Mexico City is the ideal Mexican destination for 20-somethings thanks to its fast paced, marginally-bohemian-in-parts vibe, and varied nightlife scene. Alongside that, factor in the flourishing art culture that is taking over the city, from the street art to the hipster, contemporary art galleries in the Roma and Condesa areas of the city, plus the wide variety of options in terms of food, accommodation and activities that suit all budgets and tastes, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. Plus, you’re probably still young enough to not be fazed by the chaotic metro.
If Mexico City sounds a little too manic for your tastes though, then Mexico’s second city, Guadalajara, might be the ideal spot. It’s got a more provincial vibe and is far less chaotic than its capital counterpart, but the nightlife scene easily rivals anything else Mexico City has to offer and there is a wealth of culture to be explored, much of it on foot. If you love eating, Guadalajara is just the spot too, as there are numerous budget-friendly cheap eats and delicious local dishes to dig into. It’s also a short bus ride from Puerto Vallarta.
Tijuana, Baja California
Tijuana has a reputation as being the spot for still-underage-in-the-US students to go and let loose over spring break, and although the party reputation is well-deserved, there’s also far more to discover in Tijuana once you scratch the surface. As a border city, there is plenty of politically-driven artwork worth seeking out; the massively popular food truck trend looks set to stay in style for a lot longer; and as an added bonus, you’re a stone’s throw away from Ensenada where you can try your hand at whale watching.
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí
What could be better for travellers in their 20s than a hidden surrealist sculpture park, deep in the San Luis Potosí jungle? If you’re into exploring relatively undiscovered destinations and snapping otherworldly photos, Xilitla is the ideal small town spot for 20-somethings who are marginally more adventurous and don’t mind hiking round the admittedly unusual but captivating sculptures and sights. The town of Xilitla itself is also very pretty.
The Oaxaca coastline is hardly undiscovered by sun-seeking travellers looking to get away from it all, but while Puerto Escondido is no longer anywhere near ‘hidden’, Mazunte remains a (tiny) bit off the beaten path and has a more chilled out, hippy vibe. A quaint, petite beach town, full of eco-friendly accommodation options and yoga retreats, you should really get here in your 20s because if you leave it any longer, your tolerance level for the free-spirited backpacker types that flock there might have diminished.
Tulum, Quintana Roo
From the Oaxaca coastline to the Caribbean beaches that line the eastern side of the Yucatán Peninsula, Tulum is the place to be right now and has been for some time. Perfect for 20-something travellers, in no small part due to its lounge-on-the-beach-all-day, party-all-night vibe, it also holds cultural appeal for adventure-seeking visitors who want more than what nearby Cancún and Playa del Carmen can perhaps offer. You can dive into the cenotes and explore the archaeological sites by day, and enjoy a drink in some of the top bars by night.
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas
Contrary to popular belief, San Cristóbal de las Casas isn’t the capital of Chiapas state, although it is arguably the capital of Chiapas’ tourist and culture scene. A popular stop-off point on the backpacker trail, given its relative proximity to Oaxaca, Mexico City and the doorway to Central America, Guatemala, San Cristóbal is also blessed with quaint colonial charms, colourful markets and a ton of indigenous history. It truly is a coming together of worlds, and ideal for the curious 20-something.
While Sinaloa has a somewhat negative representation in both national and international press, Mazatlán remains a popular coastal destination in this troubled state and is perfect for travellers in their 20s who love to eat well – fish tacos and seafood are specialities here. Alternatively, you can take it easy, walking the malecón oceanfront promenade and lounging on the beaches, or dive headfirst into the nightlife scene for which the city is known. Arguably the best time to visit Mazatlán is when carnival season is in full flow, usually around late February.
Guanajuato, Guanajuato state
An admittedly conservative city in one of the most conservative Mexican states, Guanajuato still makes for an enticing destination for travellers in their 20s and is the ideal place to enjoy on foot; stroll up to the Pípila monument and snap some iconic shots of the multicoloured town below. In this colonial favourite, you’ll see a different side to the typical party hard reputation of Mexico, with a laidback bar scene and winding, cobbled streets that will leave you charmed. Plus, it’s got a more youthful vibe than nearby San Miguel de Allende.
La Huasteca, various locations
La Huasteca isn’t a specific place, but rather a geographical region that expands across several Mexican states – Hidalgo, Querétaro, Guanajuato, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Puebla, San Luis Potosí and Veracruz to be precise – and was and is the home to the Huastec people. Nowadays, it’s better known for its breathtaking natural beauty and wealth of outdoorsy adventure activity options, like white water rafting, waterfall jumping and rock climbing to name but a few, making it perfect for 20-somethings.