It is not difficult to fall in love with this country as soon as you arrive. The number of essential places to visit in Mexico are one of the many attractions, in addition to being a country full of color, history, delicious cuisine, traditions, natural landscapes and friendly people, who welcome you with open arms.
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Teotihuacán, the place where men become gods , is one of the essential things to see in Mexico. Located less than 50 kilometers from Mexico City, the archaeological zone of Teotihuacán still presents many enigmas around the town that built it and inhabited it for centuries.
Of all the enclosure stands out the enormous Pyramid of the Sun, one of the largest pyramids in the world, which welcomes the thousands of tourists who visit it every day. The Calzada de los Muertos and the Pyramid of the Moon complete one of the places in Mexico that exceeded all our expectations.
We recommend you visit the pyramids of Teotihuacán First thing in the morning, they open at 8 in the morning, to avoid the times when most organized groups gather. If you want to make this visit on your own, you can get there by bus from the North Central Station of Mexico City, after a one-hour journey, with a departure frequency of half an hour.
To get to the bus station, you can do it by metro, although for prices, we recommend using Uber, one of the safest ways to get around Mexico City.
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San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende was the first city that we fell in love with on our trip to Mexico on our own. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the city is like a canvas of bright colors in which you must get lost in its historic center. Its cobbled streets surrounded by color, the colonial architecture of its houses, the craft markets, its squares and old churches form a complex that is difficult to beat.
We arrived in San Miguel de Allende from the Central Station of Mexico City by bus with the ETN company, with very comfortable seats, even better than first class on many airlines, on a journey of about 4 and a half hours.
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Chichen Itza is one of the seven wonders of the modern world and one of the most essential places to visit in Mexico. Considered the most famous Mayan ruin in the world, Chichen Itza is located in the tourist area of the Yucatan Peninsula and receives more than a million tourists each year.
It is for this reason that it is advisable to arrive at the ticket office a little before 8 in order to avoid finding the venue full of people or organized groups, which usually begin to arrive around 10-11 in the morning.
During the visit, which usually lasts between 3 and 5 hours depending on the areas you visit and what you enjoy in each of them, you will be able to tour the central area of the site, where the most important structures are located, such as the Pyramid of Kukulkan or the incredible Ball Game. Further away from these there are several spectacular buildings that you can enjoy more calmly, since there are travelers who do not reach them, but they are really interesting.
If you don’t have a car to get there, a good option to learn more about the history of this ancient Mayan city is to book this tour with a guide in Spanish in which you will be picked up at your hotel in the Riviera Maya (Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras and Tulum) or this one where they pick you up in Cancun. Both options include a visit to the spectacular Ik Kil cenote, which is very close.
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San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristóbal de Las Casas , located in the beautiful state of Chiapas, is a photogenic city and our favorite in Mexico. Recognized as a Magical Town , it stands out for its colonial buildings and its bohemian atmosphere, full of places to relax while enjoying life.
Strolling through its cobbled streets, surrounding yourself with color, drinking coffee or chocolate in a charming place, trying its rich gastronomy, looking for a bargain in its markets, listening to music in the street or seeing an incredible sunset from a viewpoint, are just some of the many things that, we are sure, will make you fall in love with San Cristóbal de Las Casas.
From this city we recommend you to do several excursions in the surroundings, such as touring the incredible Sumidero Canyon by boat.or visit the surprising church of San Juan Chamula.
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Palenque, one of the best places to visit in Mexico
After arriving in Palenque from San Cristóbal de Las Casas by bus, we have to confess that what was our first visit to a Mayan city in Mexico amazed us and exceeded all our expectations.
Palenque is a Mayan archaeological site, smaller than Chichén Itzá or Calakmul, which is located in the middle of a tropical jungle and stands out for the good state of conservation of its buildings and sculptures.
To get to the Mayan ruins from the city of Palenque, 9 kilometers away, you can do it by taxi or in a shared van from the city’s bus station. Keep in mind that there are two entrances, the upper one and the lower one, although we recommend you enter through the second one, since this is the one at the top and you will do the entire route on the flat and downhill.
The visit to Palenque usually lasts between 3 and 4 hours, depending on the areas you visit and what entertains you and at the entrance you can hire a guide to better understand the history and the places you will visit.
Although it is not very popular, at the end of the visit we recommend you enter the ” Alberto Ruz Lhuillier ” Museum, one of the most important Mayan museums, where you can see truly incredible pieces.
We do not want to stop commenting on something that has surprised us a lot in the Mayan sites and that is the large number of children who offer themselves as guides for visits and unfortunately, the number of people who hire them. We recommend you not to do it so that their families do not always have them there and they go to school.
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There is something unquestionable in Mexico: Holbox Island is a paradise and one of the essential places to see in the Riviera Maya. Its white sand beaches, its crystal clear waters of an intense turquoise green, its restaurants with delicious local and international food, its murals and its beautiful sunsets, make it one of the essential places to visit in Mexico.
In addition, the island is not yet very crowded, which allows you to relax and enjoy its beaches to the fullest, if you move away from the most central area, practically alone.
To move around the island we recommend you walk along the beach until you reach Punta Cocos or Punta Mosquitos, two of the most incredible points, although you also have the possibility of renting a golf cart, since in Holbox motor vehicles are not allowed.
One of the most famous activities on the island is swimming with the whale shark, which can reach 20 meters in length, between June and September. You can also attend the nesting of turtles on its beaches or take the bioluminescence tour, the so-called luminous plankton, which is the favorite food of the whale shark, although it is also advisable to check the best time, since it cannot be seen during all year.
To get to Holboxyou have to do it by ferry from Chiquilá. If you get there by car, don’t worry, there are several car parks next to the ferry area, where you can leave it on the days you’re on the island for 100 pesos a day.
If you only have one day to get to know Holbox, a good option is to book a tour from Riviera Maya or this one from Cancun.
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Located in southern Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, Calakmul was one of the most important cities of the Mayan civilization. This archaeological site spans 70 km² with more than 6,000 structures and is hidden in the middle of an immense jungle. Its structures full of moss and vegetation give it the appearance of an adventure movie set, which delights all those who visit it.
At the site, three large pyramids stand out, which you can climb and contemplate from them incredible panoramic views of the jungle.
Its great drawback is the isolation from the rest of the places to visit in Mexico, so it also has very little hotel infrastructure. Although we cannot deny that this is also a great advantage and that is that if you go first thing in the morning, you will be able to walk through the ruins practically alone.
We arrived by rental car from Campeche and stayed at the beautiful Hotel Puerta Calakmul, the closest to the entrance of Calakmul.
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Izamal was one of the great surprises of our trip. This beautiful Magical Town of Yucatan, known by the nickname of the city of the three cultures , is another of the essential places to visit in Mexico , where walking through its streets becomes a spectacle in which you can see from Mayan pyramids to beautiful colonial houses and churches, all painted yellow.
The impressive complex formed by the temple of the Immaculate Conception and the Convent of San Antonio de Padua stands out, built on a pre-Hispanic platform and which are one of the icons of Izamal.
Although we cannot forget the typical Yucatecan food, another of the claims to visit the city, within which we recommend you try stuffed cheese, chaya with egg, panuchos or cochinita pibil, especially in the Kinich Restaurant, all a local institution.
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Tulum is one of the best excursions in the Riviera Maya and one of the essential places to visit in Mexico. The archaeological zone of its ancient Mayan city with the iconic castle, located on a cliff above the turquoise green waters of the Caribbean Sea, form one of the most beautiful images of the country.
The visit to the ruins of Tulum can last about 2 or 3 hours, depending on the stops you make and one of its great attractions is to go down to the beach of the ruins, one of the most impressive in the world, once the visit is over. Although if it is very crowded do not worry, another option is to walk to Playa Paraíso, one of the best beaches in Tulum, where you will find 2 kilometers of white sand beach, with shops and restaurants to have a drink or eat.
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Cenotes of Valladolid
There are hundreds of cenotes to see on a route through the Yucatan Peninsula by car , although in our personal opinion, the cenotes of Valladolid and its surroundings are the most interesting. These cavern-like cenotes, full of incredible karstic formations, where you can bathe alone in their crystal clear waters or with very few people, are a real wonder.
After visiting several cenotes during our trip to Mexico , our favorites are: Ik Kil, Samulá, X’kekén, Palomitas, Agua Dulce, Xcanahaltun, Hubiku and Suytun.
What we cannot deny is that it is not easy to visit the cenotes by public transport, especially the lesser known ones, since they are far from each other and since they do not have many visits, there is no transport.
If you want to visit them with peace of mind, we recommend renting a car in Mexico , not only to see the cenotes, since the states of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo are very safe to visit, with the freedom that comes from having your own car.
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