If you’ve lazed on the beaches along the Riviera Maya, checked into the All Inclusives of Cancun and visited Tulum’s clifftop ruins, then it’s time to discover another side of Mexico. Travel beyond the country’s holiday hotspots and you’ll find that many lesser-known spots are just as worth exploring, whether you’re seeking a palm-fringed beach, cultural highlights or buzzing city life.
On the eastern Caribbean coast, south of Tulum are the pretty, quiet beaches of Costa Maya, home to peaceful fishing villages and excellent diving spots, and where archaeological sites and Bacalar, the ‘lagoon of seven colours’ can be found in the jungle-clad interior. Further west is the city of Oaxaca, given UNESCO World Heritage status it’s known for inventive cuisine, a vibrant arts and crafts scene and historic boutique hotels – it’s also considered the capital of mezcal.
And then there’s the central Pacific coast, a mixture of stunning natural beauty, chilled out surfing spots and lively resort towns complete with luxury All Inclusive hotels. Puerto Vallarta – made famous by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s – is one of the most popular beach towns for locals, while Zihuatanejo (or Zihua to those in the know) is a surfers paradise backdropped by the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. And don’t overlook Guadalajara, an urban metropolis with a sense of historic charm, that’s the birthplace of many quintessential Mexican traditions from mariachi music to sombreros.