Mexico is an excellent country to backpack, drive in, or take a vacation. The options for activities and the locals’ friendliness are unmatched anywhere else on Earth.
From Mayan ruins to lush jungles to Mexico City’s artsy food scene and beautiful Oaxaca–not forgetting delicious tacos , tamales, sopas, seafood, and mole (just some of Mexico’s many traditional dishes)–there is plenty to gorge yourself on during your stay here.
I could go on and on about why I love this nation, but I’ll simply say that whatever amount of time you plan to stay here is insufficient! You’ll want more after you leave.
Here are some other things to do in Mexico.
1. Take a stroll through Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park.
Chapultepec is one of the world’s largest city parks, spanning nearly 700 hectares. It includes the Mexico City Zoo, La Feria amusement park, and the Museum of Anthropology. The museum houses an extensive collection of sculptures, jewels, and artifacts from ancient Mexican civilizations. Admission to the museum costs 70 MXN.
2. While you’re here, check out the markets
Almost every Mexican town has a bustling, varied market where you can sample traditional cuisine, pick up bargains, and buy mementos. The Mercado Ciudadela in Mexico City (for handmade textiles and artwork) is one of the finest, as is Oaxaca’s Mercado Benito Juárez (for local foods like fresh ground coffee beans, juices, and grasshopper tacos).In Merida, be sure to try the Yucatecan dishes at Mecardo Santa Ana. The slow-cooked pork dish cochito horneado is a local favorite, or you can head to El Mercado Lucas de Galvez for their specialty seafood cocktails.
3. Tour Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución)
Zócalo is the main plaza in Mexico City, which dates back to the Aztecs. It encompasses both the Templo Mayor (an ancient Aztec temple) and the Palacio Nacional (a colonial palace with offices of Mexico’s president). La Catedral Metropolitana, a gorgeous cathedral with a gold altar, is only a brief walk away from the Zócalo. This iconic structure is considered a perfect example of Spanish colonial architecture.
4. Take a dive!
Mexico’s seas are home to some of the world’s finest diving sites due to their wide range of aquatic species, enormous coral reefs (including the second biggest reef system in the world, the Great Maya Barrier Reef), and high visibility. The Gulf of Mexico is home to five different sea turtle species, blue whales, lemon sharks, and dolphins, among other things. Aside from scuba diving, the water is popular with snorkellers, sports fishermen, waterboarding, surfing, and a variety of other watersports activities. A one-day diving trip costs 2,400 Mexican pesos. Discovery Bay, Cenote Dos Ojos (the Two Eyes Cenote), Revillagigedo Islands, and Isla Mujeres are some of Mexico’s finest spots to dive.
5. Relax in Cancun and enjoy the beauty of Mexico.
Depending on your goals, Cancun may provide a wild party in the sun or some quiet and untouched local markets and eateries. On one hand, there are spas, resorts, and gorgeous beaches. On the other side of the coin is Mayan ruins, archaeological sites, and little hamlets that dot the landscape.
6. Get lost in the streets of Guadalajara
Guadalajara is the second-largest city in Mexico, known for its tequila and mariachi. It has a wealth of museums, including Cabañas (a UNESCO building with incredible murals), MUSA (paintings & sculptures by local artists), and the Páramo Galeria (contemporary art); nightlife venues; and old colonial streets. Visit the Hospicio Cabañas, a hospital built in the 19th century; then explore Guadalajara Cathedral’s Gothic interior featuring artworks from famous Mexican artists like Murillo.
7. Hang out in Oaxaca
Oaxaca is a state renowned for its artisan culture, food, and mezcal. Oaxaca City is an old colonial town with many great restaurants, bars, and cafes frequented by both locals and expats alike. I thoroughly enjoyed myself while venturing around the town! If you’re headed down the coast be sure to check out Puerto Escondido and Mazunte; two towns famous for their surfing, seafood ,and idyllic lifestyle.
8. Teotihuacan is a large ancient city in Mexico.
Visiting the ancient Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan is a must-do when in Mexico. These massive structures date back to 400 BCE, and are located just 30 miles outside of Mexico City.The ancient city of Teotihuacan, which means “House of the Gods,” is one of Mexico’s most important archaeological sites. It was founded around 100 CE and is best known for its three colossal pyramids, each named after a sun god: The Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Moon, and the Temple of Feathered Serpent. If you only have time to visit one Aztec site, this should be it. There isn’t any shelter here, so bring sunscreen and a hat. Admission is 75 MXN.
9. Visit the strange Island of Dolls.
“La isla de la Munecas” or “The Island of the Dolls” in English, is one of if not the most spine-chilling tourist attractions in existence. An individual by the name of Don Julian Santana moved here many years ago after learning about a young girl who drowned nearby in a lake. In an attempt to please her spirit, he started collecting and hanging dolls all throughout the island. It’s eerie and beyond disturbing–definitely not for faint-hearted individuals! To get there, you’ll have to charter a boat from Xochimilco which typically costs around 200 MXN (Mexican pesos).
10. Celebrate the Day of the Dead!
On November 1st and 2nd, Mexico celebrates the Dia de Los Muertos annual holiday. The event is a vibrant and lively affair with parades of colorful costumes to commemorate those who are no longer with us, including processions of gravesites. Families also erect altars with pictures of the deceased, candles, yellow marigold petals, and food as expressions of sorrow for their departed relatives. It was designed to entice the dead to return to life so they could join in the festivities. Oaxaca or Mexico City are two of the greatest locations to witness this ritual.
11. Visit the UNAM Botanical Garden in Mexico City.
The Botanical Garden at the National Autonomous University of Mexico is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. In keeping with Aztec tradition, this garden focuses on both medicinal and ornamental purposes, as well as conservation and environmental education. Located on the slopes above and around Xitle’s magma formations, visitors may explore the naturally formed caves, ponds, and waterfalls. This plant has the world’s greatest variety of cactuses (800 different kinds!), as well as ponds brimming with koi and turtles, an orchidarium, and a therapeutic garden. It is free to enter.
12. Relax on Isla Holbox
If you’re looking for a place to truly relax and DIVE INTO NATURE, look no further than Holbox Island off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. With itswhite sand beaches, jungles teeming with life, and incredibly clear waters, it’s easy to see why this hidden gem is becoming more popular each day. Whether your idea of relaxation means lounging on the beach with a book or getting active with some swimming, diving, or hiking – there’s something for everyone on this beautiful island paradise!The Bioluminescent waters here are a must-see. You can catch a bus from Cancun which will take you to the ferry port in approximately two hours. The ferry ride itself is only 25 minutes and costs 220 MZN.
13. Visit Merida.
Merida is one of my most beloved places in Mexico, for its security and loveliness, interesting history, hip mezcal bars, and exceptional cuisine. A few noteworthy eateries and drinking spots are La Chaya Maya Casona, Acervo Mezcalero, La Negrita Cantina, and Café Créme. Don’t forget to add the nearby Uxmal archaeological site, which is just one hour away by car. There are also some excellent museums in this area, including the Folk Art Museum of Yucatan, the Yucatan Music Museum, and the City Museum (which has a variety of Mayan relics).
14. Take a tour of San Cristobal de las Casas’s architecture.
Don’t miss out on the fascinating history of Nuevo Progreso, a seaside town known for its beautiful colonial architecture. There are winding cobblestone streets, local artisan markets, and the entire region is encircled by pine forests. The town’s 16th-century cathedral is worth seeing, as well as taking a boat trip along the Canyon de Sumidero to view the surrounding nature. You’ll see plenty of birds, monkeys, and crocodiles. Visit the Guadalupe Church for a panoramic view of the city and surroundings for 5 MXN.
15. Take a trip to the Cenotes of Yucatan and sample them.
Cenotes are sinkholes full of groundwater that were used by the Mayans as freshwater sources. Today, they’re popular swimming holes for locals and tourists (you can even scuba dive in some). There are tons of them around the Yucatan Peninsula. Some are completely exposed, while others have walls surrounding them or roofs created by caves. Calavera, Cristalino, Casa Cenote, Yaxmuul, Choo-Ha, and Escondido Cenote are some of the most popular cenotes in the region.
16. Visit Sayulita
On the Pacific coast, you’ll find Sayulita: a trendy beach town with a passionate population of expats and surfers. The community here creates a carefree atmosphere, which is perfect for anyone looking to try surfing or yoga (or both!). And if that doesn’t interest you, don’t worry – there are plenty other activities available like zip lining, riding ATVs along the coast, jungle treks… really anything your heart desires. No matter what you choose to do while visiting Sayulita, we guaranteeyou won’t be disappointed.
17. Explore Campeche
Campeche is located south of Merida in the Yucatan. It has over 2,000 historic structures and UNESCO World Heritage colonial architecture, including fortified walls, making it a must-see for history and archeology aficionados. The Museo de la Arquitectura Maya houses Mayan history and antiquities; see the Mayan ruins at Edzná (which is 45 minutes away with few tourists), and wander the old city wall to get a sense of what Campeche was like before it became a tourist destination.