In honor of Cinco de Mayo (which is not Mexican Independence Day, that’s in September!), we decided to highlight five cities you need to visit in Mexico. It was hard limiting ourselves to five as there are tons of amazing cities waiting to be explored in Mexico, but when I choose a theme, I stick with it; so five for the fifth.
With more than 31 states and a federal district and hundreds of cities, towns, and pueblos spread throughout Mexico, it’s hard to figure out what you should see first. Narrow down your search with our top five picks for cities in Mexico to vacation in.
Top five vacation destinations in Mexico:
If it’s history, culture, art and amazing architecture, and big city vibes you’re after, Mexico City is your place! Discover the restaurants serving authentic cuisine, the museums preserving Mexico’s history, and popular performance venues like Zocalo Square and Chapultepec Park, or enjoy mariachi music in Plaza Garibaldi. Be sure to check out the floating gardens at Xochimilco, and perhaps barter for a souvenir or two, or enjoy the live music as bands float on by on their own boats.
If you can swing it, I highly recommend adding a little excursion to see the pyramids at Teotihuacan while staying in Mexico City! They’re about an hour away, but this UNESCO World Heritage Site is worth the trip.
Looking for beaches, a relaxed ambiance, great food and drink, an a lively nightlife scene? Cancun is your place! Cancun is consistently a top pick for a beach and sun getaway in Mexico and for good reason. It’s the ideal destination if you want to get tan during the day and then heat up the night with dancing and drinking.
During the day, you can also enjoy excellent snorkeling in the crystal clear waters or go scuba diving along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. There’s no shortage of water-based activities, from catamaran tours to SUP.
A little day trip to Tulum is totally worth the effort. At only two hours away, you’ll easily find a tour operator to get you these stunning Mayan ruins along the coast.
Desiring a Mexico getaway in a small, safe town brimming with culture? Guanajuato is your place! You won’t find beaches here but you will be nestled in the mountains in central Mexico and surrounded by brightly colored houses in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has a laid-back lifestyle, a great mummy museum, beautiful basilicas and churches, and is ideal for a relaxed getaway filled with strolling the plazas and streets. If you’re traveling with someone special, be sure to visit the Alley of the Kiss where you can share a romantic smooch with your person a la Romeo and Juliet. During the Festival Cervantino, in October, the city comes alive with music, art, and dance as they celebrate ballet foklorico, mariachi, and orchestra music.
You could also add a trip to the nearby San Miguel de Allende when visiting Guanajuato. Here, see the Las Monjas church, gorge on delicious Mexican dishes, and view the historic buildings done in Spanish colonial style.
Like music and tequila? Guadalajara is calling your name! It’s the second largest city in Mexico and known to draw people in who want authentic, cultural experiences. This area is where tequila and mariachi music was born and you can find some fantastic museums to spend your days in. Guadalajara is also known for its great nightlife scene – maybe all that mariachi music and tequila production has something to do with it…
For beaches, bars, and boating, we’re off to Los Cabos! Catch some sun at Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo, or explore the amazing snorkel and dive sites. Known for its pleasant year-round weather, it’s a great destination for that beachy Mexico vacation but still offers some charm and world-class dining in the Resort Corridor. You can also find a party vibe to the area if you want some nightlife activity as well.
Have you been to any of these top five cities in Mexico? Tell us what your favorite thing about them was in the comments!