Jam-packed with fun, fascinating excursions, this 12-day itinerary is the perfect introduction to Mexico for the whole family. Starting in the capital, you'll cheer on your favorite wrestlers at a live Lucha Libre show, then go for a kid-friendly food tour through the colorful city streets. After exploring the canals and floating gardens of Xochimilco, it's time to make your way south toward Oaxaca—stopping en route to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan by hot air balloon and walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs at the Tehuacán Biosphere Reserve.

Highlights

  • Experience the fun of a live Lucha Libre wrestling show
  • Sample churros & seafood tostadas on a family-friendly food tour of Mexico City
  • Float through the canals & gardens of Xochimilco
  • Fly over the pyramids of Teotihuacan in a hot air balloon
  • Search for 60 million-year-old dinosaur footprints in the Tehuacán Biosphere

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Mexico City, Lucha Libre Experience & Mezcal Tasting Mexico City
Day 2 Family-Friendly Mexico City Food Tour: Streets & Sweets Mexico City
Day 3 Tour the Canals & Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, Discover Coyoacán Mexico City
Day 4 Free Time in Mexico City Mexico City
Day 5 See the Pyramids of Teotihuacan by Hot Air Balloon, Transfer to Puebla Puebla
Day 6 Puebla City Tour & Talavera History Puebla
Day 7 Transfer to San Juan Raya, Hike Under the Stars in the Tehuacán Biosphere San Juan Raya
Day 8 In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs in San Juan Raya, Transfer to Oaxaca Oaxaca
Day 9 Gastronomy & Culture on the Streets of Oaxaca Oaxaca
Day 10 Free Day in Oaxaca Oaxaca
Day 11 Visit Monte Albán & Create Your Alebrije Oaxaca
Day 12 Depart Oaxaca  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City, Lucha Libre Experience & Mezcal Tasting

Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral overlooks the Zócalo
Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral overlooks the Zócalo
Welcome to Mexico! Upon arrival at the Mexico City International Airport, you'll be met by your private driver and transferred to your hotel. After settling in, head back out to experience one of the most favorite activities of Mexican popular culture: Lucha Libre. It all starts in front of the majestic Palacio de Bellas Artes with a visit to a traditional Mexican cantina. Enjoy a tasting of artisanal mezcal accompanied by famous Mexican guacamole as your local guide tells you a bit about the history of wrestling.
 
From here, you'll set out on a walking tour to the famous Arena Mexico while your guide amazes you with stories of "El Santo" and "Blue Demon," two of the biggest stars in the history of Lucha Libre. Once you arrive at the Arena Mexico, enjoy a dramatic battle between the heroes (técnicos) and the villains (rudos). Shout and support your favorite wrestler while you experience a magical afternoon in Mexico City among families, beer vendors, snacks, and wrestling masks.

Day 2: Family-Friendly Mexico City Food Tour: Streets & Sweets

Sample freshly made sweet and street food on today's tour
Sample Mexico City's freshly made sweets and street food 
Today's tour takes place in the vibrant downtown Centro Histórico, the historic and geographic heart of Mexico City. Join your expert culinary guide in trying some of the best foods in the neighborhood while you learn about Mexican history and culture from a culinary perspective.

Your children will have a great time, too—trying new things and coloring in the tour activity book. You'll also stop at a playground to let the kids burn off some energy. The items you'll try include:
  • Seafood tostadas: picture fresh-cooked octopus or shrimp tossed with tomato and onion and served on a crunchy tortilla. Add a spritz of lime juice and a drizzle of salsa for the most delicious seafood snack you'll have while you're here.
  • Turkey tortas: often, tortas in Mexico City are huge, but these sandwiches (filled with tender turkey, smoky chipotle salsa, and slices of avocado) are small and mighty.
  • Typical Oaxacan snacks: at the San Juan Market, you'll visit a stand specializing in snacks from this southwestern state, including crunchy cooked crickets, tangy quesillo, and garlicky peanuts.
  • Churros: freshly fried and dusted in sugar, these are a Mexico City specialty. You'll visit a historic churrería and try their newest invention—the churro ice cream sandwich.

Day 3: Tour the Canals & Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, Discover Coyoacán

Travel through the Xochimilco canals by boat
Travel through the Xochimilco canals by boat 
Today, you'll have the opportunity to visit one of Mexico City's most emblematic areas: the canals of Xochimilco. Meaning "Place of Flowers" in Nahuatl, this historic neighborhood was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. Board a trajinera (a colorful flat-bottomed boat) to tour the area's waterways while your guide shares the secrets of its biocultural richness.

Along the way, you'll stop at a demonstration chinampa (floating garden) to learn about the importance of the ancient chinampero agriculture system. Discover how these traditional cultivation techniques and natural biofilters improve the water quality and provide healthy ecosystems to conserve native species like the axolotl. Afterward, taste typical Xochimilco flavors as a cook prepares traditional dishes made from local produce and products.

Later, explore one of the city's most picturesque neighborhoods on a tour of Coyoacán. Characterized by cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and bohemian style, this tranquil area will make you feel as if you've been transported outside of the city. Pass through the Callejón del Aguacate, a narrow street with colonial houses that holds local legends and myths, and see the church of La Plaza de la Conchita, where the first mass in the region was celebrated. To finish, stroll through the Centennial Garden, where you can sample the neighborhood's typical desserts, such as churros and ice cream.

Day 4: Free Time in Mexico City

Put yourself in the locals' shoes and explore Mexico City at your own pace
Put yourself in the locals' shoes and explore Mexico City at your own pace

Enjoy some free time in Mexico City today. There are plenty of family-friendly museums, historical monuments, galleries, restaurants, archaeological finds, parks, and more. Other options include visiting local markets, restaurants, and cafés or putting yourself in the locals' shoes with a stroll through the authentic neighborhoods of San Angel, La Condesa, Coyoacán, or La Roma

Day 5: See the Pyramids of Teotihuacan by Hot Air Balloon, Transfer to Puebla

Sunrise over the pyramids of  Teotihuacan
Sunrise over the pyramids of Teotihuacan
Today's adventure starts early, with a transfer out of the city to the mystical archaeological site of Teotihuacan, where you'll see the ancient wonder from great heights with a sunrise hot air balloon flight. The activity will start with your guide showing you the process of how they set up the balloon while you enjoy coffee and cookies.  

Once in the hot air balloon basket, you'll begin the unforgettable ascent as other balloons of different designs and colors join you. Marvel at the views, the beauty, and the tranquility of the valley as you soar toward the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Teotihuacan. Once there, you will fly very close to the majestic Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon and have a bird's eye view of the famous Avenue of the Dead, as well as other important buildings of the site. After enjoying spectacular views across Teotihuacan and the valley, you'll begin the flight back, where a delicious breakfast awaits upon landing.

Then it's time to explore the "City of the Gods" on foot. Start with a walk along the Calzada de Los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead), then climb the grandiose Pyramid of the Sun. Continue to the Pyramid of the Moon, from where you can get a splendid view of the entire center of Teotihuacan, and take some panoramic photos to remember the moment. Afterward, you will visit the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, where the best-preserved remains are found, and learn about obsidian, the prized stone of the Mayans, which is still plentiful in the mines around the site.
Plan your trip to Mexico
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
 
In the afternoon, continue to the beautiful colonial town of Puebla. The Spanish conquest left its influence by creating this Baroque city, often considered an architectural and cultural jewel of the country. Get settled into your hotel, then head out for dinner—Puebla is renowned for its cuisine and is the birthplace of many of Mexico's most famous traditional dishes, including mole poblano and chalupas.

Day 6: Puebla City Tour & Talavera History

Colorful Talavera ceramics in Puebla
Colorful Talavera ceramics in Puebla
Explore more of Puebla today with a walking tour through its historic center, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Start at the impressive Cathedral and the Chapel of the Rosary, undoubtedly one of the world's most splendid examples of the New Hispanic Baroque. Afterward, continue with a visit to a Talavera (hand-painted tile) 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, Barrio de Los Sapos, and the El Parián handicrafts market.

Day 7: Transfer to San Juan Raya, Hike Under the Stars in the Tehuacán Biosphere

Briliant night skies over the Tehuacán-Cuicuitlán Biosphere Reserve
Briliant night skies over the Tehuacán-Cuicuitlán Biosphere Reserve
Say your goodbyes to Puebla today and continue your journey south to the desert landscapes of San Juan Raya, where you can get settled into your hotel and enjoy a quiet afternoon or catch up on some rest.

As night falls, you'll head to the Tehuacán-Cuicuitlán Biosphere Reserve to observe some of the clearest skies in the country. Far from big cities and light pollution, this part of Mexico is heaven for stargazers. With your local guide, hike along an interpretative trail where you will see and learn about plants from the region and how local people still use them in their everyday life. Spend the evening watching the stars as you listen to stories and legends of the area. Along with the soundtrack of the desert, with a little luck, you'll also hear some of its native nocturnal animals.

Day 8: In the Footsteps of Dinosaurs in San Juan Raya, Transfer to Oaxaca

Hike through the arid landscapes of the Tehuacán Biosphere Reserve
Hike through the arid landscapes of the Tehuacán Biosphere Reserve
Today's tour starts at the community center of San Juan Raya, where you and your guide will head to the starting point of this experience in the heart of Tehuacán-Cuicuitlán Biosphere Reserve. Be amazed by the majestic desert landscape that surrounds you as you walk, with your guide pointing out the many species of desert plants you encounter. In San Juan Raya, there are about 2,700 species of plants and cactus, of which 11% are endemic.

After an hour of walking and enjoying the scenery, you will arrive at the dinosaur footprints. Thanks to the dry climate, the footprints have been preserved on the banks of a river, and you can see the marks of animals that walked here more than 60 million years ago. Afterward, walk back to the community center where local artisans sell handmade palm souvenirs.
 
In the afternoon, your driver will take you south to your next destination: Oaxaca. After checking into your hotel, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to take in the colors and flavors that this charming city offers. Visit some of its museums, 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), or stop by the Ethnobotanical Garden (entrance only with a local guide). Kids with a sweet tooth should make sure to sample the traditional hot chocolate drink that's a staple in Oaxaca.

Day 9: Gastronomy & Culture on the Streets of Oaxaca

Sample the vibrant flavors of Oaxaca's markets
Sample the vibrant flavors of Oaxaca's markets

Explore more of Oaxaca today on a guided city tour as you discover the cultural, historical, and gastronomic richness that this city offers for all ages.

Start by visiting the Mercado de la Merced, where you will be able to taste some traditional baked empanada, then walk through the colorful streets of the Jalatlaco neighborhood to reach the 16th-century Aqueduct and sample delicious tacos on the street of Garcia Vigil. Continue to the architectural complex formed by the temple of Santo Domingo, home to a museum of cultures and the site that holds the treasure of the Seventh Tomb of Monte Alban. Here you can stop and cool down with some of the town's famous ice cream.

Finally, pass the impressive Baroque facades of the Cathedral and the Novo-Hispanic mansions on Alcalá Street to finish at the Plaza de la Constitución. With its authentic Art Nouveau kiosk and colorful markets full of delightful aromas and flavors, it's the perfect place to end the tour with a delicious Oaxacan hot chocolate.

Day 10: Free Day in Oaxaca

Spend a free day exploring the heart of Oaxaca
Spend a free day exploring the heart of Oaxaca

The state of Oaxaca stands out for its cultural, culinary, and artistic legacy. It's considered a Cultural Heritage of Humanity Site by UNESCO and famous for its green-stone buildings and distinct colonial style. Spend a free day walking along the colorful tourist walkway, where you will find many restaurants, mezcalerías, museums, and handicraft stores. In the Benito Juárez market, you can browse a great variety of handicrafts such as alebrijes, embroidery, textiles, and typical Oaxacan products such as mezcals, quesillo, mole, and chapulines

Nearby you can enjoy an exquisite meal in the Pasillo de Humo located in the 20 de Noviembre Market; don't forget to try some cecina sheets, tasajo, or some delicious tlayudas

Day 11: Visit Monte Albán & Create Your Alebrije

Paint your own alebrije animals in Monte Albán
Today you'll visit Monte Albán, an archaeological site located 5 miles (8 km) from the city of Oaxaca. The site was the ancient capital of the Zapotec people and one of the first cities in Mesoamerica (and one of the most populous during its heyday).

Meet your guide for an exploration of the archaeological site to learn about the Zapotec culture and history. Afterward, visit the nearby village of San Martin Tilcajete to discover the iconic alebrije handicrafts and try your hand at making some yourself. The alebrije are made of cardboard or paper and wire or wood and are then painted with vibrant colors. Popular shapes include animals, both natural and fantastical, and kids of all ages can let their imaginations run wild as they create a magical keepsake.

Day 12: Depart Oaxaca

Bid Oaxaca farewell
Goodbye, Mexico! 
It's time to bid Mexico farewell as your driver transfers you to the Oaxaca International Airport to catch your departing flight. ¡Buen viaje!

More Great Mexico Itineraries

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

Map

Map of Mexico Family Adventure: Mexico City to Oaxaca - 12 Days
Map of Mexico Family Adventure: Mexico City to Oaxaca - 12 Days