Have you ever dreamt of a holiday that combines stunning natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and ancient history? Mexico, with its diverse landscapes and rich heritage, offers countless awe-inspiring experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re an adventurous spirit, a history enthusiast or a foodie, Mexico has something that will captivate your heart.
If this sparks your wanderlust, read on to uncover our top 10 recommendations for things to do in Mexico that are guaranteed to leave you in awe and help you plan your dream Mexican adventure.
10 Things to Do in Mexico That Will Leave You in Awe
Whether you are a history buff, an adrenaline junkie, or a beach lover, let us take you on an unforgettable adventure through Mexico’s most captivating destinations.
Unravel the Mysteries of Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is a popular UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the World’s New Seven Wonders. Nestled in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, this archaeological marvel will leave you in awe with its grandeur and rich historical significance.
As you step foot into the sacred grounds of Chichen Itza, you’ll be greeted by the iconic centrepiece, the towering El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan. This magnificent pyramid, with its precise geometric design and astronomical alignments, is a testament to the Mayans’ advanced understanding of architecture and astronomy.
Beyond El Castillo, Chichen Itza holds a wealth of archaeological treasures waiting to be discovered. Explore the mesmerising Temple of the Warriors, adorned with intricate sculptures and surrounded by a thousand columns, each telling its own story. Witness the enigmatic Cenote Sagrado, a sacred sinkhole where the Mayans made offerings to the gods.
To fully appreciate the wonders of Chichen Itza, hiring a knowledgeable guide who can bring the history and legends to life is highly recommended. They will regale you with tales of Mayan rituals, the city’s rise and fall, and the significance of each architectural masterpiece.
Revel in the Vibrancy of Mexico City
Mexico City is a haven for those seeking an urban adventure filled with history, art, mouthwatering cuisine, and architectural marvels. As you step into the bustling streets, prepare to be captivated by the vibrant energy that permeates every corner.
Immerse yourself in Mexico City’s rich cultural heritage by visiting its world-class museums. Start your exploration at the renowned National Museum of Anthropology, where you’ll learn about the fascinating civilisations that have shaped Mexico’s history. For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as Casa Azul, is a must.
No visit to Mexico City would be complete without indulging in its culinary delights. Sample the flavours of authentic Mexican cuisine, from the rich and savoury mole to the mouthwatering tacos al pastor. Don’t miss the opportunity to sip on traditional Mexican beverages like pulque or mezcal, immersing yourself in the local flavours and traditions.
As you wander the city streets, let the stunning architecture enchant you. Marvel at the grandeur of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a magnificent palace that houses a theatre and an art museum. Admire the intricate details of the Metropolitan Cathedral, an awe-inspiring symbol of Mexico’s religious history. As the day turns into night, embrace the city’s vibrant nightlife. There is something for every taste, from trendy bars and rooftop lounges to traditional cantinas.
Discover the Magic of Cenotes in Yucatan
The Cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico are natural sinkholes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock. They hold a mystical allure that beckons you to explore their crystal-clear waters and immerse yourself in their serene beauty.
As you approach a cenote, you’ll be captivated by the breathtaking sight that awaits you. Picture lush vegetation surrounding a circular opening, revealing a pool of glistening turquoise water beneath. The play of light filtering through the canopy above creates a mesmerising dance of shadows and reflections, enhancing the ethereal ambience of the cenote.
The variety is astounding, from open-air cenotes, where sunlight cascades into the water, to semi-open and fully enclosed cenotes hidden within caves. These natural wonders provide a unique opportunity to swim in tranquil, pristine waters that are believed to be sacred by the Mayan people.
Snorkel or dive beneath the surface to discover intricate rock formations, stalactites, and stalagmites, forming a surreal underwater landscape. Swim alongside schools of colourful fish, turtles, and even the occasional freshwater crocodile, observing their graceful movements in this unique aquatic ecosystem.
Explore the Unspoiled Beauty of Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon, or Barranca del Cobre as it is known in Spanish, stretches across the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in Chihuahua. Its vast expanse encompasses six distinct canyons that intertwine to form an intricate network of rugged cliffs, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. This colossal canyon system spans over 60,000 square kilometres, making it four times larger than the Grand Canyon and a sight to behold.
As you traverse the winding paths and hiking trails, be prepared to encounter breathtaking vistas at every turn. Marvel at the dramatic cliffs that plunge into the depths, their vibrant hues of red, orange, and ochre contrasting against the vibrant green of the surrounding flora.
To fully appreciate the grandeur of Copper Canyon, a ride aboard the iconic Chihuahua al Pacífico railway, also known as the “Chepe” train, is an absolute must. This remarkable train journey spans 673 kilometres and takes you through some of the most spectacular sections of the canyon.
Exploring the indigenous communities that call Copper Canyon home is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture. Encounter the Rarámuri people, also known as the Tarahumara, known for their endurance running abilities and deep spiritual connection with the land. Engage in cultural exchanges, witness traditional ceremonies, and admire the intricate craftsmanship of their vibrant textiles and crafts.
Visit the Flamingo Sanctuary in Celestun
The Flamingo Sanctuary is a pristine coastal haven located in the Yucatan Peninsula. It is home to thousands of vibrant flamingos that gracefully inhabit the mangrove-fringed lagoons.
As you approach the Flamingo Sanctuary, the first thing that captures your attention is the breathtaking sight of the vivid pink plumage of the flamingos standing out against the backdrop of the turquoise waters. The sanctuary encompasses extensive wetlands and estuaries, providing the perfect environment for these graceful birds to thrive.
As your boat glides through the calm waters, your eyes are treated to a captivating display of thousands of flamingos engaged in their natural behaviours. Watch in awe as they gracefully wade through the shallow waters, delicately balancing on one leg and sweeping their curved bills through the water to feed on the small shrimp and algae that give them their vibrant pink colour.
The Flamingo Sanctuary is a haven for flamingos and home to a rich diversity of wildlife. Keep an eye out for herons, pelicans, egrets, and various migratory birds that seek refuge in this biodiverse ecosystem. Crocodiles lazily basking in the sun and turtles leisurely swimming through the waters add to the enchantment of the sanctuary.
Dive into the Underwater World of Cozumel
Cozumel is known for its rich biodiversity and pristine underwater landscapes. As you descend into the depths, you’re greeted by a kaleidoscope of colour and a flood of marine activity. Cozumel’s coral reefs are a sight to behold, with various hard and soft corals forming a vibrant ecosystem teeming with life.
Diving in Cozumel is a real feast for the senses. The waters are home to various marine creatures, from tropical fish of all shapes and sizes to graceful sea turtles gliding through the currents. Look out for majestic eagle rays floating gracefully by, and if you’re lucky, you might even encounter the gentle giants of the ocean, the magnificent whale sharks.
The clear waters allow for excellent visibility, providing a window into an underwater wonderland. Be mesmerised by the delicate dance of the sea fans and sea anemones. You should also watch for camouflaged critters like seahorses and octopuses hiding in plain sight.
One of Cozumel’s most famous dive sites is Palancar Reef, known for its intricate coral formations and dramatic drop-offs. Descending into the depths, you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering walls of coral adorned with sponges and sea fans. Swim along the canyons and crevices, exploring the nooks and crannies where marine life thrives.
Experience Day of the Dead Festivities
The Day of the Dead is a cultural celebration that pays homage to the lives of departed loved ones. This unique and enchanting festival is a must-see experience that will immerse you in Mexican culture’s rich traditions and profound spirituality.
The significance of the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, runs deep in Mexican culture. It is a time when families and communities come together to honour and remember their deceased ancestors and celebrate the cycle of life and death. It is believed that during this period, the souls of the departed return to the earthly realm to be reunited with their loved ones, creating a spiritual connection that transcends the boundaries between the living and the dead.
To truly immerse yourself in the vibrant spirit of the Day of the Dead, head to the city of Oaxaca. This culturally rich region in southern Mexico is renowned for its elaborate celebrations and traditional customs surrounding this festival.
One of the most iconic experiences on the Day of the Dead is the lively procession known as the Comparsa. The Comparsa is a lively parade that winds through the streets of Oaxaca in the evening. Participants wear elaborate costumes and skeleton makeup. Sample traditional treats like pan de muerto, a sweet bread in the shape of bones, and sugar skulls elaborately decorated with bright colours.
Experiencing this cultural phenomenon first-hand will help you appreciate Mexican society’s traditions, values and deep spirituality.
Witness the Breathtaking Colours of Hierve el Agua
Hierve el Agua is a truly awe-inspiring destination in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. Also known as “petrified waterfalls”,” this enchanting place will transport you to a world of surreal beauty and breathtaking colours.
As you approach Hierve el Agua, you first see a breathtaking view of towering rock formations that look like waterfalls frozen in time. These petrified mineral deposits, formed over thousands of years, create an otherworldly landscape you’ve never seen before. The contrast between the vibrant green and the pristine white of the minerals is an unforgettable sight.
Hierve el Agua translates as “the boiling water”,” inspired by the bubbling of the mineral-rich springs that feed the pools. These natural springs form mineral terraces reminiscent of large terraced infinity pools that seem to merge with the surrounding mountains.
One of the most spectacular viewpoints in Hierve el Agua is the Mirador, a lookout point that offers a panoramic view of the petrified waterfalls and the surrounding valleys. From here, you can admire the impressive and magnificent geological structures. To fully experience the magic of Hierve el Agua, visit in the early morning or late afternoon when the sunlight bathes the landscape in a warm light.
Marvel at the Monarch Butterfly Migration
Each year, millions of monarch butterflies embark on an epic journey spanning thousands of miles, creating a breathtaking spectacle that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. These delicate insects travel from as far north as Canada to their wintering grounds in Mexico. The journey can span up to 3,000 miles, taking several generations of butterflies to complete.
To witness the monarch butterfly migration at its peak, head to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán or the State of Mexico. These protected areas serve as the winter sanctuaries for the monarch butterflies, providing a haven where they can rest and conserve their energy during the cooler months.
Plan your visit between late November and early March if you want to see the monarch butterfly sanctuaries at their best. During this time, the butterflies are at their highest numbers and gather in dense clusters on the trees. During this time, the forests come alive with a vibrant orange hue as millions of butterflies gather together, creating a mesmerising sight that is nothing short of magical.
To fully appreciate the monarch butterfly migration, consider joining an expert-led guided tour. They can provide valuable insights into the life cycle of the butterflies, their conservation efforts, and the ecological significance of this incredible migration.
Hike the Mountains in Sierra Norte
The Sierra Norte Mountains offer a picturesque escape from the bustling cities, with its rugged peaks, deep valleys, and lush forests. As you embark on your hike, you’ll be surrounded by towering pine trees, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic vistas that take your breath away. The beauty of the landscapes is ever-changing, from mist-covered mountaintops to serene meadows adorned with wildflowers..
But the opportunity to connect with the indigenous communities that call this region home sets the Sierra Norte Mountains apart. The mountains are inhabited by various indigenous groups, including the Zapotec and Mixe communities, who have preserved their ancestral traditions and way of life for generations. Interacting with these communities adds a unique cultural dimension to your hiking experience, allowing you to gain insights into their customs, rituals, and deep connection with the land.
As you hike through the Sierra Norte, you’ll encounter villages nestled amidst the mountains, where the local communities warmly welcome visitors. Take the time to engage with the locals, learn about their daily lives, and perhaps even participate in traditional activities such as weaving, pottery, or cooking.
During your hike, keep an eye out for the region’s unique wildlife, including various bird species, deer, foxes, and even rare glimpses of the elusive jaguar. The mountains are a haven for birdwatchers, with opportunities to spot endemic and migratory birds in their natural habitats. To make the most of your hiking experience in the Sierra Norte, you should consider staying in one of the community-based ecotourism lodges managed and owned by the local communities.
Mexico is a country that never fails to leave visitors in awe with its rich cultural heritage, natural wonders, and diverse experiences. From the captivating ruins of Chichen Itza to the vibrant streets of Mexico City, there are countless opportunities to immerse yourself in the magic of this enchanting land.