Sadly our time in Mexico has come to an end and we are onto our next destination – Guatemala. I think we both agree Mexico was incredible, the whole country is vibrant, full of colour and the people incredibly friendly. We were warned about corruption and violence, however came across a warm and welcoming country. It’s hard to settle on our favourite places and activities in our three weeks in Mexico, but alas we’re going to have to try.
PLACES: (In no particular order – because we love them all)
We’re not going to lie to you but our views of Mexico City before we had left the UK weren’t great ones. We imagined an unsafe grey city with rundown buildings and not much going on – a very uninformed view we know. Oh how we were wrong! The Centro Historico where we were based was beautiful, with grand buildings, museums and a huge central square known as ‘The Zócalo’. The city is full of colour, dancing and laughter, and around every corner there was something going on. Transport around the city on the metro was cheap, easy, full of adventure and a definite must if you ever find yourself there.
This traditional city is full of textiles, colonial buildings and a lot of mezcal. It felt like a small town when we were sat in the Zócalo watching the world go by and there was always a parade or band filling the air with music. Even though illness hit one of us we still count Oaxaca in our top 3 because of the chilled out days and lively evenings. In the surrounding areas of Oaxaca there are many activities to fill your day with and learn about traditional textiles and mezcal which is so central to their culture.
Here we were surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys that we could look onto from the streets. When we were in San Cristobal there seemed to be an event or parade on everyday which meant to streets were full and fireworks were being let off every few minutes. Both day and night the streets were buzzing with people sat outside around bars or squares. Another plus was that the temperature dropped at night, so much so that our hostel had a bonfire.
Casa Angel Youth Hostel – Oaxaca
This hostel is located really close to the very centre of the city, a 5 minute walk down the hill and nearer 10 on the way back up the hill in the blistering heat. As soon as we arrived the staff were friendly and open to give any suggestions to us – unlike so many others we have stayed in. We stayed in a small dorm here which was really clean and had nice beds, lockable cupboards and everything else you’d expect. One of our favourite aspects was the rooftop where you could look across the whole city. At night this turned into a bar where they sold coronas at 25 pesos (an outrageous £1) then were more than happy for you to bring your own cans in from a local shop afterwards. Overall we loved the hostel and met great people from all over the world.
Price per night: 230 pesos ( 9.25 quid) per bed per night
Hostal Che Babel – Tulum
This is very much a party hostel for those that would be interested. They have a great outside area that each room leads out onto and the drinks are cheap and the happy hour (2 cocktails for 50 pesos) is pretty good. We met so many cool people there who we ended up partying with and have met along the way in other destinations. On top of all this the dorms were spacious, comfy and air conditioned. This makes a massive difference compared to some party hostels that neglect these aspects. We only stayed one night as we had a AirBnb booked the following night but we would have happily stayed longer in hindsight.
Price per night: 200 pesos (£8) per bed per night
Mezcal Hostel – Cancun
Mezcal Hostel in Cancun was another party hostel (surprising for Cancun, we know!). many great things to say about this one. Firstly, everything was spotless, the rooms were massive with comfy beds, there’s a swimming pool with basketball hoops and a volleyball net. They offered free dinner and free breakfast which we haven’t come across again yet. Another positive was the crazy events manager who made a massive effort to organise games but not overly forceful in his efforts.
Price per night: 200 pesos (£8) per bed per night
Agua Azul Waterfalls – Palenque
This was well worth the early start to get there. These are the biggest waterfalls in Central America and being able to swim in them was perfect. After a long bus ride being able to take a nice refreshing dip was just what we needed. We climbed to the highest point where the biggest swimming pond was, looking over the rest of the entire site. The water felt as clean and natural as you would expect from waterfalls. Each viewing platform along the climb to the top offered different sights which made it even more interesting.
Pyramids of Teotihuacan – Mexico City
Now how can we not add this to our top 3 list? What made these pyramids stand apart from the other ruin / pyramid sites we visited was being able to climb to the top of the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ and half way up the ‘Pyramid of the Moon’. The views from the top were staggering, you could see the entire site and all the surrounding area of the site as well. Not only were the two pyramids amazing, but the rest of the site was really interesting. Whether it was the botanical gardens, the museum, the avenue of the dead or the murals. If you’re near or in Mexico City don’t be a fool and not go!
(Entry for students FREE or 70 pesos for others)
Plaza Revolucion – Mexico City
The whole square and monument is impressive due to its size and also the amazing restauration work that was carried out 7 to 8 years ago. The full tour starts off in the underground museum. The museum was one of, if not the best one we went to in Mexico. The whole square and monument has a very interesting history dating back to early 20th Century. You wouldn’t believe it when you see it but the whole area was completely closed off for 40 years due to structural damage and no funding for repairs. Once you are done in the museum you get a glass lift to the top – this is not one for people scared of heights. The views you get over the whole city are breath-taking and best of all 360 degrees.
Pepe’s Fish Tacos – Puerto Escondido
Anyone who has been to Puerto Escondido will know about them they’re that good. What looks like a random shack on the beach was the best food we had in Mexico. You order per single taco but 1 is all you need really. The taco is filled with fish or shrimp, cooked however you like, for example coconut batter or grilled and topped with cabbage, onions, herbs, sauces and salsas. Words seriously cannot describe how delicious they tasted!
Price: 40-50 pesos per taco
El Cartenal – Mexico City
Another favourite was our first breakfast in Mexico City at El Cartenal. Here you can pick from an extensive menu of Mexican breakfast dishes and experience it all just with locals. You are surprised with pastries, sides and coffees all throughout your meal and for the price it was just phenomenal. Head there if you’re in the city!
Price: 400 pesos for two people (you won’t need lunch after this)
El Cubanito – Merida
Our final choice of top food places goes to El Cubanito in Merida. This place was so good we went for lunch two days in a row. The food was extremely well priced, tasty and big! What more could you want? Over the two days we had fried beef steak, stuffed potato, minced pork, huge salads and side plates just as big as your main plate of food. The restaurant setting makes the experience too as it is based in the back of the families house and the walls are covered in Cuban wall art and green plants.
Price: 60-80 pesos per person
La Vina de Bacco – San Cristobal de las Casas
For once on this article we have a straightforward winner for best watering hole. La Vina de Bacco in San Cristobal de las Casas. Both of us being wine lovers this place was heaven on earth. Glasses of wine started at a mere 20 pesos for a good size and they were all very good quality. What was meant to be two glasses and an early night turned into 5 or 6 glasses and a not so early night. No regrets. With each glass you are given small tapas size dishes for free!
Calle Regina (a street) – Mexico City
This is just a general street in Mexico City that we stumbled across. It is one long street full of bars where the chairs sprawl out of each bar to fill the street. Here you can get two jarra beers (1 litre draught beer) for 100 pesos. The street was packed with locals enjoying after work or weekend drinks all night and the musicians walking down the street made the atmosphere even better.
Mezcal – Specifically in Oaxaca
Mezcal in Oaxaca has to make the list as it is predominately made here so every single bar had a wide variety of shots and cocktails all based on Mezcal. We tried several different varieties of each and were never disappointed.