Celebrating the Day of the Dead (Dreamstime)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 15 January

Arriba! 9 colourful and exciting Mexican adventures

Add a little zing to your holidays this year. From zesty culinary tours and epic Mayan adventures, to cycling through the sleepy corners of the Yucatan, these trips are sure to get the fiesta started

1: Encounter Mexico’s colourful heartland

Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca (Dreamstime)

Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca (Dreamstime)

Discover a place where pre-Hispanic traditions, customs and languages are part of everyday life on this 10-day adventure through Central Mexico with Travel The Unknown.

Based in Oaxaca, an atmospheric colonial city regarded as the final refuge of indigenous Mexico, you’ll immerse yourself in the sounds, smells and tastes of Mexican culture. Explore the ancient architecture of Monte Alban and Mitla, discover the stunning natural landscapes of Hierve El Agua and Santiago Apoala, and wander through colourful craft markets in tiny villages. Finally, take a walk in a cloud forest and visit a traditional Oaxacan kitchen, where you’ll learn the secrets of preparing local delicacies, guaranteed to impress friends and families back home.

Trip: Treasures of Oaxaca

Who: Travel The Unknown

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,475 (exc. flights)

2: Cycle the backroads of the Yucatan

Cycling in the Yucatan (Exodus)

Cycling in the Yucatan (Exodus)

Soak up the very best of Mexico’s idyllic Riviera Maya at a leisurely and relaxing pace as you cycle the backroads of the Yucatan with Exodus.

With its beautiful beaches, lively music, astonishing archaeology, exciting food and friendly people, this part of Mexico is perfect for cycling. You’ll ride through colourful villages, explore magnificent Mayan pyramids and temples, and swim in the transparent waters of ancient cenotes (natural caves).

Finally, you can snorkel on the world’s longest coral reef, or simply relax on a palm-fringed Caribbean beach. Either way, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a week of cycling!

Trip: Cycling in Mexico

Who: Exodus

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 10 days

How much: From £1,559 (exc. flights)

3: Meet the grey whales of Baja

Grey whale approaching boat in Baja (Dreamstime)

Grey whale approaching boat in Baja (Dreamstime)

Come face-to-face with grey whales in San Ignacio Lagoon on this whale watching adventure in Baja California with Wildlife Worldwide.

The nutrient-rich waters off the peninsula’s Pacific coast are home to an incredible diversity of marine wildlife, including whales, dolphins, turtles, seals, birds and over 900 species of fish. It is the best place in the world to see grey whales at close quarters, as well as see humpback whales breaching, along with blue whales – the largest mammals of all.

Your home is The Searcher, a comfortable 28-metre vessel captained by Art Taylor. Art has been operating in Baja for over 30 years and is passionate about responsible whale watching. During your week on board, you'll enjoy activities such as snorkelling, hiking, birding walks and whale watching, each supported by the expertise of an on-board naturalist guide.

Trip: Great Whales of Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures Jan-Apr

How long: 8 days

How much: From £3,995 (exc. flights)

4: Ride the rails through the Copper Canyon

Tarahumara girl in the Copper Canyon (Dreamstime)

Tarahumara girl in the Copper Canyon (Dreamstime)

All aboard the iconic El Chepe for an unforgettable train ride through Mexico’s breath-taking Copper Canyon with Journey Latin America. 

The Copper Canyon is a series of massive canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains that takes its name from the copper-green hue of the canyon walls. This world-famous railway line will take you through the heart of it, passing through 80 tunnels and over nearly forty bridges, through ravines and gorges and an infinite variety of landscapes – from snow-dusted peaks smothered in conifers to sub-tropical citrus groves. 

With one of the world’s greatest rail journeys under your belt, you’ll head to Baja California – a finger of desert separated from the Mexican mainland by the Sea of Cortés. Here you'll find chalk-white sands and translucent aquamarine seas, as well as the colonial centre of arty San José del Cabo, your base in this extraordinary corner of the country.

Trip: Copper Canyon Railway And Baja Coast

Who: Journey Latin America

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 9 days

How much: From £2,183 (exc. flights)

5: Celebrate Day Of The Dead like a local

Painted skulls (Dreamstime)

Painted skulls (Dreamstime)

Immerse yourself in authentic Mexican culture as you celebrate the country’s famous Day of the Dead festival with Rainbow Tours.

Based in arty Oaxaca, you’ll join a local family as they prepare for the festivities. Day of the Dead is about celebrating the memory of family members, and you will help your new Mexican family decorate their home and join them for a traditional wake in the local cemetery. Oaxaca is at its best this time of year, with the streets filled with colourful bunting, artwork and, of course, intricately-painted sugar skulls – the iconic symbol of this 4,000-year-old festival.  

Trip: Day Of The Dead Culture & History Tour

Who: Rainbow Tours

When: Oct-Nov

How long: 9 days

How much: From £2,635 (exc. flights)

6: Get a real taste of Mexico

Mexican food (Dreamstime)

Mexican food (Dreamstime)

Get an authentic taste of Mexico on this journey through some of the country’s most famous culinary regions with Intrepid.

This trip takes you to the source of some of the nation's most iconic foods, from tacos to mole and beyond. In Oaxaca you'll enter the heart of pre-Hispanic cuisine, tasting chiles, chocolate, mezcal and the surprisingly delicious chapulines (grasshoppers).

In Puebla, you’ll take to the streets to sample some the city’s local specialities. In Mexico City, you'll complete an unforgettable ‘Taco Crawl’. Finally, a fishing expedition out on the Pacific Ocean will have you eating fresh ceviche on one of the best beaches on Mexico's south-west coast.

If you’re after cultural richness, authentic experiences and flavoursome food that’s tinged with fiesta, then this Real Food Adventure is for you.

Trip: Mexico Real Food Adventure

Who: Intrepid

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 9 days

How much: From £1,008 (exc. flights)

7: Chase mariposa on Mexico’s famous butterfly trail

Monarch butterflies in the Michoacan Biosphere Reserve (Dreamstime)

Monarch butterflies in the Michoacan Biosphere Reserve (Dreamstime)

Experience the incredible joy of walking though trees laden with millions of butterflies on this journey along Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Trail with G Adventures.

Between November and March each year, millions of butterflies return from the US and Canada to congregate in the rugged forest mountains 100 kilometres northwest of Mexico City. Your journey will take you to El Rosario, a magnificent Monarch butterfly sanctuary, where the clusters of butterflies turn the trees orange and bend their branches under the collective weight.

It is an extraordinary spectacle, the insect equivalent of the Serengeti’s great migration, and one you will never forget.

Trip: Mexico Monarch Butterfly Trail

Who: G Adventures

When: Feb-Mar

How long: 10 days

How much: From £892 (exc. flights)

8: Uncover Mexico’s intriguing Mayan past

Chichen Itza (Dreamstime)

Chichen Itza (Dreamstime)

If it is history, culture – and a little beach-side R&R – you’re after, look no further than this 11-day adventure through the Yucatan with Audley.

Starting in the colonial city of Merida, you’ll explore the Mayan ruins of Uxmal and Kabah, before heading to Chichen Itza, arguably the most famous of the ancient Mayan pyramids. You’ll stay close to the site, allowing you to avoid the daytime crowds, before ending your trip with a few days relaxing on the beautiful white sand beaches of the Mayan Riviera.

Trip: Exploring Mexico's Yucatan: Merida, Chichen Itza & Tulum

Who: Audley

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 11 days

How much: £2,465 (inc. flights)

9: Discover the world’s most laidback dive site

Hawksbill turtle in Cozumel (Dreamstime)

Hawksbill turtle in Cozumel (Dreamstime)

Spend a week exploring the second largest barrier reef system in the world on this scuba adventure in Cozumel with Dive Worldwide.

Cozumel has it all: warm waters, culinary delights and friendly locals – and a variety of scuba sites to suit all levels of experience. Divers will enjoy Palancar Reef's coral gardens, overhangs and swim-throughs, while the fast-paced drift sites like Santa Rosa Wall offer a thrilling challenge for the more experienced. 

Expect to see plenty of marine life – turtles, angelfish, nudibranch, spiny lobster, barracuda, grouper, rays and lots more.

Trip: Dive Cozumel

Who: Dive Worldwide

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 9 days

How much: From £1,495 (inc. flights)