Thanks for writing! Yes, Tulum is a very popular spot — but it’s also super cool & right on the beach, so definitely has a lot going for it. However, you are right, there is soooo much more to Mexico than Tulum 🇲🇽

      Reply
  6. Robert

    What an outstanding post and photos on some wonderful places to visit in Mexico. We always enjoy traveling to Mexico from BC Canada. Our latest trip was to Huatulco, which was beautiful and quiet. I’ve definitely Pinned this post for future reference and to share with others. Great Job! 🙂

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Robert: Thanks for taking the time to comment! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the list & plan to share it out. Huatulco is an amazing beach town, and if you like quieter Mexican beach towns like that, check out Zihuatanejo and Todos Santos too.

      Reply
  7. Nora

    I love every single one of these places. When I visit I will start with the May and ruins and the underwater museum first, but I hope to be able to make time to visit all these sites. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  8. Erin from Pina Travels

    So many great recommendations in this list, I want to see them all! So far I’ve only been to Mexico City (and the surrounding region). I would really love to explore more of this awesome country. Thanks for this inspo!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Erin: There are some amazing off the beaten path places in Mexico that I hope you return one day to explore.

      Reply
  9. Gabby

    I love traveling in Mexico and there are a lot of places on this list that I have never been! I will definitely need to check them out!

    Reply
  10. Brittany

    Mexico is one of the best countries and this article gives me 25 more reasons to love it!

    Reply
    • Shelley

      Hi Brittany: I totally agree that it’s one of the best countries… I loved it so much, I visited & never left!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest