Visiting Mexico pueblos magicos is a highlight of any trip to Mexico. Whichever part of the country you opt to travel to, you will probably pass through several pueblos magicos in your wake.
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. There are currently 132 pueblos magicos in Mexico, with new settlements being considered or added to the designation all the time.
Think of this as the domestic Mexican version of UNESCO recognition if you will. The program is led by the Mexican government’s Secretary of Tourism and has been an ongoing initiative since 2001.
Huasca de Ocampo in Hidalgo, Tepoztlan in Morelos and Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosi were three of the first pueblos magicos. The full current list of Mexican pueblos magicos is detailed below, in chronological order.
A Complete List of Mexico Pueblos Magicos
- Real de Catorce
- Mexcaltitán de Uribe
- Dolores Hidalgo
- San Cristóbal de las Casas
- Real del Monte
- Parras de la Fuente
- Valle de Bravo
- Real de Asientos
- Todos Santos
- Jerez de García Salinas
- Capulálpam de Méndez
- Ciudad Mier
- El Fuerte
- Santa Clara del Cobre
- Jalpan de Serra
- Teúl de González Ortega
- Mineral del Chico
- Cadereyta de Montes
- El Oro de Hidalgo
- San Sebastián del Oeste
- Mineral de Pozos
- Cuatrociénegas de Carranza
- Magdalena de Kino
- Chiapa de Corzo
- Cholula (San Pedro y San Andrés)
- Lagos de Moreno
- Jalpa de Cánovas
- El Rosario
- Aculco De Espinoza
- Casas Grandes
- Coscomatepec de Bravo
- Huautla de Jiménez
- Isla Mujeres
- Ixtapan de la Sal
- San Joaquín
- San José de Gracia
- Town of San Pablo Villa de Mitla
- San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula
- Talpa de Allende
- Villa del Carbón
- Zozocolco de Hidalgo
- Nombre de Dios
- Melchor Múzquiz
- Amealco de Bonfil
- Isla Aguada
- Santa Catarina Juquila
- Tetela de Ocampo
- Santa María del Río
The most recently elected pueblo magicos were Mani and Sisal in the Yucatan state. Both were inaugurated in 2020.
What constitutes a Pueblo Magico?
There are a few prerequisite requirements that a settlement needs to meet if it wants to be considered to become a Pueblo Magico. Primarily, the town must be home to at least 5,000 people.
So, extremely small hamlets and villages, many of which are every bit as charming, are excluded in the first instance. Members of the population need to form a Pueblo Magico committee and apply to the Secretary of Tourism for consideration.
They need to outline a business plan on what they would like to offer tourists, and what attractions the area offers, as part of their pitch.
9 Mexico Pueblo Magicos to Visit in 2022
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 132 towns all split across different states!
Some of the best-known and most rewarding Mexico Pueblo Magicos to visit are detailed below. Add these to your radar for your next Mexico vacation!
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 balsatic 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, so as 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 in the midst of 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 Mexico 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.
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 really 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 of the 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 makes 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 brick in the shape of 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.
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