Country guides North America
Mexico Travel Guide
Mexico has earned its reputation as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations through its warm weather and glorious resort beaches, and colourful cultural heritage. More than 20 million tourists visit each year, with the bulk of them heading to world-class resorts such as Acapulco, Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. Many prefer travelling the coasts in enormous cruise ships that stop along Baja California and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Clear ocean waters ideal for surfing, scuba diving and other water sports are a major draw, as are onshore activities such as 4x4 safaris, hiking and beach volleyball. The nightlife in the resorts is renowned for its intensity, and top restaurants complete the perfect package-holiday picture.
Travellers who venture inland to Mexico's less-visited cities discover a different side to the country though; one of colourful colonial buildings, rich and fragrant culinary traditions, lively mariachi rhythms and sold-out bullfighting arenas. A history going back thousands of years through the Mayan, Aztec and Olmec cultures has left Mexico a rich inheritance of stunning archaeological sites such as Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan. Yet Mexico has a modern side too, which visitors can meet in bustling metropolises such as Mexico City and Guadalajara.
Best time to visit Mexico
November is the best month to visit Mexico, as the peak tourist season has ended and the temperatures are moderate and pleasant. While Mexico's weather is famously sunny, the rainy season lasts from May to mid-October. Seasons to avoid in Mexico are the peak of summer (June to August) when the heat and humidity reach their climax, and the Easter holidays in March and April, when the resorts are overrun by students on Spring Break.
What to see in Mexico
- Marvel at the ancient temple of Chichen Itza.
- Take a close look at coral reefs in Cozumel.
- See the ruins of the Aztec city of Teotihuacan.
- Go whale watching in Cabo San Lucas.
What to do in Mexico
- Let loose in the night spots of Acapulco and Cancun.
- Try Mayan chocolate in Oaxaca.
- Go surfing on the beaches of Baja California.
- Take a ride on the Copper Canyon Railway.
Getting to Mexico
There are dozens of daily flights to Mexico from many major US cities, mostly arriving in Mexico City and popular resort areas such as Acapulco and Cancun; there are regular direct flights to Mexico from the UK and Europe as well. Driving to Mexico from the US involves border crossings at one of 42 border posts.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel and Aztec by Gary Jennings.
Cancion del Mariachi and La Malagueña.
Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) and Frida (2002).
Tequila, Corona and Mexican hot chocolate.
Carne asada (grilled beef), Cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork), fish tacos, corn tortillas and churros.
What to buy
Woven blankets, silver jewellery and tequila.
What to pack
The Mexican sun is notoriously hot, so visitors should pack plenty of sunscreen and a hat. After-sun lotion and aloe vera gel tends to be expensive at resorts.
What's on in Mexico
The town of Puebla commemorates Cinco de Mayo each spring with music and dancing. The colourful decorations and solemn processions of the Day of the Dead are a fascinating sight each November.
Did you know?
- Mexico introduced chocolate, corn and chillies to the world.
- While bullfighting is Mexico's national sport, football (or soccer) is more popular.
- Puebla, near Mexico City, is home to the smallest volcano in the world: the Cuexcomate, which is only 43 feet (13m) tall.
A final word
Spicy food, colourful culture and warm, welcoming people make Mexico one of the top tourist destinations in the world.