Traveling around Mexico is always worth it, no matter if you are looking for natural wonders, interesting cities, ancient ruins or stunning beaches. It is so large that you will find either one no matter where you are planning to go. Yet, based on our previous experience exploring this beautiful country, we have found the Yucatán Peninsula to be the best area to find a bit of everything. It probably is Mexico`s most diverse state and one of our favorite travel destinations. Enclosed a list of our top-5 spots that you cannot miss:
Mérida is the capital and largest city of the Yucatán state. It is a town with a strong cosmopolitan character and is also considered as the cultural heart of the area. It has a diverse colonial and Mayan history and there are numerous places to explore both within and right outside of the city. It has become increasingly attractive for tourists but has still manages to keep its small-town charm and flair. There are numerous cafés, bars and restaurants which makes it a hot-spot to discover the region’s famous cuisine. We absolutely loved to stay in Mérida and see it as the best spot to explore all of Yucatán.
Tip: Rent a car and explore the surroundings of Mérida as well. There are various smaller, colonial-style towns (like Izamal) that provide you with the classic Yucatán experience. Also, you can find the famous Cenotes around here – natural sinkholes in the middle of the jungle that expose fresh and clear groundwaters, a perfect place to escape the heat and go for a swim!
Tulum is a coastal area along the Riviera Maya, a stretch of Caribbean coastline in the northeast of the Yucatán Peninsula. The area is well-known for its stunning beach and preserved ancient Mayan temple ruins. What makes this place so special is its incredibly serene beach front which is lined up with smaller boutique hotels and amazing restaurants. Also, the archeological site of an ancient Mayan temple lies perched on a small hill overlooking the clear, blue ocean – definitely a stunning site to see and really unique in the entire country! Although Tulum has been getting incredibly hip in recent years we still see it as a must-see spot when exploring the peninsula.
If you think that you have seen beautiful beach settings wait till you arrive in Holbox! The island is located on the most northern tip of the peninsula and is one of the most secluded beach destinations in all of Mexico. You can only reach the island by ferry and there are no cars allowed on it (except for the locals). The best way to explore it is by renting a bike and cycling around the small paved roads and relax along the numerous secluded beach spots. The atmosphere here is incredibly chilled and there are probably more hammocks than people on the island. There are various different natural attractions to visit (swimming in cenotes or whale-watching!) and the small but nice choice of hotels & restaurants make it a lovely destination to visit.
Probably not the most famous part of the Peninsula but an amazing spot to visit if you are interested in exploring nature. Celestún lies around 90 kilometers west from Mérida and is both a small fishing village and Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestún). What makes it so special is that it attracts large flocks of flamingos and pelicans which migrate here every year. You can take a boat tour which brings you up close to these majestic animals. There is also an abundance of marine life and the small fishing village is a great place to visit and eat some fresh seafood. We explored both areas here and can definitely count it to be one of our top-spots to visit!
Bacalar is a town located in the southeastern part of the Yucatán Peninsula. Its famous because it sits near Lake Bacalar or Bacalar Lagoon, also known as the lagoon of seven colors because of its different hues of blue and turquoise. The lagoon here is fed by numerous underground rivers and provides its visitors with incredibly clear water and beautiful views. Apparently, pirates were hiding in this lagoon in the 17th and 18th centuries and you can find various remnants of its past throughout the area. The town as such is rather small and unspectacular but the lagoon is on the list of to-dos.