If You Want To Know The Real Mexico Skip The Crowds And Visit These Off The Radar Hot Spots

We’re betting you’ve heard of world-class Mexican tourist destinations like Mexico City and Playa del Carmen. If you’re looking to go a little more off the beaten path to explore the magical country of Mexico, we’ve provided 9 destinations below where you can do just that. From colonial cities to quiet beach towns, you’ll get a sense for all the wonders Mexico has to offer—without the crowds. 


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Best known for its Festival Cervantino, an arts festival that draws attendance from around the world, Guanajuato is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its old town dates back to the 16th century, and you can visit many of Mexico’s important religious and artistic sites. Guanajuato was also home to the Mexican independence movement and the site of the first failed rebellion against colonial rule.


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The Yucatan capital has both colonial and Mayan treasures to discover. Nearby ruins at Uxmal give some insight into the lives of the predecessors of the conquistadores, who arrived in 1542. Mayan culture is also still evident in Merida’s daily life and in the many colorful festivals celebrated here.

La Paz

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As Baja California Sur’s capital, La Paz is mostly used as a jumping-off point for Cabo San Lucas’ beach resorts. However, its old-world charm and pleasant waterfront promenade featuring international art and restaurants overlooking the grey whale–inhabited water are reasons worth sticking around.


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A charming fishing village, Sayulita is a hidden gem with picturesque beaches, charming restaurants and great food. Unlike some other Mexican towns, tourists mingle with locals in a relaxed atmosphere, without the hustle and bustle of major touristy resorts. For those seeking more nightlife, Puerto Vallarta is a mere 30 minutes away.

Puerto Escondido

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Located on the coast of Oaxaca, just an hours flight from MExico City, Puerto Escondido is the ultimate hidden treasure. You get all that beautiful Oaxaca has to offer (mole, mezcal, culture) but situated on one of the country’s most beautiful stretches of coastline.

Puerto Escondido has morphed into a very popular surfing destination but it’s probably most famous for the sea turtles who come here to nest each and every year.


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In Ensenada, only 80 miles south of San Diego, travelers can get a taste of Mexican food, culture and nightlife. Californians flock to this beautiful seaport town, one of the largest on the Baja peninsula, for rest, relaxation and excellent outdoor recreation activities. From surfing and sea kayaking to horseback riding and mountain biking, even the most discerning sportsperson will be impressed.

Ensenada’s nightlife is also a big draw. Papas and Beer and Hussong’s Cantina serve up an on-going party atmosphere and lots of tequila, while nearby vineyards offer wine tasting in a more traditional and serene setting. Nature enthusiasts are wowed by the sight of gray whales and the underwater cave that randomly squirts water at onlookers. Whatever your interests, enchanting Ensenada will not disappoint.


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Located near the Mexico-Belize border, a true paradise awaits travelers in Bacalar. The town sits on the Lagoon of Seven Colors, a lake nicknamed for its beautifully colored water, which makes it the perfect place for stunning sunsets, fresh seafood, and cenote swimming.

Isla Holbox

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Situated on a tiny island a couple of hours from Cancun, Isla Holbox is just now starting to have its moment in the spotlight. More and more Instagrammers are headed their for the famed waters and the picturesque landscapes. However, the island is still hard enough to get to that it seems to be keeping the crowds that inundate Cancun at bay – for now.


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The inland city of Guadalajara is bursting with history and culture. Many attractions are in the city’s historic center and in the neighboring city of Zapopan. Museums, parks and churches flourish alongside bullfights, rodeos and soccer (futbol). Nearby are the towns of Tequila, where the liquor of the same name is produced, and Tlaquepaque and Tonala, where artisans create an abundance of Mexican handicrafts. Mariachi, which originated in the area, is a common sight and sound in Guadalajara.

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