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 Mexico
Activity Beach, Family, Nature & Wildlife, Culture
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

Located in the tropical lowlands of Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas, Palenque was an important seat of power during the Classic Maya period, seeing its peak between 226-799 C.E.

The city was later abandoned in 900C.E, the reasons for which are still largely unknown, although some studies suggest that drought was a possible cause. It is now preserved as part of Palenque National Park.

Only 10% of the city is believed to have been excavated, but if you feel like exploring further you can walk along the paths into the jungle to find streams, waterfalls and make guesses about which mounds are likely to be hiding Maya structures underneath.

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, this Maya city was at its height in the 10th century, when it commanded a vast area of what is now the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chichén Itzá’s ceremonial, cultural and administrative centre sprawls out over 2.5 square miles, its edifices aligned with celestial bodies. Within this same area, there were sacred sinkholes (cenotes), where sacrifices to the rain god Chaac were made to ensure that life-giving water was always abundant.

A city built in stages from around 600 CE, it was finally abandoned around 1250 CE, but so mighty was its power, and so sacred the sinkholes, that Chichén Itzá continued to be a site of pilgrimage for the Maya for hundreds of years beyond.

Today, a different type of pilgrimage occurs, with almost 1.5 million visitors flocking to the site each year. The excavated structures and the pristine nature of this archaeological site have been part of the allure, as well as its proximity to tourist hubs like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. The stories that the city holds, and the displays of Maya astrological and architectural prowess make it a noteworthy stop.

Yes, it is busy, but it is worth braving the crowds to explore this ancient Maya city and learn more about the history, beliefs and enduring cosmology of the people who lived there.

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.

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