Spend two weeks exploring the best that central Mexico has to offer. Start in Mexico City for explorations of the metropolis and a ride on a traditional wooden Trajinera. Continue to Cholula to explore Teotihuacán, then head to Oaxaca to visit the Tehuacán-Cuicuitlan Biosphere Reserve. End in Mazunte to see bioluminescence and view baby sea turtles return to the ocean.

Highlights

  • Wander the streets of Mexico City and shop at bustling markets
  • Bike through the ruins of Teotihuacán to see ancient pyramids
  • Explore Oaxaca's incredible food scene
  • Hike in the jungle and look for wildlife like spider monkeys
  • Learn about the history of colorful Talavera tiles

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Mexico City, City Center Walking Tour & Street Food Tasting Mexico City
Day 2 National Museum of Anthropology & Chapultepec Castle Mexico City
Day 3 Canals of Xochimilco in a Wooden Trajinera, Free Time in México City Mexico City
Day 4 Biking in Teotihuacán "The City of the Gods" & Overnight in Cholula Cholula
Day 5 Puebla City Tour & Talavera History, Cholula Corn & Markets Tour Cholula
Day 6 Walk in a Cactus Forest: Tehuacán-Cuicuitlan Biosphere Reserve Oaxaca
Day 7 Historical Tour of Oaxaca City, Free Time in Oaxaca Oaxaca
Day 8 Temazcal at the Traditional Capulálpam Medicine Center, Free Time in Capulalpam Capulalpam
Day 9 Hiking in the Forest Oaxaca
Day 10 Oaxaca to San José Del Pacífico, Hike in San Jose's Cloud Forest San José Del Pacífico
Day 11 Free Day in Mazunte, Transfer to Mazunte Mazunte
Day 12 Biominuliscence at Manialtepec Mazunte
Day 13 Rescue & Release of Sea Turtles at La Escobilla Mazunte
Day 14 Mazunte to Puerto Escondido, Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Mexico City, City Center Walking Tour & Street Food Tasting

Tacos with carnitas and chicharrón
Tacos with carnitas and chicharrón

Welcome to Mexico City! Explore the historic center of the Mexican capital on a walking tour to learn about the city's history, its art, and its architecture. 

Start with a visit to the impressive Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), the symbol of Porfirio Díaz's rule, then continue through Madero's pedestrian street until you reach Plaza de la Constitución, better known as Zócalo. It's one of the largest squares in the world and is home to a number of important historical buildings and monuments, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the archeological site of the Templo Mayor, and the National Palace.

To get a feel for the real México you have to venture into a local market, the heart of each neighborhood. You'll visit the nearby market, navigated by your guide to help you find the best street tacos. Taste the city's best street food, smell the cooking food from each stall, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere as you peruse like a local — this is the real Mexico City. 

Day 2: National Museum of Anthropology & Chapultepec Castle

Sculptures inside the museum
Sculptures inside the museum
Meet your guide in the morning for a dive into Mexico's past with a visit to the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico's largest and most-visited museum. Two of its main exhibits, the Aztec and Mayan exhibits, best illustrate the history of the indigenous people of Mexico — their lives, culture, and history prior to (and after) colonization. 

After the museum visit, transfer to Chapultepec.

Spreading over almost 1,480 acres, Chapultepec Woods constitutes one of the most important natural reserves in Mexico City. Chapultepec Castle, located on the highest part of one of the reserve's hills, is a Neo-classical building that has been expanded and remodeled since its construction as a summer palace for the Viceroys. In 1940 it was fitted to house the National Museum of History. As you learn about Mexico's history, enjoy the amazing views of the city from the castle's windows.

Day 3: Canals of Xochimilco in a Wooden Trajinera, Free Time in México City

Enjoy the views from the canals
Enjoy the views from the canals
Today you will visit one of the most iconic areas of Mexico City: the canals of Xochimilco, whose name means the ‘Place of the Flowers’ in Náhuatl. These canals are the last reminder of the rivers that once crossed the valley floor of Tenochtitlan (now modern-day Mexico City).

Explore the canals on a colorful boat called a trajinera (a wooden boat painted in colorful colors, each with a traditional Mexican name to honor a family member of the owner). You'll spend your time learning about the Aztec’s ingenious techniques for growing food on the fertile riverbeds of the pre-Hispanic waterways — many of which (including the chinampas, or floating gardens) are still in use today. 

After, enjoy some free time in Mexico City.

There are plenty of museums, historical monuments, galleries, restaurants, archaeological finds, parks, and much more to discover. Popular options include a visit to the Frida Kahlo Museum or an afternoon of tequila tasting. 

Other options include visiting local markets, restaurants, cafés, or walking different and authentic neighborhoods such as San Angel, Santa Maria la Rivera, Coyoacan, La Condesa, or La Roma to put yourself in the locals' shoes. 

Day 4: Biking in Teotihuacán "The City of the Gods" & Overnight in Cholula

Aerial view of the historic site
Aerial view of the historic site
After an early breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel start your biking tour. Your destination is Teotihuacán — "the place where men become gods" — an archeological site located in the State of Mexico, between the towns of San Martin de las Piramides and San Juan Teotihuacan, 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Mexico City.

Your tour starts at the Valley of Teoticuacán, where your guide will walk with you through the mural route, where you can see the ancient barrios of Tetitla, Atetelco, and Tepantitla. Next, continue to the archaeological zone to see the pyramids and Palace of the Butterflies.

During the visit, you'll also have the opportunity to try pulque, a traditional alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey (agave) plant. In addition, you'll visit a cactus products factory to learn about all the different products that are made with the plants.

In the late afternoon following the tour transfer to Cholula, located approximately two hours away. Once you arrive at your hotel, take the rest of the day to rest and relax after your adventure. 

Day 5: Puebla City Tour & Talavera History, Cholula Corn & Markets Tour

Colorful talavera ceramics
Colorful talavera ceramics
Enjoy a walking tour through the historic center of Puebla, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Start at the impressive Cathedral and the Chapel of the Rosary, undoubtedly one of the most splendid examples of the Novo-Hispanic baroque. Afterward, continue with a visit to a Talavera workshop to see one of Mexico's most iconic handicrafts. Then, head to the Palafoxiana Library, a center of universal knowledge and one of the first libraries of the American continent. Its literary variety and bibliographic richness earned it the title of Memory of the World by UNESCO.

During your walk through the beautiful streets of the historic center, you will also see other iconic sites such as the Calle de Los Dulces, the famous Barrio del Artista, and Barrio de Los Sapos, as well as the El Parián handicrafts market.

Start your afternoon activity with a meeting with your private guide who will take you to the town of Cholula. You'll spend the day exploring the city and some of its iconic architecture. Discover some of the most iconic churches, such as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies, which is built on top of a pyramid dedicated to the god Quetzalcoatl. Learn about the history and the history of how indigenous and colonial cultures have mixed to create an entirely unique city. 

In addition to its architecture and historic sites, Cholula is famous for its gastronomy. Spend the afternoon exploring the city's food scene, especially the preparation and use of corn in common Mexican foods. On this tour, you'll discover and learn everything about the process of corn, from its cultivation to the preparation of tortillas. At the end of the tour, you will taste some of the most delicious foods that are derived from corn — the staple of Mexican gastronomy.

Day 6: Walk in a Cactus Forest: Tehuacán-Cuicuitlan Biosphere Reserve

Walk through the cactus forest
Walk through the cactus forest

Meet your local guide-driver for the 2.5-hour transfer from Cholula to the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Reserve, a protected natural area where biological, cultural, and historical richness converges. This place is great for wandering through the forests of columnar cacti, which are endemic (unique to this area).

Tehuacán is part of the Mesoamerican region and whose biodiversity and rich flora and fauna are found nowhere else on earth. In Nahuatl, Tehuacán means “Place of God.” More recently, it's been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its uniqueness. 

You'll spend your visit hiking through the area with your guide as you learn about the peculiarities of the cacti that live here, as well as the other species that characterize this ecosystem. 

After, transfer from the land of the cactus to Oaxaca, a city that's famed for its food and drink scene. It's another 2.5-hour drive away on a beautiful road through some of Mexico's best landscapes. 

Day 7: Historical Tour of Oaxaca City, Free Time in Oaxaca

Santo Domingo's Temple
Santo Domingo's Temple
Spend some time exploring Oaxaca on a guided city tour as you discover the cultural, historical, and gastronomic richness that this city offers.

The tour lasts 3.5 hours and includes visits to the 16th-century Aqueduct, the street of Garcia Vigil, and the Seminary of the Holy Cross. The latter is where both Benito Juarez, the president who established the foundations on which the secular state and the Federal Republic were founded in Mexico, and Porfirio Diaz, known as the hero of the French intervention and president for 31 years, studied. 

Further on you will find the house where Juarez spent his adolescence, as well as the temple of Our Lady of Carmen. Continue until you reach the temple of Santo Domingo, home of the museum of cultures and the site that holds the treasure of the Seventh tomb of Monte Alban. Don't miss its impressive baroque decoration, as well as the facades of the Novo-Hispanic mansions on Alcalá Street, the Cathedral, and, finally, the Plaza de la Constitución with its authentic art nouveau kiosk and colorful markets full of delightful aromas and flavors.

Enjoy this free afternoon to take in the colors and flavors that Oaxaca has to offer. Visit some of the museums in the city, such as the Textile Museum of Oaxaca or the Museum of Cultures, both with interesting exhibitions that will allow you to delve deeper into Mexican culture. 

Don't forget to visit the Ethnobotanical Garden, or enjoy a mezcalería at an alfresco cafe. Spend a cozy afternoon in a cafe, enjoying a traditional hot chocolate drink that's a staple in Oaxaca.

In the evening, hit up the town for a drink at a trendy bar, then grab a cup of esquite banquetero (Mexican street corn) on your walk back to the hotel. 

Day 8: Temazcal at the Traditional Capulálpam Medicine Center, Free Time in Capulalpam

Immerse yourself into the ancient ritual
Immerse yourself into the ancient ritual
You'll spend some time today experience a traditional regional experience known as Temzacal. It's is an ancestral ritual and steam bath that was very popular in the Mesoamerica Region and dates back thousands of years. Nowadays, it is used in traditional medicine for hygienic, ritual, therapeutic, and spiritual purposes.

Some people say that Temazcal represents the earth and the Godmother who sustains and provides life. It is said that it is entering the womb of mother earth, and for this reason, the vessels used during the ceremony have the shape of a "dome" with small dimensions representing the mother's womb.

Enjoy some free time in Capululpam. This extraordinary village, located in Oaxaca’s Sierra Norte, was nominated as a Magical Town in 2007 thanks to its peaceful location in one of Oaxaca's best-preserved natural areas. 
 
Options include a visit to the local markets, the San Mateo Temple, or handicraft workshops to see how wooden toys are made. You can also opt for a walk around the towns' streets, or head into nature to the surrounding forest to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Day 9: Hiking in the Forest

Crystalline waters in the Los Molinos river
Crystalline waters in the Los Molinos river

Meet your local guide and start your hike with a visit to one of the most stunning viewpoints of the region. You'll start with a circuit of the mills, which begins in the area of the cabins and continues to LA Ventana (the window). From here, you can enjoy views of Oaxaca's incredible valley floor. 

Continue your walk until you reach the Los Molinos River, then walk along the river's edge until you reach the Los Molinos Recreation Center. Stop here for lunch at the restaurant and a chance to take in the views surrounding the building. 

Day 10: Oaxaca to San José Del Pacífico, Hike in San Jose's Cloud Forest

Hike in San Jose's Cloud Forest
Hike in San Jose's Cloud Forest
San José del Pacifico is located in a mountainous region of Oaxaca so mountain views and scenic nature views are the norms.

Enjoy this 3-hour medium-level hike through the forest in San José del Pacífico accompanied by a local guide who will explain the flora and fauna of this rich natural region and take you to magnificent viewpoints. You'll hike to a small village through the misty cloud forest, then stop for some food and to take in the sights. 

Day 11: Free Day in Mazunte, Transfer to Mazunte

Sunset on the beach
Sunset on the beach

Enjoy a free day in the town of Mazunte. Besides enjoying the multiple beaches this town offers, make time to visit the sea turtle sanctuary and aquarium, where you can learn about 6 of the 8 species of sea turtles in Mexico. You can also visit a natural and ecological cosmetics factory.

To end the day, you can't miss the sunset in Punta Cometa, which is about a 20-minute hike up the mountain next to Mazunte. 

Day 12: Biominuliscence at Manialtepec

Lighting the way
Lighting the way
Start your bioluminescence experience by meeting your guide at Puerto Suelo Beach near Puerto Escondido to enjoy a beautiful sunset. This experience has to be at night, and once the sun has set you'll embark on a boat and let the spectacle begin.

Bioluminescence, caused by the microorganisms that live in the water, will light up the water with the movement of the boat. Although this experience is beautiful on any night, it's particularly lovely on a new moon, when the sky is dark and the colors light up everything around you.

Day 13: Rescue & Release of Sea Turtles at La Escobilla

Baby Olive Ridley turtle
Baby Olive Ridley turtle
Today, you will engage in one of Oaxaca's natural phenomena and visit one of the most spectacular protected natural areas in the world.

Sail through the lagoon where you can admire all kinds of wildlife species such as vultures, storks, herons, crocodiles, and even turtles that filter in from the beach — your main destination.

Once you reach the beach, you will be part of the release of turtles or the massive nesting of adult turtles that, year after year, allows the preservation of the species.

Day 14: Mazunte to Puerto Escondido, Departure

Come back soon!
Come back soon!

Depending on the time of your flight, your private transportation will pick you up in your hotel to take you to Puerto Escondido Airport (1 hour). Catch your flight to Mexico City, then continue home. ¡Hasta Pronto!

 

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Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Mexico? Check out these other 14-day Mexico itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.

Looking for a different length itinerary? Check out this 13-day version or this 15-day version of this trip.

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