Visiting some of the best pueblo magicos in Mexico is a highlight of any trip to the country and wherever your itinerary takes you, you will likely have ample opportunity to visit some of these magical settlements. There are currently 177 pueblo magicos across Mexico, each one more charming than the last.
This article has been written by a British Travel Writer who has been living in Mexico for the last few years. (Me!) I have traveled to over 30 Mexican pueblo magicos across 10 states and have written this article to help you determine which ones are the best to add to your radar and to help you understand what they have to offer.
What are Mexico Pueblos Magicos?
Mexico pueblos magicos are special towns and villages that have been recognized for their contribution to Mexican culture, their unique gastronomy, and their natural beauty. This initiative was started by the Mexican government and tourism board back in 2001.
The logic behind it was to both promote tourism to charming, yet underrated parts of Mexico away from the popular tourist traps and resort areas, and to preserve these places for generations to come. The “magical” qualities of these towns are open for visitors and locals to experience themselves. Each one will enchant you and inspire you to visit more.
Huasca de Ocampo in Hidalgo, Tepoztlan in Morelos and Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosi were three of the first pueblos magicos to be appointed in 2001. There are currently 177 pueblos magicos in Mexico, with new settlements being considered or added to the designation all the time.
In fact, 45 new pueblo magicos have been appointed in 2023 alone, with more being submitted for consideration all the time.
What constitutes a Pueblo Magico?
For towns to be recognized as a pueblo magico, there are a few prerequisites that they need to meet first of all. First and foremost, the town/village/city must be home to a population of at least 5,000 people and they must outline a business plan on what they would like to offer tourists, and what attractions the area offers, as part of their pitch.
The government of Mexico gives each community a budget to help preserve its architecture and landmarks and provide stable employment for local people.
If you are based in Mexico or you visit the country regularly, it can be fun to work through all of the Mexico Pueblo Magicos as a sort of Mexico travel bucket list. Realistically though, it is going to take some time to get through 177 towns and cities all split across different states but it’s an exciting challenge to attempt!
31 Best Pueblo Magicos in Mexico for 2023
A lot of determining where the very “best” pueblo magicos in Mexico really are is subjective. The list below is based on my personal recommendations as someone who has lived in Mexico for several years and traveled the country extensively away from the gentrified and touristic areas.
Since the Yucatan/Quintana Roo, Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and Baja California are among the most popular parts of the country for Western travelers to visit, I have short-listed the best pueblo magicos in each area below.
- Best Jalisco pueblo magicos: San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota, Talpa de Allende, Tequila
- Best Yucatan peninsula pueblo magicos: Valladolid, Mani, Bacalar
- Best Baja California pueblo magico: Loreto
Mani, Yucatan state
Nestled in the heart of the Yucatecan jungle and the center of the Yucatan state, you will find one of the least visited pueblo magicos in the peninsula: Mani.
Mani, meaning “peanut” in Yucatec Mayan, is a town renowned for its beekeepers and meliponarios (honey farms) who harvest honey from a specific type of stingless Yucatecan bee known as “Xunan Kab”. Even the Ancient Mayans would care for this type of bee and they believed that its sweet, runny honey had healing properties.
Today, less than 100 people across the Yucatan still care for the Xunan Kab bees, but in Mani, you will find some excellent meliponarios where the owners are willing to give you a tour of their premises and a tasting of their honey. Since a whole colony of bees produce less than a liter of honey in a year, Yucatecan honey can be a little expensive.
However, you will note a stark difference between its flavor and consistency as compared to American or European honey and it makes a great foodie gift or souvenir for something to try with fruit or pancakes. Honey aside, Mani was the backdrop of some dark periods of local history.
It was here where the Franciscan Friar Fray Diego de Landa ordered the destruction of Mayan manuscripts, books, and icons during the Spanish colonization of Mexico.
The center of Mani, like the center of many Yucatecan towns and villages, is flanked by an impressive church. The sunbleached remnants of the 1549 Franciscan convent Parroquia y Exconvento stand proud in the main square.
At one point, the convent was one of the most important in the region. Its walls contain vibrant frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible, and a selection of interesting colorful sculptures that were hand-crafted locally.
El Fuerte, Sinaloa
El Fuerte Sinaloa is a colorful colonial town and pueblo magico in the northern part of the state of Sinaloa. It is the first notable stopping point on the “El Chepe” Copper Canyon railroad route that connects Los Mochis with Chihuahua and a lovely spot to pass a day or two.
The town, whose name means “the strong” in Spanish, takes its name from the defensive fortress that sits atop a hill on the outskirts of town, watching over it protectively. It dates back to 1564 when it was founded by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Ibarra who was exploring the Sierra Occidental mountains at that time.
Though small, the center of El Fuerte is a beautiful place, filled with colonial architecture, a labyrinth-like network of narrow streets and passageways, and gorgeous pastel-colored buildings in every color of the rainbow. In many ways, the architecture and colorful buildings here are similar to what you see in Campeche City or the Yucatan capital of Merida.
Attractions in El Fuerte
The stunning 1804 Parroquia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus church (Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) sits in the center of town and is still very active within the community to this day.
In the old fortress that has been converted into the El Fuerte museum, you can learn about the region’s history and the indigenous Yoreme Mayo people that inhabit the area. A simple hiking trail that you can follow nearby when it isnt too hot, is to the peak of the Cerro de las Mascaras.
This area has been inhabited from as far back as 600AD to 1450AD and as you trek along the old worn footpaths, you will find hundreds of petroglyphs (ancient cave carvings) carved into the rocks and walls. Nobody is sure of the exact purpose of the area, but a popular running theory is that it was used by brujas (witches) and shamans to conduct some kind of spiritual ceremonies and cleanses.
When you think of world-famous pyramids, the pyramids of Giza in Egypt are probably the first places that spring to mind. However, the largest pyramid in the world (by volume) awaits in the pueblo magico of Cholula, in the state of Puebla in Central Mexico.
Cholula, meaning “place of those who fled” in Nahuatl was declared a pueblo magico by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism in 2012 and it makes a popular day trip destination from Mexico City and the nearby city of Puebla de Zaragoza. (Cholula is less than 30 minutes away from the Puebla state capital).
The impressive stepped pyramid was built by the Cholutecas thousands of years ago in a similar style to the better-known Teotihuacan close to Mexico City. You would be forgiven for underestimating the sheer size of the structure since it is now partially covered and overgrown by grass.
So from a distance, it just looks like a hill, which the 18th century painted Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sits on the top of. However, the impressive pyramid reaches lengths of 350 meters on each side, with a height of 66 meters, guarding innumerable rooms, vaults, and treasures in its interior.
In photos of Cholula, you will often see pictures of the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios church on top of the pyramid, with the majestic El Popocatépetl volcano in the background. However, although you can see the volcano violently spitting fire and lava in the distance on a clear day, most of these photos are photoshopped as the volcano awaits further away.
San Sebastian del Oeste, Jalisco
San Sebastian del Oeste is a charming little mountain town nestled within the Sierra Madre mountains of south-central Jalisco. Despite being just over an hour and a half away from the popular seaside resort city of Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastian has an altogether different climate, culture, cuisine, and architectural style.
The town is characterized by its white-washed houses adorned with burgundy tile roofs, fixtures, and fittings. It boasts a moderate subtropical climate, and while Puerto Vallarta often reaches humid, sticky highs of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Vallarta during the summer months, it remains a cool, rainy 77 degrees in San Sebastian.
During the winter, it is often cold enough that you can see your breath! Part of the joy of visiting San Sebastian del Oeste is found in simply taking the time to get lost among the narrow cobbled streets, taking photos, and admiring scenes of local life.
If you are looking for more adrenaline-fuelled activities, you can also opt to rent a buggy or an ATV and whiz up the side of the nearby mountain known as “La Bufa” to admire panoramic views (you can see out to the Bahia de Banderas from here) and visit the little village of Real Alto. While in town, be sure to stop by the Cafatalera La Quinta Mary – a small, family-run coffee plantation adored by locals where a local family grows their own beans and grind and makes their own high-altitude coffee infused with canela (cinnamon) and cacao. Yum!
Tequila is a small pueblo magico in the Mexican state of Jalisco that is famous for the production of its namesake beverage. The drink is a product of designated origin and for something to truly be considered as authentic tequila, it needs to be distilled and produced in this specific part of Jalisco state.
One of the most fun ways to get to Tequila is to take the Jose Cuervo train from Guadalajara, although you can also take the bus or organize a local tour or transfer. The train ride takes approximately 2 hours but you will be immensely entertained by the countless offers of tequila drinks, cocktails, and even tequila-infused snacks as you whizz by fields filled with blue agave plants.
The most popular activity to do in Tequila is to visit the various Tequila distilleries. Here, you will find many distilleries owned by household brands of liquor, as well as many other excellent Mexican tequila brands that the locals have been keeping to themselves.
It is a shame that the town of Tequila is often characterized by the idea of excessive alcohol consumption and debauchery as there is also a lot more to do here. You don’t have to drink alcohol to find wandering through the azul agave fields and learning how the plants are farmed interesting and if you have a car, you can also stop by the nearby ruins of Guachimontones.
In the Plaza Principal de Tequila, you can take your obligatory tourist pose selfies in front of the colorful letters that read “Tequila”, watch mariachi and other live musicians perform from the bandstand and admire the old 17th century Parroquia Santiago Apostol church.
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
For most people who travel to the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas is their entire reason for doing so. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico and declared it as being the “New Spain”, Chiapa de Corzo was one of the first settlements they founded in the southern part of the country.
However, after finding the hot, arid climate too intense, they headed to the nearby mountains in search of cooler climes where they founded San Cristóbal de las Casas in 1528. The town would become the area’s political capital from its founding until 1892 when Tuxtla Gutierrez became the state capital.
San Cristóbal de las Casas, like Chiapas on the whole, has a unique culture because it has a largely indigenous population. Many of the local residents are Tzotzil and Tzeltal Mayan and as you meander around the plazas of San Cristobal, you will find them selling indigenous clothing, handicrafts, and artisanal goods.
The church is an interesting mixture of indigenous and Catholic religious practices and people come here to visit curanderos when they are sick. These shaman-like witch doctors will prescribe interesting methods to expel sickness and evil from a person.
Common measures include suggesting that the person drink as many carbonated beverages as possible to “burp” out the evil or sacrificing chickens as offerings to God in exchange for healing.
The Yucatan city of Motul is one of the newest pueblo magicos in the Yucatan and was designated as such in the summer of 2023. The city is located just 40 minutes away from Merida and makes a great day trip destination from the Yucatan capital.
Motul is mostly famous because of its contributions to Yucatecan cuisine. A regionally beloved breakfast dish known as “huevos motuleños” is said to have originated from here.
Although you can sample the dish in virtually every Comida Yucateca restaurant across the Yucatan peninsula, you should head to Motul if you want to try the very best of the best. Specifically, you should head to Doña Evelias Huevos Motuleños restaurant in the Mercado Municipal 20 de Noviembre.
There is always a line outside, especially at weekends, but the food is worth the wait. Every restaurant and town prepares their huevos motuleños a little differently but the “typical” way to make it is to lightly fry two corn tortillas, before slathering them with frijoles (refried beans), two fried eggs, ham, peas, and cheese, before drowning everything in a lightly spiced tomato salsa and sprinkling cilantro on the top.
Yum! While you dine, the Mercado is filled with street performers from Mexico, Cuba, and beyond, singing Latin American music or performing traditional jarana folk dancing.
Wash your huevos motuleños down with a steaming hot cafe de olla and if you have room, consider following up with a traditional Mexican flan.
Motul itself is very small, but worth a stop by en route to other places in the Yucatan. Once a year, it also hosts the annual huevos motuleños festival which celebrates the creation of the dish and sees locals compete to see who can prepare the best one.
Navidad (meaning “Christmas” in Spanish) is one of 12 pueblo magicos in the state of Jalisco and although it is missed off most itineraries, it is a worthy stopping point if you are renting a car in Puerto Vallarta. With access to a vehicle, you can drive along the “Ruta del Peregrino” (route of the pilgrim) in rural, central Jalisco from Puerto Vallarta to the towns of San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota, Yerbabuena, Santa Rosa, Navidad and Talpa de Allende.
This Catholic pilgrimage route is steeped in more than 200 years of tradition and thousands of Mexican travelers make the journey every year at Easter time. (The typical way to make the journey these days is by mountain bike but you could also drive).
The narrow mountain road to Navidad that twists and turns and hugs the edges of the cliff face is scenically beautiful but not for the faint of heart. Along the route, you will pass by woodland shrines and jaw-dropping waterfalls that are not marked on any map.
When you arrive in Navidad, you are greeted with a charming little town whose terracotta-baked clay tile roofs and colonial architecture are more reminiscent of somewhere in rural Andalusia, Spain, than what you would expect to find in rural Mexico.
Mascota (meaning “pet” in Spanish) sits 2 hours away from Puerto Vallarta and was designated as a pueblo magico in 2015. The town, nestled high in the Sierre Madre mountains can be paired with a visit to San Sebastian del Oeste and although it is the larger of the two settlements, most of its attractions are centered around the main square (“Plaza Principal”).
In the main square, you will find lots of tianguis and Mexican street vendors serving everything from elotes, tacos, and palomitas (popcorn) to steaming hot cups of cacao, perfect for the colder climate. A block or two away, there is almost always an impromptu fairground set up with stalls selling toys and little games to keep small children entertained and win prizes.
The square is flanked by the gorgeous 18th-century Nuestra Señora de los Dolores church. If you enjoy hiking and nature and you are in good physical shape, you can also consider hiking to the nearby Mirador de la Cruz or the smaller Mirador Guadalupe on a hill on the outskirts of town.
The eerie Templo Inconcluso de La Preciosa Sangre is not to be missed. Construction on this church started in 1897 but it was never completed and although various theories exist, nobody is quite sure as to why.
From Mascota, you can also enjoy a trip out to the quaint little nearby village of Yerbabuena.
Talpa de Allende, Jalisco
Talpa de Allende is a small city and pueblo magico located in the western part of the state of Jalisco. It awaits approximately 128km from Puerto Vallarta and 203km away from Guadalajara respectively.
The city is best known for its excellent guava fruits (and the famous Talpa rollo de guayaba candies that are made from it), and the legend of the “Virgin of Talpa”.
The former makes a great souvenir from your travels and you will find guava candies sold in virtually every store, dulceria, and bakery across the city and the wider Jalisco region. To make it, sliced guava is heated up alongside a generous heap of brown sugar, stirred into a paste, and then rolled out.
It is simple, yet delicious, even if you aren’t typically into fruity sweets. The Basilica of the Virgin of Talpa is the final stop on the “Ruta de Peregrino” tour that thousands of Mexicans make every Easter (Semana Santa).
Legend has it that a glowing apparition of the Virgin Mary had appeared in front of several local girls here in 1644, and the city has been of spiritual importance to religious Mexicans ever since. On October 7th every year, huge festivities in Talpa celebrate the anniversary of the apparition.
Huasca de Ocampo
Huasca de Ocampo in the Mexican state of Hidalgo was the very first Pueblo Magico, recognized for its beauty and culture in 2001. This charming town would then become the barometer against which other potential Pueblo Magicos were measured.
Huasca de Ocampo is characterized by its quaint cobbled streets and narrow passageways, its astounding natural beauty, and its colonial haciendas. A visit to the town allows travelers the opportunity to get off the beaten track and experience the “real” Mexico in the heart of the countryside.
Once upon a time, mining was a huge trade in this area and a number of grand haciendas popped up accordingly. Today, many of the residents are artisans and the town makes a good place to shop for red pottery, such as plates, jugs, and pots typical of the region.
Huasca is a great place to get back to nature. Hike or zipline through the famous basaltic prisms and then take a stroll through the Bosque de Los Espiritus” (Spirit’s Forest).
Regional legends tell tales of goblins that live in these woodlands – supposedly causing mischief and playing with people’s hair as they pass through. Visit the Museo de Los Duendes (Goblin’s Museum) – a rustic cabin decorated with supernatural memorabilia and hundreds of goblin figurines.
Palenque is one of the best places to visit in the state of Chiapas. Not only is the settlement itself charming, but it is also home to one of the most important Maya ruins in Mexico.
Palenque is nestled right in the heart of the tropical jungle, encompassed by dense greenery and existing in a state of perpetual humidity. The town is a great place to sample Chiapas cuisine.
Head into a local eatery and order yourself a serving of shote con momo – a traditional soup made with local freshwater snails, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. If you consider yourself less of an adventurous eater, you can indulge in a Chiapas chipilín and chaya tamale or some penchuques of chicharrón shis.
Wash it all down with some pozol – a local cocoa Mexico drink made with fermented corn dough. When you are done eating everything in palenque and consider yourself truly stuffed, head to the archeological site.
In terms of historic significance, the ruins of Palenque are just as important as Chichen Itza and Uxmal. This is one of the most studied Maya sites in Latin America.
The settlement is believed to have been occupied between 226 BC to around 799 AD. It particularly flourished under the rule of Pakal during the 7th century.
The hieroglyphics on the various buildings are excellently preserved and depict the chronological events of the Maya civilization. It is 110 pesos to enter the Palenque site – 35 pesos to enter the national park and then another 75 pesos to enter the ruins.
The gorgeous yellow town of Izamal is without hesitation, one of the best places in the Yucatan. Just over 15,000 people live in the town and despite its proximity to major tourist sites like Chichen Itza and popular Homun cenotes, Izamal has escaped the attention of most foreign adventurers for now.
All of the buildings and houses in Izamal have been painted with a bold, vibrant yellow color. This is to reflect the brightness of the sun as the town is believed to be the home of the Maya sun god Kinichkakmo.
His namesake pyramid can be found in the center of the little town. It is close to the excellent Yucatan food restaurant of the same name (Kinich, Calle 27.299y 28y 30, Centro, 97540 Izamal).
The entire town was given a fresh lick of paint in 1993 when Pope Jean-Paul visited, to beautify it for his arrival. The piece de resistance of Izamal is the 561 Convent of San Antonio de Padua in the center square.
The convent, perched atop a hill, is the perfect place to watch the sunset. It is still in use today.
Plenty of Yucatan haciendas and boutique and luxury hotels exist around Izamal and make the perfect place to base yourself while in the area. Alternatively, spend your night in the nearby Yucatan capital of Merida.
Sisal is the second of four Mexico pueblos magicos located in the Yucatan state. It is the only coastal town in the Yucatan to be recognized as a pueblos magico and was added to the list as recently as 2020.
Sisal’s gorgeous beach with its soft, powdery white sand and its translucent turquoise waters is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Yucatan. The beach sits amid the migration route of American flamingos that fly east from Celestun to Rio Lagartos.
So, you will often find that as you are relaxing on the shore here, a flock of gorgeous pink flamingos is flying overhead. The town is little more than a beach, a small pier, and a handful of restaurants and stores selling Mexican souvenirs and handmade ice creams (helados).
The restaurants here predominantly cater to tourists and are nothing to particularly write home about. Assuming you are traveling from Merida to Sisal, you will pass through the little town of Hunucma which is well worth stopping at for a spot of lunch/dinner.
The city of Valladolid is a popular stopping point on any Yucatan road trip. It is a great place to spend the night to break up the journey between Cancun/Tulum and Ek Balam and the spectacular Chichen Itza, one of the “new” seven wonders of the world. Chichen Itza is just 51 minutes away from Valladolid, and easily accessible via a colectivo (Mexican shared minibus) that departs early in the morning.
Valladolid itself is charming and well-deserved a day or two of your time. There are also some gorgeous cenotes (Cenote Xkeken, Cenote Zaci, Cenote Saamal, and Cenote Oxman) in the area where you can go swimming if you want to extend your stay a little longer.
Valladolid as it stands today dates back to 1543 and was built by Spanish Conquistadors in Mexico. At the time, this resulted in violent clashes that would last for hundreds of years because the settlement was built on the site of a Maya city.
Part of the joy of visiting Valladolid is found in simply taking the time to explore and get lost in the little backstreets, sample traditional cuisine, and browse local mercados. Be sure to visit the 1545 San Servacio catholic church that sits in the town square.
The church is particularly stunning at night when it is illuminated by twinkling lights. You are permitted to enter, provided service is not taking place inside.
Nearby, stop by the colorful Convent San Bernardino. This is one of the oldest convents in the Yucatan.
Tlaquepaque is a city in the northern part of the state of Jalisco, close to the capital of Guadalajara. This part of western Mexico is renowned for being the birthplace of mariachi. Tlaquepaque, in particular, played an important role in the music’s rise to popularity.
In the center of town, you will find a little square known as El Parian that was built in 1878. Local musicians have been performing here since the 1920s and delighting locals and tourists alike.
Back then, mariachi music wasn’t accepted and it was quite a controversial move by El Parian organizers to allow mariachi to play here. However, to their surprise and delight, the mariachi performers were met with a very positive response.
Many people credit the performers at El Parian for mariachi becoming so well known around the world today. Today, you can stop by one of the bars/restaurants around El Parian, grab a drink and a light bite, and enjoy the mariachi.
For a truly local gastronomical experience, order yourself a torta ahogada. This is a wet sandwich that is made by drenching a crusty bread roll filled with pork in a spicy tomato salsa.
Tlaquepaque is also known for its handicrafts. Many artisanal stores here sell gorgeous ceramics, glass-blown items, and azulejo tiles.
It is a common misconception that Tlaquepaque is another neighborhood of Guadalajara. The reality is that urban expansion has made it tricky to note where Guadalajara ends and Tlaquepaque begins. However, Tlaquepaque is its own independent city and it was designated as a “Pueblo Mágico” in 218.
Lake Bacalar is a gorgeous lake town in the southern part of the state of Quintana Roo. It is the second-largest freshwater lake in Mexico. (The largest is Lake Chapala in Jalisco).
Bacalar is known as the lagoon of the seven colors due to the different shades of blue and turquoise of the water here. It was established as a pueblo magico in 2006, and an ever-increasing number of tourists have started to trickle into the area ever since.
Bacalar makes a nice travel pairing with the Caribbean beach town of Mahahual, and the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. It is home to an ancient population of stromatolites that are over three billion years old!
One of the most popular things to do here is to take a boat tour through the lake to check out the various points of interest the 42 km² body of water has to offer.
For instance, you will stop by various cenotes (sinkholes) of varying depths, each of which is home to a unique ecosystem. Some of the little islands in the center of the lake are home to migratory bird species.
You can also kayak and swim in Lake Bacalar and the water is bright turquoise and crystal clear. To protect the various species that live in the water, you should be sure to use reef-safe sunscreen and not leave any trash behind as the increasing number of tourists is a threat to the natural ecosystem here.
Comitan de Dominguez
Comitan de Dominguez is a gorgeous city and pueblo magico in the southernmost part of Chiapas state. It sits very close to the Guatemala border and although Chiapas is a relatively off-the-beaten-path destination in general, very few of those adventurous travelers that do venture to this part of the country take the time to travel to Comitan.
This is a shame as Comitan is a charming little place. It has been recognized as a pueblo magico since 2012 and is named after a beloved local doctor and politician known as Dr. Belisario Dominguez.
140,000 live in Comitan but the settlement has a very small-town feel about it. You can explore the colorful historic center of the town in a couple of hours.
The colorful houses and narrow cobbled streets and passageways here are a photographer’s dream. The Museo Arqueológico de Comitán contains a fascinating selection of Mayan ritual masks and artifacts recovered from the nearby Mayan cities of Chinkultic and Tenam Puente.
Comitan also makes a great jumping-off point for exploring other highlights of Southern Chiapas. For instance, the El Chiflon waterfalls and Lagunas de Montebello.
Chiapa de Corzo
Chiapa de Corzo is another one of four Pueblo Magicos in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It dates back to 1528 when it was founded by Diego de Mazariegos and a group of Spanish colonizers that arrived in the region.
As a result, Chiapa de Corzo is one of the oldest towns in the Americas. Unfortunately for the Spanish settlers, the dry desert-like heat of the Chiapas lowlands made the area incredibly hot.
Temperatures here often soar well above 105° Fahrenheit in the summer months. After years of struggling with the heat, they relocated to the cooler climes and high-altitude mountains of San Cristobal de las Casas.
Today, Chiapa de Corzo is a charming place to visit. In the central square (zocalo), you will find a lot of indigenous Zoque women in traditional Mexican clothing selling vibrantly colored textiles and accessories.
The ¨La Pila¨ fountain sits in the center of the square. It was constructed in 1562 in the Moorish style and made of bricks shaped like a diamond. Chiapa de Corzo is a great place to stop en route to the majestic Sumidero Canyon.
Every January in the town, there is a grand festival that runs from the 15th to the 23rd of the month. It is held in honor of Our Lord of Esquipulas and two Catholic saints, San Antonio Abad and San Sebastián. The masked parichico dancers that perform here have been recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural asset in 2010.
Loreto, Baja California Sur
Few towns in Baja have such charm, history, and cultural attractions as Loreto. The town is like an oasis, sitting on the tranquil seas of the Gulf of California.
With a year-long warm desert climate, stunning beaches, and dramatic surroundings, it’s little wonder that it’s become one of the peninsula’s most popular vacation destinations.
Loreta is a quiet town, a place where time stands still and people have a more relaxed pace of life. On top of the relaxing vibe, the town is full of incredible farm-to-table restaurants specializing in fresh seafood. Although Loreto moves at a quieter pace, it still has several popular bars and craft breweries, such as the popular El Zopilote.
When you walk down the streets of Loreto, you’re hit with centuries of history that shine through the buildings and streets. It was the first colonial city built by the Spanish in Baja, California. Standing like a beacon of the past is the Mission Loreto, a 17th-century masterpiece that’s now a fun museum featuring plenty of historical and cultural items.
In addition to its history, cuisine, and culture, the surrounding region is home to incredible natural highlights. If you love diving, a visit to the Loreto National Marine Park will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whale sharks, sea turtles, and tropical fish live amongst the coral reefs, giving divers and snorkelers a remarkable look into the unspoiled underwater world.
Deep in the high mountains of Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara is the town of Creel. This mountain gem has a long history that dates back to the indigenous Tarahumara, or Rarámuri, people.
In the early 20th century, it was once a major endpoint of the Chihuahua-Pacific railroad line. Today, the Copper Canyon train line takes tourists from the coastal towns of Los Mochis and El Fuerte all the way to Creel.
The town of Creel is small, with a population of around 7000. Still, there’s lots to do and experience.
Creel is full of amazing mom-and-pop restaurants and small eateries that specialize in highland Chihuahuan cuisine. Most visitors love the charming little shops and the quaint San Ignacio Mission, a small church that stands in the center of town.
Creel is most famous for the natural wonders that are located just a few kilometers outside the city. Hikers and mountain bikers flock to the nearby Valley of Mushrooms and Frogs and Nuns’ Valley. Here, pine trees and quirky rock formations cover the beautiful, mountainous terrain. Other major outdoorsy highlights include the towering Basaseachi and Cusarare waterfalls just a few kilometers outside of town.
Being over 7,000 feet in the mountains, Creel occasionally experiences heavy snowfalls. During the holiday season, the town becomes a winter wonderland, with traditional festivities and decorations that make this Pueblo Magico feel as cozy as anywhere on earth.
Safety in Chihuahua is a concern for a lot of people considering traveling here. However, Creel and the other stopping points along the Copper Canyon train route are perfectly safe for tourists.
In the rolling hills and lush farmland of the state of Colima is the Pueblo Magico of Comala. The town is just a short drive from the state’s capital, Colima. Mexican author Juan Rulfo wrote about the town in his masterpiece novel, Pedro Páramo in 1955, and today it still draws in visitors looking for the same romantic vibes.
At the heart of the town is Plaza Principal, with its famous white kiosk, classic cafes, and restaurants that surround it. Nearby, the beautiful Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel del Espíritu Santo stands tall, surrounded by juice stands and street performers.
If you visit Comala, you’ll experience culinary highlights like sweet bread and the sweet and slightly alcoholic drink called ponche. On top of everything, Comala is a coffee town, and for good reason.
The hills around Comala produce some of the best coffee in Mexico and you can sample the best brews at the many classic cafes around town.
Since the 1960s, Comala’s residents have painted their buildings white to do something different from the surrounding communities. Inside the town, you can stroll around the town’s gardens and relax under the green vegetation or white arches of the main plaza. If you have a car, you’ll be transported back in time by visiting the centuries-old haciendas just a short drive outside of town.
One of the most stunning features of Comala is the gigantic volcano, Volcán de Colima, that rises in the distance. In the last decade, the volcano has become active again, with the last major eruption in 2017.
Deep within the mountains of Jalisco is the laid-back and beautiful town of Mazamitla. Visiting here is like traveling back in time, with its cobblestone streets, classic white facades, red roof tiles, and beautiful wooden balconies that overlook the streets. It’s a place where mountain breezes meet classic Mexican charm.
The city is steeped in tradition and folklore, with stories about hidden treasures in the hills and romantic getaways. In the town, just walking around is enough to absorb the town’s historical vibes. Once you get hungry, try the town’s famous handmade gorditas and sopes at one of the small restaurants in the town.
Mazamitla is famous for its indigenous heritage, arts and crafts, and cultural festivities like the Fiestas de San Cristóbal in July. During this lively time, dancers, musicians, and street performers parade under fireworks and colorful decorations that cover the town.
The town was originally inhabited by the Michoacán and Purépechas People before being conquered by Hernán Cortés. Soon it became a mountain retreat for people looking to get away from the city and experience the surrounding forested mountain range known as the Sierra del Tigre.
Here, you can still find romantic wooden bridges and log cabins located in the middle of the thick forest. If you love forest bathing and being surrounded by nature, Mazamitla is the Pueblo Magico for you.
Deep within Guanajuato State, the Pueblo Magico of Dolores awaits. Here you will find the striking Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores church standing in the center. As soon as you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by golden colonial architecture, endless food stands and restaurants, and a welcoming festive vibe that will make you feel right at home.
Dolores’ history lies in the birth of Mexico. The priest Miguel Hidalgo famously made his “Cry of Dolores” speech, which helped motivate the Mexican independence movement from Spain. Today, the “father of the nation,” as Hidalgo is called, is forever seen as a symbol of this small town.
Once you get to Hidalgo, you’ll have plenty of exciting historical sights to experience. First, a trip to the town’s popular museums is in order. The Casa Museo José Alfredo Jiménez is the childhood home of one of the country’s most important singer-songwriters. A short walk from here is the former home of Mexico’s famous revolutionary, the Museo de Sitio Casa de Hidalgo.
After spending time in the museums, head to Plaza del Grande Hidalgo to experience the town’s quirky gastronomy. Here, you’ll find countless parlors that specialize in artisanal ice cream (“nieve”). You’ll find all kinds of flavors, including coconut, sapote, and even strange flavors like shrimp and street corn (elote).
After enjoying heaping scoops of ice cream, take a drive to the surrounding vineyards to experience a romantic sunset with a glass of the region’s delicious wine.
Real del Monte
High in the State of Hidalgo is the beautiful town of Real del Monte. Here, its silver mining past and Cornish immigrant culture mix with its modern status as a popular Pueblo Magico. Along its windy streets and colorful buildings are artisanal shops that sell goods like silver jewelry and traditional handicrafts.
As soon as you reach Real del Monte, you’ll smell the Cornish Pasties in the air. Many of the town’s bakeries and restaurants specialize in these British meat pies.
The area is often affectionately nicknamed “Little Cornwall” on account of the hundreds of British miners that relocated to the area in the 1820s, 30s, and 40s. The British that relocated to Mexico introduced the locals to English football (“soccer”) and brought with them many ingredients to replicate British dishes that are now considered regional delicacies.
If you’re hungry, you can walk the length of Real del Monte street and stop at as many “pastie” shops as you can to experience how different stores and bakeries put their own unique twist on the baked treat. There’s even a pastie museum just outside of town where you can learn all about the delicious comfort food and the Cornish immigrants who brought it here.
In 2014, King Charles and his wife, Queen Consort Camilla visited Real del Monte during the International Cornish Pastie Festival.
When the town was a major silver mining hub, many wealthy business leaders built grand estates in the town. Today, you can check out these architectural masterpieces just by walking along the windy streets.
Stroll down the beautiful Callejón del Dicho, a street with colorful buildings and historic residences. Then, make your way to the Museo De Medicina Laboral and the Mina La Rica museums to learn more about the town’s rich history.
Just a short drive north of Puerto Vallarta is the Pueblo Magico Sayulita. This beautiful beach town sits right on the Pacific Ocean. With ocean views, coconut palms, and endless beaches, you’ll immediately feel like kicking back and letting time pass by.
The town is famous for its outdoor adventure sports. If you love surfing or scuba diving, the points, reefs, and river mouths around town provide plenty of world-class opportunities. Hikers also love the surrounding trails which climb up the coastal mountains.
The most famous trail is Monkey Mountain. Here, you get beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal jungle.
After your outdoor adventures, you’ll be in for some of the most delicious seafood in Mexico. Sayulita is a fishing town and its ceviche, grilled fish, shrimp quesadillas, and fish tacos are to die for. After eating, the next best thing to do is to hit the beach to swim, surf, relax, or walk down the endless stretches of sand as the sun sets.
Many visitors to Sayulita come to attend yoga retreats or classes at the many healing centers. The town has become a haven for wellness seekers looking for a rejuvenating beachside experience.
Because of this, Sayulita has become one of Mexico’s most popular retreats for nature lovers and people who want to get away. It is pretty touristy and popular among “gringos” but the business of the atmosphere does not detract from its charm.
San Blas, Nayarit
Just under three hours north of Puerto Vallarta is the coastal town of San Blas. Here, the laid-back lifestyle mixes with history, culture, and some of the best seafood in the Americas. If you come here, make sure to take your time and let the ocean-side lifestyle take over.
San Blas is famous for its long stretches of white sand beaches surrounded by dense mangrove swamps and wildlife. Hikers, surfers, and scuba divers love coming here to take advantage of all the marine activities the area offers.
In San Blas, one of the best things to do is to bike or drive down the coastal highway looking for the best seafood on the planet. Often unassuming, these beach shacks and family-owned restaurants cook up a range of delicious seafood dishes like lobster, ceviche, and heaping portions of grilled fish, all served with Nayarit’s famous salsas.
The town was founded as a shipping port for the Spanish and an important stopover on their way north to California. Today, surfers are the ones making the journey here to take advantage of the town’s beach breaks and the famous Stoner Point, one of the longest waves in the world. Here, you can catch a wave at the peak and ride it over a kilometer down the beach on a good day.
The Pueblo Magico of Coatepec sits deep in the jungles of Veracruz. Dense vegetation and tropical wildlife mix with colonial architecture and nearly constant festivities. This is where some of Mexico’s most famous coffee grows, attracting hordes of coffee fanatics searching for the best beans in the world.
Other than coffee, the town is famous for its colorful architecture and romantic cobbled streets. In the center of town stands the beautiful Parroquia de San Jerónimo church and the equally spectacular Miguel Hidalgo Park. Surrounding this square are several wonderful restaurants, cafes, and artisanal shops selling everything from artisanal Mexican souvenirs and trinkets to coffee.
In the distance, the towering Pico de Orizaba, one of the tallest mountains in North America, stands. With the dramatic mountain in the background, the city’s multi-colored buildings are a feast for the eyes.
After experiencing the town’s historical sights and laid-back vibe, head to one of the local eateries to try the region’s famous moles and tacos. Afterward, relax at one of the town’s cafes and end your evening with a glass of torito, a boozy and creamy Veracruz staple with the touch of local coffee.
Just over an hour inland from the city of Veracruz is the Pueblo Magico Cordoba. This historic town is where the treaty of Mexican independence was signed with the Spanish.
Today, it’s also a bustling tourist destination full of museums, fine dining, and plenty to see and do.
Start your day in Codoba at the famous 21 May park. Here, colonial architecture featuring colorful facades surrounds the busy plaza. The Cathedral of Córdoba, a colorful cathedral dating from the 17th century, stands above the square.
Nearby, the historic Portal de Cevallos, now a hotel, was where the famous Treaty of Cordoba was signed. This was the spot where Mexico got its independence from Spain, making it a must-see for anyone interested in world history.
Other than history, the small city is famous for its cuisine. Known for its fusion of European and indigenous cooking styles, the food of Cordoba and the state of Veracruz is considered some of the best in Mexico. Wander the streets around the central plaza and you’ll find tons of amazing restaurants, bars, and cafes that serve some of the best comfort food in Mexico.
Just about an hour south of the bustling city of Guadalajara is the lakeside Pueblo Magico Ajijic. Known for its stunning views of Chapala Lake and the Jalisco mountains, this town is truly a gem worth visiting.
Here, you can walk amongst the romantic cobblestone paths by the lake. Almost every building is decorated with street art and murals.
Artists from all over the world and Mexico come here to sell their art or experience other artists’ work. Throughout the town, especially during the festivals, artists and artisans sell their work and love talking to visitors.
Many people come here to experience outdoor activities like kayaking and hiking. The tall Sierra de San Juan Cosalá mountain range stretches along the shoreline of the lake.
Here, endless hiking trails climb up the mountain and end with magnificent views of the surrounding region. If hiking is not your thing, you can rent kayaks downtown and spend hours paddling around the lake or even try your hand at fishing.
After enjoying the art, hiking, or kayaking the lake, take a break at one of the many restaurants, cafes, or bars in town. Because this is Jalisco, chances are you’ll want to try some locally made tequila or sit down for a giant plate of birria, the famous meat stew of Jalisco.
Thanks to the large local expat crowd of retired Americans and Canadians, you will also be able to find a lot of home comfort food and western eateries in the area too.
Puerto Balleto Nayarit
Off the coast of Nayarit and just south of the Baja Peninsula is the island of Maria Madre and its largest town, Puerto Balleto. This quaint and beautiful seaside town is one of Mexico’s newest Pueblos Magicos. Here, you can really feel like you’re away from everything.
The town used to be a penal colony for almost a century. Today the prisoners are long gone and the settlement has turned into a tourist destination and haven for people wanting to take on the island’s open ocean adventures or experience the history of “Mexico’s Alcatraz.”
The town is the gateway to the Islas Marias, an archipelago that hosts some of the richest marine sanctuaries in North America. The islands are home to a UNESCO biosphere reserve that shelters endangered and protected marine wildlife like sea turtles and sharks.
On top of water activities, the town is popular for hikers and adventurers who want to hit the trails and get away from it all. Several trails take you into the dry interior of the island, where beautiful views mix with endless wildlife viewing.
On top of the mountain outside of town is a towering Christ the Redeemer statue. This two-mile hike to the top is one of the most popular activities to do in Puerto Balleto.
Final thoughts on the best Mexico pueblo magicos
Have you visited any of the Mexican pueblo magicos on this list? Which ones were your favorites?
If you are traveling to Mexico for the first time, you may enjoy this post on the things to know before you visit. Safe travels! Buen Viaje! xo