5 Hidden Gems in Mexico Only Locals Know

hidden gems of mexico

Mexico offers many surprises, from its stunning agave fields to UNESCO World Heritage sites and beach destinations with varied culture.

Xcalak, for instance, is an idyllic coastal retreat, providing travelers with a peaceful experience away from the crowds and making for an excellent base to discover nearby ruins.

1. Grutas de Tolantongo

Grutas de Tolantongo is one of Mexico’s most gorgeous natural destinations, located along Mezquital Canyon in Hidalgo state and home to stunning thermal springs that flow out of mountains into pools, waterfalls, adventure travel, and caves.

Pools may be the main draw of this spectacular attraction, but there’s so much more to experience here besides just swimming: from spectacular travertine formations to rejuvenating hot water therapy pools, it truly enchants.

Make plans to visit on a weekday instead for an easier experience and bring cash, as payments must be made in pesos; colectivo drivers don’t like breaking large bills!

2. Xcalak

Once off the beaten path and into Xcalak, poverty becomes evident in its most stark form: beached boats, rotting turkey coops, and plywood-clad homes dotting the roadsides are just some of the signs of impoverishment seen there.

Not for everyone, but those seeking an intense connection with nature will find paradise here. At Xcalak you can slow down and watch sunrise over the sea and sunset over the lagoon as well as witness stars coming out after dark!

When visiting this remote town, do your best to reduce any negative impacts: respect locals and their environment. Keep in mind that cash is king here – bring plenty of Mexican pesos as cash is necessary for most transactions – you may find accommodations and restaurants accepting credit cards; just be prepared.

3. Palenque

Nestled within Mexico’s dense jungle is Palenque – one of its greatest archaeological treasures and one of Chiapas’ crown jewels. Dominated by lush vegetation, Palenque exudes an air of mystery throughout. Its exquisite Mayan architecture is truly magnificent.

Be sure to pay special attention during your visit to the palace temples, which feature impressive sculptures and bas reliefs. These mighty structures give visitors a glimpse into how Mayan rulers lived their lives.

Staying here will allow you to fully experience this hidden gem, particularly since the ruins are located not too far away from El Panchan – a trendy travelers’ hangout where whale sharks swim during peak season, from May through September.

4. Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan was an international city with residents from different cultures across Mesoamerica. Even today, we don’t understand what led to Teotihuacan’s decline and why it was abandoned despite having once been an active trade center.

The Pyramid of the Sun stands 216 feet (66 meters). Built before 250 C.E, its construction began soon after completion.

This immense complex contains the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, featuring stone heads of its Feathered Serpent deity. Archaeologists found evidence that human sacrifice took place at this temple; remains of over 100 warriors were discovered kneeling with hands tied behind their backs while wearing necklaces made of pieces meant to simulate actual jaws in one crypt at this site.

5. Lagunas de Montebello

This spectacular national park, situated near the border with Guatemala, boasts more than 60 shimmering lakes that range in color from emerald green to blue-green and deep purple – as well as numerous species of orchid and pine forests.

Reaching this enchanting place requires taking an ADO bus from San Cristobal de las Casas to Comitan, where a colectivo van with Lagunas de Montebello written on its window can take you directly there – roughly an hour’s drive away lies the national park.

Mexico’s hidden gems can often go unseen, in favor of more popular destinations like Cancun or Cabo San Lucas. Yet this stunning country offers much more: stunning natural wonders, ancient ruins, vibrant culture – explore them to experience Mexico at its core!