18 Noteworthy Hidden Gems in Mexico


Mexico, North America

18 incredible hidden gems in Mexico that you have to see with your own eyes. Explore these off-the-beaten-track locations in Mexico during your next trip!

Mexico has several touristic hotspots and many tourists visiting the country tend to stick to them. However, it is when you venture off the beaten path and leave the large crowds behind, that you get to have a real adventure and discover the amazing hidden gems in Mexico.

There are many of them ranging from small, charming towns that are ideal for a relaxing getaway, to remote hidden ruins, and to amazing natural sights. Mexico caters to all tastes and is a real treat for everyone that longs for experiences in addition to regular beach breaks.

While you will find beautiful spots regardless of where you are, it is the rugged but safe areas that will steal your heart. So be sure to plan a Mexico trip that combines the enchanting cenotes, bustling cities, and beaches with the secret gems of Mexico. It will be worth your while!

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Visiting the Hidden Gems in Mexico

While some of the country’s touristic hotspots have been on my list of places to see for a while, I ended up skipping most of them like Mexico City, Cancun, and Cabo during my first trip to Mexico. And let me tell you that I do not regret it, as it was the hidden gems in Mexico that made me fall in love with the country.

While I did enjoy exploring parts of the Rivera Maya and living in Playa del Carmen, it was the road trips to more remote areas that had the greatest appeal.

Therefore, it is clear, that there is a distinct reason why Mexico’s hidden gems are so enchanting, even if it is not possible to fully describe why they are so appealing. It is just one of those things, that travelers have to experience for themselves to fully understand it.

At first glance, it is hard to generalize why, as it comes down to personal experiences, but then again, it is obvious that most that ventured off the beaten path in Mexico loved it and would highly recommend it.

Given that I only got to explore the Yucatán Peninsula (for now!), but knowing that there are many more amazing rather unknown locations all over Mexico, I decided to ask fellow travelers to share their favorite hidden gems in Mexico.

The following list is a compilation of theirs and mine most beloved spots, and I can only encourage you to visit these underrated locations during your next (or first) trip to Mexico.

In a rush? Pin this post for later!

stunning hidden gems in Mexico

Be prepared to look for flights by the time you have read the entire list: It’ll invoke your wanderlust!

Hidden Gems on the Yucatán Peninsula

Bacalar & the Lagoon of 7 Colors, Quintana Roo

Bacalar is located in the south of Quintana Roo and is one of the finest hidden gems in Mexico. While the town offers some interesting street art and the Fort of San Felipe, it is the Lagoon of the Seven Colors that is the real highlight. This stunning freshwater lagoon (that is actually a lake) is a stunning sight and home to stromatolites. And in addition to that, it is also ideal for a variety of water sports.

Hidden Gems in Mexico Bacalar

Go on a boat tour or kayak to its main attractions including the Pirate’s Channel and Isla de Los Pajaros (Bird Island). Alternatively, you can relax in the water hammocks at one of the beach clubs, like Cocolitos Beachclub right at Cenote Cocolitos, or on one of the hotel’s pontoons.

If you are looking for a thrill, you should not miss kayaking through the rapids of Los Rapidos.

zzzIf you want to stay in town, Hotel Sun-Ha and the Makaabá Eco Boutique are amazing options. The Khaban Boutique Hotel is ideal if you only want to be surrounded by nature.

To get to this hidden gem in Mexico, you can take a bus from the major tourist hubs of the Yucatán Peninsula. If you want to avoid long bus journeys, you can also fly to the nearby Chetumal airport.

Calakmul Ruins & Xpujil, Campeche

The area around Xpujil in the south of Campeche is one of the best hidden gems in Mexico. After all, it is a paradise for everyone that loves exploring Mayan ruins and nature. While there are many marvelous ruins, including those of Becan, it is the ruins of Calakmul and the surrounding biosphere reserve that are the highlight.

Located 60 km deep in the jungle, Calakmul was once the political, economical, and religious powerhouse of the southern lowlands. The ruins include the highest known Mayan structure, which grants visitors an astonishing view of the lush jungle and even Guatemala in the distance. There are also 120 stelae and acropolises that grant you a glimpse of what life in a major Mayan city was like.

In recent years, unique murals and friezes have been discovered, and as the excavation of this vast archeological site is still ongoing, you never know what this Mexican hidden gem is still hiding.

The surrounding biosphere reserve has the largest biodiversity in the entire Mayan region. As you drive towards the ruins, you can spot a plethora of wildlife ranging from oscillated turkeys to howler monkeys and spider monkeys. And if you are incredibly lucky, you might even be one of the few tourists that spot a jaguar.

Calakmul Mexico Hidden Gem

zzzThe best places to stay while exploring this area of Campeche’s archeological route are in Xpujil. Both Hotel Xpujil and Hotel Casa Marán are great options if you are looking for a classical hotel. If you prefer to stay in a small cabin surrounded by nature, Casa Kaan is ideal for you.

While it is possible to take a bus to Xpujil, the nearest city, it is best to rent a car and drive to this hidden gem in Mexico yourself. If you do not feel comfortable driving in Mexico, you can also join a guided tour to the remote ruins of Calakmul.

Valladolid, Yucatán

Valladolid is a pueblo magico and should be on every Yucantán Peninsula itinerary. Located in the state of Yucatán, Valladolid is much more than a short stop on the way to Chichen Itza. With its colorful houses and colonial buildings, it is a great place to experience the real Yucatán away from the crowds of Cancun and Tulum.

Valladolid Hidden Gem in

Some of the highlights of this town are the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena, Inglesia de San Servicio, and the many amazing restaurants and cafes on Calzada de Los Frailes.

There are also several cenotes including Cenote Zaci near the town center and the insta-famous Cenote Suytun.

Aside from all these things to do in Valladolid, you can also use the town as the starting point for day trips to Ek Balam and Cenote Xcan Che or Rio Lagartos in combination with Las Coloradas.

zzzIf you want to stay near Valladolid, but be surrounded by nature, you should stay in The Blue Eco Lodge in Yalcón, which is only 10 minutes away from the city center. It is a prime destination for bird watching and more than worth a stay. Should you prefer to stay in the city center, Hotel Posada San Juan is a nice option.

While it is best to drive there in order to allow for day trips, Valladolid can be reached by bus. There are multiple daily connections between Cancun and Valladolid, so you can just choose the connection that is best for your itinerary.

Sisal, Yucatán

Located at only a 1-hour drive from Merida, on the Yucatan coast in the Gulf of Mexico, Sisal is one of the latest towns to be appointed Pueblo Magicos and there is a lot of magic in it for real. 

This pretty town is flanked by miles and miles of pristine white-sand beaches and an intricated network of lagoons wetlands mangroves and water springs home to an incredible wealth of wildlife, including the graceful pink flamingos. A day in Sisal may be enough to enjoy this cute town, but you may want to spend more time enjoying everything it has to offer.

If there is no wind from the north, the sea is calm and flat and you will appreciate swimming in the pristine emerald green water.

During the day you can book a tour with a local agency and go kayaking in the wetlands to look for the local fauna or swim in the “Ojos de Agua” small springwater lakes in the middle of the jungle, similar to the cenotes, spot birds and enjoy the sounds of nature.

Sisal Mexico Hidden Gem

Make sure you wear mosquito repellent because mosquitos are wild. Or, even better, dress with long sleeves and long pants to protect yourself until you get in the water.

You can eat in one of the local seafood restaurants by the beach and make sure you get your natural coconut ice cream in the small shop by the pier to end your day in Sisal with a bang.

zzzLa Casona de Sisal and Casa Kinch are nice accommodations if you want to spend a night or two in Sisal.

While there is a daily bus from Merida to Sisal, it is only an option if you are planning to spend a few days in town. Otherwise, it is best to take a colectivo to Hunucmà, where you board another colectivo to this hidden gem in Mexico.

Recommended by Isabella Biava, Let’s Travel to Mexico

El Cuyo, Yucatán

El Cuyo is a hidden gem of a beach town located on the northern side of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, less than 3 hours from Playa del Carmen and Cancun. A quaint fishing village and colorful beach town, El Cuyo boasts wide empty beaches with calm emerald waters, a laid-back tropical vibe, and some of the best kite surfing in the world.

With sandy dirt roads, palm tree-lined streets, and limited connectivity, El Cuyo is the perfect off-the-radar destination to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Wifi and cellular service are not the most reliable in El Cuyo so it’s best for those looking to disconnect and enjoy the destination’s tranquil beaches. 

zzzThere are many cute and colorful places to stay in El Cuyo, whether you’re looking for a boutique hotel or a beachfront vacation rental. LunArena Boutique Beach Hotel is a great choice for those who want easy access to the beach with its cute and minimalistic jungle apartments. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more private, there are beachfront vacation rentals available.

The easiest way to get to El Cuyo is by driving or renting a car. It’s less than a 3-hour drive from nearby tourist destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. GPS instructions are easy to follow, but you’ll want to be prepared for areas of limited connectivity and occasional potholes, especially after heavy storms. 

This hidden gem in Mexico has been suggested by Allison from Viva La Travelista.

Baja Peninsula: Off the Beaten Track

Espiritu Santa Island, Baja California Sur

Espiritu Santo Island is located in La Paz, Baja California Sur, about 2 hours away from Los Cabos. Visiting this Mexican hidden gem is a full-day adventure that starts at 8:00 AM and ends at 4:00 PM. The boats are parked at the La Paz Malecon, which is also the tour’s meeting point. Some tour companies will pick you up at your accommodation but it depends on your arrangement.

First, you will see the blue-footed boobies, a rare species in Latin America. The majority of these boobies can be found in the Galapagos, but there are also lots of them on Espiritu Santo Island.

One of the highlights of this activity is the lunch on the island where they will serve the best of Baja California, such as Baja-style fish tacos and Mexican ceviche. 

La Paz

On the island, you can paddle board, hike the area, or simply hang out and bathe in the sun. The boat captain and tour guide always bring a big tent for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the scorching heat. 

Lastly, you will end this tour by swimming with the sea lions. These sea lions are in their natural habitat (they are not trapped nor in a controlled environment). You are allowed to swim with them but you can’t touch them.

La Paz has their own International airport with direct flights to and from major cities in the US and Canada. A full-day tour to Espiritu Santo Island from La Paz starts at US$120 per person and it includes food, boat transport, all park entrance fees, and water equipment.

Contributed by Maria Veloso from Mexico Insider

Cabo Pulmo, Baja California Sur

Cabo Pulmo is a tiny desert beach town hidden in the southeast corner of the state of Baja California Sur. Just a handful of sandy roads, and one of the largest coral reefs in North America, Cabo Pulmo is a true hidden gem in Mexico. Known only to keen scuba divers and snorkellers, the town has managed to stay firmly off the radar of the masses of tourists that visit nearby Los Cabos each year.

In addition to eating some incredible fish tacos, hiking in the mountains behind the town, and relaxing on the beach, the best thing to do in Cabo Pulmo is to explore the underwater world.

Mexico Hidden Gems Cabo Pulmo

The Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park is a large, protected area, home to all kinds of colorful corals and marine life. One of the big draws for scuba divers is diving with bull sharks.

If you’re not that brave there are plenty of snorkeling tours during which you have the chance to see sea lions, rays, turtles, and lots of fish.

zzzAccommodation in Cabo Pulmo is basic, and there are locally owned cabañas that you won’t find on any of the online booking engines. The best thing to do is turn up, go for a stroll along the main road, and pop into anywhere you like the look of. If you’re looking for luxury, Cabo Pulmo is not the place for you. But that’s what makes it so special.

Getting there is part of the appeal of Cabo Pulmo, and the bumpy dirt road that is part of the journey is the most likely reason that this town has remained undiscovered. You need your own car to get there as there is no public transport. It takes around 1.5 hours from San Jose del Cabo, and 2 hours from La Paz, with the last 30 minutes on an unpaved road.

This Mexican hidden gem has been explored by Sally of Sally Sees.

Hidden Gems in Central Mexico

Tepoztlan, Morelos

Tepoztlán, with its breathtaking mountain views and vibrant ambiance, is rightfully recognized as a ‘pueblo magico’ and one of the best hidden gems in Mexico. The town has a rich history dating back to the Aztecs, who considered it a sacred site.

Today, Tepoztlan is a popular weekend getaway for Mexicans and international tourists. It is renowned for its spiritual atmosphere, stunning scenery, and traditional Mexican architecture and cuisine.

Indulge in the plenty of things to do, see, and especially eat in Tepoztlán, Mexico. Topping the list is hiking the steep El Tepozteco, a ruin honoring the Aztec god of Pulque, a traditional Mexican alcoholic drink. For the brave, try unique pre-hispanic meats like armadillo, warthog, tarantula, or viper.

Continue to eat your way through Tepoztlan, trying the vegetarian Tlaltequeada or one of the 300+ ice cream flavors at Tepoznieve. 

Tepoztlan Mexico Hidden Gem

The weekend market will be in full swing for those lucky to visit one of these days. Sounds of the local mariachi bands can be heard performing all day to the crowds.

zzzIf you’re looking for spectacular views and comfortable rooms, book a stay at Posada Paraiso. Located on a hill right off the main square, Posada Paraiso offers stunning panoramas of the town below and the mountains in the distance.

The lovely Tepoztlan is just a 90-minute drive from Mexico City, making it an easy day trip. Busses from the Terminal del Sur in Mexico City leave for Tepoztlan nearly every 30 minutes.

Explored by Catherine Xu, Nomadicated

Waterfalls near Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosi

One of the best things you can do that is still unknown to most foreign visitors, is to visit the many epic waterfalls near Ciudad Valles. They are one of the best hidden gems in Mexico. Located in the state of San Luis Potosí, Ciudad Valles is about an 8-hour drive from Mexico City, which makes these waterfalls a great destination to add if you are road tripping around the capital.

There is not much to do in Ciudad Valles, but the town itself is not the Mexican hidden gem you are looking for. However, it is a great place to set up camp to visit some of the most beautiful waterfalls in San Luis Potosí. Within a 2-hour driving radius, there are about 10 different waterfalls you can visit – those are the hidden gems you are here for.

El Meco Waterfall near Ciudad Valles

You can hike or take a boat to the tallest waterfall in San Luis Potosí, Tamul waterfall. You can also visit the waterfalls near Tamasopo, like El Trampolin (a local hidden gem), Puente de Dios, Tamasopo Falls, or Micos.

Additionally, you can head a little further north and spend a day chasing the Salto del Agua, El Meco, and Minas Viejas waterfalls. 

zzzYou can spend 5 days in Ciudad Valles. This will give you ample time to enjoy the falls without feeling rushed. There are plenty of hotels in the city, so there are ideal accommodations for every budget and every taste.

You can fly to San Luis Potosi and either rent a car and go to Ciudad Valles or take a bus there and rent a car from the city, so you can drive to the waterfalls. It is the best option, as it allows you to spend as much time as you want at each waterfall and to visit them in the order you prefer. Alternatively, you can join one of the many multi-day tours available from Ciudad Valles that take you to some of the falls.

Hidden gems in Mexico explored by Carine & Derek – We Did It Our Way

León, Guanajuato

León, one of the most underrated gems of Mexico, is constantly a victim of skipped trips. While it seems ordinary from the outside looking in, it actually has various things to offer to travelers and is more than just a pretty photo backdrop.

In León, you can get a taste of fashion by exploring the Zona Piel and investing in a fabulous pair of leather shoes. Next, hit up the central meeting point and shopping area of León, the Martyrs’ Square, enjoy delicious local food, and witness the nighttime splendor that envelops this part of the city. 

If learning about the history of Mexico is more your thing, you can also visit the Museum of Art and the History of Guanajuato to learn about the Guanajuato region, in which León is located. Afterward, stroll to the nearby beautiful cathedrals: The Cathedral of León and Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazon. León is definitely worth considering adding to your Mexico itinerary as it is a perfect hidden gem in Mexico. 

zzzThe Centro region of León is an excellent area when it comes to accommodation and nightlife. Stay at the Othello Boutique Hotel. If you prefer big-name hotels such as the Marriott, you can make your way over to the eastern part of León and stay at the Courtyard by Marriot Leon at the Poliforum

To get to León from the Guanajuato international airport, you can catch a taxi for the 27.9 km drive, which should cost around $26. For public transportation, you can hop on the Unebus and ride it to León for roughly $3. Remember that the Unebus comes every 4 hours, so try not to miss your time slot. 

Recommended by Yesenia and Sierra, The Sisters who Voyage

Hidden Gems in Mexico’s Pacific Coast

Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

Hierve El Agua is one of the most impressive natural wonders in Mexico and a real hidden gem. Translated to “boiling water” in English, Hierve El Agua was formed by the water that was pushed down the karstic limestone cliff. Over time, stalactites formed, which explains why it looks like a petrified waterfall.

The blue and lime green pools at the top of the ‘waterfall’ are also a pretty sight.

Hierve El Agua was closed for almost 2 years and has now reopened with new regulations in place. In order to maintain this natural wonder, access is now limited to 200 visitors per day, so it is best to arrive early.

You now have to take a longer and bumpier ride as the village next to Hierve El Agua does not allow tourists to pass by.

The best place to have breakfast is at Comedor Citlali, a small house full of women making Mexican breakfast on a traditional comal. There are many food stalls in Hierve El Agua, but this one is right before the park entrance and is definitely the best among them all!

Hierve El Agua Mexico Hidden Gems

zzzIf you plan to visit this Mexican hidden gem is a day trip, it is good to stay in Oaxaca City. Alternatively, you can also spend the night in Mitla, which is another interesting historical town near Hierve El Agua. 

How to get to this hidden gem in Mexico:

If you are not yet an experienced traveler, it is best to hire a local driver or guide, especially if you are not able to communicate in Spanish. The private tour costs 140 USD per person and you can decide the hours as it is a private tour. Alternatively, you can also join a group tour.

There is also a bus at the Oaxaca City 2nd class bus station. You need to take buses that are going to Mitla which depart every 20 minutes. You do not have to reserve the bus online and can just purchase it at the ticket window when you arrive. The fare costs 1 USD.

Once you are in Mitla (about an hour ride), you have to take a shared ‘camioneta’ (pick-up truck) at the bus station. Most of these vans have the Hierve El Agua signs on the windshield so it won’t be hard to spot these shared transport. These trucks will take you to Hierve El Agua within an hour. 

Suggested by Trisha from PS I’m on my way

Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Just a tiny beach town a few hours south of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido is a true hidden gem in Mexico, though you’ll want to book your ticket soon before word starts getting out!

Thanks to the eternally lovely weather, countless pristine beaches, and the abundance of cool restaurants and cafes, Puerto Escondido is quickly becoming a new favorite destination for travelers and even a popular digital nomad destination for those who can work remotely. 

Puerto Escondido

When in Puerto Escondido, you’ll likely want to spend time checking out the beaches. Zicatela beach is one of the most popular beaches. This long stretch of sand is popular with surfers, and cheap surf lessons for beginners are a popular activity for travelers of all ages.

Another great beach, less visited than Zicatela, is Puerto Angelito. Puerto Angelito is an excellent place for swimming and snorkeling and is surrounded by great restaurants with the freshest seafood. 

Besides visiting the many beaches, there are tons of great excursions within Puerto Escondido and the surrounding areas worth considering. You will find opportunities for skydiving, swimming with dolphins, kayaking, and even swimming in bioluminescent waters. If you’re looking for a great day trip, Mazunte is another nearby hidden gem of a beach town worth visiting, or even heading to Oaxaca isn’t too far!

zzzThere are a variety of accommodations ranging from hotels like Casa Beu to bungalows with a private pool of Hotel Escondido.

Puerto Escondido has an airport with direct flights from Mexico City and Oaxaca City. You can also catch a bus to this hidden gem from Acapulco, Oaxaca City or Huatulco.

Recommended by Carley from Home to Havana

San Jose del Pacifico, Oaxaca

High in the Sierra Madre mountains, between Oaxaca City and the coast, is a Mexican town whose mountains are as magical as the mushrooms that grow in its forests. And while most travelers venture here for that reason, it’s not the reason why San Jose del Pacifico is a hidden gem in Mexico.

San Jose del Pacifico is a peaceful mountain escape with cell service just spotty enough to disconnect from the world.  It is a place whose cool temperatures beckon you to participate in a ritual temazcal ceremony. And in the evenings, as you watch the sun setting above the clouds, you can sip on a cup of hot chocolate while you ponder about everything or nothing, as you wish.

zzzMost backpackers choose to stay at La Cumbre, which despite only having private rooms, feels like a hostel. If you’re looking for more privacy, check out the cozy mountain cabins at Cabañas Rancho Viejo. Or the even more secluded but spacious cabins at Camino al Cielo.

San Jose del Pacifico is located on Highway 175 which stretches from Oaxaca City to the Pacific Ocean. Timewise, it’s about an even distance between the two. To get there from Oaxaca City, take a minivan with Líneas Unidas or Huatulco 2000. To get there from the coast, there are minivans to San Jose del Pacifico that leave from Huatulco, Zipolite, and Pochutla.

Suggested by Julien Casanova of Oaxaca Travel Tips

Yelapa, Jalisco

When it comes to hidden gems in Mexico, the area around Puerto Vallarta is full of them. One of the secret spots is Yelapa, a small beach town north of the city.

What makes it so special is that there are no roads; the only way to get around is by boat. Everyone who visits the town always returns to the city saying how relaxed they feel

One of the best things to do in Yelapa is chase waterfalls. There are several waterfalls and some of them are easier to reach than others. The closest is just a 15-minute walk through the small town, but if you go further into the jungle, you will be rewarded with even more pristine falls that are surrounded by jungle.

Aside from that, Yelapa is the perfect place to relax for a weekend as it has beautiful golden sand beaches and casual beach bars.

Yelapa Waterfall

zzzYou won’t find any big-name hotels here, but that’s all part of the charm. Casa Berita offers beautiful ocean views with hammocks to relax in.

The easiest way to get to Yelapa from Puerto Vallarta is to get a taxi or Uber to Boca de Tomatlan from Puerto Vallarta, and then get a water taxi from there to Yelapa, which goes every hour until around 5 pm. There are also some water taxis from Los Muertos pier – you can see the schedule here.

Hidden gem in Mexico recommended by Lora of Explore with Lora

Guanajuato, Jalisco

Guanajuato is an energetic student city in the highlands to the north of Mexico City. The vibrant colors are captivating, and the largely car-free historic center makes for a peaceful place to enjoy the colonial architecture. At night, the youthful energy comes alive and there’s an array of live music at the plethora of bars in the center.

Hidden Gems Mexico Guanajuato

Guanajuato is a popular getaway for Mexico natives but remains a hidden gem for foreigners. The most memorable place in Guanajuato is Monumento al Pīpila which has spectacular panoramic views of the city. A couple of must-visit museums are the eerie Museum of the Mummies and Casa Diego Rivera, the childhood home of the famous Mexican artist.

Within walking distance of the center is the La Bufa hiking area, which offers views of the arid, mountainous terrain surrounding the city.

A visit to Guanajuato isn’t complete without making a day trip to the town of Dolores Hidalgo. The nearby “Pueblo Mágico” is where the Mexican independence movement was born.

zzzHostal Casa de Dante is the best budget option in town. The rooftop terrace has panoramic views of the city, and their traditional Mexican breakfasts are fantastic. La Casona de Don Lucas is an excellent boutique hotel in the heart of the historic center. Set in a colonial house, their balconies look out to one of the city’s prettiest streets.

There are regular buses to Guanajuato from Mexico City and the journey takes 5 hours. Another option is to fly into León and take a bus or taxi to Guanajuato, which is only 1 hour away.

Recommended by Mark George from George’s Backpacking Guides

San Pancho, Nayarit

San Pancho is a sleepy beach town, of only about 3,000 residents, in the Riveria Nayarit and one of the best hidden gems in Mexico.

Located along the Pacific coastline, San Pancho is an excellent alternative for those looking for something more off-the-beaten-path than its famous neighbor, Sayulita, with much of the same laidback vibes that Sayulita has slowly started to lose, due to its explosion in popularity.

Similar to its neighbor, San Pancho offers killer surf breaks and a beautiful beach, an absolutely stunning array of bars and restaurants for a town of 3,000 residents, and streets lined with colorful buildings and murals. But, because San Pancho has continued to fly under the radar, the town is much quieter and has retained its bohemian spirit, with many painters, yogis, and healers calling this little slice of heaven home.

Plus, it’s apparent that this tight-knit community cares a lot about the environment, both at a small and more global level – you’ll find plenty of nonprofits and civic organizations, like the San Pancho Turtle Nursery, Alianza Jaguar San Pancho, and the Entreamigos Community Center, that are working to make the world a better place.

zzzIf you want to lean into San Pancho’s hippie vibes, consider making the PAL.MAR Tropical Hotel your home base during your stay. From offering yoga classes to its eye towards eco-conscious design, this hotel is an excellent choice to relax and soak in San Pancho’s magic.

San Pancho is just an hour north of the glitzy resort town of Puerto Vallarta and easily accessible either via public bus, taxis, or Uber.

Explored by Jessica from Uprooteed Traveler

Taxco, Guerrero

With cobblestone streets and white-washed buildings that seem as if they are built into the mountainside, the old silver mining town of Taxco feels like a little bit of Europe in Mexico. The heart of this small town is completely walkable if you don’t mind a few steep inclines. Alternatively, you can jump in the back of one of many white Volkswagen Beatles, the town’s signature taxi.

While this entire scene makes the pueblo magico of Taxco, Guerrero a hidden gem in Mexico, it is the adventurous day trips that elevate it to the top.

Perhaps most impressive is the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, one of the largest cave systems in the world. The surrounding national park also features a zip line, rock climbing, and other adventures to round out the day.

Just south of the caves you will find a natural area called Mil Cascadas, or One Thousand Waterfalls. This collection of stunning waterfalls and swimming holes feels like a hidden paradise.

Taxco Guerrero Hidden Gem

You can also take a colectivo in the other direction from Taxco and spend the day at the natural blue pools of Atzala. The incredible blue color of the river and pools are mesmerizing.

zzzIf you prefer to stay in a traditional Taxco hotel with a charming courtyard, check out Hotel Los Arcos. Budget travelers will want to stay at the basic but centrally located Amate Hostal.

To get to Taxco, you can take a 2.5-hour bus ride from Mexico City’s south terminal (Taxqueña) or a 2-hour bus from downtown Cuernavaca.

Explored by Julien Casanova, Cultures Traveled

Zihuatanejo, Guerrero

Zihuatanejo, Mexico is an off the beaten path beach town, and one the best hidden gems in Mexico. In case you’re wondering, Zihuatanejo is pronounced zee-waa-ten-nay-hoe, and the locals usually call it Zihua (zee-waa) for short.

For travelers who wish they could have visited Tulum “before it was famous,” Zihuatanejo in Guerrero state is the perfect place.


It is a laid-back town with bohemian vibes, friendly locals, delicious seafood, and beautiful beaches. It also has a great tourism infrastructure, with nice accommodations.

Zihuatanejo is located just 20 minutes from Ixtapa, which is one of the top Mexico resort towns. While Zihuatanejo does have some nice hotels and a few resorts, it is definitely not a resort town. However, located so close to a resort town means you’re near anything you’d need, including banks, hospitals, and the airport.

zzzIf you have the budget, stay on Playa la Ropa or Playa las Gatas, two of the best beaches in town. The Thompson Hotel Zihuatanejo is beautiful and located right on the beach. To save some money, stay off the beach in the low-key Lazaro Cardenas neighborhood.

To travel to Zihuatanejo, you will fly into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport (code: ZIH). There’s no Uber in Zihuatanejo, but you can taxi from the airport to the beaches for about $250 MXN pesos ($12.50 USD). Taxis are the best way to get around, and very safe.

Submitted by Shelley of Travel Mexico Solo

Planning a trip?

Check out these useful websites and resources I use to plan my own adventures.

Flights: Kiwi

Accommodation: Booking.com

Rental Cars: Discover Cars

Day Trips & Tours: Get Your Guide, Viator —or— Klook

Travel Insurance: SafetyWing

Airport Lounge Access: Priority Pass

Wanderlust edited

Roundup: The Best Hidden Gems in Mexico

As you can see, there are many rather unknown spots all over the country, and every single one of these hidden gems in Mexico has its own appeal that makes a visit worthwhile.

And while it would be incredibly hard to combine all of these great locations in one trip, it is a great idea to plan a road trip or journey that combines at least two or three of them. Be sure to visit a place that is known for its natural beauty in addition to a town or city that is known for its history or culture – places that allow you to experience the real Mexico away from touristic hotspots like Cancun or Tulum. This way, you will get a glimpse of this amazing country’s real charm.

After all, Mexico is so much more than resorts and dream-like beaches, and you can consider yourself lucky to fall in love with these sometimes forgotten facades of the country.

More about Mexico

If you are planning a trip to Mexico, you might also be interested in these Mexico travel guides:

Mexico Travel Budget
Day Trips from Playa del Carmen

Will you visit some of these hidden gems in Mexico?

Let me know in the comments down below!

Planning to explore hidden gems in Mexico?
Pin This list of off-the-beaten-track locations in Mexico!

the best hidden gems in Mexico
Great hidden gems in Mexico

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Steph Kloeckener

I am the founder of A Nomad's Passport and a solo traveling digital nomad, photographer, and writer. Originally from Germany, I have lived in several countries around the world. My goal is to explore every country in the world while promoting ethical and sustainable traveling. And of course to write as many destination guides, itineraries, road trip guides, and content about scuba diving.

A Nomad's Passport is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

4 thoughts on “18 Noteworthy Hidden Gems in Mexico”

  1. It has been far too long since our last visit to Mexico. So it was great to check out these hidden gems. I love the interesting variety in these spots that are not overrun with tourists. And I would certainly visit Espiritu Santa Island for the Blue Footed Boobies! It has been a long long time since we were last in Zihuatanejo. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. These the type of places I love to see! these are 18 fantastic hidden gems in Mexico! My favorites are Valladolid and Tepoztlan! I believe you can take great photos there


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