More Americans visit Mexico than any other country. And no wonder. It’s close by with warm weather and delicious food, and offers a wide variety of attractions: everything from Mayan ruins to golden-sand beaches, cobbled colonial-era villages to vibrant cities, atmospheric haciendas to seaside resorts – as well as good value and friendly people. America’s southern neighbor is worthy of multiple tours – diverse, affordable, and easy to reach.
Stretching from the far northern Sonoran deserts to the far southern Chiapas rainforests, and from the deep blue Pacific Coast in the west to the turquoise Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea in the east – with innumerable cultural, artistic, historic, and culinary treasures in between -- Mexico offers a lifetime of memorable travel experiences.
Well-publicized incidents of gang-related violence along some northern border towns and certain resort areas (such as Acapulco) have deterred some travelers from visiting Mexico, but the vast majority of the country’s regions are safe. Reputable tour operators know to avoid problem areas, so there’s no need to deprive yourself of visiting some of North America’s most alluring attractions. Here are some highlights:
While this is one of the world’s largest cities, Mexico City has a manageably sized historic center that draws travelers to its Spanish-colonial architecture, museums, cathedrals, cafes and restaurants. The huge square known as the Zocalo is the heart of it all. North of the city you can visit the Teotihuacán Pyramids, which date from 300 BC, predating the Aztecs by a millennium The Pyramid of the Sun there (flanked by the Pyramid of the Moon), is one of the world’s largest pyramids. Teotihuacán, once one of the world’s largest cities in its own right, is Mexico’s most visited archeological site.
The Yucatan is a big, diverse peninsula that sticks up like a giant thumb into the Gulf of Mexico and also borders the Caribbean Sea. The peninsula is the site of multiple Mayan ruins, any of which are worth seeing. But the jewel in the crown is the huge complex at Chichen Itza, where you can view some 18 structures that date from around 600 AD and display a sophisticated knowledge of astronomy hundreds of years before Europeans did. The giant Pyramid Kukulcan is the star of the show: at sunset on the spring and fall equinoxes, shadows on the pyramid’s steps resemble a snake descending from top to bottom. You can also see the ball fields where games were played resulting in the sacrifice of the losing team captain – or perhaps, according to new theories, the winning team captain.
Another ancient highlight is Tulum, a smaller Mayan complex where the tropical heat is mitigated by its splendid location right on the Caribbean. Near Tulum are other ruins set deep in the rainforest. The coastline north of Tulum has been dubbed the Mayan Riviera, culminating in the popular and sometimes rowdy resort town of Cancun. Along the way lies the quieter, pretty beach town of Playa del Carmen.
Here you’ll find some of the most charming cities and villages in the country. Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, is known for its colonial architecture, attractive plazas, huge public market, moderate temperatures and mariachi bands. San Miguel de Allende is a mountainous colonial-era village with cobbled streets, striking architecture, and an arts scene that has attracted a steady stream of expats drawn to its beauty, culture, and, again, moderate temperatures.
Mexico’s lengthy Pacific coastline encompasses the west coast of the 750-mile-long Baja California peninsula in the far north and leads south all the way to Guatemala. The golden-sand beaches here are some of the most beautiful in the world, and you can have your choice of small fishing villages or the more developed and popular resort towns such as Mazatlan, Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and Puerto Vallarta. Many are loaded with unspoiled charm, while others offer luxury accommodations -- and most are wonderful places to relax after a heavy round of touring.
Baja California, with the resort town of Cabo San Lucas at its tip, is an ideal place to take a small-ship cruise in search of whales and other marine mammals in the Sea of Cortez. Separated from the ocean by the peninsula, the calm sea waters are good for swimming, Scuba diving, and snorkeling.
The port city of Veracruz isn’t as widely visited as many Pacific coast resorts, but it has an interesting history (with Spanish, native Mexican, and African-Caribbean influences), some notable architecture, a long promenade for strolling the waterfront, Latin America’s largest aquarium, a big annual Carnaval celebration, good seafood, and some decent beaches.
Located about 300 miles south of Mexico City, Oaxaca is one of the finest examples of Spanish colonial cities in the country, with exceptional architecture and a rich cultural tradition that features native Mexican as well as Spanish influences. Two big public markets are excellent places to buy crafts and try some of the local food specialties, while various ancient archeological sites dot the region.
This state in far southern Mexico is wild and untamed in spots, a place to take guided rainforest hikes but also to visit Spanish colonial towns and encounter a number of indigenous cultures. It’s home to the Palenque archeological site, one of the finest ancient Mayan ruins in the country, dating back two millennia or more.
|Teotihuacan, Los Cabos, Chichen Itza, Copper Canyon, Mayan Riviera, Guanajuato and Many More|
|Hiking, Exploring Culture, Visiting Ruins & Relaxing|
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