The Best Things to Do in Mexico

The 25 Best Things to Do in Mexico

Is it the tacos? Mezcal and tequila? Maybe it’s the white sand beaches, crumbling Maya temples, or endless fiestas. Whatever it is that draws you to Mexico, you’re sure to never want to leave! Make sure you’ve booked a flexible flight when you’re planning your Mexican adventure because you’ll keep discovering new sights to see across this vast nation. 

If it’s your first time, then you’ll want to start with the classic resorts of Cancun or the pyramids outside of Mexico City. Foodies will fall in love with the flavors of Oaxaca and the cookery of Puebla, while rail enthusiasts can’t miss the Copper Canyon Train in the semi-arid deserts of Chihuahua and the rather unique Jose Cuervo Express (the Tequila train!) in Guadalajara. You can learn Spanish, immerse yourself in celebrations like the Day of the Dead, hike to volcanic summits, eat endless tacos, and so much more in Mexico.

With so many things to see and do in Mexico, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Mexico for you. Give these fun and unique Mexico bucket list recommendations a go, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this beautiful part of the world. 

25 Fun and Unique Things to do in Mexico 

1. Explore Mexico City’s Centro Historico

Best Things to do in Mexico: Centro Historico

The Mexican capital should always be at the top of your list of things to do in Mexico, and there’s no better place to start your journey than amongst the history and heritage of the Centro Historico. 

The Centro Historico is the oldest district in Mexico City. Ramshackle colonial mansions stand next to 16th-century churches and cathedrals, but dig a little deeper, and you’ll find that the city’s origins can be traced back to a time long before the Spanish arrived here. 

Start in the Zocalo, the main public square that sits at the heart of Mexico City. Here you’ll find iconic landmarks like the Mexico City Cathedral, which dates back to around the 1520s, the Nacional Monte de Piedad, the Supreme Court, and the National Palace. 

Next to the cathedral, you’ll also find the low-key ruins of the Templo Mayor. The excavated ruins of this former Aztec temple speak of a civilization that ruled much of Central Mexico for centuries. The Templo Mayor Museum will tell you more, and you’ll begin to understand how the Centro Historico was built by the conquistadors on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital.

The streets that surround the Zocalo are also packed with museums and some of the most unique Mexico attractions. You’ll want to see the beautiful interior designs of the Palacio de Belles Arts, visit the National Museum of Art, and admire the excellent views from the top of the Latin American Tower, a skyscraper dating back to 1948. With so much to see, we recommend joining a walking tour to learn more! 

Discover Mexico City’s Historic Downtown


2. Dig into Culture and History at Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park

Fun Things to do in Mexico: Chapultepec Park

No trip to Mexico City is ever complete without a visit to Chapultepec Park. This vast area (often called the “Bosque,” or forest, in Spanish) is the second-largest urban park in Latin America, with almost 700 hectares of greenery for you to enjoy. 

It’s also home to Chapultepec Castle, the only “castle” found anywhere in Latin America. Of course, it’s not a castle in the European, medieval tradition you might be thinking of. Instead, Chapultepec Castle was built in the 18th century as a sort of colonial palace for the rulers of New Spain. After independence, it became the home of many of Mexico’s early presidents, although these days, it’s a museum. 

The castle rises above the surrounding park, and you might be intrigued by the fact that this distinctive high point overlooking Mexico City was also a place of importance for the Aztec rulers. They didn’t build castles, but they did revere Chapultepec Hill (which means grasshopper) as a sacred place. You can learn more about this history at the National Museum of Anthropology, which is located next to Chapultepec Park.

In fact, you can learn about all of Mexican history at the National Museum of Anthropology, which is one of the largest museums in the world. You’ll need almost the entire day to browse through all of the exhibits, which offer an in-depth look at the varied regional cultures and histories found across the country. 

Explore Chapultepec Park


3. Drink Margaritas on the Xochimilco Canals 

What to do in Mexico: Xochimilco Canals

On the southeastern edge of the capital, you find one of the top things to do in Mexico. The Xochimilco Canals are a beautiful network of waterways and islands that can be explored on traditional trajinera boats, where you’ll be plied with margaritas and cervezas by passing boats loaded with drinks and mariachi bands. 

A sightseeing cruise along the Xochimilco Canals quickly turns into an excuse for a fiesta, and you’ll enjoy the party-like atmosphere as you’re guided around. You’ll have the chance to stop off at the islands along the way, too, where you’ll find everything from quirky museums and botanic gardens to an incredibly creepy collection of old dolls (check out the Island of the Dead Dolls for one of the most unique Mexico attractions!).

Although Xochimilco is today known for the party boats, there’s a lot more to the destination than meets the eye. The canals are the lasting remnants of a much larger network of waterways that once connected all of the surrounding valleys. This is where rural Aztecs lived and farmed, and the unique landscape you’ll see is a glimpse back into an era that disappeared with the arrival of the conquistadors.

Experience Xochimilco


4. Marvel at the Ingenuity of the Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Best Things to do in Mexico: Pyramids of Teotihuacan

To the north of Mexico City can be found one of the most impressive Mexico attractions. The Pyramids of Teotihuacan need little in the way of an introduction – but trust us when we say that, yes, they do live up to the hype.

Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities built by any Mesoamerican civilization. It’s thought the area was inhabited as long ago as 600 BCE, when the earliest temple structures have been dated to. As the city’s power expanded, the inhabitants began raising towering temples dedicated to their deities, many of which somehow still stand today. 

Walk along the ominously named Avenue of the Dead, a long central thoroughfare that connected the city, and you’ll be awed by the staggering size and age of the temples around you. The Pyramid of the Sun was built around 200 AD, and the Pyramid of the Moon – which is some 140 feet tall – was built at the zenith of the city’s wealth and influence sometime between 200 AD and 450 AD. 

Like many civilizations, Teotihuacan fell abruptly from grace, the area depopulated rapidly, and it was only in the Aztec era, just before the arrival of the Spanish, that the city began to take on a shadow of its former significance again.

Hot Air Balloon over Teotihuacán Valley


5. Hike to the Summit of the Iztaccihuatl Volcano

Must do things in Mexico: Iztaccihuatl Volcano

Mexico City is surrounded by volcanoes and national parks, but we’re always surprised at how few travelers ever make it out of the city!

If you’re up for a challenge (the rewards include absolutely spectacular scenery!), then we recommend signing up for a hiking trip to Iztaccihuatl, the third-highest peak in Mexico. Rising to the lofty height of 14,435 feet, the trail takes around 3 hours to reach the summit from the jumping-off point in Popocatepetl National Park.

The trail is tough, but with the help of a local guide, you’ll enjoy the long slog upwards. You might encounter snow as you hike higher, while there’s no doubt you’ll want to have spent a few days in Mexico City (altitude: 7,349 feet) before acclimatizing to the region’s higher altitude. 

Along the way, you’ll stop on the infamous Paseo de Cortes. This spectacular viewpoint hides an important history because this is where the conquistadors (including Hernan Cortes) first set eyes on the Aztec capital that would become Mexico City. 

You’ll also enjoy wonderful views of Popacatapetal, the most famous volcano in Mexico. This towering behemoth rises to a much higher height of 18,044 feet, but the technical ascent is much more challenging than Iztaccihuatl. 

Reach the Top of Iztaccíhuatl


6. Take the Tequila Express to Tequila

What to do in Mexico: Tequila

Riding the tequila train to the town of Tequila is easily one of the most fun things to do in Mexico! This quirky, tequila-fueled experience begins in the city of Guadalajara, where you’ll hop on board the Jose Cuervo Express for a journey like no other. 

Take a seat, and you’ll be serenaded by musicians as you enjoy an unlimited supply of Jose Cuervo Tequila on the way to Tequila. Don’t overdo it, because when you arrive, you’ve then got to tour around Jose Cuervo’s La Rojena Distillery.

This is the oldest tequila distillery in Mexico, with a history dating back 250 years. You’ll learn more about this long tradition as you explore the fields where the agave plants are grown and visit the facilities where the tequila is made and aged. You’ll also have more time to tour the town of Tequila itself, from which the famous drink takes its name.

At the end of the day, you’ll then have one more opportunity to enjoy (or perhaps endure) the all-you-can-drink Jose Cuervo Express as you travel back to Guadalajara!

Tour the Magical Town of Tequila


7. Learn How to Cook Mole Sauce in Oaxaca 

Cool Things to do in Mexico: Mole Sauce

As you travel around Mexico, we’ve no doubt you’re going to fall in love with the wide variety of traditional Mexican foods. Every region has its own unique specialties, but one of our favorite culinary destinations is Oaxaca.

Located in the mountains that rise above the Pacific coastline in southern Mexico, Oaxaca claims to be the home of mole, a flavorsome, complex sauce that has been prepared for centuries. There’s some dispute here that we can’t not mention because the equally delightful foodie city of Puebla also claims to be the home of mole. 

Oaxacan mole is distinct though, and typically contains anywhere upwards of 20 ingredients in any recipe. All recipes are different but typically contain a base of chilies mixed with everything from cilantro and garlic to chocolate and pine nuts. You might find mole poblano, mole negro, mole rojo, and many, many more varieties. 

The unique mix of ingredients blurs the boundaries between indigenous cooking styles and European culinary techniques, and recipes are constantly evolving to suit modern tastes. Learn more by joining a mole cooking class in Oaxaca City, where you cook your own version of this prized Mexican sauce.

Enjoy an Oaxacan Culinary Experience


8. Eat all the Tacos

Mexico Bucket List: Tacos

If there’s one thing that Mexico’s famous for, it’s tacos! We don’t need to encourage you to eat all the tacos you can, though, because it’s impossible to escape this iconic dish when you’re traveling around Mexico. 

In its simplest form, a taco requires some sort of tortilla wrap and a filling. But put aside your preconceptions of what a taco is because every state and city in Mexico has its own take. First of all, it’s rare to find tacos served with crunchy tortillas. That’s more of a Tex-Mex thing, and instead, you’ll typically be served tacos with maize tortillas. 

Secondly, there’s no one size fits all taco. No one’s even quite sure where or when the taco originated, with some claiming an indigenous heritage and some calling it a modern creation. Our advice is to just enjoy the tacos you’re served, and don’t stop trying new varieties until you’ve found the style you truly love.

Tacos al pastor is one of the most famous varieties. You’ll see big spits of meat cooking away in the style of a kebab (and supposedly, this type of taco was created by Middle Eastern immigrants). The meat is shaved off and then served with pineapple and spicy sauces. 

Tacos de asador involve many different types of grilled or baked meat, while tacos de cabeza use the meat taken from the head (cabeza) of a cow, and tacos de lengua require cow tongues (lengua means tongue). In Baja California, fish or shrimp tacos are the local specialties, while in Roma and Condesa in Mexico City, you can increasingly find meat-free taco stands serving up veggie and vegan takes on classics. 

Try Delicious Mexican Tacos


9. Go Whale Watching in Baja California 

What to do in Mexico: Whale Watching in Baja California

Mexico’s Pacific Coast is teeming with large marine mammals, including huge populations of whales that follow migratory routes north or south throughout the year.

In wintertime, between December and March, the Baja California coast is the best place for whale watching. This is the season to see gray whales and humpback whales as they make their way south from the US in search of warmer waters. 

Cabo, in Baja California Sur, provides particularly rich feeding grounds for these whales. Join a boat tour, and you’ll often find whales showing off in the water as they loiter around in the warm climes where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. 

Head to La Paz and another fantastic wildlife experience awaits you. Between November and April, the coast is home to whale sharks, and yes, it’s possible to swim with the world’s largest fish here!

See Whales in Cabo San Lucas


10. Witness One of the World’s Greatest Migrations at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Unique Things to do in Mexico: Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Africa might be known for its wildebeest migrations, but here in Mexico, you can witness a migration of a different kind.

From early November onwards, the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve straddling Michoacan and Estado de Mexico comes alive with the vibrant colors of an epic butterfly migration. This is their winter destination, and after making the long journey from the USA, they’re settling in for a few months of relaxation in the protected forests of Mexico.  

In fact, the monarch butterfly makes the longest migration of any insect, covering thousands of miles. The species is considered to be endangered, unfortunately, so the biosphere reserve was established to protect them here in Mexico. 

If you’re looking for bucket list Mexico activities, don’t miss out on this natural phenomenon! The reserve is a wonderful place to visit when the butterflies are in town, and you can learn from locals how they’ve played an important role in Mexican traditions. 

It was believed that the butterflies were the souls of the dead returning, which is one possible reason why the Day of the Dead coincides with the arrival of the first monarch butterflies every year. 

Visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve


11. Ride the Copper Canyon Train Through Chihuahua 

Mexico Bucket List: Copper Canyon Train

One of the coolest things to do in Mexico is to take a ride on the Copper Canyon Train. This incredible journey connects the town of Creel, not far from Chihuahua, with Los Mochis on the Pacific Coast. This spectacular train line is an equally incredible feat of engineering, and you’ll be glued to the windows as the train slowly weaves its way through the mountain passes and canyons of Chihuahua. 

The train took decades to build, as engineers blasted their way through rocks and constructed precipitous viaducts through what is one of the world’s longest and deepest canyons. Part of the fun is stopping off en route, and taking several days on the rails as you stay in cliffside hotels, hike into the deep gorges below, and visit scenic waterfalls in this otherwise parched and semi-arid land. 

You can purchase a hop-on hop-off ticket to break up the journey (which takes around 16 hours if you were to do it one go). The train doesn’t run every day, though, so you’ll need to plan your route and hotels in advance. 

Our favorite highlights include a stop in El Fuerte, the hometown of legendary Mexican folk hero Zorro. The Copper Canyon is also the homeland of the Tarahumara people, who are fabled for their ability to run incredibly long distances. Learn more in the town of Creel, which has become a center for Tarahumara culture. 


12. Learn Spanish in Mexico

What to do in Mexico: Learn Spanish in Mexico

If you’re traveling long-term, working remotely, or setting up shop as a digital nomad, then learning Spanish in your downtime is easily one of the best things to do in Mexico. 

You’ll want at least a few weeks to really improve your Spanish skills, but immersing yourself in the Mexican lifestyle and culture will help you immensely. There are Spanish schools in most major cities and tourist destinations, including popular places like Playa del Carmen, Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Merida. You’ll also find many freelance Spanish tutors, as well as casual Spanish groups and meetups.

If you’d like to avoid speaking English entirely, then we recommend choosing a Spanish school that’s more off the beaten track. Visit Tulum, Roma, Condesa, or Playa del Carmen, for example, and almost everyone will speak some English. In Merida, Oaxaca, or San Cristobal de Las Casas, however, you’ve got many more opportunities to lose yourself among Spanish speakers.


13. Dig into Merida’s Culture and Cuisine 

Mexico Things to do: Merida's Culture and Cuisine

One of the best places to visit in Mexico is Merida, the capital and largest city in Yucatan. Although you’re just a few hours’ drive west from the resorts of Cancun, you’ll feel as if you’re in a truly authentic part of Mexico. 

Merida is fascinating. The grid layout and cobbled streets give the city a colonial feel, but there’s nothing charming about it when you dig deeper into the history. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, Merida was the center of a thriving Maya power. The Spanish tore the temples down and built the cathedral (which still stands in the main plaza today) from the rubble.

But Merida’s Maya culture was never suppressed, and that’s what makes the city so interesting to visit. Start with a walking tour of the Centro Historico, and local guides will regale you with stories of Maya rebellions. 

Visit the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya (the Grand Museum of the Maya World) to learn more about the people who have lived here for thousands of years, and head to the main square on Saturday nights to watch a revamped version of Pok-ta-Pok, the ancient Maya ball game. 

Merida’s local cuisine is heavily influenced by its Maya roots, too. Head to the market, where you’ll catch snatches of the Maya language among the Spanish and try local specialties like cochinita pibil and sopa de lima.

Learn about the Culture of Merida


14. Hike or Bike the Camino del Mayab

Unique Things to do in Mexico: Camino del Mayab

If you love the outdoors, then you’ll love the Camino del Mayab, a new long-distance hiking and biking trail that helps you to explore the Yucatan’s Maya history and culture. 

This is Mexico’s first fully waymarked, long-distance trail, and it will take you three days to complete on a mountain bike or at least five days on foot. You’ll start in the suburbs of Merida, following old trails, railroads, and hunting tracks through the forest as you visit cenotes, old haciendas, and Maya ruins. 

The trail was created by Ecoguerros, a not-for-profit group who are finding ways to champion indigenous culture. The goal of the trail is not just to connect travelers with a part of Mexico that’s often overlooked but to provide more employment and business opportunities for the rural Maya communities, who typically have few chances for economic advancement without leaving home.

Along the way, for example, you’ll have the chance to stay in homestays and locally-owned guesthouses. You’ll also try the best home-cooked Maya dishes, and you’ll find out more about the hacienda systems implemented by European colonials – a system that subjected the communities to decades of abject poverty and slavery, all for the sake of growing henequen. 

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Mexico, why not get outdoors, experience the Yucatan’s spectacular nature, and make a difference while you’re at it?


15. Explore the Lost Maya Cities on the Yucatan Peninsula

Fun Things to do in Mexico: Lost Maya Cities on the Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatan’s fast-growing jungle has long hidden a wealth of ancient cities that fell to ruin. The Maya have lived in this region for millennia, but their civilization, kingdoms, and city-states have always fluxed and waned like the Caribbean tides.

There have been several Maya collapses throughout history due to drought, warfare, and, most recently, the arrival of the conquistadors. Great cities emptied and were left abandoned, their temples slowly overgrown until they disappeared. Some were rediscovered and excavated, and many more may lie waiting in the jungles. 

The most famous Maya city you can visit on the Yucatan Peninsula is Chichen Itza, where the great Temple of Kukulcan rises high above the ball courts and palaces. Near Merida, you can follow the Ruta Puuc to several impressive ruins, while close to Valladolid, you have the magnificently decayed temples at Ek Balam, which are still being reclaimed from the forest. 

Unlock the Mysteries of the Mayans


16. Join the Singing Troubadours in Guanajuato

What to do in Mexico: Troubadours

We love the colorful, if narrow, cobblestone streets of Guanajuato. Located in the Central Highlands north of Mexico City, this old silver mining city has evolved into one of the most eclectic destinations in Mexico.

This is a city that lives on tales of romance and rebellion, so much so that experiencing the long musical tradition of the Callejoneadas is one of the most unique things to do in Mexico. These singing minstrels channel the troubadour traditions of old Europe as they lead tourists around Guanajuato while drinking wine and regaling them with songs of ill-fated lovers.

The Callejoneadas entertain visitors every evening, and during the day, you can soak up the culture of Guanajuato in the excellent Don Quixote Iconographic Museum, at the Museo Casa Diego Rivera, or in the eerie Museum of the Mummies. Learn about Guanajauato’s legendary role in the Mexican Wars of Independence, too, with a trip to the Regional Museum of Guanajuato in the Alhóndiga de Granaditas.

Join the Callejoneadas of Guanajuato


17. Chill Out With an All-Inclusive in Cancun

Mexico Things to do: Cancun

Okay, so we know it’s cliché, but a Cancun all-inclusive is one of the must-do things in Mexico. Have no illusions, though, because the infamous Hotel Zone that stretches along the coast of Cancun is far removed from the real Mexico you’ll see elsewhere. If you’re just in need of a holiday, though, there’s nowhere else in the world that can beat the resort vibes of Cancun.

You’ll be spoiled for choice here, and you can choose from high-end resorts to boutique properties. Sit back and relax on the beach, and then get a taste of Cancun’s (in)famous nightlife at Señor Frogs or Coco Bongo. And from Cancun, there’s much you can do outside of the resorts, too, making this a great destination for first-time visitors just looking to dip their toes into Mexico.

There are Maya ruins right next to the Hotel Zone, while Chichen Itza is an easy day trip away from the resorts. Take a boat over to Cozumel Island for snorkeling, or head to Isla Mujeres for whale sharks and sandy beaches!

Check out the Coco Bongo Nightclub


18. Search for Frida Kahlo’s Legacy in Coyoacan 

Mexico Bucket List: Frida Kahlo's Legacy in Coyoacan 

On the outskirts of Mexico City, you’ll find Coyoacan, a quirky district with more interesting sights than most. This is one of Mexico’s oldest pueblos, and it became an important political center during the Spanish conquest, as Hernan Cortes turned the area into the base from which he conquered the Aztec capital. 

The area became home to grand mansions and elite families over the following centuries, as Coyoacan gained a reputation for itself among artists. Take a walking tour and you’ll learn how the famous artist Frida Kahlo was born, lived, and worked here. The highlight is the Frida Kahlo Museum, where you can see her life’s work in her former home (where she also lived with fellow artist Diego Rivera). 

But there’s more to Coyoacan. You can visit the Leon Trotsky House Museum to see where the notorious communist revolutionary lived in exile until he was killed by Stalin’s henchmen. And it’s all an easy day trip from the popular suburbs of Roma, Condesa, or the Centro Historico, which are all just a metro ride or two away. 

Get a Frida Kahlo Museum Ticket


19. Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling 

Fun Things to do in Mexico: Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

Mexico has two long coastlines on both the Caribbean and Pacific, making this one of the best countries in the world for diving and snorkeling. 

Among divers, one of the most prized Mexico activities is to visit Socorro Island. Located hundreds of miles off the western coast, you’ll need to join a live-aboard dive trip to experience this remote island. Make the journey, and you’ll be rewarded with huge numbers of sharks and manta rays – and very few other tourists. 

Unique Things to do in Mexico: Go Scuba Diving or Snorkeling

On the west coast, Cabo has some of the most accessible snorkeling and diving in Mexico, and you might even spot a whale shark or two. On the Caribbean side, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, and Isla Mujeres are great places for diving holidays, especially when it’s bull shark season.

Snorkel at Isla Mujeres


20. Take to the Surf in Puerto Escondido

Mexico Things to do: Surf in Puerto Escondido

Make the winding journey through the mountains from Oaxaca City, and a few hours and one bumpy ride later, you’ll find yourself in the surfing mecca of Puerto Escondido. 

The Pacific waves here are notorious, and the coastline has long been a favored haunt for professional surfers. The most infamous wave is the Mexican Pipeline, one which you’ll need to be a seasoned pro to even think about tackling. 

But while the experienced surfers can hit up the furious waves that smash into Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido has other beaches more suited to learners. La Punta attracts beginners, intermediates, and pros, while Playa Carrizalillo is perfect for beginners, intermediates, and anyone who just wants to hang out on the beach with a cold cerveza!

Experience Puerto Escondido


21. Go to a Unique Festival or Fiesta 

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Mexico, there’s every chance the fun will find you first. Step outside your hotel on a Sunday morning, for example, and you’re likely to find yourself caught up in public markets, fiestas, or endless religious processions. 

Visit at Christmastime or during Semana Santa (the Holy Week celebrating Easter), and there’s no escaping the celebrations, both solemn and joyful. But Mexico also has a unique tradition of celebrating what you might think are rather strange events. Every village has its own patron saint, and there are plenty of feast days and fiestas to enjoy across the country. 

Some of the more bizarre events on the calendar include the slightly dangerous Exploding Hammer Festival, which takes place during Lent in the village of San Juan de la Vega. Locals strap gunpowder to hammers, then smash them into the ground – supposedly to remember a Robin Hood-type character who stole from the rich to help out the poor (presumably with the help of lots of gunpowder!).

Other unusual fiestas include the Night of the Radishes in Oaxaca, El Cervantino in Guanajuato (dedicated to the writer Cervantes and his famous character Don Quixote), and the Feria Nacional del Burro (the National Donkey Festival), which attracts 50,000 donkeys every year!


22. Experience the Day of the Dead 

Unique Things to do in Mexico: Day of the Dead

If there’s one thing that should be on your Mexico bucket list, it has to be visiting Mexico to experience the Day of the Dead. Celebrated every year between October 31 and November 2, this colorful occasion is observed as a way to remember the dead. 

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead in English, has its roots in traditional indigenous beliefs, which have mixed with Hispanic religious practices and traditions. Mexicans are quite open about death, and so the Day of the Dead is intended as a way to celebrate, rather than mourn, the loss of friends and family.

In Mexico City, there’s an iconic Day of the Dead parade, and the occasion is known for its elaborate costumes and make-up depicting characters associated with death. But really, no matter where you find yourself in Mexico during the Day of the Dead, you’re bound to be fascinated by the unique local ceremonies and events. 

Be Part of the Day of the Dead


23. Join a Food Tour of Puebla 

What to do in Mexico: Puebla

Puebla is one of Mexico’s oldest cities. Sitting on the important trade routes between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City, the Spanish founded Puebla in 1531. 

Nearby, the Spanish built an impressive church on the top of what they thought was a hill, but it transpired that, actually, they’d built it on the remains of a pyramid constructed long ago by the indigenous peoples of the region. A visit to the Cholula Pyramid is another one of the must-do things in Mexico, and it’s an easy trip to make from Puebla. 

Puebla’s colonial streets are gorgeous, but to really dig into the local history, you’ll need to join a food tour. Puebla competes with Oaxaca by claiming to be the birthplace of mole sauce, so we recommend trying mole in both cities to see which version you prefer! 

Hop On, Hop Off Bus Tour in Puebla


24. Swim in a Cenote

Fun Things to do in Mexico: Cenote

Cenotes are strange natural phenomena that are very specific to the Yucatan Peninsula. Over millennia, limestone rocks have given way to form a vast network of caves and caverns below the earth’s surface, which have then filled with fresh water. 

These beautifully eerie caverns are supernatural in appearance, and it’s not hard to imagine why the Maya held them to be sacred. Great cities and temples were built next to cenotes, and they were often the scene of religious ceremonies and even sacrifices. 

These days, the cenotes are popular places for swimming and other activities of a more recreational, rather than sacrificial, nature. You’ll find cenotes around all the major Maya sites, including Chichen Itza. Some are perfect for scuba diving, too. 

Discover the Underground World of Cenotes


25. Embrace the Revolution in San Cristobal de Las Casas 

Must do things in Mexico: San Cristobal de Las Casas

A visit to San Cristobal de Las Casas is one of the most unique things to do in Mexico. Located in the jungles and highlands of Chiapas, close to the border with Guatemala, this is a city that embraces revolution. 

Founded by the Spanish in 1528, San Cristobal de Las Casa has one of the prettiest old towns in Mexico. Take a tour, though, and you’ll soon begin to realize that the city is a hotbed for left-wing action groups and alternative thinkers. 

The indigenous culture in Chiapas was never truly suppressed by the Spanish, and instead, the region famously rebelled against the Mexican government with a 1994 coup that made headlines across the world. 

An indigenous communist group called the Zapatistas started a guerilla war, and although the fighting has long since died out, the Zapatistas still have huge support in the city. There are revolutionary bars and cafes, street art and graffiti line the walls, and you can even make a day trip to a Zapatista community to learn more about their cause. 

Equally, San Cristobal de Las Casas is the best place to learn about indigenous culture and history. Visit San Juan de Chamula to see the mad rituals that take place in the local church, where Coca-Cola is drunk at communion and fireworks are let off in the streets. Nearby, you’ll also find spectacular natural sights like the Sumidero Canyon, the Montebello Lakes, the Agua Azul Waterfalls, and many more Mexico attractions. 

Explore San Cristobal de las Casas

There you have it! The 25 best things to do in Mexico. What’s your favorite thing to do in Mexico?


Planning a trip to Mexico? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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