When most people think of Mexico they envision the white sand beaches of the Mayan Riviera or the Pacific beach towns such as Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. However, it could be argued that these parts of Mexico have done so much to lure tourists in that they have lost a great deal of the unique culture that symbolizes the country. While these regions have their charms, Mexico is a big country and offers much more to be discovered off the beaten track. It’s one of the most colourful places on Earth.

If you’re planning a visit to Mexico and would like to venture beyond Cancun, consider booking a trip with Flights.com and staying at one of these destinations that will give you a better idea of the true nature of Mexico.


Located in the Mexican state of Chiapas and about 12 hours from Cancun by bus are the city and the ruins of Palenque. The pre-Colonial city and ruins of Palenque are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are much less crowded than the ruins of Chichen Itza or Coba and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Mayan culture from the classical period.

Getting off the beaten track in Mexico: Palenque ruins, Mexico

Credit: fototehnik, Shutterstock

While somewhat quiet, the city of Palenque offers a number of lodging and dining opportunities and is the perfect jumping-off point to explore more of the state of Chiapas.

San Cristobal de las Casas

About four hours from Palenque lies the city of San Cristobal de las Casas. Once the epicenter of the Zapatista movement of the 1990’s, San Cristobal now boasts a booming tourism economy and a lively and charming city centre. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, San Cristobal sits at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet and has a mild climate.

Getting off the beaten track in Mexico: San cristobal Cathedral in Chiapas, Mexico

Credit: Morenovel, Shutterstock

San Cristobal has a bustling city square which is surrounded by pedestrian streets packed with coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Markets are located in and around the square where the locals sell handmade textiles, produce and souvenirs of all kinds.

San Miguel de Allende

Situated in the state of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende is easily reached by air from Mexico City or by bus from anywhere in Mexico, although the latter can take a long time. Time well spent though as the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, once famous for its silver trade back in the 1500s.

Getting off the beaten track in Mexico: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Credit: Bill Perry, Shutterstock

Gaining popularity with expats and tourists, San Miguel’s colonial charm is evident across the city with its art galleries, specialty shops and local markets. Its restaurant scene is expanding with the growing influx of tourists and features a wide array of enticing cuisines in addition to Mexican fare. While you’re here be sure to visit one of the city’s rooftop bars for tapas and an amazing view across the city skyline.


About thirty minutes north of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Nayarit is the beach town of Sayulita. Small and relatively quiet, Sayulita doesn’t have the crowds that its popular neighbour to the south does, but it offers world-class surfing most of the year and a very relaxed vibe.

Sayulita is an adventurer’s dream destination. In addition to surfing visitors can swim with whale sharks, go scuba diving, embark on a jungle trek or take part in horseback rides. With a wide range of accommodation and eateries, there’s a good choice to suit any budget. The crowning glory of this little town though is the exquisite sunsets over the Pacific, made even better by a shot of tequila or a Mexican beer.


Located in the state of the same name, the city of Guanajuato has been described by many as the most colourful city in the country. The buildings and houses climb the hillsides and are painted in a wide array of colours, making for incredible photo opportunities.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Credit: Bud Ellison, creative commons

Less visited than its popular neighbor, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato boasts a similar charm without any of the crowds. Also a booming mining town in its day, Guanajuato is now quiet and peaceful with shady plazas scattered throughout its neighborhoods. Be sure to visit the Temple de la Compania, considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in all of Latin America.

So remember Mexico is much more than the beaches and all-inclusive coastal resorts. Bursting with history, stunning architecture and gorgeous scenery, it’s always a good idea to venture beyond the resorts and visit the many other incredible and diverse locations that this fascinating country has to offer.

Brought to you in association with Flights.com

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