Magic Towns in Mexico or Pueblos Mágicos in Spanish is a title that has been given to 132 different small towns around Mexico that helps to bring some attention to them for tourism purposes.
These towns are beautiful places to visit in Mexico and while I love big cities in Mexico like Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey, I also love exploring the small places that have a rich history, and usually, incredible food to enjoy in these little towns.
What is a Pueblo Mágico in Mexico?
A Pueblo Mágico is a title that was created by the Mexican government as a sort of award to small towns around Mexico. Towns and communities are awarded this title if they have demonstrated that over time they are able to maintain their original history, architecture, culture, and traditions.
Some of the towns are given the status of magic town because they have played a role in the country’s history, like Dolores Hidalgo in Guanajuato where the fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain first began.
According to the Visit Mexico website, Pueblos Mágicos are magic towns that have great symbolism or legend or that have played a large role in the development of Mexico’s history and present-day success as a nation.
Even once a town has been given the title of a Pueblo Mágico, they must still work to maintain this title. Some towns have lost the status of Magical Town in the past, such as Tepoztlan in Morelos. They became a Magic Town in 2001 and then lost that status in 2009. They had to work to regain status, which they eventually did a year later.
New towns are being added all the time with the most recent being towns that gained the status of Magical Town in 2020.
The Best Magic Towns in Mexico
This list is, of course, completely biased and based on the magic towns in Mexico that I think are well worth your time based on my own experiences and travels in Mexico in the last six years.
There are over 130 magic towns in Mexico at the moment and to be totally honest, not all of them are amazing days out or worth going out of your way to explore.
In addition to the 16 Magic Towns that I mention in this article, I have also listed all of the magic towns at the bottom of this article so that you can do some of your own research as you explore more of Mexico’s magical towns.
1. Tepoztlán, Morelos
Tepoztlán was the first pueblo mágico that I ever visited in Mexico, so it seems fitting that I put it near the top of this list (although they are in no particular order).
Tepoztlán is a town in the state of Morelos. It is incredibly easy to get to if you are based in Mexico City for any period of time. You can simply hop on the bus at the southern bus station in Mexico City and in about two hours you’ll be in Tepoztlan.
Tepoztlán is most famous as the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, an Aztec god of the morning and evening star. He was a feathered serpent who was the protector of merchants and goldsmiths. He was the Aztec symbol of death and resurrection. He was the inventor of the calendar and of books.
When you visit Tepoztlán, you will be hard-pressed to miss the giant mountain that sits as the backdrop of the town’s main street. You can climb up this mountain in about an hour and at the top, you’ll find a temple.
I have written a thorough guide to Tepoztlan here which covers the best places to stay, great restaurants, the local foods to try, how to get there, and information about hiking El Tepozteco, the mountain in town.
2. Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
Todos Santos is close to my heart because I lived there for a brief time in 2021. It is a town that I have written about extensively in this guide to Todos Santos. I have also made several videos about my experiences in Todos Santos over on YouTube which you can view here.
Todos Santos is a dusty little beach town on the west coast of the Baja Peninsula. It received magic town status in 2006 and has held firmly onto it ever since.
The town is small and easily walkable. It’s home to art galleries, fantastic restaurants, and lots of friendly people. It has two paved streets with the rest of the town consisting mostly of dirt roads.
There is one long main beach which isn’t great for swimming, but it is wonderful for walking, jogging, and whale watching right from the shore.
3. Bernal, Queretaro
San Sebastián Bernal, or simply Bernal as most people call it, is a beautiful little magic town in the state of Queretaro. It would be best to base yourself in the city of Queretaro before heading to Bernal simply because logistically, it is easier to get to Queretaro first from major hubs like Mexico City or Guanajuato.
One of the main reasons to come to this pueblo mágico is to hike Peña de Bernal. Peña de Bernal is the third tallest monolith in the entire world. While you can’t hike all the way to the top, you can hike about halfway to the top and take in some incredible views of the town and surrounding mountain range.
You have to pay a small fee to enter the national park and as of last visit (2020), you could only pay with cash, so be sure to have about 30 pesos per person in cash with you when you visit the town. It is also only open from 8am-5pm, so you can’t head up there for a sunrise or sunset walk.
In addition to the enormous monolith, Bernal is also just a cute little town that is fun for taking photos and is also home to some of the most delicious gorditas I’ve ever eaten.
Read more: A Guide to Mexican Foods You Need to Try
4. Taxco, Guerrero
Some say Taxco is the most beautiful Magic town in Mexico. Watch this video from YouTuber Janet Newenham to see why.
Taxco is in the state of Guerrero, which is to the southwest of Mexico City. It takes about two and a half hours to get there by car from downtown Mexico City. Alternatively, you can take a bus, of which there are several a day from the Tasqueña bus station in the south of the city.
Taxco was and still is, famous in Mexico for its silver jewelry production. The city used to be home to hundreds of artisans.
Now there are fewer, but it is still the place to get your silver jewelry when you are in Mexico. In fact, when you are in Mexico City and you are wandering around markets or souvenir stores, the signs will all say that the silver jewelry comes from Taxco.
It’s not just about jewelry, though. There are so many great things to do in Taxco.
It is certainly not the place to visit if you don’t like walking or you hate hills. The city is basically built into the mountainside and the streets make almost no sense. But it is beautiful and winding. There are staircases all around and paths that often lead to dead ends.
The architecture is stunning, with the centerpiece of it all being the Santa Prisca Church. It was built by José de la Borda, who made his riches in the silver mines that surrounded Taxco. Despite being a very rich man, he became so obsessed with this church, it nearly bankrupted him.
Built between 1751 and 1758, this is one of the few Baroque buildings in all of Guerrero. It was built with stunning pink stones and the two towers are immensely ornate if you look at the top half of the towers.
The entire cupola is covered in beautiful tiles. Inside you’ll find floor-to-ceiling altarpieces that are completely covered in gold.
5. Tequila, Jalisco
You may be able to guess by the name just why this magic town is so popular. Tequila, much like Champagne or Port, must be made within specific regions of Mexico in order to be able to be called Tequila. The town of Tequila is one of those places.
About 45 minutes by car from Guadalajara, the town of Tequila is well worth at least one day of your time. If you really love tequila (I really love tequila), then you may want to stay for a few days and enjoy the different distilleries on the outskirts of the city.
If you just want to see some sights and enjoy some tequila, then the best option would be to take a day tour from Guadalajara. The organizers can pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and you don’t have to worry about driving or catching a bus or Uber and they’ll take you to the best tequila distilleries in the area.
This tour will take you around agave fields, give you free time in Tequila, and take you to a local distillery.
You can, of course, visit Tequila on your own. On my most recent trip to Tequila, I rented a car from Veico near the Guadalajara airport and explored it simply for its beauty and for the delicious food on offer in the area.
6. San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
San Cristobal de las Casas is the gateway to so many different parts of Chiapas and one of my favorite pueblo mágicos (perhaps because Chiapas is one of my favorite places in Mexico!). San Cristobal de las Casas is easily reached by bus from the capital city of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutierrez. You can arrive to Tuxtla by flight from Mexico City airport or from Cancun airport.
San Cristobal de las Casas has long been a stop along the Mexico backpacker route thanks to its close proximity to Guatemala. However, it also seems to attract Italian and French expats who enjoy the moderately cool mountain climate and wine bars in the center of town.
The colonial architecture and two churches that sandwich the town at either end are well worth exploring. The markets around town are wonderful, the Easter celebration here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere in Mexico, and the culture of the indigenous groups of this region is strong and wonderful to learn more about.
From San Cristobal, you can easily visit the incredible wonder, Sumidero Canyon as well as the famous town of Chamula where you can experience a church service unlike any you have ever witnessed in your entire life.
7. Pátzcuaro, Michoacan
Pátzcuaro is a Mexico Magic Town that is located in the central Mexican state of Michoacan.
The easiest way to get to Pátzcuaro is to fly into the Morelia airport, which is the capital city of Michoacan. There are regular flights between Mexico City and Morelia at least once a day. From Morelia, you can take a bus to Pátzcuaro, of which there are several a day and take about an hour and a half.
One of the things that makes Pátzcuaro so famous and one of the most visited Pueblos Mágicos in recent years is the Día de Muertos celebration that takes place here.
Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead is a huge celebration in this region of Mexico and thanks to the Disney film Coco, which was based largely on this very town’s celebrations, tourists now flock here to see their incredibly beautiful traditional celebrations.
Many people head to the nearby Lake Pátzcuaro to celebrate the night of the dead and there are dancers, candles lit everywhere, and celebrations for the lives of loved ones who have passed. It’s one of the most moving celebrations to witness in Mexico. This article explains more about the entire experience.
8. Valle de Bravo, Estado de Mexico
Valle de Bravo is where the weather Mexico City residents like to head on the weekends (besides Cuernavaca, of course). It’s the green space, the lakes, the fresh air, and the adventure sports capital of Mexico State and it is less than two hours from downtown Mexico City.
You can easily reach Valle de Bravo by bus from Mexico City, but if you want to explore this region well, I recommend getting yourself a rental car and using it to get here and around this region of Estado de Mexico.
Read more: A Guide to Valle de Bravo in Mexico State
Valle de Bravo is a beautiful magic town in Mexico with cobbled streets, colonial buildings painted in all different colors, and a huge lake where you can go swimming, waterskiing, boating, or paddleboarding throughout the year.
This region of Mexico gets some of the best weather in the entire country (unless you love intense heat). It never really gets too hot and it never really gets too cold.
You can enjoy mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, or hang-gliding without ever really worrying about what the weather will be like. There are also fantastic hotels and seriously great spas in the area that will help you heal after all of these adventure activities.
9. Bacalar, Quintana Roo
Bacalar is not only one of the most stunning magic towns in Mexico, it’s one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been to in the world.
This lake is referred to as the Maldives of Mexico or the Lagoon of Seven Colors. Whatever you call it, this pueblo mágico should be at the top of your list for best magic towns in Mexico.
There are quite a few hotels and Airbnb options, but the restaurant scene is still quite small, especially after dark and there is really only one or two bars that are open after 9pm.
That being said, you’ll likely be exhausted after a day well-spent out on the lagoon. You won’t believe your eyes that this isn’t the ocean. Rent a kayak and head to the other side of the lagoon to see shipwrecks and enjoy swimming where the water is calmest and quite shallow.
If you don’t want to work that hard, there are small boats that do boat trips throughout the day to explore the bay. These small, group boat tours are perfect and only cost $25 per person.
If you want to enjoy a day out on a private sailboat, this is the tour you’ll want to book with friends.
10. Creel, Chihuahua
Creel is where to go if you love hiking, stunning mountain scenery, and desert landscapes. While it may not appear to be a stunning pueblo mágico at first sight, I promise you will quickly fall in love with this country-western town.
Creel is a small dusty town where you want to head if you plan to visit Copper Canyon or you want to learn more about the indigenous Tarahumara (Raramuri) people.
This is the entry point for so much hiking into the canyon as well as where the El Chepe train through the canyon begins (or ends if you start your trip in #11).
In addition to being a popular base for exploring the canyon, it’s also not very far from Basaseachic Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Mexico.
11. El Fuerte, Sinaloa
At the other end of the El Chepe train is the Mexico Magic Town of El Fuerte.
This is perhaps the pueblo mágico that surprised me the most. There isn’t much information about El Fuerte out there on the internet (at least not in English).
The town of El Fuerte was founded in 1563 by Spanish conquistador Francisco de Ibarra. Ibarra was the first conquistador to start trying to explore and settle the Sierra Occidental Mountain range. In 1610, a fort (un Fuerte) was built in the town to protect the city against the Native Americans who attempted to take this land from the Spanish during the early 17th century.
For almost three hundred years, El Fuerte served as an important commercial and agricultural center in the northwestern region of Mexico. It was one of the main trading posts for silver miners and gold-rushers from the mines in the nearby mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental.
Now you can visit this stunning pueblo mágico and learn more about its history in the last few hundred years. There is a replica fort that has been built to give you an idea of what the original fort looked like over 400 years ago. The views from the top of that fort are some of the most memorable I have from that trip through the mountains.
Watch: Touring El Fuerte, Sinaloa
There are also some dishes that you won’t want to miss out on trying in El Fuerte including the local river fish, lobina, and the local river lobsters (which are very delicious), called Kaukes.
12. Loreto, Baja California Sur
One of the most under-rated pueblos mágicos in Mexico and one that should not be left off of your list if you make it to Baja California Sur.
Loreto is a beautiful Mexico Magic Town that has so much to offer. If you love history, hiking, biking, sunshine, seeing wildlife, swimming in calm crystal clear waters, or fishing for some serious deep-sea fish, then you need to get yourself to Loreto.
Read more: Awesome Things to Do in Loreto
Loreto is a place that you plan to visit for a few days and you accidentally stay for a month. The pace is slow. The town is small, but there is so much to do. There are also some incredible restaurants in Loreto that you won’t want to miss out on (Orlando’s breakfast cannot be missed).
There are several islands to visit just off of Loreto and depending on the time of year, you can see dolphins, whales, sea lions, and tons of different types of birds. Watch my video about exploring one of the islands on YouTube here.
It’s also not far from one of the most stunning areas in Mexico (in my humble opinion), Bahía Concepcion.
13. Cholula, Puebla
Cholula is a small pueblo mágico just outside of the city of Puebla.
You can definitely combine Puebla and Cholula into a two or three-day trip depending on how much time you have for your central Mexico trip. Puebla is about two hours from Mexico City by bus or car, so it’s not exactly a day trip from the city unless you want it to be a very long day.
The official name of this Mexico Magic Town is Cholula de Rivadavia, but even the locals simply refer to it as Cholula. The main reason most people come here is to visit the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
While there is some debate around what measurements count, the Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest pyramid, by volume, in the entire world.
You can visit the pyramid and actually walk through its narrow tunnels still today. It is not advised if you don’t love small spaces or if you are very tall as you will have to stay low and duck for most of the walk through the interior.
Atop the pyramids is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios or Our Lady of Remedies Church. This is the image you may have seen before of the yellow church atop a hill with the famous volcanos, Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl, in the background.
14. Teotihuacan, Estado de Mexico
Perhaps one of the most famous things to do in Mexico City and yet one of the least visited Magic Towns in Mexico. Many people take the bus or a tour and go straight to the pyramids of Teotihuacan and never actually visit the pueblo mágico of Teotihuacan.
It’s a shame because the town is really beautiful and the people of the town are even more wonderful.
Read more: What to Know About Visiting Teotihuacan
The full name of this Mexico Magic Town is San Juan Teotihuacan. You can actually get off the bus here if you take the bus to the pyramids and stay to explore some of the local restaurants, take a bike tour of the downtown, do a cooking class, or simply stay a while and relax at one of the small family-run hotels.
For something really special, take a hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan one morning. It’s one of the most magical things to do over a pueblo mágico.
15. Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
Tlaquepaque feels a little bit more like a neighborhood in downtown Guadalajara than a magic town of its own, but it’s still very much worth visiting.
Thanks to its close proximity to downtown Guadalajara, you can easily get here by Uber, local city bus, or with a rental car. The parking situation is a little bit difficult because there just isn’t enough for the number of people that visit each day. So if you can avoid driving into the center of Tlaquepaque you should.
San Pedro Tlaquepaque or simply Tlaquepaque for short (pronounced like Tla-kay-pah-kay). The name comes from Nahuatl (Aztec language) and is translated as “the place above clay land.”
There are a few reasons Tlaquepaque is famous. Many Mexicans come from around the country for the artisan clay and blown glass. You can find small shops that make beautiful tiles out of local clay as well as blown glass shops around town.
The other reason many people flock to Tlaquepaque is for El Parian. El Parian is a large indoor/outdoor bar with a large stage in the middle. At most times of the day, there are live Mariachi bands. Mariachi music is from the state of Jalisco (although nearby Nayarit argues they created the music first).
You can have a few drinks while enjoying some traditional music, dancing, and costumes. If you time it right, you may get the chance to see something very rare indeed, an all-female mariachi band. You don’t need to book a table, but on weekends it can get busy, so you may need to wait for the next show.
16. Palenque, Chiapas
Palenque is both a Mexico Magic Town in Chiapas as well as the name of the archaeological site within the town.
Getting to Palenque is a little bit of a pain, but it is oh so worth the effort. Besides Calakmul in Campeche, it is one of the most remote and beautiful sites in the country.
There is a small airport here and there are flights here between Mexico City, Cancun, and Tuxtla Gutierrez but they do not fly every single day, so you will need to stay in Palenque for a few days (and you should!). Alternatively, you can take a bus from Tuxtla Gutierrez or San Cristobal de las Casas which take up to six hours.
Palenque is an ancient city that was known as Lakamha in the Itza language. It was a Maya city-state that perished in the 8th century. Archaeologists believe that Palenque has some of the finest architecture, roof combs, and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas ever produced.
The entire archaeological site sits inside a jungle where you can see toucans flying past, hear howler monkeys in the distance, and where mosquitos are everywhere (bring lots of bug spray!). It feels like you are in another world.
17. Sayulita, Nayarit
Sayulita is not only one of my favorite Mexico Magic Towns, it also happens to be one of my favorite beach towns in Mexico. It is a hub of activity and home to some of my favorite places to eat in this region of Mexico.
I am a big fan of this coastline, in general, all the way down from Manzanillo up to Puerto Vallarta and then north into Nayarit including Bucerias, Sayulita, and San Pancho.
These beaches can all be enjoyed in a single amazing road trip or overtime with lengthy vacations in each place.
Sayulita isn’t for everyone. It’s something of a party town. There are a lot of international people here from around the world. I think I met more people from Argentina here than I did people from Mexico on my most recent trip. But you’ll also meet plenty of Mexicans who love to surf and live a more chilled-out beach lifestyle.
However, it also has some great surfing opportunities, some incredible hiking, beautiful beaches, a super laid-back vibe that is perfect for being on vacation, and did I mention the food? There is a lot to do in Sayulita to keep you busy if you enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle.
A Full List of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos
The last time any towns were given Pueblo Mágico status in Mexico was in 2020. As of right now, there are 132 states with Magic Towns in Mexico with this status. Here is the full list of each one by state.
- Real de Asientos
- Calvillo, San José de Gracia
- Baja California
- Baja California Sur
- Todos Santos
- Isla Aguada
- Chiapa de Corzo
- San Cristóbal de las Casas
- Casas Grandes
- Cuatrociénegas de Carranza
- Melchor Múzquiz
- Parras de la Fuente Viesca
- Nombre de Dios
- Estado de Mexico
- Aculco De Espinoza
- El Oro de Hidalgo,
- Ixtapan de la Sal, Malinalco
- San Juan Teotihuacán
- Valle de Bravo
- Villa del Carbón
- Dolores Hidalgo
- Jalpa de Cánovas
- Mineral de Pozos
- Huasca de Ocampo
- Mineral del Chico
- Real del Monte
- Lagos de Moreno
- San Sebastián del Oeste
- Talpa de Allende
- Santa Clara del Cobre
- Mexcaltitán de Uribe
- Nuevo Leon
- Capulálpam de Méndez
- Huautla de Jimenez
- San Pablo Villa de Mitla
- San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula
- Santa Catarina Juquil
- Tetela de Ocampo
- Tlatlauquitepec, Xicotepec
- Amealco de Bonfil
- Cadereyta de Montes
- Jalpan de Serra
- San Joaquín
- Quintana Roo
- San Luis Potosi
- Santa María del Río
- Real de Catorce
- El Fuerte
- El Rosario
- Magdalena de Kino
- Ciudad Mier
- Coscomatepec de Bravo
- Zozocolco de Hidalgo
- Jerez de García Salinas
- Teúl de González Ortega