What Are Some Underrated, Non-Touristy Destinations in Mexico to Visit?

Mexico offers diverse experiences for those seeking unique and unusual holidays. The country’s rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and vibrant cities make it a popular destination for adventure seekers and culture enthusiasts. 

Visitors can explore ancient ruins such as the pyramids of Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, experience traditional Mexican customs and festivals, and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and surfing. 

Mexico is also known for its delicious cuisine, a fusion of indigenous, European, and African influences. Additionally, Mexico is home to many biosphere reserves, national parks and protected areas, and a variety of flora and fauna, making it an excellent destination for eco-tourism. If you’re traveling in Mexico and will stop in Mexico City, please consider joining us on one of our Mexico City Food Tours, such as our ever-popular Taco Tour of Mexico City – unlock the magic of Mexico through its food!

Continue reading below as we pick some of our favorite places and sites often overlooked by tourists. 

A Note on Mexican Cuisine

As a tour company specializing in food experiences, we’ll begin by stressing how important Mexican gastronomy is to Mexican culture. Exploring our culinary traditions will serve as the perfect gateway to exploring our history and cultural make up.

Mexican cuisine varies significantly across the country. Each region of Mexico has its own unique culinary traditions and specialties, influenced by a combination of factors such as geography, climate, history, and culture.

In northern Mexico, the cuisine has tended to be heavily meat-based, influencing by Tex-Mex and cowboy culture. Traditionally, there has been an emphasis on hearty dishes such as carne asada (grilled meat) and barbacoa (barbecue). Though recent years have seen more northern chefs branching out, using local veggies in a variety of exciting ways. 

The Baja California region is famous for its seafood, and the state of Sonora is known for its beef and meat sourced from hunting, such as quality venison.

Central Mexico is the birthplace of traditional Mexican cuisine, and is known for dishes such as mole (a sauce made with chiles, spices, and chocolate), tamales (corn-based dumplings), and pozole (a traditional soup made with hominy and pork or chicken).

In the south and southeast of Mexico, the cuisine is heavily influenced by Mayan and indigenous cultures, with a focus on ingredients such as corn, beans, and chiles. The Yucatán peninsula is known for its traditional dishes, such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and sopa de lima (lime soup), while the state of Oaxaca is famous for its mole sauces and its many different varieties of tamales.

On the Caribbean coast, Afro-Caribbean culture heavily influences the cuisine, with dishes such as rice and beans, and seafood.

In summary, the variety of flavors and ingredients, as well as the cultural influences that shape Mexican cuisine, creates a diversity that makes it one of the most vibrant and delicious in the world. 

Deepen your Mexican journey by researching local specialties and trying them.


Tulum is a Mayan city in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It is located about 1 hour south of Cancun and 2 hours north of Playa del Carmen. The name Tulum means “wall” or “city wall.”

Tulum was occupied from about 600 BCE until about 1200 CE by people identified as part of the Late Preclassic Maya culture. At its peak, it may have had a population between 2500 – 5000 inhabitants and was one of the most important Maya cities during this time period due to its location along an active trade route with nearby Cozumel Island. 

The city probably served as an important trading hub for cacao beans from South America (which were used as currency), salt from Chetumal Bay, cotton textiles, and other goods produced by local farmers and artisans.

Tulum is by no means off the map when it comes to tourism. It is an understandably popular choice for tourists, particularly among young people who like to party hard or partake in wellness experiences like yoga. 

Since the pandemic, many cultural, music, and arts festivals are happening in Tulum, and Airbnbs are widespread.

Tulum will provide many exciting historical and cultural activities and an energetic atmosphere without the overwhelming crowds associated with Cancun.

San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a colonial city in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. It is located in the San Miguel de Allende municipality and is part of the macroregion of Bajío. It was an important site during the Independence War of 1810-1821, with its main square serving as a refuge for insurgent soldiers against royalist troops.

Admire the city’s beautiful architecture, and enjoy some quiet time in the city’s botanical gardens (El Charco del Ingenio). 

San Cristóbal de las Casas

San Cristóbal de las Casas is a city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It is one of Mexico’s most important tourist destinations, known for its beautiful colonial architecture, museums, and cultural centers.

Browse the city’s vibrant craft markets and delve into the region’s history with a visit to the Centro de Textiles del Mundo Maya museum. 

Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí

Real de Catorce is a small Mexican town known for its silver mines. It’s located in San Luis Potosí, halfway between Mexico City and Monterrey. The town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010 due to its impressive collection of colonial-era buildings and structures, including a church dating back to the 16th century. 

With only 1,500 residents currently living there today, Real de Catorce is quite tranquil compared to other destinations in Mexico (or anywhere else on Earth).


Guadalajara is a city that has so much to offer! It’s known for its cultural heritage and rich history, making it one of Mexico’s most important cities. Guadalajara is also known for being the capital of the state of Jalisco, so you can expect this city to have many museums and landmarks.

If you’re looking for something different from your typical tourist destination, this may be the place for you to visit!


Puebla is one of Mexico’s oldest cities and still maintains much of its original character. The city has a strong indigenous influence, which makes Puebla one of the most multicultural destinations in all of Mexico. Puebla has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it boasts so many cultural jewels.

The cuisine here is amazing, too! Because of its proximity to both Mexico City and Oaxaca (the birthplace of mole poblano), Puebla has evolved into a melting pot for various culinary styles and tastes. This means there are tons of great restaurants serving traditional Mexican dishes along with tacos al pastor with mole sauce or tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches).

Holbox Island

Holbox Island is one of the most underrated, non-touristy destinations in Mexico that you should visit. If you’re looking for a laid-back beach vacation with some of the best wildlife you will ever see and some amazing seafood, then this place is perfect for you.

Holbox Island is located in the Gulf of Mexico off mainland Yucatan, making it part of Veracruz state. 

The island has beautiful white beaches, warm water, and amazing scenery. It’s also home to some incredible wildlife, including manatees (sea cows), pelicans, and flamingos! You can go on tours through the area or spend your days relaxing on the beach playing cards or reading a book while drinking margaritas all day long!

You can reach this island by taking a ferry from Chiquilá on the northern coast of the Yucatán peninsula, which takes around 45 minutes.


Pátzcuaro is a city in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It’s located in the Valley of Pátzcuaro, surrounded by high mountains.

The city is known for its colonial architecture and narrow cobblestone streets. The main plaza features an obelisk built to honor Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who led Mexico’s struggle for independence from Spain during the early 19th century.

Pátzcuaro has many restaurants serving regional cuisine such as Michoacan salsa ranchero (spicy pork strips cooked in tomato sauce), seasoned with chipotle peppers; carnitas (fried pork) and tamales made with corn husks; and papa con chorizo (potatoes sauteed with spicy sausage).


Oaxaca is an underrated destination that’s definitely worth checking out. Oaxaca is especially popular with travelers who are interested in exploring Mexico from a foodie and cultural perspective. It’s also close to stunning places like Hierve el Agua with petrified waterfalls, stunning mountain views and natural spring pools.

A gorgeous city surrounded by mountains, Oaxaca has a UNESCO World Heritage Site called Monte Alban. The food is delicious, and many artisans make things like pottery and textiles in the city. 

There’s plenty to do—you can hike or eat your way through Oaxaca if you like! In addition to this city’s main attractions, there are other fascinating cities within the region with great art and culture like San Pablo Villa de Mitla. These smaller cities can be less busy than their larger counterparts, so they’re worth checking out if you have time.

The weather here is temperate year-round, making it ideal for all kinds of travelers no matter when you visit!


Mérida, the capital of Yucatán, is a colonial city with a population of around 800,000 people. Mérida has an amazing mix of culture and architecture, making it one of Mexico’s most underrated destinations.

Mérida has several museums like the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MACAY) and others that showcase beautiful works from local artists. These museums are great places to visit if you want to learn more about Mexico’s history while appreciating its art scene at the same time.

Another thing that sets Mérida apart from other cities on your list is its food culture. There are plenty of restaurants offering traditional dishes such as cochinita pibil (a slow-cooked pork dish), panuchos (fried tortillas filled with beans), or chili rellenos (stuffed peppers).

Isla de Cozumel

Isla de Cozumel is a special place to visit. It has a rich history and culture that will make you feel like you’re in a different world when you visit the island. The best part about Isla de Cozumel? There are many beautiful beaches and things to explore on the island. For example, it’s home to many great restaurants where you can get authentic local food. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, then try scuba diving!

Cozumel attracts enough tourists that you’ll feel a positive, vibrant buzz about the place but you’ll never be overwhelmed as can be the case in the country’s most popular spots. 

As you can see, there are many beautiful places to visit in Mexico beyond the usual tourist choices. 

If you plan on exploring Mexico, consider visiting some of the underrated destinations mentioned above! And if you’re in Mexico City, please join us on one of our popular Mexican Food Tours.
If you have any questions, get in touch.

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