Ditch the all-inclusive and experience the real Mexico in these places instead


There’s more to Mexico than a stay in a beachside all-inclusive resort. The only way to truly experience this incredibly diverse nation is to step outside of your comfort zone and see the real Mexico. If you’re looking for some unique and off-the-beaten-path destinations to visit in the country, here are 10 suggestions that will make your trip unforgettable.

Isla Holbox

This island is located within Mexico’s largest ecological reserve, Yum Balam, and is a paradise for nature lovers. You can take a water taxi to tour the island and see wildlife, rent a bike or a golf cart to explore the 42-kilometre-long, nearly two-kilometre-wide island, or try kitesurfing on the turquoise waters. Don’t miss the spectacular sunsets from the Zomay Beach Bar, a local favourite.

Mexico City

The capital of Mexico is one of the world’s great cultural capitals, with more museums than any just about any other city, amazing street food, stunning colonial architecture and vibrant nightlife. You can visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s former house, the Museo Soumaya, the National Museum of Anthropology and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, among many other attractions. You can also sample delicious dishes from different regions of Mexico at the street stalls in its many colourful markets or at renowned restaurants like Pujol.


This town in the state of Puebla is home to the largest pyramid in the world by volume, the Great Pyramid of Cholula. You can climb to the top of the pyramid and admire the views of the surrounding volcanoes, or explore the tunnels inside the pyramid that reveal its ancient history. You can also visit the colorful churches that dot the town, such as the Church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla, which has a stunning interior decorated with indigenous motifs.

San Cristobal de las Casas

This charming colonial town in Chiapas is a cultural hub and a gateway to the indigenous communities of the region. You can stroll along the cobblestone streets and admire the colourful buildings, visit the markets and museums or join a tour to nearby villages like San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan, where you can learn about their traditions and crafts. You can also enjoy the lively nightlife and the diverse cuisine of San Cristobal.


This town in Quintana Roo is known as the Lagoon of Seven Colors, because of the stunning shades of blue and green of its freshwater lake. You can swim, kayak, paddleboard, or sail on the lake, or relax on its white sand beaches. You can also visit the San Felipe Fort, which has a museum that tells the history of Bacalar as a pirate haven, or explore the nearby cenotes and mangroves.


This city in central Mexico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a former silver mining town. It has a unique underground network of tunnels that serve as roads, as well as colorful houses that climb up the hillsides. You can visit the Alhondiga de Granaditas, where the first battle of the Mexican War of Independence took place, or the Mummy Museum, which displays naturally mummified bodies from a local cemetery. You can also enjoy the cultural events and festivals that take place throughout the year, such as the Cervantino International Festival.


This city in southern Mexico is a gastronomic and artistic destination, with a rich culinary heritage and a vibrant craft scene. You can taste some of the best mole sauces, mezcal, chocolate and cheese in Mexico, or join a cooking class to learn how to make them yourself. You can also visit the markets and workshops where you can buy or make pottery, textiles, alebrijes (wooden figurines) and other handicrafts. Oaxaca also has impressive colonial buildings, such as the Santo Domingo Church and the Monte Alban archaeological site.

Todos Santos

This town in Baja California Sur is a haven for surfers, artists and bohemians. It has a laid-back atmosphere and a beautiful natural setting, with desert landscapes and Pacific beaches. You can surf at Los Cerritos or La Pastora, visit the art galleries and boutiques that line the main street, or enjoy live music at Hotel California (which is not related to the Eagles song). You can also watch whales, turtles and birds at nearby sanctuaries.


This city on the Gulf of Mexico is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and a well-preserved example of a colonial fortified town. It has impressive walls and bastions that protected it from pirate attacks, as well as elegant mansions and churches that reflect its former splendor. You can walk along the Malecon (seafront promenade), visit the museums and monuments, or take a day trip to the Mayan ruins of Edzna or Calakmul.

San Miguel de Allende

This town in Guanajuato is a popular destination for expats and retirees, who have contributed to its cosmopolitan and creative vibe. It has a stunning Baroque church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, which dominates the main square, as well as charming cobblestone streets, art galleries, cafés and restaurants. You can also enjoy the hot springs, golf courses and vineyards that surround the town, or join the festivities that take place throughout the year, such as the Day of the Dead or the San Miguel Writers’ Conference.

Hotels in Mexico City

Disclaimer: Portions of this content may have been generated with the assistance of AI, but all text is vetted by human editors. We are committed to delivering high-quality, informative content that reflects the fusion of human expertise with AI innovation.

ENS Editors

Learn More →