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Mexico travel guide + expert insider tips

Are you planning to travel to Mexico?

It’s one of our favorite countries – there are so many incredible things to do in Mexico!

For many people, soaking up the sun on a come-hither white sand beach is one of the main reasons to visit Mexico.

But venture beyond the beach resorts – taking a closer look at the country – and you discover colorful colonial towns, world-class museums, cool cenotes (freshwater sinkholes) perfect for swimming, and so much more!

We’ve visited the country umpteen times over the years and know many parts of it like the back of our hands (though of course not all).

Our insider Mexico travel guide will help you discover the country’s diversity – from the best vacation spots in Mexico to delightful non-touristy towns.

Pink and yellow buildings in San Miguel de Allende
There’s lots to love about Mexico, like beautiful San Miguel de Allende

We walk you through most of the important travel-related things to know about Mexico for vacationers, so you can plan your Mexico visit like a pro!

And when you go, we bet you’ll end up loving the country just as much as we do.

Mexico travel guide

Useful Mexico travel facts

Geography: Located on the continent of North America, Mexico covers 761,610 sq. miles (1,972,550 sq. km), making it the world’s 13th largest country.

Capital: Mexico City

Population: 128+ million

Official language: Spanish, though English is widely spoken in tourist places.

Currency: The official currency is the Mexican peso, but U.S. dollars are accepted in most tourist destinations. The exchange rate is about 1 USD to 20 Mexican pesos. Things will cost less if you pay in Mexican cash, rather than using your credit card.

We bet these 5 fun facts about Mexico will surprise you!

1) Color TV was invented in Mexico (by Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena).

2) Mexico has the oldest university in North America (National University of Mexico).

3) Mexico’s southern jungles are home to jaguars.

4) The largest pyramid in the world is the Great Pyramid of Cholula in Mexico.

5) Mexico City has 150+ museums – it ranks second after London as the city with the most museums in the world.

Things to know before traveling to Mexico

Plugs and electricity: 

Mexico’s power plugs and sockets are type A and B. The standard voltage is 127 V and the frequency is 60 Hz.

You won’t need any adapters or converters if coming from the U.S. or Canada, as the plugs are the same.

Visa and entry requirements: 

Citizens of the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and most European countries don’t need a visa to go on holiday in Mexico.

Nor do you need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative test to enter Mexico. (But check the rules for returning to your home country.)

Getting to Mexico:

Map of Mexico
Map of Mexico

United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and other major airlines offer flights from most major cities in the United States to Mexico.

Flight times are, for example:

  • Chicago to Cancun – 3 hours and 50 minutes
  • L.A. to Mexico City – 3 hours and 40 minutes
  • New York City to Puerto Vallarta – 6 hours and 5 minutes

From Canada, WestJet and Air Canada (the two main carriers) offer direct flights from Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and other sunny Mexican beach destinations.

Flying time is:

  • Vancouver to Cabo San Lucas – 4 hours and 25 minutes
  • Toronto to Cancun – 4 hours and 15 minutes

Tip: You can save on flights to Mexico with the Alaska companion fare from Alaska Airlines, as well as WestJet’s companion fare.

When to go to Mexico

Blue sky, turquoise sea and white sand beach: Tulum
Tulum in January

The climate in Mexico is generally very pleasant most of the time.

But different parts of the country have different climates. The best time to visit Mexico depends on the region you want to visit and the activities you plan on doing.

For example, the best time to visit Cabo San Lucas depends on whether you want to go sportfishing (August to October are prime) or whale watching (January is a great month).

Mexico in winter:

In general, though, the best time to travel to Mexico is in the winter months, between December and April.

This is the coolest time (as in not scorching hot!), with very little rain.

White sand beach in Mexico
Mexico’s beautiful beaches lure thousands of visitors from the U.S. and Canada in winter

Winter is also Mexico’s high season, however, so you have to contend with more crowds, and hotel rates are higher.

Bring a sweater and long pants if you visit some of the colonial cities in Mexico’s heartland in December or January.

For example, during the day in San Miguel de Allende, it’s balmy and short sleeves weather, but at night, temps drop and you need woollies. A fireplace in your hotel room is a welcome amenity too!

Mexico in summer:

The rainy season runs from about July/August to October in the southern parts of the country. This is the hurricane season too. It’s also steaming hot!

If you’re looking for ideal beach weather, you may want to avoid going to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and other coastal areas during this time.

Mind you, summer in Los Cabos marks the arrival of sea turtles, so this is when you can help release baby hatchlings to the sea – a very special activity!

In Cabo, the sea water is also the warmest and visibility is at its best in October and November, so this is an awesome time for snorkeling and scuba diving.

In Cancun, July and August is the peak whale shark season. If you want to swim with these gentle giants in Cancun (who doesn’t!), summer is when you should visit.

What to do in Mexico?

Woman with her face painted like a skull for Mexico's Day of the Dead celebrations
For Day of the Dead celebrations, Mexicans paint their faces to look like skulls, representing a deceased loved one

There are countless amazing things to do and places to see in Mexico. We’ve actually written a whole post on 65 of Mexico’s top activities.

Still, some experiences stand out as being real highlights.

Put the following on your Mexico bucket list:

1) Swim with whale sharks in La Paz. Snorkeling with these gigantic but gentle creatures is surreal.

2) Visit Mexico’s beautiful colonial cities like San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato (covered in more detail below).

3) Explore Chichen Itza and other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.

4) Swim in one of the cenotes in the Riviera Maya. Cenotes are natural freshwater underground pools – dream-like places often adorned with stalactites and stalagmites.

5) Ride the Copper Canyon Train over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels.

6) Experience the joyful Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) festival, when Mexicans celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed on. (The small town of Patzcuaro is especially well-known for its authentic and colorful celebrations.)

7) Sample exquisite regional Mexican cuisine in Oaxaca, an international culinary destination. Braised rabbit mole enchiladas, anyone?

Best places in Mexico to visit

Oooh! There are so many great Mexican vacation spots!

Mexico is a huge country – it’s almost three times bigger than Texas or 12 times as large as the U.K.

So it’s a hard job coming up with a list of the absolute top places to go in Mexico!

But certain cities, towns and beach destinations stand out for their popular appeal and charm.

With that in mind, here are some of the best places to visit in Mexico:

1) Mexico City

Mexico City skyline with soaring skyscrapers and office buildings
Mexico City is the country’s colorful and vibrant capital city

The capital, Mexico City, is well worth a visit.

You can easily spend three days in Mexico City. In fact, the first time you visit, you’re likely to be surprised by the oodles of cultural sights and attractions the city has!

We’ve already mentioned that it’s one of the cities with the most museums in the world…

If you happen to be in Mexico City on a Sunday morning, head to the Paseo de la Reforma.

The city’s grandest boulevard is closed to traffic on Sunday mornings so locals can ride bicycles and do other outside exercises and activities.

It’s a hoot watching the roller-bladers, dancers, clowns and pretty well everyone else who lives in the city having fun and keeping fit.

Don’t miss in Mexico City:

The grand-daddy of Mexico city museums:

Yep, it’s the National Museum of Anthropology, with 600,000+ cultural and historical artifacts.

If you’re short on time, concentrate on the Teotihuacan, Maya and Aztec exhibit halls.

The best café in Mexico City:

Over 100 years old, Café Tacuba is a charming traditional restaurant, located in the historic Zocalo district.

A day trip to Teotihuacan:

Ancient Teotihuacan is about an hour’s drive from Mexico City.

Once the largest city in the Americas, it’s a place of deep mystery and monumental pyramids. There, you can climb the 216-foot-high Pyramid of the Sun, the third largest pyramid in the world.

As is true with popular sites like this, arriving early before the crowds descend makes for a much more enjoyable visit.

2) Guadalajara

Guadalajara Cathedral
The Guadalajara Cathedral is the city’s most iconic landmark

Known for tequila and mariachi music, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city – but it’s more relaxed and easy-going than Mexico City.

The historic center is sprinkled with colonial buildings and great museums.

What to do in Guadalajara?

See the Orozco murals:

Among the must-see attractions in Guadalajara are the fiery murals painted by Jose Clemente Orozco.

Find 57 of his most important murals inside the Museo Cabanas, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Explore Tlaquepaque:

Wander around lovely Tlaquepaque (technically a separate city), brimming with antique stores, art galleries, furniture shops and funky restaurants.

Visit Zapopan:

Attracting a million pilgrims each October for a special celebration, the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan is eye-popping. And it’s home to a tiny revered statue of the Virgin Mary.

3) San Miguel de Allende

Colorful buildings in San Miguel de Allende
A peek down a narrow cobblestone street in San Miguel de Allende

Mexico is full of beautiful colonial cities, with mansions and buildings dating back to the 16th century era of Spanish colonization.

Many of these smaller towns and cities are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

One such city is San Miguel de Allende (SMA) in central Mexico.

A favorite with expats from North America and Europe, San Miguel de Allende has a cool artsy vibe and gorgeous colonial architecture.

Very visitor-friendly, it also boasts a range of excellent accommodation, including ultra-deluxe hotels and delightful boutique inns.

What to do in SMA?

Lots! For starters, you’ll want to read our post on the 35 best things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Admire the iconic pink church:

SMA’s most famous sight is the pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, with its graceful neo-Gothic spires rising up to the sky.

Have fun at the Toy museum:

Get in touch with your inner child at the playful San Miguel de Allende Toy Museum.

See Mexico’s Sistine Chapel:

Don’t miss the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, adorned with painted murals of angels, demons, flowers and saints.

4) Guanajuato

Teatro Juarez Guanajuato
Candy-colored streets and an exquisite theater – that’s Guanajuato

About an hour away from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato is another lovely colonial city with a silver mining history.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guanajuato has a large university student population, so there’s plenty going on in terms of restaurants, bars and theater.

One of the most unique features of the city is its network of underground tunnels used as roads for cars – making the narrow streets above very pedestrian-friendly.

Best things to do in Guanajuato:

Gape at the Juarez Theater:

Built between 1873 and 1903, the ornate Teatro Juarez will blow you away with its Greek columns and bronze statues of the Greek muses.

Learn about Diego Rivera:

There’s lots of cool art at the Diego Rivera Museum. The museum was once the home where Diego (Frida Kahlo’s lover and husband) was born.

See the mummies:

Yes, there’s a Mummy Museum in Guanajuato.

You can see real mummies from a six-month old fetus to a woman who was probably buried alive after people mistakenly thought she’d died from cholera.

Visiting this museum definitely goes on the list of unique things to do in Mexico!

5) Morelia

Unlike some other colonial cities, Morelia is quite non-touristy.

But there are still lots of tourist attractions in Morelia. Like the candy market – yes, it has a sweet candy market!

Morelia is also the jumping-off-point for visiting the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries in the Sierra Madre mountains.

Tip: It’s helpful to know a little Spanish if visiting Morelia.

6) Los Cabos

Dramatic rock formations at Land's End, Cabo San Lucas
Sunny Los Cabos is known for its beaches, deluxe resorts and Land’s End – the dramatic rock formations anchoring one end of Cabo San Lucas Bay

The place on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the desert meets the sea…

Where celebrities like Jennifer Aniston like to holiday.

Where the weather is always (well, almost always) sunny and dry.

Where you can do everything from golf to scuba diving.

Say hello to Los Cabos – one of the best places to vacation in Mexico!

What to see and do in Cabo:

We’ve written a lot about Cabo (aka Los Cabos). In fact, we’ve written a complete guide on Los Cabos.

We’ve also written about 25 epic things to see and do in Cabo.

Here are some of the highlights:

Beaches:

We think these are the 12 most beautiful beaches in Los Cabos. But be careful. Not all are swimmable.

Whale watching:

December to April is the time to go whale watching in Cabo – the whale shows are epic!

Snorkeling:

Santa Maria is one of the best beaches for snorkeling. 

Here’s how to visit Santa Maria Bay to snorkel on your own. Get there before the tour boats arrive though.

Our guide to the best snorkeling in Cabo lets you in on our other favorite snorkeling spots and the best snorkeling tours.

Art Walk:

On Thursday nights in high season, sip wine and stroll around art galleries on the free Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo.

Scuba diving:

Cabo is sandwiched between the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Jacques Cousteau once described the waters in the Sea of Cortez as “the aquarium of the world.”

Go scuba diving in Cabo San Lucas (and elsewhere in Los Cabos) – and you’ll experience an underwater world of wonders!

Cabo Pulmo:

Escape to off-the-beaten-path Cabo Pulmo for snorkeling, diving and kayaking with playful sea lions.

Water activities:

Surfing. Sunset cruises. Glass bottom boat rides to El Arco. Beach babes love Cabo’s fun water activities!

Cabo San Lucas Marina:

The Cabo San Lucas Marina is where it all happens in Los Cabos. Boat tours leave from here. The bars and restaurants are fun too.

Wirikuta Botanical Cactus Garden:

Rent a bicycle – or walk – around Puerto Los Cabos to the Wirikuta Botanical Cactus Garden.

Day trips:

Browse the art galleries in Todos Santos. Soak in natural hot springs in the mountains. Go kiteboarding or sportfishing in Los Barriles.

When you’re ready to ditch your beach chair for a while, these are some of the best Cabo day trips!

Dolphin swimming:

Should you swim with dolphins in Los Cabos? If you want to go, we suggest Dolphin Discovery in Puerto Los Cabos.

And pssst! Don’t take a taxi from the airport!

No, you’ll want to book one of these Los Cabos airport transfers (they’re cheaper than a taxi, and you’ll get better service).

Where to eat in Cabo?

Go Italian:

When you’re craving pasta and pizza, these Italian restaurants in Cabo hit the spot.

Dig into the best tacos:

Some of the best shrimp tacos you’ll ever bite into are found at Gardenias, a hole-in-the-wall taco joint in Cabo San Lucas.

Enjoy farm-to-table dining:

A 25-acre organic farm, Flora Farms dishes up yummy farm-to-table eats in a magical setting.

7) Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta pier jutting out into the sea
Puerto Vallarta is one of our favorite beach towns in Mexico

Located on the Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta (PV) perfects the idea of the classic Mexican resort town. The cobbled streets and colorful buildings lend its Old Town (Zona Romantica) an authentic colonial Mexico feel.

You may initially be drawn to PV for its sandy beaches. But wait until you check out its arts and delicious food scene!

Unlike some Mexico beach destinations, it’s a real thriving city with lots of culture – you’ll love the captivating bronze sculptures on the Puerto Vallarta Malecon (boardwalk) and all the art galleries around town.

And the food?

Mmm… We’re drooling just thinking about the local restaurants there! See these 31 best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta for foodies.

8) Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo is a laid-back resort town, close to big sister Ixtapa, with a range of good restaurants and excellent boutique hotels.

There are some beautiful beaches in Zihuatanejo too (like Playa La Ropa).

9) Cancun and Riviera Maya

Cenote in Mexico's Riviera Maya jungle
We love the freshwater cenotes found in the Riviera Maya jungle

On the Caribbean coast in the state of Quintana Roo, Cancun dazzles with its beaches, resorts and nightlife.

But the beaches don’t stop there.

The 100-mile stretch of beachy coastline south of Cancun is known as the Riviera Maya.

Playa del Carmen is a resort town about 45 miles south of Cancun, with palm-lined beaches, lively bars, cool boutiques and a Euro-Mex vibe.

Continue further down the coast and you reach the town of boho-chic Tulum, set on the dazzling white-sand Tulum Beach.

If you’re wondering where to go in Mexico for an adventurous beach vacay, the Riviera Maya is a winner!

Riviera Maya highlights?

Archaeological ruins of Tulum:

Explore the beautiful ancient Mayan ruins in Tulum, perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.

Akumal:

Snorkel with sea turtles at Akumal Bay.

Cenotes:

Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters of one of the magical cenotes sprinkled about the Yucatan Peninsula which we mentioned earlier.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sian Ka’an is a 1.3 million-acre nature preserve.

Float down a lazy river, take a nature-oriented boat tour to see dolphins and manatees, go snorkeling and learn about the history of the crumbling Mayan ruins of Muyil.

Keen to learn more?

There’s lots more holiday fun to be had in this region. Check out our post on all the totally awesome things to do in the Riviera Maya!

10) Cozumel

Then there’s the island of Cozumel, located off the coast from Playa del Carmen.

You can visit Cozumel on a day trip from Cancun. (Take the ferry from Playa del Carmen).

Or you might want to stay in Cozumel for your holiday.

Not sure how to decide between Cancun and Cozumel?

Cozumel is the perfect place if you’re an avid scuba diver or want a quieter vacay.

Pick Cancun if you want a more happening resort destination, love luxury and like the idea of exploring archaeological sites and cenotes.

Help! There are too many great beach places to vacation in Mexico!

Don’t fret. We’ve got you covered.

This post will help you choose between Cabo vs Cancun (we compare the two, from weather to activities to dining).

And here’s a post on how to pick between Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.

What about Puerto Vallarta vs Los Cabos? We also compare these two Mexican hot spots.

11) Pueblos Magicos

Bacalar is a delightful Pueblo Magico, known for its beautiful lake.
Bacalar is a delightful Pueblo Magico, known for its beautiful lake

The Pueblos Magicos of Mexico are special small towns that the Mexican government has designated as “magical towns.”

What makes a town magical? It could be the town’s beauty, natural wonders or historical significance.

For example, Bacalar on the Yucatan Peninsula (about 4 hours south of Cancun) hugs a vast gorgeous lake called the Lake of Seven Colors. One of the most laid-back places in Mexico, it’s a great place to do nothing but relax.

Swing in a hammock over the water (or perhaps in the water!) and take in the different hues of teal and turquoise wavelets lapping the lush mangrove-fringed shoreline.

Over in the state of Chiapas, the colorfully painted colonial architecture in San Cristobal de las Casas is an absolute delight.

Built in 1528, the egg-yolk yellow cathedral which overlooks the town’s main plaza welcomed Pope Francis in 2016.

The town has a large indigenous population; many are skilled artisans. Markets as well as high-end shops sell their Mayan textiles, jade sculptures, artworks and amber jewelry.

Local Mexican women carrying textiles in San Cristobal de las Casas.
You’ll have fun shopping in San Cristobal de las Casas!

Then there’s Cholula, considered one of the oldest cities in the world, in the state of Puebla.

Its rich history, traditions, legends and the Great Pyramid of Cholula make it a Pueblo Magico.

From a distance, the pyramid, known as Tlachihualtepetl (which translates to “man-made mountain”) looks like a small hill with a golden-colored Spanish church on top.

But upon exploring the archaeological site, you see rock steps and walls – evidence that a great Aztec pyramid, believed to be the largest monument ever built on Earth, is hidden under the grass.

Where to stay in Mexico

Teak pool chairs under white umbrellas
There’s no end of beautiful hotels to stay in Mexico

Mexico offers every type of accommodation you can think of.

From 5-star hotels in the big cities to boutique places in coastal towns to deluxe all-inclusive resorts in beach destinations like Cancun, you’ll find accommodation to suit you.

Be aware, of course, that hotel rates soar during high season and over major holidays like Christmas and Easter.

Hotels in Mexico City:

The Red Tree House is the #1 bed-and-breakfast in Mexico City, located in the leafy Condesa neighborhood.

We also enjoyed our stay at the Four Seasons Mexico City – a luxury boutique hotel in a great central location in Mexico City.

Hotels in Los Cabos:

Perhaps you’d like the uber-luxe One & Only Palmilla?

It pretty well ticks off all the boxes for a luxury beach resort in Cabo.

For a splurge, we love the the One & Only Palmilla

For an all-inclusive stay, the Grand Velas Los Cabos will pamper you silly with large suites, gourmet restaurants and superb service.

Or maybe the artsy Hotel El Ganzo, a boutique hotel in Puerto Los Cabos is more your style?

We’ve stayed at all of these top Mexican hotels in Cabo – and many more. Head on over to our reviews of 23+ best resorts in Cabo San Lucas for all the luscious details!

Hotels in Puerto Vallarta:

We’re partial to the beautiful boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta.

Casa de Mita, for example, is a true beachfront gem (with just 8 rooms and suites) in the Punta Mita area, outside of Puerto Vallarta.

And Hacienda San Angel has heavenly suites in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica.

Come to think of it, you might want to split your stay between these two hotels to get a taste of both the beach and colonial PV in one holiday.

Hotels in Tulum:

Tulum has gone upscale in recent years.

You now have plenty of choice when it comes to chic, boutique and cool digs in Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula.

We love these 30+ best luxury hotels in Tulum.

Mi Amor Hotel, Tulum
Paradise is calling at this Tulum hotel! (Credit: Mi Amor)

Other places to stay in Mexico:

We’ve stayed at all of the following individual hotels in Mexico.

(For most hotels, clicking on the link will take you to our review of that hotel.)

More top hotels in Mexico

Villa Ganz | Beautiful villa hotel, with a garden, right in the city (Guadalajara)

Casa de Sierra Nevada | Gorgeous colonial-style hotel with 37 rooms in various casonas or mansions (San Miguel de Allende)

Quinta Las Acacias | A 19th century French-style mansion (Guanajuato)

Cantera 10 Boutique Hotel | Hip 5-star boutique hotel in a 300-year-old building (Morelia)

La Casa Que Canta | Romantic boutique hotel in Mexican style, with stunning pools and sea views (Zihuatanejo)

Grand Velas Riviera Maya | Sophisticated all-inclusive resort with deluxe suites and superb restaurants (Riviera Maya)

Banyan Tree Cabo Marques | Seductive hideaway with 45 villas, all with private pools (Acapulco)

Food and drinks in Mexico

Plate of Oysters Rockefeller at a high-end restaurant in Mexico
From simple tacos to food as art, Mexican cuisine is some of the tastiest in the world!

We don’t want to forget mentioning all the tantalizing local cuisine!

One of the best tips we can offer is to try different Mexican culinary creations.

Don’t think just tacos and burritos.

One of the facts about Mexican food you may not know is that it can be very creative. The state of Oaxaca, for example, is renowned internationally for its complex cuisine.

Tortillas are a staple local food in Mexico.

A type of pancake, tortillas are traditionally made with corn and eaten with pretty well everything! They can be stuffed with veggies and chicken, beef or seafood. Or turned into enchiladas (stuffed with cheese and meat, topped with sauce and baked).

We happen to like our tacos made with flour tortillas and so order them made with flour.

And to go with those tacos? Mexican margaritas of course!

Fresh lime margaritas are the most popular. But we also love tamarind margaritas and mango margaritas.

The fresh fruit is always a juicy pleasure to eat too.

Have you heard of the chocolate pudding fruit? No?

Well, it’s delicious! Check it out in our post on 17 delicious types of fruit in Mexico.

How to get around Mexico

Bus:

The main form of public transportation in Mexico is the bus.

The deluxe buses are a great way to get around Mexico.
The deluxe buses are a great way to get around Mexico

One of the biggest surprises for us was the first-class bus service in Mexico for traveling between cities.

We were delighted to discover big reclining seats for lying back, with raised footrests offering lots of legroom in front to stretch out one’s legs.

Think business class on an airplane. That’s what it almost feels like.

The first-class buses are clean, comfortable, inexpensive and the best way to travel between cities.

Taking the deluxe buses makes getting around the country easy – and it’s less of a hassle than flying.

Some of the most reliable bus companies with deluxe class seating are:

  • ADO
  • Primera Plus
  • Estrella de Oro

Our Mexico itinerary by bus

Not keen to rent a car in Mexico, we rode the deluxe bus from Guadalajara to Guanajuato, then to San Miguel de Allende and Morelia, and lastly to Zihuatanejo.

Within the cities, we took taxis when distances were too far to walk.

Taxis:

In general, getting around by taxis within cities or resort areas is fairly inexpensive.

The exception is Los Cabos, where taxi rides are quite pricey. (Mind you, the distances sometimes warrant that.)

Uber:

What about Uber in Mexico?

You’ll find Uber operating in several cities in Mexico, including Guadalajara, Mexico City, Cancun, Cuernavaca, Merida and Aguascalientes.

But in places like Cancun and Los Cabos, Uber isn’t allowed to cover the airport – and we believe this is true for the rest of Mexico too.

You’ll also discover that the taxi drivers hate Uber.

That being said, we’ve used Uber for certain rides in Mexico without any problems. But for getting to and from the airport, we’d suggest booking a transfer in advance (or hopping in a cab).

Other Mexico travel tips

Shopping:

From tequila to Day of the Dead figurines, silver jewelry and Talavera pottery, you’ll want to bring back some authentic Mexican souvenirs as mementos of your Mexico holiday.

Colorful Mexican plates and ceramics
If you have room in your luggage, Mexican pottery makes a great souvenir

And bargaining? Yep, it’s expected at local markets and when shopping from beach vendors. It’s part of the shopping fun!

Here’s how to bargain like a pro in Mexico.

Tipping:

It’s customary to tip between 10 to 20% of your bill in restaurants.

In hotels, give the porter 10 to 20 pesos per bag. And it’s nice to leave housekeeping a little something on the bed before you check out.

You usually don’t need to tip taxi drivers.

Can you drink the water in Mexico?

In most places, tap water is not okay to drink straight from the tap.

Play it safe and drink bottled or purified water.

Learn some Spanish:

Knowing Spanish is a big help, especially when exploring beyond the most popular destinations in Mexico.

It’s not really needed in the main tourist places, where most everyone in the hotel and restaurant industry speaks decent English.

But it’s always nice to know a few words and phrases of the local language. You’ve got to know at least “Gracias!” and “Dos cervezas, por favor.”

Communicating in the local language shows you’re trying to connect with the locals – and they’ll appreciate your effort, even if you end up mangling your Spanglish.

Travel in the shoulder season:

Don’t expect to find good deals if you travel to popular vacation spots in Mexico over Christmas, New Year’s, Easter or spring break. You’ll also need to book your accommodation early if you’re fussy about where to stay.

While we often vacation in Mexico over Christmas, we’ve found the shoulder season is a better time to travel for fewer crowds and better rates.

November (avoiding the U.S. Thanskgiving holiday) and early December are especially good times for beach vacations for the best combination of great weather, fewer people and appealing rates.

Get travel insurance:

It’s most important to buy solid travel insurance to protect you against injury, illness, theft and trip cancelations. We never travel anywhere without insurance!

World Nomads is excellent for adventurous travelers. It offers coverage for things like overseas medical expenses, evacuation and baggage loss/delay. 

Is it safe to visit Mexico?

Don’t worry too much about safety; exercise common sense, stick to the main areas – and enjoy Mexico’s glories

Most of Mexico is safe for visitors. Violent crime against visitors is rare, and millions of tourists visit every year with no problems.

The areas most affected by drug cartel crimes are places tourists don’t visit.

We’ve never felt unsafe.

Petty theft is the biggest crime risk in the tourist areas in Mexico. Take the normal precautions you would when visiting anywhere in the world. And if you don’t hang out in dodgy areas, you should be fine.

That said, it’s a good idea to check the latest travel advisories for Mexico before you go. See the US Travel Advisory and Canada Travel Advisory on Mexico.

More Mexico travel information

Mexico trip planning:

Find useful flight, hotel booking and other tips in our Resources guide.

Mexico guide books:

For additional information and travel tips for Mexico, check out the Mexico travel guides available on Amazon. (As an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.)

Also see the Mexico Tourism Board’s Visit Mexico website.

That’s a wrap for our Mexico destination guide!

You now know many of the best places to go in Mexico – for both a beach holiday and for a cultural city escape. Hopefully you feel better prepared for planning a trip to Mexico.

So adios amigos! And enjoy your Mexico vacay!

The Mexican people are warm and friendly, and they know how to show you a good time.

Planning your next trip?

See the following helpful services:

Our Travel Resources Guide | Get airline booking tips. Discover great travel, tour and car rental companies. And find crazy useful trip planning info!

Booking.com | Score a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one.

GetYourGuide | Check out the best local guided tours and book skip-the-line tickets to attractions.

World Nomads | Never travel without insurance! World Nomads offers great coverage for adventurous travelers under 70 (including for surfing, scuba diving and bungee jumping).

Our Travel Shop | Find the best travel gear. We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.

CDC | We follow CDC travel guidelines to see what medications and vaccinations are needed for trips. You can get vaccines at your pharmacy, travel medical clinic or doctor’s office.

Pssst! If you make a booking or purchase through our site, we may earn a small commission (at no cost to you). Thanks!


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About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!