Mexico is a huge country. It’s the 14th largest in the world. That means there’s a lot to see.
It’s a country with varying landscapes. It’s ripe with volcanoes and mountains that need exploring. There are pristine beaches, big cities, tiny islands, and small towns with some of the best food in the country waiting to be eaten (by me!).
In the last few weeks, as I have tried to plan out our weekends, our long vacations, any spare moment for that matter, I find myself collecting names of places that I want to visit. I thought I would put together this list as a way to remind myself to get out there and see more and as a way for those of you planning to come to Mexico to have a bucket list for yourselves.
As I explore the country, I will revisit this post and link to anything that I write. I’ll probably also add places as I learn about them. I refrain from saying “check it off,” because this isn’t about simply getting it done, it’s about truly enjoying this country that I currently call home. I hope you’ll enjoy it, too.
My Must See Places in Mexico
Tulum is one of the reasons I was so excited about moving to Mexico. It was a port town for the Mayans and the ruins now sit against stunning Caribbean blue waters. I would love to explore the ruins and spend a view days at Tulum Playa enjoying the beach and the ocean. It’s pretty far from where we are, but it’s high on my priority list.
Ride a Trajinera in Xochimilco
Xochimilco seems a bit like a tacky tourist town, but a Mexican one. There are boat rides through the canal, mariachi bands, taco stands, trinkets to buy, and a huge garden to wander around. It’s just South of the city center and an easy day trip from Mexico City.
Dive along Banco Chinchorro
Banco Chinchorro is a reef off of the east coast in the Caribbean Sea. It’s home to nine shipwrecks and some of the best diving in the country. Ever since Luke and I got certified last year we have been chomping at the bit to get diving again and this warm water paradise is exactly where I want to do it.
Explore the Teotihuacan Ruins
These Aztec ruins are only an hour bus ride from Mexico City, making is an easy day trip from the city. Teotihuacan means “the place where men became gods.” It’s home to some of the largest ancient pyramids in the world (the 3rd largest to be exact). Aztec legend has it that this is where the gods gathered to discuss the creation of man. It was built between 300 BC and 450 AD. It’s a huge complex with a museum and several pyramids to explore and I cannot wait to get out there on a tour and see it with my own eyes.
Sup Tequila in Guadalajara
Guadalajara is the second biggest city in the country. It’s the birthplace of mariachi and tequila. It’s full of museums, colonial buildings, and a huge national park that I want to explore. A lot of expats opt for the cheaper living in Guadalajara and after reading some accounts of the food and drink scene there, I’m dying to visit.
Swim with Whale Sharks in Isla Holbox
Luke and I have been dreaming of seeing Whale Sharks up close since we missed out on it in the Philippines. They don’t chum the waters and they don’t promise an encounter, but they migrate past this area of the country between July and September and I would absolutely love to catch a glimpse.
Edit: I recently learned that swimming with whale sharks isn’t really the best thing for the whale sharks. While it’s still an incredibly popular thing to do, I have made the decision that it isn’t for me. As always, these are my own personal opinions, but I do highly recommend doing your research before choosing to take part in any tourism that involves animals.
I did, however, visit Isla Holbox and this is what I thought of it.
Snorkel in Akumal
Akumal is a little resort town in the Riviera Maya. It’s known for it’s abundance of animal life, including tons and tons of turtles. I would love to spend a long weekend laying on it’s famous white sand beaches and snorkeling with some new friends. You can take tours from Cancun, or go head straight to Akumal and go it alone.
Done! See my Akumal Post Here.
Eat Mole in Puebla
Mole, that thick, chocolatey sauce of dreams. I’ve had it a few times, but everyone I’ve met says I have to go to the source. It was first created in Puebla and in addition to being an historical town with tons to see, it’s a culinary capital that I need to venture to. It’s only about an hour from Mexico City, so I’m definitely earmarking it as a day trip this Fall.
Done! It was SO DELICIOUS! What to Eat in Puebla and Things to Do in Puebla
Eat all the food in Oaxaca
I blame it all on Christine of Almost Fearless and Jodi of Legal Nomads for my huge interest in eating my way around Oaxaca. Both have painted vivid pictures of life in this state and made me so hungry in the process. I can’t wait to see the colorful buildings, the constant festivals, and to eat all the food.
Done! Here’s all the food that I ate in Oaxaca!
Experience Dia De Los Muertos
I have to admit, this has always been something of a mystery to me. I don’t really know much other than that on November 1st children who have passed are commemorated and on November 2nd adults are commemorated. It’s done with huge altars of flowers and offerings. I am really interested in learning more about it and seeing what it’s like in person.
Be in Awe of El Tajin
I only recently heard about El Tajin – a historical pyramid a few hours east of Mexico City in the state of Veracruz. The pyramid has 365 windows – one for every day of the year. We’ve been told by friends that it’s the most impressive ruins in the country. That’s a serious claim for a country that is home to so many impressive ruins. We’ve bookmarked a music festival that happens every Spring as our time to visit the area.
Hike Through Copper Canyon
These canyons in the state of Chihuahua look absolutely incredible. There’s an old railway that you can take through the different old-fashioned towns and the hiking is meant to be spectacular. I’d like to head here during the Spring (Spring and Fall are meant to be the best times to visit) and see it for myself.
Enjoy the History in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is a colonial-era town with well preserved buildings, cobbled streets, and breathtaking mountain surroundings. I think it’s a bit far from Mexico City to be a day trip, but I’m intrigued by it’s history. After almost turning into a ghost town, it was re-discovered and re-newed as an artist’s haven. There is an internationally acclaimed art university here and several smaller art schools that attract budding painters and sculptures from around the country.
Eat Dinner at Pujol
I know this is a little bit random, but Pujol is one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. When Luke and I still weren’t sure if we were going to move to Mexico, when we were still in the UK, we were watching an episode of Masterchef. They had brought the finalists to Mexico City, of all places, to cook. They went to Pujol and cooked alongside head chef, Enrique Olvera. Luke and I had this weird feeling that we were definitely going to Mexico City and ever since we got here I’ve been chomping at the bit to try this Mexican fusion spot.
Hike up Iztaccihuatl
I only recently discovered this volcano that you can hike up. For a reasonable price you can get a tour right from Mexico City. It’s a three-hour drive to the start of the hike and then another three hours to reach the peak. It looks absolutely amazing and from the top you can see the infamous and active volcano, Popocatépetl.
Visit Chichen Itza
Perhaps the most famous in Mexico, these Mayan ruins are located on the Yucatán Peninsula in the Southern part of Mexico. It was one of the earliest civilizations and it’s incredible to me that it’s still standing. The main temple, El Castillo, has 365 steps, one for every day of the year. It was recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world.
DONE!! It was as amazing as I’d hoped it would be (maybe even more!). Read the full post here!
Have a Peak at the Pink Lakes
The lakes at Las Coloradas are cotton candy pink. They are salt lakes that, due to the way they evaporate and reflect the sunlight, appear bright pink against the baby blue sky. I can’t wait to take a roadtrip here in a few weeks and see them in the flesh! Expect a post packed with pink photos very soon.
Sort of Done – See the post here!
Explore the Ruins in Chiapas
Chiapas is an incredible state with so much to see, but it’s the ruins of Palenque which are drawing to the state most. Second on the list is Sumidero Canyon. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance visit both of them in a few months!
I’m sure there are so many other places to see in Mexico. I’ve left off the obvious Cancún, Cabo, and Puerto Vallarta spots because I’m not sure if they’re really on my bucket list. In the very least, they are not a top priority, not the way these places are.