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U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Best Places to Visit in Mexico

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

With diverse destinations ranging from the metropolitan Mexico City to the sands of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico is home to vacation spots that appeal to all sorts of visitors. To help you determine which locale is best for you, U.S. News compiled this list of the top cities in Mexico using factors such as worthwhile cultural attractions, beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, along with traveler votes. Vote for your favorite destinations below to help us determine next year's ranking. In need of lodging? Check out the Best Hotels in Mexico »

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Gold Badge #1 Zihuatanejo

Gold Badge #1 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Visit Zihuatanejo for an authentic Mexican experience full of brilliant sunsets and laid-back vibes. Here, divers and snorkelers can pick from more than 30 dive sites, shopaholics can buy local handicrafts (think: ceramics and woodcarvings) and foodies can savor fresh fish tacos and ceviche along the beach.

Zihuatenejo
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Gold Badge #2 Tulum

Gold Badge #2 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Home to the world's only waterfront Mayan ruins, Tulum appeals to history buffs and water lovers. Its position along a less populated stretch of the Riviera Maya means the area hasn't succumbed to the megaresort influences that have overtaken nearby beaches; instead, you'll find smaller boutique resorts and plenty of expats. Read More »

Mayan Ruins View 19 photos
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Gold Badge #3 Cozumel

Gold Badge #3 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

This island is probably best known for two things: coral reefs and cruise ships. But Cozumel is also a quiet place to learn about Mayan culture and to relax on the beach with a good book. For a dose of history, visit the island's San Gervasio and El Cedral ruins. Read More »

Beach View 28 photos
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Gold Badge #4 Playa del Carmen

Gold Badge #4 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Playa boasts a hip food scene and an even hipper bar culture – that is, if you can tear yourself away from the sand. Bike to a nearby cenote for a refreshing dip, or hit the links at one of upscale Playacar's golf courses. To save some coin, book a vacation rental instead of a resort. Read More »

Xcaret View 17 photos
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Gold Badge #5 Cancun

Gold Badge #5 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Sand, nightclubs, all-inclusive resorts and inexpensive flights from the U.S. make Cancun a go-to spot for spring breakers. But the city also sits close to lush jungles, tranquil cenotes and an impressive network of caverns, making it a great option for nature lovers. Visiting in winter will ensure you see this town in its best – and most tranquil – light. Read More »

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#6 Mexico City

#6 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

The most populous city in Mexico is steeped in history and culture. Mexico City boasts delectable cuisine, ancient Aztec sites and world-class hotels – all at fairly low costs – but if you feel like splurging, you'll find an array of high-end shops lining Polanco's Avenida Presidente Masaryk. Read More »

Angel over the city View 17 photos
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#7 Oaxaca

#7 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Travel to this colonial city in southern Mexico for a full immersion into Mexican culture. Situated more than 5,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, Oaxaca is the place to experience native customs, visit vibrant markets and dine on delicious Mexican food. Read More »

Oaxaca Skyline View 13 photos
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#8 Guanajuato

#8 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Ornate colonial buildings, busy plazas and colorful homes are everywhere you turn in this UNESCO World Heritage-listed city. After admiring Guanajuato's charming architecture, grab a souvenir or bite to eat at the bustling Mercado Hidalgo. If you enjoy art, arrive in October when the popular Festival Internacional Cervantino takes place.

Guanajuato
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#9 Puebla

#9 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

For a vacation packed with authentic character, head to Puebla. This colonial city, which sits southeast of Mexico City, is filled with churches – 365, to be exact – but its main draws are its stunning Talavera pottery and its sweet and spicy cuisine. When the sun sets, venture to Callejón de los Sapos to listen to live mariachi music.

Puebla Mexico
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#10 Puerto Vallarta

#10 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Puerto Vallarta appeals to vacationers in search of excellent beaches and authentic regional cuisine. Plus, its quaint setting along Banderas Bay and iconic landmarks, such as Los Arcos and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, set it apart from other packaged tourist centers – and make for wonderful photo ops. Read More »

City on the Water View 24 photos
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#11 Cabo San Lucas

#11 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Cabo San Lucas is party central in the Baja peninsula, but it also features some of Mexico's most luxurious hotels and top-notch golf courses. Stay in nearby San José del Cabo if you're looking for some respite from the area's busy beaches and loud nightclubs. Read More »

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#12 San Miguel de Allende

#12 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

Strolling along the streets of San Miguel de Allende, you may think that you've stepped back in time. Travel to this city to see colonial buildings rub shoulders with trendy galleries and shops. Make sure to visit one (or more) of San Miguel de Allende's open-air markets and beloved spots like the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. Read More »

Colorful Buildings and Cobblestone Streets View 14 photos
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#13 Guadalajara

#13 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

One of Mexico's largest cities, Guadalajara has all of the draws of an urban getaway – diverse dining, buzzing nightlife and an abundance of museums and cultural sites. And given that both mariachi and tequila were born here, you'll experience modern local charms with twists of tradition. Read More »

Guadalajara Main View 16 photos
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#14 Monterrey

#14 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

From sprawling malls to top-notch museums to trendy nightclubs, this northeastern metropolis offers something for everyone. Most hotels and attractions sit close to the central Macroplaza, but for a change of scenery, head east to the industrial-chic Fundidora Park. At night, check out the restaurants, bars and clubs in Barrio Antiguo.

Monterrey skyline
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#15 Mazatlan

#15 in Best Places to Visit in Mexico

This unpretentious locale along Mexico's Pacific coast boasts idyllic stretches of sand and charming neoclassical architecture. After spending a day lounging on the beach, wander the Malecón and the streets of Old Mazatlán. Just remember to exercise caution when visiting; the U.S. government says crime is prevalent in the area. Read More »

Serene Coastline View 16 photos
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