While Mexico frequently gets a bad press, for better or for worse, there are plenty of natural wonders, gorgeous locations and beautiful backdrops in this country that every Mexican can most definitely be proud of. From the white sands of the Caribbean coasts, to the arid deserts in the north, here are just 12 epic locations in Mexico that are jaw-droppingly spectacular.
Cañón del Sumidero, Chiapas
The setting that Instagram dreams were made of, the Cañón del Sumidero in Chiapas is a lush yet mountainous canyon that sits at the heart of Chiapa de Corzo’s national park, known as the Sumidero National Park. It was thought to have started forming at the same time as the far more famous Grand Canyon in Arizona, but we think this one is far more beautiful and verdant than its US counterpart.
Cerro de la Silla, Monterrey
Situated in one of Mexico’s more underrated states, Nuevo León, the Cerro de la Silla looms over the city of Monterrey and is considered by some to be the most spectacular of the region’s attractions. Its name in Spanish makes reference to the rather emblematic saddle shape that the mountain casts in profile, and it is possible to hike this four-peaked, almost 6000ft high giant, although it’s generally considered a long and arduous climb.
Holbox, Quintana Roo
Hailed (or cursed?) as the ‘new Tulum’, Holbox is a tiny, tranquil island just off the coast of northernmost Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula and has rapidly become the new ‘it’ destination on the Mexican tourism scene. Virgin beaches, the potential to see whale sharks and breathtakingly beautiful views of the powdery white beaches and turquoise waters all add to its slow-paced life appeal, where the roads are all made of sand and there’s not a car in sight.
We couldn’t possibly choose just one cenote, a.k.a. Mayan sinkhole, given that each and every one of the literal hundreds that make the Yucatán peninsula look like some form of geographical Gouda hold their own unique appeal. Whether you want a cenote in which to practice scuba diving, or just one that’s perfect for snorkelling and taking the kids along for the ride, you’ll find one in Yucatán. We can all agree these mysterious natural wonders are enough to make anyone proud!
Peña de Bernal, Querétaro
Bernal, Querétaro is one of Mexico’s many magical towns, a.k.a. pueblos mágicos, and is arguably the one that holds the most unique appeal. Sure, each pueblo has something special going for it, but how many of them have the third largest monolith in the world? Pipped to the ‘largest in the world’ title only by Brazil’s Sugarloaf Mountain and the Rock of Gibraltar, Peña de Bernal is surely one Mexican sight you’ll never forget.
Nevado de Toluca, Estado de México
Mexico is dotted with many, many volcanoes and literally crisscrossed with spectacular mountain ranges but the Nevado de Toluca stands out from the rest. While it’s not the country’s tallest peak (that accolade goes to the Pico de Orizaba), it does have two very special ‘added extras’ – the sun and moon lagoons that sit just below the summit of the volcano. In fact, it’s said that these glistening pools were once the locations of ritual sacrifices.
Las Coloradas, Yucatán
If you haven’t seen this pink salt lake on social media already then we’ll be very surprised. Strikingly hued, Las Coloradas lakes are situated in a small fishing town in the Yucatán and are a favourite with traveller’s who have an eye for all things aesthetically pleasing. Now sadly off limits to the public, you can no longer take a dip in this salty pool, but you can still walk along the shoreline and get some truly awesome photos in the process.
Gran Desierto de Altar, Sonora
While the deserts in the south of the US get thoroughly explored, Mexico’s northern deserts are practically ignored by visitors to the country, who’d rather head south for their dose of coastal sand rather than dry desert dust. However, Sonora’s Gran Desierto de Altar is one destination all Mexicans can and should be truly proud of. The only active erg dune region in North America, this desert is as stunning as it is vast.
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca
A popular traveller favourite, it’s also a hotspot among the Oaxacan locals and more further flung Mexican visitors who come to take dips in the (artificial) thermal pools at the top of the spectacular Hierve el Agua ‘frozen’ waterfall. One of only a few examples in the world, the Mexico’s Hierve el Agua is easily the most well-known and therefore makes for an unmissable experience when in Oaxaca – just make sure you arrive early if you want to have it all to yourself!
Barranca del Cobre, Chihuahua
Better known in English as the Copper Canyon, this is the undeniable gem of the Chihuahua tourism scene. A vast chain of six connected canyons, it stretches across a large part of the massive sprawl that is the state of Chihuahua. The most popular way to see the Copper Canyon (named for the green-copper colour of its walls) is by taking El Chepe train from Los Mochis and stopping off at various points in the canyons along the way.
Agua Azul, Chiapas
Waterfalls are everywhere in Mexico and while Agua Azul is a long way from being the tallest in the country, it’s easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing and you can even swim in its pools, as long as you don’t get too close to the edge. Named for its signature blue hue, that can sometimes turn brown after heavy rains, Agua Azul is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Chiapas and most likely a huge source of pride for Mexicans from this southern state.
Finally, how could we not mention Tequila, the pueblo mágico in the state of Jalisco? Although this is not exactly a natural attraction, it’s the birthplace of Mexico’s most famous, exported and enjoyed spirit – tequila. Only tequila produced in this town can legally be marketed as such, and a visit to the stunning agave fields and production centres in Tequila never disappoints. Plus, what does more for national pride than internationally acclaimed booze?