When picturing Mexico, your mind may drift to lively festivals, Mayan ruins and stunning beaches. Whatever your travel style, anything goes in this incredible country and with rich cultural experiences, breathtaking natural wonders and exciting watersports, there’s so much to see and do. So, to save you the trip planning time, we’ve rounded up 30 of the best and most fun things to do in Mexico ever…
1. Visit Chichen Itza
The archaeological site is a must-see for anyone visiting Mexico, with the UNESCO World Heritage Site bearing historical significance for centuries dating back to 600AD. The ancient Mayan city includes the Temple of Kukulkan, which you’re sure to recognise.
Of course, there are plenty of other jaw-dropping ancient ruins to see in Mexico. If you can get to them, we’d also recommend checking out sites like Palenque, Calakmul and Teotihuacan. Or, hop on Mexico Grande with Contiki and we’ll take you there!
2. Hike the Sierra Norte Mountains
Hiking the rolling hills of the Sierra Norte Mountains has become increasingly popular in recent years. The mountains in northern Oaxaca are filled with ecotourism businesses, like mountain biking tours and hiking trips, which help maintain the pristine landscapes. It’s a stunning sight to behold! If you’re looking for fun things to do in Mexico, you can’t go wrong here.
3. Check out the views from Hierve el Agua
About a one-hour drive away from the Sierra Norte Mountains is Hierve el Agua: a set of natural rock formations known as the petrified waterfalls. The mineral springs of this area are popular among locals from Oaxaca on warmer days, and with an increasing number of tourists wanting to check out this natural wonder, it’s a good idea to head here early in the day for the best views.
4. Browse books at Cafebreria El Pendulo
This book lovers paradise is so cool it almost nabbed a spot on our list of the best libraries around the world, but was cut out because it’s technically a bookstore. It’s also part café and – as you can see in the photos – part forest. Add a coffee break here to your list of things to do in Mexico!
Mexico City is one of the coolest cities in the world, woven with history from the Aztec period to the Mexican revolution. You’re bound to find a book in here that’ll explain it all.
5. Swim to a Hidden Beach on the Marietas Islands
Despite the name, this sandy beach isn’t exactly a secret, and it’s steadily growing in popularity – and exploding all over Pinterest! Here’s why it’s deserving of a spot on your list: It’s a beautiful beach inside a cave, accessible only by swimming or paddling through the waters – and through a tunnel – to reach the sand. It’s cool, it’s adventurous, it’s unique!
6. Go zip lining in Puerto Vallarta
Looking for an adrenaline rush? In vibrant Puerto Vallarta, you can go zip lining through the lush jungle canopies. While nearby in Punta Mita, you’ll find the perfect conditions and secluded bays for beginner surfing. Puerto Vallarta is also home to some of the best beachside restaurants AND giant lobster – no wonder it’s thought of as one of the most exciting spots in Mexico.
7. Discover the Cancún Underwater Museum
This is without a doubt one of the coolest things to do in Cancún. The incredible Cancún Underwater Museum has more than 500 sculptures sitting in three different underwater galleries in the ocean at the National Marine Park. Honestly, what else do you need to know, just add it to your travel list already.
8. Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum
Another Mexico City must-visit spot is the Museo Frida Kahlo, honouring the eponymous Mexican artist. The museum is known as ‘The Blue House’ thanks to the cobalt-blue paint of the walls. It’s actually the home where Frida was born and where she died, and it celebrates her life and displays some of her most incredible artworks.
9. Go hot air ballooning over Teotihuacan
Enjoy a hot air balloon ride over the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan with Contiki? Sounds pretty epic! Teotihuacan is pretty impressive on foot, but wait ’til you see it sky-high! This has to be one of the coolest ways to see any historical sight and tick hot air ballooning off your list at the same time.
10. Check out the cenotes in Tulum
The beachy, tropical town of Tulum is worth a visit of its own. But the Cenotes of Tulum are also pretty legendary. These famous swimming holes may be all over your Instagram feed, and there’s a reason for that. These are sinkholes, literally, filled with water and surrounded by jungle-like greenery. Swimming in one of these is like swimming in your own personal lush ecosystem.
Some of the best ones include Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote and Cenote Nicte-Ha. It’s also worth learning about their dark history, and what may be buried at the end of these never-ending, underwater tunnels…
11. Go to a Tequila tasting
Tequila, tequila! This drink always spells a good time doesn’t it? But let’s be responsible and drink in moderation – we are, of course, adults, travelling on a cultural tour of Mexico!
On our Mexico Grande trip we’ll stop at Guadalajara and visit an authentic tequila distillery where you can learn about the history of the drink, and knock back a cheeky shot or two. We won’t tell.
12. Have a sip of Mezcal
If you’re not a fan of tequila, have no fear, have you heard of Mexico’s other local drink? Mezcal is a sweeter alcohol made from agave; it goes down easier and brings just as much party. Who knows, you may find a new favourite and end up bringing some home to your friends!
Image source:Roger Ce / Unsplash
13. Book a catamaran for the day in Cancun
Do we really have to say more?
14. Eat ALL the street food
Of all the things to do in Mexico, this is probably the best and wisest one. After all, Mexican food is in most people’s top 5 foods, right? From wrapped foods like tacos, gorditas, and tamales, to foods on sticks like elotes and mango with chamoy, to sweet churros and all the cinnamon and sugar and the thick dulce de leche dip!
It’s a foodies paradise and we wholeheartedly encourage you to eat yourself into a food coma.
15. Visit the birthplace of mariachi
Follow the sounds of trumpet and guitar to the ‘Pearl of the West’, Guadalajara for a day of music and good vibes. The birthplace of mariachi, this musical tradition stemmed from the Guadalajara region, specifically in the town of Jalisco. A special Mexican tradition, the folk-like music can be heard all over the country – but Guadalajara is the place to be for it on Mexico Grande.
16. Museum hop in Mexico City
As with all big cities, Mexico City is a place of culture with a capital C! You want art? Head to the previously mentioned Frida Kahlo museum or El Palacio de Bellas Artes. Want history? Go see the Templo Mayor Museum, an awe inducing historical site, or the National Anthropology Museum.
Travel is all about learning and culture after all, and there’s no better way to understand a people and their coutry than by viewing their history and art!
Image source:Bhargava Marripati / Unsplash
17. Rent. A. Car
‘Renting a car?’ We hear you ask, ‘This one sounds a little basic. ‘Why rent a car when there’s public transport?’ Because public transport is expensive depending on how much you’re planning to use it, and it won’t always take you everywhere you want to go! If you rent a car, you get totally freedom. Any road is yours, and the adventures through Mexico are endless!
18. Tour colourful Guanajuato on foot
Cobblestone streets and brightly painted buildings, Guanajuato is easily one of the most Instagrammable spots in Mexico and you won’t want to miss the endless photo opportunities here! Drinking a cheeky mezcal on a cute street? Snap! Walking underneath covered alleys, wind in your hair? Snap!
Guanajuato is adorable and full of character, no wonder it’s labelled ‘most beautiful city in Mexico’.
Image source:Jorge Gardner / Unsplash
19. Visit the Mummy Museum, if you dare
Have you seen enough of happy bright architecture and in need or something a little more somber? Lucky Guanajuato is also home to a Mummy Museum – yup! This attraction isn’t for everyone, the tone is more on the sad and morbid side, but for those who can stomach it, it may be one of the more interesting stops on your trip.
20. Celebrate La Dia de Los Muertos
The day of the dead, perhaps Mexico’s most famous tradition, takes place in early November. It’s a time when families come together for a day of rememberence and celebration.
The holiday is celebrated in cities all across Mexico with displays of golden marigolds and prayer candles, as well as immersive colourful parades and seas of iconic painted faces. You’ll probably recognise the calavera makeup depicting a floral skull. This is pageantry at it’s finest and one hell of an experience.
Image source:Jeremy Lwanga / Unsplash
21. Take a Mexican cooking class
When in the country of world class food, it makes complete sense to learn from the best. Try an authentic cooking classes in different Mexican cities to really get a range and taste for all the various flavors. The coasts will teach you all there is to know about seafood preparation (fish tacos anyone?). The middle of the country will show you how to prepare cuts of beef so it melts in your mouth. And you can’t skip over the hot and spicy flavours found at every stop.
Take your new found skills home and teach your friends – foodies know it’s all about sharing the love!
21. Swim with whale sharks
Before you panic, whale sharks aren’t actually sharks, just really big fish! With their spotty backs and small eyes they actually look quite friendly, and Mexico is one of the only places in the world you can swim with them!
Allow these large but gentle creatures to guide you through opaline waters off of the Baja Peninsula, and discover true peace – trust us.
Image source:Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash
22. Bargain at the Monte Alban’s markets
Monte Alban, one of the earliest MesoAmerican cities is still up and running, tucked away near vibrant Oaxaca. Explore the remains of the city and the impressive archeological sites with friends. Then, buy each other a souvenir at the local market, a tradition upheld for years.
23. Day trip and surf in Sayulita
Okay, so there’s been a fair share of colourful towns on this list already. But we have one more. Sayulita, a surf town near Puerto Vallarta, with beach huts and palm trees hanging low. Walk in the shaded path and breathe in the salty-sweet ocean air. Then, hot the water and shred over a few waves. You know you want to…
Image source:Braden Collum / Unsplash
24. Watch a lucha libre match
Experience the entertainment of a century at a Lucha Libra match, otherwise known as Mexican wrestling! Except it’s not like regular wrestling. Expect an epic choreographed fight between good and evil, accompanied by a side of comedy and shiny neon masks. You just have to get into it: cheer on the hero until your voice breaks! It’s the night of your life.
25. Live in luxury at Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is coastal resort town along the sunny Yucatan Peninsula, on the Caribbean shoreline. Think palms trees, coral reefs, bluer than blue water, and scorching white sand.
Book a lounger here for the day and let yourself sizzle in the sun (with plenty of sunblock, of course). A popular stop here is Parque los Fundadores, a beach with a striking sculpted archway depicting two mermaids! If you make it at the right time, you’ll be able to catch a Mayan dance performance here as well.
Image source:Sergio Sala / Unsplash
26. Explore Isla Holbox
Let’s stay around the Yucatan Peninsula for a little while and explore Isla Holbox, an island home to flamingos and pelicans! Of course you get the usual gorgeous sea and sand combo, but Isla Holbox is special. Part of the Yum Balam Nature Reserve, it’s rich in marine life and wildlife and feels like true paradise.
27. Visit the town of San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is a colonial-era city in the country’s central highlands. Beautiful baroque architecture clues us into it’s historical past and the dramatic pink towers of Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel will take your breath away.
The town is known for it’s vibrant and modern art scene, as well as the many cultural festivals such as the Feast of Mary of Three Hail Marys. Travel with us and we’ll show you everything there is to see here!
28. Discover the occult at the Sonora Witch Market
The Mercado de Sonora in Mexico City sells all sorts of odd wares. If you’re looking for a love potion or something to cleanse your aura, you’re in the right spot. Vendors in this unconventional market will sell you anything from voodoo dolls, to strange powders, to tarot card readings.
29. Enjoy many sunset dinners
Ahh… This is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Eating a delicious meal with a glass of champagne, or something more local, from a glass sparkling in the setting sun. Bliss. A Dream. Paradise. Call it what you want, but it’s a must.
30. Follow the yellow brick houses of Izamal
Okay so the houses here aren’t made of brick, but they are bright yellow! A magical town in Mexico, Izamal is widely considered a jewel dressed in egg-yolk yellow, and even the Pope thinks so. In 1993 Pope John Paul II visited the town, which inspired the shift in colour – the story goes that Izamal’s residents wanted to honour the yellow stripe of the Vatican’s flag!