13 of the most beautiful villages and small towns in Mexico
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Most visitors associate Mexico with beach destinations like Cancun, or budding foodie capitals like CDMX. But the massive country is home to 31 different states featuring endless destinations beyond just its most well-known haunts. Discover white-sand beaches, towering mountains, jungles, waterfalls, deserts and of course, plenty of colonial villages perfect for exploring the country’s hidden nooks and crannies.
While some villages are famous and others more off-the-beaten-path, checking out some of Mexico’s tinier towns will give you insight you likely won’t find at that high-rise hotel in Cozumel. In fact, you’ll discover things like handmade artisan crafts, local cuisine and customs and traditions you might not stumble upon elsewhere.
While there are hundreds of magical villages in Mexico (yes, the country’s tourism board even deems many of its villages “pueblos mágicos,”), here are some of the top TPG favorites to add a little colorful culture onto your next Mexico trip.
1. Izamal, Yucatan
Apt for visitors wanting to explore beyond the Riviera Maya‘s most typical tourist spots, Izamal, “the yellow town,” is a literal highlight. Wander around admiring the many bold yellow buildings and iconic monastery, painted the vibrant color to reflect the Mayan sun god. This village is ideal for those wanting to brighten up their day (or their Instagram feed).
2. Bernal, Queretaro
The village of Bernal sits in the shadow of the towering Peña de Bernal monolith (one of the largest in the world). Hike up to the top for epic views of the village, or stay down below and immerse yourself in the Museo de la Mascara, which showcases both regional and international masks. If you’re feeling peckish, check out the Museum of Mexican Sweets.
3. Tequila, Jalisco
Fans of this beloved liquor should head to the town of Tequila. Once you’ve explored the village and thrown back as much of the local spirit as you can handle, head to the outskirts to check out the Agave fields and distilleries. There’s even a massive volcano looming over the village ideal for treks, walks and bike rides.
4. Alamos, Sonora
Founded in the 17th century, this town is known for its vibrant arts and cultural scene, putting on festivals and events throughout the year. The colorful village is even more charming to walk through when paired with these art exhibits, musical acts, parades and craft fairs that occur frequently. Don’t miss admiring the Palacio Municipal, the brick city hall building adorned with Mexican flags and grandeur.
5. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Although this town is more populated than some of the others on this list, it still gives off a village feel. Popular among both tourists and ex-pats, San Miguel de Allende is filled with color, starting with the gothic pink spires of the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, which hover over bright buildings and delicately manicured bushes in the town’s most famous square, El Jardin.
6. Tlacotalpan, Veracruz
This UNESCO World Heritage site sits on the banks of the Papaloapan River. Besides enjoying the vivid colonial architecture, visitors can check out specialty museums dedicated to landscape artist Salvador Ferrando or composer Agustín Lara. Make sure to sample some of the revered river seafood in this village.
7. Mazamitla, Jalisco
Often called the “Mexican Switzerland” by locals, Mazamitla has a unique location sandwiched between forests, waterfalls and hilly pastures. The town itself has quaint whitewashed architecture and cobblestone streets, and you can hike or bike to the El Salto waterfall on the outskirts of town. In true Swiss fashion, you can even experience cultural activities like cheese-making workshops.
8. Tepoztlán, Morelos
This charming Aztec village sits at the foot of the El Tepozteco National Park. After a morning hike through the cloud-covered mountains or a visit to the nearby Tepozteco Aztec pyramid, stroll the streets of this village and admire how the sun and shadows of the hills fall upon the colonial buildings. Weekends boost the local food and artisan markets — don’t forget to pick a traditional souvenir, a hand-carved Casita de Pochete.
9. Cosalá, Sinaloa
Cosalá is surrounded by greenery and nature, making it a prime spot to tour not just the village itself, but the nearby Reserva Ecológica de Nuestra Señora’s hills, waterfalls and zip lines year-round. Back in the village, you can’t miss the majestic Parroquia de Santa Úrsula, a whitewashed church that dates back to 1730. The local Museo De Minería showcases some of the village’s long mining history.
10. Cholula, Puebla
More of a town than a village, Cholula, which is separated into two municipalities (San Pedro Cholula and San Andrés Cholula), has some truly monumental architecture, including the massive San Gabriel convent and the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, set upon the Tlachihualtepetl pyramid. Once you’ve explored the more ancient haunts, head to the modern Container City, a small area make of recycled shipping containers where you can dine on local cuisine and shop.
11. Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas
Chiapa de Corzo’s claim to fame is its Moorish fountain, dating back to the 16th century — and the fact that the town was one of the first colonized in Mexico by the Spanish. Other sites to see are the Lacquer Museum and the Centro Cultural, which was formerly a Dominican Convent. Plan to sip on the local drink of choice, Pozol, which is made of cocoa, water, corn and more.
12. Taxco, Guerrero
Shopping addicts should beeline for Taxco, known as Mexico‘s silver town. With shops and markets selling silver throughout the entire town center, this is the spot to get your jewelry fix or even visit the Silver Museum. Make sure anything you buy is marked with a 925, ensuring it’s real silver. For a bird’s eye view of it all, take a ride in the cable car, the teleférico.
13. Comala, Colima
Famous for its appearance in the novel “Pedro Páramo” by Juan Rulfo, the village is also known as the ‘pueblo blanco’ for some of its white architecture. Highlights include the main church, Parroquía de San Miguel Arcángel, and you can often spot the nearby Colima Volcano in the distance. Comala is also known for its bread, which has a sweet, sugary flavor.
Add a little culture into your next visit to Mexico by visiting one of these beautiful villages or towns. There’s something special about wandering cobblestone colonial streets, tasting local food and drinks and simply soaking in all the color and tranquillity.
For more village inspiration, see TPG’s favorite villages around the world:
- 15 of the most beautiful villages in Europe
- 13 of the most beautiful villages in Portugal
- 15 of the most beautiful villages in Spain
- 19 of the most beautiful villages in Italy
- 19 of the most beautiful villages in France
- 13 of the most beautiful villages in Greece
(Featured image courtesy of Marco Bottigelli/Getty)
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