When most people think of Mexico travel opportunities, they think of beach destinations and all-inclusive vacations. On the west coast, places like Baja California and Los Cabos, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo and Acapulco come to mind. Mexico’s east coast boasts top-notch beach resorts in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera with locations such as Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. The year-round balmy weather in Mexico certainly adds to the appeal of this country which is among the top 10 global tourist destinations in the world. To help you plan your trip to Mexico we have put together a collection of links with Mexico travel information on this page.
But Mexico travel has a lot more to offer than gorgeous beaches: with its 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mexico has the highest number of these designated sites in the Americas and the sixth highest rank world-wide. Mexico has a long and proud historic and cultural heritage, created by civilizations such as the Olmec, Zapotec and Mayan cultures. Archeological sites such as Chichen Itza, Palenque, Tulum and Uxmal, among many others, bear witness to the country’s proud past civilizations. Mexico has a long history of human settlement, and the Olmec civilization dates back more than one and a half millennia. Teotihuacan, just 30 miles northeast of today’s Mexico City, was established around 100 BC, reached a population of more than 120,000 people and became the largest city in the Americas during the pre-Columbian period.
From the 16th century onwards, Spanish colonists brought with them the Catholic Church and European building styles. As a result, Mexico boasts a tremendous collection of colonial architecture in places such as Puebla, Oaxaca, Mérida, Guanajuato, Morelia, San Cristóbal de las Casas and many more. Mexican’s silver cities such as Taxco and Zacatecas are a testimony to Mexico’s mineral wealth. The riches extracted by the colonial rulers from the 16th to the 18th century built tremendously beautiful towns, some of which are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
With its mild climate throughout the year, Mexico has also become a very popular retirement destination. Many American, Canadian and European retirees can be found at Lake Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, Mérida, Guadalajara, Baja California, Puerto Vallarta and other places. Mexican travel offerings are very broad, and the country not only boasts impressive beaches, but also rainforests, volcanoes and deserts.
As far as cities go, Mexico City and Guadalajara are the country’s largest urban centres and offer a wide range of cultural and entertainment opportunities. One of Mexico’s most amazing art forms is Mexican muralism which started in the 1920s and focussed on social and political messages. Artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros became famous the world over for their expressive wall paintings. And one of the world’s most well-known and enigmatic female painters, Frida Kahlo, created most of her life’s work in Mexico.
Although railway travel is almost non-existent in Mexico, there is one iconic train trip called the “Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway” that takes adventurous travellers through the Cooper Canyon (the “Barranca del Cobre”) with amazing views of the spectacular mountains and a top altitude of 2100 metres. This railway was a true engineering masterpiece when it was started in 1898. Due to political problems and difficult terrain, completion was delayed until 1961. Today, this famous railroad trip features 86 tunnels and 39 bridges and provides interesting insights into the harsh living conditions of the indigenous Tarahumara native people.
A Mexico travel itinerary can include a wide variety of activities, from surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving, to hiking in ecologically protected areas to studying Spanish in one of the many Mexican universities and language schools. The colourful Mexican festivals also draw countless visitors throughout the year, particularly the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Mexican cuisine has also conquered a place among the world’s most renowned cuisines. Traditional dishes from this country include enchiladas, tacos, tamales, quesadillas, tostadas, guacamole, carnitas, chilaquiles, sopes and moles and represent a fusion of Mesoamerican and European flavours.
In recent years, Mexico travel safety has become an increasing concern, especially set against the backdrop of the Mexican Drug War. Corruption among public officials is also a major problem. Various international governments issue Mexico travel advisories from time to time to warn tourists about the possible dangers of travelling in this country. Tourists should generally not be affected by these issues, especially if they stay away from the American-Mexican border cities. Another practical piece of safety advice is to only drive a car during the day time; this not only helps to avoid bandits who may roam the roads at night; it also helps prevent collisions with cattle and other farm animals that may be wandering along the roadways at night.
Overall, Mexico is an absolutely fascinating, vibrant and colourful destination. With its interesting history, its mix of cultures and its wealth of travel opportunities, it is no surprise that this country attracts millions of visitors from all over the world.