Long a favorite destination for North Americans, Mexico is also becoming increasingly popular with tourists from Europe seeking to enjoy the country's seemingly endless sunshine, stunning scenery, and beautiful sandy beaches - not to mention its astonishingly rich cultural heritage. The country is also rich in flora and fauna, as it is spread across climate zones that encompass everything from arid deserts to lush tropical rainforests.
Sprawling, thrilling and thriving with culture, Mexico City is not just one of the largest cities in the world, but one of the most exciting to visit. Travelling here is like taking a trip through time: you can climb pre-Hispanic pyramids, snap photos of colonial buildings and dine at an avant-garde restaurant–all in one day.
Second only to Mexico City in size, Guadalajara, capital of the state of Jalisco, has successfully conserved its unique mix of colonial and native Tapatíos influences. Famous for its broad avenues flanked by picturesque parks and fine old buildings notable for their European flair, Guadalajara is a hotbed of traditional Mexican culture, from the mariachi music that seems to emanate everywhere, to its fascinating Charreadas, a type of rodeo that is usually accompanied by festivities such as dancing, singing, and plenty of great food.
The magnificent Mayan city of Chichén Itzá is one of Mexico's most visited archaeological sites, as well as one of the biggest and best restored. Highlights of a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site are numerous, from the massive El Castillo - also known as the Pyramid of Kukulkán, and at 30 meters high, the site's tallest structure - to the Caracol, an almost 1,000-year-old observatory that stands testament to just how advanced the Mayans were. Also of interest are the site's numerous statues, including many examples of the famous Mayan Chacmools holding their sacrificial vessels as they continue to protect these old temples.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its many old colonial buildings, winding lanes, and narrow alleys, Guanajuato is a city that just begs to be explored on foot. Known as an art city, Guanajuato is home to many fine galleries as well as interesting museums, none more so than the Museum of Quixote, dedicated to the works of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.
Chihuahua, one of Mexico's most northerly states shares the border with New Mexico in the US and is home to one of the country's most visited natural attractions, the stunning Copper Canyon. In a region known as the Sierra Madre Occidental and consisting of a spectacular group of deep canyons, Copper Canyon is in fact larger and deeper than its better known cousin, the Grand Canyon. Taking its name from the distinctive copper green coloring along its steep canyon walls, these amazing natural structures were formed by six rivers that converge in the Rio Fuerte before draining into the Gulf of California. Thanks to the area's increased popularity as a travel destination, there are numerous options available to those wanting to explore this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Cancún and the Mayan Riviera:
Lying along a beautiful stretch of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico are the resort destinations of Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and the island of Cozumel, collectively known as the Mayan Riviera. This magnificent area on the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula attracts millions of visitors each year and boasts numerous fun activities such as dolphin and stingray swims, snorkeling among reefs and tropical fish, as well as scuba diving in the world's largest underwater museum, a spectacular collection of sculptures submerged at depths of up to eight meters.
The Ancient Fortress of Tulum:
Famous as the only fortified Mayan settlement located on the coast, the ancient city of Tulum is one of the Yucatán Peninsula's most visited attractions. In the Mayan Riviera and within easy reach of the beaches of Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, the site's well-preserved ruins can be seen for miles around due to their location atop 12-meter high cliffs overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Tulum is also famous for its tall walls, giving the site the feel of a fortress and suggesting a military as well as religious significance.
Mexico City's Historic Center:
A 15-square-kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting more than 1,400 important colonial buildings from the 16th to the 19th centuries, it is here in the Historic Center that you will find most of Mexico City's major attractions, many within walking distance of Constitution Square, the city's bustling main plaza, including the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Templo Mayor with its Aztec relics. Adding to the whole experience are the huge volcanic mountains overlooking the city, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, each over 5,000 meters tall and offering a perfect excuse to get out and explore the stunning scenery in this part of the Mexican Highlands.
Mexican cuisine is just as complex as any other world cuisine, such as those of China, France, Italy and Japan. It is created mostly with ingredients native to Mexico, as well as those brought over by the Spanish conquistadors, with some new influences since then. In addition to staples, such as corn and chile peppers, native ingredients include tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla. Some of the famous Mexican dishes include tacos and enchilada.