Exceptional Mexico: Culinary and Culture
17 Days - Departs daily
Once you visit Mexico, it's easy to understand why this is one of the most captivating destinations in the world. Start in Mexico City and absorb the history worth almost two thousands years detailing the Aztec empire and the extraordinary ruins of Teotihuacan Pyramids. Meet the locals in Xochimilco and upgrade your culinary skills with a cooking class. Your trip will include visits to many striking archaeological sites including the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Palenque, Uxmal and Chichen Itza. Finally, dive into the magnificent beaches of Tulum to complete your unforgettable journey of Mexico.
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- The top of Uxmal’s grand pyramid rewards you with a breathtaking view
- Archeological site ruins of Teotihuacan is a must-see!
- Chichen Itza, the most famous of Mexico's Mayan ruins
- Pristine beaches and turquoise waters of the Mayan Riviera
- Taste some of the local specialties in Puebla - the city renowned for its cuisine
- Visit to Mexico's most spectacular colonial cities - Taxco and Oaxaca!
Tailor made suggestions
- Add on a trip to Belize and enjoy its laid back charm, pristine jungle and Caribbean Islands
- Find yourself warping back in time as you discover the Essence of Cuba.
- Consider spending additional time in Tulum to explore its surroundings including some impressive cenotes and the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve which is inhabited by countless plant species, bird and animals.
Arrive in Mexico City
On arrival at the airport you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel.
Mexico City is quickly becoming a must-see destination in Central America with its revamped public spaces, exciting new culinary scene and buzzing downtown area. These combined with the city's historical elements make for what is sure to be a highlight of your trip.
Today we will explore magnificent Mexico City, built by the Spanish on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the old Aztec capital. The city's historical heart is its vast central square, or El Zocalo and on this tour you will have the opportunity to visit it along with the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is the largest church in all of Latin America. You'll drive along the famous boulevard Paseo de la Reforma, built during the short-lived reign of Emperor Maximilian to connect the main square and his castle in Chapultepec.
You'll also visit the National Palace*, which hosts Diego Rivera's murals depicting the history of Mexico and is one of the oldest government seats in the world. Your last stop is the Museum of Anthropology**, where you will have some time to explore the treasures of the Aztec culture at one of the finest archaeological museums in the world.
*Due to the change of residence of the President of Mexico and his family to the National Palace, visits to the National Palace, including the contemplation of Diego Rivera's murals, are not available for the time being. Instead it will be possible to visit Diego Rivera's Murals at the Ministry of Public Education or another venue. *
**Please note that the Museum of Anthropology is closed on Mondays.
Teotihuacan Pyramids & Guadalupe Shrine
Located 50-kilometres north-east of Mexico City are the 'must-see' archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan - the site of the massive Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline of the complex. This was once the country's biggest ancient city and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. Guarded by mountains, this magnificent city is thought to have been founded early in the 1st century AD and reached its peak around 500 AD, when its influence extended down to Guatemala and as far north as present-day Texas. With the help of a local guide we have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead', uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly two thousand years ago. We will also visit the Basilica de Guadalupe, Latin America's most revered religious shrine, where the Virgin of Guadalupe is said to have appeared before an Indian named Juan Diego in 1531, and an image of her was miraculously emblazoned on his cloak. We will have time to explore the New Basilica de Guadalupe (the Old Basilica, built in 1700, is slowly sinking) and to see Juan Diego's cloak.
After our exploration we return to Mexico City in the afternoon.
Xochimilco Cooking Class & Frida Kahlo Museum
This morning you will drive down into Mexico City’s southern neighbourhoods. Reach Xochimilco, a marine ecological reserve and UNESCO World Heritage site, where you will meet with locals and have your first cooking experience. Stroll through the colourful local market for some fresh ingredients and cook in the private kitchen of a local Xochimilco lady. Enjoy lunch from your own creation whilst taking a short ride in a traditional Trajinera boat through the canals of Xochimilco that once connected many settlements of the Valley of Mexico. Your driver moves the boat along by pulling a pole through the water and you can relax under the shade of your boat’s roof as you gaze at other vibrantly painted vessels carrying passengers and goods and even enjoy some local entertainment as local mariachis are available to sing to you.
This afternoon you will visit the Coyoacan colonial quarter and Frida Kahlo Museum, where not only art and surreal ambience is beautiful in the former living house of the painter together with her husband Diego Rivera, but you can also see an example of a traditional kitchen and how it is still used in many rural homes. Later in the afternoon you will return to hotel.
Breakfast and Lunch included.
Cuernavaca Visit / Travel to Taxco
After breakfast head towards the valley of Cuernavaca for a short tour of the center of this City of the Eternal spring. Afterwards continue to Xochicalco. This archaeological site in the state of Morelos shows affinities with Teotihuacán. The main ceremonial centre is atop an artificially levelled hill, with remains of residential structures, mostly unexcavated, on long terraces covering the slopes. After the visit head to the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa (1 hr). These large caverns are one of the largest cavern systems in the world and the best-known cave system in the world. A part is open to the public for a visit. Continue to Taxco, located in the mountains and check in to your hotel
Today we enjoy a walking tour of Taxco where we explore its beautiful cobblestone streets, perfectly preserved colonial architecture and the twin belfries of its baroque masterpiece, the Templo de Santa Prisca. We also explore the local art galleries and silver market before returning to your hotel. Afternoon at your leisure.
Cholula Visit / Travel to Puebla
Today we head east towards Puebla via Cholula where we will visit one of the biggest archaeological sites in the Americas. The Great Pyramid of Cholula located just outside of Puebla is the largest pyramid in the world, twice as tall as Keops in Egypt. A church was first built atop the pyramid in the 17th century, and today a rebuilt church stands in the place of the original one. There are fantastic views of several volcanoes from the top of the pyramid.
We'll continue onto Puebla, known as “The City of Angels”, where you'll have time to enjoy a delicious lunch that includes the famous dish “Mole Poblano” (lunch not included).
After lunch we'll take a guided walking tour around Puebla's beautiful historic centre, a place with an array of interesting constructions that date back to 16th and 18th century, such as the ‘Plaza de Armas' and Cathedral. You'll also visit the majestic Church of Santo Domingo, colourful streets and a picturesque handicraft market before enjoying an evening at your leisure.
Puebla is world renowned for its cuisine and we recommend trying some of the local specialities, such as ‘Chiles en nogada' (stuffed deep fried chile), ‘Molotes' (spicy sausage) and ‘Tinga' (shredded pork and vegetables served with tortillas).
Travel to Oaxaca via Cactus Garden & Monte Alban
Today our representative will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to your hotel in Oaxaca approximately 4.5 hours away.
On our drive towards Oaxaca we will make a stop at the Natural reserve of Tehuacán to visit the botanical cactus reserve in Zapotitlán Cuicatlán. This reserve is cared for by the local communities and houses plenty of different cactus species native to the country and is well worth a visit. Afterwards we will continue to Monte Albán, one of Mexico's most spectacular archaeological sites, spectacularly situated on a mountain 400 metres above the Oaxaca Valley. We will explore the Gran Plaza, the Ball Court, the Observatory, the Palace, and other beautiful structures before arriving at your hotel in Oaxaca.
Oaxaca, located in a valley surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur, was once the centre of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilizations, and despite distinctively Spanish architecture, the city remains basically Indian at heart. Oaxaca is also a great area for trying out new tastes at its array of restaurants and markets. It's the perfect place to try Mexico's most traditional drink, Mezcal.
Walking Tour & Markets
After breakfast, begin your walking tour in the center of Oaxaca and visit the San Francisco Church, the Zocalo, the Cathedral and the colourful markets where you can try the mezcal, tlayudas and typical food of Oaxaca. Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.
El Tule & Mitla Archaeological Site
Drive into the former main region of the Mixtec Culture in prehispanic Oaxaca. On the way, make a stop at the giant tree of Tule, an over 2000 years old Sabino tree. Continue to get soon to Mitla archaeological site. Here, the most amazing details are the stone relief mosaics, which cover in many varied patterns the friezes of the main temples.
Today your lunch will be in a restaurant where you can try the dish “Caldo de Piedra” which is a prehispanic dish, it´s similar to a soup with fish, shrimps, onion, tomato and all the ingredients are mixed in a stone plate where the chef puts some hot stones and in this way the dish finishes cooking.
Breakfast and Lunch included.
Our representative will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight.
Sumidero Canyon to San Cristobal
On arrival in Tuxtla Gutierrez we will the drive towards Chiapa de Corzo and the breathtaking Sumidero Canyon. We'll board our launch and take a trip through the majestic rock walls of the canyon, with the chance of seeing fauna such as crocodiles, spider monkeys, cormorants, and herons. We return to the boat dock where we then continue into the highlands and finally to our charming colonial hotel in San Cristóbal de las Casas.
City Tour & Indian Villages
Today we will explore on foot the colonial city centre of San Cristobal de las Casas. We will visit the cathedral with its lavish interior and gold-encrusted pulpit, then walk a few blocks to the impressive 16th century Dominican church, with its intricate pink façade and gilded Baroque interior. Next, it's time to browse the handicrafts where Tzotzil Indians from the surrounding hills come to trade before we drive into the Chiapas highlands, to the Indian villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. In San Juan Chamula, you will visit the Church of San Juan Bautista that has simple but incredibly beautiful ornamentation on the outer façade. You will see the artistic beauty of the church on the inside, with Catholic saints dressed according to indigenous traditional customs. Some of them are adorned with mirrors and multicolour ribbons, as a notorious sample of the religious mix between the Mayan-Tzotzil roots and Catholicism. Picture taking is not allowed inside this church, which is why you won't be able to find any published image of the inside of this extraordinary religious centre.
The candles, incense and chanting worshippers make a powerful impression.
We'll then drive to the nearby village of Zinacantan, with its pretty church and handicraft market. Return to San Cristobal.
Agua Azul Visit / Travel to Palenque
Today we will navigate the Southern Sierra Madre by descending from alpine forests into the steamy lowland jungles of Palenque. Along the way, we will visit the famous Agua Azul waterfalls, which are approximately forty-five minutes away from Palenque. Here you will have a chance to take a break from the heat with a swim in the stunning, naturally formed pools at the waterfalls before we reach Palenque in the late afternoon and check in to our hotel.
This morning we will visit the archaeological site of Palenque, a World Heritage Site, located 7km outside of the town of Palenque overlooking the swampy plains that stretch northward all the way to the Gulf coast. Palenque flourished between AD600 and 800, when its influence extended throughout the basin of the Usumacinta River. The site, surrounded by rainforest where toucans and howler monkeys live, is made up of some five hundred buildings spread over 15 sq km, of which only a few have been excavated. We will explore the magnificent ruins, including the Temple of the Inscriptions – the tallest and stateliest of Palenque's buildings, the Temple of the Sun – crowned with a prominent roof comb, The Palace – with its maze of corridors and rooms, and many other beautiful buildings.
Isla Aguada Visit / Travel to Campeche
After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel by a representative and transferred to Campeche. On the way, stop at the Natural Reserve of Laguna de Terminos and as you reach the smalling fishing village of Isla Aguada, enjoy a 1.5 hour boat cruise through the lagoon. Keep an eye out for dolphins and manatees! Stop at an Island in the Lagoon and see the local flora and fauna.
Continue to Campeche and join a walking city tour of the historical centre.
Visit to Uxmal & Kabah / Travel to Merida
You will be picked up from your hotel for a day tour and drive into the so called Puuc Region, which means “hilly landscape” in the Mayan language. Here you will find Uxmal and Kabah, two very interesting archaeological sites (UNESCO World Cultural Heritage). The Puuc culture exhibited a highly decorative expression in their architecture, and at Uxmal, besides the Pyramid of the Dwarf, you will see the Nun's Quadrangle and the Governor's Palace, among others, where beautiful stone relief masks and ceremonial patterns cover the façades, and in Kabah, you will be lead over an ancient Maya White Path “Sac-Beh”, to discover the kind of explosion in decor and stone art in the façade of Codz Pop temple full of amazing masks and patterns. Lunch will be eaten at a local restaurant near the sites. Late afternoon you will be transferred to your hotel in Merida.
Breakfast and Lunch included.
Full day: Merida market - Chichen Itza - Yucatan
We will visit a market in Merida where you can clearly see the daily life and work of the people of Yucatan. In addition, the markets are a mixture of the mercantile traditions of the pre-Hispanic peoples of Mesoamerica and the bazaars of the Middle East. Then, we will be one of the highlights of your Mexican adventure as you enjoy a visit to the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, located 120km east of Merida. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is the best restored of Yucatan’s Mayan sites. While here we will explore, the magnificent ruins set in a dense jungle, including:
- Pyramid of Kukulcan, its height and striking geometric design the most prominent of this site.
- The Great Ball Court, the largest and most impressive in Mesoamerica.
- The Sacred Cenote, a natural well used for human sacrifice.
We'll also see many other beautiful temples.
From Chichen Itza we'll head to the white sandy beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula.
Yucatan Peninsula options
One of the advantages of our tailormade itineraries is the ability to change things to create your perfect holiday. You can choose to visit several destinations such as Tulum, Cancun, Playa del Carmen or head back to Merida. Speak to your travel designer for more information.
Breakfast and Lunch included.
Mexico City, Mexico - Best Western Hotel Majestic
Taxco, Mexico - Monte Taxco
Puebla, Mexico - Hotel Colonial de Puebla
Oaxaca, Mexico - Casa Conzatti
San Cristobal, Mexico - Hotel Casa Mexicana
Palenque, Mexico - Hotel Ciudad Real Palenque
Campeche, Mexico - Plaza Colonial Hotel
Merida, Mexico - Gran Real Yucatán
Mexico City, Mexico - Zocalo Central Hotel
Taxco, Mexico - Monte Taxco
Puebla, Mexico - Hotel Quinta Real Puebla
Oaxaca, Mexico - Parador San Miguel
San Cristobal, Mexico - Casa del Alma
Palenque, Mexico - Hotel Villa Mercedes
Campeche, Mexico - Hotel Plaza Campeche
Merida, Mexico - Hotel Hacienda Merida
Mexico City, Mexico - Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
Taxco, Mexico - Monte Taxco
Puebla, Mexico - Hotel Cartesiano
Oaxaca, Mexico - Quinta Real Oaxaca Hotel
San Cristobal, Mexico - Villa Mercedes
Palenque, Mexico - Quinta Chanabnal
Campeche, Mexico - Casa Don Gustavo Boutique Hotel
Merida, Mexico - Casa Lecanda Boutique
- Internal airfares
- Hotel taxes
- English speaking guided tours
- Entrance fees
- Meals as specified
What’s not included?
- International airfares
- Arrival/departure taxes or reciprocity fees, visa fees where applicable
- Travel insurance
- Any items not mentioned as included
Hotel rates are based on lead-in rooms. Other room types and hotels are available. Rates are subject to change and different rates may apply during holiday seasons and special events.