Mexico and Central America

Travel Guide
Centro Cultural Tijuana featuring modern architecture and street scenes
Wedged between two polar opposite continents, this subcontinent offers the best of both worlds: rural villages, modern cities, beach resorts and thrilling attractions.

For a relatively small subcontinent, Mexico and Central America have a surprising diversity of natural treasures. The white Caribbean beaches of the east coast contrast nicely with the volcanic sands of the west coast, with the Panama Canal conveniently connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. With its cloud forests, volcanoes, crater lakes, jungles and forested mountains, the interior of Central America puts on a show as well.

Even if you exclude Mexico, which many see as part of North America, Central America still has seven other wonderful nations to discover. As diverse and unique as each of these compact countries is, there are shared traditions in the spicy cuisine, Catholic religion, indigenous roots, Spanish language, colorful hand-woven clothing and of course the “mañana mañana” approach to life.

Before setting out, it’s handy to learn some basic Spanish first. Mexico City is great for this and so is Antigua in Guatemala, which has language schools and Western-style cafés lining its cobblestoned streets. Take a “chicken bus” to Lago de Atitlán, a massive volcanic crater lake surrounded by colorful villages.

Another good choice to ease yourself into things is Costa Rica. Traveling around this relatively peaceful, safe and modern tropical country is a breeze, even by bus. If zip lining or whitewater rafting don’t appeal, then enjoy the laid-back vibe along the Caribbean beaches of the Limón Province.

Got the hang of it? Then visit the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá in Mexico and Tikal in Guatemala. For epic self-drive tours, check out Belize’s Hummingbird Highway and El Salvador’s Ruta de Flores. Real adventurers will be drawn to the jungle-clad Miskito Coast of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Don’t limit yourself to the mainland though. You’ve got to see the Great Blue Hole in Belize which, along with the islands of Bay Islands of Honduras and Bocas del Toro of Panama, is a scuba diver’s dream.

It’s easy to love the humble lifestyle, artistic flair and traditional customs of the spirited peoples of Mexico and Central America. This back-to-basics approach is all about “la pura vida,” living the good life.

Popular cities in Mexico and Central America

Palacio de Bellas Artes showing heritage architecture, night scenes and a park
Mexico City
Known for Historical, Museums and Cathedrals
Experience the infectious energy, superb culinary scene, intriguing museums and top-rate cultural and historic sights of Mexico’s sprawling, cosmopolitan capital.

Reasons to visit

  • Zócalo
  • The Angel of Independence Monument
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes
Palacio de Gobierno showing an administrative buidling, a square or plaza and a city
Known for Shopping, Cathedrals and Museums
Intriguing architecture, mariachi music and mouthwatering food will have you falling in love with one of Mexico’s largest cities.

Reasons to visit

  • Guadalajara Cathedral
  • Hospicio Cabanas
  • Degollado Theater
Cancun which includes a sandy beach, landscape views and general coastal views
Known for Dining, Beaches and Sea
Relax by the pool, dive through subaquatic caves and learn about the region’s fascinating past through museums and archeological sites.

Reasons to visit

  • Delfines Beach
  • Iberostar Cancun Golf Course
  • Tortuga Beach
Zocalo Square which includes night scenes
Known for Historical, Cathedrals and Churches
One of the oldest cities in Mexico fascinates visitors with its Spanish colonial buildings, creative cuisines and artistic output.

Reasons to visit

  • Zócalo de Puebla
  • Puebla Cathedral
  • Africam Safari
Paseo de Montejo showing a monument and night scenes
Known for Historical, Ruins and Museums
Soak up the peacefulness of the Yucatan Peninsula’s cultural capital, where Mayan ruins, colonial architecture, richly layered cuisine and world-class museums await.

Reasons to visit

  • Paseo de Montejo
  • Mérida Cathedral
  • Yucatan International Convention Center
Known for Historical, Museums and Entertainment
From Toltec pyramids to some of Mexico’s finest Baroque architecture, this charming hill city lays at the heart of the nation’s history.

Reasons to visit

  • Pena de Bernal