Mexico / United Mexican States


Mexico has a significant number of UNESCO World Heritage sites with the list including ancient ruins, colonial cities, and natural reserves. The nation’s temperate climate and unique culture – a fusion of the European and the Mesoamerican are attractive to tourists.

The peak tourism seasons in the country are during December and the mid-Summer. Much of the tourist industry is centered around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country.

Pre-Columbian Mexico traces its origins to 8,000 BC and is identified as one of six cradles of civilization; it was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations, most well-known among them the Maya and the Aztecs.

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Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, and its most important city. The *historic center of Mexico City is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with ancient archeological ruins, numerous colonial-era churches, most importantly the *Cathedral (map), and the former palace of the Viceroy of New Spain, now the *National Palace. The cathedral and National Palace are both located on the main plaza, known as the *Zocalo.

On the *Yucatán peninsula (map), one of the most popular beach destinations is the resort town of *Cancún (map), especially among university students during spring break. Just offshore is the beach island of *Isla Mujeres (map), and to the east is the *Isla Holbox (map).

To the south of Cancun is the coastal strip called *Riviera Maya (map) which includes the beach town of *Playa del Carmen (map) and the ecological parks of *Xcaret (map) and Xel-Há (map). A day trip to the south of Cancún is the historic port of *Tulum (map). In addition to its beaches, the town of Tulum is notable for its cliff-side Mayan ruins.

On the Pacific coast is the notable tourist destination of *Acapulco (map), 380 kilometres (240 mi) south of Mexico City. Once the destination for the rich and famous, the beaches have become crowded and the shores are now home to many multi-story hotels and vendors. Acapulco is home to renowned cliff divers: trained divers who leap from the side of a vertical cliff into the surf below.

At the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is the resort town of *Cabo San Lucas (map), a town noted for its beaches and marlin fishing. Further north along the Sea of Cortés is the Bahía de La Concepción, another beach town known for its sports fishing. Closer to the United States border is the weekend draw of San Felipe, Baja California (map).

Chichen Itza (map) – Majestic Mayan city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

*Palenque (map) – Mayan city in the state of Chiapas, Palenque famous for its elaborate paintings. Also well known for having the largest tract of rainforest in Mexico located in the same area.

*Sumidero Canyon (map) – From docks on the Rio Grijalva (the only major river within Mexico) near Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas state, tour launches take you into this steep-walled National Park. You’ll likely see vast flocks of flamingos, pelicans, and other waterfowl, as well as crocodiles.

Regions & Cities

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Baja California – provides some of Mexico’s most dramatic sea and landscapes. This includes everything from vast and remote deserts, dormant volcanoes, and wonderful old mission towns.

Northern Mexico – is a vast desert region bordering the United States of America. The north is sometimes referred to as “unknown Mexico” or “lost Mexico” because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists.

Bajío – A rich silver-mining area in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Bajio saw an explosion of fabulous wealth for the time, and the cities there grew to be large and spectacular. They retain their amazing architecture and traditions, however, making them a joy to visit (*Guanajuato or *San Luis Potosí).

Central Mexico – always the political, cultural and economic center of the country. Also includes the awesome ruins of *Teotihuacan, the historic city of *Puebla and *Veracruz, one of the country’s most overlooked regions.

Pacific Coast – Tropical beaches on Mexico’s southern coast; *Jalisco (map) the birthplace of mariachi and Tequila; *Guadalajara (map), the nation’s second largest city; and the *Oaxacan highlands, famous for their distinct cuisine.

Yucatán and the South. The *Yucatán was the home of the Maya civilization before it was conquered by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. *Quintana Roo (map) – heavy tourist traffic is lured to the northeast of the state, notably by the infamous party city of Cancún, but also by the endless gorgeous Caribbean white sand beaches, some of the world’s greatest scuba diving, beautiful cenotes, and a few excellent Mayan sites.

Stay in populated areas, avoid poor neighborhoods, especially at night, and don’t walk there at any time if you are alone.

Some parts of Mexico are known for travelers’ diarrhea, often called “Montezuma’s Revenge” (Venganza de Moctezuma). The reason for this is not so much the spicy food but the contamination of the water supply in some of the poorer zones in Mexico.

Public transport

 BUS >   mexicoautobuses.comClickBus. If traveling by bus, be sure to take the express (first class) buses (directo, sin escalas, primera clase), if available. First class buses travel over longer distances between cities use toll freeways where available. Other buses such as the second class (economico, ordinario, local) buses may be very similar to first class only they travel along secondary highways through cities, towns and villages and stop anywhere along the road on request.

When acquiring tickets for the bus, the local custom is that the passenger comes to the terminal and buys the ticket for next available bus going to the desired destination with first and deluxe class buses unless it is during busy travel times such as Easter and Christmas. During busy travel times tickets can be booked one or two days in advance online or at the station.

 RAIL >   Amtrak (San Diego, Yuma, Del Rio и El Paso). The only available passenger train is the Chihuahua al Pacific Railway (CHEPE) operated by Ferromex between Los Mochis and the city of Chihuahua, through the Copper Canyon. (*Rail transport in Mexico)