Discover Mexico's highlights
By Martha Hales
Mexico has a lot going for it whatever kind of holiday you have in mind. Enjoy the changing landscapes as you travel, from mountains to tropical forest and from mangroves to desert. Take some time in each region to get to know the local cuisine - a highlight for everyone whether you’re foodie or not. Pacific beaches tempt surfers to their renowned breaks, whilst sheltered coves of dazzling blue - perfect for swimming and snorkelling - punctuate the Caribbean coast. When you add historical intrigue and a rich culture into all that natural splendour, you have yourself an extremely compelling holiday destination which will suit all sorts of visitors.
We've compiled this brief round-up of some of Mexico's many highlights to give you a taste of what's in store when you decide on this incredible nation for your next holiday.
Sitting at nearly 2,500 metres altitude and surrounded by mountains, Mexico City boasts a spectacular location. This sprawling metropolis of 25 million souls may seem a little intimidating at first, but its colonial heart and impressive cultural sights will soon win you over.
Don't miss the Zocalo - hub of the city and home to the imposing cathedral - or the many fabulous museums. The Anthropology museum is particularly good, as is the museum dedicated to the life and work of Frida Kahlo. Hang out in Chapultepec Park, one of the world's largest urban parks, recharging your batteries before exploring some of the further flung districts or shopping in the colourful handicraft markets.
Known as one of the foodie hotspots of Mexico, you can't fail to eat well in Oaxaca. And when you take a break from all that deliciousness, there are plenty of other attractions to charm you.
The vibrant colours of the buildings, the elegant colonial architecture and the public spaces adorned with interesting artworks will put a smile on your face, whilst the busy markets will tempt you to browse and buy with their imaginatively displayed local handicrafts. This is a town with creativity running through its veins, and all that artistry is celebrated with a number of impressive galleries and art museums showcasing works from local and national artists from the past right up to the present day.
Thought to have been constructed from around 300 AD but mostly between 600 and 900 AD, this Mayan archaeological site is the best known in Mexico, both for its magnificent structures and because it is one of the most extensively explored and researched. The city would once have been an important hub in the Mayan world, and its prominent monumental structures demonstrate that this was a city of power and ceremony.
Various architectural styles have confused archaeologists but the consensus today is that these differences in styles demonstrate that influences from other regions began to become significant. Some of the most significant and complete structures at Chichén Itzá include the Temple of Kukulkan, named after the plumed serpent God, the Temple of the Warriors, the Tomb of Chacmool, the Caracol, the Ball Courts and the Wall of Skulls.
It might be Mexico's fourth largest city but Puebla has a friendly vibe. It's not far from Mexico City so you can add it to your itinerary without too many hours on the road, and this UNESCO World Heritage Site won't disappoint with its leafy central Zocalo, attractive colonial architecture and mouth-watering food culture.
Talavera pottery is one of the city's best known crafts and a visit to one of the artisan workshops is a fascinating insight into this ancient tradition. Another interesting thing to do in Puebla is to visit the oldest public library in the Americas, the Biblioteca Palafoxiana. The sumptuous interior has the original wood panelled shelving and an impressive collection of historic books. Make sure you try the celebrated local specialities of Puebla including chiles en nogada, chalupas and mole poblano.
As with many of the cities founded by the Spanish, Merida was constructed on the site of a previous Mayan city, re-using the stones from the existing monuments to create a new city built to Spanish architectural traditions. Today, the main plaza is still home to some of the most important buildings in the city, and is a natural fulcrum for the life of the historic centre.
The city's past wealth was a result of the sisal trade, a raw material used to make rope until the advent of nylon, and evidence of this wealth and prosperity is still clear today - take a stroll along Paseo de Montejo to admire some of the most ornate mansions. Many cultural events take place in Merida year round, making its vibrant and appealing place to linger, making the most of the tropical temperatures to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.
With two coastlines to choose from, Mexico is a great destination for sun worshippers and beachcombers alike. The coastline stretches for nearly 10,000 kilometres ensuring there is a beach for every occasion. Many of the finest beaches face the Caribbean Sea, and these are often served by several resort hotels and boast excellent facilities and water sports options.
Some of the most popular beach resorts are Tulum, Cancun, Cozumel - worth being aware Cozumel is also popular with cruise ships - and Playa del Carmen. With a reputation for being the place to see and be seen, Playa del Carmen is quite an upmarket destination while Tulum is renowned for its slightly alternative vibe and for its focus on wellness as well as its beautiful beaches and the striking colours of the sea.
Make it happen
Get your fix of Mayan sites, stunning beaches, vibrant flavours and distinctive culture on a tailor-made holiday to Mexico. Our dedicated local experts are there on the ground with up to the minute knowledge of everything Mexican, making them the perfect partners to create a bespoke trip for you, taking into account your own preferences and interests. Contact them via our enquiry form and find out what exciting ideas they have in store for you. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.