Looking to enjoy the best Mexican cities? They’re a real treat and you’ll love their perfect mix of nature and culture! Check out this list of the best cities in Mexico and take your pick.
Mexico may be better known for its Mayan ruins and breathtaking beaches, but nowhere is the rich Mexican culture more alive than in its cities.
Beautifully mixing the old and the new, Mexican cities are packed with colonial buildings, cobblestone alleys, and spacious plazas that contrast with modern skyscrapers, fancy resorts, and trendy shops. They are some of the best places to visit in Mexico!
From big resort towns by the sea to low-key towns perched on the mountains, and with thousands of years of history on their backs, the cities in Mexico are full of examples of the country’s rich culture, tradition, art, architecture, and cuisine that gives it such a distinct identity.
There are so many beautiful cities in Mexico that I can guarantee, whatever your preferences are, there’s something here for you. Ready to dive in? Check out this list of the best Mexican cities.
Map of the Best Cities in Mexico
You’ll see there are incredible cities all over Mexico!
The hectic, vibrant, and multifaceted capital of Mexico is the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere, and the economic and cultural core of the country.
Built directly over the ancient city of Tenochtitlán, Mexico City has flourished into a dynamic urban center that masters the art of combining pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary elements into one beautiful symphony.
Home to more than 1,000 museums, unique archeological sites, beautiful natural spaces, and an inspired culinary scene, it’s a must if you want to understand contemporary Mexico.
Make sure to include in your Mexico City itinerary the Centro Historico, the Zocalo (Latin America’s largest main square), and Xochimilco, a traditional neighborhood that has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site on its own. I also love the hipster, more modern neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa.
And please, take a day trip to nearby Teotihuacan, trust me!
A big celebrity among Mexican tourist cities, Cancun is like two cities in one. On the one hand, you have the long strip of beachfront filled with high-rise hotels, restaurants, and bars of the Zona Hotelera.
On the other, there’s El Centro, providing a more authentic Mexican flavor, where you’ll find many colonial and historic attractions as well as delicious tacos and eateries.
With unique natural wonders around, every water activity you can think of, international cuisine, exclusive shopping centers, and typical markets, Cancun is hard to ignore! And if we add to the equation its unparalleled nightlife, then you get an attractive mix of things to do in Cancun.
If you want to explore the surroundings, you can visit many cenotes, sail across the bay to Isla Mujeres, or visit the many nearby Mayan archeological sites. Never a boring day in Cancun!
San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal de Las Casas is a cultural gem set in the highlands of the Chiapas state with narrow cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, colorful houses, and flowery balconies that invite you to stay and relax for a while.
San Cristobal has become one of the most popular cities in Mexico for digital nomads, and you’ll find a lively and active atmosphere, with streets full of life but still retaining an old-time, slower rhythm that makes it feel alive but never hectic.
Enjoy wandering the colorful alleys, visiting the local handicraft markets, and savoring traditional homey food, or attending one of its many popular festivities and ceremonies.
San Miguel de Allende
Welcome to what many consider to be the prettiest city in Mexico!
Arriving in San Miguel de Allende feels like stepping into a time machine. The historic center has remained practically unchanged for 250 years, with cobblestone streets and colonial houses turned into art galleries and museums, and an imposing neo-gothic cathedral carved out of pink sandstone that rises tall above the city.
This mid-sized town has managed to retain its colonial charm while adding modern amenities —and even luxury—, with fine dining options and a lively nightlife that attracts thousands of tourists every year, both domestic and international, giving it a very cosmopolitan vibe.
San Miguel de Allende also enjoys beautiful natural surroundings, with vineyards and mountains to die for. It’s worth every minute of your time.
Welcome to Valladolid, where the magic of Mayan times can be seen, tasted, and felt on every corner. Time goes more slowly here, so take your time to wander around the many colonial barrios and take in the atmosphere and architecture. There’s plenty to do in Valladolid!
Nestled between the two main destinations in Yucatan (Cancun and Merida), Valladolid is a great base to explore the area away from the beach crowds. The main sights nearby include Chichen Itza, Merida, Las Coloradas, and a ton of cenotes, one of which is in the middle of the historical center. No kidding!
For food lovers, Valladolid is a top representative of Mayan cuisine, which has been refined over centuries, so don’t leave without hitting the markets to try many of the local delicacies.
Oaxaca City’s rich historical, cultural, artistic, and culinary legacies have turned it into one of the most famous cities in Mexico.
The cute historic center with beautiful constructions of green quarry is a treat for the eyes, and Mercado 20 de Noviembre is a feast of colors, smells, and tastes, perfect to try many mouth-watering traditional foods.
Among the many things to do in Oaxaca, the most unique is probably joining the festivities of Dia de Los Muertos, when the city transforms with parades, costumes, and traditional ceremonies.
Oaxaca is also the birthplace of mezcal, an agave-based smoky spirit drunk all over Mexico, but of which Oaxaca has the finest distilleries, so it’s a must while in town.
With incredible nature around, Oaxaca offers a fantastic base to explore the state of the same name. Attractions include the Mayan ruins of Monte Alban and Mitla, and the unique formations at Hierve el Agua.
A very welcome escape from Mexico City, Puebla stands its own as a cultural capital in the country. The cobblestone streets of Puebla are teeming with colonial architecture, great museums, and colorful markets. There are plenty of things to do in Puebla to keep you entertained for a couple of days at least.
Would you like to visit the largest pyramid in the world? Well, believe it or not, you don’t need to go all the way to Egypt. The biggest pyramid in the world, by volume, is in Cholula, a small town only 10 km (6 miles) away which can be easily be visited from Puebla.
Puebla is also one of the top cities in Mexico for foodies. Don’t leave without having tried all the magnificent traditional food around town, like Mole Pueblano, chiles en nogada, memelas, and cemitas. And don’t forget to stop at one of the candy stores on Calle de los Dulces (translated as “sweet street”). I’m not going to spoil it, but the name says it all!
Guanajuato is a festive and hilly town known for its silver mining history, colonial architecture, and complex network of streets and alleys.
The streets of Guanajuato are so narrow that the government had to create an underground network of roads for cars. This means little traffic overground, making Guanajuato a quiet haven and likely the best city in Mexico to walk around.
Guanajuato sits at over 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) over sea level and the mountainsides are steep, so I recommend you take the cable car to the top of the mountain, where you’ll get incredible views. Then, simply start wandering downhill and get lost among its narrow alleys full of cheerful and colorful buildings. Don’t worry, they all lead to the cute historic center!
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen is lucky to be located in a prime spot on the Caribbean coast, surrounded by incredible white-sand beaches and natural wonders that are hard to find anywhere else in the world.
No wonder, then, that it has become the heartbeat of the Mayan Riviera, easily on the top 3 of beach cities in Mexico, with endless entertainment options all day and all night.
Days in Playa are spent sunbathing on its palm-lined beaches, snorkeling around the coral reefs, or doing one of the many things you can do in Playa del Carmen. One of them is taking day trips to unique destinations, such as Chichen Itza, Holbox, and more cenotes near Playa del Carmen than you can count!
And when the sun goes down, the city comes alive to the rhythm of the many restaurants and clubs, from techno or salsa clubs to hippie mezcalerías, and everything in between.
This city seems to have won the location jackpot: stunning beaches embraced by the lush mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental, and the town tucked in between.
Puerto Vallarta has been one of the most visited cities in Mexico’s Pacific coast since the 80’s, with millions of tourists flocking every year to its dazzling sandy beaches, where water sports are the main draw.
But It is in its picturesque historic center, however, that Puerto Vallarta hits the charming note that makes it unforgettable, with cobblestone streets, quirk shops, and artsy boulevards perfect for an evening stroll. And at night, the city turns into a big party, with a pumping nightlife and top-notch gastronomy that won’t leave anyone indifferent.
There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained in town, but you should also go on a couple of excursions from Puerto Vallarta. If the city is nice, its surroundings in my opinion are even better!
Santiago de Queretaro
Santiago de Queretaro is a university town in Central Mexico with a lively and youthful vibe in the air, which is pleasantly cool all year round thanks to its perennial spring-like weather.
Queretaro surprises as one of the safest cities in Mexico, with squeaky clean streets framed by gorgeous plazas and well-preserved colonial architecture, with tons of museums, galleries, and churches.
The distinctive landmark here, however, is the Roman-style aqueduct from the 1700s that will make you feel in Europe for a minute! The aqueduct is almost 2 kilometers long and has been bringing water to the city from the mountains for centuries now. Walk to the Mirador de Los Arcos lookout point for a panoramic view.
Cabo San Lucas
Springbreakers and celebrities. Cabo San Lucas brings party and luxury to the Baja California cocktail like no other place.
Filled with beach-front luxury resorts and world-class golf courses, this is among the best cities to visit in Mexico if you’re looking to get pampered at top-notch spas, enjoy modern facilities, dine in fashion, and hit the beach without even needing to leave your hotel.
Cabo San Lucas sits right at the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, with the rich Sea of Cortez (which Jacques Custeau nicknamed “the aquarium of the world) at its door, so if you dare to venture out of your hotel, there’s an underwater paradise waiting. One of the best places for snorkeling and desert adventures is Cabo Pulmo National Park.
You also should definitely include San Jose del Cabo in your itinerary. This is the quieter, more sophisticated sister of Cabo San Lucas, with the cutest city center – definitely worth a visit!
This is as Mexican as it can get. Guadalajara, as their slogan says, is “where History, Tradition, and Art meet.”
The second-largest city in Mexico is by and large considered a cultural hub, and it’s the birthplace of tequila and Mariachi music, two of Mexico’s finest exports.
Walking around Guadalajara is a pleasure, with a jaw-dropping cathedral, a historic center full of beautiful monuments, bustling markets, and tree-lined plazas, where you can sit to chill and see life happen around you — all to the sound of the Mariachis.
This is one of the best cities to visit in Mexico if you want to dive deep into the culture, so a piece of advice? Check out the calendar before you go, as there are festivals and celebrations all year round. Maybe you’re in luck!
Every corner in this wonderfully preserved, impeccable colonial city seems to be photo-ready at all times. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico and has been named the American Capital of Culture more than once.
Make sure to visit the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, and the Museum of Anthropology and History to learn more about this area and its rich history. But, mostly, hang out in the plazas, which are the center of public life, and burst with vendors and locals on their weekend markets.
Take this chance also to visit Uxmal, considered the prettiest Mayan ruin and which is way less crowded than Chichen Itza but just as magical. And don’t forget the cenotes! there are some incredible (and less known) cenotes around Merida.
Eclectic, historic, and with 20 km of golden sandy beaches, The Pearl of the Pacific, as Mazatlan is sometimes called, has experienced somewhat of a revival in recent years.
This was an important port town during the mining fever in the mid-19th century, which brought an influx of German immigrants who influenced the local culture and, in 1900, established Pacifico Brewery. Now you’ll see pilsner-style Pacifico beer all over!
During the day, hit one of the many beaches on the Sea of Cortez, with marine life to keep you hooked for weeks. And in the evening, go back in time walking around the alluring historic core, or watch the sunset from one of the many quaint bars dotted along the 21 km of the glorious promenade.
Just south of the border from Texas lies what many consider to be the most beautiful of Mexican cities. The third-largest city in the country is a thriving urban center and business hub, with great quality of life, privileged climate throughout the year, and the best grilled steaks.
Monterrey is a fantastic place to enjoy city life away from the admittedly overwhelming metropolis that is Mexico DF. Home to the country’s top university, it has a youthful and lively atmosphere, vibrant nightlife, a Barrio Antiguo (old town) that exudes charisma, and an interesting cultural and gastronomic scene.
Thanks to its location in the spectacular Sierra Madre mountain region, in the surroundings you’ll also find caves, waterfalls, and some pretty cool hiking spots to keep you entertained for days!
Literally a stone throw’s from the U.S., this ever-evolving, hectic border town has people leaving with mixed feelings, but never indifferent. A large number of cultures meet on the streets, which is where everything happens. Avenida Revolución, the city’s main avenue, bursts with life in the form of bars, restaurants, shops, souvenir stores, and more sombreros than you can count.
Tijuana has excellent gastronomy and has been recognized as the “Craft Beer Capital of Mexico”, so make sure to roam the streets on a DYI food and beer tour.
Tragically, the wall that marks the border with the U.S. goes on into the water, but if beach is what you want, check out neighboring town Rosarito. After all, this is the same Pacific as in San Diego, remember?
La Paz, the perfectly middle-size capital of Baja California Sur, is a favorite among experienced tourists who know Mexico well and want to get away from the crowds.
Its waterfront promenade is one of the best in Mexico, the beaches are surreal, diving is superb (La Paz is on the Sea of Cortez), and there’s a charming historic center, mountains inland, and great fresh food. What else could you ask for!
Going for a stroll on the promenade is a must, and you’ll find plenty of art shops, fish taco stalls, and low-key restaurants to enjoy the view over the water.
Famous and magical Balandra Beach is close by, and chances to see whales, whale sharks, and sea lions are plenty, so try to take a boat tour or snorkeling trip for an unforgettable experience.
Mexico really is a treasure trove of charming colonial towns and Morelia is no exception. The town feels frozen in time, and I mean this in the best way possible.
The pink stone colonial buildings that give the city its unique ambiance and looks are in impeccable shape and its historical center contains more buildings catalogued as architectural masterpieces than any other place in Mexico. I was going to say that you shouldn’t forget to check out the cathedral, but it’s pretty hard to miss! Its towers are among the highest in the country and can be seen from virtually anywhere in the city.
Morelia is also home to one of the few Roman-style aqueducts in the country, which gets illuminated at night and makes for a lovely sight perfect for photographs.
Cities in Mexico FAQ
Merida in Yucatan is considered the safest city in all of Mexico.
Mexico City is the wealthiest city in Mexico, especially the neighborhoods of Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec.