With two spectacular coastlines, ancient ruins and some of the world’s most interesting cities, it’s easy to understand why people love Mexico. Best of all, its location next door to the US, and only a 5-10 hour flight from Europe, means that it is easy to reach and that affordable flights to Mexico are easier to find than ever.
One of the most amazing things about foreign travel is exploring other cultures in an authentic way. However, the popular destinations of Cancun and Puerta Vallarta can be full of tourists and very few locals. For those on the hunt for an authentic Mexican experience, just a short drive from the all-inclusive resorts there is a whole world waiting to be discovered. There are plenty of options to see the real Mexico, and a little research will reveal an abundance of beaches, towns and attractions off the beaten path.
One of the most helpful tips for your travels is to learn a little Spanish. Being able to communicate with locals (even if just a few words) will take you a long way.
In the mountains
Research rentals instead of resorts. Mexico is home to a multitude of charming small towns which you might never discover if you didn’t leave Cancun. Lake Chapala, for example, is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico and is nestled in among beautiful mountains. You can rent a small villa in the mountains, ride horses along the lakeshore, sip Michelitas with some locals in town and experience what Mexican life is really like.
For a beach experience away from the crowds, consider heading to the Pacific coastal towns of Southern Mexico or the Baja California peninsula. The coastline is dotted with charming towns filled with hammocks on the beach, local bars serving grilled lobster, and white sand. These towns are a far cry from the busy beaches of Acapulco a few hours up the coast.
If you’re looking for a city experience but can’t face the overwhelming size of Mexico City, consider Oaxaca. This city in southwest Mexico sits at the foot of the Sierra Madre and is home to a large number of colonial-era structures, native Zapotec and Mixtec cultures as well as UNESCO World Heritage archaeological sites.
Mexico is an extremely large country with incredibly diverse landscapes. With so much to see, you will likely have to choose a few locations at first and return later to see the rest of this stunning country.