Off the Beaten Path - Explore Colonial Towns in Mexico
Most people go to Mexico for the all-inclusive vacation on the beach. And while that's amazing, especially in the cold wet winter months, Mexico is also home to countless charming Spanish colonial towns, spread throughout its interior and along its coast. Despite the similarities in history and architecture, they all have their own distinct character, and many even have their own cuisine, thanks to the varied cultures across Mexico. Below we have shared some of our favourite private tour ideas in each area.
Guanajuato This old silver mining city in the mountains is a spectacular sight, its brightly coloured houses tumbling down the hillside into the centre. Most of the city is built over tunnels, which form the main roads through Guanajuato - above ground, its roads are quieter and more pleasant. Cobbled streets wind through the city leading to hidden plazas and courtyards. There’s a lot to see here and the atmosphere is lively and fun.
Cultural & Gastronomic Tour of Guanajuato: Spend the day wandering Guanajuato’s historic streets, gaining insights into its history and gastronomy. Wander the maze of alleys that make up the centre and admire architecture born from the city’s boom in silver mining. As you explore the many hidden plazas, sample different local specialities, tropical fruits, tamales, sweet breads, and tlacoyos.
San Miguel de Allende San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful UNESCO-listed town that’s popular on the tourist trail, for its picturesque streets and cosmopolitan vibes. It’s famous for its arts scene, gorgeous architecture and frequent festivities. But there’s plenty to enjoy here, from world-class restaurants to vineyards and fine art galleries.
Explore San Miguel de Allende: Walk San Miguel de Allende’s cobbled streets, soaking in the city’s magic. Discover the historic centre and admire the parish of San Miguel, the city’s famous pink church. As well as exploring its pretty streets, you’ll learn more about Mexico’s independence and the future that was forged at the Casa de la Conspiracion.
Wine tasting at Cuna de Tierra Vineyard: Cuna de Tierra is a beautiful boutique vineyard just outside of the city of San Miguel de Allende. Explore the winery production area and sample several different wines from a range of Italian, French and Portuguese grapes, accompanied by a cheese and charcuterie board.
Jungapeo Jungapeo is in the heart of Michoacan, a state famed for the monarch butterfly migration which passes through annually from mid-November. Subtropical forest surrounds the Jungapeo canyon, creating two distinct climatic zones. It’s an area for adventures and experiences immersed in nature.
Traditional Temazcal: Unwind with a traditional temazcal experience, an indigenous herbal bath that’s similar to a sauna. The bath signifies the uterus of mother earth, while heat, vapours and aromatic herbs aim to relax you and rid the body of impurities.
Monarch Butterfly Reserve: Spend the day exploring one of the overwintering sites of the monarch butterflies, witnessing thousands and thousands of these magnificent creatures blanketing the Michoacan countryside. Every year, all of North America’s monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles and congregate here. Your guide will be a specialist in these butterflies, teaching you more about their lives and migration patterns, plus the conservation of the local butterfly reserves.
Puebla Despite being the fourth largest city in Mexico, Puebla’s centre has more of a town feel. Its cobbled streets are charming and every building is painted a different brightly coloured hue. Puebla is known for its rich, flavoursome food and the striking talavera pottery with its white and blue patterns.
Gastronomic Walking Tour of Puebla: Come with an empty stomach - you’ll be exploring Puebla’s amazing food scene, sampling ‘antojitos’ (Mexican snacks) as you discover the different parts of the city. Start with tamales, before heading to the cathedral where you’ll learn about Puebla’s history. Sample molote, tacos poblanos, chulpes, dulces de leches...the list goes on, all while visiting Puebla’s cultural highlights and different neighbourhoods.
Oaxaca An icon on Mexico’s food scene, Oaxaca is a paradise for lovers of art, food and mezcal, one of Mexico’s signature spirits. It’s packed with beautiful buildings, fascinating museums and rooftop bars and is a joy to wander.
Cultural & Gastronomic Tour of Oaxaca: It would be impossible to visit Oaxaca without sampling its unique cuisine. This tour combines the best of Oaxaca’s food and culture, as you delve into a selection of markets, neighbourhoods and vibrant streets. Begin at Mercado de Merced, one of the most popular food markets in the city, and sample a traditional baked empanada.
Continue through the colourful Jalatlaco neighbourhood, the temple of Santo Domingo and finally, the Plaza de la Constitucion, the perfect place to try a traditional Oaxacan hot chocolate. Along the way, you’ll try tacos, ice creams, and other delicious snacks.
Hiking & Handicrafts in Teotitlán del Valle: Visit the lakeside village of Teotitlan del Valle, which sits at the base of the Sierra Norte mountains. Begin at the dam and hike for 3 hours to the top of the closest mountain, admiring views over the Oaxaca valley and cactus strewn landscapes. Return to ground level, where you’ll be welcomed into a local home. Enjoy a well-earned lunch and then watch the family at work as they weave beautiful rugs.
Hiking the Puma trail in San Pablo Etla: San Pablo Etla sits just a 25-minute drive from Oaxaca City but is blessed with incredible biodiversity. Locals here are working hard to conserve the nature and have begun promoting sustainable activities in the area, like reforestation classes, water management and permaculture. Hike the Puma Trail, a 3.5km trail through pine and oak trees, providing plenty of opportunity to observe local flora and fauna. The end of the trail brings you to a natural spring, which still provides much of the drinking water to the village. A driver will be waiting to bring you back to Oaxaca.
Tlacolula Market & Teotitlán Traditional Cooking Class: Begin the day in Tlacolula square, where vendors from all over Oaxaca come to sell their products, like honey, bread, chocolate and chillis. Enjoy a local breakfast at the market before visiting the home of a local chef, where you’ll have a hands-on cookery class. Learn to make traditional Oaxacan dishes using local tools and ingredients. You’ll then get to sample what you make, accompanied by a glass of mezcal.
We work with a number of charming guesthouses and boutique hotels in each of these areas. If you're excited about seeing a different side of Mexico, contact the Wells Luxury Travel team today and we can help build you an amazing trip there!