We travel to Mexico every chance we get. We love everything about it – the culture, the people, the language, the food!
And as much as we fancy kicking back on Mexico’s stunning beaches and staying at upscale resorts, some of our most wonderful times stem from visiting the beautiful colonial Mexican cities and towns that you find outside the main tourist bubbles.
That’s why visiting Mexico’s Pueblo Magicos is so, well, magical!
Each one is unique, offering a slice of authentic life and rich history that you won’t find anywhere else. Exploring these towns is by far one of the best things to do in Mexico.
To help you get started on your own journey to discover these gems, we’ve put together this list of the 43 best Pueblos Magicos to visit in Mexico.
What are Pueblos Magicos in Mexico?
The Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) are defined as places that hold great cultural significance and historical importance for Mexico’s national identity.
The Pueblo Magicos program was put in place to promote Mexico tourism to smaller towns and less-discovered destinations.
They were chosen because they offer visitors an authentic cultural experience through their preservation of traditions, history and original architecture.
In this guide, we introduce you to the top Pueblo Magicos.
Best Baja California and Baja California Sur Pueblos Magicos
The following magic towns in the Baja California area are especially easy to visit if you live on the west coast of the U.S. or Canada.
Flying time from L.A. to the Los Cabos Airport (SJD) is around 2½ hours, for example – and then you’re within easy reach of Todos Santos (#1 below).
Loreto (#2) has its own airport and Tecate (#3) is close to San Diego.
1) Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
Overshadowed by legendary Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos is a hidden gem nestled in the Baja California peninsula, about an hour north of Cabo.
It’s one of the prettiest Pueblos Magicos – and the perfect place for surfers to ride the waves and chill, for artists to dream and create, and for nature lovers to hike and soak up the cacti-strewn scenery.
But you don’t have to be an artist, dreamer or surfer to fall in love with this small Mexican beach town.
Anyone can get lost wandering the cobblestone streets of this charming Pueblo Magico, lined with art galleries, boutique shops, and hip cafés and excellent restaurants.
And that’s not to mention the allure of its laid-back beaches and scenic nature trails!
2) Loreto, Baja California Sur
An equally charming Mexican Pueblo Magico is Loreto, which hugs the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).
Perhaps it’s the preservation of its 17th century landmarks and architecture that gives it such a romantic feel. The vibe in Loreto is truly magical.
Another excellent reason to visit Loreto is its world-renowned marine wildlife tours.
Loreto’s waters teem with sea creatures, and you’re practically guaranteed to see dolphins, whales, sea turtles and sea lions.
If you’re excited about the chance to see a blue whale in the wild, Loreto is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible. You may be lucky enough to view the largest mammal on Earth on a whale watching tour.
3) Tecate, Baja California
Yes, it’s a brand of Mexican beer. And, yes, it’s also one of the best Pueblos Magicos in Mexico.
Just a short drive from San Diego, the border town of Tecate offers a fantastic mix of culture and art.
It also has an indigenous cultural center downtown (the Centro Cultural and Kumeyaay Museum) that displays artifacts and educational exhibits celebrating Mexico’s earliest inhabitants.
What we love most about Tecate Pueblo Magico, though, is its lesser-known but burgeoning foodie scene.
From casual street food to upscale restaurants overseen by award-winning chefs, you’re sure to indulge in a meal to remember during your visit. Restaurante Amores is particularly noteworthy for its multi-course Mexican-Japanese dinner experience.
The famous Rancho La Puerta spa resort is a 10-minute drive from Tecate.
Think hiking trails (40 miles), fitness classes, yoga sessions, three spas, educational workshops, concerts, an organic farm and cooking classes.
No wonder Rancho La Puerta was voted the “Best International Destination Spa” in 2021 by Travel + Leisure readers!
If you see a more intimate experience, retreat to the Santuario Diegueno, a romantic boutique hotel in town with a pool.
Best Pueblos Magicos near Mexico City
Several magic towns near Mexico City make for great day trips or overnight getaways, depending on which small town you pick.
4) Taxco (Guerrero)
We think Taxco – the only Guerrero Pueblo Magico – is one of the most beautiful towns in Mexico.
Best known for its silver, people travel from near and far to purchase Taxco’s silver wares and unique jewelry. In fact, it’s a great place to buy authentic Mexican mementos or souvenirs.
But there’s a lot more to Taxco than silver that makes it one of the best small towns or pueblos in Mexico.
The cobblestone streets and red-tiled white houses, garlanded with purple bougainvillea, give it a European feel. Coupled with the Spanish colonial architecture, it makes for a magical experience you won’t find anywhere else in Mexico.
Plaza Borda is a delightful tree-filled zocalo (main square) in front of the town’s cathedral. Take your time wandering through the many surrounding shops, where you can learn about the local silverware making process.
A fun way to see the town’s highlights is by hitching a ride on a famous vocho, or local VW Beetle taxi.
When you see how narrow the winding streets are (and how hilly Taxco is), you’ll understand why the tiny Beetle is their taxi of choice!
5) Teotihuacan (Estado de Mexico or Mexico state)
San Juan Teotihuacan typically gets over 3 million visitors per year – making it one of the most famous magical towns in Mexico. Its primary attraction is the ancient Aztec archeological site, Teotihuacan, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There’s still a lot of mystery and debate surrounding the true origins of the founders of the ancient site. But most scholars believe it was built by the Toltecs and eventually inhabited by the Aztecs.
What stands now are three giant pyramids – the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl.
Unlike the equally famous Chichen Itza (one of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the Yucatan), visitors are allowed to climb the pyramids of Teotihuacan.
So, be sure to wear your best walking shoes and pack plenty of water. There are 248 uneven steps to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, the largest of the three pyramids.
Teotihuacan makes a great day trip from Mexico City, as it’s located just an hour’s drive away from the capital city.
You might like this early morning Teotihuacan guided tour with hotel pick-up. You get to beat the crowds by arriving at the site just as it opens.
6) Atlixco (Puebla)
If you love flowers (who doesn’t!), you’ll agree that Atlixco is one of the best towns to visit in Mexico.
The town specializes in the cultivation of cut flowers and ornamental plants. A trip to its flower nurseries is popular.
In March, the Festival de la Flor (Flower Festival) takes place. Giant “carpets” of flowers are laid out on the streets and large flower sculptures are created.
Toward Christmas time, Atlixco produces some 1.5 million poinsettias.
You could definitely call it the “City of Flowers!”
Apart from the flowers, one of the prettiest sights is the yellow Church of Santa Maria de la Natividad. Dating back to the 1600s, this historic church graces a corner of the main square.
Visiting Atlixco is a popular day trip from Puebla City.
(With a UNESCO-recognized historic center, Puebla City is also worth putting on any cultural Mexico itinerary.)
7) Tepoztlan (Morelos)
Tepoztlan is special because it’s one of the most non-touristy places in Mexico.
It’s bestowed with gorgeous scenery, a lovely city center and a variety of things to see and do. Truly, it stands out as one of the best towns near Mexico city – and it’s worth the 80-minute drive to get there.
The preferred activity is to make the trek to the summit of the local mountain, El Tepozteco. The pyramid temple at the top is said to radiate powerful spiritual energy.
Within the town, spas offer the opportunity to experience a traditional temazcal – a shaman-led ceremony that takes place in a sweat lodge. This spiritual practice has deep roots in Mexican heritage.
Although Tepoztlan is well off the gringo trail, it’s a popular destination for locals from Mexico City as it makes a great outing for the day.
For a less crowded visit, you’ll want to go on a weekday.
But if you prefer to see how locals enjoy themselves when the town perks up with live music and a street fair, plan your visit for a weekend – and join the fun!
8) Cholula (Puebla)
We’ve already hinted that Puebla is revered as one of the prettiest cities in Mexico, thanks to its gawk-worthy colonial architecture and rich cultural roots.
Venture less than 30 minutes away from Puebla, and you reach the equally stunning and historically important Pueblo Magico of Cholula.
Established between 800 and 200 B.C., it’s the oldest city in Mexico that’s still inhabited.
The most impressive sight in Cholula is the Baroque Our Lady of Remedies Church, complete with ornate tile-decorated cupolas and a hot peach paint job. This beautiful church sits upon a hill, with a massive volcano looming majestically in the background.
Even more interesting, the hill isn’t a hill; it’s an Aztec pyramid – the world’s largest by volume – that’s been covered by grass and soil.
Only one side of the Great Pyramid of Cholula is open to the public. The presence of the church makes it impossible to restore the pyramid completely.
But you can still explore plenty of the exposed ruins above ground and have fun discovering the underground via a series of tunnels.
While in Cholula, don’t miss tasting the local specialties.
One standout dish we love is the delicious chiles en nogada, made with a creamy walnut sauce. It’s usually available between July and September) at restaurants around the town’s main zocalo.
9) Valle de Bravo (Mexico State)
Another one of the best small towns in Mexico, “Valle” (as it’s affectionately called) also rightly deserves its Pueblo Magico designation.
With its cobblestone streets and white buildings with terracotta tile roofs, Valle is reminiscent of other Pueblo Magicos.
But it also has other unique attractions.
For one, it’s located on the shores of Lake Avandaro, an aquatic paradise for visitors who like to sail (there are more than 40 sailing clubs), paddle a kayak and go water skiing, water tubing and paragliding.
Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies migrate to the Oyamel fir forests in Mexico’s central highlands.
At Piedra Herrada, you can hike in (or ride a horse) to witness the magic of clouds of butterflies fluttering about and shrouding the trees in a veil of orange.
Around Valle, lots of bars and local restaurants (several of which are boat restaurants) also lure you in with their fantastic food. The main square invites you to sit down and people watch.
Being a magic town near Mexico City, it’s easy to see why Valle is a favorite get-away location for Mexico City’s wealthy residents. Their houses dot the hills surrounding the Lake!
Best Yucatan Pueblos Magicos
Fly into the Cancun International Airport (CUN) for a beach holiday on the Yucatan Peninsula, and you can stay at or visit some of the most enchanting Pueblos Magicos in Mexico.
10) Tulum (Quintana Roo)
Tulum is one of the most famous Pueblos Magicos and among the most beautiful places in Mexico.
Why choose between a destination that has amazing ruins or one that boasts some of the best beaches in Mexico – when you can have both?
Tulum offers the best of Mexico with some of the most impressive Mayan ruins in the Yucatan and picture-perfect white sand beaches.
Plus, you’ll find some of the best cenotes in Mexico near Tulum – like Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavera and Cenotes Dos Ojos.
To top that off, there’s a whole range of romantic boho-chic hotels in Tulum. Some are in the jungle – complete with private plunge pools. Others hug the beach and offer yoga studios and sybaritic spas.
It’s no wonder that backpackers, digital nomads, adventurous travelers and luxury-loving couples from around the globe flock here!
As mentioned, you must visit the Tulum ruins.
You may have seen travel photos of Tulum’s iconic Temple of the Wind, but there’s nothing like seeing it in person. Trust us, we’ve been there several times and always discover something new and amazing!
Of all of Mexico’s magical towns, make sure Tulum is one you cross off your bucket list.
11) Izamal (Yucatan)
Another gem among Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos is the almost unbearably pretty town of Izamal, located in the heart of the state of Yucatan.
The quaint streets will draw you in with their colonial charm and small-town feel. And you’ll quickly discover why Izamal is dubbed the “Yellow City”!
The bold “Mexican” egg-yolk yellow of the buildings make for some awesome photos!
Climbing up the Mayan pyramid, Kinich Kak Moo (dedicated to the God of the Sun), and visiting the picturesque Convent of San Antonio de Padua are two more of Izamal’s highlights.
But the super friendly locals and warm town atmosphere are the best part of visiting this magical town.
12) Valladolid (Yucatan)
Valladolid lies deep in the jungle in Yucatan state. It’s another Pueblos Magicos en Mexico worth fitting into your itinerary, especially if you’re vacationing in Cancun two hours away.
Perhaps the main draw is the massive Cenote Zaci found in the city center.
Cenotes (natural pits or sinkholes) are an important part of Mayan history. They were commonly used by the ancient Maya for water supplies and sometimes even for sacrificial offerings.
The water of Cenote Zaci is 300 feet deep in a cave that’s open to sunlight, creating a magical place to float around and lose yourself in its natural beauty.
If you’re staying in Cancun, a popular day trip involves touring the ruins of Chichen Itza, visiting Valladolid and taking a swim in a cenote. This Chichen Itza, Cenote and Valladolid tour takes care of everything.
13) Isla Mujeres (Quintana Roo)
Isla Mujeres (meaning “Island of Women”) is a delightful place to vacation in and of itself.
But if you’re vacationing in Cancun, it’s an absolute must to visit on a day trip – it’s only a quick ferry ride away from Cancun. We think hopping over to this Mexican island is one of the most awesome things to do in the Mayan Riviera, period.
Once on Isla Mujeres, you’ll want to rent a golf cart to get around – how fun is that!
For such a teeny island, there’s a lot to do, from exploring the Ixchel Temple ruins to swimming with whale sharks (June to September).
But if you end up spending all of your time simply relaxing – gazing at the vivid turquoise sea from the island’s beautiful beaches (some of the most alluring in Mexico!) and watching the sunset – we wouldn’t blame you.
For cool restaurants and to experience some livelier island life, head to Avenida Miguel Hidalgo in the center of town, where all the action happens.
14) Cozumel (Quintana Roo)
One of the newest Pueblo Magicos designated in 2023, Cozumel is a laid-back beach island, a short 12-mile ferry ride from Playa del Carmen.
It’s famous for its vibrant and colorful underwater life, thanks to the offshore Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest in the world. (Cozumel is one of the first places we went scuba diving after getting our certifications!)
In fact, if choosing between Cancun and Cozumel, its outstanding snorkeling and diving could tip the scales in favor of Cozumel.
While the west side of Cozumel is a haven for reef explorers, the eastern side has quiet beaches. A fun way to see the island when you’re not diving is to rent a scooter.
15) Bacalar (Quintana Roo)
To get a feel for what Tulum (see #10) used to be like, head to Bacalar Pueblo Magico. One of the most beautiful towns in Mexico, it’s situated just next to the Belize border.
Knowing you can lie all day in an over-water hammock is enough of a draw for us.
The icing on the cake? The water’s mesmerizing display of blue and turquoise colors. (The Bacalar Lagoon is also known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors.)
For water enthusiasts, Bacalar is nirvana.
Not nearly as crowded as other popular waterfront destinations in Mexico, the 30-mile long lagoon (lake) has plenty of space to kayak, stand-up paddleboard and explore cenotes.
Sailing tours are one of the best ways to experience the lagoon – see, for example, this private Bacalar sailboat tour with cenote swimming and bird watching.
A new planned Maya Train will connect Cancun with Bacalar and other towns in the Yucatan. Bacalar is poised to become the Yucatan’s next big tourist destination.
And pssst! Mia Bacalar Luxury Resort & Spa is the best place to stay in Bacalar.
Pueblo Magicos in Mexico’s colonial heartland
Many of the magical towns in central Mexico are littered with architectural remnants of Mexico’s colonial past.
Warning: The abundance of ornate Baroque churches, Spanish-era buildings, curlicues and cupolas may trigger sensory overload.
16) Dolores Hidalgo (Guanajuato)
Dolores Hidalgo is just 45 minutes by car from the fairytale city of San Miguel de Allende. And if you’re keen on understanding Mexico’s history, it’s one of the Pueblos Magicos de Mexico most worth visiting.
It played a key role in the Mexican Revolution – making Dolores Hidalgo “la cuna de la independencia” or the cradle of independence for Mexico.
The centerpiece of Dolores Hidalgo is the 18th-century church Iglesia de Dolores. This is where local priest Miguel Hidalgo proclaimed the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) in 1810. This rallied the locals to rise up against the Spanish.
Other historical highlights include the Independence Museum, the Casa Museo Jose Alfredo Jimenez (the childhood home of the famous mariachi musician) and Museo Casa de Hidalgo.
Also stroll around Plaza Principal to soak in the local atmosphere as you buy souvenirs, people watch and try some local delicacies.
17) Patzcuaro (Michoacan)
Patzcuaro isn’t the most popular among the Pueblos Magicos Mexico. But that’s not a bad thing.
Located on the shores of Patzcuaro Lake, it’s a place to wander around, go to markets and experience a piece of “real Mexico.”
Patzcuaro and the surrounding area is celebrated for its indigenous cultures and local arts and crafts.
People come to Patzcuaro to buy handcrafted pottery, textiles, baskets and copper and wood works.
As for tourist sites, Patzcuaro’s most popular one is the Casa de los Once Patios (or House of Eleven Courtyards).
This sprawling complex of courtyards was once a Dominican convent back in the 1700s. It now serves as a large shopping market that sells local crafts.
Patzcuaro is a hive of activity during its Day of the Dead celebrations. This is when locals visit and decorate gravestones, gather marigolds (the iconic flower of the Day of the Dead) and prepare foods that their loved ones enjoyed. It’s a great time to visit Patzcuaro.
18) San Sebastian Bernal (Queretaro)
One of the smallest magical towns in Mexico, San Sebastian Bernal is found in the state of Queretaro. Colloquially known as “Bernal,” it’s just one hour from the state’s capital city of Santiago de Queretaro (called Queretaro for short).
You can easily see the best of Bernal in one day.
The main reason to visit Bernal is to hike up the grand monolith, Pena de Bernal.
Towering 1,148 feet above the town, the volcanic rock is the third largest monolith in the world after the Rock of Gibraltar and Pao de Azucar in Rio de Janeiro.
In about an hour, hikers can reach a viewpoint that provides an amazing view of the town below and surrounding plains. (Be forewarned: It’s a stiff and rather challenging climb.)
While you’re visiting Bernal, be sure to try a variety of gorditas (corn tortilla pockets stuffed with different fillings), its most famous street food.
19) Real del Monte (Hidalgo)
If Real del Monte reminds you of Cornwall, England, clever you!
The mines surrounding this once-important silver mining town in Mexico produced half of the country’s silver when the Spanish ruled (1521 to 1821).
After the Spanish were defeated, the mines fell into ruin. English investors purchased the mines in 1824 and brought over hundreds of miners and engineers from Cornwall to get the mines working again.
Today, the Cornish heritage inherited from these families is evident throughout this mountainous town, known as “Little Cornwall.”
At many of the shops, you can sample local meat pies called paste, similar to Cornish pasties. The town even has a Museo del Paste, which the Duchess of Cornwall and her husband Prince Charles visited in 2014.
Also tour the Acosta mine. Afterward, wander through the magnificent English cemetery on a green hill overlooking this magical town in Mexico.
20) Xilitla (San Luis Potosi)
You may not have heard of the colorful Mexican town of Xilitla. That’s because it’s one of those Mexican Pueblos Magicos that most non-Mexican tourists know nothing about.
So why visit Xilitla?
For its lush hilly scenery, coffee farms, Las Pozas (an other-worldly sculpture garden built in the jungle by an eccentric English poet named Edward James) and its multi-day, party-til-you-drop Day of the Dead celebration.
Much like Brazil’s version of Carnaval, Xilitla’s version of Day of the Dead involves elaborate costumes, rowdy parties and revelers dancing in the main square.
But unlike the rest of Mexico (which celebrates the Day of the Dead on November 1st and 2nd), Xilitla’s celebrations last five days from October 29th until November 2nd.
21) Lagos de Moreno (Jalisco)
A charming colonial town, Lagos de Moreno is filled with colonial buildings from the silver mining days, along with flower-filled parks and plazas.
It’s also home to one of the most impressive Baroque churches in Mexico – Our Lady of the Assumption, built in the 1700s, mostly of a local pink marble.
You’ll want to take some time to appreciate the beauty of the bridge that leads to the entrance to the old side of the town. It’s constructed of pink quartz and embellished with an elaborate design of eye-catching arcs.
Don’t miss out on the local cuisine, cocina mestiza.
This unique fusion of European and African foods is influenced by ingredients from the indigenous cultures of the Chichimeca and Tlaxcalteca.
The tantalizing stews, pozole and corn-based dishes are unlike anything you’ve ever tried before.
22) Santa Maria del Rio (San Luis Potosi)
Exploring Santa Maria del Rio – a small under-the-radar Mexican town brimming with colonial mansions and Spanish-era architecture – is like taking a magical stroll back in history.
But this charming place is best known as the “home of the rebozo.”
A rebozo is a traditional female garment made of cotton, silk or a combination of textiles that serves as a scarf or shawl.
You can find hundreds of patterns and colors. They’re so versatile and beautiful that you’ll want to bring back a few as souvenirs.
23) Ajijic (Jalisco)
Ajijic is a fairly recent addition (in 2020) to the Pueblos Magicos program – and one of the 12 Pueblos Magicos in the state of Jalisco. It’s more than worthy of the recognition.
Ajijic is located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake.
You can enjoy sunset boat rides, long strolls along the waterfront promenade and relaxing soaks in warm hot springs.
Add to this Ajijic’s near-perfect climate and delicious dining scene (from bustling bakeries to balconied bistros) – and it becomes very clear why Ajijic is home to the largest expat population in Mexico.
24) Comala (Colima)
Just a few miles from Colima, an upscale thriving city in the western part of Central Mexico, lies the charming town of Comala.
Walk along Comala’s one-way streets lined with all-white buildings, and you’ll see where it gets the nickname “White Village of America.”
In contrast, its central plaza of Benito Juarez pops with color.
But everything about the town exudes “old Mexico.”
Be sure to stop at the popular Don Camalon restaurant for a bite. It attracts lots of tourists with its local feast of ceviche, empanadas and chili rellenos, not to mention the wicked margaritas.
25) Tequisquiapan (Queretaro)
Tequisquiapan is one of those magic towns in Mexico that transports you back in time.
And with its cobblestone streets, Spanish colonial buildings, natural hot springs and mellow atmosphere, it deserves all the praise it gets!
One landmark that stands out in Tequis (as called by locals) is the pink neoclassical Santa Maria de la Asuncion church. It sits proudly in the center of the main square of Plaza Miguel Hidalgo.
Another highlight worth visiting is the Tequisquiapan handicraft market (Mercado de Handicrafts de Tequisquiapan).
Have fun shopping for unique handwoven fabrics, baskets, opal jewelry and artisanal items made from leather and ceramic!
Tequisquiapan is also on Queretaro’s Wine and Cheese Route.
Several boutique wineries in the area invite you to tour their vineyards and taste their wines. Cava Bocanegra offers tastings of their artisanal cheeses, paired with wine.
This 5-star-rated haciendas, wineries and magical towns tour leaves from Queretaro City. It packages visits to both Bernal (#17 above) and Tequisquiapan (with wine tasting included).
26) Mazamitla (Jalisco)
We’ve heard Mazamitla called “the Switzerland of Mexico” – and that’s spot on.
Here, you’ll find chalet-style cabins nestled in the forested hills of Jalisco’s Sierra del Tigre. Narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses and flower-covered balconies add to the charming allure of this Pueblo Magico.
Besides strolling through Mazamitla’s quaint downtown, you’ll also find other natural attractions.
The most popular are El Jardin Encantado (or the Enchanted Garden) and Cascada El Salto (El Salto Waterfall).
Getting to the waterfall on foot involves a pretty rigorous hike. Alternatively, excursions that take you there on horseback or mountain bike make for a fun adventure.
Best Pueblos Magicos near Puerto Vallarta
When you stay in Puerto Vallarta (PV for short), it’s easy to alternate your vacation days (or split your vacation) between the beach and one or more of the Pueblos Magicos in Jalisco.
27) Sayulita (Nayarit)
The Pueblo Magico of Sayulita is less than a 90-minute drive from PV. And since the 1960s, it’s long been revered by surfers as one of the best places in Mexico to surf for its consistently-awesome northern swell.
Besides its incredible surf, beaches and great weather, Sayulita offers an authentic, mellow beach town energy that you can’t get in Mexico’s larger beach destinations.
The town is full of hip local places to eat, friendly yoga studios and shops filled with art, homemade jewelry and other cool stuff.
Bed down at the adults-only Avela Boutique Hotel, featuring a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, to be close to the action (but far enough away for peaceful sleeps).
Despite experiencing a tourist boom in the last decade, Sayulita has managed to retain its chill vibe.
And that vibe is contagious – so don’t be surprised if you end up staying in this magical town longer than planned!
28) San Sebastian del Oeste (Jalisco)
When you hear the “City of Fog,” San Francisco may be the first place that comes to mind.
But this gem among Jalisco Pueblos Magicos, San Sebastian del Oeste, could easily take the title.
The fog in the mountains surrounding this mining town from the 17th century rolls in and out every day, creating a mystical atmosphere and some amazing sunsets.
For epic views, consider combining a 4×4 drive with a hike through the forest to La Bufa lookout point at 8,500 feet above sea level. From the top, you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean on a clear day!
When in Puerto Vallarta (exploring its beaches and the Puerto Vallarta Malecon), San Sebastian del Oeste makes for a great day trip, as it’s just over a 90-minute drive away.
If you’d like to leave the driving to someone else, we recommend this guided San Sebastian day tour.
It includes round-trip transportation from PV, a walking tour of San Sebastian’s downtown, lunch and visits to an organic coffee factory and a tequila distillery.
29) Tequila (Jalisco)
Did you know that tequila is much more than the main ingredient used to concoct delicious margaritas?
Tequila is also a Pueblo Magico in the culturally rich state of Jalisco.
Founded in 1530 by Spanish missionaries, it was home to an indigenous mix of Chichimecas, Toltecs, Teuchitecos and Otomi people long before that.
As for the distilled spirit – tequila – it’s just one byproduct of the treasured blue agave plant.
Ancient civilizations in Mexico have long treasured the plant for its many uses, including in sewing and building materials, clothing and cooking.
In Tequila, the agave fields are a sight to behold, stretching as far as the eye can see.
The facilities here use ancient methods for making tequila, baking the agave in rock-lined pits in the ground. As a result, these fields and facilities have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
30) Mascota (Jalisco)
The greenest among the magical towns of Mexico is the agricultural hub of Mascota. As you arrive, you’ll be dazzled by a valley that’s covered with every shade of green found in nature.
Mascota is known for its corn production and locally grown coffee, so be sure to enjoy a cup or two of fresh brew while you’re there.
A not-to-miss highlight is the Templo Inconcluso de La Preciosa Sangre, just outside Mascota’s downtown.
What you’ll find are the grounds of an unfinished church, displaying walls and arches with no roof or doors, among a forest of green.
It’s like stumbling upon a secret garden. How marvelous is that!
Best Pueblos Magicos in Southern Mexico
The south central states of Oaxaca and Chiapas are full of rich history, interwoven with indigenous influences.
Chiapas has jungly appeal.
And these two states in Mexico are home to some charming Mexican magic towns!
31) Mazunte (Oaxaca)
One of the best beach towns in Mexico, magical Mazunte is one of six Pueblos Magicos in Oaxaca state.
Its laid-back vibe attracts yoga and meditation seekers from near and far, but it’s not a tourist-packed destination.
Mazunte’s magic lies in its stillness and its endless natural beauty.
It’s the only Pueblo Magico in Oaxaca located on an ocean coast, and its beaches are phenomenal.
There are no mega resorts in sight; you’re greeted instead by unpaved roads, coconut trees and golden sand.
Oh, and perhaps a sea turtle or two.
Home to the Mexican National Turtle Center, Mazunte is a known haven for sea turtles to nest and lay their eggs on its beaches.
For the nicest accommodation, the contemporary ZOA Hotel gets our vote. Think seven private cabanas, breathtaking views and an exclusive on-site restaurant serving fresh local ingredients.
32) Palenque (Chiapas)
In the center of the Selva Lacandona jungle in the state of Chiapas, you’ll find Palenque, a unique Pueblo Magico Mexico tourist destination.
The main reason this tiny town is magical?
It’s only five miles away from a major Mayan archaeological site (also a UNESCO World Heritage site) of the same name.
The Palenque Mayan ruins cover a huge area. Dating back to 226 BC, there’s tons of mysterious history packed in, so hiring a guide is worth considering. (See this day Palenque day tour from San Cristobal de las Casas, #32 below.)
One highlight: The Temple of Inscriptions, the largest temple on the ruin grounds, which is famous for the hieroglyphic tablets inside.
Among other Palenque highlights are the Misol Ha waterfalls, with an inviting swimming hole, and another swimming spot, Agua Azul, which features several smaller natural pools.
You’ll also want to browse Palenque’s Plaza del Artesano, a great spot to shop for souvenirs and local artisanal items.
33) San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas)
It’s easy to get lost in all of the culture and charm of the cute town of San Cristobal de las Casas, set in pine-forested highlands.
Walking along its well-trodden cobblestone streets, you’ll come across quaint coffee shops, cozy local restaurants, flower-bedecked balconies, interesting boutique hotels and stores selling colorful textiles.
San Cristobal de las Casas is particularly beloved by digital nomads who appreciate its many WiFi-equipped cafés and co-working spaces.
It also serves as a great central base to explore the many natural wonders surrounding the town and others found elsewhere in Chiapas, like the El Chiflon Waterfalls.
An organized tour to El Chiflon (and Montebello Lakes) is the best way to take in both of these lovely sights.
34) Chiapa de Corzo (Chiapas)
The magic town of Chiapa de Corzo makes a great day trip from neighboring Pueblo Magico, San Cristobal de las Casas.
The town itself is lovely. A charming open plaza features a giant 16th century Moorish-style fountain. Stalls run by indigenous vendors sell a variety of artisanal crafts.
But Chiapa de Corzo’s main draw is the majestic Canon del Sumidero (or Sumidero Canyon) in Sumidero Canyon National Park, one of Mexico’s 67 national parks.
A scenic boat ride takes you along the mighty Rio Grijalva and through the narrow canyon – past waterfalls and towering cliffs as high as 3,300 feet.
You might like this Sumidero National Park full-day guided tour from San Cristobal. Keep your eyes peeled for crocodiles (really!), monkeys, herons and pelicans.
Other top Mexico magic towns
We’re not finished yet! There are more magic towns of Mexico, found in other states in the country…
35) Papantla (Veracruz)
Papantla is a hilly Pueblo Magico, 140 miles north of Veracruz City.
Capital of the Totonac kingdom from the 13th to 15th centuries, Papantla is celebrated for its Voladores de Papantla (Papantla Flyers).
After first climbing up a 70-foot-tall pole, five men in traditional clothing perform a thrilling “dance.”
One plays a drum and flute on top.
The other four daredevil dancers, with ropes tied around their waist, jump off the pole and whirl downwards, upside down, until they reach the ground.
Another one of Papantla’s claims to fame is the nearby pre-Columbian archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage site, El Tajin.
About 40 structures have been excavated and restored, including pyramidal temples and ball game courts.
36) Tlacotalpan (Veracruz)
When it comes to color, culture and zest for life, it doesn’t get much better than Tlacotalpan.
This multi-hued Pueblo Magico is about a 90-minute-drive from the port city of Veracruz. Located in the culturally-rich state of the same name, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico.
Tlacotalpan is so magical, in fact, that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998.
You’ll instantly fall in love with the town’s buildings adorned with 16th century classic-style arches and columns – and their dazzling show of different colors.
Besides being a feast for the eyes, Tlacotalpan is worth visiting for its week-long celebration of the Virgen de la Candelaria.
Every year at the end of January/beginning of February, the Tlacotalpan locals hold a lively festival. The patron saint is prominently displayed in a parade, accompanied by more than 600 horsemen and women garbed in traditional dress.
37) Alamos (Sonora)
Alamos had its first glory days in the late 1600s as a mining town, when silver was discovered in the area.
But after Mexico declared independence from Spain, the city went into decline, later exacerbated after the Mexican Revolution. By the 1920s, the mines of Alamos were closed and it became a ghost town.
It wasn’t until the late 1940s that it got a second lease on life, when American William Alcorn restored a run-down establishment and turned it into a hotel.
This spurred a series of investments that eventually transformed Alamos into a developed tourist area, earning its place as a Pueblo Magico.
What to do in Alamos?
Visit the Museum of Sonoran History off the main zocalo, taste local Mexican cuisine at a variety of restaurants and cafes, and take a tour of the area’s prominent haciendas and mansions.
There are also lots of outdoor activities to partake in, ranging from hiking and horseback riding to mountain biking and bird watching.
For a 5-star stay, the exquisite Hacienda de los Santos Resort & Spa ticks off all the boxes with beautiful gardens, fountains, swimming pools and rooms filled with Mexican antiques.
It even has a cinema!
38) Parras de la Fuente (Coahuila)
Calling all wine enthusiasts and nature lovers! This Pueblo Magico is for you.
Located in the state of Coahuila, Parras de la Fuente is one of the top wine-producing regions in Mexico.
Visit one of the many vineyards for a tour and wine tasting.
Perhaps the beautiful Casa Madero? Founded in 1597, it’s the oldest winery in the Americas.
Also reserve some time for a dip in one of the natural spring water baths, like the crystalline waters of Estanque de la Luz (Pond of Light).
The city center itself is a sweet place to treat yourself to the artisanal pecan-based cakes and desserts that Parras is famous for.
39) Xico (Veracruz)
Xico, actually Xicochimalco, is crowned the “Jewel of Veracruz” for good reason.
Home to the indigenous Totonacas people, it lies at an altitude of 3,700 feet high in the Eastern Sierra Madre hills, surrounded by lush vegetation.
In the town, you’ll find friendly locals, brightly-colored homes, hilly roads and great coffee shops (Xico is located in a prime coffee-growing region) – but not many tourists.
One of Xico’s highlights is Cascada de Texolo, an enormous 265-foot waterfall located just outside of the town.
Paths through the jungle-like forest lead to the top of the falls. You can also cross over the falls from a swinging bridge above.
Several restaurants offer bird’s eye views of the falls and the surrounding nature.
40) Real de Catorce (San Luis Potosi)
Getting to the Pueblo Magico of Real de Catorce is an adventure in itself.
You have to drive through the 7,500-foot-long Tunel de Ogarrio (Ogarrio Tunnel) to access the town. Oh, and the tunnel is one-lane only and dimly lit.
What awaits on the other side is an off-the-beaten-path mining town, high up in the mountains (elevation 9,000 feet). Population? Only 2,000.
It’s as authentic as “old Mexico” gets.
A highlight is the Plaza Hidalgo, featuring a wrought-iron pavilion and a lovely garden where you can people watch, enjoy street tacos and just take it easy. Plenty of local shops offer opportunities for some unique souvenir shopping.
Other things to do include horseback riding tours down into the desert valley, checking out the ruins of the ghost town higher up in the mountains and touring some of the abandoned mines.
41) Creel (Chihuahua)
For many travelers, the magic town of Creel, nestled up in Chihuahua’s highlands, is the base for exploring Mexico’s Copper Canyon.
This spectacular natural wonder is four times the size of the Grand Canyon!
Some of the best attractions around Creel include the Cusarare Waterfalls and the Valle de las Ranas (Valley of the Frogs) rock formations, as well as the Museo Casa de las Artesanias (where you can learn about the local Tarahumara people and the area’s history).
To get to Creel, you can drive there by car or take a bus from the capital city of Chihuahua.
Alternatively, for a true scenic adventure, hop on the El Chepe.
This epic train ride takes 9 hours and 40 minutes through the Sierras.
It departs from Los Mochis, in the state of Sinaloa, and covers over 220 miles of stunning terrain before reaching Creel. (The train also operates in the reverse direction.)
42) Tula (Tamaulipas)
The magical city of Tula is the oldest city in the state of Tamaulipas, with a rich 400-year-old history. It’s also one of the least visited of the Pueblo Magicos in northern Mexico.
As with most colonial Mexican towns, the streets are eminently strollable. This makes it especially pleasant to admire its historic plazas, Spanish-influenced buildings and beautiful churches.
Tula is also the birthplace of the famous cuera leather jackets.
These masterfully adorned leather jackets are said to trace back to a local Tula artisan.
The Mexican revolutionary general, Alberto Cabrera Torres, apparently commissioned him to make a jacket, similar to what cowboys wore, to keep him warm and protected against the surrounding prickly vegetation, namely cactus.
Another fun fact about cacti and Tula: There are a whopping 31 species of cacti endemic to the Tula area.
If you’re curious to discover what a cactus treat tastes like, try one of Tula’s famous cactus ice-creams!
43) Zihuatanejo (Guerrero)
Nestled on Mexico’s Pacific coast in Guerrero, the quaint town of Zihuatanejo is the more laid-back sibling to nearby Ixtapa.
Back in the 1970s, it was a hot spot for celebrities like Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger.
Today, it’s one of the best magic towns in Mexico for those who to escape the more crowded tourist scenes of Yucatan and Baja.
With their inviting warm waters, the beaches in Zihuatanejo are a big draw.
For a luxurious romantic stay, La Casa Que Canta is a beautiful hotel overlooking Zihuatanejo Bay. It’s just a hop and a skip away from Playa La Ropa, the town’s most popular beach.
Full list of Mexico Pueblos Magicos
Final words on the Mexico Pueblos Magicos
With 177 Pueblos Magicos in Mexico to choose from, one more magical than the next, it’s hard to narrow down the list.
But we hope you’ve found our list of 43 of these unique colorful towns helpful – at least as a starting point. Maybe it will inspire you to continue to check all 177 off your bucket list! (Below you’ll find the complete list of all the towns.)
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Photo credits: 13 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase