Let’s face it. We’ve all been guilty of spending too much of our precious time running around trying to spin too many plates. If the last couple of years has taught us anything, it’s to slow down and focus on what really matters. What makes you happy.
Has there ever been a better time to take a month or two out for yourself? To re-set. To re-energise.
And what better way to do that than to embark on a bucket list trip. And what better place to reboot than magical Mexico.
So, to help you out, we’ve put together our top picks of our favourite authentic Mexico travel destinations. In fact, our Undertourists Mexico Itinerary will help you plan an unforgettable Mexico trip.
Escape the tourist crowds in Cancún and Baja and discover authentic Mexico with our ultimate Mexico itinerary. Embrace local travel in this car-free adventure perfect for independent travellers.
Strap in. It’s time to hit the road.
How long should you spend in Mexico?
Whether you’ve got two weeks or two months, there’s always an opportunity to put together an unforgettable Mexico itinerary.
In two weeks, you can travel through the Mexican states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán and Chiapas. Relax in shimmering Laguna Bacalar, and discover amazing Mayan sites like Tulum, Cobá, Palenque, Chichen Itza and Uxmal. Hang out in cultural Mérida, hit the highlands at San Cristóbal de las Casas and take a boat trip through the stunning Cañón del Sumidero.
With 4 weeks you can do this and much more on an epic overland journey from easy-to-access Cancún in the east to bustling Mexico City in central Mexico. Discover cultural riches, stunning beaches, ancient Mayan sites and one of Latin America’s best capital cities.
Add in two more weeks and you can continue further west to alternative Guadalajara via gorgeous Guanajuato and monumental Morelia.
Whether your Mexico itinerary is two weeks, one month or more, be warned… you may find it difficult to leave!!
Related read: Tips for Planning the Ultimate Trip to Mexico
When is the best time to visit Mexico?
Before we jump into the amazing places you’ll explore on our Mexico itinerary, it’s important to consider when is the best time to visit Mexico. As a responsible traveller, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve done your planning, particularly since Mexico has a distinct hurricane season, which would be best to avoid.
Having said that, Mexico remains an ideal off peak travel destination. Visit in low season to avoid the crowds and take advantage of some bargain prices in less popular places.
The best time to visit Mexico is in late September to November, for good weather without the crowds. Just be aware that there can be some rain in coastal areas. May and June are also some of the best months to visit Mexico, although temperatures can get a little hot and you may experience some rain on the Pacific coast.
Whenever you decide to visit Mexico, we recommend avoiding high season (December to April), when tourist crowds can often overwhelm local destinations with limited infrastructure. It’s also best to avoid hurricane season (late June to September) which can seriously hamper overland journeys!
Related read: Is it Safe to Travel to Mexico?
What’s the best way to get around Mexico?
Now you’ve got the low-down on the best time to visit Mexico, let’s take a quick look at how to get around. After all, it’s pretty difficult to take on an epic Mexico itinerary without getting your head round the transport options!
In case you’re worried about how difficult getting around Mexico can be, the good news is that generally speaking bus travel on our Mexico itinerary should be safe, affordable and comfortable. You’ll be able to reach all of these incredible destinations without the hassle, carbon impact and cost of a hire car. Not only are bus journeys the best choice for sustainable travel, but you’ll also get to meet other travellers and locals too.
Ado serves the majority of routes in the Yucatán, Chiapas and beyond and is a great choice. OCC is also a good option. Primera Plus and ETN serve central and northern routes.
Related read: Road Trips in Mexico: The Best Routes
The Ultimate DIY Mexico Itinerary | Authentic Mexican destinations
Now you know the best time to visit Mexico and the best way to get around Mexico. So there’s only one thing left to do…discover authentic Mexican destinations on our epic Mexico itinerary.
Day 1-4 | Bliss out in Bacalar
Grab a cheap flight to Cancún and jump on an ADO bus from the airport south to Bacalar, close to the Belize border. Here you’ll find the gorgeous blue waters of Laguna Bacalar – one of the best chill out spots we’ve ever been to! This is a perfect place to unwind, sample some local beers and decompress before your big adventure. Kick back for a couple of days before the real adventure begins.
Day 5-7 | Discover the treasures of Tulum
Now you’ve found your zen, it’s time to hit the next destination of our Mexico itinerary – Tulum. As a popular choice for tourists in Mexico, this is one place you’ve probably heard of! Whilst admittedly quite touristy, travel off-season and you’ll get the chance to enjoy the stunning Tulum ruins, discover sparkling cenotes (sink holes) and explore the forested ruins of Cobá.
On balance, we feel that these makes Tulum a good place to base yourself for a couple of days. And that’s why we’ve included it in our Mexico itinerary! Stay in local guesthouses, eat local, and take local colectivos for a more enriching and authentic travel experience.
Related read: Where to Stay in Tulum: Budget Beachfront Accommodation
Day 8-10 | Explore Mayan Mérida
So you’ve soaked off in cenotes and got a taste for mesmerising Mexican ruins… it’s time for week two of our Mexico itinerary. Next stop is Yucatán’s delightful cultural capital – Mérida. Wander around beautiful museums and colonial houses. Cycle around the traffic-free streets on Sunday morning before sampling some of the best cochinita and lechón tacos in Mexico at the authentic food stalls in Parque Santa Lucia. In the evening catch a free concert in the lively main square as the sun sets.
Mérida also makes a great base for a DIY tour to the mighty Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, or an organised day tour to Uxmal. These two ancient sites are major highlights of any trip to Mexico.
Related read: Visit Merida: The Cultural Hub of the Yucatan
Day 11-13 | Pick up the pace in Palenque
Half way through the second week of our Mexico itinerary, and it’s time to discover some of our favourite hidden gems in Mexico. To get some real off-the-beaten track adventure, head next to Palenque town and hop in a local colectivo to the backpacker’s area of El Panchan. Wake up to the reverberating calls of howler monkeys before exploring the jungle-clad ancient ruins of magnificent Palenque.
The next day, head deeper into the jungle to visit Yaxchilan and Bonampak, ancient Mayan sites located near the banks of the Usumacinta River. Travel by jeep and lancha (boat) to reach these hidden sites. And you’ll be rewarded with stunning sculptures and fascinating frescoes.
It’s best to take a day tour with one of the companies in Palenque Town. We would recommend Transportadora Turística Tulum. Whilst you can visit both independently, it’s tough logistically and not necessarily cheaper.
Day 14-17 | Hit the highlands in San Cristóbal de las Casas
For something completely different, week 3 of our Mexico itinerary takes you away from the sweat-laden jungle and into the cool Mexican highlands. The captivating mountain city of San Cristóbal de las Casas has a really relaxed and inviting vibe. It’s the kind of place you plan to stop for a couple of nights and find you’re still there after a couple of weeks!
After taking a free walking tour, check out the fabulous eating and drinking options along the pedestrianized section of Real de Guadalupe. The next day, hike up to the stunning city viewpoints of Cerro de San Cristóbal or Cerro de Guadalupe. And don’t forget to sample a couple of shots of pox – a potent local liquer.
To top it all off, take a hostel tour to the stunning vistas and waters of wildlife-rich Cañón del Sumidero. It’s one of the best day trips in Mexico.
Related tour: Sumidero National Park Full-Day Trip from San Cristobal
Day 18-21 | Relax in the playas of Puerto Escondido
From San Cristóbal de las Casas, take the long bus journey ride south down to the stunning Oaxacan coast to chill out and reflect on your amazing Mexico adventure so far. This section of our Mexico itinerary offers lots of different beach options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Try the surf town of Puerto Escondido (‘hidden port’), with it’s choice of four distinct beaches. Love sea swimming or want to learn to surf? Then head to buzzy Playa Carrizalillo. Fancy lounging in a hammock, cold beer in hand, as you gaze across the inviting sea? Then La Punta de Zicaleta is the place for you. Plus, mellow Puerto Escondido has a great variety of accommodation, nightlife, food options and fab ice cream.
Alternatively, head further along the coast to laid back Mazunte. This yoga-lovers paradise has an extremely chilled-out vibe, a lovely walk to rocky cape Punta Cometa and great coffee. Or how about Zipolite? You’ll find a clothing optional beach, good surf and a great bohemian feel. Whatever you get up to, you’ll get to hang out in some of the best beaches in Mexico.
Day 22-24 | Eat delicious food in Oaxaca
When you’ve had your fill of beach, head on up to Oaxaca, one of the better known tourist spots and still a fabulous city, although a bit tourist-weary these days. In week 4 of our Mexico itinerary, you’ll get to gorge on delicious mole sauces, tempting tlayuda (‘Mexican pizza’), reviving local chocolate, coffee and mezcal.
Oaxaca has it all – culture, shopping, beautiful churches, contemporary art and unrivalled local gastonomy. Oaxaca is also a great place to learn Spanish or take a cooking class. Don’t forget to take a day trip to the stunningly sited ruins at Monte Albán and the spectacular mineral springs and rock formations of Hierve El Agua. Or if that sounds too adventurous, take tour around one of the many local mezcalarias to discover the secrets of now famous Mexican mezcal.
Day 25-28 | Mix it up in magical Mexico City
For more of Mexico’s famous culture and cuisine, our Mexico itinerary takes you north to the vibrant capital. For the first couple of days, focus on CDMX’s downtown delights – the Zócalo (main square), Catedral, Templo Mayor and Palacio Nacional.
Next, soak up more culture in one of the world’s top museums, the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Then head out to the famous Frida Kahlo house in the southern district of Coyoacán to find out more about this icon of Mexican art. For foodie delights, spend your evenings in the trendy neighbourhoods of Condesa and Roma. You’ll get a taste of the city’s heaving taco joints, swanky restaurants and hip bars.
Finally, make time for a trip to the majestic pyramids of Teotihuacán, easily visited by bus from the Autobuses del Norte (line 5, metro).
Day 29 | Discover the ‘pueblo mágico’ of Puebla
After fun, food and culture in the capital, strike out to nearby Puebla – a quintessential pueblo mágico (magical town). Leave the day trippers to return back to Mexico City and stay over at Puebla to soak up the local vibe. Enjoy local dishes and shopping for colourful ceramics. Get a great rate on Puebla’s hotels, hostels and guesthouses and save yourself a night of pricier accommodation in Mexico City.
Day 30-33 | Guanajuato
In the final section of our Mexico itinerary, it’s time to travel north to gorgeous Guanajuato, one of the most underrated destinations in Mexico. Take a ride on the local funicular for unforgettable panoramic views. Stroll down picture perfect lanes to discover manicured Jardin de la Union, stately Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, and the brilliantly baroque Templo de la Compañía. Get your cultural fill of museums, theatres and art galleries. And spend your nights hanging out at one of the many hip student bars.
Day 34-36 | Morelia
For the penultimate stop on our Mexico itinerary, head to little visited Morelia – the capital of Michoacan state. Gaze at its fabulous rosy pink cathedral and aqueduct. Marvel at the mega murals of its famous son José María Morelos. And enjoy the relaxed outdoor café culture and local sweets.
For adventures outside of the city, visit historical Pátzcuaro. It’s packed full of beautiful churches and presided over by a stunning lake fringed by Purepecha villages offering fabulous handicrafts. You can also check out the impressive archeological site of Tzintzuntzan. It’s a short drive or shared taxi ride away and offers great views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
Morelia also makes an excellent base for the annual monarch butterfly migration in the nearby sanctuary reserve.
Day 37-39 | Guadalajara
For the final stop of our epic Mexico itinerary, head to Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara. Less frenetic than the capital, but just as jam-packed with unique local culture, sights and gastronomy. What’s more, Guadalajara is the birthplace of Mariachi music, as well as the home of Mexico’s most well-known export…Tequila!
Start by checking out the city’s fabulous churches, museums and Orozco murals. Then, head out to the nearby agave fields and distilleries to sample the different varietals of tasty Tequila.
Finish our Undertourists Mexico Itinerary by putting your new-found Tequila knowledge to good use in the awesome and welcoming bars in fabulous Guadalajara.
A perfect way to end your epic adventure and raise a glass or two to magical Mexico.
Related tour: Jose Cuervo Distillery & Tequila Town Tour
Time to travel better
So whether you’re dreaming of shimmering waters, golden beaches, bustling cities or ancient treasures, our Mexico itinerary has got you covered. Explore authentic Mexican destinations, visit off-season and choose local travel, food, tours and accommodation. This is your chance to travel better.
Visit www.undertourists.com/be-an-undertourist to pledge your commitment to travel better.
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