The Cathedral of Guanajuato, Mexico at night. Photo by Russ Bowling/Flickr.
Mexico’s capital, the Distrito Federal, is about as good an introduction to the country as anyone could ask for. It truly is the cultural, political, historic, economic, and spiritual heart of Mexico, as you’ll discover when you stand in the Zocalo, visit the pyramids of Teotihuacan, or join the worshippers at the Basilica of Guadalupe. But this teeming metropolis is only one aspect of the country, and the trips created by AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council provide opportunities to delve deeper into Mexico’s culinary riches, archeological wonders, and colonial cities—or you can just sit back and relax on the beach, perhaps with a margarita in hand. Whether you decide to go before or after AFAR Experiences in Mexico City, or on your own some other time of the year, AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council will lead you to the best of Mexico.
Best of Oaxaca
At the point where three different valleys meet, Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s most atmospheric cities. Its historic center is dotted with colonial mansions, churches, and plazas, including its own zocalo. The state of Oaxaca is also famous for its thriving indigenous cultures, and its markets offer a bounty of unique handicrafts. Book this trip and you’ll be there in the days leading up to the Day of the Dead, when ofrendas (small altars) decorated with marigolds and sugar skulls can be found throughout the city.
Luxury on the Riviera Maya
Once you get off the highway and drive down the small road under a lush canopy that leads to the Belmond Maroma resort, you’ll feel like you are arriving at your own secret resort—far from the crowds of Cancún and the nightlife of Playa del Carmen. While you may be reluctant to leave your ocean-front room in the understatedly elegant Maroma, this itinerary includes the highlights of the area: private visits to the Mayan ruins at Coba and Tulum, a visit to the Sian Ka’an biosphere, and a half-day sailing along the coast in a catamaran.
AFAR Travel Advisory Council member Betty Jo Currie’s Riviera Maya package includes four nights at the Belmond Maroma Resort & Spa, private transfers, and exclusive excursions for $4900 per couple. Explore the Riviera Maya.
Photo courtesy of Belmond Maroma.
Bliss in Baja
The One&Only Palmilla near Cabo is perhaps the perfect hideaway after the big-city excitement of Mexico’s capital. There are few places where it’s easier to unwind than on the terrace of your deluxe room, on a daybed with ocean views. If you must exert yourself, you can head over to the spa, perhaps opting for an open-air treatment in their palapa, or get dinner at Market, where chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Euro-Asian dishes have a Mexican accent. Once you are sufficiently rested, hiking, diving, and fishing trips can be arranged, if you must.
AFAR Travel Advisory Council member Malaka Hilton’s four-night package at the One&Only is $2,352 per couple. Book a Cabo getaway, with an ocean view room at the One&Only Palmilla.
Photo courtesy of One&Only Palmilla.
Punta Mita is an easy hop from Mexico City. After less than an hour drive from the Puerto Vallarta airport, you’ll find yourself on “Punta” at the tip of the Bahia de Banderas. After you check in to the St. Regis Punta Mita, your main goal over the next three days should be to relax in your ocean view room until you feel up for a round of golf on one of the two Jack Nicklaus designed courses or a treatment at the 10,000 square-foot Remède Spa.
AFAR Travel Advisory Council member Katie Cadar’s three-night package at the St. Regis Punta Mita Resort is $1855 for two people. Put your feet in the sand with this Punta Mita package.
Photo by Sarah Keleman Garber/Flickr.
Colonial Charmer A number of colonial cities are just a short drive from Mexico City, but San Miguel de Allende is perhaps the fairest of them all. Days can be spent exploring the city’s meticulously restored houses, gardens, and churches, or perhaps at a class taught by one of the many artists who call San Miguel home. Book our San Miguel de Allende trip after AFAR Experiences and you’ll also be able to visit another nearby colonial city, Pátzcuaro, decorated for its famous Day of the Dead celebrations.
The San Miguel de Allende trip offered by AFAR Travel Advisory Council member John Clifford includes accommodations at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende for $1,739 per couple. Walk the cobblestoned streets of San Miguel de Allende with this itinerary to Mexico’s colonial heart.
Photo by Jack Newton/Flickr.
Hit Reset in Tulum
After leaving the Cancún airport, drive south past Playa del Carmen and after a 90-minute drive with the mega-resorts behind you, you’ll reach Tulum. The town has one of Mexico’s most stunning beaches and a laid-back barefoot chic atmosphere at its small, low-key resorts. After you check in to Zamas, your days can be as busy or quiet as you like, with the stunning Tulum ruins and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere waiting to be explored, or instead you can just put a cold cerveza in your hand and put your feet in the warm sea.
Sign up for the Daily Wander newsletter for expert travel inspiration and tips
Please enter a valid email address.
more from afar
Frank Lloyd Wright Homes, Farm Stays, Glamping Sites—Airbnb’s New Search Categories Feature These Cool Listings