Traveling to Mexico has always been a big dream of mine. Exploring the Mayan Ruins, diving into the Mexican culture and exploring the Latino history. There is so much more to Mexico than Tacos, Sombreros and Tequila. This country has a lot to offer to its visitors and I am about to share my Top 10 things to do and places to visit with you.
One of the Puuc/Mayan style ruins that is protected by UNESCO’s World Heritage is Uxmal. It is one of the best preserved Mayan Ruins and is located in the West of Yucatan. You can walk through the ancient city and learn about the mayan history and most of the stairs and building are still climbable for tourists. A lot of tourist information tells you to visit Chichén Itzá which, according to the locals, is mainly a tourist trap and has been so overly restored that it no longer has much to do with the actual mayan culture (it was actually at its prime close to the end of the mayan period and build in the Toltec/Aztec style). That is why we decided to skip it to visit Uxmal instead and I am very happy with our decision. We were basically the only people there and the few companions we did have were the cute lizards.
Coba is another Mayan Ruin worth visiting. Here you can climb the around 42 meters (137 feet) tall pyramid and enjoy an incredible view. The mayans build this pyramid for the God of Sun and build the stairs to be as close to the Sun as possible. They believed that whenever the sun set over the top of the pyramid, the God himself was blessing the people with his presence.
Side note: some tourists have been falling down the stairs, so make sure to arrive as early as possible to climb without being bothered by a lot of other people and hold on to the rope if you don’t feel comfortable climbing that high up the crooked stairs.
3. Ruinas Mayas de Tulum (the Ruins of Tulum)
The Ruins of Tulum are worth visiting just for the scenery. This preserved Mayan city is located right next to the beach and has the best view over the ocean. If you bring your bathing suit with you, you can cold down in the ocean after a hot day of sightseeing. It is, however, a highly visited tourist attraction and therefore filled with people. Also, you won’t be able to walk through the actual ruins as you could do at the other sites that I have mentioned.
4. Ek Balam
Ek Balam is another great Mayan ruin, which is probably the least visited by tourists, since we had a couple of hours almost to ourselfs exploring this ancient town. It is great to walk up all the stairs and find yourself on a little trip through time, learning about; the Mayan Gods, the sacrifice rituals and the Mayan lifestyle.
Cenotes are sinkholes that are filled with fresh water and are a great locations to relax and enjoy a nice swim in an underwater reservoir after your exhausting day(s) of sightseeing. There are plenty in Yucatan and I am only mentioning the three most worth (in my opinion) visiting to you. The first one we went to was the X’Canche Cenote (right next to Ek Balam). You can rent a bike, get a ride or just walk straight from the ruins to the Cenote. It is the most untouched Cenote we saw in Mexico. Not a lot of tourist visit this Cenote and we were almost alone for at least an hour. This Cenote was a tip from a local who told us that it is the most favourite one for many Mexicans, plus it has a swing rope- how fun is that?!
Another great Cenote is the Grand Cenote (near Tulum) with crystal blue water, turtles, fish and underwater stalagmite to explore. Definitely rent a snorkel and goggles. It is a more touristy Cenote, so don’t expect to be there by yourself.
The third Cenote is called Dos Ojos and is probably the most mysterious Cenote you will find in Yucatan, Mexico. Exploring the caves of this Cenote make for a great adventure and give you a feeling of hunting for horcruxes with Dumbledore.
Every great country has a must see city. In Mexico, this is: Merida!
(we have only been to the Yucatan area and haven’t been to Mexico City)
Merida is a colourful and vibrant city filled with interesting people, vivid places and amazing foods. Make sure to visit the food market area and get fresh mangos with chilli and lime from the street vendors and also try the best avocados in the world. There are plenty of restaurants to pick from, but the one every local recommended us was La Chaya Maya and it was great!
Valladolid is just as colourful as Merida but smaller and less crowded. This city is a perfect one day stop if you are travelling by car. It has a great central location and you can easily reach a lot of great sightseeing places from Valladolid. Make sure to walk through the multicoloured streets and try the typical Yucatan dish: Cochinita Pibil (not for vegetarians) at least once.
The traditional Yucatan dishes are mainly pork, but you can also go for the chicken option and try the Pollo Pibil.
The three main beaches are located in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Mexico’s beaches are famous for their white sand and turquoise water, but also for the plenty all inclusive hotels right next to each other. I am personally not a big fan of ‘all inclusive’ hotel resorts, which is why I prefer to stay in Tulum. The beaches are definitely less crowded down in Punta Allen or up in Holbox but they are also not cleaned that often which leaves you with quite some seaweeds. All in all I must say that apart from the more chilled out vibe I also found the beaches in Tulum the prettiest.
I have to give Tulum its own mentioning since it was my favourite place out of all the other places. I wrote a whole blog post about Tulum where I share the best places to stay and best restaurants to try with you. Check it out if you want to know more about this majestic and dreamy place.
10. Mexican Food
I naturally have to mention the food. I am a big lover of the Mexican food and frankly I’ve always been. I had the best guacamole in my life and I would definitely just come back for the food alone. Make sure to eat: Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas, Empanadas, Pibil and drink plenty of Margaritas and (of course) shots of Tequila (if you’re into alcohol). There are also great seafood restaurants to try. Here in Mexico we tried Shark, Stingray and Marlin for the first (and last) time in our lives. Side note: I don’t encourage you to eat any of these ever. Mexico is just one of those places where you are still able to get anything (at least I think so) that swims on a plate. For vegans I highly recommend visiting Tulum, it’s on my list of the best vegan food spots that I have ever been.
Check out my video for more Mexico vibes: