Begin your journey across Mexico in buzzing Mexico City, the oldest city in the Americas. Visit world-class museums, stroll around the famous streets of historical Zocalo (meaning city centre), cruise the canals and explore the stately Teotihuacán pyramids. Next, spend a day exploring Puebla’s many churches before slowing your pace at neighbouring Cholula, home to the ancient Great Pyramid. Travel to Oaxaca, whose city and surrounding state are famous for its rich history and indigenous cultures. Travel to Chiapas state and the charming town of Chiapa de Corzo, the starting point for trips to nearby Sumidero Canyon. Walk the cobbled streets of San Cristobal de las Casas before journeying to the jungly ruins of Palenque and the Yucatán’s self-proclaimed culture capital Mérida. Pay a visit to Mexico’s most famous pyramids at Chichén Itzá before ending your trip on the golden beaches of trendy resort town Playa del Carmen.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Oaxaca, Chichén Itzá, Mexico City, Playa del Carmen, Mérida, Chiapa de Corzo, Puebla, Cholula, Palenque, San Cristóbal de las Casas
Activity Activity Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, Culture
Physical Level Physical Level Easy
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Stroll through Mexico City’s famous Zocalo

Stroll through Mexico City’s famous Zocalo

Day 1–2 in Mexico City

The oldest capital city in the Americas, Mexico City is a buzzing tribute to an incredibly storied history, where pre-Hispanic and colonial-era buildings sit alongside innovative urban architecture and revamped public spaces. Visitors can explore the historic centre — known as Zocalo — and admire murals by renowned painter Diego Rivera, before heading to the excellent National Museum of Anthropology and History or to a classic old-school cantina for some authentic Mexican cuisine.

Visit the many churches of Puebla

Visit the many churches of Puebla

Day 3 in Puebla

The capital of the Puebla Municipality and one of Mexico’s biggest cities, Puebla’s well-preserved historic centre is home to 70 churches and a wealth of elegant colonial architecture, earning its nickname “the city of angels”. Once known as a symbol of virtue and conservatism — Puebla state remains the wealthiest Catholic diocese in Mexico — the city is currently undergoing a cultural and touristic revolution. With a dynamic art and crafts scene (the region is known for its fine Talavera ceramics), multiple universities and rich culinary heritage, Puebla easily deserves a few days of your time.

Explore colourful Cholula

Explore colourful Cholula

Day 4 in Cholula

A brief 20-minute bus ride away from Puebla, Cholula de Rivadavia has undergone a transformation in recent years, from small satellite town and occasional tour stop to a bona fide boutique destination. Boasting a rich history and more relaxed atmosphere than Puebla, Cholula is perhaps best known as the site of the Great Pyramid, an ancient shrubbery-covered temple with a Spanish church built atop its peak.

Embrace your inner-foodie in striking Oaxaca

Embrace your inner-foodie in striking Oaxaca

Day 5–7 in Oaxaca

Vibrant and historical, Oaxaca City is a captivating blend of old and new that just begs to be explored. Street art covers its pastel-coloured lanes and intoxicating smells float from every window. Known as the gastronomic capital of Mexico for good reason, sample the famous mole negro, a spicy, smoky meat and bean stew, although there are six other famous moles to try too. Don’t miss the Guelaguetza folk festival in July.

Oaxaca state offers so much more than just its capital city — visit Monte Alban, the ancient Zapotec capital city and one of the most important archeological sites in the Americas, and take a trip to Hierve El Agua, otherworldly natural limestone formations that resemble petrified waterfalls.

Don't miss

Learn about Mexican muralism in Ocotlán de Morelos

Learn about Mexican muralism in Ocotlán de Morelos

Head to the hometown of Oaxacan painter Rodolfo Morales to view his incredible murals in the municipal palace of Ocotlan. One of Mexico’s most renowned indigenous artists, Morales specialised in surrealist paintings of Mexican culture, and frequently depicted images of his hometown, including local churches and markets.

Marvel at quaint Chiapa de Corzo

Marvel at quaint Chiapa de Corzo

Day 8 in Chiapa de Corzo

Only 12km from state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez lies one of the most beautiful colonial towns in southern Mexico’s Chiapas state. Nestled on the northern bank of the Río Grijalva, Chiapa de Corzo is the main starting point for trips to nearby Cañón del Sumidero, and is home to the vivacious UNESCO-listed Fiesta Grande de Enero celebrations, which take place every January.

Walk the cobbled streets of San Cristobal de las Casas

Walk the cobbled streets of San Cristobal de las Casas

Day 9 in San Cristóbal de las Casas

The unofficial cultural capital of the state of Chiapas, the mountain town of San Cristobal de las Casas is a little-known gem of southern Mexico. As well as its traditional cobbled streets, beautiful colonial architecture (check out the 300-year-old Templo Santo Domingo) and amazing shopping opportunities, San Cristobal is also a great base to explore the rest of Chiapas. Take a boat trip up the Sumidero canyon from the nearby quaint town of Chiapas de Corzo, and marvel at the cascadas El Chiflon, a stunning series of waterfalls where you can enjoy a dip in the cool, turquoise water.

Spot howler monkeys at Palenque

Spot howler monkeys at Palenque

Day 10–11 in Palenque

Surrounded by lush rainforest, the impressive temples of Palenque are some of the best examples of Mayan architecture and civilisation, and a top destination in Chiapas. After the Mayan city state’s decline the temple was reabsorbed into the dense jungle of mahogany, cedar and sapodilla trees, and hidden for over 1000 years. It was then “discovered” by the Spanish priest Antonio de Solis in 1746 and has since been excavated and meticulously restored.

Escape the resort crowds in cultural Mérida

Escape the resort crowds in cultural Mérida

Day 12 in Mérida

The Yucatán Peninsula’s largest city and self-proclaimed cultural capital is a delightful blend of colonial heritage and cosmopolitan living. Nicknamed “The White City”, Merida’s charming narrow streets, grand central plazas and abundance of colonial buildings make it a worthy stop for any traveller exploring the region. Make sure to visit the colonial-era, white limestone Iglesia de la Tercera Orden and the imposing Mérida Cathedral, which was erected amidst the ruins of the Mayan settlement of Ichcansiho.

See Mexico’s most famous pyramid at Chichén Itzá

See Mexico’s most famous pyramid at Chichén Itzá

Day 13 in Chichén Itzá

One of the new Seven Wonders of the World and the best restored Mayan site in the Yucatán, Chichén Itzá remains one of the most iconic images of Mexico, and a must-see for many travellers visiting the region. At the height of its power in the 10th century, Chichén Itzá commanded large swathes of the Yucatán peninsula and its cultural, administrative and ceremonial centre stretches over 2.5 square miles of cenote speckled landscape. Avoid the inevitable crowds by heading to the site early or late in the afternoon. With ongoing discoveries still being made, a good guide is highly recommended — they will be able to give you up-to-date findings not even listed in a guidebook yet, and a better understanding of the complex history and culture of the Mayans who built these famous pyramids.

Don't miss

Take a trip to the charming colonial town of Valladolid

Take a trip to the charming colonial town of Valladolid

Beat the crowds — and the tour buses — at Chichen Itza by staying an hour away in the peaceful bohemian Valladolid. With good public transport, beautiful pastel-coloured colonial architecture and a number of attractions, it is a worthy destination for any traveller touring the Yucatán.

Relax in Playa del Carmen

Relax in Playa del Carmen

Day 14–15 in Playa del Carmen

Hipper and more laid-back than its Northern cousin Cancún, Playa del Carmen’s trendy nightlife and pristine beaches continue to draw tourists near and far, and this once-small fishing town is now one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico. Thanks to its easy accessibility from Cancún International Airport and key location on the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen is a fantastic base for day trips to Tulum, Cobá and nearby Cozumel Island.

Don't miss

Swim with wild turtles at Akumal Beach

Swim with wild turtles at Akumal Beach

Only a 30 minute drive from Tulum or Playa del Carmen is Akumal Beach, one of the only places in the world where you can swim with wild turtles right off the beach. The turtles — Green, Hawksbill and Loggerhead — are plentiful and quite accustomed to human company, but ensure you keep a respectful distance and do not crowd these beautiful and endangered creatures. For the best visibility visit early in the morning, as Akumal’s shallow and sandy bay tends to get churned up throughout the day.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £1,159pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.

Loading...