¡Que viva México! Our Destination of the Week

A Mariachi band plays Mexican music at a wedding in Cancun Mexico.
Mariachi band plays Mexican music at a wedding in Cancun Mexico. Photo: Shutterstock

This week we’ll be looking at Mexico, one of the world’s top travel destinations. From ancient cities buried deep in the rainforest to palm-fringed beaches and extraordinary landscapes, this exciting and varied country is one of our top recommendations for 2016.

There’s no way to see all of Mexico on one vacation. Not only is it far too big, it’s also too diverse. Consider just a few highlights: The world’s most remarkable train ride through the Copper Canyon from Chihuahua to the Pacific, bigger even than the Grand Canyon; tumultuous Mexico City and the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán; the Maya ruins of the south, and the coral reefs off the Riviera Maya.

From the arid deserts of Baja California to the mountains of Chiapas, and from the northern border to the mangrove lagoons of the Yucatán and the turquoise waters off Cancún, Mexico has 9,650km (6,000 miles) of coastline. Nearly half the country is more than 1,500 meters (5,000ft) above sea level, and mountain ranges are dotted with still-smoking volcanoes. Mexico’s rugged mountain landscapes are breathtaking; its waters – from the Sea of Cortés in the northwest to the Caribbean – are filled with spectacular marine life.

A good plan is to settle for one region, such as The Yucatán or the Pacific Coast, and explore it thoroughly. Or concentrate on a theme – colonial architecture, Mexico’s Mayan Trail, or it’s stunning wildlife. If you want to be more adventurous, possibilities include mountain trekking and white-water rafting, as well as some of the world’s best diving.

The fantastic thing about Mexico is that it’s a year-round destination. The entire Pacific coast, including the giant Baja Peninsula, is bathed in sunshine for at least three-quarters of the year, and even in the tropical south the summer rains conveniently fall mostly in the afternoons, often leaving the rest of the day clear and sunny. Many of the beautiful colonial cities of the Central Highlands such as San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, or Morelia may feel a little chilly at night in mid-winter, but in compensation the air is wonderfully crisp and fresh, and moderate temperatures even on the hottest days of the year provide an ideal setting for exploration. In the sultry Yucatán, winter months are generally the best time to scramble over Maya pyramids, but the powdery soft white beaches of Tulum or Cozumel beckon irresistibly at any time.

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