Just when one would think that Mexico has reached its limit of offering amazing beaches, delicious food, friendly people, and beloved all-inclusive resorts, it proves otherwise.
Besides the cloud-white beaches of Quintana Roo and the lively streets of CDMX, this trendy corner of the Americas starts revealing long-lost mining towns in the sierras, multicolored lagoons with colonial forts, and even entire regions brimming with waterfalls that few travelers have had the chance to see before.
Here is a guide to the hidden gems in Mexico that might be worth considering for your next trip.
What are the less touristy places in Mexico?
#1 Grutas de Tolantongo
The Grutas de Tolantongo is often referred to as a hidden paradise nestled in the sierras, and this sentiment is shared by many. Embarking on the journey to this enchanting destination presents the opportunity to be greeted by the mesmerizing sight of ribbon-like water flowing gracefully over the rocks.
Unbeknownst to a majority of tourists, this charming box canyon elegantly carves its way through the hills above Route 27, located approximately 86 miles north of Mexico City. However, among the locals, this gem holds a prominent place in their hearts. Surprisingly, it is easily accessible for a weekend trip from Mexico City.
The cascades flow forth from deep cave systems and are nourished by underground hot springs. A noteworthy addition is the presence of an on-site spa hotel resort, where visitors can indulge in the pleasure of bathing in pools formed naturally within the surroundings.
Not many people are aware that the infamous alcoholic beverage known as tequila derives its name from a town in Mexico. Tequila is often overlooked on most travelers' itineraries in Mexico, with many opting to stay in Guadalajara instead. However, if one knows about the tequila train tours, it comes highly recommended even for non-drinkers. The town is surrounded by vast fields of blue agave, the main ingredient in tequila, and boasts a captivating colonial center. Visitors have the opportunity to go horseback riding, learn about agave cultivation, and even enjoy a night's stay in a massive tequila barrel located in the heart of the fields.
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Bacalar and its surrounding lagoon have been hailed as a paradise for adventure travelers seeking a break from Quintana Roo's bustling resort towns. With Bacalar serving as the gateway, this charming Mexican pueblo mágico captures the imagination with its historic Fuerte de San Felipe, a formidable fortress erected to fend off swashbuckling pirates. The real gem, however, lies in the mesmerizing Lagoon of Seven Colors, renowned for its stunning mosaic of emerald and turquoise hues.
Venturing out by boat or kayak reveals a world of wonders, from deep cenotes to tranquil swimming spots and hidden bars tucked away amidst the lush mangroves.
#4 Isla de las Munecas
Located in the southern reaches of Mexico City, a small island rests on the waters of Xochimilco. Surrounded by an urban nature park, it offers a serene escape from the bustling cityscape, trading skyscrapers and taco stands for grassy banks and woodlands.
The true allure lies in the eerie collection of toy dolls scattered throughout the island. These dolls, placed by the island's former owner, Don Julian Santana Barrera, were believed to ward off the spirit of a young girl who tragically drowned in that very spot. The atmosphere is undeniably haunting. Venturing this enigmatic island is no easy task, as it requires permission from the current owner's son. Journeying here requires determination and preparation.
#5 Hierve del Agua
Waterfalls made of rock? Indeed, these exceptional geological formations are the product of millennia of calcite deposits on the sierras of Oaxaca state, which is renowned for its natural beauty. They grace the breathtaking locale atop the undulating highlands of San Lorenzo Albarradas. In total, there exist two primary cascades - a larger one and a smaller one.
Both waterfalls exude a captivating aura as they cascade gracefully over the summits, resembling the appearance of flowing calcium carbonate that undeniably resembles classic H2O. Interestingly, the locals have enhanced the experience by introducing two artificial pools, allowing visitors to swim atop these "fall" while enjoying a panoramic vista.
There is no denying the fact that cenotes are regarded as one of the most stunning locations in Mexico. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to approximately 6000 cenotes, offering years of exploration and discovery. Some of these cenotes are open-air, while others are nestled inside caves, and a few can only be experienced through diving. For those seeking adventure, venturing beyond popular spots like Dos Ojos or Azul will lead to the discovery of hidden cenotes off the beaten path.
Taxco is often referred to as the hidden gem of the state of Guerrero. While many visitors flock to Acapulco for its sparkling sands, Taxco offers a different kind of escape amidst the hazy sierras. Here, silver mines and metal crafters are the backbone of the local economy.
Nestled within a small valley, the town of Taxco follows the contours of steep hillsides. Its surroundings boast some of the oldest and most productive precious metal mines in the country.
Visitors to Taxco are encouraged to explore the town center, where they can discover attractions such as the Museo Guillermo Spartling, dedicated to the art of silver working. Another must-visit landmark is the Parroquia de Santa Prisca y San Sebastián, widely regarded as a pinnacle achievement in architecture.
Mexico is a country filled with wonders, from sparkling seas to rugged mountains and historic towns. From the hidden paradise of Grutas de Tolantongo to the mysterious Isla de las Muñecas, Mexico has something for every traveler. Whether you're looking for an adventure or simply want to relax on a beach, there are plenty of breathtaking destinations throughout these wonderful destinations.