Mexico City

Welcome to Mexico City

Mexico City is, and has always been, the sun in the Mexican solar system. Though much-maligned in the past, these days the city is cleaning up its act. Revamped public spaces are springing back to life, the culinary scene is exploding and a cultural renaissance is flourishing. On top of all that, by largely managing to distance itself from the drug war, the nation’s capital remains a safe haven of sorts. Far from shaking off visitors, the earthquakes of 2017 revealed a young society who attracted admiration through their solidarity.

A stroll through the buzzing downtown area reveals the capital’s storied history, from pre-Hispanic and colonial-era splendor to its contemporary edge. This high-octane megalopolis contains plenty of escape valves in the way of old-school cantinas, intriguing museums, inspired dining and boating excursions along ancient canals. With so much going on, you might consider scrapping those beach plans.

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Mexico City on the map

Trip Ideas

More Destinations in Mexico

Oaxaca City

A cultural colossus fit to rival anywhere in Latin America for history, gastronomy and colorful manifestations of indigenous culture, Oaxaca is a complex but intensely attractive city whose majestic churches and refined plazas have deservedly earned it a Unesco World Heritage badge. Lovers of culture come here to indulge in the Mexico of Zapotec and colonial legend. Flowing through handsome yet tranquil streets, life pulsates with an unadulterated regional flavor. See it in the color palate of historic boutique hotels, a meet-the-producer artisan store or an intentionally grungy mezcalería (plying locally manufactured alcoholic beverages). But what makes Oaxaca especially interesting are its undercurrents. While largely safe and attractive by Mexican standards, snippets of political protest in recent years have lent the city a grittier edge. It bubbles up in satirical street art, bohemian bars and been-around-forever street markets. Trust us: there’s far more to this city than just pretty churches.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres generally has a quieter and more relaxing vibe than what you’ll find across the bay in Cancún, and there’s just enough here to keep you entertained: scuba diving and snorkeling, visiting a turtle farm or simply swimming and lazing around on the island’s gorgeous north shore.

Tulum

Tulum’s spectacular coastline – with all its confectioner-sugar sands, cobalt water and balmy breezes – makes it one of the top beaches in Mexico. Where else can you get all that and a dramatically situated Maya ruin? There’s also excellent cave and cavern diving, fun cenotes and a variety of lodgings and restaurants to fit every budget.

Querétaro

Wandering through the delightful colonial heart of Querétaro with its shady squares, grand fountains and historic mansions, you’d never guess that this is one of the fastest-growing cities in the northern hemisphere thanks to a booming aerospace and technologies industry. Except perhaps you can, as in order to reach the colonial heart of Querétaro, you’ll have to first pass through some fairly striking examples of urban sprawl and contend with the powerhouse city’s legendary bad traffic. However, it’s well worth the effort to do that, as Querétaro’s star is clearly in the ascendent, with an optimistic and mercantile population rising to the challenges of life in modern Mexico. The town’s historic heart is characterized by charming andadores (pedestrian streets), gorgeous plazas and historic churches. The sophisticated restaurants serve up quality cuisine and the many museums reflect Querétaro’s important role in Mexican history.

Cancún

Cancun is a tale of two cities, with the Zona Hotelera offering majestic Caribbean beaches and Maya culture and Cancún Centro providing the local flavor.

Guanajuato

The extraordinary Unesco World Heritage city of Guanajuato was founded in 1559 due to the region’s rich silver and gold deposits. Opulent colonial buildings, stunning tree-filled plazas and brightly colored houses are crammed together on to the steep slopes of a narrow ravine where excellent museums, handsome theaters and a fine marketplace punctuate cobblestone streets. The city’s main roads twist around the hillsides and plunge into long dank subterranean tunnels, formerly rivers.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, now one of Quintana Roo’s largest cities, ranks right up there with Tulum as one of the Riviera’s trendiest spots. Sitting coolly on the lee side of Cozumel, the town’s beaches are jammed with super-fit Europeans. The waters aren’t as clear as those of Cancún or Cozumel, and the sand isn’t quite as powder-perfect as they are further north, but still Playa grows and grows.

Acapulco

Acapulco, Mexico’s original party town, has a stunning topography of soaring cliffs curling into a series of wide bays and intimate coves, fringed with sandy beaches and backed by jungle-green hills. It was dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ during its heyday as a playground for the rich and famous, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor.

San Cristóbal de las Casas

Set in a gorgeous highland valley surrounded by pine forest, the colonial city of San Cristóbal (cris-toh-bal) has been a popular travelers’ destination for decades. It’s a pleasure to explore San Cristóbal’s cobbled streets and markets, soaking up the unique ambience and the wonderfully clear highland light. This medium-sized city also boasts a comfortable blend of city and countryside, with restored century-old houses giving way to grazing animals and fields of corn.

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas’s white beaches, fecund waters and spectacular arching stone cliffs at Land’s End have become the backdrop for Baja’s most raucous tourism. Where else do clubs round up conga lines so that waiters can pour tequila down dancers’ throats? The next morning you can be boating next to dolphins and spouting whales for a hangover cure. The activities are endless: jet-skiing, banana-boating, parasailing, snorkeling, kitesurfing, diving and horsebackriding can all be found just by walking down to the beach. Outside city limits, you’ll be surrounded by majestic cardón cacti, caracara birds and mystical arroyos (streams) that will impress you just as much as that crazy club you partied at the night before.

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