2 weeks in Mexico – the ultimate Mexico itinerary

Buenos dias it certainly is, particularly if you’re planning on jetting off to Mexico anytime soon. Whether you’ve been zero, once or five times, Mexico always has a world of adventures awaiting, including a diverse combo of blissful beach retreats, archaeological expeditions, jungle trekking and spontaneous lagoon diving, all in reach of the hotspots of Tulum, Cancún and Cozumel. Along the way, you’ll sample a smorgasbord of traditional flavours, spanning tamales, sopas, mole and tacos, ensuring you’ll never go hungry, particularly in the foodie hub of Mexico City and mezcal-drenched Oaxaca. Read on for our ultimate 2-week Mexico itinerary and travel advice below.

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MEXICO HERO

Photo: Filip Gielda

Travel Mexico

When researching what to expect from a trip to Mexico you’ll soon find that the answer lies with what you are looking for. This is because Mexico has it all; endless stretches of palm-lined coastline, unknowable jungles packed with rivers and lagoons, a full fiesta schedule and an ancient history of Aztec civilisations ready to be discovered just below its surface. And that’s not to mention the deserts, volcanoes and mountain cloud forests taking over the central regions.

Whichever landscape and whichever style of travel suits you, there’s really something for everyone. Your Mexico itinerary 2 weeks could stick solely to cultural endeavours in Oaxaca and Mexico City or instead focus on sun-drenched outdoor activities in Yucatan and outlying islands – it really is all up to you! To make the decision that little bit easier, we bring you our dream two-week itinerary which aims to balance culture, history, nature and, of course, beaches.

Best time to visit Mexico

Though Mexico’s rainy season runs from June to October, the wetter weather tends to stay in the centre of the country (often for short midday downpours) leaving travellers to enjoy the northern and coastal parts of the country most of the year. The south and the coast do get pretty humid during these months, averaging between 26-32°C and peaking during hurricane season in late September to October – the only time to avoid.

The winter (running from December to April) is the most popular season to visit Mexico when the weather is relatively hot and dry, with breezy relief along the coast. Expect competitive bookings in the resorts around Cancún and Tulum and temperatures of around 28°C everywhere except for up in the mountains where the evenings turn chilly.

Photo: Andrew Wise

Photo: David Liceaga

Getting around Mexico

Budget travel in Mexico is remarkably easy thanks to the long-distance buses called camiones that run up and down the country. Though the reputation of camion drivers precedes them, catching a bus in Mexico is now considered much safer than in the past thanks to regular mechanical checks and driver safety tests.

There are over fifty airports in Mexico helping travellers get to where they need to go, connected both domestically and internationally by the formerly state-owned Aeroméxico. Flights run frequently from Mexico City and a number of alternative budget airlines (Aeromar, Interjet, Volaria and Viva Aerobus, for example) help keep prices competitive. Popular routes are often the cheapest, with a one-way flight from Mexico City to Cancún costing as little as US$40. Though air travel is by far the best time-saver, renting a car in Mexico is also a great way to see more of the country. Week-long rentals for experienced drivers over the age of 21 (sometimes 25) can be had for 1,500MXN (US$75), but if going this route, make sure to avoid driving after dark or leaving any valuables in the vehicle overnight for risk of crime and theft.

Photo: Austin Distel

How to stay safe in Mexico

Though you should always keep your wits about you while travelling in foreign lands, the dangers of travelling in Mexico are generally overstated by the media and therefore should be taken with a pinch of salt. The conflict and violence that does occur in Mexico is largely between drug cartels and authorities and the only instances involving foreigners are usually the result of drug use or sex tourism engagements.

Where you stay will also alter the level of risk, with holidays in Yucatan and Oaxaca deemed much safer than the regions around the US border and the southern border where it’s advisable to take more caution. If travelling in Quintana Roo beware of corrupt officials looking for bribes and drug-related violence that may erupt but generally speaking if you don’t go out in expensive clothing or jewellery, don’t walk around drunk at night, or go out looking for drugs, troubles shouldn’t occur. Additional advice would be to tell others where you are if you leave the resort and to make copies of your official documents in case of theft.

The ultimate Mexico itinerary

Two weeks in heaven is how best to describe our latest Mexico itinerary as we cover the hidden treasures of the capital, the old world ways of Oaxaca, the colonial vibes of Chiapas and, finally, the joys of Yucatan’s best beaches. As well as enjoying the all-day buffet at any of the top all-inclusive resorts in Mexico for gay travellers, be sure to venture out of your comfort zone to try the best dive sites in Mexico and various other activities across the Riviera Maya.

Photo: Obed Hernandez

Photo: Christine Siracusa

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Lose yourself in the stories of Mexico City, tasting history at old-school cantinas or feeding off the city’s energy on a boat trip along ancient waterways

Mexico City: 4 Days

International travel hub and dynamic cultural powerhouse, Mexico City is the only way to spend your first few days in Mexico. Although you might feel the pull of the ocean early on, getting a taste of authentic city lifestyles is certainly worthwhile, allowing for buzzing nights out downtown or walking tours through pre-Hispanic and colonial-era districts. Lose yourself in the stories of Mexico City, tasting history at old-school cantinas or feeding off the city’s energy on a boat trip along ancient waterways.

Staying within Mexico City’s Centro Historico neighbourhood will put you in easy reach of world-class museums and landmarks such as the Anthropology Museum as well as Templo Mayor (Great Temple), the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Other areas to explore include the colonial suburb of Coyoacán, where the Frida Kahlo Museum (AKA the Blue House) and the Leon Trotsky House Museum are based. For quieter stays meanwhile, the districts of Roma and Condesa offer residential vibes with all the cafés you could care for. After two or so days exploring the quirks of Mexico City’s Historic Centre, day three takes us outwards to the pyramid and ruins of Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and archaeological wonder that draws two million visitors each year. With time to spare in the late afternoon, try the floating gardens of Xochimilco which come alive on weekends with tequila vendors and mariachi bands that serenade the trajinera boats making their way up and down the canals.

One more day in the capital can take us to one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico, namely the Island of the Dolls based on the secluded lake shores south of the city centre. Here was where a hermit named Don Julian Santana lived for 50 years collecting toy dolls to fend off evil spirits after finding a drowned body in the lake. On an eerie day out to the lakes, visitors can still spot the sun-bleached plastic dolls hanging from the trees. Day trips out to Puebla, Cholula or the pre-Hispanic village of Tepoztián are all less creepy alternatives, the latter accessible via a steep 400-metre staircase that leads to a ruined pyramid at the summit of Tepozteco where incredible views also await. For more of the best-hidden attractions in the city, see our full Mexico City travel guide.

Mexico City | Photo: Javier Esteves

Teotihuacan | Photo: Cinthia Aguilar

Oaxaca: 3 days

Name of the region and of its biggest city, Oaxaca is a two-in-one destination with both city pleasures and rural village lifestyles. The region as a whole is known for its gastronomy and coming to Oaxaca solely to eat and drink is not totally out of the question. If eating is top of the agenda, make a beeline to the Mercade de Abastos or any of the weekday markets laid out in the towns and villages surrounding Oaxaca City. If Sunday comes around, Tlacaloula also won’t disappoint as one of the region’s biggest markets serving up freshly-cooked snacks such as barbeque chicken and quesillo cheese dishes from morning until around 4pm. From there you’ll likely be looking for a late afternoon tipple and luckily Oaxaca has just the thing. The region is a key producer of Mezcal – tequila’s smokier, trendier cousin – and you can sample the stuff at any of the so-called mezcalerias within the city, or make a day of it and drive out to one of the dozens of distilleries in the surrounding areas.

Oaxaca Old Town is also worth visiting thanks to its colourful architecture, daily fiestas and quirky hangout spots mixed in among a ton of baroque churches, such as the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman, which looks all the more attractive at dusk. Those wanting to explore outside of town and appreciate the natural sights of Oaxaca can do so with a visit to the springs of Hierve el Agua. As well as cooling down in the pools here and taking in the sensational views, you can also burn off any excess calories with a hike up to the petrified waterfalls. Read more about what to do in the region with our full Oaxaca travel guide.

Oaxaca

Oaxaca | Photo: Jaunt and Joy

Chiapas: 3 days

Next up on our itinerary for Mexico is Chiapas, an understated and less touristy state boasting mountainous landscapes and much indigenous culture, by way of Tzotzil and Mayan roots. Of its natural sights, the El Chiflon and Agua Azul waterfalls are must-sees, accessible on guided tours booked through one of the numerous small agencies in San Cristobal de las Casas. Prices for these tours are set incredibly low – as little as US$10 for a half-day tour – and need only to be arranged one day in advance. With a little help from the locals, you can embark on horseback rides up to the Templo de San Juan, hikes up to the ruins of Palenque or boat rides through Sumidero Canyon.

While in Chiapas, you’ll want to stay in San Cristobal de las Casas, the capital and largest city of Chiapas. Being the capital, the city has much in the way of convenience, including grocery stores, ATMs, restaurants and travel agencies, with tasty street food and colourful façades adding atmosphere. Viewing the town from above is also a great sunset activity, with the best views found beside the hilltop Iglesia de San Cristobalito or the Iglesia de Guadalupe, both accessible via a steep stairway inlaid into the mountain.

San Cristóbal de las Casas | Photo: Tess Broker

Chiapas | Photo: Crisoforo Gaspar Hernandez

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The Yucatan Peninsula is a coastal slice of land jutting out from the northeast of the country, home in fact to two states; Yucatan and Quintana Roo

Yucatan: 4 Days

Finally, our 2 weeks in Mexico arrives at the beach for a few days of sun, sea and sand in equal parts. The Yucatan Peninsula is a coastal slice of land jutting out from the northeast of the country, home in fact to two states; Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Both states are hugely popular tourist hotspots for good reason – firstly for the year-round sunshine, secondly for the tip-top paradise beaches and thirdly for the range of world-class resorts that take up the entire coastline. Playa del Carmen, Cancún, Cozumel and Tulum are all located on the peninsula, and while these areas are more expensive and crowded than elsewhere in Mexico, they are popular for good reason. As well as an ever-increasing number of Tulum all inclusive resorts to choose from in amongst a laidback town centre, luxury hotels in Playa del Carmen and gay-friendly hotels in Cozumel are also worthy candidates for scuba divers and beach dwellers alike.

Photo: Jorge Zapata

Independent men on their Mexico road trip can travel with ease from Cancún to Tulum or Cozumel to Tulum, making stops at countless attractions along the way. Chichen Itza and the pink lakes of Mexico are both popular choices, though lesser-known gems such as the ruins of Coba and El Bakam can allow you to beat the crowds while still checking off the best Yucatan Peninsula Mayan ruins. Also in land, you’ll can uncover a number of jungle-side cenotes – lagoons formed by sinkholes – all of which vary in accessibility and can allow swimming, snorkelling and diving in crystal clear waters. While a Tulum vacation can put you in reach of the region’s best beach – the aptly named Paradise Beach – those looking for more of an island vibe with cheaper costs can yacht across to Isla Holbox a short ride from Cancún’s shores.

Stuck on planning? 

Having a hard time planning your trip? Get the experts at Mr Hudson to help design the vacation of a lifetime. Our Trip Design service aims to do exactly that by providing a day-by-day itinerary covering the most unique attractions, things to do and see, alongside insider information on nightlife, where to stay and everything else you need to feel like a local in a foreign land. Sign up here today.

Photo: Arnaud Mesureur

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