As spicy as salsa, intoxicating as tequila and surreal as a Frida Kahlo canvas, Mexico fills the senses, energizes the intellect and nourishes the soul. This huge country encompasses epic landscapes; from northern deserts and snowy peaks of the central sierra, to the jungle highlands of southern Chiapas and the beaches of the Yucatán Peninsula.
Pre-Colombian civilisations made their mark with the vast pyramids of Teotihuacán, stunning temples of Chichén Itzá and countless other archaeological wonders. The Spanish heritage has also been well preserved, with charming towns built around shady plazas and whitewashed churches; San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Dolores Hidalgo are treasures of the central Colonial Heartland.
Mexico today is a booming modern economy, led by its gargantuan capital, Mexico City. Once you adjust to the relentless pace of life in this metropolis, you can indulge in world-class museums, dine in exquisite restaurants, cut shapes in clubs and barter at sprawling markets. Beyond the modern cities, lie sleepy villages where age-old customs and ancient beliefs endure. San Cristobal de las Casas is a major hub, ringed by indigenous villages, with churches combining pagan beliefs with Roman Catholicism. Across the country, lively festivals reflect this blending of faiths, most famously at the Day of the Dead ceremony.
For visitors seeking outdoor adventure, Mexico delivers. Nature lovers can go whale watching in Baja California, reef diving off the Yucatán Peninsula and trekking through the jungle to glowing blue lagoons bordering Guatemala. Adrenaline activities are in amply supply too, from canyoning in Veracruz and hang-gliding in Hidalgo to volcano climbing, caving and river rafting.
One of the great joys of a visit to Mexico is its cuisine. Emulated around the world, its crispy tacos, mole sauces and burritos are amongst the mouth-watering specialities on offer. They are best washed down with one of Mexico’s many beers or a shot of mescal if you’re in the party mood, which everyone else here seems to be.
When to Go
The Tropic of Cancer passes through Mexico, and therefore the country has both temperate and tropical climate zones. That said, there are four mountain ranges in Mexico (Sierra Madre Oriental, Sierra Madre Occidental, Sierra Madre del Sur and the Sierra Nevada), and as a result, parts of Mexico reach altitudes of 5,000 meters and higher, and therefore experience cooler climates.
Snowbirds have discovered that Mexico’s climate is ideal in the wintertime, making this a popular time to visit. Summertime can be quite hot and often times rainy, and in parts of the country such as the Caribbean coast, extremely humid.
Top Tips – Visitors Should Bring
- A GSM mobile phone, although roaming fees in Mexico are quite high. Calling cards are affordable alternatives, and are easily found.
- Mosquito repellent.
- Sun protection.
- The voltage in Mexico is the same as in US and Canada. Visitors from other countries will need a converter / adapter for 110V power and for outlets accepting two blade plugs.
- Mexico follows the same time as U.S. central to western time (UTC – 8 to -6) and also observes daylight savings time.
– Explore the cenotes on the Riviera Maya and visit the ancient cities of Tulum and Chichen Itza.
– Scuba dive off the island of Cozumel.
– Fish and zipline in Puerto Vallarta.
– Uncover the ruins of Palenque and Bonampak.
– Stroll through San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
There are 32 World Heritage Sites in Mexico;
– Sian Ka’an
– Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino
– Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California
– Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
– El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve
– Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
– Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán
– Historic Centre of Puebla
– Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque
– Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
– Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines
– Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
– Historic Centre of Morelia
– El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City
– Historic Centre of Zacatecas
– Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco
– Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
– Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
– Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal
– Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara
– Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes
– Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan
– Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco
– Historic Fortified Town of Campeche
– Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche
– Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro
– Luis Barragán House and Studio
– Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila
– Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
– Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
-Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
– Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca