Bucket List Mexico Things to Do

77 Bucket List Mexico Things to Do: Best Sites & Attractions

Looking for items to add to your Mexico bucket list?

You’ve landed on the right article, as I’ve lived in Mexico since 2018, and am about to highlight all the bucket list Mexico things to do you have to see to believe! For those who have never been to Mexico, you may think it’s all beaches — but many of the best places to visit in Mexico aren’t beaches.

While Mexico has almost 7,000-miles of coastline, and some of the world’s best beaches, it also has Mayan and Aztec ruins, natural pink lakes, bioluminescent lagoons, haciendas and cantinas, and much more! Of course, this list also includes some of the best beaches in Mexico.

As the 14th largest country, this list of things to do in Mexico was separated by region. Since many have to break their Mexico trips up and explore one part of the country at a time, you’ll find bucket list Mexico City experiences, bucket list Yucatan Peninsula experiences, and so on.

Ready to get to this list of can’t miss Mexico things to do? Let’s dive in — starting with some useful Mexico travel tips, and then all the places to see and unique experiences you’ll want to add to your Mexico bucket list.

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Mexico things to do

Mexico Travel Tips & FAQ

Is Mexico Safe for Tourists? 

This is the #1 most asked question about Mexico travel. As someone who’s been to half the states in Mexico and felt quite safe, I believe Mexico travel safety is possible for everyone if you avoid unsafe parts of the country, listen to your intuition and stay aware of your surroundings.

As safety is a feeling not a fact, and you’re never really safe anywhere (if you think about it), I do my best to break down this complex topic in this article, Is Mexico Safe for Women: 20 Mexico Solo Travel Tips You Need. In it, I also highlights safe places in Mexico to travel.

🎧 Prefer podcasts? Check out the Mexico podcast episode below with Mexico safety tips and general travel tips.

Mexico things to do

What’s the Best Time to Visit Mexico? 

Weather in Mexico varies a lot from region to region. If you’re visiting any of the beachfront Mexican vacation spots, the best time to visit is in the cooler months of November to April. During this time, the temperatures are about 70°-80°F day and night, and there’s less humidity.

The one exception to this is the Baja Peninsula beaches on the west coast of Mexico. Winters are the best time for whale watching in Baja, but for Baja California beaches, you’ll want the warmer Mexico weather in the Spring and Summer months.

If you’re visiting Central Mexico, Spring and Fall are the best times. Winters can be cold (think 45°F at night in Mexico City), and summers are rainy. However, Central Mexico has an “Eternal Spring” climate, so temperatures do average a pleasant 68°F for much of the year.

colorful flags hung from one side of the street to the other in a colorful pueblo | best places to vacation in Mexico
Mexico things to do

Do I Need a Mexico Visa to Visit?

U.S. passport holders do not need a Mexico travel visa — one of many reasons to visit Mexico as a quick and easy international trip. 

Upon arrival in the country and going through Immigration, you’ll be issued a 180-day (six month) FMM Tourist Card. If you’re coming by plane, there is no charge for this; as you paid it with your airfare. If not, you’ll pay about $25USD.

Make sure to have your FMM on you at all times, as it proves your legal status in the country.

Do not lose your FMM: When you go back through Immigration, you’ll have to return your FMM card to the agent in order to leave Mexico.

Mexico things to do

Should I Get Mexico Travel Insurance?

Ask anyone who travels a lot what the #1 guarantee on any trip is — and they will tell you the one constant with travel is that something will go wrong!

Travel insurance for Mexico is inexpensive and covers everything from lost and stolen items, personal injury and illness and even Mexico driving insurance. Note: Driving insurance is only offered via the Explorer Plan with World Nomads. Use the box below to get your FREE quote now on all policies ⤵

Mexico things to do

What do I include on my Mexico packing list?

Mexico is a big country, with varied climates. While most Mexico beaches and beach towns have warm (and hot!) temperatures all year, you’ll want to double check the yearly weather averages in the 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 about packing for Mexico, head to The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico.

Mexico things to do

Additional Travel Tips for Mexico

Should you need more info on Mexico travel from someone who actually lives in Mexico and has extensively traveled throughout the country (that would be me 🙋‍♀️) check out the articles:


MEXICO THINGS TO DO: Mexico City Bucket List

1. Visit Frida Kahlo’s House

The Frida Kahlo Museum in one of the best things to do in Mexico City, and a must-visit for many. While she may be the most famous Mexican artist of all time, her husband, Diego Rivera, is just as important. Tour the home the two shared together, the Casa Azul (Blue House), where Frida ultimately died in 1954.

MEXICO CITY TIP 🎟 Buy your Frida Museum tickets in advance, otherwise the line can be hours long!

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

Mexico things to do

2. Climb the Teotihuacan Pyramids

Submitted by Bella from Passport and Pixels

From the Aztecs to the Maya, the Olmecs and to the Toltecs, there are hundreds of ancient ruins to visit in Mexico. One of the most impressive ancient destinations in Mexico, and one of the most visited, is the Teotihuacan Ruins (pronounced tay-oh-tee-wok-on).

At its height about 1,500 years ago, Teotihuacan was the biggest and most important city in the Americas, home to more than 100,000 people. It was occupied by a group known as the Teotihuacanos, until the city was mysteriously burned and abandoned around 550 AD.

Today, many of the incredible monuments and pyramids still stand. There are three pyramids at Teotihuacan: the immense Pyramid of the Sun, the third largest pyramid in the world, the slightly-smaller Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, a central Aztec god.

Teotihuacan pyramid

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

The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon are linked by the 2.5-mile Avenue of the Dead, which is flanked by more temples and ceremonial platforms. The impressive scale of this building work must be seen to be believed, especially when considering the builders didn’t have metal tools or pack animals to help!

Teotihuacan is located about 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. It takes about an hour to get there by rental car, taxi, or Uber. You can also take a public bus from Mexico City’s North Bus Terminal to San Juan Teotihuacan, the pueblo magico (magic town) Teotihuacan Ruins is in.

It’s a good idea to arrive early to avoid the crowds and the midday sun. You’ll want to wear comfy sneakers, eco-friendly sunscreen and your sun hat, as a visit involves a lot of walking and there’s very little shade. A hydration backpack with a built-in water bottle also comes in handy.

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

Mexico things to do

3. Teotihuacan Hot Air Balloon Ride

The best way to visit Teotihuacan? On a hot air balloon ride — as the only real way to appreciate this site’s vastness is from above. Since the balloons go up early, you’ll arrive at the site early, go on the balloon ride, then have time to explore the Teotihuacan Ruins after.


4. Eat the Original Tacos al Pastor

To say this is hotly debated is an understatement — but El Tizoncito makes a very bold claim about Mexico City tacos! They say they invented the tacos al pastor 😳 While this may or may not be true, you can visit the place they say these tacos were invented in the trendy La Condesa neighborhood.

RELATED ARTICLE 🌮 50 Best Tacos in Mexico City & Free Map to Find Them All

5. Hear Mariachi Music in Plaza Garibaldi

Plaza Garibaldi is an all-day and night street party, with mariachi music as the guest of honor! Though not from Mexico City, mariachi is from Jalisco state, Plaza Garibaldi is the best place to hear mariachi music in Mexico City. Head there to see mariachi musicians, as they play songs to try and one-up each other in musical showmanship.


6. See the Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade

Fun Fact: There was actually never a Mexico City Día de los Muertos parade until it was depicted in the opening scene of the James Bond film, Spectre.

The parade in the movie was so epic that the city decided it needed to turn fiction into reality, and the amazing Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City was born. It usually takes place the third Saturday in October, though dates vary.

7. Go on a Xochimilco Boat Cruise

One of the best things to do in Mexico City is visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Xochimilco (pronounced so-shee-mill-co). Located in the south part of the city, this unique area almost feels like a totally different world compared to much of Mexico City.

In fact, Xochimilco itself has two distinct worlds within it.

colorful trajineras, gondola-style boats, at Xochimilco.
The Xochimilco trajineras, colorful gondola-style boats.

One way to experience it is as aboard a multicolored trajinera (tra-he-nair-uh) boat, as loud mariachi music plays and everyone’s drinking and dancing. The second way is a more quiet and tranquil canoe ride through the canals of Xochimilco to visit the chinampas (pronounced chin-am-pas).

The chinampas are the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, which is the technical name of this area. Local farmers have maintained these sustainable gardens for centuries, and on a tour like the Chinampas: Living an Ancient Culture, you’ll get to see them and interact with the farmers.

Xochimilco Tours

8. Walk Around the Zocalo/Centro Historico

Centro Historico (Historic City Center) and Xochmiloco together make up one Mexico City UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With so many things to do in Centro Historico, the best place to start is in the Zocalo, or Main Square. There, you’ll see the Catedral Metropolitana (Mexico City Cathedral), Palacio Nacional (National Palace), and Templo Mayor (Aztec Temple). 

Other amazing places to see in Mexico City Centro Historico are:

  • Palacio Bellas Artes, especially to see the Ballet Folklorico
  • Alameda Central Park
  • Barrio Chino (Mexico City Chinatown)
  • Casa de los Azulejos
  • Observation Tower at Torre Latinoamericana
  • Palacio Postal Historic Post Office
beautiful large european-style building with golden dome in mexico city
Palacio Bellas Artes, located in Centro Historico Mexico City.

9. Shop the La Ciudadela Market

Located in Centro Historico, Mercado La Ciudadela is one of the best markets in Mexico City. This colorful, bustling mercado is the perfect place to pick up an amazing assortment of Mexican folk art souvenirs — from textiles and tortilla baskets, to purses and dresses.

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 The 150 Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in Mexico City

10. See a Lucha Libre Match (MEXICAN WRESTLING)

Mexico’s masked lucha libre wrestling is a guaranteed good time! All the best matches take place on Saturday nights at Arena Mexico in the Doctores neighborhood, located next to the trendy Roma Norte neighborhood.

MEXICO CITY TRAVEL TIP 🦹‍♀️ As it’s much more fun with a big group, the Luchas & Masks Trip-Mask Tacos Beer & More or Lucha Libre/Street Taco Tour are great options.

11. Visit North America’s only Castle (Chapultepec Castle)

Located in the massive 1,700-acre Chapultepec Park, El Castillo de Chapultepec is the only true castle in North America, as it’s the only one royalty has lived in. The once-home to Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota is now a museum, and one of the must see Mexico City sites.

Chapultepec Castle
You can’t travel to Mexico City and not visit the beautiful castle in Bosque de Chapultepec park!

12. Walk through history at the Anthropology Museum

This Museo Nacional de Antropología is massive, and spand 23 exhibition rooms and 3,225 years of Mexican history. The museum highlights include the Piedra del Sol (Aztec Calendar or Aztec Sunstone), Olmec head statues, Coatlicue goddess statue and Moctezuma’s headdress.

If you’re someone who’s deeply fascinated by Mexico’s extensive history, consider the Mexico Unearthed at Anthropology Museum Tour. It is led by a female anthropologist and archaeologist, with 25 years of experience in Mexican history. 

13. Try Pulque in Pulquería las Duelistas

Known as the “drink of the gods” by the Aztecs, pulque (pronounced pull-kay) is made from the agave plant, just like tequila and mezcal.

Sample this ancient adult beverage at Pulquería Las Duelistas, one of the best bars in Mexico City, located in Centro Historico (Historic Downtown).

While pulque in its natural state is a bit of an acquired taste, you can try a rotating lineup of flavors of pulques at Las Duelistas, like coconut, mango, guava, pineapple, oatmeal and more.

Two cups of pulque

RELATED ARTICLE 🌮 50 Best Tacos in Mexico City + Free Map to Find Them All

14. Eat Mexico City Street Tacos

If there’s one thing synonymous with Mexico — it’s tacos. You really can’t go wrong with anything you eat here, but you’ll of course want to try as many of the best tacos in Mexico City as you can. As this is the most beloved of all Mexico City street food, you can also try different variations of tacos, like these:

  • Tlacoyos: Diamond-shaped, open-face tacos
  • Flautas: Rolled, fried tacos, also known as taquitos or tacos dorados
  • Flautas: Open-face tacos on a crispy tortilla

Mexico City Taco Tours

16. Eat Churros at El Morro

Churrería El Moro is known to have the best churros in Mexico City. They have locations all over the city, including Centro Historico and at Parque Mexico in La Condesa — one of the best neighborhoods in Mexico City.

Enjoy the churros y chocolate (churros and chocolate sauce) or churro ice cream sandwich at the Parque Mexico park, perfect for people-watching.

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 VRBO Mexico City: Condesa & Roma Norte’s Best Home Rentals

15. Visit the Golden Post Office

The Palacio de Correos de Mexico (Mexico Post Office) is located in Centro Historico. Also called Mexico’s Correo Mayor, this is easily the prettiest post office of all time! It’s still in service as a working postal office, but also one of the most Instagram worthy Mexico City sites to take beautiful travel photos.

When you travel Mexico City, make sure to stop in for a photo at Palacio de Correos de Mexico in Centro Historico.

Mexico Things To Do

MEXICO THINGS TO DO: Yucatan Mexico Bucket List

17. Swim & Dive in the Yucatan Cenotes

Submitted by Alya of Stingy Nomads

The Mexico cenotes (pronounced sen-no-tays) are natural pools, all connected to the same freshwater source. Beneath the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico, there’s a river flowing underground, and over time the limestone rock above it collapsed to create a cenote.

RELATED ARTICLE 🏝 25 Best Places in the Yucatan Peninsula: Ruins, Beaches, Cenotes

There are about 6,000 cenotes in Yucatan. Some are fully open, like a swimming pool or pond; some are partially-covered with tall rock walls and an opening at the top; and some are located underground in caves or caverns. Each type of cenote is beautiful in its own way.

For many travelers, swimming, snorkeling and diving in the cenotes is high atop of their bucket list. While some are located deep in the jungle, others are more accessible. In fact, some of the best cenotes in Mexico are the Tulum cenotes, with some just minutes from downtown Tulum.

For divers and the truly adventurous, diving in the Tulum cenotes is a must-do. Around Tulum, the freshwater cenotes are connected via a massive network of underground caves and caverns to explore. As the water is so clear, visibility can exceed 165-feet (50m) on some days.

Cenote Dos Ojos (Two Eyes Cenote) is has great visibility for diving and snorkeling, but it’s also perfect for just swimming!

While the scenery in these underground caves is a delight for divers, non-divers will love it as well. Snorkelers closer to the surface, or even just anyone swimming with a mask on, will also be transported to what sometimes looks like you’re swimming in a river on the moon!

Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum is very popular for both scuba diving and snorkeling. It has beautiful structures like stalagmites and stalactites, formed over millions of years, which you can see while just swimming in this amazing cenote.

Cenote El Pit is a deep dive cenote, and reserved for advanced divers only. However, driving in a jeep filled with dive gear to a hole in the jungle floor, then diving into some of the cleanest water on the planet — is an experience that belongs on any diver’s bucket list. 

Among the most beautiful and best cenotes in Tulum for swimming, snorkeling and photos, don’t miss Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote, Cenote Zacil-Ha, Cenote Santa Cruz Tulum, Cenote Tankah, Cenote Car Wash and Cenote Escondido.

Cenote Calavera is only about 10-minutes from Downtown Tulum.

18. Do an Underwater Photoshoot in a Cenote

One of the coolest things to do in Tulum, Mexico is getting your photos taken underwater in one of the best cenotes in Tulum. There are only a handful of local photographers offering this, though it’s gaining in popularity, and even something a non-swimmer can do.

Enjoy these Tulum photoshoot in the cenotes:

19. Stay in a Yucatan Hacienda

Haciendas are a huge part of the history in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. Back in the 1600-1800s, Yucatan farmers harvested the area’s profitable cash crop, sisal, nicknamed “green gold” because it made a lot of them rich!

Sisal was used to make rope twine, thanks to the sturdy string-like fibers of the henequen plant. When the demand and price for sisal dwindled, hacienda owners abandoned their sprawling estates when they became too expensive to maintain. For years, many Yucatan haciendas sat in ruin.

However, in the last 50 or so years, some have been restored. These are mostly used for private parties, weddings, and others events, though some have been converted into boutique hotels. Below, you’ll find a list of the best haciendas in Yucatan, that are also boutique hotels you can stay in ⤵

Coqui Coqui Coba (Photo: Expedia)
Hacienda Santa Rosa (Photo: Expedia)
Hacienda Temozon (Photo: Expedia)
Hotel Hacienda VIP (Photo: Expedia)

20. Swim with the Turtles in Akumal Bay

Submitted by Karen from Outdoor Adventure Sampler

Swimming alongside the giant green sea turtles of Akumal, Mexico, as they glide through turquoise water is truly a bucket list activity. Located only about 30 minutes from Tulum, and 1.5 hours from Cancun, the pueblo of Akumal is a peaceful escape from these bigger destinations.

Among many amazing outdoor adventures in Yucatan, snorkeling with the turtles is a great way to see the natural side of this part of Mexico. The best way to swim with the turtles is by booking a tour, as the number of people allowed in Akumal Bay each day is regulated (see tour options below ⤵).

You can book tours online in advance to insure they don’t sell out on the day of your visit, or at the Akumal beachfront. Tour companies provide snorkeling gear and a life jacket, so all you need to do is enjoy watching these gorgeous animals as you swim in the shallows of Akumal Beach.

palm trees and blue water with coral rocks and reefs in it and a few fishing boats on the beach in Akumal, one of the Best Mexican Beach Towns
The bright blue Caribbean Sea waters at Akumal Beach in Yucatan.

Akumal turtle tours follow strict guidelines to continue conservation efforts to protect this endangered animal. Swimmers must maintain a 10-foot (3m) distance from the green turtles and allow them to surface easily to breathe. 

Tours also include snorkeling to an off-shore reef to see schools of colorful tropical fish and stingrays. If you’re staying locally at an Akumal resort or hotel, book an early morning tour which will be less crowded since the day-trippers from Cancun or Tulum arrive later in the day.

Akumal turtle season runs from May to November. Sunscreen of any kind is prohibited, as it harms the reef and sea life — so opt this SPF bathing suit (AKA rash guard) instead.

Akumal Tours

21. Eat Cochinita Pibil in Merida, Yucatán

Merida, Mexico, is known as the Cultural Capital of the Yucatan Peninsula. Located about 3.5 hours from Cancun, Tulum and Playa del Carmen — though it feels like it’s a world away. One of the best things to do in Merida is eat some authentic Yucatan food, like cochinita pibil.

This slow-roasted suckling pig is cooked underground in an oven called a “pib.” You can have it in a torta (sandwich) or tacos; however, in the Yucatan, the most traditional way to eat it is in a panucho (tortilla stuffed with black bean paste) or salbute (puffy fried tortilla). 

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

22. See the Pink Lakes of Las Coloradas

Las Coloradas (The Blush) are the famous Mexico pink lakes in the Yucatan Peninsula. Las Coloradas gets its pink color from the red algae, brine shrimp and plankton that live in the water. The water’s salt content is very high, and the Mayans have used this area as a natural salt source for centuries.

Though visitors used to be able to go in the water, a few years back the Mexican government has since prohibited swimming in Las Coloradas. The reason for this is that the salt content can actually be toxic on the skin — but it’s still one of the most instagrammable places in Mexico. 

woman making a heart shape with her two hands at the pink lakes in mexico - day trips from Merida

23. Visit Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Submitted by Lisa of Planning Away

One of the most visited Mexico tourist attractions is Chichen Itza Ruins, which sees about two million annual visitors. Chichen Itza is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and a Mexico UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chichen Itza is located about 2.5-3 hour from all the top Yucatan Mexico destinations — Cancun, Tulum, Merida and Playa del Carmen, and less than one hour from Valladolid, Mexico. There are many Chichen Itza tours from all places, or you can drive your rental car

Chichen Itza is believed to be more than 1,500-years-old. As the Mayan people were experts in astronomy, architecture and mathematics, the buildings were uniquely designed according to the rotation of the Earth and positioning of the sun.

chichen itza, a mayan pyramid and wonder of the world - day trips from Merida

El Caracol is the Astronomical Observatory and telescope once used to track the planet Venus. The Maya believed Venus is the sister star to the sun, and a war god. As they observed its position in the sky, it helped them know the best time to go into battle.

The largest pyramid is El Castillo (AKA Temple of Kukulkan). This pyramid has 91 steps on each side, adding up to 365 for each calendar day. The entire site is filled with interesting buildings and amazing facts like this — which is why you’ll want to join a Chichen Itza tour.

CHICHEN ITZA TIP ☀️ For a true Mexico bucket list experience, join the thousands who gather on the Spring and Fall Equinoxes. For about 30 seconds, the sun casts a shadow on the side of the El Castillo pyramid and it appears as though a serpent is crawling down it! 

24. Eat in a Cave in Playa del Carmen

One of the most fun things to do in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is descend into Alux, for a spectacular dinner underground in this cave restaurant. Colorfully-lit Alux is known as one of the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen — and the ambiance is second to none.

25. Go Glamping in Tulum

If you’re wondering, What is glamping, you’re not alone. In short, glamping is a cross between glamorous accommodations and rustic camping: Glamor + Camping = Glamping. Among the best places for Mexico glamping, you have numerous great options when going glamping in Tulum.

RELATED ARTICLE 🏝 Tulum Glamping: 11 Boho Glampsites & Tulum Treehouse Hotels

26. Snorkeling or Diving in Cozumel

Submitted by Melinda from Mel On the Go

Experiencing the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef off the coast of Cozumel Island is a Mexico must! Located a short boat ride from Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan Peninsula, the Cozumel Reefs are part of the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, and an aquatic paradise!

Located in the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, Cozumel National Marine Park is a world-class snorkel and dive destination. It has a comfortable water temperature, excellent visibility, and exotic marine life — everything from turtles and tropical fish to lobsters, crabs and sea urchins.

You can stay right on the island in a Cozumel hotel, or do a day trip over from Playa del Carmen. To get there, take the Playa del Carmen ferry from the dock on 5th Avenue for the 25-minute boat ride. There’s also the small Cozumel Airport (code: CZM) for direct flights. 

Cozumel is among of the top vacation spots in Mexico, with its gorgeous reef, beautiful beaches, Mayan Ruins, and so much more!

If you come by ferry, you’ll be dropped off at the main Cozumel dock. There are several tour and boat operators right there who will take you out to the best reefs in Cozumel, including Palancar, El Cielo, El Cielito and Colombia. There are also day trips from Cancun to Cozumel available.

With about 100 dive operators, Cozumel is an easy and affordable place to scuba for the first time. Already certified? It’s also the perfect place to take advanced diving courses for increased access to the underwater world. 

With your diving certification, you can explore even more of the underwater world. One of the coolest things to do in Cozumel is visit the Cancun Underwater Museum of Art, or MUSA, located a short boat ride away. Keep scrolling for more info on MUSA ⤵

27. Check out the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA)

The Underwater Museum in Cancun is one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico, and among the best things to do in Cancun, Mexico. MUSA, which stands for Museo Subacuatico de Arte, is located underwater near Cancun and Isla Mujeres, in the Mexican Caribbean.

🏩 Looking to stay in one of the best Mexico resorts? Cancun is well know for having many of the best Mexico all inclusive resorts in the country — Check them out here!

As one of the best places to visit in Cancun, MUSA is also one of the largest underwater sculpture gardens in the world. While diving, snorkeling or on a MUSA glass bottom boat tour, you can see some (or all!) of the more than 500 pieces of art created by various artists.

This museum is also a marine reserve with more than 500 life-sized, underwater sculptures. Diving or even snorkeling at this unique underwater park is actually helping to rebuild the coral reef in this area, so don’t pass up the chance — and don’t forget your underwater camera!

28. Swim in Rio Secreto (Underground River)

Submitted by Gabby from Office Escape Artist

If you’re looking for one of the best bucket list Yucatan Peninsula things to do, look no further than Rio Secreto, meaning “Secret River.”

Located just 15-20 minutes from Playa del Carmen, the pristine, nearly-untouched underground river and cave system of Rio Secreto (Secret River) await. It has only recently opened for tours — like the ones you’ll see below ⤵.

With stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and plant-life dripping from the cave openings, Rio Secreto offers up awe-inspiring views with small crowds. This site isn’t an overrun Riviera Maya experience; rather, a guided experience intentionally kept small to help preserve the magic.

To start your cave exploration, you’ll put on a wetsuit, grab a walking stick and descend into the underground river system with your guide. Your small group will walk and swim to explore the cave system and learn its history, before returning to surface for lunch.

How many people get to say they’ve explored a nearly-untouched underground river system?! With the Rio Secreto excursion, you can enjoy this once in a lifetime experience, located not far from the top destinations of Tulum, Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It is truly one of the best places to visit in Yucatan.

Rio Secreto Tours

29. Have a Drink in a Merida Cantina

Merida, one of the best places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula, is among a handful of cities in Mexico that still has a thriving cantina culture. Complete with old school cantina doors and rustic vibes, there are several great cantinas in Merida, like La Negrita Cantina, El Cardenal Cantina and El Dzalbay Cantina.

🍻 Visit all the best ones on the Merida Cantinas Walking Tour

30. See the Yellow City of Izamal

One of the best day trips from Merida, Mexico, Izamal is a feast for the eyes. The entire downtown in Izamal pueblo magico (magic town), is painted yellow. While no one knows for sure why it’s yellow, as one of the world’s few monochromatic cities, Izamal is among the coolest bucket list Mexican places.

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 33 Mexico Pueblos Magicos That Truly Look & Feel Magical

31. Swim with the Whale Sharks in Holbox Island

Submitted by Victoria from Guide Your Travel

One of the best things to do in Mexico is to swim with whale sharks. In case you’re a little scared now — know that these are not sharks! They are, however, the largest fish in the ocean, and can grow up to 30-feet-long. It is truly unforgettable to get to swim next to these huge, peaceful animals!

Isla Holbox is the perfect place to experience this incredible adventure and try something new. Holbox (pronounced hole-bosh) is a small island in the Caribbean Sea, located in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

🚢 Wondering how to get to Holbox Island? It is accessible only by ferry from the pueblo of Chiquilá, Mexico. This small town is about two hours northwest of Cancun.

Only about 2,000 people live on Holbox, and the island is known for its small town feel. While not far from the more popular destinations of Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun, Isla Holbox’s more chill vibes mean you’ll find everything from relaxation to amazing Mexican street food there.

woman in long sleeved pink shirt swimming next to a giant spotted whale shark in holbox island, one of the most unique places to visit in mexico

Besides swimming with the whale sharks in Holbox, the island has other incredible nature and unique wildlife. You can see different types of birds (maybe even flamingos) on Isla Pajaros or Yum Balam Nature Reserve, and the bioluminescent plankton at night on Punta Cocos beach.

Of course, the whale sharks swim is a must if you’re visiting during their migration season of June to September. There are several local tour companies you can book with when you arrive on the island. They charge between $100-180USD per person, which is pricey, but worth it.

Tours last an entire day and usually involve a few snorkeling opportunities closer to shore after seeing the whale sharks. You need to go all the way out into the open ocean to see whale sharks so the boat ride takes quite a while.

🤢 As you’ll be on a boat all day, don’t forget your sea sickness pills and an anti-motion sickness bracelet.

woman laying in the Caribbean Sea on a hammock in Holbox Island, Mexico
One of the best beaches in Holbox Island, head to Punta Cocos during the day to lay in the water hammocks, and at night to see the bioluminescence.

32. See the Celestun Flamingos

Located in the quaint fishing village of Celestun, about 2.5 hours from Merida, you’ll find the Ria Celestun Biosphere Reserve. There are some nice Celestun beaches, most visit the town because it’s the best place to see flamingos in Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

To see the Celestun flamingos, do a kayaking tour through the mangroves, where as many as 35,000 flamingos live from November-February during mating season. Besides flamingos, this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is among the best places for bird watching in Mexico.

33. Boat Ride in Bacalar Lagoon of Seven Colors

Submitted by Cynthia and Alexander from Travel Your Memories

Bacalar, Mexico is located on the southern tip of Quintana Roo state, only about 30 minutes from the Mexico-Belize border. One of the most popular places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula, Bacalar is a pueblo magico (magic town), still untouched by mass tourism.

RELATED ARTICLE 🧜‍♀️ How to Visit Bacalar Lagoon Mexico: The ULTIMATE Travel Guide

The top things to see in Bacalar all revolve around Laguna Bacalar (AKA Bacalar Lagoon or Bacalar Lake). This is the second largest freshwater lake in Mexico, which the Mayans nicknamed the “Lagoon of Seven Colors,” as they say you can see seven shades of blue in it.

Also sometimes called the “Maldives of Mexico,” the water in Lake Bacalar is as perfectly crystal-clear and beautiful as in the Maldives Islands. Much like in the Maldives, you’ll want to book a Bacalar hotel on the lake so you can admire its beauty day and night!

a sail boat in the middle of the blue waters of bacalar lagoon mexico
The Lake of Seven Colors in Bacalar, Mexico.

On Bacalar Lagoon, there are a few great activities, namely taking a boat tour to reach all the special parts of the lagoon. Bacalar Lake is about seven miles long, so to see as much as possible, you’ll need to go by boat.

Some of the best things to do in Bacalar include the Canal de los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel), where there’s a shipwreck you can jump off into the lake, Isla de Pajaros (Bird Island), and Cenote la Bruja (Witch’s Cenote). There’s also Cenote Azul (Blue Cenote), located just outside of the lake.

If unique places in Mexico are your thing, and you want to experience some more beautiful nature in the same state as Bacalar, check out Isla Holbox (Holbox Island).

Bacalar boat tours

34. Stroll Calzada de los Frailes in Valladolid

The Calzada de los Frailes (AKA the Calle de los Frailes) is known as the most beautiful street in Valladolid pueblo magico (magic town). It is located a few blocks from the Zocalo (Main Square), and makes the perfect place for Instagram worthy Valladolid photos.

On one end of the street, you’ll find the 16th Century Convento de San Bernardino de Siena and Valladolid sign in big, colorful letters. From the historic convent, walk northeast down Calzada de Frailes, and stop for photos at all the cute cafes and boutique stops along the way.

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 Valladolid Mexico Travel Guide: Best Things to Do, Cenotes, Hotels

35. Stand on the Platform at Cenote Suytun

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula has about 6,000 cenotes, or underwater sinkholes. Some of them, known as swimming pool cenotes, are completely exposed with no rock covering them. Other cenotes are partially-open with some rock making a canopy over the top, and some are fully underground in caves.

Suytun Cenote, located about 45 minutes from both Tulum and Valladolid, is an underground cave cenote. There is a circular platform in its center and a hole in top so a single ray of light gets in — making Cenote Suytun among the best cenotes in Mexico. 

Cenote Suytun underground cave in the Yucatan Peninsula Mexico

36. Visit Tulum Ruins

Submitted by Moshe from The Top Ten Traveler

By now, most people have heard of the popular Mexico beach town of Tulum. If you’ve never been, you’re likely wondering what to do in Tulum?! Among the must-see sites is the Tulum Mayan Ruins, located right on Tulum Beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

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

Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is among the best places in Riviera Maya. It is a beautiful Mexico beach town, but unique among all other beach towns because it has these amazing Mayan Ruins.

The old city of Tulum was established in about the 13th Century as a seaport, trading mainly turquoise and jade. It was built on the top of a cliff and surrounded by a wall to protect the population from invaders and pirates.

Among the best Mayan Ruins in Mexico, no Tulum trip is complete without seeing the Tulum Ruins.

The entrance to Tulum Ruins is still through that same wall, and once in, it’s like stepping back in time. The city inside the walls still has some of the original stone buildings, located amongst lovely green grass fields and numerous freely roaming iguanas.

Among the many structures at the Tulum Archeological Site, the most iconic is the Templo del Wiento (Wind Temple), sitting on a cliff at the edge of the site. This ancient stone structure, combined with the turquoise Caribbean Sea water behind it, makes for great photos.

After touring the site, you can take the staircase down to Playita Tortuga (Turtle Beach). This is a small beach cove located beneath the ruins, where many head for a dip in the sea to cool off after exploring. 🏝 Don’t forget your quick dry towel and reef-safe sunscreen!

🎧 Love podcasts? Check out the Tulum podcast episode below to get tips on how to visit Tulum on a budget — or read the article here, Tulum On A Budget: 10 Ways to Make Your Trip Affordable.

37. Get the Instagram Worthy Tulum Photos

Tulum is known as one of the most Instagrammable places in Mexico, with beautiful beaches, trendy restaurants and bars, hotels with bohemian decor like Azulik Tulum and its Sfer Ik Museum, art hotels like Casa Malca (once owned by Pablo Escobar), and more.

Some of the quintessential Tulum photos spots are right on Tulum Beach. At one extreme end of this street, there’s the Tulum Mayan Ruins. From there, you’ll pass the Follow That Dream sign, Match Mama Cafe, Ven a la Luz sculpture by artist Daniel Popper, and many more Instagrammable Tulum sites.

The Ven a la Luz (Come to the Light) sculpture by artist South African artist Daniel Popper is the entrance to Raw Love Cafe and Ahau Tulum Hotel.

Mexico Things To Do

MEXICO THINGS TO DO: Central Mexico Bucket List

38. Hike Up to El Tepozteco Pyramid

Tepoztlán, Morelos is one of the best day trips from Mexico City, at just one hour away. This town is a hub for artists, healers and spiritual seekers, and one of the 135 or so pueblos magicos, or magical towns, a prestigious title awarded by the Mexico Tourism Secretary.

For many, no visit to Tepoztlan is complete without climbing up to the Tepozteco Aztec pyramid. It’s an intense climb, though the views are spectacular. This mountain-top ruin is dedicated to Tepoztēcatl, the Aztec god of pulque (pronounced pull-kay), known as “the drink of the gods.”

RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 Mexico Hidden Gems: The 10 You Need to Know About

39. Explore the Underground Cholula Pyramid

Located under the iconic yellow Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Cholula church — yes, under it — you’ll find the Great Pyramid of Cholula. It is the largest archaeological site that has a pyramid in the New World, and the largest pyramid on Earth, by volume.

You can tour the underground tunnels of this large pyramid, which is only partially excavated, in the Cholula Architectural Zone in downtown. The charming Cholula pueblo magico (magic town) is located in Puebla state, about three hours from Mexico City.

40. Ride the Tequila Express Train

One of the most fun ways to experience the Tequila pueblo magico (magic town) is taking the Jose Cuervo Express Tequila Train. This day trip goes to Tequila from Guadalajara, Mexico, with unlimited drinks and educational classes about Mexico’s famous spirit.

💡 Fun Fact: Just as champagne is essentially a sparkling wine made in the city of Champagne, France — tequila is a mezcal that’s made in the city of Tequila, Mexico.

41. Visit the Guanajuato Mummy Museum

The Museo de las Momias (Mummies Museum) is among the best things to do in Guanajuato, Mexico.

While the museum may not be not for everyone because the 100 or so Guanajuato mummies are real human bodies, it’s a bucket list Mexico experience as there’s no museum like it anywhere in the world.

💀 Curious about the story behind the Guanajuato mummies? Read their interesting back story here.


42. Explore the Huasteca Potosina Waterfalls

Submitted by Isabella from Boundless Roads

Located in the state of San Luis Potosi, northeast of Mexico City, and bordering the Sierra Gorda UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is the Huasteca Potosina. This natural playground for the outdoor enthusiasts has breathtaking waterfalls, rivers, natural pools and even some caves.

There is so much to discover that you could spend an entire week here and never run out of things to do in Huasteca Potosina. For nature lovers, you’ll want to immediately add this somewhat off the beaten path Mexico destination to your bucket list. 

The Huasteca Potosina is still quite undeveloped, and has retained its natural beauty and charm — despite increasing tourism. To explore the whole area, the easiest way is to rent a car, though you can always hire taxis for the day. It is safe to explore either way you choose.

🤿 Visit this area on the 3-Day Adventure and Nature Tour in Huasteca Potosina Tour! 

You’ll want to book a hotel in Ciudad Valles, Mexico, a town right in the heart of the Huasteca. From there, you can take daily trips to the best waterfalls: Mico, Tamul, Tamasopo, El Salto, Puente de Dios. There’s also the Sotano de las Golondrinas (Cave of Swallows), which you must see before sunrise.

These locations are all spread out, which is why it’s easiest to stay central in Ciudad Valles and head in different directions every day. You can also make yourself a custom itinerary and find local places to stay closer to each of the Huasteca sites you want to explore. 

If you don’t rent a car, you can hire a taxi which costs about $1500 pesos ($75USD) for the day. However, the easiest way to visit is on the 3-Day Adventure and Nature Tour in Huasteca Potosina Tour. Either way you choose, don’t miss one of the most amazing places in Mexico.

43. Marvel at the San Miguel de Allende Church

San Miguel de Allende is a Mexico UNESCO World Heritage Site, and known as one of the best places to retire in Mexico.

It is a well-preserved Mexico colonial city, centered around the towering Gothic-style Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church. Marvel at the church, then stroll the rest of this colorful town and enjoy eating in this well-known foodie city in Mexico.

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

44. Go Skydiving in Puerto Vallarta

A bucket list experience in Mexico and anywhere, Puerto Vallarta skydiving offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Made Mountains on your descent. You’ll also land right on the beach, which is the perfect peaceful place to land after the most adrenaline-filled of all things to do in Puerto Vallarta

🪂 Parasailing more up your alley? Book a Puerto Vallarta Parasailing Tour now!

45. Climb the Peña de Bernal Monolith

The San Sebastian Bernal pueblo magico (magic town) is known most for the Peña de Bernal (Bernal Stone).

It is the third tallest monolith on Earth, towering over the city at 1420-feet-tall (433m). Most visitors don’t hike to the top, as you’d need a permit, but there are several hikes to the middle that offer beautiful views and places to rest along the way.

46. Experience the Monarch Butterfly Migration

Submitted by Nicole from Go Far Grow Close

Every November, millions (possibly billions) of monarch butterflies make their annual 3,000-mile migration from Canada to the Oyamel Fir Forests in Mexico’s Central Highlands. They remain in Mexico from about November to March.

Located not far from Mexico City, many visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Butterfly Sanctuary on a day trip from Mexico City.

There are a few designated sanctuaries — one in Michoacan state, and the Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Biosphere, located in the lake-front town Valle de Bravo. Piedra Herrada Butterfly Sanctuary, in Estado de México (Mexico State), is closer to Mexico City, so many opt to visit this one.  

🦋 The easiest way to visit is on a group tour, like the Monarch Butterflies & Valle de Bravo Tour or the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Private Tour with Photographer.

If you go on your own, you can hike up or pay for a horse and guide for the one-hour climb up the mountain where you’ll see the butterflies. Most of the climb is a gentle uphill walk; however, the final 150-feet (45m) is a steep, rocky incline that even the horses do not even attempt.

Once at the top, you will see thousands of monarch butterflies just in your immediate eyeline. They are everywhere, often weighing down branches because there are so many of them, or fluttering about covering you, flying in the air around you, and even on the ground.

In the spring, the butterflies begin their eight month migration back — during which time four generations of butterflies live and die. Scientists don’t know how they find their way to the same spot in Mexico each year.

This phenomenon is considered the most dramatic display of insect migration in the world. Being in the forest, surrounded by monarch butterflies in all directions and as far as the eye can see, is truly a Mexico bucket list experience.

47. Walk through the Tlaxcala Firefly Forest

Each year, from June-August, the Santuario de las Luciernagas (Nanacamilpa Firefly Sanctuary) in Tlaxcala, Mexico comes alive at night with millions of tiny glowing creatures. Tlaxcala is the smallest state in Mexico, located about 1.5-2 hours from Mexico City.

As the window for seeing this natural phenomenon is so short, you’ll want to book your spot on the Tour of Tlaxcala and Sanctuary of the Fireflies well in advance. Walking through the magical Mexico firefly forest is a true bucket list Mexico experience, and it looks like something right out of a fantasy movie.

48. Visit Las Grutas Tolantongo Hot Springs

The Tolantongo grutas, or Tolantongo caves, is one of the most Instagram worthy places in Mexico. It is also one of the best Mexico City day trips, located about four hours north of the city in the state of Hidalgo. Here, you’ll also find the Basaltic Prisms in Huasca de Ocampo, Toltec Ruins in Tula, and more.

blue water and natural infinity pools - Visit Las Grutas Tolantongo

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

49. See the Hidden Beach at Islas Marietas

Those traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita and San Pancho, can cross the Marietas Islands off their Mexico bucket list. On one of the islands in this chain, you’ll see the famous hidden beach in Mexico — Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach).

As this Mexico hidden gem has grown in popularity thanks to YouTube and Instagram, the government has limited the number of daily visitors to preserve this natural treasure. Now, only about 125 people per day may visit the island with only a few registered tour companies.

If the Islas Marietas and Mexico hidden beach is on your bucket list, book one of the Marietas Islands tours seen below ⤵

Islas marietas tours

Note that there are two types of tours to the Marietas Islands. One tour takes you near the hidden beach and snorkeling around the other islands; these average about $75USD. The other tour (seen below ⤵) allows you to actually explore the Hidden Beach; these cost about $150-200USD.

50. Indulge on the Wine & Cheese Route

Located not far from Quetetaro, Mexico, many also head to Tequisquiapan pueblo magico (magic town) to embark on Central Mexico’s Wine and Cheese Route. This small town is well known for its many vineyards, like Finca Sala Vive by Freixenet, and the Cava de Queseos Bocanegra cheese cave.

🚙💨 Renting a car in Mexico? Mexico City to Querretaro is one of the easiest and best travel road trips in Central Mexico!

51. See the UNESCO World Heritage City of Morelia

Morelia, Mexico is a UNESCO World Heritage City. It has a much more European look than many places in Mexico, with beautiful stone fountains and classical architecture located throughout downtown. 

While many Mexico colonial cities have been painted in bright colors, Morelia’s buildings remained unpainted and in their natural pink-colored stone. Of the most iconic buildings, head to the Historic City Center of Morelia to see the beautiful baroque Morelia Cathedral.

52. Walk the Underground Puebla Tunnels

The underground tunnel system in Puebla, Mexico dates back to 1531. However, it was only just discovered in 2016 when an archeologist found a mysterious doorway, seemingly by accident, in the Cinco de Mayo Road alleyway.

It led him to an elaborate tunnel system beneath the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Puebla. The Secret Tunnels of Puebla is now a museum you can walk through and see the artifacts dug up within them. The reason the tunnels were built in the first place remains a mystery!

53. Stay in Elizabeth Taylor’s Puerto Vallarta Mansion

Besides some of the best beach towns in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta also offers its visitors a lot of history and old world charm. The town was the backdrop of the 1964 film, The Night of The Iguana, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

The two Hollywood acting legends continued their onscreen romance off-screen, eventually buying a home together in Puerto Vallarta. Now called the Casa Kimberly Boutique Hotel, visitors can stay in the home or visit it on the Old Town Hollywood Tour.

Casa Kimberly is one of the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta. (Photo: Expedia)

54. Learn to Surf in Sayulita

Submitted by Megan from Peter Pan Traveler

Located on the Pacific Coast, about one hour from Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find the Sayulita pueblo magico (magic town). Sayulita is in Nayarit state, on a beautiful strip of beach known as the Riviera Nayarit, along with San Pancho, the Marietas Islands, posh Punta Mita, and more. 

While all Mexico is full of adventure, culture, mouth watering food and beautiful landscapes — no Mexico bucket list is complete without surfing in Sayulita. The Nayarit Riviera has attracted surfers from all over the world for decades now, but there are beginner waves as well.

For those new to surfing, there are plenty of Sayulita surf schools right on the main beach, called Playa Sayulita. While there are many great things to do in Sayulita — the best one being surfing, of course, so don’t be scared to book some lessons.

woman surfing in Sayulita, Mexico
Taking surfing lessons in Sayulita, Mexico, is a bucket list experience you’ll never forget.

Sayulita’s warm water is inviting, and it’s gentle waves are perfect for first-time surfers. It also has a beautiful sandy bottom, so you don’t have to worry about rocks. If you have ever wanted to learn how to surf, Sayulita ranks among the best places to surf in Mexico for beginners.

After your Sayulita surf lesson, relax and just hang out on the beach to enjoy fresh coconut water and a beachfront massage. After your first time surfing, you’ll definitely want some down time after hitting the waves. 

As the Sayulita beaches start to fill up with people in anticipation of sunset, enjoy a nice margarita or cold beer as the sun dips into the Pacific Ocean. There is something special about Sayulita, and learning to surf here makes it all the more special.

55. Eat Prehispanic Food at Tepoztlan Market

For a unique Mexico foodie experience, head to Tepoztlan Market to try prehispanic foods like itacates (fried corn cakes), tlaltequeadas, (veggie pancakes), alaches and quelites (two dark green veggies). Located in the pueblo magico Tepoztlan about one hour from Mexico City, this vibrant town is one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico.

Tlaltequeadas, colorful veggie pancakes, which you sample at the Tepoztlan Market.

Mexico Things To Do

MEXICO THINGS TO DO: Southern Mexico Bucket List

56. See the Hierve el Agua “Waterfall”

You have noticed quotes around “waterfall,” and that’s because Hierve el Agua (which means boiling water) only looks like a waterfall. It is rather the result of small streams and droplets of mineral-rich water falling over the side of a cliff. After many years, the water calcified and now looks like a waterfall.

Besides hiking down to the base of the “waterfall,” you can also go for a swim in the Hierve el Agua pools. These thermal pools hold the boiling water from which Hierve el Agua gets its name. 

Waterfall over the side of a cliff
Water and a tree on a cliff at Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca City

57. Visit Palenque Mayan Ruins

By Becki from Meet Me In Departures

While designating the “best places to vacation in Mexico” is subjective to each traveler, those looking to experience unspoilt, beautiful Mexican nature will enjoy Palenqne, a pueblo magico in Chiapas. Located in a rainforest high in the mountains, the top site here is the Palenque Ruins (pronounced pah-len-kay).

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is about 135 miles (220km) from San Cristobal de las Casas. If you’re fascinated by ancient civilizations and ruins, or have visited Machu Picchu in Peru, or Tikal in Guatemala, you’ll love the Palenque Mayan Ruins in Mexico.

The Palenque Archaeological Zone you can visit today is just a small fraction of what was once a sprawling city. Although the area known as Palenque today is much older, the archaeological zone dates back to 1567. The ruins were discovered in the 1950s by Mexican archaeologist, Alberto Ruz Lhuillier.

Some of the rooms still feature intricately carved tablets mounted to the walls, particularly in the Palace Complex. Here, you’ll find three parallel walls, connected with corridors and a vaulted ceiling, typical of the style of the building at Palenque.

Some of the more notable buildings and temples include the Templo del Conde (Temple of the Count), El Palacio (The Palace) and Templo de las Inscripciones (Temple of the Inscriptions). There are also smaller temples, like Templos XII and XIII, so plan for a full day to fully explore.

Palenque weather is hot and humid year round, as it’s located in the jungle. Temperatures average about 85-90°F; though it can feel 5-10°F hotter with humidity. Always check the weather before you visit, and don’t forget your filterable water bottle, which filters your water so you don’t get sick in Mexico.

Thanks to the jungle climate, the lush green landscape surrounding Palenque Ruins only adds to its beauty. The surrounding vegetation is home to monkeys, birds, and of course bugs, so don’t forget your eco-friendly bug spray and anti-insect bracelet.

Palenque tours

58. Release Baby Sea Turtles in Puerto Escondido

The Oaxaca beach town of Puerto Escondido is well known as one of the best places to surf in Mexico.

However, non-surfers have beautiful beaches to enjoy during the day as well. When the sun’s setting, don’t miss the baby sea turtle release in Oaxaca.

RELATED ARTICLE 🏝 Best Oaxaca Beaches: Puerto Escondido, Huatulco, Mazunte, Zipolite

baby turtle being released on the beach

59. Attend Day of the Dead in Oaxaca

Día de los Muertos is a festive time in much of Mexico — though no city has a more extravagant party than the Day of the Dead Oaxaca celebration. As Oaxaca City, the state’s capital, is a smaller sized city, people book this Mexico bucket list celebration up to a year in advance.

RELATED ARTICLE 🌺💀🌺 Oaxaca Day of the Dead: The Ultimate Travel Guide

60. Boat Around Lagunas de Montebello

Submitted by Isabella from Let’s Travel to Mexico

Nestled in the Southern Mexico region of Los Altos de Chiapas, Lagunas de Montebello National Park is a complex of about 60 lakes. They are interspersed within a lush forest that offers beautiful scenery for a beautiful day of boating around.

In 2009, the nearly 16,000-acre area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Unfortunately, the lakes are not swimmable, but you can explore the area on horseback trails, hiking trails and Montebello boat tours to see some of the lakes. 

From the nearby town of San Cristobal de las Casas, there are tours that combine Lagunas de Montebello with the El Chiflon waterfall. However, if you have more time, take a few days and explore the area on your own.

This off the beaten path part Mexico has so much to see, with small communities around the lagoons to get in touch with nature and hire local guides to take you around. A bit further south, don’t miss Las Guacamayas Ecotourism Center and Las Nubes Waterfalls.

61. Go Silver Shopping in Taxco

Taxco pueblo magico (magic town) was one a booming silver mining town. Today, it gets most of its income from tourism, as one of the most beautiful and best pueblos magicos in Mexico. Many go there to walk the town’s winding cobblestone streets, but also to shop for silver. You can buy directly from artisans who still do handmade silver work to this day.

the white and tan building of the mountain town of Taxco , one of the most unique places to visit in mexico

62. Take a Cooking Class in Oaxaca

Oaxaca City, the capital of Oaxaca state, is known as the Foodie Capital of Mexico — so what better way to get to know this place than through the delicious Oaxaca food and drinks. While Mexico is known for tacos and burritos, in Oaxaca, it’s all about mole, tlayudas, memelas, tamales, tejate and mezcal!

oaxaca cooking classes

63. Boat through Sumidero Canyon

Submitted by Julie from Travel Family Lifestyle

The state of Chiapas is known for beautiful nature, and among the best things to do in Chiapas is visit Sumidero Canyon National Park. To see the Cañon del Sumidero, join a boat tour, which you can take from the nearby towns of Tuxtla Gutierrez or San Cristobal de las Casas.

The tour companies will drive you to the pueblo magico (magic town) of Chiapa de Corzo, where you’ll board the boat and hit the water. The tours take you along the Grijalva River, which extends for about eight miles along the bottom of this steep-walled canyon.

This fun, often high speed, boat tour of Sumidero Canyon lasts about 1.5 hours. On this thrilling ride, marvel at the canyon walls, which extend up to about 3,000-feet-tall (1.000m) in some areas. Chock full of wildlife, you may see crocodiles a few feet from the boat, and playful monkeys in the trees on shore.

smaller blue boat approaching the large Sumidero Canyon, one of the most unique places to visit in mexico
Boating through Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas, Mexico.
stone kiosk or gazebo in chiapa de corzo, best things to do in mexico
Chiapa de Corzo, one of the pueblos magicos in Chiapas state.

You’ll also see the Árbol de Navidad, or Christmas Tree waterfall, which cascades down the side of the cliff in a pine tree shape. There’s also river caves only accessible by boat, and one even has a small shrine dedicated to the Virgin de Guadalupe.

Make sure your camera is fully charged as there’s many beautiful sites along the way through Sumidero Canyon. A waterproof phone holder, sunscreen and a sun hat (one with a strap so it doesn’t fly off!) will also come in handy.

Once the boat ride is over, make sure to spend some time in Chiapa de Corzo as it has great shops and restaurants. Most tours will give you an hour or so to explore this small pueblo following the boat ride.

Sumidero canyon Tours

64. Visit El Chiflon Waterfalls

Submitted by Kelli from The Vanabond Tales

Cascadas El Chiflón is a popular day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas, a somewhat off the beaten path pueblo magico (magic town) in Chiapas state. Chiapas, located in Southern Mexico, is one of the best regions for outdoor and adventure activities, and Mexico culture travel.

With mountain hikes, deep cenotes, ancient Mayan ruins like Palenque and Bonampak, rushing rivers and extensive cave systems, Chiapas is a wild place of striking natural beauty. There are also numerous waterfalls, and El Chiflón has some of the best waterfalls in Chiapas.

At El Chiflon, there are gorgeous turquoise pools that collect under a series of stunning falls, some of which you can swim in. The best waterfall at El Chiflon is the final one you’ll see along the trail, Velo de Novia (Bridal Veil), a spectacular 395-foot (120m) fall.

To reach Velo de Novia waterfall, you’ll follow an easy 1.5-mile (1km) walking trail which travels upstream past an impressive collection of lower falls. Make sure to take a bathing suit so you can swim in the stunning blue waters of the lower falls.

The easiest way to reach El Chiflon is by rental car, or with a tour from popular tourist towns in Chiapas state, like Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristóbal de las Casas. There are picnic tables and facilities at El Chiflon, as well as a small collection of food stalls.

El Chiflon Tours

65. Attend Carnaval in Veracruz

Carnaval de Veracruz is an annual festival that takes place in the Port of Veracruz (AKA Heroica Veracruz) each February. It is one of the most recognized of all Carnaval celebrations in Mexico, along with the celebration in Mazatlan, Mexico.

🎭 Fun Fact: Carnaval in Mexico is similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnaval in Brazil, so expect parades, festive floats, dancing, elaborate costumes and street parties.

66. Visit the Indigenous Towns of Chamula & Zinacantan

Submitted by Jane from To Travel Too

When visiting the colonial city of San Cristobal de Las Casas in the state of Chiapas, plan for some time to also see the two nearby pueblos of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. These towns are about 30 minutes from San Cristobal, and 4.5-miles (7km) from one another.

🚌💨 Visit them both on the Chamula and Zinacantán Day Trip from San Cristóbal Tour!

The two towns are close to each other, but very different. Chamula is a merchant town whereas Zinacantan is an artisan town. They do both rule themselves independently and have their own (non-Mexican) police force, but have differing customs, dress, traditions and public holidays.

Of the two, San Juan Chamula is well known for a it’s centuries-old Iglesia San Juan church. In this picturesque church, there’s a ritual which is not for the faint hearted. Note: Photos aren’t allowed in the church or of local villagers.

Iglesia San Juan church in San Juan Chamula, Chiapas.

San Juan Chamula Church Ceremony: What to Expect

If you are lucky enough to attend on a day a curandero (medicine man or shaman) is there, you’re in for a once in a lifetime experience. As mentioned, this isn’t for everyone — but it is a unique and powerful ceremony, both for locals and visitors who are welcome to attend.

When in attendance, the curandero performs rituals for local families to clear negative energies. The ritual includes a live chicken, an egg, a local liquor called pox (pronounced posh), and Coca-Cola or Fanta soda, intended to make participants belch and evacuate negative energy.

There are no pews inside the church, and worshipers sit on pine needles strewn across the floor. Families sit together in designated areas on the floor, along with the medicine man, and they will all begin changing — likely in their native Tzotzil language.

The curandero goes by the families with the egg, saying prayer and invocations to absorb energies into it. It is said that if the egg was cracked open during the ritual, it would be black inside, having absorbed the negative vibrations from the family. 

(Trigger Warning: Animal sacrifice) In some cases, the neck of the live chicken will be broken and it too will be passed over the family to absorb the negative energies. It is then buried, along with the egg.

Having completed the service, the medicine man will be paid and the family returns home free of negative energies. This ceremony is a unique mix of prehispanic ritual meets Catholic ritual, and the only place to see it is in San Juan Chamula, Mexico.

Stairs leading down to a tropical beach in Mexico
Beautiful Playa Carrizalillo in Puerto Escondido is one of the best beaches in Oaxaca, Mexico.

67. See Bioluminescence in Puerto Escondido

When the sun goes down in the popular Mexico surf town of Puerto Escondido, Mexico, join a tour to visit Laguna Manialtepec.

You’ll go on a boat out into the middle of this large lake to see the bioluminescent plankton twinkle in the darkness. You can also jump in, put on a dive mask, and on certain nights, it will look like you’re swimming through a sea of stars!

puerto escondido tours

68. Hike to the Oaxaca Pueblos Mancomunados

Submitted by Antonia from Flashpack Journal

With UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Oaxaca City and Monte Alban Ruins, majestic mountain ranges and indigenous Zapotec villages — Oaxaca is a Mexico bucket list state. It’s also a culinary hotspot for Oaxaca food, and the gorgeous beaches of Oaxaca only add to its appeal.

For a truly unique, off the beaten path Oaxaca experience, go on a Oaxaca trekking adventure to the Pueblos Mancomunados. These eight self-governing indigenous Zapotec villages work together to provide immersive Mexico ecotourism experiences — while protecting their land, culture and heritage.

Visiting the Pueblos Mancomunados is a cultural immersion with the Zapotec peoples who live in the villages of the Sierra Norte. These forested highlands are less than two hours from Oaxaca City, and have been home to the Zapotec for centuries.

On a tour, local guides will accompany visitors trekking from village to village. In each, there’s basic but comfortable cabins, tasty local dishes to try and unique activities like medicinal plant walks or chocolate-making classes.

Trekking in the Sierra Norte Mountains through the Pueblos Mancomunados. (Photo: Antonia from Flashpack Journal)

How to Book a Tour to the Sierra Norte in Oaxaca 

Expediciones Sierra Norte, based in Oaxaca City, is a good starting point for any Sierra Norte adventure. The organization is directly run by the Pueblos Mancomunados, ensuring the villages fully benefit from the tourism.

Depending on the trip length, prices start at about $100USD for an overnight expedition. The whole village to village trek takes about seven days, and especially for multi-day hiking, it’s easier to get help from locals with the logistics.

Mexico Things To Do

MEXICO THINGS TO DO: North/Baja California Mexico Bucket List

69. Visit Playa Balandra Beach

Known as one of the most beautiful Mexico beaches, Playa Balandra is located about one hour north of La Paz, Mexico.

Balandra is located in a peaceful lagoon with white sand, turquoise water, and rust-colored rocks all around. Thanks to Instagram and YouTube, it has become one of the most popular Mexican tourist attractions, so visit early in the day to avoid the crowds.

the beautiful blue water and mountains along Blandera Beach in La Paz, one of the Best Mexican Beach Towns

70. Wine Tasting in Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe, or just Valle (pronounced vie-yay) for short, is among the most unique places in Mexico. Often called the Napa Valley of Mexico, this up-and-coming wine region and foodie paradise in Baja California state is just two hours from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Wine novices will both enjoy the views from the tasting room at Santo Tomas Vineyard, and learn about the basics of winemaking with multimedia exhibits. Among the best things to do in Valle de Guadalupe is visit the most unique vineyard in Valle, AlXimia, which feels like part winery and path spaceship!

71. Pet the Grey Whales in Magdalena Bay

There are a number of places you can go whale watching in Baja California, and in Mexico, for that matter. However, none are as unique as the Magdalena Bay Grey Whale Experience, where the whales come right up to the boats to be touched.

From about December to March, about 500 gray whales come to the protected lagoon in Magdalena Bay. With its relatively shallow waters, orcas (killer whales) won’t enter this bay, making it a safe place for the grey whales to give birth and raise their young before returning to the Pacific Ocean.

Over the years, the whales have become accustomed to, and friendly with, human visitors. Unprovoked, they come right up to the tour boats on their own — the baby calf often right alongside the mother.

🐳 Book your Magdalena Grey Whale Experience now!

Where is Magdalena bay, Mexico?

Magdalena Bay is located near the small pueblo of San Carlos, in Baja California Sur state. It is about 2.5 hours from Loreto, and three hours from La Paz. Coming from other places like Los Cabos or Todos Santos, you’ll want to book a San Carlos hotel, as it’s a 4-5 hour drive.

You can book a Magdalena Whale Tour here, with some overnight stay options available in a yurt or tent that sits right on the bay. However you plan the trip, this is one of the most unforgettable of all bucket list Mexico things to do!

Ethical Animal Tourism in Mexico

Wildlife this trusting can, sadly, often be exploited. For this reason, Magdalena Bay whale watching tour companies are highly regulated, and their permit fees go towards Mexico wildlife conservation.

Guides are either from local families raised on this land, or marine biologists studying the whales and other marine life. Each guide must do a yearly training to ensure they’re compliant with any new regulations.

The boats used are called panga boats, which is a type of fishing boat that moves quietly through the water so it doesn’t disturb the whales or calves. Each boat’s time in the bay with the whales is limited, and the bay never has more than a few boats in it at once.

72. Snorkel the Sea of Cortez

When visiting La Paz, Mexico, don’t miss taking a boat tour to through Sea of Cortez (AKA Gulf of California). This narrow gulf lies between mainland Mexico and the Baja Peninsula, and is a protected UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

💡 Mexico Fun Fact: Diver Jacques Cousteau famously called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world.

On a boat trip in the Sea of Cortez, you’ll see an abundance of wildlife — like dolphins, whales, sea lions and hundreds of types of fish. Once you jump in the water to snorkel, juvenile sea lions may even come swim up right beside you! You’ll also visit the uninhabited islands of Isla Espiritu Santo and Isla Los Islotes.

73. Ride the El Chepe Train in Copper Canyon

Fun Fact: The Copper Canyon is the eighth largest canyon on Earth, second largest in North America (after the Grand Canyon), and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To see it, take the El Chepe Express Train ride, which goes through some areas of the canyon and other beautiful landscapes in North Mexico. There are route options, but many board in the city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, and travel about 220 miles to the Creel pueblo magico (magic town) in Chihuahua, Mexico. 

74. Visit Hotel California in Todos Santos

While strolling through downtown in the Todos Santos pueblo magico (magic town), make sure to stop in at Hotel California. This is the hotel urban legend says inspired the Eagles’ hit song; though lead singer Don Henley denies it.

Still, no visit to the bohemian beach town of Todos Santos, Mexico is complete without walking through the entryway arches of Hotel California in Mexico.

75. SUP to the Cabo Arch at Land’s End

Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, AKA “Los Cabos,” are among the safest places in Mexico to vacation. They are only about 30-minutes from one another, so many visit both on the Cabo vacation.

Located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, one of the best things to do in Cabo is visit El Arco (The Arch) at Land’s End. You can boat, kayak or even do a Cabo Arch SUP Tour on a stand-up paddle board, to see this iconic natural rock archway.

76. See the La Bufadora Blowhole

Submitted by Olivia from Girl With Blue Sails

Just outside the beautiful port city of Ensenada, Mexico lies La Bufadora, a natural wonder in the Punta Banda Peninsula of Baja California state.

La Bufadora, meaning “the blowhole,” is a natural rock formation, which has a hole that shoots water into the air up to 100-feet above the ocean. It is one of only a handful of blowholes in the world; others include Halona Blowhole in Hawaii, Kiama Blowhole in Australia and Hummanaya Blowhole in Sri Lanka.

Sitting right on the coast, La Bufadora’s waterspout is caused by waves pushing air into a sea cave below. The air gets trapped, and when the waves recede out of the cave, the water bursts quickly upwards. This repeats about every 15-20 seconds, all throughout the day.

Visitors waiting to witness this water explosion up close can gather just next to it at the raised viewing platform. From there, you can safely enjoy the magnificent sight and the thunderous sound of the water explosion!

Among the best things to do in Ensenada, you can easily drive your rental car to La Bufadora or join a group tour. Many tours combine a stop at La Bufadora with other local activities like horseback riding or wine tasting in Valle de Guadalupe, known as “the Napa Valley of Mexico.”

77. See Humpback Whales at Cabo Pulmo National Park

Cabo Pulmo is located in the Sea of Cortez, famously called “the aquarium of the world” by diver and 1970s TV personality, Jacques Cousteau. It is located about 90-minutes north of San Jose del Cabo (and the Los Cabos Airport), in a protected Mexico national park.

During the winter months, this is the best place to see humpback whales in Mexico as they migrate past from about late-November to early-April. If you’re visiting in the summer, Cabo Pulmo is known as one of the best places to snorkel in Mexico, with many taking a Cabo Pulmo snorkeling tour.

Mexico Things To Do

Final Thoughts: Bucket List Mexico Things to Do

Mexico is an amazing country — and completely unlike what most people think it is. That applies both to how many perceive it as unsafe (as someone who’s done solo female travel in Mexico, I dispute this wholeheartedly), and that Mexico is just a country of beaches.

As you may have seen, there are some stunning beaches on this list, but there’s so much more as well. From ancient ruins and epic Mexico waterfalls, to swimmable cenotes in the Yucatan and Mexico pueblos magicos (magical towns), you’ll never run out of Mexico things to do.

So what are you waiting for?! Book your flight below already ✈️ then get your hotel, hostel or VRBO booked too — and start crossing some Mexico bucket list experiences off your list!

Have questions about things to do in Mexico?

Please join the conversation in the comment section down below and I’ll do my best to get you the info you need about all the best bucket list Mexico places to visit!

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  1. I mean, I definitely have to do the Copper Canyon train ride one day, it looks amazing. But how awesome is it that you can really get that close to whales. Of all the things on this list, I think that has to be the top one for me. Great list, definitely going to use this for when I go to Mexico

  2. What a great list! I can’t wait to visit Mexico! There’s so much to see & do. I’m looking forward to pyramids, flamingos Swimming in the cenotes & with whale sharks plus the Mexican food. I’ll save this for later!

  3. What a great list! I can’t wait to visit Mexico! There’s so much to see & do. I’m looking forward to pyramids, flamingos Swimming in the cenotes & with whale sharks plus the Mexican food. I’ll save this for later!

  4. That’s such an elaborative list. But, I got stuck at the diamond-shaped tacos. I am a Mexican food lover, and can’t wait to try the street tacos.

  5. So many amazing experiences to have in Mexico. I barely scratched the surface, but hope to add some more in the future. I loved Holbox, but when I visited, it wasn’t the whale shark season. Swimming with them has been on my bucket list for a while, so I’m heading to Isla Mujeres next week to do it!

  6. Ah, Mexico just looks so vibrant and colourful! I want to do ALL of these things!! I’d especially love to win in a cenote, see the Day of the Dead parade and visit the Frida Casa Museum. Thanks for the wonderful guide, I can’t wait until we can travel again so I can visit!

  7. This is such a cool list, something for everyone thats for sure! Well done, saved most of these activities for future trips, so thank you for sharing! 🙂

  8. Wow, what a comprehensive and inspiring list. I hope to enjoy many of the activities you have highlighted like whale watching, enjoying the bioluminescent plankton, exploring archeological and historic sites, and so much natural beauty! Pinning for later, thanks!

  9. Vanessa Shields says:

    It’s incredible how many bucket list places there are in Mexico! I’ve done a handful but ones I’d like to do first would be to dive a cenote, dive on Cozumel, visit Izamal and any waterfall!

  10. Mexico is one of those places where it’s endless things to do and I love it . I can’t wait to visit again and try some of these great suggestions . Thanks for the wonderful guide .

  11. Wow just wow, you have listed every possible thing to do in Mexico. I love the street food and the surfing lessons. It reminds me of my travels to South East Asia.

  12. There are just so many incredible things to see and do in Mexico that I wouldn’t know where to start! This is going to be a very helpful list for when I plan my trip here to see some ruins – thanks!

  13. Love love love this post! I’ve been to Mexico as a kid and have always wanted to go back. I’ve got a full on check list now thanks to your post.

  14. This is an amazing round-up of things to do in Mexico! I’m embarrassed to admit that I live in Arizona and have only visited once. We were supposed to go on a cruise to Mexico last March, but it was unfortunately cancelled. I can’t wait to use this list to explore the country more one day!

  15. Wow!!!! This amazing post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m hoping to go to Tulum this winter.. I love your recommendations for that area, particularly the cenotes and the glamping in Tulum. Will also look at your advise re driving in Mexico. Thanks!!

  16. Travel A-Broads (Sara & Candace) says:

    Wow, this blog post is jam-packed full of great ideas. The Teotihuacan Pyramids and hot air balloon ride sound amazing! Ancient ruins sound fascinating, and I’ve never been up in a hot air balloon before. I was supposed to do that in Kenya only to have it canceled twice – what a bummer! Also, despite visiting Mexico several times now, I’ve yet to make it to Tulum, and it’s been on my list for quite a while. Can’t wait to go back to visit and knock off some of the other items on your list as well. Thanks so much for sharing! Xx Sara

  17. Thanks for such a comprehensive list! I have recently been around Yucatan. You are so right about the cenotes, they are absolutely amazing! Swimming with the whale sharks was absolutely special.

  18. MacKenzie says:

    The colors in your photos are always so vibrant, it’s great! As for the post, just wow. I’m honestly a little overwhelmed at everything there is to do, haha. But it’s an incredible resource, and it will be awesome to slowly check things off.

  19. I’ve been to Mexico many times but I still have quite a few of these 71 things to do and check off my bucket list. Love your curated local’s guide.

  20. Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about Mexico, so this was a total eye-opener for me. I would definitely like to see the cenotes and Rio Secreto. Lovely!

    1. Hi Yanitza: Thank you for writing! Yes, Mexico is quite underrated, in my opinion… but it’s a big country & there are so many hidden gems that most don’t know about. I hope you enjoy the cenotes and Rio Secreto.