CARIBBEAN COAST: The holiday islands of Cozumel, Cancún and Isla Mujeres are off the Yucatán Peninsula and offer sun, sand and sea in a tropical landscape. The main attraction of Cozumel is the huge Palancar Reef, an underwater paradise for divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Cancún, a fishing village of 120 people in the 1970s, is now one of the country’s most popular vacation spots, with a population of half a million and nearly two million visitors a year. The 22 km long island of Cancún Beach, which is connected to the mainland by two bridges, offers countless recreational opportunities and is ideal for a relaxing holiday on the Caribbean coast. Isla Mujeres (“Woman’s Island”) is a little further from the mainland and is particularly popular with young people. Tropical fish can be spotted from boats above the coral reef. Contoy Island is a wildlife sanctuary, 17 km away.
- Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in Mexico, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the country.
PACIFIC COAST: Acapulco on Acapulco Bay is Mexico’s most famous beach resort. The city stretches 16 km around the bay. Diving, fishing, paragliding, water skiing, golf and horseback riding are all part of the leisure offer. The unique spectacle of the Quebrada divers should not be missed. The sea is calm and it is safe to swim anywhere in the bay. Rougher seas and surf are found at La Condesa Beach, which is good for surfing. Near the city center are two beaches, Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla, which get a lot of sun, especially in the mornings. Afternoon sun can be found at Playa Hornos, which is further east. Diving courses are offered. The uninhabitedRoqueta Island is nearby and can be reached by glass bottom boat. The island is a popular excursion destination. Fort San Diego is located in downtown Acapulco (free entry, closed on Thursdays).
Behind Acapulco rise the mountains of the Sierra Madre, with their lush tropical vegetation. From the top you have a wonderful view of the bay.
16 km away is Pie de la Cuesta with extensive beaches and a lagoon. The surf can be dangerous.
The Central Highlands has a mild climate and is the most populated region in Mexico.
Uxmal is 80 km south of Mérida and was probably founded in the 6th century. The most impressive buildings, however, date from the 9th/10th Century and are built in the classic Puuc style. This important site includes the Nunnery, the Pyramid of the Diviners and the Governor’s Palace. Special stylistic elements are the masks of the rain god Chac as well as the particularly artistic, geometric patterns and snake ornaments. A smaller archaeological site is at Kabáh, which is connected to Uxmal by a ceremonial road.
The road running south of the peninsula from Francisco Escárcega via Chicanná to Chetumal is relatively new. It passes through a dense jungle area full of Mayan ruins, many of which have only recently been opened to the public.
Mitla, 45 km from Oaxaca, was the center of the Mixtec world. The pillared hall and the pillar of life, which visitors can touch to determine their life expectancy, are particularly worth seeing. You should also plan a visit to the Frisell Museum.
14 km from Oaxaca is Monte Albán, the religious center of the Zapotec culture, which flourished over 2000 years ago. The impressive Plaza Central and many tombs can be visited. The Treasure of Monte Albán can be seen in the Regional Museum of Oaxaca.
The »sunken Maya city« Palenque is located in a tropical jungle clearing on the edge of the Chiapas mountain range, near the border with Guatemala. The important ceremonial center was abandoned after its heyday (600-900) for reasons that are still unclear and was soon swallowed up by the jungle. The group of buildings of the Palacios (probably the residence of priest -kings) built around a three-story tower is considered unusual in Mayan architecture. Also on this complex are the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of Inscriptions, under which a tomb with the richly decorated skeleton of a priest-king was discovered in 1949. In the surrounding mountains there are numerous waterfalls and beautiful bathing spots. To complete the historical impressions, you can also take detours to Guatemala and Belize from here.
La Paz, the capital of the state of Baja California Sur, is located in a bay on the Gulf of California. Good water sports, especially deep sea fishing, await the holiday guest. The beaches of Las Hamacas, Palmeira, El Coromuel and Puerto Balandra are ideal for swimmers and divers.
Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, is the agricultural, commercial and industrial center of the western highlands. Concerts are often held in the plazas. Horse-drawn carriages are available for hire. The folk music of the area is called mariachi. The city’s cathedral has 11 altars, 30 columns and many valuable art treasures. A walk through the Parque Agua Azul gives the impression of being in a forest. The park is also known for its many recreational facilities. The Parque des las Armas is a popular meeting place for lovers. The two parks near the cathedral ( Parque de los Laureles and Parque de la Revolución ) also offer welcome refuge. On thePlaza de Rotonda features columns and statues honoring the heroes of Jalisco. Local products are sold at the market in Plaza Libertad. The Tlaquepaque and Tonalá neighborhoods to the east of the city are known for their unique handicrafts, but the ambiance alone is worth a visit. In Tequila, 50 km away, schnapps has been distilled from the Maguey cactus since the 17th century. More than 100 million liters of tequila are produced here every year, which alone accounts for three percent of Mexico’s export earnings.
Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo have beautiful beaches and are popular vacation destinations. Cabo San Lucas is located at the tip of the peninsula, 216 km from La Paz. Seals can often be seen here.
Tijuana The city on the US border welcomes more than 20 million visitors a year, many taking day trips from California. San Diego is just a few miles across the border.
Monterrey is Mexico’s leading industrial city. It is nestled at the foot of the highest peaks of the Eastern Sierra Madre in beautiful surroundings. The cathedral, the Palacio del Gobierno and the Obispado are reminiscent of more tranquil times.
Veracruz is a pretty port city with good restaurants, also known for delicious seafood. Carnival is also celebrated in the fun-loving city.
Cuernavaca is 85 km from the capital. The main attractions are the numerous beautiful squares, the flower gardens, the 18th -century Borda Gardens, a cathedral (16th century) and the Palacio de Cortés museum, which houses frescoes by Diego Rivera.
The Mexican capital is 2500 m above sea level and is dominated by the snow-capped volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. One of the main attractions is the Plaza de la Constitución, the city’s oldest square – better known as the Zócalo, which is the Aztec word for pedestal. The National Palace, built in 1692 on the ruins of the Palace of Montezuma, now houses the President’s offices. In the Plaza de las Tres Cultures the three cultures that have had a lasting impact on Mexico’s history are united. Aztec ruins, a 17th-century baroque colonial church and some more recent buildings document the diversity of Mexican architecture. The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a shrine and place of pilgrimage built around Tepeyac Hill, on the site where the Indian Juan Diego is said to have met the Virgin in 1531. Every year on December 12, millions of pilgrims from all over Mexico gather to honor the patron saint in front of the basilica, which was built in 1976 and can accommodate 10,000 people inside and another 25,000 outside when all 70 portals are open. There is a castle in Chapultepec Park where theNational Museum of History and the National Museum of Ethnology are housed. The floating gardens of Xochimilco and the upscale shopping street Paseo de la Reforma are worth seeing. The Polyforum de Siqueiros is a large exhibition hall with many spacious rooms for dance events, ballet and theater performances. Located on Pedregal Square, the Ciudad Universitaria is an example of modern Mexican architecture. The facility includes a stadium that can accommodate 100,000 spectators.
Taxco, which is 160 km from Mexico City, is also a listed monument. The silver mines made the town prosperous, and the sale of silverware and jewelry is still one of the town’s main sources of income. The Church of Santa Prisca is a jewel of Baroque architecture. The most interesting colonial houses are the Casa de Humboldt (Alexander von Humboldt stayed here on one of his voyages of discovery), the Casa Borda and the Casa Figueroa. The Cacahuamilpa Caves are north of Taxco.
Querétaro: The old Franciscan monastery is now a museum, the former Augustinian monastery serves as an administrative building. In the Plaza de la Independencia stands the house of Marquis Villa del Aguila, who had the city’s aqueduct built. There are first class hotels and restaurants.
The Yucatán Peninsula stretches north, bounded by the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. The peninsula is divided into the states of Cempeche, Yucatán and Quintanta Roo. This is where most of the Mayan cult sites are located.
The capital of the Yucatán is Mérida, built in 1542 on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city. The Cathedral (16th century), the Casa de Montejo and the Archaeological Museum are just a few of the many sights. The city is a good starting point for excursions into the surrounding area.
Tulum, 130 km south of Cancún, is the only archeological site directly by the sea. From the 15 m high cliffs you have a wonderful view of the turquoise Caribbean Sea. 50km north of here, in the dense rainforest, is the fascinating and little-visited site of Cobá, home to the Yucatán’s tallest pyramid.
Teotihuacán, the City of the Gods, is 48 km north of Mexico City and is one of the country’s most important archaeological sites with its Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Citadel. When the Aztecs came to the area around 1300, they found this long-abandoned ceremonial site whose builders remain unknown to this day.
Mexicali is the capital of Baja California North and is a good base for exploring the surrounding mountains and Rumorosa countryside.
Baja California is a 1200 km long peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean south of Tijuana. It consists of the states of Baja California North and Baja California Sur. The Gulf of California is a paradise for anglers and experienced divers. At the head of the gulf is the Colorado Estuary (although little water actually reaches the sea, as the Colorado is needed upstream for irrigation for agriculture). The interior is a mountainous desert with no fresh water, where only the most frugal and hardy animals and plants can survive.
The states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco separate North and Central America. The eastern and western mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre meet here and run south towards the Andes. The desert landscape is replaced here by tropical jungle and mountain forests. The annual average temperature in this region is 23ÚC or higher.
In Oaxaca the visitor will find beautiful gardens, arcaded plazas and several fine churches such as the 17th century Iglesia de Santo Domingo. The Zócalo is known for its many cafes and restaurants. An orchestra plays here twice a week, and buskers play theirsmarimbas. Construction of the cathedral began in the 16th century, but it was not completed until two centuries later. On Saturdays there is a market where you can buy hand-woven and hand-embroidered clothing, gold jewelery and black pottery at the stalls. The Archaeological Museum has a collection of Zapotec and Mixtec artifacts made of gold, jade, silver, turquoise and quartz. The Church of La Soledad houses the statue of the Virgin of Soledad, the city’s patron saint.
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is a resort town with a marina and golf course about 200 km north of Acapulco (flight connections to Mexico City several times a day).
The port town of Manzanillo has beautiful beaches and excellent water sports (especially deep sea fishing).
Puerto Vallarta is the largest city in the huge holiday region of Bahía de Banderos, the largest natural bay in Mexico (approx. 1 hour by plane from Mexico City). The coast is hundreds of kilometers long and bathers will find many beautiful sandy beaches. Paragliding, shooting, diving, sailing, fishing, golf and tennis are all available leisure activities. Boat trips offer an opportunity to explore the coast. Yelapa, a village reminiscent of Polynesian villages, can only be reached by water. The trip in the dugout is a special experience. The mountains that loom behind the bay are best explored on horseback. Charreadas (Mexican rodeos) are held at certain times of the year. San Blas, Barra de Navidad, Zihuatanejo, Puerto Escondido and Puerto Angel are among the area’s smaller resort towns.
Mazatlán has a lot to offer its holidaymakers, there are numerous beaches and a wide range of sports and entertainment options, including diving, deep sea fishing, tennis, golf and horseback riding. Night owls also get their money’s worth here. The boardwalk is called Avenida Camaron to the north and Olas Atlas to the south. It’s even busier in the evening than during the day, and you have to navigate the arañas (covered horse-drawn carriages), three-wheel taxis, and other four-wheeled transportation. On the seafront stands the Mirador, a tower from which divers give daring performances of their art twice a day. ElFaro is one of the tallest lighthouses in the world and is located on the promontory of Cerro del Creston. There are direct flights to Mazatlán from Los Angeles and many Mexican cities. There is also a ferry service between Mazatlán and La Paz in Baja California. The nearby Mexcaltitan Island is said to have been the original settlement area of the Aztecs.