San Cristóbal de las Casas (Shutterstock)
List Words : Nicole Leigh West | 25 August 2019

5 charming small towns in Mexico to visit now

These small towns in Mexico bring the traditional flavour you're looking for. They offer everything from colourful cathedrals and folk art, to cenotes and azure seas. And, yes, also some tequila...

1. Tequila, Jalisco

Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico

Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico

You can smell the name in the air (in a good way) when you visit the tiny town of Tequila.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site blends blue agave landscapes with cultural traditions and plenty of cantinas to sample the famous drink. Indulge your senses on distillery tours or trek across picturesque agave farms on horseback.

In town, you’ll find bright streets lined with quirky shops, branching from the main square and its baroque cathedral. From here, restaurant-hop and sink your teeth into the region's best-loved dish: salsa-infused torta ahogada.

How to get there: Board the Jose Cuervo Express train or take a two-hour bus ride from Guadalajara. 

2. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

San Miguel de Allende (Shutterstock)

San Miguel de Allende (Shutterstock)

A coffee lover's paradise, San Miguel de Allende invites you to stroll, sit and sip intoxicating brews all day.

Wind your way around cobbled streets decorated with terracotta and rose-tinged buildings. The pink spires of Parroquia ensure you only ever get comfortably lost, before finding your way back to the town’s fiesta-filled central square.

As a hub for artists, galleries abound. Pop into Fábrica La Aurora to see canvases, sculptures and furniture designs from the city’s local creatives. For romantic views on sunset, sip cerveza at Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar.

How to get there: You can drive to San Miguel de Allende in about four hours from Mexico City. Or, fly into Guanajuato International Airport and take a transfer or bus in less than two hours.

Here are more reasons to visit San Miguel de Allende

3. Bacalar, Quintana Roo

Bacalar in Quintana Roo, Mexico (Shutterstock)

Bacalar in Quintana Roo, Mexico (Shutterstock)

Resting on the edge of what's known as the 'Lagoon of Seven Colours', Bacalar is the bohemian haven travellers seek in tourist-heavy Tulum.

Zip over the lake by boat, across water that transforms from aqua to deep navy at the Black Cenote. Slather yourself in sulfur-rich sand at Pirate’s Channel and reap the benefits of anti-ageing minerals.

This small town in Mexico certainly retains its traditional character, best seen while cycling through sleepy streets flanked by fisherman’s cottages. However, the pretty main square caters to tourists with restaurants, artisan crafts and a playground at its heart, overlooking the Fort of San Felipe.

How to get there: Bacalar is less than a three hours by car or bus from Tulum.

4. San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

The Cathedral of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico (Shutterstock)

The Cathedral of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico (Shutterstock)

Colonial San Cristóbal sits on a backdrop of highland pine forests, surrounded by largely indigenous villages. Splendid in white and orange, the hilltop Guadalupe Church overlooks European-style streets filled with traditional folk art to stuff your suitcase with.

Thrill your sweet tooth at the Kakaw Museo Del Cacao and all your other taste buds along Real de Guadalupe street. For a glimpse at ancient rituals, shamanism and Mayan traditions, explore the nearby Tzotzil township of San Juan Chamula.

How to get there: The easiest way to visit San Cristóbal is to fly to Tuxtla Gutiérrez from Mexico City and take a one hour bus or taxi from the airport terminal.

5. Mazunte, Oaxaca

Mazunte in Oaxaca, Mexico (Shutterstock)

Mazunte in Oaxaca, Mexico (Shutterstock)

Oaxaca's Pacific coast sparkles with beaches that certainly rival the more popular Caribbean stretches. Mazunte is a little-known gem with hilltop hotels overlooking a lush valley.

Here, the daily agenda is strolling barefoot to yoga class, reading all day on the sand and dining in fairy-lit streets. The family-friendly village of San Agustinillo is within walking distance and a short drive takes you to Zipolite, a hip hangout centred on a clothing-optional beach.

How to get there: Fly into nearby Puerto Escondido from Mexico City and take a taxi to Mazunte.

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