I’m loving living in Mexico and in my mind there are so many cool things to do in Mexico that are just waiting for me to explore! We all have some bucket list, even if it’s in our heads. I have a fun travel bucket list and after moving to India, I made a specific India travel bucket list that turned out to be very popular with readers. It’s fun to think of all the places you can visit and experiences you can have in your life – and see which ones resonate with you. Since moving to Mexico, I’ve been trying to prioritize traveling here but it’s yet to happen yet.
The last six months in Merida has been busy with tons of travel for work, becoming a resident here in Mexico, and so much more. But, I do have so much in my mind for Mexico and places I want to visit and so many things to do in Mexico – and luckily in the last year, there are a few places I’ve been able to knock off my Mexico bucket list! Maybe you can follow along with my dream little Mexico bucket list. I’m surprised at how many I’ve actually already done.
40 THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO: My Mexico Bucket List
1. Visit Mayan ruins of Chichén Itza, a “Man-Made Wonder of the World”
The Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza are incredible to take in. Learning about them on a tour, trying to picture the Mayan ballgame, and exploring the grounds freely is too cool. It’s only an hour and a half from my house so I’ve been twice already!
2. Take Salsa classes
Can’t come to Mexico and not try to dance! Ben is hesitant to take classes with me, but I’d love to play around and learn to salsa. There are free classes often, and the cantinas will play music that gets you up to dance!
3. SUP in beautiful Tulum
Renting a standup paddleboard in Tulum is heavenly. It’s such a beautiful beach and to see it all together from the sea is magical. What a view! The water is so calm here and clear. Loved every minute!
4. Explore the colorful streets of Merida
Merida is my home, so I’m biased but I do love the stunning streets here in Merida. The pastels with the cute little VW bugs dotted along the streets. It’s straight out of a magazine. Inside those doors are cantinas, shops, and the best food ever!
5. Swim in a cenote
It’s definitely one of the top things to do since Mexico has more than anywhere in the world. Cenotes are holes in the ground – well kind of like underwater caves. From above sometimes you can barely tell anything will be there but once you take a ladder down, you’ll see the most amazing crystal clear water you can swim in. It’s so beautiful. In the Yucatan, which is known for them, they are so prevalent that the town of Merida basically sits on one – created by the meteor that killed the dinosaurs – and some people have them in their houses and backyards.
6. Take the ferry to the paradise Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres
Playa Norte is commonly called the prettiest beach in Mexico and makes “top beaches in the world” lists all the time. I visited, and it is stunning, although busy. All of Isla Mujeres is pretty. Rent a golf cart for around $40 and tour around the tiny island on your own – the landscape changes drastically as you go along. I didn’t write a post about this one – but might!
7. See the pink lakes of Las Colorados
In the Yucatan there are several places that you can see pink lakes; I pass some every time I drive to the beach from my house. But there is one famous place to see them – what I think is the largest one – and that’s Las Coloradas. They are salt lakes which make them pink and you cannot swim in them.
8. Take a food tour in Mexico City
Each state in Mexico has it’s own type of food. Here in the Yucatan, it’s very much panuchos and salbutes, kibis, and items with Mayan and Lebanese influence. Mexico City is the cultural capital of Mexico and I’d love to do a food tour there to try the classic.
9. Surf’s up in Sayulita
I loved Sayulita and will no doubt be back! While I spent more time drinking that surfing, it would be great to go back here and catch a wave or two. This town is cool and a great place for a getaway if you’re coming to Mexico for a week. Ben and I went here all the way back in 2012 pre-blogging days.
10. Explore the cobbled streets of San Cristobal
Chiapas is a lesser visited state, but the capital of San Cristobal is still pretty popular. It’s known for it’s beauty. It’s an old town in the highlands of Mexico and seems like a really special place, colorful and situated in the mountains with amazing views.
11. Learn conversational Spanish
I’m working on it! My five years of Spanish in school haven’t come back to me completely and I’m pretty much only able to do present tense, but I want to be able to have better conversations with locals. It makes it easier to connect with the locals and tends to lead to more authentic experiences.
12. Visit the yellow town of Izamal
In the Yucatan, this town is all yellow! How cool is that!? There is a giant square with a church and many little shops and restaurants. They have cobbled streets and horse-drawn carriages. Even the horses have cute little Yucatecan hats on. I have to go back as when we visited, it was a torrential downpour!
13. Visit Frida Kahlo’s home in Mexico City
The blue house is the home of Frida Kahlo in Mexico City and has many of her pieces of art, photos, and even her dresses. Her oils and paints are still sitting out – kept how she left them. It was worth seeing. You can buy passes online to skip the long line. I’d also visit the Museo Nacional de Antopologia to see Aztec and Mayan artifacts and learn about their cultures, and The Blue House where Frida Kahlo was born.
14. Visit Paricutin Volcano, a “Natural Wonder of the World”
This is the youngest volcano in the world, and this giant cinder cone looks EPIC. There is no other word for it! It’s in the state of Michoacán.
15. Visit the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal
There are a few Ruins in Mexico that are worth seeing like Chichen Itza mentioned above and more that I’m listing below – but Uxmal is pretty cool. The main pyramid is smaller than Chichen Itza but it’s spread out across a huge area with so many ruins all over it so it can take a long time to see. You can walk up a lot of them and see some really cool views.
16. Go on a boat ride to see the flamingos at Celestun
The flamingos are best seen in Celestun in November to February but you can see them year-round. If you want a huge amount of them, then plan to come in the winter. You can see thousands! You’ll go out by boat and can take a mangrove tour as well. There are crocodiles so no swimming!
17. Experience the festivities of La Dia Del Los Muertos
This is the Day of the Dead. On this day, which is NOT Halloween, the veil between life and death is at it’s thinnest and people celebrate their past loved ones. I have seen this here in Merida although I’d like to see it even bigger in Oaxaca which is known for having the best celebration or in Mexico City. Here in Merida, they put a Mayan spin on it.
18. Tour an agave farm and see how tequila is made in Guadalajara
Did you know that there is a town in Mexico called Tequila in Jalisco? Tequila comes from the Agave plant and there are tons of agave farms you can visit and learn about how tequila is made. I’ve heard that Guadalajara has some awesome ones!
19. Visit the Tulum Mayan Ruins
The ruins in Tulum are unique because they overlook the Caribbean Sea. The views from these ruins are amazing and it’s so cool to think of Mayans living here and having these views so far back in time.
20. Playa Del Amor “the hidden beach”
You’ve probably seen this on Instagram or Pinterest! It’s a hole in a rock formation on the beach where you can see a beach down inside. You have to swim to get into it. This is in Cabo San Lucas and translates to “lovers beach”.
21. Stroll down Malecon Boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta
I did visit PV years ago (2012) and stroll this very boardwalk but I’d love to go back. It’s a very touristy town and one of the top-visited towns in Mexico for American and Canadian tourists. It’s not a typical big city like Cancun even though it does have some resorts but still has that small town vibe.
22. Visit the Palenque Mayan ruins
More ruins!? Yes! These are located in Chiapas and are supposedly worth the visit, with some saying they are the best ruins in all of Mexico. Sadly, I’ve yet to visit them.
23. Swim with whale sharks in Isla Holbox
I’m not much of a diver, but I do like to snorkel and here in Isla Holbox you can swim with whale sharks! It’s safe to do and they are GIANT creatures which makes for an epic adventure. Holbox itself is a very cute little island that you can’t even have cars on, so plan on renting a bike to explore this paradise.
24. Take a Balloon ride over the Pyramids of Teotihuacan
The pyramids at Teotihuacan are definitely one of the biggest attractions in all of Mexico. It’s an ancient Mesoamerican archeological complex which holds so much information about the past. It’s called the “place where men become gods”. Supposedly you can take a hot air balloon ride over them and I’m so down for that!
25. Take a weekend break to Bacalar
People tell me that Bacalar is what Tulum was 20 years ago and that it’s headed the way of Tulum now. So before it’s crowded and super well-known, I’d love to get to Bacalar and enjoy its beauty for a weekend getaway. In photos it looks just like San Blas which is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
26. Go snorkeling in Cabo Pulmo
This tiny village has a huge eco-friendly protected reef where you can go snorkeling or scuba diving in the Sea of Cortez. They say this is the aquarium of the sea because it’s literally the place where you can see more underwater life than anywhere in the world!
27. Sip on Mezcal and try a Michelada
Done, and done. Mezcal comes from a certain type of Agave in Mexico, similar to tequila but unique in flavor – tequila comes from specifically a blue agave while mezcal is smokier and comes from the heart of the plant. A Michelada is a really unique drink that Mexicans love which is a mix of beer, lemon juice, Worchester sauce, and chili. This is definitely an interesting taste. Add tomato juice and you’ve got an Ojo Rojo!
28. Visit the UNESCO Heritage city of Oaxaca
Oaxaca is a city in the state of Oaxaca – the same state that has the epic surf town of Puerto Escondido and is known for being a foodie and cultural haven. Here you can learn about the Zapotec, stay in stunning boutique hotels, eat unique food of the region, and explore the most colorful streets.
29. Watch a Lucha Libre fight
Mexican Wrestling is a huge deal and Lucha Libre is like their version of WWE. You’ll see masks for sale in most tourism markets. I’m not sure I’ll love this but it’s such a big part of Mexican culture, I have to see it at least once.
30. Surf in San Pancho or Puerto Escondido
Puerto Escondido is the surf capital of Mexico and while the waves can get HUGE, they can also be manageable and there are usually other beaches you can visit for smaller swells. This is a laid-back chilled out vibe and one that hippie people flock to for that “chilled out” Mexico surf scene.
31. Swim in the Hierve el Agua waterfalls in Oaxaca
The photos of this blew me away and I can’t wait to visit. Apparently you can swim underneath the waterfall and the salt on it makes it look like it’s frozen. They are nicknamed “the water that boils”. The mineral water pools that are all around it are stunning.
32. Take a trip to the jungle of Chiapas
On the border of Guatemala, this is one of the least visited states in Mexico. There are tons of adventurous things to do here, you can do bird-watching, and relax in the famously beautiful city of San Cristobal.
33. Take cooking classes in multiple different states
Food changes as you travel pretty much in every country, especially one as big as Mexico. I love to take cooking classes when I travel so that I can learn what goes into each dish – sometimes it will surprise me and be similar to another totally different place I’ve traveled to and taken cooking classes. This is also just a really fun way to pass the time.
34. Swim through “Rio Secreto” in Riviera Maya
This turquoise river is a cave system with stalactites & stalagmites overhead. You will have to take a tour here to make sure you go on a safe path and it’s one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico. You’ll only be in waist-deep water for the most part.
35. Take a train ride on the Copper Canyon Railway
Ride ‘El Chepe’ from Chihuahua to the Los Mochis through the mountains. This is the top attraction in all of Northern Mexico, offers amazing views in the mountains, and is one of the most epic notorious train rides in the world. The Copper Canyon that you’ll see is even bigger than the Grand Canyon and is the main attraction on this ride.
36. Visit Iztaccihuatl “The Sleeping Lady”
This volcano is the third highest peak in all of Mexico and makes for a great hike if you’re adventurous enough! It’s called the sleeping lady because it looks like a lady lying down sleeping on her back. You can do this on tours from Mexico City but a day-tour won’t wake you all the way to the peak.
37. See the arch of Cabo San Lucas “Land’s End”
This arch is a simple thing, just an arch in a piece of rock in the sea, but it’s stunning and looks like it would be amazing at sunset. It reminds me of the famous arch in Malta that was a huge tourist attraction but recently fell into the sea.
38. Take a weekend trip to San Miguel de Allende
A friend of mine lives in the state this city is in, Guanajuato. This is said to be the most beautiful city in all of Mexico and is a UNESCO site. CN Journeyer recently called it one of the top 25 cities in the world. From art to music, it has a lot to explore year-round.
39. See the epic cenote in Vallodalid
There is this one epic cenote in Vallodalid that the sun hits from above like a light beam coming straight down into a walkway that jetties out into the cenote. It would make the best photograph.
I can’t have a list without shopping, you know I love it! I wrote a souvenir guide for India that told people what to buy in each state and eventually I’d love to do something similar here in Mexico as there are so many amazing handicrafts here.
Stoked to visit Mexico yet? I know I’m even more excited now than I was before I wrote this to get out and try more new places here in Mexico and get up to some cool unforgettable adventures.
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