From the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca to rich Mayan culture and archaeological wonders, we guarantee you’ll fall for the gems of Southern Mexico.
The charming colonial city of Oaxaca is dotted with picturesque cathedrals, multicoloured houses and buzzing markets, and its artists and artisans produce some of Mexico’s finest traditional crafts. Locals retreat from the sun in the tree-shaded central plaza, El Zócalo, which comes alive at night with people of all ages eating, drinking and dancing well into the early hours.
The city is surrounded by a number of archaeological curiosities, including the fascinating ancient Zapotec site of Mitla. Explore the dramatic mountains that surround Oaxaca on foot, by bike or on horseback, and be sure to visit traditional villages, where the culture, politics and even time zone are different to Oaxaca. Rarely visited, but absolutely worth the trip, is Hierve el Agua, a striking set of natural white rock formations that resemble tumbling waterfalls. In the nearby freshwater springs, sit back and relax while gazing over the forested valley. Anyone who enjoys a tipple should also pay a visit to nearby villages to watch local people making mezcal, a fiery cousin of tequila.
Chiapas is rich in Mayan culture, colonial architecture and stunning natural beauty. The state is home to the second-largest indigenous population in the country, and Mayan traditions are alive and well in large pockets of the local community. Dotted with forest highlands, rainforest and jungles, which offer fantastic opportunities for outdoor activities, Chiapas gets a big, green tick for both culture and nature.
Palenque, an ancient city hidden away in thick jungle, is one of Mexico’s finest examples of Mayan architecture, dating from about 600 AD to 800 AD, while the city of San Cristóbal, perched in a highland forested valley, is a colonial city of tremendous beauty. Wander its cobbled streets, dip in and out of its markets and make a trip to some of the traditional villages that surround it.