Best Hidden Places in Mexico – Ready to discover the real Mexico? The following 10 places are hidden beautiful places in Mexico and are places that most travelers haven’t discovered yet. You’ll see another side of Mexico surprisingly not too far off the trail. Charming historic plazas, affordable wine country, and cliffs bigger than the Grand Canyon are reason enough to spend a more memorable vacation.
Find 10 Best Hidden Places in Mexico
1. Merida, Yucatan
Location: Merida or Cancun (190 miles away)
The reason you should go here: It’s a cosmopolitan cultural capital
The first Best Hidden Places in Mexico is Merida. The cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida has become a favorite destination among European travelers. They come to see colonial history (only Mexico City has a larger historical center), the best museums in the area, and the incredible Sunday market.
Walk the narrow brick streets of the historic, tree-lined Plaza Grande and you’ll see majestic white limestone buildings and a cathedral built in the 1500s with stones from the ruins of a Mayan pyramid. From here, you can easily take day trips to the Mayan archaeological sites Chichen Itza (75 miles) and Uxmal (50 miles).
Tip if you go here: Shop the busy Sunday market at Plaza Grande. The place is filled with locals selling handicrafts, playing live music, and dancing in traditional clothes. Also rent bikes every Sunday morning, when the city closes sections of the road to traffic to create the Bici Ruta bike route.
2. Tlaquepaque / Guadalajara, Jalisco
The reason you should go here: You can enjoy a traditional pottery and tequila tour
One of Mexico’s main destinations is for arts and crafts is Tlaquepaque. This place is known for its long history of pottery making. Visitors come to browse clay pottery and other fine art in the trendy shopping district of the quaint colonial village that is now part of Guadalajara.
At the Regional Ceramics Museum, you can learn about ancient techniques that locals still use to work clay. For a classic tequila experience, take the luxury train to the town of Tequila, about 90 minutes, for a view of the agave and how the drink is processed.
Tip if you go here: The best shopping spots are along the pedestrian-only Independencia and nearby Avenida Juarez. Find craft stalls, fresh flowers, and food vendors at the Mercado, open daily. Hear mariachis performing traditional music as you enjoy a cocktail or meal at El Parian.
3. Copper Canyon, Chihuahua
Location: Chihuahua City (255 miles)
The reason you should go here: These cliffs outperform the Grand Canyon
The next Best Hidden Places in Mexico is Copper Canyon. For adventurers, Copper Canyon is Mexico’s version of the Grand Canyon, but bigger. This green wall is longer and deeper than the great wall in neighboring Arizona and has plenty of stunning waterfalls, hot springs, lakes, caves, and rock formations to explore.
If you organize a trek to the bottom of the cliff with a Tarahumara guide, you’ll see the remote village of the indigenous Tarahumara, known for their long-distance running skills and agility. You need to travel six hours on the popular El Chepe train from Chihuahua City to reach this cliff.
Tips if you go here: Hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding with a local guide. Copper Canyon Adventure Park, which opened in 2010, features a scenic gondola over the gorge and seven zip lines connected by two sky-high suspension bridges.
4. Puebla, Puebla (The next Best Hidden Places in Mexico is)
Location: Puebla or Mexico City (82 miles)
The reason you should go here: This place has the best mole poblano in Mexico
In the country’s central highlands, beyond two impressive volcanoes southeast of Mexico City, there’s a hidden place to offer it all. Starting from the beautiful scenery, gold-studded baroque churches, winding streets, fountains, and exquisite Talavera pottery.
Then there is the historic claim of Puebla which is said to be famous, namely the victory (against an impossible victory) over France on May 5, 1862, where this moment was made a Cinco de Mayo holiday. But Puebla’s greatest source of pride is its food. The city is the birthplace of mole poblano (chili, beans, and chocolate sauce poured over chicken), chili en nogada, and chalupas.
Tip if you go here: Don’t miss the display of beautiful books at the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, America’s oldest library. A 30-minute drive from Puebla is the archaeological site of Cholula and one of the largest pyramids in the world.
5. Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Reasons you should go here: Festivals, art, and mezcal
The next Best Hidden Places in Mexico is Oaxaca. In Oaxaca, the party never ends. Whenever you visit, you’re sure to be greeted by a celebration of one kind or another in this lively capital city. Bands, dances, traditional processions, and fireworks are usually part of the celebration. You can also see the culture of the colonial city at the two weekly markets or the many museums and art galleries around the square. Wander outside the city to see villagers making famous Oaxaca handicrafts: black clay pottery and alebrijes (colorful animal carvings).
Tip if you go here: Sample drinks along the region’s new mezcal route and learn that homemade drinks, such as tequila, are produced from the agave species but are given a more smoky flavor. Visit the two nearby archaeological sites, the hilltops of Monte Alban (6 miles) and Mitla (28 miles), with palace ruins and several tombs.
6. Akumal, Quintana Roo (Best Hidden Places in Mexico)
Location: Cancun (66 miles) or Playa del Carmen (23 miles)
The reason you should go here: you can snorkel with turtles near the beach
An easy drive on the modern four-lane highway south of Cancun will bring you to this quiet little town on Half Moon Bay, Riviera Maya. At Akumal or the “Place of the turtles,” green turtles and long-headed sea turtles make the Caribbean a serene habitat for them all year round.
Each year, more than 30,000 turtles are released by volunteers and visitors to the Akumal ecological center. Snorkel from the white sandy beach lined with palm trees to see marine life and hear marine animals munching on seaweed. Apart from that, there are only a handful of small hotels, casual restaurants, and artisan shops in this destination.
Tips if you go here: Rent snorkeling or scuba gear on the beach at Akumal Dive Center or Akumal Dive Adventures. The spider monkey sanctuary called Jungle Place is located just west of Akumal.
7. Ensenada, Baja California
Location: San Diego (88 miles) or Tijuana (72 miles)
Why you should go here: It’s an affordable wine country
Near the U.S. border northwest of Baja, Ensenada sits on the edge of Mexico’s most popular wine-producing valley, the Valle de Guadalupe. There are country family cellars, award-winning wineries, vineyards with cute B&Bs, and upscale restaurants that give off an authentic charm similar to the region’s Tuscany or Napa, but without breaking the budget. And, as this coastal town is also a fishing village, fresh seafood fills the open-air fish market and tacos are sold at Ensenada’s legendary street carts.
Tip if you go here: Taste wine at more than 55 wineries in Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe. Try the fresh seafood tostadas at La Guerrerense, a favorite of Anthony Bourdain’s. Take a whale-watching excursion and see gray whales migrating in January, February, and March.
8. Campeche, Campeche (Best Hidden Places in Mexico)
Location: Merida (105 miles)
Why you should go here: The seaside forts, colonial architecture, and pirate legends here are awesome!
On the west side of the Yucatan Peninsula across from Cancun, the capital city of Campeche is colonial beauty in pastels. Stroll through the Old Town to see magnificent, well-preserved buildings in pink, blue, and yellow. This place was once protected from pirate attacks by the surrounding city walls and sea forts. Campeche’s many forts and watchtowers are now museums that tell the story of the city’s history as a major shipping port between New Spain and America.
Tips if you go here: Step inside the historic fortifications that are now attractions such as the Campeche archaeological museum, the Museum of Ships and Weapons, the Botanical Gardens, and a museum about piracy. Just outside the city are ancient Mayan temples and the underground irrigation canals of Edzna.
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9. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Location: Leon (95 miles away) or Mexico City (175 miles away)
The reason you should go here: Feels like Europe, but closer and cheaper
This beautiful World Heritage city is a three-hour drive northwest of Mexico City. The location is a closed area for expatriates. Also, most of the entrepreneurs and students are drawn by the famous San Miguel de Allende school of arts and languages. Opening studios, artist workshops, and boutiques filled with local art are everywhere. English is spoken throughout San Miguel, but that doesn’t spoil the charm of this historic city in the heart of Mexico.
Go up and down the hillsides around the central square and you’ll find 64 city blocks dotted with well-preserved baroque colonial architecture that will remind you of Italy or Spain.
Tip if you go here: Enter the stunning Parroquia San Miguel Arcangel Cathedral, one of the many churches near the main square. Just outside the city, see the pre-Hispanic pyramids or soak in the natural hot springs.
10. Sayulita, Nayarit
Location: Puerto Vallarta (30 miles)
Why you should go here: There’s a city-boho-chic vibe and vibe here
The next Best Hidden Places in Mexico is Sayulita. Sayulita is synonymous with peace, love, and surfing. This laid-back little beach town of Riviera Nayarit north of Puerto Vallarta is Mexico’s best surf spot. Experience the bohemian vibe at the beachfront restaurants, local bars, and even on the beach. This is a place where you will hear the sound of drums accompanying the gathering of visitors.
Diversity is the norm here. Local fishermen mix with ex-pats and international diners at the village’s fish taco coffee shop. The Bungalow House and B&B overlook the wooded hillside and out to the sea.
Tip if you go here: Sign up for a surf camp at one of the many surf courses. Then, you can rent a charter to secluded beaches and horseback tours on affordable beaches in Sayulita. You’ll also find colorful boutiques with local Huichol arts and crafts.