Looking for the best Mexico Travel Guide for your next trip? You’ve come to the right place!
This guide is full of Mexico travel tips and will give you all the information you need to plan your trip!
Mexico has it all!
With this Mexico travel guide, I hope to help you plan your trip to one of the most incredible and complete countries I know.
Magical and colorful towns, Mayan ruins, colonial cities, incredible natural places, ancestral traditions, a gastronomy that was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage, amazing dreamy beaches…
I’ve being traveling to Mexico many times over the past few years (and loving it!), and I have visited different areas of the country such as Riviera Maya, Yucatan, Chiapas, Mexico City, Riviera Nayarit and Baja California Sur.
That’s why I’ve put together this guide to share with you the best of Mexico, including the best tips for Mexico travel in 2023, to show you the best of the country, and to help you organize your trip to Mexico easily and quickly.
Let’s get started!
- MEXICO TRIP PLANNING – Things to know before traveling to Mexico
MEXICO TRIP PLANNING – Things to know before traveling to Mexico
Here you have everything you need if you are planning a trip to Mexico:
Mexico Travel Requirements
With the current pandemic, you have to be continually aware of changes and restrictions to travel to Mexico.
Currently, no COVID test is required to enter Mexico. You will only need to fill out a health form that will be requested upon arrival.
But keep in mind that these measures can change, so it is best to check the Health Department website, managed by the Government of Mexico.
If you are going to travel to Mexico from Spain, you need to know that, on your return, at Spanish airports, they will ask you for a negative PCR or Antigens test, or a complete Certificate of vaccination. In my post on requirements to travel to Mexico, you have all the detailed information.
In addition, you will have to fill out a health form and download the QR code to show it when you arrive in Spain.
Do you need a passport to go to Mexico?
The answer is yes.
To travel to Mexico on vacation you will only need a valid passport, and you will be able to stay in the country for 180 days without needing a visa.
If you have any questions, it’s best to visit the website of the Mexican consulate or embassy in your country.
Do you need to be vaccinated to go to Mexico?
There is no mandatory vaccination when traveling to Mexico.
Mexico Travel Insurance
If you’re traveling to Mexico, it is essential to take out travel insurance that covers any mishap, theft, or health problem that you may have during the trip.
I always travel with insurance, even if I travel inside my own country.
No matter how well you plan and research a trip, there are always things that happen beyond your control. I had to use it several times and it saved my trip!
Don’t have insurance yet? You can get a free quote here:
Currency in Mexico
The currency used in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (Peso mexicano). 1 euro is equivalent to 24 Mexican pesos.
Do you have to bring cash? To travel to Mexico, I recommend that you bring cash and a credit card.
Depending on the area you travel, you will not find many ATMs to withdraw money, and some, like in the hotel zone of Tulum, only offer American dollars.
I always carry cash when I travel to Mexico, since in addition, many stores, taxis, and restaurants do not accept credit cards, so you can only pay in cash.
Electricity and plugs
The voltage in Mexico is 127 V, with a frequency of 60Hz. The plugs are like the American ones, type A/B with two flat pins.
Is it safe to travel to Mexico?
Many of you always ask me if Mexico is actually safe and if I have ever had a problem with security during my travels around the country. Because of that, in this guide to travel to Mexico, I could not miss talking about safety.
Mexico has a bad reputation when it comes to security, and it is true that there are some less secure states such as Jalisco or Sinaloa, or the border between Mexico and the United States, but those are not tourist areas at all.
During my travels through Mexico, I have never had any security problems; but it is important to mention that you must take basic security measures such as:
Keep an eye at your belongings, do not carry valuables in sight, do not walk through dark and uncrowded streets at night, do not go through not very touristy neighborhoods at night, do not drive at night, do not carry a lot of cash on you …
You have to be cautious, but you don’t have to be obsessed or afraid either.
And, as always, it is super important to take out travel insurance that covers any mishap, theft, or problem that you may have in Mexico.
I’m always insured with Iati Seguros, which also covers cancellations, and has COVID-19 coverage, something very important nowadays. If you contract your insurance from this link, you will have a 5% discount.
Best time to travel to Mexico
One of the most important things when planning your trip is deciding when to travel to Mexico.
It is sometimes impossible to choose since work holidays are usually located in specific months. But if you can choose, the best time to travel to Mexico is from November to April.
The rainy season in Mexico goes from June to October, but the hurricane season where there is more probability of bad weather goes from the beginning of July to the end of September. During these months, it is very hot and humid.
Which clothes should you bring to Mexico
If you don’t know what to pack for your trip to Mexico, here are the essentials you just can’t miss:
Whether you travel to the beach area, jungle or mangroves, it is very important to carry a mosquito repellent with a high percentage of DEET, and to use it mainly at dawn and dusk.
Light and versatile clothing
It depends a lot on the area of Mexico you will be visiting, but in general, as it is hot and humid, it is best to wear cotton clothing that is thin and breathable.
Hat and sun cream
For me, one of the most important things that should not be missing in the suitcase is a hat or cap and sunscreen.
If you are going to visit cenotes, the Bacalar Lagoon or you are going to snorkel, you will not be able to wear sunscreen, as it damages the ecosystem and the reefs, so I recommend that you wear a long-sleeved shirt with UPF50 protection. And if you are going to travel to Mexico with children, this children’s shirt with UPF50 is perfect for them to bathe protected.
If you travel during the rainy season, it is a good idea to pack a foldable raincoat in your suitcase, which you can then carry in your bag/backpack without taking up much space. You can also take a poncho-type raincoat that covers your backpack.
How to get around Mexico
Transportation in Mexico is another important point when planning your trip.
If you are going to travel from one side of the country to the other, for example from Mexico City to Riviera Nayarit, it is best to do it by plane.
But if you are going to visit a specific area, such as the Riviera Maya or the Yucatan peninsula, you have several options:
Rent a car
It is one of the best options to explore Mexico on your own. It is best to rent the car at the airport, and that you do it when you travel with a couple or with friends, so that you can take turns driving.
I always use the Rentalcars website because it is a search engine where you find the best prices to rent a car, and you can choose the size of the car, the type of insurance and all the extras you need.
Book a private car with a driver
For me, this is the best option if you don’t want to drive or if you are traveling alone.
When I traveled alone through Rivera Maya and Yucatán, I opted to book a car with a driver that would take me for several days on a journey from Tulum to Valladolid, passing through several cenotes, Chichen Itzá and some magical towns.
Personal recommendation: It is not as cheap as renting a car, but I found a local agency with a very nice driver who took me for several days at a very good price. (If you choose this option, do not hesitate to send me an email and I will give you the driver’s contact).
Travel by bus
This is the best option if you have a lot of time and what you want is to travel slowly and very cheaply. ADO is the official Mexican bus company.
If you are in the United States and you are going to Mexico, don’t miss my post: How to travel to Mexico from the United States by car.
What to do and what to see in Mexico
Whether you are looking for beaches, good food, visiting colorful towns or living thousands of adventures, Mexico has something for every type of traveler.
Here are the essential places to see in Mexico, and everything you can do there to make the most of your trip:
Discover the most beautiful beaches in Mexico
Just saying the word “Mexico”, white sand beaches and turquoise waters come to mind, right? Well, I’m not surprised at all! Because it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
In this post you’ll find the 10 best beaches in Mexico so you can discover the ones that you cannot miss if you visit the country.
Did you know that the second largest coral reef in the world is located in Mexico?
Without a doubt, Riviera Maya is synonymous with beaches with crystal clear water, snorkeling, parties, hotels… The best beach areas are Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum (don’t miss Playa Paraíso at sunset).
In that area there are also paradisiacal islands such as Isla Mujeres, Cozumel and Holbox (in the north).
Although for a few years, it also has its less beautiful side: sargassum. It is a macroalgae that reaches the shores of the Mexican Caribbean from May to September, and that fills the shoreline of the beaches with brown algae and a strong smell.
If you travel to this area of Mexico at that time of year, you have to be aware that you will come across sargassum.
On this website you can see in real time the situation of sargassum in the state of Quintana Roo, to know which areas to avoid and where there is less sargassum.
Traveler tip: If you want to avoid sargassum on the Riviera Maya coast, the best time to go is from November to April, when you will not find this macroalgae.
Did you know that in the Mexican Pacific there are also incredible beaches? They are not the typical Caribbean beaches, but they are also spectacular. Many of them are wild, with hardly any people, and the best thing: there is no sargassum there!
The coastal towns of Riviera Nayarit, such as Sayulita or San Pancho, are perfect for surfing, and the beaches of Punta de Mita are some of the bests in the area.
Explore Riviera Maya
If you are going to travel to Mexico, one of the most famous places is Riviera Maya.
It is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, and goes from Isla Blanca, north of Cancun, to Punta Allen.
In Riviera Maya there are not only many hotels. You can travel the coast and discover its famous beaches, bathe in cenotes in the middle of the jungle, visit the Mayan ruins of Tulum or those of Cobá, take an excursion to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, snorkel in Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, and try the typical dishes of Mexican cuisine.
Visit the magic towns and cities from Mexico
One of the best things about Mexico is that each city and each town has its own personality, and they are all so different and colorful that they leave everyone that visits them absolutely speechless.
Did you know that a Mexican town/city is considered a “Pueblo Mágico” (magic town) when it has a story to tell, it has its own symbols and legends, and it also has something that makes them unique?
They are places that show the Mexican identity in each of its corners, that are full of magic and visiting them is an opportunity to discover the charm of Mexico.
Currently, there are 132 “Pueblos Mágicos” in Mexico, and if you visit the country, you cannot miss some of the most beautiful and colorful ones such as Izamal, Valladolid, Sayulita, Mexcaltitán, San Cristóbal de las Casas or Bacalar.
If you visit the state of Chiapas, in addition to San Cristóbal de las Casas, don’t miss San Juan Chamula, a town that will leave you speechless for sure.
Also, if you are going to travel to Mexico, do not hesitate to include in your route unique cities that will truly surprise you, such as Mérida, Oaxaca or Campeche.
Relax in the Mexican islands
You may not have time to spend a week on an island in Mexico, but there are day trips to such paradisiacal islands such as Isla Mujeres, Holbox, Cozumel, Contoy, Isla Isabel or Islas Marietas, that are absolutely worth it. You will enjoy an unforgettable day!
Some of the excursions you just can’t miss:
Excursion to Cozumel: In Cozumel, you will find the second largest coral reef in the world, and it is a perfect destination for snorkeling, diving or simply enjoying its spectacular beaches.
Excursion to Isla Mujeres: If you are based in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, be sure to visit Isla Mujeres. There are hardly any cars on this island, and sargassum does not reach some of its beaches! There you will find the true paradise.
Excursion to Holbox: Another essential island is Holbox, one of the most paradisiacal places in the Yucatan Peninsula. There are no cars and the sunsets on the island are from another world.
Excursion to the Marietas Islands: If you visit the Mexican Pacific, you cannot miss the Marietas Islands and its famous hidden beach. You can only reach it by hiring an excursion, since the islands have a limit of people per day, because it is a protected marine area as it has endemic bird species.
Visit Mexico City
If you want to discover the past and present of the country, nothing better than a visit to its capital, Mexico City.
Its historic center is well worth a stop. Do not miss El Zócalo, one of the largest squares in Latin America, the Templo Mayor, the Paseo de la Reforma, the Chapultepec forest, the Palace of Fine Arts or the Basilica of Guadalupe.
The best way to get to know the city if you don’t have much time, is to do this 2-hour Free tour through Mexico City, where they will take you to know its most impressive places.
The Metropolitan Cathedral, the Frida Kahlo Museum or the Anthropology Museum are also essential places in Mexico City.
If you visit Mexico City, be sure to take an excursion to Teotihuacán, one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico. I loved learning more about what the Aztecs called the “City of the Gods”. The Teotihuacán Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon are really impressive!
Discover the Mexican cenotes
Did you know that cenotes are natural wells and entrances to underground rivers that were sacred to the Mayans?
They are unique natural wonders, and in the Yucatan Peninsula there are more than 7,000! In one of my Reels you can see the amazing Suytun cenote, one of my favorites.
In my travels through Mexico, I have been lucky enough to see some of the best cenotes in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan, but there are so many and they are all so different that almost any of them will leave you speechless.
There are open cenotes and others that are underground and closed. And depending on the cenote, you can swim, snorkel and even dive in some of them.
Those that can be visited have zones that are accommodated for visitors, but you will have to pay an entry fee.
In all of them it is mandatory to wear a vest if you are going to swim (they are included with the ticket), and you cannot wear sunscreen, since they are very delicate ecosystems and those chemical products could damage them.
Traveler advice: If you want to avoid the cenote being full of people, it is best to arrive as soon as it opens, between 8 and 9 in the morning. Doing it like this, you will have the cenotes at least half an hour just for you.
If you are going to travel to the Yucatan Peninsula, do not miss these cenotes:
In Tulum, you cannot miss the Gran Cenote, one of the most beautiful open cenotes in the Riviera Maya. The water is totally transparent and so blue it will surprise you.
The Cenote Dos Ojos, also in Tulum, is very famous among those who want to snorkel and go down to its depths doing apnea.
Very close to the Magic Town of Valladolid, in Yucatan, there are several beautiful cenotes:
The Cenote Suytun is an impressive underground cenote. It is also of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It has a small hole in the upper part and a ray of light enters through it, and it makes the water look transparent and with an incredible sky-blue color.
The Cenote Oxman is another of the most beautiful in Mexico, along with the Cenote Ik Kil, which is located very close to the Chichen Itzá Archaeological Zone. This last one actually gave me the feeling of being inside the movie Avatar. It was wonderful!
Cenote Tours and Excursions in Riviera Maya and Yucatan
If you want to do some excursions to see cenotes, and you don’t have a car to go on your own, you can do some of these 1-day tours:
Riviera Maya Cenotes Tour: On this 1-day excursion (11 hours approx), you will discover the cenotes of Fuego K’áak, Agua Ha, Tierra Lu’um and Aire lik.
Bike tour through the Cenotes of Valladolid: On this 1-day excursion (9 hours approx), you will pedal to the cenotes of Oxman, Dzitnup, Samulá and X’Keké, some of the most beautiful cenotes in Yucatán.
Explore the Mayan ruins in Mexico
Traveling to Mexico and not visiting the Mayan ruins should not be allowed.
These archaeological sites will transport you to the past, and you will discover the history of Mexico and its ancestral traditions.
Some of the most spectacular ones, due to their magnitude or their popularity, are the following:
- Chichen Itzá
- Ruins of Tulum
- Ek Balam
- Monte Alban
Excursions and tours through the Mayan ruins in Mexico
Excursion to Chichén Itzá and cenote sagrado: A 1-day excursion (13 hours approx), where you will visit the famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá, the spectacular Kukulkan pyramid and the cenote sagrado.
Excursion to Tulum and Cobá: A 1-day excursion (12 hours approx), where you will visit the ruins of Tulum, unique in the world for its location by the sea, and the ruins of Cobá, hidden in the middle of the jungle, where the pyramid of Cobá is located, which is the highest in the Yucatan peninsula.
Excursion to Teotihuacán: A 1-day excursion (9 hours approx), where you will visit the most visited archaeological site in Mexico and the famous Pyramids of Teotihuacán.
Excursion to the archaeological zone of Palenque: A half-a-day excursion (5 hours approx), where you will visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque, in Chiapas.
Excursion to Monte Albán: A half-a-day (3 hours approx) or 1-day excursion (8 hours approx), where you will visit the ruins of Monte Albán in Oaxaca, one of the most Important archaeological sites of the Zapotec culture.
Taste the typical Mexican food
Did you know that Mexican gastronomy was recognized Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity?
I am not surprised at all, because all the typical dishes of Mexico that I have tasted are simply amazing and delicious!
In addition to trying the most typical Mexican restaurants, “taquerías” and “loncherías”, another very good option to taste the gastronomy of Mexico is to do a food tour, such as this gastronomic tour through Mexico City or this gastronomic tour through Mérida.
What to eat in Mexico
Traditional Mexican cuisine is an authentic delight, and if you are going to travel to Mexico, you should absolutely try it. Sure, tacos, quesadillas and fajitas are familiar to you, but I assure you that Mexican cuisine is much more than that.
Here is a list of some of my recommendations on typical dishes to eat in Mexico:
Chilaquiles: they are “totopos” (pieces of fried corn tortillas) that have cheese, chicken, onion and egg, and a sauce that can be green or red, depending on the chili you choose. They are very typical for breakfast.
Tacos: one of the typical dishes of Mexico that you should try for sure. The tacos are cornmeal pancakes, and can be filled with meat, chicken, “nopales”, etc. They are usually garnished with lemon, “pico de gallo” and chili sauce.
Tamales: one of the staples in Mexican cuisine. They are made with a corn dough that is wrapped in corn or banana leaves, and is filled mainly with meat and vegetables.
Aguachiles: they are very typical of the Mexican Pacific (Nayarit and Baja California), and they are made with shrimp (a star ingredient of the coast, macerated with lime, chili, coriander, onion and cucumber.
Ceviche: one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Both in the Riviera Maya and in the Mexican Pacific, you will find this delicacy of fish marinated with lime, chili and coriander.
Marquesitas: one of the bests Yucatecan desserts. I tried them in Valladolid and I loved them! They are freshly made crunchy waffles filled with grated ball cheese, with something sweet like Nutella or jam.
Where to sleep in Mexico
Hotels, resorts, apartments, hostels, beach villas… Mexico has something for every traveler and budget.
Traveler tip: If you want to book your accommodation in Mexico, I recommend that you do it in advance, especially if you are going to travel in high season and through the most touristy areas, and do it with free cancellation, in case you cannot go and you have to cancel it.
I always compare prices on the Booking website, because there you will find not only hotels, but also hostels and apartments.
On Booking, you can book with free cancellation and you can read the opinions of hundreds of travelers to choose the accommodation that best suits your needs and pocket.
- Hotels in the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Hotels in Riviera Maya.
- Hotels in Mexico City.
- Hotels in Oaxaca.
- Hotels in Riviera Nayarit.
I hope this Mexico travel guide has helped you to organize your trip easily. I will continue to expand this document when I visit new places.