Mexico Travel Guide

Are you dreaming of palm-fringed beaches, miles of coral reefs, and warm tropical waters? This side of Mexico consistently lures travelers south of the border, but there is also so much more to see in this country. Hit the archeological sites and learn about ancient civilizations. Explore the energy of Mexico City. Get ready to climb, hike, or zip-line, all in the same vacation as sipping a frozen cocktail on the beach.

Does that sound like your style? Make this type of vacation a reality by choosing self-catering accommodation. This Mexico travel guide from VacationRentals.com will show you all the activities and adventures that can make unforgettable Mexico vacations. Go ahead, get planning!

What to Do in Mexico

Mexico Beach vacation

Under the Golden Sun

If you are looking for nothing but relaxation, there are many Mexico vacations that specialize in sand and surf. The golden beaches of Mexico, from Acapulco to Cancun and Cabo to Cozumel vacation rentals, attract a variety of travelers looking for relaxation or nightlife. One benefit of renting your own vacation home is avoiding the noise of many Mexican resorts.

It would be easy to spend an entire trip to Mexico sunbathing and cooling off with a swim. However, there are plenty of activities that can keep you and your family busy at the beach if you choose to participate. Grab a snorkel mask and gaze at the coral and tropical fish. Finally get that scuba lesson and earn your certification. Learn to ride a jet ski, show off your water skiing skills, or hop aboard a banana boat for an exhilarating ride.

A Slice of History

The fascinating history of Mexico stretches back thousands of years. Any good Mexico travel guide will tell you that it is possible to combine a beach vacation with visiting some important archeological ruins. While the most famous is Chichen Itza, there are other important sites as well, including Tulum and Uxmal, both near Cancun. On the island of Cozumel, the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio also attract many visitors.

You don’t have to be enjoying Mexico’s beaches to explore these ancient ruins. There are ruins right in and outside of the capital city as well. One of the most famous spots is Teotihuacan, located 30 miles from Mexico City. Archeologists theorize that the city once had a population greater than Rome, and have called it one of the most important archeological sites in the world. There are many mysteries about the people who lived there and about their demise.

mexico nightlife

Urban Chaos

Mexico City is home to 19 million people. Every Mexico travel guide will cover the energy and passion of the city, including the people, food, and music. Start your exploration of the city in the Centro Historico where the large "Zocalo," or square, is one of the largest attractions. Other neighborhoods to explore include Coyoacan for museums, Polanco for shopping, and Zona Rosa for nightlife.

Mexico vacations wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the many fascinating museums in the capital city. Learn about one of Mexico’s most famous artists, Frida Kahlo, at a museum in her former home. The National Museum of Anthropology contains some of the best finds from ruins across the country. After visiting some museums, head to the square that is home of Mariachi music, Plaza Garibaldi Mariachi.

Right inside Mexico City you can visit ancient ruins as well. The capital was built on top of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Visitors today can see the ruins of an Aztec temple right in the center of modern-day Mexico City. Tours are available in Spanish and English if you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating ancient civilization.

Bring on the Adventure

There doesn’t have to be a dull moment during Mexico vacations. While the turquoise waters are the ultimate place to relax, they also are ideal for extreme sports. From paragliding to parasailing, the Mexican landscape is the perfect backdrop for these water adventures.

For some family adventure, book tickets for a white water rafting tour or rent kayaks for the day. Mountain climbing, fishing, and surfing are all popular choices as well. If your kids are interested in animals, there’s no greater adventure than a bit of ecotourism. In Mexico you will see everything from gray whales to butterflies. Pick one of the 47 national parks to explore, and encounter some wildlife during Mexico vacations!

Sophisticated Mexico

While any Mexico travel guide can point you in the direction of the best beaches and water sports, some tend to leave out the sophisticated side to Mexico. This country has some of the best golf courses in North America. Book a day at the spa or take a family sailing lesson. Entertainment, dining, and nightlife have all been upgraded in recent years if you’re looking for a sophisticated trip!

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What to See in Mexico

Natural Beauty

With over 10,000 kilometers of coastline, there is a lot to see in Mexico. Beaches are divided into four areas: the Pacific Coast, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Sea of Cortez. Each of these beaches has their own stunning features. The beaches of the Pacific Coast are known for their impressive cliffs and year-round ideal climate. Acapulco is a popular choice on this coast.

The white sand of the Caribbean beaches including Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen are known for their allure. The Gulf of Mexico is known for its laid-back pace and the warmth of its people. Visit Veracruz for great seafood. The Sea of Cortez was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Los Cabos is a popular choice here for tourists.

Top Landmarks

Any good Mexico travel guide will point visitors to landmarks beyond the ancient world. Copper Canyon is one of the largest and deepest canyons in the world. A highlight of Mexico vacations will be climbing aboard the Chihuahua-Pacifico train. This route descends through canyons, powers through tunnels, and chugs along the edge of ravines. Crossing 37 bridges, there’s no better view of Copper Canyon than from a window-seat of this train.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Mexico

mexico vacation

Sample Local Flavors

Any Mexico travel guide will have a difficult time choosing specific restaurant recommendations: there are too many good ones! From Mexico City to the Yucatan, fresh flavors combine to produce vibrant dishes. Tamales and enchiladas will reach new levels when tasted in their homeland. In Mexico City, try Café Tacuba in the Centro Historico area. Fonda el Refugio is a favorite of the Zona Rosa neighborhood while La Valentina in the Polanco district has live music on the weekends.

Outside of Mexico City, the food is just as delicious. Puerto Vallarta is known for two gourmet festivals every year, Guadalajara has the world’s finest tequilas, and Veracruz is known for its excellent seafood. If you’re in Cancun, try El Pescador for the freshest seafood. In Cabo San Lucas, El Chilar brings both locals and visitors back for seconds. During Mexican vacations, you will learn to love tortillas, beans, guacamole, chiles, and ceviche!

mexico shopping

Get Ready to Haggle

During Mexico vacations you will perfect the art of haggling. Never accept the first price of an item at a market or bazaar. Prices have extraordinary mark-ups hoping that tourists won’t haggle. If you have your eye on a piece of jewelry, pottery, or art, enquire about the price, and have in mind what you would like to pay.

Two neighborhoods in Guadalajara offer a great shopping experience. Head for Tlaquepaque for a variety of decorative art, but save some money for the more than 400 artisans who have shops in Tonala. During market days you can wander through blocks and blocks of market stalls. A good amount of the art in Puerto Vallarta is made by nearby native communities while the Oaxacan textiles are some of the best in the country.

These types of markets are only a small part of the shopping in Mexico. You will find all the top designers in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City where Avenida Presidente Masaryk is compared to Rodeo Drive. Other popular places to shop in Mexico City include Mercado de Artesanias and Mercado de la Lagunilla. Whether you’re traveling on a budget or looking to splurge, you will find what you’re looking for in Mexico.

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When to Visit Mexico

The best time to travel to Mexico is from October to May. The summer months of July and August are also popular, but this falls into the range of the hottest months of the year, from May through September. Many visitors don’t complain of the heat during these months, but of the humidity. If you plan on traveling to Mexico for sun and surf, travel year-round is recommended. On the other hand, if adventure, activity, or touring ancient ruins is what you have in mind, avoiding the hottest months of the year might make for a more comfortable vacation.

It is difficult for a Mexico travel guide to provide advice on when to travel to such a large country. Weather varies across the country, so while these are tips to keep in mind, do some extra research if you are particularly sensitive to heat and humidity.

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What to Bring to Mexico

Many travelers love Mexico vacations for their ease. If you’re heading to the beach, pack a small bag with your beach essentials: bathing suit, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and sandals. If you forget anything, there are plenty of shops and markets that are stocked with beachwear. Even the best restaurants aren’t formal, so leave behind anything too fancy in favor of breezy sundresses and espadrilles.

If you’re exploring the ancient ruins or heading off for adventurous activities, make sure you have proper footwear. A small phrasebook with popular Spanish terms might make your trip easier if you plan on getting off the beaten path. Savvy travelers will keep their items close to them during Mexico vacations—always remember to keep your purse closed if possible and keep an eye on your wallet, or use a fanny pack or money belt to keep your items close to you.

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Local Services in Mexico

Local services in Mexico vary depending on where you are visiting. The resort areas along the coast have been catering to tourists for decades and have everything you will need from grocery stores to beach supplies. Even the archeological ruins will sell bottled water and refreshments. ATMs are widely available, but be careful about the amount of cash you carry.

Bring any prescriptions along, as filling them in a foreign country can be complicated. During Mexico vacations, take advantage of local tour guides. These knowledgeable professionals will reveal a great deal of detail for a small price.

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What to Know About Mexico

Every Mexico travel guide should mention that water in Mexico isn’t safe for non-locals to drink. Stick to bottled water to ensure you don’t get sick during your trip. Beware of fruit and vegetables that may have been washed only in tap water and if possible, even brush your teeth with bottled water. Nothing puts a damper on a Mexican vacation quite like being sick!

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Getting to Mexico

Mexico is home to countless airports across the vast country. The most popular international airport is in Mexico City. Airports are also located in Cancun, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Toluca, and Tijuana as well. Smaller airports include Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Merida, Acapulco, and Veracruz.

Some travelers reach Mexico and decide to rent a car and explore. If you’d rather not deal with the Mexican highways, it is possible to arrive in a seaside airport and take a taxi to your vacation rental. Be sure to agree on the fare before you put your luggage in the cab!

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Why Mexico Vacation Rentals?

Why go to one of the most relaxing destinations on the planet, and stay in a chaotic resort? Vacation rentals will allow you to enjoy the landscape as it was meant to be. From beachfront villas to condos with your own sparkling pool, rentals will bring Mexican vacations to new heights of relaxation. Enjoy the sea breezes, unspoiled beaches, and turquoise waters without the cookie-cutter resort. If you’re looking for culture and authenticity in your trip to Mexico, look no further than a spacious self-catering villa!

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