Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information

Mexico Travel Guide – Updated 2024

Mexico is a vibrant blend of culture, history, and natural beauty, offering travelers an experience like no other. This guide is your key to unlocking the secrets of this enchanting country and falling in love with all it has to offer.

While the appeal of popular tourist destinations such as Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Cancun, and Riviera Maya is undeniable, an even deeper and more authentic Mexico is waiting to be discovered.

Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, Mexico boasts a diverse landscape that ranges from lush rainforests and towering mountains to arid deserts, pristine coastlines, and underground cenotes.

This diversity sets the stage for many adventures, whether you’re exploring ancient pre-Hispanic ruins, climbing to the volcanos, relaxing on sun-drenched beaches, or sampling the rich palette of flavors in vibrant markets.

Mexico’s rich history is palpable at every turn, with archaeological sites such as Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, Monte Alban, Palenque, and Uxmal offering glimpses into the ancient civilizations that once flourished here.

The colonial charm of cities like Oaxaca, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende offers a window into Mexico’s recent past, where cobbled stone picturesque streets are lined with colorful facades and ornate cathedrals.

Mexico’s culinary scene is endless, from street food stalls to upscale restaurants showcasing innovative takes on traditional dishes. Don’t miss the chance to try regional specialties like mole poblano, ceviche, and pozole.

Beyond the hustle and bustle of the city, Mexico’s natural beauty beckons travelers to explore. The Caribbean Coast is home to the 2nd-largest barrier reef in the world, making it a paradise for snorkelers and scuba divers.

The rugged landscapes of Copper Canyon and the Sierra Madre offer endless hiking opportunities. At the same time, the calm waters of the Bacalara Lagoon invite visitors to relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

Warm, welcoming, and proud of their heritage, Mexicans are quick to share their culture with visitors, whether through lively festivals, traditional vibrant dance performances, or spontaneous conversations on the street.

Whether you’re going to backpack, planning a road trip across the country, or just looking to relax under the tropical sun, Mexico promises an unforgettable vacation filled with adventure, discovery, and endless possibilities.

Things to see and do in Mexico

Explore Ancient Pre-Hispanic Ruins

  • Visit Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Discover the ancient city of Teotihuacan.
  • Explore the Mayan ruins of Palenque in Chiapas.
  • Marvel the archaeological site of Uxmal in the Yucatan.
  • Explore the ancient city of Monte Alban near Oaxaca.

Swim in Cenotes

  • Dip in the crystal-clear waters of Ik Kil Cenote near Chichen Itza.
  • Explore the underwater caves and caverns of Dos Ojos Cenote.
  • Dive into the turquoise waters of Gran Cenote near Tulum.

Climb Volcanoes

  • Conquer the summit of Popocatepetl.
  • Hike to the top of the iconic Paricutin Volcano.
  • Trek up the slopes of Nevado de Toluca.

Visit National Reserves

  • Explore the diverse ecosystems of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.
  • Discover the rich biodiversity of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve.
  • Embark on a wildlife safari in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

Experience Modern Cities

  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Mexico City.
  • Explore the cosmopolitan charm of Guadalajara.
  • Wander the streets of the modern metropolis Monterrey.

Discover Cozy Colonial Towns

  • Wander the cobbled streets of San Miguel de Allende.
  • Explore the picturesque and cozy town of Taxco.
  • Visit the charming colonial town of Guanajuato.

Dive into Indigenous Culture

  • Experience the traditions of the indigenous communities in Chiapas.
  • Attend a ceremony in the indigenous village of San Juan Chamula.
  • Explore vibrant artisan markets in Oaxaca and Puebla.

These are just a few of the many incredible experiences awaiting you in Mexico. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, foodie, or culture seeker, Mexico offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Mexico’s travel costs

Traveling to Mexico can be an affordable adventure. However, the overall cost can vary depending on factors such as your travel style, the time of year, and the specific destinations you plan to visit within the country.

Accommodation: Mexico offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget. From budget hostels and guesthouses to luxury resorts and boutique hotels, you can find something that fits your preferences and budget.

Prices can vary significantly depending on the location and the level of comfort you seek.

Transportation: Getting around Mexico is relatively affordable, especially if you use public transportation. Inter-city buses are a popular and cost-effective way to travel between major destinations. Renting a car is also an option.

Food and Dining: Mexican cuisine is famous worldwide. Eating at local markets and inexpensive restaurants can also help keep your food expenses low. Dining at upscale restaurants and tourist areas may be more expensive.

Street food vendors offer affordable options for authentic Mexican food.

Activities and Attractions: Mexico has a rich variety of cultural and natural attractions, ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, and picturesque colonial towns. Many attractions have entrance fees, so budget accordingly.

Guided tours, snorkeling, diving, or zip-lining come with additional costs.

Shopping and Souvenirs: Mexico is known for its handicrafts and artisanal products, making it a great destination for souvenir shopping. Prices can vary depending on the item’s quality, and where you purchase it.

Haggling is common in markets and smaller shops.

Travel Insurance: While not a direct travel cost, purchasing travel insurance is highly recommended to protect yourself against unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage.

Mexico offers excellent value for travelers with a range of budgets. By planning, prioritizing your expenses, and seeking out affordable options, you can enjoy a memorable and budget-friendly trip to this country.

Take advantage of free attractions such as exploring colonial towns on foot, hiking in national parks, or visiting public beaches. Many museums and cultural sites offer discounted admission on certain days of the week.

Read more about Mexico’s travel costs.

Money-saving tips

Planning a trip to Mexico and looking to make the most of your budget? Fear not, because with these money-saving tips, you can stretch your pesos further and enjoy all that Mexico has to offer without breaking the bank:

Travel During the Shoulder Seasons: Visit Mexico during the shoulder seasons, between April to June and September to November, and you’ll find lower prices on accommodation, flights, and activities compared to peak tourist season.

Use Local Transportation: Skip the expensive taxis and opt for local transportation options like buses and metro to get around. Not only are they more budget-friendly, but they also offer a chance to mingle with locals and experience everyday life in Mexico.

Eat Like a Local: Embrace the culinary delights of Mexico by dining at local markets, street food stalls, and family-owned eateries. Not only are these options delicious, but they’re also incredibly affordable.

Look for set menus, which offer a full meal at a fraction of the cost of dining at restaurants geared towards tourists.

Stay in Budget Accommodations: Save money on accommodation by opting for budget-friendly options such as hostels, guesthouses, or Airbnb rentals. Look for accommodations with shared kitchens to cook meals and communal areas to meet fellow travelers.

Take Advantage of Free Activities: Mexico is brimming with free and low-cost activities, from exploring colonial towns on foot to hiking in national parks and lounging on public beaches. Research free museum days, and cultural events.

Bargain Like a Pro: Don’t be afraid to haggle at markets and souvenir shops to score the best deals on gifts and souvenirs. Start by negotiating politely and be prepared to walk away if the price isn’t right.

Remember that bargaining is a common practice in Mexico, so don’t be shy about asking for a lower price.

Drink Tap Water: Save money and reduce plastic waste by drinking tap water where it’s safe to do so. Many cities in Mexico have potable tap water, but it’s always a good idea to double-check with locals or your accommodation before filling up your water bottle.

Plan Your Activities Wisely: Research and prioritize the activities and attractions you want to experience during your trip. Consider purchasing tickets in advance online to secure lower prices and avoid long lines at popular tourist spots.

Look for combo tickets or discounts for visiting multiple sites.

Withdraw Cash Wisely: Avoid excessive ATM fees by withdrawing larger sums of cash less frequently and using ATMs affiliated with major banks. Be cautious of using currency exchange services at airports or tourist areas, as they often offer unfavorable exchange rates.

Embrace the Simple Pleasures: Remember that some of the most memorable experiences in Mexico are often the simplest and most budget-friendly, such as watching a sunset over the ocean, strolling through colorful markets, or enjoying a picnic in a scenic park.

Embrace the beauty of Mexico without overspending on unnecessary luxuries.

By following these money-saving tips, you can enjoy a memorable and budget-friendly trip to Mexico while immersing yourself in the country’s rich culture, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. ¡Buen viaje! (Happy travels!)

Read more about how to travel to Mexico on a budget.

Where to stay in Mexico

When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay in Mexico, the options are as diverse as the country itself. From luxury resorts to budget-friendly hostels and everything in between, Mexico offers accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences.

Here’s a guide to help you navigate where to stay in Mexico and find the best hotel for your budget and preferences:

Define Your Budget: Before you start your search, determine how much you’re willing to spend on accommodation per night. Mexico offers a wide range of options, from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to upscale resorts and boutique hotels.

Research Your Destination: Consider the location and attractions you want to visit during your stay in Mexico. Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant streets of Mexico City, the pristine beaches of Cancun, or the colonial charm of Oaxaca, choose a hotel that’s conveniently located near the places you want to explore.

Use Online Booking Platforms: Take advantage of online booking platforms like, Airbnb, and Expedia to browse a wide selection of hotels, read reviews from other travelers, and compare prices.

Look for deals, discounts, and special offers to maximize your savings.

Consider Amenities and Facilities: Make a list of must-have amenities and facilities, such as free Wi-Fi, breakfast included, pool access, air conditioning, and on-site restaurants or spas. Filter your search based on these criteria to narrow down your options and find the perfect hotel for your needs.

Read Reviews and Ratings: Take the time to read reviews and ratings from other travelers who have stayed at the hotels you’re considering. Pay attention to comments about cleanliness, location, staff friendliness, and overall guest experience to ensure you make an informed decision.

Look for Hidden Gems: Don’t overlook hidden gems and boutique hotels that may offer unique experiences and personalized service at affordable prices. These smaller establishments often provide a more intimate and authentic stay compared to larger chain hotels.

Explore Different Neighborhoods: Mexico’s cities and regions boast diverse neighborhoods, each with its unique character and attractions. Consider exploring different neighborhoods to discover hidden gems off the beaten path and experience the local culture firsthand.

Consider Safety and Security: Prioritize safety and security when choosing a hotel in Mexico. Look for accommodations with 24-hour security, secure locks on doors and windows, and well-lit common areas.

Research the safe neighborhood where the hotel is located.

Be Flexible with Dates and Locations: If your travel dates are flexible, consider adjusting your itinerary to take advantage of lower hotel rates during off-peak seasons or mid-week stays. Likewise, be open to staying in different neighborhoods or areas to find better deals and explore new parts of Mexico.

Plan Ahead and Book Early: Once you’ve found the perfect hotel for your trip to Mexico, don’t wait to make your reservation. Popular hotels and accommodations can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Plan ahead and book early to secure your preferred dates and room type.

Whether you’re seeking luxury accommodations in upscale resorts, cozy stays in boutique hotels, or budget-friendly options in hostels and guesthouses, Mexico offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences.

With careful research and planning, you can find the perfect place to stay and make the most of your time in Mexico.

How to get aAround Mexico

Navigating Mexico’s vast and diverse landscape is an adventure in itself, with a variety of transportation options available to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Here are tips on how to get around Mexico:

Domestic Flights: Domestic flights offer speed and convenience. Airlines such as Aeromexico, Volaris, and Interjet operate regular flights between Mexico City, Cancun, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and other popular destinations.

Book in advance to secure the best deals and check for promotions and discounts.

Buses: Mexico boasts an extensive public transport network of long-distance buses with comfortable seats, and air conditioning, making it one of the most popular and affordable ways to travel around the country.

  • First-class buses, such as those operated by ADO, ETN, and Primera Plus.
  • Second-class buses are a budget-friendly option for shorter journeys.

Colectivos: Colectivos, or shared vans, are a common mode of transportation in Mexico, especially in rural areas and small towns. These shared vehicles operate along fixed routes and pick up passengers along the way.

Colectivos are often cheaper and provide a more authentic local experience.

Rental Cars: Renting a car is a convenient option for travelers looking to explore Mexico at their own pace and off the beaten path. Major car rental companies operate in Mexico, with offices located at airports and in major cities.

Taxis: Taxis are readily available in most cities and tourist areas in Mexico, offering a convenient way to get around. Use authorized taxis from official taxi stands or reputable companies to avoid scams and ensure your safety.

Uber and Cabify also are becoming increasingly popular in Mexico.

Trains: While train travel is less common in Mexico than other modes of transportation, there are a few scenic rail journeys worth considering. Don’t miss this opportunity to travel through Mexico.

  • Chepe train, also known as the Copper Canyon train
  • Tequila Express with scenic rides through the agave fields of Jalisco.

Ferries: If you’re planning to explore Mexico’s coastal regions or nearby islands, ferries are a convenient option for crossing bodies of water. Ferries operate between mainland Mexico and popular destinations.

Be sure to check ferry schedules and book tickets in advance.

Walking and Cycling: Many cities in Mexico, especially colonial towns and beach resorts, are pedestrian-friendly and perfect for exploring on foot or by bicycle. Renting a bike can be the best way to explore the city.

Tips for Getting Around Mexico

Research transportation options and plan your route to optimize your travel time and budget. Keep in mind that transportation in Mexico may be subject to delays, especially during holidays and inclement weather.

Traveling with minimal luggage makes it easier to navigate public transportation with limited storage space. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially when using taxis, ride-sharing apps, or traveling at night.

Keep your belongings secure and avoid displaying valuable items in public.

While English is spoken in tourist areas, knowing some basic Spanish phrases can help communicate with locals. With these tips and transportation options in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to explore Mexico.

When to go to Mexico

Deciding when to visit Mexico depends on your preferences for weather, activities, and crowd levels. Mexico offers something for every season. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to visit Mexico based on different factors:

Weather – High Season (November to April)

This is the peak tourist season in Mexico, particularly in beach destinations like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos. During these months, you can expect warm, sunny weather with minimal rainfall, making it ideal for beach vacations and outdoor activities.

Weather – Low Season (May to October)

The summer months in Mexico bring hotter temperatures and increased humidity, as well as the possibility of tropical storms and hurricanes, especially in coastal regions.

This is also the time when you’ll find fewer crowds and lower prices on accommodations and activities.

Festivals and Events

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos): Celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, Dia de los Muertos is a colorful and vibrant festival honoring deceased loved ones with elaborate altars, parades, and traditional rituals.

Oaxaca, Patzcuaro, and Mexico City are popular destinations to experience this cultural celebration.

Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia): Celebrated on September 16th, Independence Day is a major holiday in Mexico, marked by patriotic parades, fireworks, and festivities across the country.

Mexico City’s Zocalo is the epicenter of the celebrations, with lively street parties and performances.

Carnaval: Held in the weeks leading up to Lent, Carnaval is a lively and colorful festival celebrated in various cities and coastal towns throughout Mexico, featuring parades, music, dancing, and elaborate costumes.

Mazatlan, Veracruz, and Merida are known for their vibrant Carnaval celebrations.

Wildlife Viewing

Whale Watching: The winter months, particularly from December to March, are prime time for whale watching in Mexico, as humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Baja California Sur to breed and give birth.

Los Cabos, La Paz, and Magdalena Bay are popular whale-watching destinations.

Monarch Butterfly Migration: From late October to early March, millions of monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico’s oyamel fir forests in Michoacan and Mexico State, creating a spectacular natural phenomenon.

Visiting the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve during this time allows you to witness this awe-inspiring event.

Cultural Experiences

Semana Santa (Holy Week): Celebrated in the week leading up to Easter, Semana Santa is a significant religious holiday in Mexico, marked by processions, reenactments of the Passion of Christ, and traditional ceremonies.

Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas, and Taxco are known for their elaborate Semana Santa celebrations.

Guelaguetza: This celebration is held annually in July in Oaxaca, the Guelaguetza is a colorful cultural festival showcasing traditional music, dance, costumes, and cuisine from indigenous communities across the state.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Mexico depends on your personal preferences and interests.

Whether you’re seeking sunny beaches, cultural festivals, or wildlife encounters, Mexico offers something magical year-round. Just be sure to plan ahead and consider factors like weather, events, and crowd levels to make the most of your trip.

How to stay safe in Mexico

While Mexico is a beautiful and vibrant destination, it’s important to stay informed and take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips for staying safe in Mexico:

Research Your Destination: Before you travel, research the safety situation in the specific areas you plan to visit. While many parts of Mexico are safe for tourists, others may have higher crime rates or travel advisories.

Stay updated on local news and government travel advisories from your home country.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Whether you’re exploring bustling cities or tranquil beaches, always remain aware of your surroundings. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar or poorly lit areas.

Keep valuables such as cash, passports, and electronics secure and out of sight.

Use Reliable Transportation: Stick to reputable transportation options such as registered taxis, ride-sharing apps like Uber, or official airport shuttles. Avoid using unlicensed taxis or accepting rides from strangers, especially late at night.

Keep Important Documents Secure: Make photocopies of your passport, visa, and other important documents, and store them in a separate location from the originals. Consider using a hotel safe or money belt to keep valuables secure while traveling.

Stay Connected: Keep in touch with friends or family members back home and share your travel itinerary with them. Check-in regularly and notify someone if your plans change unexpectedly.

Consider purchasing a local SIM card or international roaming plan for your phone to stay connected while in Mexico.

Learn Basic Spanish Phrases: While many Mexicans speak English, especially in tourist areas, knowing some basic Spanish phrases can be helpful for communication and navigating everyday situations.

Consider learning simple phrases for asking directions, ordering food, and seeking help if needed.

Avoid Flashy Displays of Wealth: To avoid attracting unwanted attention, avoid wearing expensive jewelry, watches, or designer clothing while out and about. Keep your camera, phone, and other electronics discreet when not in use.

Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t hesitate to seek help from local authorities or hotel staff if you feel unsafe or threatened.

Be Cautious with Alcohol: Drink responsibly and be cautious when accepting drinks from strangers or attending nightlife venues. Don’t leave your drink unattended, and know your limits to avoid becoming vulnerable to theft or harm.

Follow Local Laws and Customs: Familiarize yourself with local laws, customs, and cultural norms before traveling to Mexico. Respect local traditions and customs, and avoid behaviors that could be considered disrespectful or offensive.

By staying informed, remaining vigilant, and taking common-sense precautions, you can help ensure a safe and memorable experience while traveling in Mexico. Always prioritize your safety and well-being, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance or advice if needed.

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