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A Mexico Bucket List: The Must-See Spots in Mexico

A Mexico Bucket List: The Must-See Spots in Mexico

Mexico is a huge country. It’s the 14th largest in the world. That means there’s a lot to see. Having a Mexico bucket list, for me, is a great way to keep track of all of the beauty that I want to see and also to record all of the beauty afterward.

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 Mexico Bucket List

ruins in tulum

Visit Tulum

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.

Done! See my Tulum Post Here and tons of photos of this beautiful place here.

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.

Done! Check out my Guide to Xochimilco here.

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.

Teotihuacan tour

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.

Done! See my Teotihuacan post here!

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.

Done! Check out My Guadalajara posts here!

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.

snorkeling with sea turtles in akumal

Image via Creative Commons

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.

food in puebla

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 a 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 Jodi of Legal Nomads for my huge interest in eating my way around Oaxaca.

She has 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!

What to do in Mexico

Image via Creative Commons

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.

Done! Day of the Dead in Mexico City: What You Should Know

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.

There is a Copper Canyon Adventure park that looks like so much fun and several towns to stop in along the way where you can go horseback riding through the canyon. I’m thinking I’ll need at least a week here.

san miguel de allende

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.

Done! Check out my San Miguel de Allende post here!

Watch my video, San Miguel de Allende: is it Worth the Hype?

Ride Through Sumidero Canyon

Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas is an absolutely breathtaking place.

I learned about it when I started researching other things to do in Chiapas and I knew we had to check it out. You take a boat ride through the canyon and some of the rock faces are over 1,000 meters talls!

Done! Read about (and see stunning photos of) Sumidero Canyon here.

How to see Sumidero Canyon Chiapas Mexico

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.

Done! Watch my video review here.

See the Natural Beauty in San Luis Potosí

San Luis Potosí is a state a little bit north of Mexico State that I had never heard of before moving to Mexico.

However, the longer I’ve lived here, the more I meet people who absolutely rave about this stunning state. There are ruins like La Pozas Xilitla and waterfalls in Huasteca Potosina. The city of the same name also looks pretty special.

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.

chichen itza tour

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 road trip 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.

Done! Read about how to see the Palenque Ruins here!

Visit the Beaches of Puerto Vallarta

This west coast is a part of the country that I wasn’t exactly sure about before I moved to Mexico. It’s only after visiting this stunning beach town that I can tell you that it should well and truly be on your Mexico bucket list!

Check out where to eat in Puerto Vallarta here!

best restaurants in puerto vallarta

Soak up the Sun in Puerto Escondido

Speaking of amazing beach towns, you cannot miss out on Puerto Escondido.

If I absolutely had to choose my favorite beach town in Mexico, it would be Puerto Escondido. This place absolutely must be on your Mexico bucket list!

Here’s my Guide to Puerto Escondido to get you started!

Explore the Maldives of Mexico

Bacalar has been on my Mexico bucket list for quite some time, now.

I still have yet to check out this beautiful slice of paradise which is often called “the Maldives of Mexico” because there are lots of little huts over crystal clear water. You can swim, paddle board, kayak, and simply relax in the sunshine. What more could you need?

Done! Watch my video about Bacalar here and read about all the best things to see, do, and eat here!

Explore the Mexican Wine Region

Did you know Mexico had a spectacular wine region? Neither did I! Valle de Guadalupe is easy to get to from Tijuana.

You can drive your car or rent one and take it down to Ensenada. From there it’s only a 30-minute drive to one of the most stunning wine regions I’ve eve been to.

There are miles of vines on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The wine is pretty great too!

Done! Valle de Guadalupe: how to see Mexico’s wine region

where to travel in 2019

See a Lucha Libre Fight

This is such a huge part of Mexican culture and something I would really love to experience. It’s not for everyone, but I would love to enjoy the atmosphere and perhaps see a “show” with a local or two so they could explain more about what’s happening.

Explore the Tip of Baja California

While I’ve been to the northern part of Baja California (Ensenada and Tijuana), I would really love to get south to Cabo San Lucas.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this resort region from friends, but I think it would be nice to check it out for myself. It’s nice to pamper yourself!

Where else is a do-not-miss in Mexico? I would love to know where you think are the best places in Mexico! Please share in the comments.

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The ultimate Mexico Bucket List - all of the things I love about Mexico and the places I dream of going in this amazing country!

Ellie

Monday 6th of January 2020

I appreciate your information about Mexico. I have already visited Oaxaca in the last summer. It was very great and I have an unforgettable memory because of your very useful blog. Now, I am planning to visit Mexico City and Cancun in coming Feb. In Cancun, I plan to go one of Mayan sites but did not decide which one to go, especially between Tulum and Chichen Itza. I'll go to Teotihuacan, so I am leaning to Tulum. I really need your advice.

Thank you

Laura Bronner

Wednesday 8th of January 2020

Hey Ellie! What a wonderful thing to say, I'm so glad you found it helpful on your last trip to Mexico. I really loved both Tulum and Chichen Itza, they are very different. If you spend some time in Tulum, you can also visit Coba which is stunning. Hope that helps!

Monica

Thursday 29th of March 2018

Went to Akumal for my 60th and stayed at Club Akumal Caribe. Done the all inclusive in Cancun + Playa Del Carmen. So it's an older hotel with great security.Location location ah just seeing that water + swimming with the turtles. You do have to feel sorry because of all the tourists. Life time experience. Coba' ruins were neat to view you ride bicycles. Add San Ignacio to your list on the Pacific side when the whales are migrating. Another life time experience.

sofie

Thursday 28th of December 2017

Hi :) Q: the Coppercanyon how days hike did you did ? and you had a good hiking guide overthere ?

thanks

Jodi wilcox

Friday 21st of July 2017

Have you done a lot of driving in Mexico? If so, do you have any safety concerns? My family and I are thinking of taking a road trip from Phoenix to Puerto Vallarta and over to Mexico City and back.

Laura Bronner

Monday 31st of July 2017

I haven't done a ton of driving in Mexico - only through the Yucatan, but that was very safe and well signposted. I've read of a lot of people coming over from California and heading down to Puerto Vallarta and I've had friends who have driven north from Puerto Escondido to Puerto Vallarta and inland to Guanajuato and they had a blast. The trip from PV to CMDX is probably less frequented by tourists, but a busy route regardless. I recommend asking questions over on the Lonely Planet forums - experts in those topics are always hovering around answering. Sounds like it will be a great trip!

Raguirre

Thursday 20th of July 2017

Is there anything to do around Chihuahua or Delicias?