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60 BEST Things to do in Mexico – Must-Do Activities in Mexico

60 BEST Things to do in Mexico – Must-Do Activities in Mexico

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Ahh Mexico, what a place to travel! I’ve been here countless times and have been lucky enough to explore most of this amazing country in detail. And I can tell you one thing, there are so many incredible things to see and do in Mexico.

From cenote-hopping in the Yucatan Peninsula to exploring the cultural center of Mexico City to surfing the Pacific Coast, it’s been an unforgettable time and one I’d love others to have too.

For that reason, I’ve compiled this blog of the 60 best things to do in Mexico. These are the absolute best activities in Mexico that’ll ensure you have the best time ever!

So with that in mind, let’s dive in, and hopefully, my travels in Mexico can inspire yours!

Table Of Contents
  1. 60 BEST Things to do in Mexico
  2. Thanks for reading!

60 BEST Things to do in Mexico

1. Release a baby turtle into the ocean

Turtles are an amazing thing to do in Puerta Vallarta
Seeing baby turtles hatch on the beach was amazing!

One of the fondest memories I have in Mexico was releasing a baby turtle into the wild.

Mexico is home to 5 of the 7 different species of sea turtle in the world. However, in Mexico and around the globe, these sea creatures are endangered.

Luckily, Mexico is making big steps to help these guys out, and many NGO and not-for-profit organizations are working to increase turtle populations. One of the ways these organizations raise money is by charging tourists to release a baby turtle from their hatcheries.

At the turtle release, you’ll learn about the turtles and be able to take your own turtle onto the beach and release it in a controlled environment. This is really one of the best things to do in Mexico!

Releasing a baby turtle for turtle conservation in Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Look how cute this little guy is

You can see baby turtles in most places around Mexico including Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, the Cancun Hotel Zone, and Playa del Carmen. However, the most commonplace to do tours is in Los Cabos, Puerto Escondido (where I released my turtle), and other locations on the Pacific Coast.

Tip: Most of the programs are there to help the turtles, but before choosing one, be sure to read up on the company so you know you’re making an ethical choice.

2. Visit the Marietas Island’s/Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach in Islas Marietas National Park
Hidden Beach is so cool!

Hidden Beach is one of the most famous places to visit in Mexico. Located in the Marieta Islands on the pacific coast, this famous attraction is visited on boat tours from Puerto Vallarta, Sayulita, or San Pancho. 

Some of the highlights are exploring different caverns and archways by kayak or paddleboard and seeing fish, turtles, and other sea life while snorkeling! You’ll also stop at Majahuitas Beach, which is very secluded and tranquil.

If you can, try to book the tour that guarantees a visit to Hidden Beach. This is by far the highlight, but not every tour to the Marietas Islands visits Hidden Beach with the new restrictions. Even tours that advertise a visit to Hidden Beach don’t always get to see the beach.

The specific tour actually visits Hidden Beach (from Puerto Vallarta) and includes snacks, water, and an English-speaking guide. Although there are cheaper options, these DO NOT GUARANTEE a visit to Hidden Beach. 

This is easily one of the best things to do in Mexico!

3. Go on a food tour

Eating tacos on a food tour in Mexico
Some of the best tacos I’ve ever tried on my Mexico City food tour!

Mexico has amazing food so it’s no wonder you can find it all over the world…well kind of. Mexican food outside of Mexico is never quite the same.

So, one of my top travel tips for visiting Mexico is to be sure to take advantage of the food! And the best way to do that? On a food tour of course!

You can enjoy food tours all over Mexico in just about any city or town that sees tourists. I’ve actually done a food tour in Mexico City, Tulum, and Puerto Vallarta. If you asked me the best place I’ve done one, I’d have to say it was in Mexico City.

Mexico City is home to some of the most famous taquerias in Mexico and due to the competition, the city demands high quality. It’s honestly one of the best things to do in Mexico City. Since many people fly into Mexico City to start their trip, it could be a great activity to enjoy before you head off on your adventure elsewhere!

Related Read: Believe it or not, you can find delicious Mexican food in Cancun too!

4. Listen to live Mariachi

Listening to Mariachi in Mexico City
Enjoying a Mariachi Band in Garibaldi Square, Mexico City.

To be honest, I didn’t know what Mariachi was before arriving in Mexico, but once I saw the bands dressed in their famous attire I was very intrigued. Luckily, I was in Mexico City at the time and staying just down the road from Garibaldi Square.

Garibaldi Square is the best place in Mexico City to listen to Mariachi and here, lots of bands roam the square hoping to play songs for those enjoying a beer or couples on a romantic date.

Of course, you don’t have to be in Mexico City to enjoy Mariachi and it’s common to find bands around the tourist areas across Mexico. Often there are dedicated bars or shows you can go and watch.

Regardless of where you see Mariachi, it really is a must if you want a true Mexican experience!

5. Go Dolphin Watching

Dolphin Watching in Puerto Escondido

Mexico’s coastline is filled with wildlife, and one species I really wanted to see, was dolphins! You can find pods of dolphins in the thousands off the coast of Mexico, which is a bucket list thing to see for me!

You can join dolphin tours on both coastlines of Mexico, but it’s more common on the Pacific Coast in places like Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido, where I enjoyed my dolphin-watching tour.

That day we saw hundreds of dolphins, turtles, and even a Blue Marlin. We watched on as the dolphins worked together to hunt fish and play. But there was another experience that made the tour so much more than just a tour. And that was our encounter with a female turtle…

Rescuing a turtle in Mexico
Rescuing a turtle in Mexico

This turtle had a bag wrapped around her neck and was struggling to breathe. So, we jumped into the water and brought the turtle to the boat. We then cut the bag from around her neck before releasing her back into the wild.

This tour was one of the best things I did in Puerto Escondido and Mexico in general. I really enjoyed watching without interacting or disturbing the dolphins (and helping this turtle was my good deed for the day!)

6. Celebrate Dia de Muertos

day of the dead in mexico make up
Myself, Bailey, and a friend of ours showing off our Day of the Dead make-up!

Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, is quickly becoming one of the most famous celebrations in Mexico. All around the country, Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated, but a few places are better than others for tourists.

I’ve celebrated Day of the Dead in Mexico three times now. Once in Merida, another time in Oaxaca and Mexico City, and the last time in Puerto Vallarta. 

Merida and Mexico City were cool experiences, but honestly, the celebration in Oaxaca is the best in the country! The streets filled with parades and vendors line the streets painting faces, drinking mezcal, and just celebrating the lives of their loved ones.

One of the best tours to do in Oaxaca during Day of the Dead is a graveyard tour. These tours take you to local graveyards to see and get involved with the celebration of the dead.

Mexico City also puts on some really nice parades, and the smaller tourist beach towns celebrate it as well. But if you want the best experience, I (and most locals) say Oaxaca is the best place in Mexico for Dia De Muertos!

If you do plan on celebrating the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, be sure to book your accommodation in advance. I booked four months in advance, and most of the good hotels were fully booked already!

7. Learn Spanish

studying a spanish notebook on a mayan textile
Just studying away!

“Hablas español?” If you don’t, Mexico is the perfect place to learn!

I speak enough Spanish to travel around without any problems, and trust me, it helps so much.

The best thing about learning Spanish is over 500 million people worldwide speak it across 20+ countries! In Mexico alone, there are over 120 million people to talk to!

You can learn to speak Spanish all over Mexico, with some of the most popular places to take classes being Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, Oaxaca, Chiapas, and more. Seriously, you can learn it everywhere! Classes range from single sessions to month-long programs. You can take one-on-one lessons or join a larger class, there are plenty of options to choose from depending on where you decide to go.

8. Swim with Whale Sharks

Swimming with Whale sharks in Mexico
Just beautiful!

Want to have an animal encounter like no other? In Mexico, you can swim with the largest fish in the ocean, whale sharks. These beautiful creatures may have a scary name, but they eat tiny plankton, not humans, so it’s very safe.

On whale shark encounter tours, you’ll get to swim beside them as they majestically move through the water. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Mexico!

There are a few different places you can do this in Mexico. On the Yucatan Peninsula, there are tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Holbox, Puerto Morelos, and Isla Mujeres between June 15 and September 15.

On the pacific coast, you can do tours from La Paz, Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas, and Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park between October and February.

Tours cost between $100 and $175 USD depending on where you leave from.

9. Enjoy an authentic Mexican cooking class

Learning to cook in Mexico
Cooking more traditional Mayan food in Mexico

As I mentioned before, Mexican food outside of Mexico just isn’t the same. The solution to this problem is to learn how to cook it for yourself!

All over Mexico, you can enjoy an authentic Mexican cooking class that’ll show you how to make amazing tacos, salsas, tortillas, and even more traditional dishes such as tamales and mole sauce.

Cooking classes in Mexico usually include making salsa or guacamole, a starter, a main course, and dessert. It is important to pick the right class for you because they are all quite different.

Some include mezcal or tequila tastings and others include trips to the market to buy fresh food. It all depends on the experience you want! Some best-rated tours from all around Mexico are:

TulumAuthentic Mexican Cooking Class with a mezcal tasting

Mexico CityMexican cooking class with a visit to a market

OaxacaStreet food cooking class

10. Enjoy a whale watching tour

A humpback whale tale in Puerto Vallarta
Such a cool experience!

Mexico is home to many different whale species including Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, and Gray whales. These whales are common on the Pacific Coast, but not the Yucatan.

During the whale watching season, it’s common to see whales off the coast of Mexico. On the Pacific Coast, places like Los Cabos (best place for whale watching in Mexico), Puerto Vallarta, and Puerto Escondido are the most popular places for whale watching tours.

I myself did a whale watching tour in Puerto Vallarta and loved it! If you haven’t seen whales before, this is a must-do in Mexico!

The whale season in Mexico (for Blue Whales and Humpback Whales) is short and runs from December to March. However, the best time is January and February.

11. Join a yoga retreat

Yoga on a beach in Mexico
Yoga on the beach is so relaxing!

Yoga retreats are popping up everywhere in Mexico, and everyone from a novice to a pro can enjoy this relaxing activity in Mexico. Dan and I did a yoga retreat just outside of Puerto Vallarta at Xinalani Retreat.

The retreat went for four days, and we stayed in a small fishing village (in luxury accommodation) right on the beach. It was beautiful, and we did some yoga sessions with the sand between our toes. The retreat was so remote, we needed to take a boat to get there!

I will say it was not cheap and cost over $300 USD per night. Don’t worry, though. There are more affordable retreats around Mexico, such as in Tulum and Cancun.

The price of a retreat really comes down to your accommodation and how remote the location is. This 3-day, two-night retreat in Puerto Escondido costs only $400 USD!

12. Drink craft beer

two men drinking beer at Los Muertos Brewing in Puerto Vallarta
Dan and a friend enjoying some craft brews at Los Muertos Brewing in Puerto Vallarta.

I’ve been visiting Mexico for over 20 years (13 at the legal drinking age), and I was just waiting for craft beer to take off here. It took a while longer than other countries, but craft beer is here, and it’s here to stay!

All over Mexico, you can now visit local craft breweries. There are even breweries in small towns such as San Pancho and Sayulita. In the larger cities, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Puerto Vallarta has a few breweries, with my favorite being Los Muertos Brewing.

Many people don’t think to check if there is a brewery near their hotel in Mexico. But trust me, they are popping up everywhere, and the quality is outstanding!

13. Get sweaty in a Temazcal

A Temazcal in Mexico
You do rituals outside before entering the Temazcal

A Temazcal is basically a pre-hispanic sauna used for hundreds of years by the indigenous people. The term “Temazcal” actually translates to “house of heat.”

One of the big differences between a Temazcal and a sauna is that it’s more of a spiritual journey led by a Sharman. It’s about cleansing the body, and the rituals can last hours. Of course, you won’t spend hours in the sauna, but there are some rituals before and after.

Temazcal tours are becoming very popular all around Latin America (I did one in Guatemala.) You can do these tours in places like Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum, just to name a few.

14. Go sport fishing

Fishing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Trying to catch something good!

Sportfishing in Mexico is a great activity to do, especially if you’ve ever wanted to land a Blue Marlin or another huge fish. Off the coast, you can catch a range of fish (some you can even take home to your hotel and eat that night.)

In Mexico, I have been sport fishing on the Yucatan as well as from Puerto Vallarta, and I love it! It’s an activity I recommend to those who love to fish.

However, it’s important to understand that fish like Blue Marlin should be caught and released in Mexico.

Of course, this is Mexico, so you don’t necessarily have to. But it’s very important that you choose a company that only practices catch and release when it comes to Blue Marlin. That way, these impressive creatures can continue occupying our ocean for future generations.

15. Swim with Dolphins

Swiming with Dolphins in Mexico
They’re so beautiful!

None of the animals encounters on this list compare to the scary but fun experience of swimming with dolphins.

Now, I must clarify that I am talking about wild dolphins and do not support these beautiful mammals in captivity.

From Puerto Vallarta, you can take a boat tour out into the Bay of Banderas and jump in the water with wild dolphins. As part of the tour guidelines, you are not allowed to approach the dolphins. Instead, sit back and let them come to you.

The dolphins are very interested in us weird humans, and they’ll often approach people in the water as well as swim around them really fast. To be honest, it’s terrifying at first!

In Mexico, I am aware of two places you can swim with dolphins. They are Puerto Vallarta and Puerto Escondido.

Planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta? Read our blog about where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for the best hotels!

16. Live the beach life in Sayulita

Relaxing at a beach in Sayulita Mexico with a coconut in hand
Just me and my coconut!

Just over an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta is the beachside town of Sayulita. Sayulita is famous for its cobblestone streets, range of trendy cafes and shops, as well as gorgeous beaches perfect for swimming or surfing!

Sayulita Beach is the perfect place to learn to surf in Mexico, and the great swell is what put this small town on the map. The beach is known as of the best in all of Mexico! On top of that, Sayulita is a young backpacker town, so there’s a huge selection of coffee shops, a brewery, and plenty of places to party. 

From Puerto Vallarta, you can easily visit Sayulita for a day trip. Or, choose to spend a few nights – there are lots of great places to stay in Sayulita! If you do spend a few nights, you’ll be able to enjoy the best things to do in Sayulita and explore this gorgeous coastline! 

17. Relax in the sleepy surf town of San Pancho

A lady walks along San Pancho Beach, Mexico
Take a walk there are lots of beaches to explore in San Pancho!

Located 1.5 hours from the large city of Puerto Vallarta, San Pancho is the sleepy surf town you’ve always wanted to visit. 

Unlike Sayulita, San Pancho has resited much of the growth caused by Mexico’s booming tourism industry. However, at only a 5 minute drive away from Sayulita, it’s the perfect place to come and unwind. 

Some of the best things to do in San Pancho include relaxing at the beach, surfing the large swells, having lunch at Yasmina’sYasmina’s Itzalanyasayan Restaurante, or having a beer Cerveceria Artesenal San Pancho

Although you can visit San Pancho on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta and Sayulita, spending a few nights is also well worthwhile! 

Related Read: Learn more about all of the best day trips in Puerto Vallarta!

18. Go horseback riding

Riding a horse along San Pancho Beach
This is a great way to see the area!

Horseback riding is a way of life in Mexico, with many farmers and ranchers using them as a mode of transport as they did hundreds of years earlier.

For visitors, this provides a great opportunity to see some of the countryside or coastal areas while enjoying the company of a horse.

As with many of the activities on this list, you can do tours all over Mexico, including Tulum, Palenque, and Puerto Vallarta. Chances are, if you’re going there, you’ll be able to ride a horse!

Bailey and I went horseback riding through the jungle and along the beach in Sayulita. We rode at sunset and enjoyed breathtaking scenery!

19. Visit Chichen Itza

chichen itza night show
The main temple all lit up at night!

Chichen Itza is the most famous Mayan Ruin in Mexico. In 2007, El Castillo (the main temple of Chichen Itza) was voted one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Although appearing to be a simple temple, El Castillo is so much more than that.

In fact, at the Equinox (days of the year, both night and day are equal), a snake appears on the pyramid marking this day. Pretty impressive considering the temple was built in 1000 AD.

Chichen Itza is also one of the only ruins where you can wander the ancient ball courts used by the Mayans. This impressive court was used for a ball game called Pok ta Pok. Although a game, it usually ended in someone being sacrificed!

A visit to Chichen Itza can be done on a day trip from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Merida. The day trips are long and leave very early in the morning. This top-rated tour will actually pick you up from anywhere on the Riviera Maya.

Another option is to bus to the ruins and stay at a hotel near Chichen Itza.This is what I did, and it meant I could visit the ruins for the Chichen Itza night show, which was a really cool experience!

20. Swim in a cenote

Snorkeling in Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum
Snorkeling in Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum

One of the biggest attractions on the Yucatan Peninsula is, of course, the cenotes (underground rivers and pools of fresh water.) Around the Yucatan, there are literally thousands of cenotes. But, there are a few that are very special and popular to visit.

Il-Kil is one of the most famous and beautiful. It’s located near Chichen Itza and is almost always visited on a Chichen Itza day tour. This cenote was actually used for sacrifices by the Mayan people who lived in Chichen Itza and bones and pottery have been found on the floor of the cenote.

Many of the other cenotes are located in the Tulum area and are also dotted around Chichen Itza. If you’re staying in Cancun or Playa del Carma be sure to join a cenote tour so you too can check out the best cenotes

The best cenotes you should check out include:

Dos Ojos – Beautiful cenote great for swimming

Cenote Calavera  – Literally a hole in the ground, great for swimming but just interesting to visit and fun for scuba diving.

Suytun Cenote – This is the famous cenote near Cancun with the pathway to the middle where the light shines through.

Sac Actun – The most beautiful cenote but also the most popular in Mexico!

Tak Be Ha – Easily the best cenote for snorkeling, the caves here are simply stunning.

Check out this blog of the best cenotes in Mexico for more information on getting there, entrance fees, and more.

21. Go scuba diving in a cenote

Diving in cenotes in Tulum
Scuba diving in a cenote near Tulum!

Swimming in a cenote is a cool experience, but scuba diving is even better! From Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Cancun you can actually do lots of different scuba diving tours that take you deep into the cave systems of the cenote. With a flashlight and professional guide, you’ll set off to explore parts of the cenote very few see.

Overall, it can be a daunting experience but that’s why you should only use a reputable company. Even if you don’t have your “cave diving scuba license” there are cenotes that although feel like caves are technically not.

In fact, my favorite cenote dive was at Cenote Calavera. This cenote has a cave section but much of the cenote isn’t so it’s a great introduction!

You can browse a huge selection of cenote scuba diving tours here!!

22. Cancun Underwater Museum

Cancun Underwater Museum
The most unique museum in the world! Photo credit: Ratherton Depositphotos

One of the more quirky things to do in Mexico is to head underwater and explore the Museo Subacuatico de Art, aka the underwater museum. 

The museum began taking shape in 2009 to help save some of the reef life near Cancun. Since the project started, over 500 sculptures have been placed under the water to create this unique reef. 

You can do snorkeling, glass-bottom boat, or scuba diving tours to the reef from Cancun, and over 100,000 people visit every year. Thankfully, this has led to a reduction of visitors to natural reefs, helping them survive. 

This is the largest underwater museum in Mexico and a must-visit in my opinion! 

23. Visit an Island paradise

Hotbox Island, Mexico
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Credit – Big Stock – Fotoember

If you think the beaches on the mainland of the Yucatan are amazing then you’re in for a treat if you visit just one of the breathtaking Yucatan islands! There are lots out there but many of them are either uninhabited or simply don’t have hotels on them.

However, there are a few that are already popular tourist destinations anyone can visit including:

Cozumel

The most popular island in the Yucatan is Cozumel. This island has everything thing you need for a beautiful getaway including beautiful hotels, amazing white sand beaches, warm water, and world-class diving on the second largest reef system on the planet. There are plenty of fun things to do in Cozumel!

Isla Holbox

Another popular island is Isla Holbox. It’s lesser known than Cozumel but is still on the typical tourist trail. This island offers a more relaxed vibe with beautiful beaches, fun nightlife, and great places to stay.

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is another popular island and here you can either day trip to the island from Cancun or spend a night or two. One of the most famous things to do on Isla Mujeres is to visit the underwater sculpture museum.

Isla Contoy

Of the four I recommend, this is the least known of them all. Isla Contoy is almost unknown to tourists…yet. But this elusive island plans to stay that way with only 200 guests allowed on the island on any given day. There is no accommodation on Isla Contoy but you can book a highly rated day trip from Cancun.

24. Stay at an all-inclusive resort

All inclusive resort in Mexico
Bailey, and her friends enjoying some included drinks at a resort in the Mayan!

Although I consider myself an adventure traveler, I still don’t mind a bit of pampering here and there. And what better way to treat yourself than at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico? These huge resorts basically include everything you can eat and drink as well as accommodation.

Most of the resorts have amazing private beaches and lots of fun activities and parties every day. Most people spend their entire holiday in an all-inclusive, however you can choose to spend only a few days in the resort to relax and recharge on your Mexico trip.

Some of the best all-inclusive resorts on the Yucatan include:

Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya

Grand Residences Riviera Cancun

Catalonia Playa Maroma

25. Explore the beautiful Tulum Ruins

The tulum Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
A beautiful change of scenery from the usual ruins deep in the jungle!
Credit – Big Stock – tanaonte

Tulum was an important port city for the Mayan people and they protected the coastline fiercely. In fact, if you didn’t already know, the Spanish arrived in the Yucatan first but were forced to abandon their attempts to conquer the land because of the Mayan people and other indigenous groups in the Yucatan.

One of the best things to do in Tulum is to visit the Tulum ruins. Aside from the stunning location overlooking a beautiful white sand beach, they’re a reminder of the Mayan people’s wariness of outsiders and the strength of the civilization’s trading routes.

The ruins only cost 70 pesos and are located a few kilometers from Tulum town center. This is a good tour that includes an archeologist as your guide so you can learn all about the history of the area and the Mayan people.

26. Visit Xcaret or Xel-ha

Xcaret, Mexico
Xcaret is such a fun place to visit!

If you’re headed to the Yucatan and want to have some fun then the Xcaret or Xel-Ha natural theme parks are awesome places to take the whole family. Xcaret is basically a huge them park with underground rivers, replica Mayan villages, caves, archeological sites, and more.

The place is huge and you could easily spend an entire day exploring the park and enjoying the many activities on offer.

You can check out Xcaret’s website here and read up on all the activities and attractions currently on offer or book your tickets in advance here

27. Explore Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan ruins near Mexico City
The ruins are huge!

The cultural center of Mexico is filled with interesting ruins to visit. But, in all honesty, the most impressive in the region (and all of Mexico for that mater), was Teotihuacan. This ancient city is said to have once been the home of over 80,000 people!

Although huge, only around 3 to 10% of the ruins have been excavated, including two of the most important temples, the Sun Temple and Moon Temple. They’ve both been excavated and you can even climb them.

The ruins are located around 45 minutes from Mexico City. Tours run from the city every day and usually include a mezcal tasting on the way back to the city. This tour is one of the best-rated tours you can book in advance. It includes a tequila tasting, an English guide, and comfortable transport.

Related Read: Heading to Mexico City and need to book accommodation? Read our blog about the safest and best areas to stay in Mexico City as well as the BEST Hostels in Mexico City.

28. Eat at the home of the Al Pastor Taco

El Huequito the home of the al pastor taco
The home of the Al Pastor Taco

Did you know the al pastor taco was created in Mexico City? Neither did I before visiting the city and joining a Mexico City walking tour. The restaurant El Huequito in the historical center of Mexico City was, in fact, the first-ever place to make and sell al pastor tacos.

For those who don’t know, al pastor tacos are one of the most popular tacos in Mexico. They’re made from pork and cooked the same way you would donair. They’re often served in a corn tortilla with onion, cilantro/coriander, and pineapple. Oh, and a range of different salsas to choose from!

You’ll find al pastor tacos all over Mexico but the original birthplace of the al pastor is one place to cross off your Mexico bucket list (and they’re really tasty!)

29. Join a Mexico City walking tour

The central cathedral in Mexico City, Mexico, one of the best areas to stay in Mexico City and find a hostel
The Mexico City Cathedral!

Mexico City is huge! In fact, they estimate its population between 22 and 29 million people – that’s about the same as Australia in one city. For this reason, one of the best things to do in Mexico City when you first arrive is to join a walking tour of the historic center.

On the tour, you’ll visit many of the best attractions in the city and be able to ask your guide anything you need to know. It’s a great introduction and one I’ve actually done twice.

There are a few different tours to choose from including this great free walking tour. However, if you want a more in-depth tour then this tour is awesome!

30. Templo Mayor Ruins in Mexico City

The ancient ruins in Mexico City

There are few places in the world where you can visit ancient temples and ruins right in the city center. But like other things, Mexico City is unique, and the entire city is built on top of an ancient city.

What makes them even more interesting is that you would’ve never seen them if you had visited Mexico City prior to 2014! That’s because until a hotel that owned the land decided to demolish and rebuild, no one knew that the Templo Mayor (main temple) of ancient Mexico City was there!

The discovery of a special stone disk that only sits on the city’s main temple highlighted to archeologists that this was such an important place. Since then, the site has been excavated and some of the temples restored.

The ruins are located in the historic city center near the Plaza de la Constitution. You don’t need a guide to visit the temples. However, it really does help to get a better understanding of the ruins and their history.

31. Visit the Sonora Witch Market

Sonora Witch Market
You’ll see some crazy stuff at the Sonora Witch Market!

One of the craziest places to visit in Mexico City is the Sonora Witch Market. Within the market, you can find all sorts of things such as potions to cure disease, live animals, and even voodoo dolls.

If you’re into having your fortune read, this is the place to do it. There are tarot card readers as well as palm readers. On top of that, you can get some ritual cleansing or good luck spells.

Of course, I do not recommend buying anything to take home – certainly not some you ingest, but it’s a cool market and worth a look if you’re heading to Mexico City.

32. Enjoy the world-famous Ballet Folklorico de Mexico 

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico
It is not your traditional style of “ballet.” Photo Credit: Bigstock by Aleksandar Todorovic

If you love ballet or are just interested in outstanding performances, you should see a performance in Mexico called the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico.

The world-famous show located in Mexico City is known for its unique Mexican touch on classical ballet. The ballet has performed over 15,000 shows and is highly rated! 

Expect good seats on the ground floor to cost around 700 pesos ($37 USD). There are four venues in which the ballet is performed, with the most common being the Palacio de Bellas Artes. You can view the official Ballet Folklorico de Mexico schedule, where you can also buy tickets directly.

You can also join tours such as this one, however, expect to pay around $125 USD for average seats around the 3rd tier. Nevertheless, the organized tours come in handy during busy times when tickets sell out far in advance at the most popular shows.

33. Learn about Frida Kahlo

 Frida Kahlo's desk in the  Frida Kahlo Museum
This is where she painted!

Frida Kahlo was a famous Mexican Artist known for her progressive style exploring identity, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.  

In Mexico, Frida is cherished, and her story is well known among the local people. She was certainly ahead of her time and pushed the boundaries of woman’s rights and activism. 

La Casa Azul in Mexico City was the birthplace of Frida and where she lived her life with her husband and fellow artist Diego Rivera. The house is now a museum called Frida Kahlo Museum, housing Fridas artwork and more. Its located in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Mexico City and is a must-visit

Frida is a hero to many in Mexico, and her story is truly inspiring. All over Mexico, you’ll find her face painted in restaurants, on clothing, and in murals. So if you visit Mexico City, be sure to take the time to learn about Frida. 

34. Watch Lucha Libre in Mexico City

Lucha Libre in Mexico
The photos aren’t good because you can’t take your camera to the event (only mobile phones are allowed.) Apparently, it’s because people throw the batteries at the wrestlers!!

Another activity that’s as Mexican as ever is Lucha Libre. This Mexican style of wrestling is super entertaining to watch and overall one of the best things to do in Mexico.

The best place in Mexico to join a Lucha Libre tour is in Mexico City. Mexico City offers world-class Lucha Libre and it’s where the best stars perform.

Lucha Libre in Mexico City is best done on a tour as the arenas aren’t located in the safest neighborhoods. This Lucha Libre tour is top-rated and of great value as it includes your tickets to the show! We did it the last time we were in Mexico City and had an absolute blast – it is quite the performance and experience!

35. Cruise on a gondola in Xochimilco

Xochimilco Canals near Mexico City

Parque Xochimilco is Mexico’s version of Venice! The canals were built by the Aztecs and used as a water transport system. This system used to cover the entire Mexico City Valley, but today all that remains are the canals in Xochimilco.

These days, the canals are filled with brightly colored boats that can be rented to explore the canal system while enjoying a drink or even live music. As you cruise along the canals, you’ll be able to buy souvenirs and food from vendors also on boats.

The price for a boat is 500 pesos per hour, but they do seat up to 20 people. If you’re in a small group, just ask one of the workers to join another group or get the price per person.

The drivers don’t speak English, so if you would like to learn more about the canals, consider joining a tour from Mexico City!

36. Visit the Shrine of our Lady Guadalupe 

Shrine of Guadalupe, Mexico
Shrine of Guadalupe, Mexico

The Shrine of Guadalupe is one of the most important pilgrimage sites of the Catholic religion. For many, a visit here is important because of their strong faith in the Catholic religion.

However, you don’t need to be religious to enjoy a visit here. For me, it’s more about the architecture and experiencing other culturally significant sightsand one I enjoyed.

The site is best visited with a tour to Teotihuacan as it’s located outside of Mexico City. However, it can be visited on its own too.

Although it wasn’t a life-changing experience for me, this is an important place for many people! 

37. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Look at all the butterflies!

One of the most unique activities you can do in Mexico is to visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, located around 2 hours from Mexico City.

The reserve is home to millions of butterflies who make their way south to Mexico for the winter. There are literally millions, possibly billions, of butterflies in this small reserve! I was also shocked to find out that butterflies travel so far.

You may be thinking, but butterflies don’t live that long. And it’s true. Over the eight-month journey from as far as Canada, four generations of butterflies live and die. How these guys know where to go is beyond me!

The butterflies visit the reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, between November and March, but January and February are best if you want to see the larger gatherings.

You can visit the reserve from Mexico City or the city of Morelia.

38. Take a day trip to Puebla and Cholula (from Mexico City)

Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl
Volcano in Puebla and Cholula
Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash

Two hours southeast of Mexico City lay the two cities of Cholula and Puebla. From Mexico City, both places make for an awesome day trip or a weekend away from the busy streets of Mexico City. I spent three nights in Puebla and visited Cholula from there (they’re only 10km apart).

There is a huge range of amazing things to do in Puebla including a visit to the revolution museum where holes from the coup can still be seen throughout the building.

In Cholula, the coolest thing to see is the Temple of Cholula. Here, you can actually go inside and wander the underground passageways within the temple. This is a really unique experience and one I’d never done before!

39. Mummy Museum in Guanajuato

A mummy at the Mummy Museum in Guanajuato
One of the child mummies!

Want to enjoy a creepy activity during your visit to Mexico? Then be sure to visit the small town of Guanajuato and visit the Museo de las Momias de Guanajuato.

The museum houses over 100 mummies, and they aren’t actually that old. In fact, the first mummies were unearthed in 1856. There are even small children, which is creepy!

Although a weird activity, it once again shows Mexico’s interest in the dead. Entry to the museum is only 50 MXN, and the museum is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

40. Check out the amazing waterfalls in Palenque

waterfalls in mexico are amazing places to explore
Misol-ha in Palenque!

Palenque is home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Mexico. This small rural town located between the Yucatan and the cultural center is a must-visit destination on any Mexico itinerary. There are plenty of fun attractions to check out in Palenque, but the best ones are waterfalls!

The best waterfalls in Palenque, in my opinion, are Roberto Barrios, Misol-ha (pictured above), and Agua Azul. Most of the waterfalls can be visited on tours except for Roberto Barrios which must be visited on its own tour as it’s in the opposite direction of the other waterfalls.

41. Explore Hierve El Agua

Hierve el Agua tour from Oaxaca

Hierve El Agua is a very interesting place to visit in Mexico. Although it appears like a waterfall, the “falls” are actually made up of calcium build-up from the rich mineral water that comes from beneath the ground. This water slowly, over thousands of years, leaves small deposits as it trickles down the cliff leaving behind what you see today.

Visiting Hierve El Agua is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca and one I can’t recommend enough! From the city of Oaxaca, the falls are 1.5 hours away and best visited on an organized tour.

The tour linked above (as well as many tours to Hierve el Agua) includes visiting a few other amazing places around Oaxaca (including the three activities mentioned below!)

42. Mezcal tasting

Mezcal Tasting Tour, Oaxaca
It’s very easy to get drunk on a mezcal tasting tour

If you thought tequila was the most popular spirit in Mexico then you were wrong. As the locals say, “tequila is for kids and mezcal is for men.” Although both drinks still make me just about cry, I do enjoy tasting them in the hopes that one day I find one I like.

But regardless of whether you share “my passion” for mezcal or not, a tasting tour is well worth it. Even if you don’t like spirits, some tours, especially the ones around Oaxaca, also taste mezcal liquors. And with flavors like pina colada, cappuccino, and cherry, they taste delicious!

43. Enjoy an authentic weaving class in Oaxaca

Artisanal Goods Half-day Tour in Oaxaca
The homemade rugs are so beautiful!

Oaxaca is the home of traditional weaving and around the city, there are entire communities where an estimated 90% of the people who live there make their living from weaving.

The entire process is still done in its traditional way including the way they dye the wool using bugs, lime, and other natural products. This to me is the coolest part of the tour!

Of course, the tour I did (included in the Hierve El Agua tour) just showed you how they do it, but if you want to learn yourself then be sure to join a specfic weaving tour instead. These are much more in-depth and you’ll actually get to do some weaving. Don’t expect to take a rug home though as these take weeks to make!

44. Visit the world’s thickest tree, Oaxaca

The Tule Tree, Mexico

Did I know the world’s thickest tree was in Mexico before I was staring at it? The answer is “no”, so you can imagine the shock when I first saw it – it’s huge! The Tule Tree as it’s called (it’s in the town of Tule) is a Montezuma Cypress Tree.

Although huge, it is only the world’s thickest tree so it’s not that tall. But in circumference, it’s 42m or 138 feet! The tree is estimated to be over 2,000 years old and these days is a UNESCO world heritage site.

To get to the tree your best option is on a tour to Hierve El Agua as this is a common stop on these tours. Otherwise, you can get a bus from Oaxaca to the town of Tule and visit the tree on your own.

45. Eat mole and drink chocolate in Oaxaca

Food Tour in Oaxaca City
Trying traditional hot chocolate in Oaxaca. These types of drinks are famous in this region and they’re amazing!

Mexico isn’t the first place that comes to mind when someone asks where to get the best chocolate products in the world. Most people assume Switzerland or another European country. However, Oaxaca in Mexico is famous for its chocolate products, and after tasting many of them, I can totally see why!

There are a few must-try dishes, and one of them is mole. Mole is a savory (mostly) sauce that’s made with cocoa and commonly served with chicken. At first, it was kinda strange, but now I love it! My personal favorite is to have it with a chicken tamale!

Another chocolate product you must try is hot and cold chocolate. You can try a few different kinds, from the bitter, more traditional drink made from 100% cocoa to the sweeter chocolate drinks made with sugar. You can even add mezcal to them if you want! Both are amazing, and in Oaxaca, dirt cheap!

Related Read:   Where to Stay in Oaxaca - The BEST Hotels near the Zocalo

46. Drink Tequila in Tequila

day trip from puerto vallarta to tequila
Bailey, visiting the birthplace of tequila – the town called “Tequila!”

Tequila is considered Mexico’s national drink (according to other countries). But, tequila didn’t get its name from its creator, but rather from the town it was created in… Tequila!

That’s right, the drink tequila was created in Tequila (the town). Tequila is located only an hour’s drive from the huge city of Guadalajara. From here, you can either do a day trip to Tequila or alternatively, take the bus and stay a night or two.

I decided to stay in Tequila and had an amazing time. I toured the distilleries, drank tequila, and ate lots of tacos! The town itself is very safe and although it mainly attracts local tourists, still caters to international visitors!

47. Enjoy a fine-dining experience in Puerto Vallarta

The paella at Barcelona Tapas
The paella will satisfy any seafood lover! Photo Credit: Barcelona Tapas

Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places in Mexico to enjoy delicious food. From typical Mexican cuisine to international delights, Puerto Vallarta will have your mouth watering.

One of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta is Makal. Run by chef Graham Campbell, the youngest ever Michelin Star chef in Scotland, this is one of the most upscale places to eat. The restaurant was also featured on Netflix’s Table series.

If you love paella as much as I do, then you must try Barcelona Tapas. With gorgeous views of the ocean and one of the best paellas I have ever tasted, it’s a top choice.

One of my personal favorites has to be La Iguana. Located in the historic and famous Casa Kimberly, there isn’t a more beautiful dining experience you can have. The food is delicious and the views over the city and ocean are breathtaking.

Regardless of where you eat, the quality of food in Puerto Vallarta is outstanding. So, don’t spend too much time in the resort!

48. Visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens 

Feeding a humming at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Feeding hummingbirds was the highlight for sure!

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is one of the best ways to enjoy Mexico’s unique flora and fauna. The gardens are actually privately owned and were set up to showcase Mexico’s diversity and protect it.

There is a beautiful restaurant at the gardens where you can feed hummingbirds by hand and lots of hiking trails around the gardens. Entry to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens in 200 pesos per person. 

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is located around 45 minutes from central Puerto Vallarta. You can either get a local bus to the gardens, taxi, or Uber. From central, a taxi costs 350 pesos.

You can also visit the Bontanical Gardens on this guided tour. For only $50 USD you will get a guide, transport to and from the gardens, entrance to the gardens, lunch, as well as a tequila tasting. It is a 6-hour tour and seems like great value if you ask me!

49. Go Skydiving on the beach

Skydive puerta Vallarta
Me, jumping with the best views over Puerto Vallarta.

If you’ve ever wanted to tick that huge bucket list activity (skydiving) off your bucket list then Puerto Vallarta is the perfect place to do it. The location is gorgeous and you actually land on the beach right next to all the hotels.

I did a few skydives while in Puerto Vallarta and loved it. It’s still one of the most beautiful places in the world I’ve jumped.

I personally have a skydiving license so I understand the sport and despite being in Mexico, Skydive Puerto Vallarta is a very safe skydive club that follows the USPA (United States Parachute Association) guidelines.

So, what are you waiting for? You can book your skydive right now!

50. Eat at amazing seafood tacos in Puerto Vallarta

Seafood Tacos on the Puerto Vallarta food tour
Being so close to the ocean means you can’t leave without trying some seafood Tacos!

Puerto Vallarta is a very touristic town, but what you may not know is that the local taco scene here is really amazing. All over town, there are amazing taquerias selling amazing seafood tacos.

Of course, you can wander the streets and try to find them yourself, however, I highly recommend joining a taco tour in Puerto Vallarta.

I did one on my last visit and loved it! Without a doubt, this is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta. I ate 10 tacos over the day as well as ice cream! But in all honesty, the seafood tacos were my favorite and included a seafood stuffed jalapeno in a taco!  

51. Learn to surf in Puerto Escondido

Learning to surf in Puerto Escondido
The waves were small during our visit but we still had lots of fun!

When I arrive at a surf destination and people find out I’m from Australia, it’s just assumed that I can surf. Now although I have surfed before, I’m going to be honest here, I suck at it!

So whenever I can, I try to learn a little bit more and live up to that Australian stereotype. And in Puerto Escondido, I gave it another go at the “learner beach” of Playa Carrizalillo.

I always love to get in the water and surf, and on a lesson, you get great tips and a push (my arms aren’t used to paddling that much). In most lessons (even for the first time) you’ll be able to stand up which is really cool.

A surf lesson in Puerto Escondido costs around 300 pesos for an hour and board rentals are included. If you just want the board rental it’s 100 pesos per hour.

Related Read:   Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido - The BEST Areas & Hotels

52. Swim with bioluminescent plankton

Swimming with Bio-luminescent Plankton in Puerto Escondido
Sorry about the photo quality but it’s very hard to get a good shot that shows how cool the plankton are!

Near Puerto Escondido, there is a thermal lake that is filled with bioluminescent plankton. Although I’d already experienced swimming with them once before, I decided to give it another go in Puerto Escondido.

Although the tour was kinda creepy (it was dark and I’m pretty sure crocodiles live in the lake) it was super fun!

Tours leave Puerto Escondido at around 8 pm and return at around 11 pm. This tour is considered one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido and I agree.

53. Go ziplining in the jungle

zip lining through the jungle in Mexico
Woohoo!!!!!

Ziplining is one of my favorite adventure activities! And, in Puerto Vallarta, you can zipline on Mexico’s longest zipline!

The tours are an amazing way to get away from the beach and into the beautiful vegetation that surrounds Puerto Vallarta. There are a few different tours available but the tour I did was cheap and only included ziplining and tequila tasting.

There are other tours that include repelling, ziplining, and speed boat rides that are a great option if you want a day filled with a variety of adventure activities.

54. Watch the Rhythms of the Night Show

the Rhythms of the Night show, Puerto Vallarta
This is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta!

The Rhythms of the Night show is one of the most interesting and popular shows in Mexico. The founder was actually a co-founder of Cirque du Soleil and the show has 5-star reviews everywhere you look.

It’s basically an acrobat performance with a traditional Mexican twist and the show is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

The Rhythms of the Night tour is a full evening experience. Starting with a sunset dinner cruise in the Bay of Banderas you can have a drink on board this luxury boat while enjoying the famous PV sunset. The dinner you get with the tour is also really good. Most think because it’s a buffet they sacrifice quality, but they don’t!

You can book tickets to the show here.

55. Copper Canyon Train

Copper Canyon Train
Copper Canyon Train!

A scenic train ride isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexico. However, that’s exactly why I wanted to include it on this list. 

The Copper Canyon train is a scenic train that travels through Copper Canyon – a large canyon area made up of six canyons. 

Although the full journey takes up to 16 hours, many visitors choose to do this 4-hour route on a first-class train. It travels the most scenic parts of the railway from Creel to Los Mochis. 

Although you can make the trip without a tour or booking in advance, it’s best to if you’re not on a really tight budget. 

56. Snorkel with sea lions at Los Islotes

Swimming with sea lions in Mexico
Sea lions are often referred to as dogs of the sea!

Only a short drive from the coastal town of La Paz will bring you to a unique and wonderful place in Mexico. Los Islotes is home to a colony of sea lions, and visitors can swim with them.

The sea lions here are very curious and friendly – you may even have the young ones nibbling at your fins. Overall the experience is really special and without a doubt of the best animal encounters in Mexico!

The best time to swim with the sea lions is from October to November and from March to June. In July and August, during mating season, you are not allowed in the water here.

57. Explore San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende
Look how gorgeous the streets are!

One of the most beautiful Colonial cities in Mexico is San Miguel de Allende. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been named one of the best cities in Mexico time and time again.

If you’re traveling around Mexico, the city is a common stop between Mexico City and Guadalajara. Visit here for the cool climate, beautiful architecture, range of museums, and unique things to do!

Make your way around the city with your camera in hand and just enjoy its beauty!

58. Party in Bacalar

Beautiful view of caribbean lagoon Bacalar. Seven Color water near 58. Party on Bacalar
Beautiful view of caribbean lagoon Bacalar. Seven Color water

Bacalar is a small town that sits on the shores of Mexico’s second-largest lake. The lake is called the Lagoon of Seven Colors and provides breathtaking views, fun water sports, and cooler temperatures.

Within Bacalar, there are plenty of beautiful places to stay. Among backpackers, the most popular hostel is called The Yak Lake House. It’s famous for its wild parties and friendly atmosphere and is rated as one of the best hostels in the world.

For those who like a quieter stay, there are plenty of hotels around the lake as well as secluded Airbnbs.

Some of the best things to do in Bacalar include kitesurfing, SUP, visiting cenotes, sailing tours, and more!

59. Go on a cruise in Cabo San Lucas

Sunset cruise in Cabo San Lucas
The natural rock formation, The Arch, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas is one of the most popular cruise ports in Mexico. You can enjoy a huge range of cruises from this bustling coastal city, from multi-day adventures to a few-hour-long sunset cruise.

The sunset cruises are really romantic and perfect for couples. Sip champagne and enjoy that cotton candy sky.

If you are visiting Cabo San Lucas, a cruise is without a doubt one of the best things to do!

60. Go wine tasting

Winery in Mexico
Mmmm baby wine! Photo credit: SherrVsmith Depositphotos

Although Mexico is more known for its mezcal and tequila, they actually produce a lot of their own wine.

Baja California is, without a doubt, the largest and most visited region. In fact, 85% of Mexico’s wine is produced here. The regions of Guadalupe, Calafia, Santo Tomás, and San Vicente are the most popular in Baja California.

Tours to the region leave from Ensenada or Tijuana and take you to a few of the wineries to sip delicious wine. This is a rather off-the-beaten-path experience – which is why I love it!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel from Destinationless Travel at a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta
Thanks for reading!

As you can see, the hardest thing about coming to Mexico is choosing the amazing things you want to do while you’re here! This is only 60 of the best things to do in Mexico but there are likely plenty more. However, this list is a great start to planning yout ultimate holiday in Mexico.

If you have any questions we would love to hear from you. So, please leave a comment below and we will get back to you!

We have a ton of informative destination guides and inspiring blogs about travel in Mexico. Head over to our Mexico page to check them all out!

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