Explore the history and culture of Mexico with this 13-day tour, starting in the country's capital, Mexico City. Float the colorful canals of Xochimilco, sample Mexican street food, and wander local neighborhoods like Roma and Coyoacán. Then, it's off to Guadalajara for amazing architecture, lessons on the magic of cacao, and a visit to the town of Tequila for distillery tours and tastings. Your trip culminates on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, where you'll swim with dolphins and volunteer at a sea turtle camp!

Highlights

  • Learn the secrets of the floating waterways that make up the canals of Xochimilco
  • See ancient ruins at Teotihuacan, City of the Gods
  • Sip tequila in the town where this tasty liquor originates
  • Swim with frolicking dolphins at Los Arcos Marine Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Mexico City Mexico City
Day 2 Mexico City: History, Culture & Gastronomy  Mexico City
Day 3 Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, Frida Kahlo House & Tour of Coyoacán Mexico City
Day 4 Bike Through the "City of the Gods" in Teotihuacan Mexico City
Day 5 Transfer to Guadalajara Guadalajara
Day 6 Historical Guadalajara & Museums Guadalajara
Day 7 Tequila Distilleries Tour Guadalajara
Day 8 Discover the Magic of Cacao in Tlaquepaque Guadalajara
Day 9 Transfer to Puerto Vallarta Puerto Vallarta
Day 10 Wild Dolphins & Snorkeling at Los Arcos Puerto Vallarta
Day 11 Sea Turtle Camp Visit Puerto Vallarta
Day 12 Transfer to Mexico City  Mexico City
Day 13 Depart Mexico City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Mexico City

Mexico City evening views

Welcome to Mexico! Upon your arrival at the Mexico City airport, you'll be met by your private driver and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, you'll have time to explore the city on your own. Founded in the 1500s under Spanish rule, Mexico City is now the largest metropolis in Latin America, with a population of more than 8 million. It has become a popular destination for visitors from all over the world, and is known for its art, food, and rich cultural history.

You can begin your visit with a stroll through local neighborhoods such as Roma, where you'll find art deco architecture and amazing restaurants, or San Ángel, with its cobblestone streets, art galleries, and sidewalk cafes. Looking for some green space? Visit Chapultepec Park, locally known as Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the largest city parks in Mexico, and a favorite for locals and visitors alike. Sprawling across nearly 1,700 acres ( 686 ha), the park offers tree-lined walking paths and ponds, and is home to a zoo, castle, and several museums. Later, enjoy dinner at one of the city's many restaurants. 

Day 2: Mexico City: History, Culture & Gastronomy 

Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral
Mexico City's Metropolitan Cathedral

This guided walking tour takes you deep into the heart of the city, visiting historic landmarks while also sampling Mexico's very popular street foods. View highlights like Alameda Central Park (the oldest public garden in the Americas) and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, then continue along the bustling street of Madero to reach the grand Plaza de la Constitución, better known as Zócalo. This area is home to some of the city's most important buildings and monuments—including the Metropolitan Cathedral, the ancient Aztec archaeological site of Templo Mayor, and the 16th-century Palacio Nacional.

Along the way, you'll make lots of different stops to taste some of the local gastronomy. Try some tacos al pastor, (pork tacos), huitlacoche quesadillas (made with corn mushroom), and fresh tamales, finishing off the tour with a traditional dessert or some sweet churros. After your tour, you'll have the option to return to your hotel and rest, or check out one of the local bars or restaurants. 

Day 3: Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, Frida Kahlo House & Tour of Coyoacán

Xochimilco canals
Explore the Xochimilco canals by boat

Today you'll visit the canals of Xochimilco (Place of Flowers), a historic neighborhood and World Heritage Site. Board a colorful, flat-bottomed boat, or trajineras, as your guide shares the secrets of this bicultural waterway. You'll visit the Tlilac and Tezhuilo Lagoons, where you might glimpse herons, pelicans, or a circling hawk, and see a demonstration at a chinampa (floating garden) to better understand their agricultural system. You'll learn how these cultivation techniques and natural biofilters improve water quality and promote healthy ecosystems.

Later, head over to the neighborhood of Coyoacán for a visit to the very picturesque (and very blue!) Casa Azul, one of the homes of the famous Mexican painter and icon, Frida Kahlo. Now a museum, the house contains paintings by the artist, an exhibit dedicated to her colorful collection of traditional dresses, personal items such as books, and paintings created by her husband, Diego Rivera, whose work was equally well-known. Outside of the house, you'll be able to take in the tranquility of its central courtyard, a lush landscape filled with flowers and plants.

End the day with a walking tour through Coyoacán. Characterized by cobblestone streets 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. Make a stop at the Casa Colorada, home of La Malinche and Hernán Cortés, who settled here after the fall of Tenochtitlán, and finish with churros and ice cream at Centennial Garden.
Plan your trip to Mexico
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 4: Bike Through the "City of the Gods" in Teotihuacan

View of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Avenue of the Dead
View of the Pyramid of the Sun and the Avenue of the Dead

Visit one of Mexico's most impressive archaeological sites on this biking and walking tour. You'll be picked up at your hotel and head to the outskirts of the city, where you'll hop on a bike and travel along the Valley of Teotihuacan, passing through the route of the Murals. From here, you'll begin your guided tour of Teotihuacan, or "City of the Gods."

Walk the Calzada de Los Muertos (Causeway of the Dead), and view ancient buildings such as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and the massive, 230-foot (70 m) high Pyramid of the Sun, as well as the smaller but still impressive Pyramid of the Moon. You'll also have the opportunity to visit the on-site museums, the Teotihuacan Culture Museum and the Museum of Teotihuacan Murals, where you'll find numerous artifacts from Teotihuacan, including tools, recovered burial sites, and ceramics. Afterward, you'll bike back to your pickup point and return to your hotel.

Day 5: Transfer to Guadalajara

Twilight over Guadalajara

Your Mexico travels continue in Guadalajara. You'll take a private transfer from your hotel in Mexico City to the airport, where you'll catch your flight. Upon arrival, a driver will be there to transport you to your hotel. Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco—one of Mexico's 31 states—is also known as the "Pearl of the West," with amazing architecture at every turn, historic sites, museums, and galleries. The city is also the birthplace of the music of the mariachis, the traditional Mexican bands whose members wear big sombrero hats, so you may see quite a few mariachi performers during your time here. 

Discover some of the astounding architecture of Guadalajara. Head downtown to the city Centro, where you can see Guadalajara Cathedral, with its unusual neo-Gothic spires, and the Teatro Degollado, a small historic theater built in a neoclassic style. Take in the vibrant atmosphere of the Mercado Libertad, a huge indoor market, and grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink!

If you'd like to see what's outside the city, head to the nearby town of Tlaquepaque, where you'll find quaint, cobblestone streets and bespoke boutiques bursting with artisan treasures. The city is known for its colorful papel picado, traditional cut tissue paper folk art that is commonly hung up for parties and celebrations, as well as colorful umbrellas that are suspended over the city streets. You can visit the Regional Ceramic Museum to see traditional art, or stop by El Parían, a gazebo area surrounded by several restaurants, which often has live music. 

Day 6: Historical Guadalajara & Museums

Historic Guadalajara

Today, explore the city by visiting the magnificent historical, cultural and architectural legacy that is showcased through its colonial buildings, artistic murals, and historic sites. This walking tour takes you into the historic Centro, where you'll see examples of neoclassical, Baroque, and Gothic architecture.

You'll be able to visit emblematic buildings such as the Cabañas Cultural Institute, which was named a World Heritage Site, the Regional Museum of Guadalajara, and the Government Palace, as well as its squares and walkways decorated with works of art by important Jalisco artists. The murals include works by renowned artists, such as Gerardo Suarez, Jacobo Galvez, and Jose Clemente Orozco.

Day 7: Tequila Distilleries Tour

Blue agave of Tequila

Tour and taste on this visit to the magical town of Tequila, which is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) from Guadalajara. Founded in 1530 by monks, Tequila has become known for its production of the alcoholic spirits of the same name. Your driver will collect you from the hotel and you'll head to two different distilleries, where you'll learn about the process of making the town's namesake spirit (from agave, the liquor's main ingredient) as well as sample a flight of different tequilas to round out your education.

You'll also have an opportunity to visit the fields of blue agave, the plant used since the 16th century to produce tequila spirits and make other fermented drinks. After finding a delicious lunch at one of the many traditional restaurants, enjoy a walking tour of the city, where you can visit sites such as the National Museum of Tequila, and learn more about the origins and evolution of tequila alcohol, or just stroll the Plaza Principal, an open-air plaza with food carts, markets, mariachi music, and of course, tequila. 

Day 8: Discover the Magic of Cacao in Tlaquepaque

Cacao in Tlaquepaque

Travel to Tlaquepaque today to learn about the traditions of Mexican cacao. The Mayas and Olmecs were the first to learn how to cultivate cocoa, and the Aztecs valued these beans so highly that they even used them as currency. The consumption of cacao was traditionally reserved for special occasions, including festivals and funeral rituals, and was exclusive to Mexico's highest social classes. 

You'll visit a local shop for a cacao tasting, where you'll try different cocoa beans, each one with its own unique texture, flavor, and aroma, as well as the chocolate they're made from, pairing them with different foods and beverages. The seeds and products used for this experience are meticulously selected, and designed especially for those who love good food and want to know more about the world of Mexican cocoa and chocolate. 

Day 9: Transfer to Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallerta
Sunset in Puerto Vallerta

It's off to Puerto Vallarta today! Your private driver will transport you from your Guadalajara hotel to the bus station, where you'll take a comfortable bus into the city. Upon your arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel and after check-in, you'll have the option of relaxing at the hotel or stepping out into the city.

Known for its beaches, nightlife, and vibrant culture, this coastal city has much to offer. You can stroll the beachfront promenade, or Malecón, where you'll find ocean views alongside artistic sculptures, shops, and restaurants. Or, head to the city center and visit the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe). The church, built in the 1900s, combines several architectural styles and is one of the city's major landmarks. 

If you're looking for a little beach time, relax on the sands of Mismaloya or Camarones beaches, where you can rent sporting equipment, go parasailing, or enjoy a refreshing drink from one of the beach vendors. For a more lively experience, visit the Zona Romántica district, where you'll find art galleries, sidewalk cafés, and plenty of bars and restaurants. 

Day 10: Wild Dolphins & Snorkeling at Los Arcos

Wild Dolphins & Snorkeling at Los Arcos
Wild dolphins at Los Arcos

Enjoy an unforgettable adventure as you go in search of one of the most engaging and intelligent animals in the ocean: dolphins! You'll meet up with your guide at the marina, and they will transport you to some of the best dolphin sighting spots in the area. The guide will share information on the biology and ecology of these incredible creatures, and you have the opportunity to see pods of dolphins feeding and playing (with a bit of luck, you might even see mothers with their babies). If the behavior of the dolphins allows it, you'll also be able to get in the water with them, making for an even more personal experience. 

Afterward, you'll cruise over to one of Puerto Vallarta's premiere snorkeling spots, Los Arcos Marine Park. Named for the huge granite islands that rise from the ocean in arch formations, Los Arcos is home to tropical fish, eels, rays, and sea turtles, with caves, tunnels, and a beautiful coral reef. You'll spend some time snorkeling and enjoying views of the bay, then head back to the marina to enjoy the rest of your day as you like. 

Day 11: Sea Turtle Camp Visit

Sea Turtle Camp Visit
Help with sea turtle conservation today

Be part of Puerto Vallarta's sea turtle conservation efforts with a visit to the coast of Banderas Bay, a summer refuge for female sea turtles to lay their eggs. The region is home to six of the seven species of recognized sea turtles that nest on Mexican shores, all of which have been under full federal protection since 1990.

Visit the turtle camp and talk to the dedicated team of Mexican biologists and volunteers, learning about their work and their efforts to increase the survival rate of the Olive Ridley sea turtle, the species most common to Puerto Vallarta beaches and one that is in danger of extinction. You'll be able to study the camp and how it operates, plant your own turtle nest, and potentially help release turtle hatchlings to the ocean, an endeavor that takes place after sunset to minimize the risk of the hatchlings falling prey to birds or other predators. 

Day 12: Transfer to Mexico City 

Lucho Libre masks in Mexico City

After checking out of your hotel today, your driver will transport you to the airport, where you'll fly back to Mexico City for your final full day in Mexico. Your driver will collect you at the airport and take you to your hotel. From there, you can take the afternoon to visit some of the places you might've previously missed.

For local entertainment, check out Arena Mexico or Arena Coliseo for a Mexican wrestling match, otherwise known as Lucha Libre. Enjoy the antics of the Luchadores as they take to the ring, battling it out while wearing wild costumes and Lucha masks. It's not hard to get into the spirit of this lively sporting event, and you might soon find yourself cheering for your own favorite!

Prefer something more low-key? Head to Mexico City's Centro Histórico and visit the Secretaría de Educación Pública (Secretariat of Public Education) where you can see the beautiful murals from famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera, husband to Frida Kahlo. The government building, which houses the Ministry of Public Education, features more than 100 panels of murals, celebrating Mexico's history, culture, and people. 

Day 13: Depart Mexico City

Views of Mexico City

Your Mexico travels come to an end today with your departure from Mexico City. Your driver will take you to the airport, where you'll board your flight home or to your next destination. Safe travels! 

More Great Mexico Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Mexico? Check out these other Mexico itineraries, explore different ways to spend two weeks in Mexico, or learn about the best time of year to visit Mexico.

Map

Map of Vibrant Mexico: Mexico City, Guadalajara & Puerto Vallarta - 13 Days
Map of Vibrant Mexico: Mexico City, Guadalajara & Puerto Vallarta - 13 Days