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Knowing what to do and where to go in Mexico can feel a bit overwhelming. Every traveler has an opinion about the best beaches, whether or not to spend time in the big cities, and how much time you really need to get a feel for the country. As a result, planning a Mexico itinerary can be daunting.
Luckily, Mexico is a place that can please the masses. There is literally something for everyone there—from incredible hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountains to a funky art scene and amazing food in the capital to any kind of beach holiday you could possibly want.
Mexico is a massive country. It comprises 32 unique states and countless epic places to visit. So, if you’re wondering where to go and what things to do in Mexico, check out this sample two-week itinerary to get your planning started.
A 2 Week Mexico Itinerary—A Rough Guide
The best Mexico itinerary has you seeing as much of the country as possible. Here is a suggestion to make that happen:
3 days in Mexico City (a must on your Mexico itinerary)
Whether at the beginning or the end of your trip, you should allot some time exploring Mexico’s capital city. There is a wealth of history and culture here. In addition, Mexico City houses the largest number of museums in the world!
The city center is packed with beautiful stately buildings that make for fantastic photo opportunities. Plaza de la Constitución in Centro Historico is one of the largest historic downtown areas in the world. It’s the perfect place to start your sightseeing.
On top of that, the city has a really cool vibe. There are loads of great nightlife options, fantastic street food, and plenty of bars and cafes to check out. There are enough things to do in Mexico City to keep you busy for months on end! But you don’t have that kind of time. You’ve got all of Mexico to explore.
Best things to do in Mexico City:
- Go on a food tour
- Explore the floating gardens of Xochimilco
- Learn a bit more of the city’s history on a free walking tour
- Wander around Templo Mayor
- Go to one of the many, many museums. The Frida Kahlo Museum is fantastic!
Pro Tip—Head to a cantina for great Mexican food and drinks. It is an authentic Mexican experience you won’t forget.
Honestly, three days probably won’t feel like enough time to explore this underrated gem, but you have lots to explore in your short amount of time!
So, moving on…
3 days in Chiapas
Chiapas is another region you have to include in your places in Mexico to visit. Located in the middle of the country between Mexico City and the Yucatan peninsula, Chiapas can easily be added to your trip, especially if you are traveling by bus.
Once you arrive in Chiapas, the El Chiflon waterfall is absolutely stunning and definitely one of the best things to do in Mexico.
This region is far less touristy than any other destination on this list, and it’s packed full of natural beauty. You can explore several different waterfalls, visit the Templo de San Juan, a unique house of worship, and even ride down the river through Sumidero Canyon.
The city of San Cristobal de las Casas is a great base to explore more of rural Mexico and get an authentic feel for the culture.
Best things to do in Chiapas:
- Visit El Chiflon waterfall
- Wander the streets of San Cristobal de las Casas
- Explore the Palenque Ruins
- Marvel at the Sumidero Canyon
- Go kayaking at Lagos de Montebello
How to get to Chiapas
San Cristobal de las Casas is about 478 miles (~770 km) from Mexico City. Depending on how much time you want to spend on travel and how much money you want to spend, you can fly or take a bus.
Flying is quite simple. Find a domestic flight from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport, which typically runs between $25 and $130. If you book early, you can usually snag a great deal. The flight lasts an hour and 20 minutes.
From the airport, you will need to take a taxi the remaining 48 miles to San Cristobal de las Casas. A taxi journey this far will cost between $35 and $50.
If flying is out of your budget, taking an overnight bus from Mexico City to San Cristobal is also possible. This journey can take up to 16 and a half hours and costs around $82. It is long, but you’re saving on a night’s accommodation, and the buses are reasonably comfortable.
If you happen to be making your trip in reverse and are coming from Oaxaca, you can take the bus from Puerto Escondido to San Cristobal de las Casas.
The route may be a better option as it takes just under 14 hours and costs about $50 per person.
5 days at the beach
If fun in the sun is what you’re after, plan for five days at the beach. Your biggest dilemma is choosing a location, as there are almost 500 beaches across four different bodies of water. Mexico borders the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and the Sea of Cortez.
Some of the best beaches and islands in Mexico are along the Yucatan peninsula, so let’s start there.
Nothing can really compare to Cancún, Mexico. It is the country’s most famous beach, with 14 miles of stunning coastline, fantastic nightlife, countless things to do, and loads of great restaurants.
Top things to do in Cancún
- Enjoy the beautiful beaches
- Explore Zona Hotelera, Cancún’s best area for nightlife
- Wander around Ciudad Cancún for outstanding local cuisine and a touch of authentic culture
- Swim in a cenote—Verde Lucero is a great one nearby!
- Do something epic in the water—SUPing, snorkeling, scuba diving—Cancún has it all.
How to get to Cancún
If you didn’t fly directly into Cancún, you have two options to get you there from the capital.
It is fairly quick and easy to navigate from Mexico City to Cancun.
The cheapest option may actually be to fly from Mexico City. A direct flight with VivaAerobus can cost as little as $30 per person. Flights take approximately two hours and fifteen minutes.
You could also take a VIP bus, which will cost around $80 per person and takes three and a half hours. The benefit to the bus is that they are less likely to be canceled or delayed, and they may have better schedules, depending on how you like to travel.
Tulum (the most boho-chic town on your Mexico itinerary)
On the southern end of the Riviera Maya, near Cancun, is Tulum. This beach is excellent for history buffs because one of the best things to do in Tulum, besides the beach, is visiting the Mayan ruins.
In addition to the great history, Tulum has crystal, clear, cerulean waters and white sand beaches to enjoy to soak up the sun and relax.
Best things to do in Tulum
- Explore the Tulum ruins
- Take a tour of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere
- Check out the caves at Cenote Caracol
- Bike around the city
- Swim in the Caribbean
How to get to Tulum
The easiest way to get to Tulum is to fly to Cancun and take a bus for the remaining 78 miles.
ADO Buses depart Cancun airport twice per day and take approximately an hour and a half. This portion of the journey will cost around $10 per person.
Mexico also has many incredible islands to visit. One of the best is Isla Holbox. This is a great option if you want a less touristy destination. Located three hours north of Cancun, Isla Holbox has all the benefits of a Caribbean paradise but is far less crowded than Playa del Carmen or Cozumel.
Best things to do in Isla Holbox:
- Snorkel around the island
- Take a yoga class
- Do a self-guided street art tour
- Enjoy the sunset at the pier
- Swim with whale sharks
- Do nothing—seriously! Use your time to unwind and relax!
How to get to Isla Holbox
Getting from Cancun to Holbox is pretty easy, but there are a few steps. There are buses from Cancún to Chiquila that take an hour and will cost $17 per person. Then make your way to the Chiquila Port and catch the Holbox ferry. The ferry from Chiquila to Holbox is only $9 and takes about 30 minutes.
If you prefer to fly, the island does have a tiny airport. However, you would have to fly on a private plane, which will make flights very pricey. In addition, they usually limit how much luggage you can take, so be prepared for that, too.
Cabo San Lucas
If you fancy the Pacific, consider Cabo San Lucas at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula.
Playa del Amor is a fantastic beach that runs between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. You have the big waves of the Pacific on one side of the beach, and the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez on the other, so you can seamlessly go back and forth between the two. It’s also a great spot to see Cabo’s most famous landmark, El Arco, the stunning rock arc in the ocean.
Best things to do in Cabo San Lucas:
- Go whale watching in hopes of spotting a humpback whale
- Have a swim at Medano Beach
- Visit El Arco
- Take in the views up Pedregal
- Enjoy a sunset cruise
- Try scuba diving—you’re bound to see some amazing sea life!
Getting to Cabo San Lucas
There are plenty of international flights that come into Cabo San Lucas regularly. If you are starting your trip on the Pacific side of the country, this may be the best option for you.
If you are somewhere else in Mexico, the best option is to fly via Mexico City into Cabo San Lucas to save time. Domestic flights can be cheap if you book early enough.
Puerto Escondido (the surfer’s paradise portion of your Mexico itinerary)
Arguably, the best beach in Mexico for surfing is Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca state. This is also a Pacific Ocean-based beach and is popular for surfers worldwide.
Be warned, though—the surf is no joke! Waves can be over 10 feet high.
Puerto Escondido is still a hidden gem, though. There isn’t much development in the area, but you will find some great local B&Bs, a few hotels, and some fantastic street tacos.
Best things to do in Puerto Escondido:
- Go surfing or take a surf lesson
- Enjoy the pristine beaches
- Swim with bioluminescent plankton
- Learn about turtle conservation at Playa Bacocho
- Explore Chacahua National Park
How to get to Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido has its own airport with direct flights to several domestic cities each day.
If you are traveling from Mexico City to Puerto Escondido, flying or taking a bus are your best options.
Flights take about an hour and 15 minutes and cost around $30 per person if you book early.
A VIP overnight bus is your alternative from the capital. It takes about eighteen and a half hours and will cost $90.
Of course, if you prefer more time at the beach or want to experience both the Caribbean and the Pacific coasts, you can always mix and match these ideas and create your own perfect Mexico itinerary.
2 days in Oaxaca City (the foodie haven of your Mexico itinerary)
Staying in Oaxaca will be all about delicious food and unforgettable cultural experiences.
Oaxaca City has fantastic street art. You can easily wander the city on your own or join a free walking tour to admire it.
If you happen to be there on a Sunday, drive to Tlacolula, a great weekly market. It is definitely worth the trip. There are a lot of incredible things to do in Oaxaca.
Best things to do in Oaxaca:
- Visit the Zocalo and wander around Ciudad Oaxaca (Oaxaca City Center)
- Try mole and mezcal
- Check out Templo de Santo Domingo
- Wander around the Ethnobotanic Gardens
- Take a day trip to Mitla to learn about the Zapotecs
How to get to Oaxaca
There are few options for getting from Mexico City to Oaxaca.
The most convenient option is to fly. Direct flights from the capital to Oaxaca take about two hours and fifteen minutes and cost as little as $35.
The cheapest option is to take a bus. Buses take between six to seven hours and cost around $10 per person.
How to get around in Mexico
Luckily, getting around in Mexico is pretty simple.
There are plenty of tourist bus options that are easy to navigate. In addition, domestic flights can be very reasonable if you book early and travel on popular routes.
The bus in Mexico is a great way to travel around if you are on a budget. They are safe, efficient, and cheaper than most other modes of transport.
It is also possible to rent a car while you are traveling around. This can be a great way to see the country and set your own schedule. Typically you only need a driver’s license in your home country and insurance to rent a car. Still, it is good to check Mexico’s transportation regulations for the most up-to-date rules.
The beauty of planning two weeks in Mexico is that you get a little bit of it all—history, culture, beaches, and food. The problem is that two weeks aren’t enough! So I guess you’ll need to keep coming back!
Cancun is definitely touristy, but it’s one of the best beaches in Mexico. There is plenty to do there, though, so don’t rule it out if partying at Carlos and Charlies with college co-eds isn’t on your agenda. There is also a great range of accommodation, from budget-friendly hotels to swanky all-inclusive resorts. There truly is something for everyone.
Puerto Vallarta, Haultuco, Mazatlan, and Zihuatanejo are a good start.
Yes! If you are in Mexico on September 16th, find a Mexican Independence Day celebration. Also, Dia de Los Muertos (commonly called Day of the Dead) is celebrated on November 1st and is a true Mexican cultural experience. Both are celebrated countrywide.