Mexico is a diverse country with beautiful beaches, deep history, a contagious culture, and truly delicious food (tacos, anyone?). Whether you love to relax at the beach, wander city streets without an agenda, or take a step back in history, Mexico has something for every traveler.
There are many places in Mexico that are safe for locals and even travelers. From the metropolitan heart of Mexico City to the crystal blue waters of Tulum, below are the top places in Mexico you need to visit in 2019.
Located in the mountains and covered in an array of colorful houses, Guanajuato is one of the most beautiful and important cities in Mexico. You can spend hours wondering the narrow streets and alleys admiring the colonial architecture and enjoying the music of street performers. It’s truly a magical city with a deep and important history that begins with the native tribes that lived in the land through Spanish colonialism and the Mexican Revolution to today.
Guanajuato was founded by the Spanish in the early 16th century and became the world’s leading silver mining city in the 18th century. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination for Mexicans and travelers from around the world.
Monumento al Pipila :
At the top of Guanajuato stands El Pipila — the local hero of Guanajuato. During the initials days of the Mexican Revolution, the Spaniards feared the tensions in the city and locked themselves in the Alhondiga de Granaditas, which was the city’s grain storage facility at the time. Their plan was to remain inside until the rioters gave up. Legend says that El Pipila placed a large stone on his back and with a flaming torch in his hand, charged the front door and allowed the rioters to gain entrance inside. This was the first victory in the Mexican fight for independence.
While learning about this history, you’ll get gorgeous views of Guanajuato where the El Pipila statue is located. It’s definitely worth the walk or funicular ride up to the top.
Churches of Guanajuato:
It feels like there is a church on every corner and down every alley in Guanajuato. There are more than a dozen churches in the historic center of Guanajuato thanks to the prosperity of silver mining and the conquest of Spanish colonialism. The baroque and neoclassical buildings are beautiful and a few you should visit or at least stroll by are Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato in Plaza de la Paz, Templo de la Compania de Jesus, and Parroquia de San Francisco which is the oldest church in the city.
Mercado Hidalgo :
If you’re looking for local food and souvenirs, then you have to visit Mercado Hidalgo. The architecture of the building is worth a trip as well. The originally plan was to build a railroad station, but when this plan failed, the President of Mexico decided to convert it into market in honor of Miguel Hidalgo, one of Guanajuato state's early Mexican independence martyrs. Today, you’ll find a jumbled maze of food stands and souvenir vendors. It’s sensory overload so be sure to bring your camera and an empty stomach when you visit.
Underground Tunnels :
An extensive network of tunnels runs beneath the city of Guanajuato. The city experienced a lot of flooding so to divert the water, the city was literally raised and the tunnels were built. Now, the tunnels are used as roads and sidewalks for car traffic and pedestrians. The underground tunnels are a great option for navigating the city when the streets are packed with tourists.
If you feel at home in a large, crowded place then Mexico City is the city for you. Situated at 7,380 feet above sea level, Mexico City is the largest metropolitan city in the Western Hemisphere and is home to more than 21.3 million people.
Mexico City has a rich history and its land has been inhabited since 400 B.C. at Teotihuacan, an ancient Mesoamerican city whose ruins you can still visit today. Centuries later, the Aztecs ruled the land until the Spanish invasion in the 1500s.
From the rule of the Teotihuacan empire in 850 AD to Mexican Revolution of 1910 to today, Mexico City is the epicenter of Mexico’s history, art, culture, and of course, cuisine.
Places to Visit in Mexico City
This ancient Mesoamerican city is located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of modern-day Mexico City.
The city was settled as early as 400 B.C. and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The site is comprised of several large pyramids and many small temples. The structures like the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Sun are all connected by the Avenue of the Dead. The names of these structures were given by the Aztecs when settled on this land centuries after they discovered it.
Visitors are welcome to climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun (pictured below) and can also climb halfway up the Pyramid of the Moon.
When visiting Teotihuacan, you can access it by bus, car, and Uber. You can enter and tour around the ruins on your own, but there are also guides at the entrance that you can hire to guide you through the site and provide historical and geographical information. Before hiring a guide, talk to a few different ones and check their accreditations (they should have a permit and documentation on hand to view).
Finally, Teotihuacan is hot and has very little shade. Bring water and a hat with you for the trip. If you forget those items, there are many vendors inside and outside the site who sell these necessities.
One of the most famous Mexican artists is Frida Kahlo. Known as Casa Azul because of its cobalt-blue walls, the home is where Frida was born and died. The home is now the Frida Kahlo Museum and houses many of her personal items and some of her most important works of art.
The museum is in a beautiful neighborhood of Mexico City so it’s worth exploring the area and neighborhood center after your visit.
Also known as the Venice of Mexico, Xochimilco is a huge network of canals and a popular destination for locals and tourists. Xochimilco is famous for its famous trajineras (flat-bottomed boats) and chinampas (floating gardens).
Originally, the area was used to cultivate fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Today, it’s still a popular market and flower center, but also a big spot for weekend parties. Locals and tourists alike can rent a boat and are pushed through the canals by the boat driver who uses a large stick to navigate the waters and traffic. You can bring food and drinks on board and even hire mariachi bands in small boats to dock next to your boat to sing songs!
National Anthropology Museum:
This is the national museum of Mexico and houses some of the most important archaeological and anthropological artifacts from Mexico's pre-Columbian heritage, such as the Stone of the Sun (or the Aztec calendar stone) and the Aztec Xochipilli statue.
The museum is located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park so you can visit the Zoo and Botanical Garden as well if you have energy (and a stomach full of tacos) after your visit to the museum.
You can live in Mexico City and still not see and do everything there is to do in this bustling city. If you like to travel like a local, then a few neighborhoods of Mexico City that are safe and enjoyable to explore are Polanco, Roma, La Condesa, and Anzures.
Tulum is one of Mexico’s most popular beach towns. Where boho-chic meets see-and-be-seen vibes, it’s located a couple of hours south of Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Tulum attracts a wide range of travelers, including yogis, backpackers, celebrities, and even families. Tourism in the Yucatan Peninsula has grown exponentially, but Tulum maintains its off-the-beaten path vibe. You’ll come for the bike rides and beach and will certainly stay for the nightlife and mezcal cocktails. Salud!
Cenotes (sinkholes) To Visit in Tulum
In English, “dos ojos” translates to “two eyes” – which is where this Cenote got its name from. Made up of two sink holes that appear as one, this is one of the bluest, and clearest cenotes in Tulum. With an abundance of sunlight, you won’t feel anything but the warmth of the crystal clear water the second you break the surface. Be sure to get there early (and bring your snorkel gear), it fills up fast!
Snorkel your way through caves, swarms of sea turtles, and colorful fish at Gran Cenote, located between Tulum and Coba. Located in a jungle paradise, this is one of the most popular cenotes in Tulum, bringing in an abundance of visitors daily. The Gran Cenote is also known for its bats who fly around one of the oscuro tunnels in the cenote which you can swim through to the other side.
Cenote de Sagrado de Chichen Itza:
Take a dive into the amazing Chichen Itza Cenote, which has a dome that measures more than 60m in diameter. This cenote dates back to 525 A.C. and is the largest sinkhole in the Yucatan Peninsula. Local still receive fresh water from it. Although not warm (at all), it’s beauty is absolutely breathtaking. Be prepared to shower beforehand on site and bring a waterproof camera!
Built on a bluff facing the sunrise, the Tulum Ruins are the only Mayan settlement located directly on a Caribbean beach. Living up to its hype, millions of people visit this site annually. In Maya, Tulum means "Wall", which means the city of Tulum was protected by the ruins’ large walls. You can visit the ruins on a tour, or take a bicicleta ride down its winding lush road. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bathing suit!
Indulge in the Tulum nightlife
Tulum is known for its boho-chic restaurants and nightclubs. When the sun goes down — the party continues on the coast. After a day full of sunbathing and exploring the geological wonders of the area, head over to the main road along ____. Some favorites include Papaya Playa Project, Gitano, Hartwood, and Casa Jaguar.
Travel Tips for Mexico
Now that you know the top places to visit during your trip to Mexico, here are few travel tips to keep in mind while you’re exploring this vibrant and beautiful country.
Be smart and travel with caution:
These locations recommended in Mexico are considered safe, but like any new place you explore, there is a risk of danger. Traveling smart is key so make sure you travel with a companion or group, avoid showing off your electronics and money in public, make sure your bags are closed and/or locked while walking around or traveling between destinations, and avoid exploring new places at night.
Learn Spanish before your trip:
Mexican people are some of the kindest in the world. Their hospitality is incomparable and your experience will be that much richer if you learn the local vocabulary. Make a commitment to learn some Spanish words and phrases before your trip so you can have conversations with locals and make it easier on yourself while touring around.
Educate yourself on current events:
Before your trip to any new country, you should read the local news of the country to familiarize yourself with the political, cultural, and social climate of the nation and its people. You never know who you’ll talk to now that you know some local vocabulary so being prepared to discuss anything newsworthy is important.
Pack accordingly depending on your destination:
Mexico City is metropolitan and chic so you’ll want to bring a nice jacket and clothing for night’s out at restaurants and clubs. Guanajuato is a laid back, mountain city so you’ll want to bring along some warm clothing for the evenings. And the beach is the way in Tulum so pack your shorts, bathing suits, and sunglasses to enjoy days in paradise.
We hope you enjoy your next trip to Mexico and if you visit any of these places, we’d love to hear about your trip. You can share your experience with us by tagging us on Instagram (@newslangapp) in your travel photos with the hashtag #NewslangTravel. Buen viaje, amigo!