When people think of Mexico’s geography, there are two things that usually come to mind – deserts with cacti and tumbleweeds and Caribbean beaches with white sand and palm trees.
While Mexico does have beaches and deserts, there is so much in between. From mountain peaks, coral reefs, rainforests, and valleys, there is so much just waiting to be explored throughout its 39 states.
Below is a list of the 9 most incredible regions to visit.
Table of Contents
- 1. The Riviera Maya
- 2. The Yucatan Peninsula
- 3. Campeche
- 4. Oaxaca
- 5. Central Mexico
- 6. Pacific Coast
- 7. Baja California
- 8. Chiapas
- 9. Tobasco
- To Sum Up
1. The Riviera Maya
First on the list is perhaps the most popular destination in Mexico: the Riviera Maya. Cancun is a tourist hotspot and it’s popular for a reason. There is endless entertainment and stunning beaches.
Day Trips (from Cancun)
- Isla Mujeres
2. The Yucatan Peninsula
Yucatan is truly one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets. It is cheaper than Riveria Maya and maintains its rich Mexican culture.
Its capital city is Merida and it is considered one of the safest cities in Mexico, if not the safest. Its central location makes it a great home base for exploring the entire Yucatan Peninsula.
In Merida, ancient and modern collide. You can see beautiful old buildings, arches from the 1600s, and lively cantinas that have been around for hundreds of years.
In the northern part of the city, there are contemporary malls, cute cafes, and so much greenery. Did you know that Merida’s Costo parking lot has a cenote in it?! I’m pretty sure no other Cosco in the world can say that.
Day Trips: (from Merida)
- Homún: Thousands of clear blue centotes
- Progresso: Beach town with a fun exciting local vibe
- Uxmal: Ancient Myan Ruins overlooking the Yucatan jungle
Campeche is a state quite similar to that of the Yucatan but with one major difference – It was attacked by pirates throughout the 16th century.
To protect themselves from attacks, the locals built walls and watch towers that are still standing to this day.
For a fun night out in the city of pirates, walk along the boardwalk and catch a lights show, or head to Calle 59 (59th street) for restaurants and bars with tables outside creating a very European feel.
Day Trips (From Campeche City)
- Calakmul Ruins
- Play Bonita
The energetic city of Oaxaca has so much to offer.
There’s no way better to get a feel of this city than visiting its local markets and sampling its delicious gastronomy before taking a tour of one of the local mezcal distilleries.
Delve into Oaxca’s culture by visiting Zona Arqueológica de Monte Albán. Here, you can find a botanical garden, the adjoining Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, and the best historical museum in the region.
Day Trips (from Oaxaca City)
- Teotitlan del Valle: Zapotec Weaving Village
- Hierve el Agua: Spectacular Petrified Waterfall
- Cuilapan de Guerrero
5. Central Mexico
Central Mexico is where you will find the immense Mexico City. Have heard the old adage, ” All cities look the same”? Well, I can assure you that this is not the case with Mexico City.
It is a sprawling metropolis where you can observe Spanish architecture built on top of ancient Aztec temples. Other popular attractions include Frida Kalo’s house and the Aztec Canals where you can cruise the canals and drink margaritas. I don’t know about you…but sign me up!
Related Reading: Is Mexico City Safe To Travel To?
Day Trips ( from Mexico City)
- San Juan Teotihuacan: Hot Air Balloons rides over Ruins
- San Miguel de Allende: Colonial Mountain Town with lakes
- Puebla: Known as the Big City of Churches
6. Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast of Mexico is a paradise in its own right. It’s perfect for those who love fun, sun, and incredible beaches. So in other words – everyone will love it.
Puerto Vallarta or PV is a great place to start your trip to the Pacific coast. It is a stunning beach town located in the Bay of Banderas. Take a boat ride around the bay, go whale watching, and of course, eat tacos until you’re in a food- coma.
Day Trips ( from Puerto Vallarta)
- Yelapa: Secluded Beach
- Islas Marietas: a Group of fairly untouched islands
- Mascota: Mountain town with museums & churches
7. Baja California
The Baja California peninsula has over 2,000 miles of coastline with the land separting the Sea of Cortez from the Pacific Ocean.
Los Cabos is the most popular tourist spot and while Los Cabos may have everything you need for a vacation, it’s also worth exploring islands and areas farther out as well.
What’s nice about Baja is the beaches aren’t too crowded, it’s cheaper than other parts of Mexico, and it’s easy to get around.
Day Trips (from Los Cabos)
- Isla Espíritu Santo
- San Jose del Cabo
- Cabo Pulmo
Stretching along the Guatemalan border in the south of Mexico is a city called Chiapas. Ever heard of it? Most likely not as It’s remained relatively undiscovered.
Chiapas is incredibly diverse culturally and geographically. Its landscapes feature mountains, valleys, forests, waterfalls, beaches, and coffee plantations.
San Cristobal de las Casas is a magical little town nestled in the mountains where you can find accommodation while roaming around the region.
Day Trips (from Chiapas)
- Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas
- San Juan Chamula Village
- El Arcotete Eco Park
Tobasco… that rings a bell doesn’t it, you’re probably picturing your favorite hot sauce. That’s because Tobasco hot sauce is named after peppers found in the state of Tobasco.
Tobasco earns a spot on this list because it is also an underrated geographical rainbow. With green rainforests, white waterfalls, and sandy-colored areological sites, it’s well worth a visit and basically free of the tourist traps that plague other regions.
Day Trips (from Villahermosa)
- Comalcalco Ruins
- Parque Natural Villaluz (Tapijulapa)
- Playa Bruja
To Sum Up
There are so many regions to discover within Mexico and many remain off most travelers’ radars. Keep this list in mind, and choose a different region for each Mexican getaway.