Mexican Marvels: 20 Cities That Capture the Heart
Although selecting the most beautiful cities in Mexico is challenging, I have chosen 20 that stand out.
One of every four cities in the Americas declared World Heritage by Unesco is Mexican, highlighting the beauty of Mexico’s metropolises.
Mexico is the fourth nation in the world with the most recognition for the importance of its physical and spiritual heritage. And to prove this, I’ll start with my favorite one.
20 Most Beautiful Cities in Mexico
1. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Its chilled and picturesque atmosphere of beautiful colonial civil and religious buildings made San Miguel de Allende one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, and awarded a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2008.
The architectural icon of the town is the temple of San Miguel de Allende, a church with an imposing neo-Gothic facade with paintings in its interior decoration by Juan Rodriguez Juarez and other artists.
In front of the main square is also the Casa del Mayorazgo de la Canal, built at the beginning of the 19th century by the wealthy mining landowner Manuel Tomás de la Canal.
Other buildings that embellish the city of San Miguel de Allende and show its history are the Cultural Center Ignacio Ramirez “El Nigromante,” where the mural of Siqueiros, Life, and Work of General Ignacio de Allende, the Parish and Convent of the Immaculate Conception and the Casa de Allende Museum are located.
San Miguel de Allende is one of the Mexican cities that most attract foreigners to live in for its mix of beauty, tranquility, and security.
2. Guadalajara, Jalisco: One of the most beautiful cities in Mexico
Despite being the second most populated Mexican city, Guadalajara retains the charm of Mexico’s small towns without renouncing the impositions of modernity.
The architectural landscape of Guadalajara is dominated by the cathedral basilica dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Degollado Theater, inaugurated in 1866, is another architectural jewel of the capital of Jalisco.
The iconic Minerva roundabout, with the statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, adds to the emblematic monuments of Guadalajara.
The local artisans work the clay in all modalities, making pieces of adornment and daily household use.
Mexican folkloric music and Tequila are regular protagonists of the nightlife in Guadalajara, making this capital a cheerful and cordial city.
3. Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca
Oaxaca is another city marked by the beauty of its colonial buildings, complemented by its pre-Hispanic past, which earned it the recognition of Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, built with beautiful regional stone of yellow and greenish tones, stands out for many religious sculptures in its niches on the façade.
The temple and ex-convent of Santo Domingo de Guzmán are a beautiful baroque complex distinguished by the parish façade and the altarpieces inside.
It houses a museum that includes pre-Columbian artifacts.
The Macedonio Alcalá Theater is a beautiful expression of Oaxacan Art Nouveau architecture.
It began as a casino and now has a grand French-style lobby and a sumptuous hall for more than 600 spectators, including Empire-style boxes.
Near the city is Monte Alban, the most important Zapotec archeological site in the state that preserves the ruins of El Palacio, El Observatorio, Palacio de Ocote, Edificio de los Danzantes, and Patio Hundido.
4. Guanajuato city, Guanajuato
Guanajuato’s winding, cobblestone, and romantic streets invite you to take a relaxing stroll.
The climate and charming atmosphere make it one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico to visit.
In its historic center stands out the Collegiate Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato with its baroque and neoclassical styles, whose wooden image was the first to be brought to the New World from Spain.
There is an organ with more than a thousand pipes in its interior.
The Juarez and Cervantes theaters are other gems of Guanajuato. The first was inaugurated in 1903 with Verdi’s opera, Aida, a performance attended by the former president, Porfirio Diaz.
The Cervantes Theater was built in 1979 and is the main venue for the Cervantino International Festival, an important cultural celebration that attracts thousands of travelers to the city every October.
Other Guanajuato festivities include the International Organ Festival, the Day of Flowers (the last Friday of Lent), and the Medieval Festival.
Guanajuato is a land of legends, and any local will tell you about the girl who asked to be changed from her grave, the Llorona or the Callejón del Beso.
Ah! And don’t forget to visit the mummies of Guanajuato.
5. Puebla, Puebla
Puebla will always be at the top of any list of Mexico’s most beautiful cities for its impressive churches and monuments, handicraft traditions, and rich gastronomy.
The Cathedral Basilica of Puebla is a World Heritage Site and preserves one of the country’s richest collections of religious art.
The 17th-century Palafoxiana Library was the first public library in the New World, with furniture made of cedar wood.
Puebla’s neighborhoods, like Analco and El Artista, are spaces where the city’s life pulses through its artistic street expressions and spirit of pre-Hispanic, colonial, and contemporary features.
Local artisans have made Talavera a ceramic art transcending the borders of the state and the country, with their delicate pieces decorated in blue.
Dishes such as mole poblano and chiles en nogada are gastronomic emblems of Puebla and Mexico, which lead the menus of the best restaurants in the country specializing in national cuisine.
6. Merida, Yucatan
Merida shines for the beauty of its architecture and cultural vocation, making it one of the Mexican cities most interested in scientific, artistic, and commemorative events.
Its central avenue, Paseo de Montejo, was built between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in the image of a French boulevard.
The wealthy henequen landowners built their mansions along the boulevard, where leafy groves were also developed, and gazebos and monuments were installed, such as those dedicated to the revolutionary leader Felipe Carrillo Puerto and the writer and historian Justo Sierra O’Reilly.
In front of Paseo de Montejo is the impressive Cantón Palace, built at the beginning of the 20th century as the residence of the Yucatecan governor, Francisco Cantón Rosado.
After being sold in 1932 to the regional government, it was converted into the official residence of the governors of Yucatan until 1966, when it became the home of the Regional Museum of Anthropology.
Merida is full of cultural centers and museums, which in 2000 earned it the designation American Capital of Culture.
7. Mexico City
The fast pace of life makes you forget or overlook the beauty of Mexico City.
The country’s capital is home to some of the nation’s most important historical and architectural attractions, headed by the Templo Mayor, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the Angel of Independence.
The most notable national museums in Mexico City are the Museum of Anthropology, Soumaya Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Frida Kahlo Museum, Tamayo Museum, Papalote Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Natural History.
Several of these are located in the majestic Chapultepec Forest, the most significant natural and urban space on the American continent, which also houses the Chapultepec Castle, the National History Museum, and the fantastic Mexico City Zoo.
The beautiful neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa host the most exclusive restaurants, bars, galleries, and stores in the city, while the districts of San Jeronimo and Coyoacan preserve their colonial, artistic, and cozy touch amid modernity.
8. Zacatecas City
Zacatecas is known as “the city with the quarry face and the silver heart” developed in the middle of the 16th century, thanks to the rich seams of silver found by the conquistador Juan de Tolosa.
The Zacatecas mines became the most productive in the country, and thanks to this wealth, a beautiful historic center was built, which in 1993 was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Hidalgo Avenue runs through Zacatecas from north to south and is one of the most elegant in the country, with its colonial buildings, mansions, and squares built during the viceroyalty and the Porfiriato.
Zacatecas is dotted with parks and gardens that embellish the city with their greenery, such as the Arroyo de la Plata Park, the José Trinidad García de la Cadena Alameda, and the Juárez, Independencia, and Niños Héroes gardens.
9. Santiago de Queretaro, Queretaro
Queretaro experienced some of the most important events in Mexico’s history, such as the conspiratorial movement precursor to Independence, the execution of Maximilian in 1867, the constituent process of 1917, and the founding of the political party “PRI” in 1929.
The temple and ex-convent of San Francisco de Asís and the Casa de la Corregidora, the seat of the state executive branch, stand out in these first blocks of Queretaro for their beauty and historical value.
In the Teatro de la República, the national anthem was interpreted for the first time in 1854. It was also where Maximilian was tried, and the current Constitution was deliberated.
The Aqueduct of Queretaro, which like the historic center, is a World Heritage Site and another viceregal jewel from the first third of the 18th century, with its 74 arches rising to 28.4 meters.
Queretaro can be toured on the QuereBus, a modern and picturesque streetcar, another reason “La Ciudad Constituyente” is one of the most visited non-beach destinations in the country.
10. Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
Residents and visitors enjoy the tradition and avant-garde of “La Sultana del Norte,” a city where a livestock show and a technology fair can coincide on the same day.
Monterrey is, after Mexico City and Guadalajara, the third most economically important city, which is why it is deservedly called “The Industrial Capital of Mexico.”
Its attractions combine history and modernity. In its historic center, buildings such as the Old Quarter, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and the Palace of the Bishopric stand out.
The modern architectural icons are the Torre Ciudadana, the Torre Pabellón Monterrey, the Puente de La Unidad, the Parque Fundidora, and the Monumento a Las Banderas.
The geographical emblem of the city is the Cerro de la Silla (saddle hill) with its four peaks, a natural monument frequented by hikers and excursionists.
Monterrey is also the capital of “norteño music,” you can hear traditional songs to the rhythm of accordions everywhere you go.
11. Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes
The territory that pleasantly surprised the conquistadors with its hot springs is now a harmonious unit of classic architectural jewels with modern constructions, embellishing the landscape while waiting for the great annual festival: The San Marcos Fair.
This festivity is so prevalent in the country that it is called “The Fair of Mexico.”
The first was held in 1828 and featured the most important bullfighting billboard in America in an 1896 arena, one of the oldest in the nation.
It also has charrería competitions, palenques, musical shows, livestock exposition, cultural events, gastronomic fairs, and other attractions.
The “City of Good People” has fascinating museums, such as the José Guadalupe Posada Museum, the Escarcega Museum, and the National Museum of Death, attached to the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes with works of art and objects related to the grim reaper.
12. San Luis Potosi City
The historic center of San Luis Potosi is full of civil and religious architectural jewels.
Among the mystical constructions is the city’s cathedral, where the Virgen de la Expectación, San Sebastián, and San Luis Rey are venerated.
The temples of Carmen, San Agustín, and San Francisco; the sanctuary of the Virgen de Guadalupe and the chapel of Loreto.
The civil buildings of “The City of Gardens” are presided over by the Government Palace, the Viceroyalty Museum, the Real Caja, the Casa de la Virreina, the Teatro de la Paz, and the National Museum of the Mask, the most important of its kind in the country with a sample of 1,300 national and international pieces.
The city also has beautiful gardens, parks, and squares, such as the San Juan de Dios, San Francisco, and Colón gardens and the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de Los Fundadores, and Plaza de España.
The Huasteca Potosina, in the state of San Luis Potosi, is an immense green space of valleys, mountains, rivers of crystalline waters, and beautiful waterfalls, which invites relaxation and recreation for the senses.
13. Most beautiful cities in Mexico: Morelia, Michoacan
The “City of the Pink Quarry” is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, especially for the dashing pink color of the buildings of its impressive historic center, Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 1991.
Its civil symbol is the aqueduct of the colonial era, a superb construction.
The religious emblem of Morelia is the cathedral, a majestic work of baroque style with two towers of 67 meters and an interior dominated by Doric decoration.
It preserves artistic gems such as the baptismal font, the neoclassical altarpieces, and a monumental organ with 4,600 flutes.
The monument to Morelos, a patriot born in the city and after whom it is named, and the Clavijero Cultural Center, housed in a former Jesuit monastery, are two other impressive attractions in Morelia.
The gastronomy of Morelia is a fusion of pre-Hispanic Purépecha cuisine and Spanish culinary art, with delicacies such as morisqueta, aporreadillo, uchepos, churipo, and chongos zamoranos.
14. San Miguel de Cozumel, Quintana Roo
The capital of Mexico’s main tourist island captivates with its splendid ocean views.
Cozumel’s wonderful beaches are close to San Miguel, such as El Cielo, Palancar, Dzul Ha, Paraiso, Colombia, Villa Blanca, Santa Rosa, and Chankanaab.
San Miguel is the epicenter of the island’s tasty nightlife, with many places to dance and enjoy your favorite tropical drink.
At the archaeological site of San Gervasio, you can learn about the Mayan achievements on the island and Ix Chel, the main goddess of the famous civilization.
A practical way to get to know Cozumel is by motorcycle; you will find several rental agencies on the island.
15. Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Among Mexico’s cities to enjoy a beach vacation, Puerto Vallarta is one of the best choices.
A stroll along its almost one-kilometer-long boardwalk allows you to admire large-scale works of art and enjoy street art shows.
People converse animatedly while enjoying their favorite drinks and food in the cafes and restaurants in front of the breakwater.
Despite its name, the liveliest beach in PV is Playa de Los Muertos (beach of the dead), which is always stimulating for the joy of bathers practicing water sports, eating, and drinking in its bars and restaurants.
On the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, you can have fun paragliding, jet skiing, banana boating, practicing beach volleyball, and any sea entertainment of your choice.
You can also participate in ecological activities such as turtle release.
The Malecon and Playa de Los Muertos mark one of the boundaries of the Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone, which is Old Vallarta with its traditional houses, cafes, and cozy hotels.
16. Tequila, Jalisco
The town that bears the name of the national drink, Tequila, stands out for its material heritage and spiritual traits, being one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico.
Its fewer than 50 thousand inhabitants make Tequila Jalisco a place that preserves the charms of the past with the comfort of modernity.
According to a pre-Columbian legend, it originated when lightning set fire to agave plants and cooked their “pineapples,” from which the indigenous people extracted an intoxicating liquid they believed was a gift from the gods.
Among the things to do in the city, you can visit the National Tequila Museum, which offers a walk through the history of the distillate.
You will also find exciting buildings such as the Municipal Palace, the Church of the Purísima Concepción, and the centennial public monuments.
17. The beautiful City Port of Veracruz, Mexico
In the “Gateway to America,” Veracruz battled the Spanish, French, and on two occasions, the Americans, deservedly earning the title of “Four Times Heroic.”
Historical sites such as the Cathedral of the Virgin of the Assumption, the Santiago Bastion, Las Atarazanas, the fortress of San Juan de Ulua, the Church of the Christ of the Good Voyage, and the Portal of Miranda perpetuated the viceregal atmosphere and the time when pirates and corsairs besieged the city.
Veracruz offers several beaches, such as Boca del Río, Antón Luzardo, Mocambo, and Isla de Los Sacrificios, where you will find calm waters, fine sands, aquatic entertainment, and the delicious Veracruz cuisine.
The gastronomic art of Veracruz offers delicacies such as fish a la veracruzana, arroz a la tumbada, soup “vuelve a la vida,” chilpachole de jaiba, tortitas de hueva de lisa, ostiones a la diabla and pulacles.
18. Campeche, Campeche
San Francisco de Campeche shines with its boardwalk, baroque buildings, murals, archaeological sites, dances, and unique gastronomy, being one of the best places in Mexico for vacation.
Walking along the beautiful Malecon will help you get in touch with yourself.
The colonial mansions with Moorish reminiscences, the cathedral, and the walls built as protection against pirate attacks, make Campeche a treasure of Mexican colonial architecture.
Near the city are archaeological sites such as Edzná and Jaina, where the Mayas exhibited their great constructive talent by erecting settlements in soils of high humidity.
The beauty of Campeche’s choreographic and musical manifestations is unmatched, as evidenced by the Jarana de 6×8, El Zarandeo, Los Chancletistas, the Son del Pavo, and other typical expressions.
19. Patzcuaro, Michoacán
Life in the pleasant Magical Town of Patzcuaro is developed around its beautiful lake with seven islands, full of beautiful landscapes, ancestral traditions, archeological sites, and good fishing.
The main tourist island is Yunuen, with a well-equipped vacation center.
On the shores of the lake are archaeological sites such as Tzintzutzan and Ihuatzio, where you can appreciate attractive signs of Purepecha culture, and restaurants where you can taste white fish, charales, or other fresh lake species.
The Vasco de Quiroga Square, the most important plaza in Patzcuaro, is one of the largest and most beautiful in Mexico, surrounded by the City Hall building, the Huitzimengari Palace, the Casa del Portal Chaparro, the Casa del Gigante, and other beautiful mansions.
In the sober and ancient temple of San Francisco, there are interesting oil paintings and an image of Christ in corn cane paste from the XVI century.
20. Valladolid, Yucatan
The Sultana de Oriente, Yucatan’s third most populated city with 50,000 inhabitants, was declared a Magical Town in recognition of its importance, colonial elegance, and the beauty of its natural spaces, headed by its cenotes.
The Church of San Servacio has the unique architectural attribute that its main façade faces north and not west, as the Catholic rule requires constructing temples.
Other religious buildings embellish Valladolid with their colonial architectural designs and ornamentation in various styles are the temple and ex-convent of San Bernandino de Siena and Santa Lucia, San Juan churches, and La Candelaria.
The civil architectural attractions include the Calzada de los Frailes, the Palacio Municipal, the Casa Cantón, the Museo de San Roque, and the Parque de los Héroes.
In Valladolid, there are charming cenotes such as Zací and XKekén. The Mayan archaeological site of Ek Balam is 28 km to the north.
Many tourists visit the archaeological site, Chichén Itzá, which is 45 km from the city.
20 Most Beautiful Cities in Mexico: Conclusion
In conclusion, Mexico boasts some of the most beautiful cities in the world, each with its unique charm and character.
From the colonial architecture of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende to the stunning beaches of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, there is no shortage of breathtaking destinations to explore.
Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, you’ll be captivated by the rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality Mexico offers.
So pack your bags and get ready to experience the beauty and magic of these 20 stunning cities. Vamonos!