Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places

4th Feb 2014
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 1/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
El Aura Restaurant
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 2/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Fine Arts Palace
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 3/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Guachimontones Pyramids
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 4/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 5/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Lake of Montebello
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 6/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Santa Prisca Cathedral, Taxco
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 7/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Posada Real
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 8/9 by Alexandra Kovacova
Teotihuacan Ruins
Photo of Mexico: A Guide to the Must See Places 9/9 by Alexandra Kovacova

I came to Mexico after quitting my job in search of some sunny beaches and a lot of fun. What I received in return from this amazing country was much more than that. Mexico is a country full of history, historical sites, contrasts, extremes, mixed people, spicy food, wild animals and amazing turquoise beaches. After spending a good three months here, I can safely say that Mexico has grown to become my favorite country. Most people have asked me why and it's very difficult to explain it to them. No one understands. And no wonder why they do not … if the only place they know in Mexico is Americanized Cancun or an all-inclusive hotel in Baja California Sur. There is much more to Mexico than that. 

I traveled extensively in Mexico from the center, West, South, East and back to the center. And being a European visiting a Latin American country for the first time, some things, situations, habits and places I saw there, I found kind of weird, strange and very interesting habits in Mexico. You can see anything in Mexico. That is why I can spend endless amounts of days here. This country never bores you; there is always something fascinating that will catch your eyes. Be it their weird old cars, their spicy meals, or the lack of zebra crossings, Mexico is amusing. 

There are quite a few things that I fell in absolute love with in Mexico (apart from the cuisine, beaches etc.)

The history. The amount of history and archaeological beauty that this country carries is insane! I kept hopping form one historic site to the next, getting more curious and more intrigued by each Mayan and Aztec site. I visited a total of 14 archaeological sites here, and frankly I was craving for more!  I couldn’t wait more to walk through the Mexican ruins, which fill me up with the joy and eternal happiness.

The people. I have been lucky to meet some of the most amazing people in Mexico. I still can’t believe I made so many friends all over Mexico who influenced me in a way. From tourist guides, couch surfing friends, receptionists, drivers, travel agents, hotel managers to travelers and people I just met at the street, bars, restaurants or archaeological sites. All the people I met in Mexico taught me how to live. How to enjoy every moment. How to laugh. How to make a good thing out of the bad. How to see everything in a positive way. How to forget about the everyday problems because when you are alive, nothing is a problem! They showed me how to wake up early to enjoy the sunrise and go to sleep late after the romantic sunset. They thought me how to find something interesting even in the most boring place. Each person I met there was so unique and had something different to my travel experience. 

The Magic Towns. Every single one of them is different and conserves its unique architecture (e.g. a white town, a white with red roofs, yellow town etc.) I have visited a few Pueblos Magicos, such as Todos Santos in Baja California Sur, little Comala I passed through on the road trip around Colima state, Tequila where the famous alcoholic drink originated, the so called Ghost Town Mineral de Pozos, San Cristobal de las Casas, Valladolid, underground town Guanajuato and some more.

My three months in Mexico can't be put into an itinerary so here are certain places and hotels that I loved more than the others and would definitely recommend to anyone visiting Mexico.

This is an amazing pre-Colombian archaeological place that I had somehow missed on my journey, until I was pointed to it on my way someplace else. Tlatelolco was built by the Aztecs when one group of them built Templo Mayor (now in the center of Mexico City next to Zocalo main square) and the second group settled down and built Tlatelolco where it stands here. The main temple is said to be at least 700 years old which proves its construction by both Aztecs and Tlatelolca tribes. Tlatelolco stands in the middle of what it is called nowadays as Plaza de tres culturas – Square of the Three Cultures where three cultures of Mexican history blend. The three cultures being Pre-Colombian, Spanish and modern mestizo (represented by the former office buildings of foreign ministry in the southern part of the square)
Photo of Tlatelolco, Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
One of the tours I took and you should too is a tour that leaves from San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the morning to get to the National Park Lakes of Montebello. The park consists of 59 lakes, some of them very small, some bigger, some very contaminated like the lake Encantada with weird green-yellow color of the water where is prohibited to swim. The three main lakes to watch here are the Ensueño, Encantada and Esmeralda. You have to go down the steps to visit all three of them. The biggest lake in the national park is the lake Tziscao, which is of clean green water. At Tziscao you can spend your time hiking, camping or doing some sports such as mountain bike. I visited a total of 6 lakes here but, if you have time you can visit many more.
Photo of Montebello, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Not a lot of people are aware about the Pyramids of Guachimontones. It's a shame. It is such a beautiful place. Discovered in 1969, these pyramids are still a budding archaeological site. It became one of the most important sites in Western Mexico and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can go up the biggest pyramid in Guachimontones, which is still under the hill, covered with trees, bushes and stones. It will let you go back in history and imagine the other pyramid looking the same when it was discovered after it was abandoned for many years. From there enjoy the view of all Guachimontones and more towns, lake and mountains behind. Such an amazing place! Looks very romantic but it is full of history. The most interesting thing about Guachimontones is that the pyramids are circular, not like the rest of the pyramids. There is only one more place in Mexico with a circular pyramid – Cuicuilco in Distrito Federal.
Photo of Guachimontones, Teuchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Photo of Guachimontones, Teuchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Photo of Guachimontones, Teuchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Photo of Guachimontones, Teuchitlán, Jalisco, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
There are a lot of things in Guadalajara, the second largest town of Mexico that makes it an interesting place to spend time in. It has the biggest market in Latin America – San Juan de Dios with three floors. I have met the nicest Mexican women here. It is one of the most traditional, religious and conservative cities in Mexico. It is not a colonial city like Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende, but with many avenues, the best modern infrastructure possible. An interesting fact about Guadalaraja -at night, usually at 11pm, people gather on bicycles and take a different route every night around the city, go to the movies or theatre together. It is a fun city with lots of good things and good people.
Photo of Guadalajara, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
The Fine Arts Palace is not hard to spot at all. It is a breath-taking building even during the daylight. But when we passed at night, with the red lights, was just even more jaw dropping. Eventually, it did not used to be illuminated before, but I think you will all agree with me that whoever brought the idea, did the right thing to attract more visitors. It is a great place to ponder over some famous paintings.
Photo of Palacio de Bellas Artes, Centro Histórico, Mexico City, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Taxco is one of the magic towns I told you about in Mexico. Taxco is one of those rags to riches story. Not doing so well earlier, it slowly became the Silver capital of the World. First, we visited a silver mine replica with silver jewelry sold. My friends were welcomed there with la Bertha – a traditional cocktail of lemon, water and 7 drops of Tequila. The mine was 800 m deep and you have to extract 2 or 3 tons of stone to get 1 kg of real silver! Taxco with around 100,000 inhabitants now belongs to the so-called Pueblos Magicos – Magic Towns in Mexico where the architecture rules are somehow limited to keep the unique magical feeling. All the houses in Taxco are white with mostly red terracota roofs. Just the shopping mall is looking differently. We walked into the Santa Prisca Cathedral of Taxco. Constructed between 1748 and 1758 it’s said to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Mexico.
Photo of Taxco, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
If I had to choose just one place in Mexico where I would go over and over again, it would be Teotihuacan ruins. Why? I’ve NEVER felt so much energy, life force and simple magic anywhere else in this world. First, we visited a shop with many artifacts that are made here, which is also the place with the highest Government permission to make copies of the Anthropology Museum items. Then, we took a walk around. It is said the area was inhabited since 100 BC and left empty around 750 AC. The tribe influenced other cultures in Mesoamerica including the Mayas all the way down to Costa Rica. In 375 AC they conquered other cities and made them pay a tribute to them, the Mayas too. It is very expensive to uncover the pyramids and we can still see some hills with the pyramids underneath the grass. There were around 2,000 temples in Teotihuacan so imagine how many centuries it is going to take to make them all open for public!
Photo of Teotihuacan, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Photo of Teotihuacan, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Hotel Seven Crown is one of the places that I stayed in for reasonable rates. Even though I did not stay at one of the suites with sea view, I had a pretty stylish room designed in red and the bed was very comfy to sleep in too. It has the beautiful El Aura restaurant on the 4th floor open from 8 am to 10.30 pm offering full Baja-Mediterranean style menu and the best sunsets ever! Eating healthy with fresh air and the best views? Bring it on! I spent a lot of time in El Aura restaurant contemplating about life as it was my favorite part of the hotel.
Photo of Hotel Seven Crown La Paz, México, Vicente Guerrero, La Paz, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova
Hotel Posada Real in San Jose del Cabo is completely different to the first two hotels I visited mostly because it still keeps its history and also because it is mostly for the local Mexican tourists so it is not so Americanized, not too luxurious, nor expensive. Posada Real is one of the oldest hotels in San Jose del Cabo and provides a great living experience.
Photo of Hotel Posada Real Los Cabos, Paseo Malecon San José, Zona Hotelera, San José del Cabo, Mexico by Alexandra Kovacova