The Best Trips to Mexico for Every Travel Personality

Mexico offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler: teeming coral reefs, sleepy fishing villages, the oldest pyramids in the world, and amazing streetside taco trucks. Whether you are considering a first-time visit or returning to discover something new, here’s your roadmap to choose the best trip based on your needs

Kristin Braswell
1 / 10 Jaime Navarro / Ignacia Guest House

For the Urbanite: Mexico City

Declaring that Mexico City is having a moment would be an understatement. From an influx of Americans moving there to call it home, to a jaw-dropping culinary scene running the gamut of street food to meticulous haute cuisine, this centrally-located metropolis is the perfect fit for the traveler seeking the thrill of a frenetic city pace and inspiration from food, fashion, the arts, and nightlife. Check into the city’s best hidden secret: mansion-turned-boutique hotel, Ignacia Guest House (pictured). The intimate space has only five uniquely decorated suites, giving visitors the sense of having escaped to their own oasis within the bustling city. It’s also located in one of the most sought-after neighborhoods, Colonia Roma, and within walking distance from some of the best restaurants and sightseeing. Get your fix of the city’s spectacular dining options at seafood institution Contramar, and at the legendary Pujol, which was voted one of the best restaurants in the world. Any local will tell you not to miss Dulce Patria for Chef Ortiz’s inventive takes on Mexican cuisine, and La Capital for more traditional fare. For a change of pace, Italian newcomer Sartoria delivers with handmade pasta in a minimalist space. Get local and book a walking food tour with Tengo Hambre. At night grab a cocktail at the always-hip Xaman Bar, or sip on organic wines imported from France at Loup Bar. Cheers.
2 / 10 Courtesy of Mexico Tourism Board

For the Night Owl: Playa del Carmen

If nighttime makes you come alive, book a trip to Playa del Carmen, where the streets are lined with bars, outdoor dining, and live music at nearly every corner. Travelers who love people-watching and a cool-kid aesthetic should check into the Thompson (pictured), located in the heart of downtown and walking distance to the beach. Choose a room on the highest floor for ocean views. The atmospheric rooftop has an infinity pool with a sweeping vista of the city and music to set the mood. The popular restaurant Catch is right next to the pool, and equally as popular with locals as it is with guests, with a menu featuring fresh sushi, wagyu beef, and margaritas that will definitely get the night going. Nearby, visit the Frida Kahlo museum, an intimate space that certainly packs a punch with its overview of the artist’s life and work. For dining, snag a coveted reservation at Oh lala, where the food presentation is just as impressive as the flavors. Try the incredible curry lamb or grilled octopus--a nice change of pace from the 2-for-1 specials and processed foods that can often clutter the area’s streets. For cocktails without the tourist fuss and delicious mezcal-infused concoctions, visit Almarante Pech.
3 / 10 Thomas J. Story

For the Architecture Enthusiast: San Miguel de Allende

Nearly every turn in this UNESCO World Heritage Site is like a shot out of a postcard. San Miguel de Allende's charming cobblestone roads below brightly colored colonial architecture will leave design lovers enamored. Begin at La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, a neo-Gothic 17th-century church with details reminiscent of  Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Tequila lovers should not miss the opportunity to enjoy both stunning architecture and cocktails at the Casa Dragones Tasting Room. Here, design team Meyer Davis and interior designer Gloria Cortina created an intimate sensory experience with obsidian-tiled walls that reflect Mexican craftsmanship and connection to the region’s terroir. For shopping, enjoy the beauty of local artisan craftwork at La Calaca. At night, watch the city twinkle below from Rosewood's well-loved rooftop tapas bar, Luna.
4 / 10 Courtesy of Mexico Tourism Board

For the Hidden Gem Seeker: Isla Holbox

This charming island north of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is an eco-friendly, bohemian paradise. With less than 2,000 inhabitants and car-less roads, travelers here will feel like they’re sharing a well-kept secret with the ocean. Homes are painted in bright colors and beaches offer stretches of sandbars. For breakfast, visit Le Jardin cafe for its croissants. Daily seafood specials are abundant at Restaurante Colibri. Check into the chic palapa-style Hotel Casa Las Tortugas, where laid-back vibes perfectly match the surroundings. An added bonus: daily yoga and meditation lessons.
5 / 10 Courtesy of Visit Guadalajara

For the Foodie: Guadalajara

The capital of Jalisco is also the birthplace of tequila, and quickly expanding to become one of Mexico’s top culinary destinations. The torta ahogada (“drowned sandwich,” pictured) is Guadalajara’s signature sandwich and most popular street food. The bread used, called birote, is native to the region and made to withstand the tender, Jalisco-style pork and spicy Yahualica pepper salsa that sits between it. Another must-try food native to the region is birria, a hearty meat stew. Don’t miss Hueso, a local favorite best known for the thousands of white bones lining the interior of the restaurant. To the owners, a bone represents flavor. In the summer of 2018 from July 13-23, the city will celebrate its very first restaurant week, Semana del Restaurante. More than 60 restaurants around the city will offer prix-fixe menus at impressive prices.
6 / 10 Thomas J. Story

For the Oenophile: Valle de Guadalupe

While wine may not be the first thing travelers think of when Mexico comes to mind, wine connoisseurs will be pleasantly surprised by Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California--just two hours south of San Diego. Almost 70% of Mexican wine comes from this region, which has over 100 wineries. For tastings, begin with the Bordeaux blend at Cavas del Mogor, an organic winery headed by a Swiss family where sustainability is key. L.A. Cetto, which produces about 9 million liters of wine per year, is another popular destination. The family-owned vineyard offers private reserves (aged in French oak) like Chardonnay and Nebbiolo. To enjoy a vineyard experience and boutique hotel, head to Vena Cava Winery, designed by two of Mexico’s most renowned architects, Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent.
7 / 10 Courtesy of The Cape: A Thompson Hotel

For the Trendsetter: Los Cabos

From farm-to-table fixings to hotels at nearly every price point, Los Cabos (comprised of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo) continues to draw travelers each year for its growing scene. The proof is in the numbers: there are 500 weekly flight connections, serving more than 40 points of origin. Style-savvy travelers will want to call The Cape: A Thompson Hotel (designed by famed architect Javier Sanchez, pictured) their home base for its relaxing beachfront location and attention to detail. The 161-room property has Cabo’s only rooftoop lounge, and dogs under 40 pounds are welcome to join the party. It also celebrated its third-year anniversary in 2018, with an A-list clientele, yacht parties, and beach dinners. Chef Enrique Olvera’s Manta restaurant sources local ingredients from Baja with inspiration from Mexico, Peru, and Japan. Other notable restaurants highlighting locally grown ingredients include Huerta Los Tamarindos, Acre, and Flora Farms. In November, the celebrity-studded Los Cabos International Film Festival will feature films from around the world. In December, the highly anticipated Sabor a Cabo will offer food from international chefs as well as lively evening entertainment.
8 / 10 Courtesy of Mexico Tourism Board

For the Culturally Curious: Mérida

Nicknamed the White City for its streets that are cleaned twice daily, the Yucatán capital blends the best of modernity with ancient civilization. 75 miles east of Mérida, visitors should not miss the ruins of Chichén Itzá, recently named one of the seven wonders of the world. The pulse of Mexican gastronomy can be found at the bustling Mercado Lucas de Galvez, where local produce and fruits are served in open stalls. Witness the city’s incredible colonial architecture, including one of the oldest cathedrals in Latin America, San Ildefonso Cathedral. For a lesson inYucatán history, the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida is an excellent starting point. Check into the boutique hotel Rosas & Xocolate, a pink, 17-room property in a former mansion on Paseo Montejo. The onsite restaurant has earned recognition as the best hotel dining in the city.
9 / 10 Courtesy of Rosewood Mayakoba

For the Discerning Traveler: Mayakoba

Just 20 minutes from downtown Playa del Carmen on the Mexican Riviera sits the gated community of Mayakoba. If exclusivity is what you seek without having to ever leave your room, you can find it here. Luxury heavy hitters call this area home, but it’s the Rosewood Mayakoba (pictured) where you'll feel most comfortable. Upon arrival, guests are fully immersed in the natural surroundings, including a boat ride through a mangrove lagoon to overwater suites. There are several islands connected by bridges and oceanside dining with champagne and ceviche served while you lounge. At La Ceiba Garden and Kitchen, guests can enjoy interactive cooking demonstrations and ingredients from the garden cooked over an open fire. If you don’t want to lift a finger, no problem. With the impeccable service here, you’ll never have to.
10 / 10 Courtesy of Mexico Tourism Board

For the Ocean Explorer: Cozumel

Divers will find plenty to be happy about off the coast of Cozumel, home to the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Located 12 miles off the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatán Peninsula, Cozumel’s marine biodiversity makes it a prime location for underwater exploration. Santa Rosa Wall is one of the most popular diving sites, and Chankanaab Reef is best for beginners. For water sports, head to Palancar Beach, where you'll find no shortage of crystal blue water and white sand. For seafood, which is plentiful, get a local fix at El Sazón del Camarón. Order the fish tacos or ceviche--you  can’t go wrong with either.