If Mexico conjures images of Cozumel, Cancun and scantly clad spring breakers on sandy, white sand beaches you may not know about some of the country’s hidden gems. These lesser-known cities are brimming with cobblestone streets, cultural attractions, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So the next time you head to the southern part of North America consider a stop in one of Mexico’s coolest towns.
San Miguel de Allende
Maybe it’s the sound of church bells ringing or the details in the works of local artisans at the heart of the market that make San Miguel de Allende resonate to the depths of your soul. Or maybe it’s a bit of cosmopolitan flair emanating from the stylish Hotel Matilda and fine dining restaurants, that contrasts such simple delights. A delicate balance of distinctions lie in the air, and maybe that’s why this charming town has graced the ranks of Travel & Leisures World’s Best.
While hipster surfers and cruise passengers overrun Sayulita, Yelapa is the lesser-known jewel of the Mexican Pacific. Only accessible by boat, Yeleapa may be one of the genuinely unspoiled beach towns left. Savor in freshly caught seafood while basking in the sun. It’s as if you’ve stumbled upon a well-kept secret. A secret where sapphire waters meet the emerald Sierra Madre Occidental, and writers and artists gather for inspiration while locals let the days slip by.
If you’re looking for a model of colonial baroque city planning, according to UNESCO this is it. The buildings tell of a storied past from the largest Mayan city ever discovered to the people that fought against pirates in the 17th century. Whether you’re visiting the walled fortress or the 86 species of mammals in Calakmul, an unrivaled tropical reserve, you’ll instantly fall in love with the beautiful capital city.
Located along the Gulf of Mexico in Veracruz, Tlacotalpan is a town that has managed to maintain it’s deep Spanish roots and its heritage. Visit the'”land between the waters” and notice how time stands still. An authentic array of 16th-century Spanish style architecture still exists right down to the wide streets and colorful colonnaded houses. Dive deep into a local cultural celebration at the end of January and beginning of February when the city comes alive for the feast of its patron saint with a colorful collage of costumes, 600 horses and traditional dress.
Merida‘s peaceful vibe may be one reason to visit the stunning city. But beyond its zen-like vibe lies a world of gastronomic delights and cultural phenomenons. With Mayan roots that date back to 2600 B.C., explore many of the well preserved archeological sites and at the Gran Museo de Mundo Maya Merida.