Mexico: The Ultimate Travel Guide

If, like so many curious travellers, you have long found yourself drawn to the vibrancy and passion of Latin America, a holiday in Mexico could be just the recipe for you. Packed with first-class culture, natural beauty and a famously delicious cuisine, Mexico presents an array of exciting options for all types of tourist.

All of the most important information including packing lists, tips and links to a Mexico holiday can be found right here!

Dive into our (free) travel guides below!









The Key Info

With a total area of almost 2,000,000 km², Mexico is one of the largest countries in Latin America and the thirteenth largest on earth.

Indeed, with a population 129 million, Mexico is the world’s most populous Spanish speaking nation and the second most in Latin America after Brazil. 

Mexico shares borders with the United States, Guatemala and Belize, whilst the nation famously has extensive coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the more tranquil Caribbean Sea.

The national language of Mexico is Spanish, yet the nation is also home to a wide variety of minority languages including Nahuatl and Yucatec Maya. In fact, the nation has more than 68 officially recognised national languages.

Mexico in numbers

  • Population: 129 million 
  • Total size of the country: 1,972,550 km²
  • Capital city: Mexico City
  • Currency: Mexican Peso
  • Language: Spanish
  • Religion: Roman Catholic (83%), Protestants (7%), non-religious (5%)

The 5 largest cities in Mexico

The largest city in Mexico is by far the national capital of Mexico City. Other key cities in the nation include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla and Toluca.

# 1 Mexico City

As the capital city of Mexico, Mexico City is one of the largest and most populous cities on the planet. In fact, the population of Greater Mexico City is currently estimated to be a whopping 21.3 million. Dating back to 1325 when the settlement was founded by Aztecs on Lake Texcoco, the city was originally known as Tenochtitlan. The city did not become known as Mexico City until 1524 when Spanish conquistadors renamed what is generally seen as the oldest city in Latin America.

Today the city is the beating heart of the Mexican economy and one of the nation’s most visited places. Renowned for history and culture, the city is brimming with treasures both new and old. The iconic Plaza de la Constitution or Zocalo as it is commonly known is home to the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral, which is built in the famous Spanish-era style. 

Nearby, the Palacio de Bellas Artes showcases murals by Diego Rivera whilst across town the world-leading Museo Soumaya and Collecion Jumex house masterpieces of sculpture and painting from across the globe.

Chapultepec Park is surely one of Latin America’s finest and most vibrant public parks whilst the nearby Roma neighbourhood is home to Mexico City’s finest bars, cafes and restaurants making it popular with foreign visitors.

#2 Guadalajara

Located in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Guadalajara is the nation’s second most populous urban area with a population of around 5 million people.

Guadalajara is famous across Mexico and Latin America as a cultural centre, with the Mariachi style of music having it’s origins in the city. Other key cultural elements of life in Guadalajara include the area’s unique cuisine and architecture. Food here is a key draw for visitors who come to try the special blend of pre-colonial and Spanish styles, and key dishes include the spicy meat stew birria. As for the city’s famous architecture, the sheer number of neoclassical Spanish buildings here make Guadalajara one of Mexico’s most atmospheric destinations. Key buildings include the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Teatro Degollado.

#3 Monterrey

Monterrey is a city in northeastern Mexico in the state of Nuevo Leon. Widely considered to have the best quality of life in the country, this city is perched atmospherically at the foot of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains.

Monterrey is known to be the most Americanized of all cities in Mexico, with an ultra modern central district contrasting the colonial architecture of buildings such as the Metropolitan cathedral. Indeed, Monterrey makes a great place to stay for tourists looking to explore the nearby mountains.

#4 Puebla

Founded in 1531 by conquistadors, Puebla is the capital city of the state of Puebla. Famous across Mexico for its excellent universities, delicious cuisine and stunning architecture, this is one of the most pleasant cities to visit for foreign tourists in Mexico. 

For foodies, Puebla is particularly attractive, as this city is home to some of the best loved Mexican food on the planet including Mole Poblano and Chiles en Nogada. 

#5 Toluca

Famous for its architecture, Toluca is a city of almost 900,000 located close to the national capital Mexico City. A worthwhile overnight stay for tourists in the region, Toluca is a friendly and liveable city whose key attractions include the beautiful Spanish-era cathedral as well as the Museo be Bellas Artes.

Top Tourist Attractions

# 1 Palenque

This jaw dropping complex of Maya temples located on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is quite rightly the nation’s top historical attraction. Dozens of temples sit amid lush jungle that teems with wildlife including howler monkeys and all manner of exotic birds. To explore Palenque is to breath in thousands of years of history and this, coupled with the stunning location, make these temples some of the most downright stunning on earth.

# 2 Teotihuacan

Located north of Mexico City, this complex of ancient Aztec ruins is one of Mexico’s most visited historic sites. The centre of the attraction are the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, iconic stepped examples of this ancient architectural style that once served as key centres of spirituality for the Aztecs. Indeed, Teotihuacan is believed the have been the region’s largest city and epicentre of Aztec culture.

# 3 Oaxaca

The fact that the third key attraction for Mexico is itself a city speaks volumes as to the beauty and charm of this settlement. Indeed, the entire place is a UNESCO world heritage site due to the unrivalled depth of culture, cuisine and history that can be found in Oaxaca. The city is somehow both a centre of colonial culture as well as a key regional hub of indigenous identity and perhaps this paradox sums up Oaxaca more than any guide ever could. 

# 4 Chichen Itza

Mexico’s best known architectural wonder may be crowded at the best of times yet a visit to this ancient Mayan city is nonetheless essential for those visiting the Yucatan peninsula. The complex of buildings including the iconic stepped pyramids is nothing short of breathtaking, particularly when visited at dawn.

# 5 Cabo Pulmo

Located in Baja California, Cabo Pulmo is a tiny village and Marine Protected Area that offers some of the most spectacular snorkelling on the planet. The sheer diversity of species on offer here in unrivalled, with sea turtles the real draw among a slew of other fascinating creatures.

Holidays in Mexico

  • January 1: Año Nuevo (New Year)
  • January 6: Three Wide Men Day
  • February 5: Constitution Day
  • March 21: Birth of Benito Juarez
  • Jueves Santo (Maundy Thursday), Viernes Santo (Good Friday) and Pascuas (Easter)
  • April 2: Día del Veterano y de los Caídos en la Guerra de Malvinas (Day of the Islas Malvinas)
  • May 1: Día del Trabajador (Labor Day)
  • May 5: Battle of Puebla
  • May 10: Día de la Madre
  • September 15: Grito de Dolores
  • September 16: Independence Day
  • November 2: Day of the Dead
  • November 20: Revolution Day
  • December 25: Christmas Day

Do I Need a Visa

A passport or provisional passport is needed for all European citizens to get into Mexico, an identity card is not sufficient to get into the country.

Children need their own passport to get in whilst European citizens need a visa if they plan on staying longer than 90 days.

Mexican Currency

The national currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). 1 peso is divided into 100 centavos (¢).

Banknotes are available at 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 pesos, and coins at 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos. 

Credit cards are particularly common in Mexico City, so finding the right bank for you should not be a problem. However, when traveling outside of major cities, such as Mexico City or Guadalajara, it is advisable to pack enough cash.

Dos and Don’ts in Mexico

These are the rules and practices that you need to know when travelling to Mexico, to avoid feeling uncomfortable or even being disrespectful.

Try the local food! Mexico is home to some of the most delicious cuisine on the planet and it is as diverse as it is tasty.Jumping the queue (this is considered extremely rude)
Head to local museums and galleries in the big cities, Mexico is home to a wonderfully rich art and cultural heritage.Wear jewellery or expensive watches.
Head to a football game to soak up the atmosphere and better understand contemporary Mexican culture.Do not leave the big cities without cash as you may not encounter an ATM for some time.
Travel by bus through Mexico – train connections are not well developed for passenger transport, while domestic flights can also be pricey.Walking around after dark (it’s best to call a taxi from the hotel). However, never get in a taxi you waived down in the street.
In places that aren’t safe always have a small amount of money to hand over in theevent of a robbery.Drink alcohol in the streets

Must Haves for Your Mexico Packing List

Since Mexico is generally a hot and dry country, it is best to pack light and breathable clothing. Only if you are planning a trek into the mountains will warm clothing be necessary, whilst trips to the beach will require a change of swimming costume for sure!

  • Lightweight t-shirts, shirts and trousers
  • Comfortable, durable sports shoes
  • Sandals or flip flops for the beaches
  • A small wallet that you can wear
  • Complete toiletry bag
  • The correct travel adapter
  • Suncream
  • The Taxi App (Easy Taxi, Link)

Secret tips from bloggers worldwide

  • Head to the beautiful city of Merida, the Yucatan capital that’s home to stunning colonial buildings and delightful museums.
  • For stunning, quiet beaches look no further than Yelapa, an untouched beach town near Puerto Vallarta that is as yet pristine.
  • Copper Canyon is a great place for outdoor adventures, with this vast expanse four times larger than the Grand Canyon! Take the Chihuahua al Paifico railway through this arid region for classic desert vistas!

TOP Instagrammable Places in Mexico

Fun Facts About Mexico 

Did you know..?

  • ..that Mexico is officially named the United Mexican States
  • ..that Mexico is home to over 30 UNSECO World Heritage sites
  • .. that Mexico is home to around 10% of all the world’s biodiversity
  • …that Mexicans work an average of 43 hours per person per week, the highest on the planet!
  • …that Mexico is the world’s largest producer of silver, mining over 5,600 Metric Tonnes of the stuff in the year 2017

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