Mexico is home to some of the loveliest towns of the Americas. Visitors can’t help be whisked away by the charm of narrow cobbled streets, soaring church towers, colorful artisanal boutiques and lively café terraces. Our local experts let us in on their favorite towns to help you plan a perfect, magical Mexican holiday.
Izamal, Yucatán Peninsula
Nestled in the center of the Yucatán Peninsula is this mythical city and a holy place where Itzamná, the Maya god of wisdom, art, language and culture, was born. Our Yucatán expert Angelica Espinosa of Catherwood Travels tells us more about this special town:
“It is thought to have been founded around 600 BCE and was an important pilgrimage site at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The magical convent is one of the town’s wonders. It features one of the most exceptional central courtyards of any church in the world. Izamal is the only place in the Yucatán where there’s a pyramid no matter where you look. In fact, there are more than 140, all which are integrated into the contemporary town, where 30,000 descendants of the ancient Maya see this as no more than a part of their daily life.
“With nearly all its modern and colonial buildings painted an spectacular shade of egg-yolk yellow, and surrounded by the remains of pre-Hispanic constructions, Izamal remains an important ceremonial center and pilgrimage destination.”
Where to stay in Izamal
Catherwood Travels has the perfect historic hacienda in beautiful Izamal. A stay at intimate Casa Azul means you’re living on sacred ground—there’s an ancient Maya pyramid right in the back yard! And that’s just the beginning.
Izamal’s “Blue House” is an enchanting colonial home, just a block away from the cathedral, featuring one air-conditioned bedroom (with a queen-size bed), a full bath with tub and shower, a comfortable living room and a fully equipped kitchen. The house’s quaint courtyard and rear garden at the base of the pyramid and full of charm and intrigue are ideal for relaxation or dining al fresco.
Contact Catherwood Travels here for further information or to book this splendid Yucatan holiday rental.
Situated two hours southeast of Mexico City, history lovers adore this delightful town, considered one of the five most important Spanish colonial cities in Mexico. Founded in 1531, its strategically location on the route between Mexico City and the country’s main Atlantic port, Veracruz, brought it much wealth, displayed in its beautiful 70+ churches, numerous bubbling fountains and fine array of extravagant mansions, characteristics which led it to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The city is also known for its delicious mole poblano and chiles en nogada as well as its gorgeous Talavera pottery.
Visitors to the area can include the nearby Great Pyramid of Cholula, also called Tlachihualtepetl. The massive structure is larger than the Pyramid of Giza and features phenomenal views of Popocatépetl, an impressive active volcano found only 50 kilometers away.
Where to Stay Near Puebla.
San Miguel de Allende
Founded in 1542, San Miguel de Allende is one of the most beautiful hilltop cities in Mexico. Located about 160 miles north of Mexico City, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has completely enchanted our local expert, Pamela H. Murdock, she wins us over to the town with her description below:
“It’s truly a gem and I love everything about it. San Miguel is absolutely charming with narrow cobblestone streets and marvelous colonial houses – both grand and fully staffed or small with only a housekeeper/cook. No matter what the size, almost all are hidden behind high walls that conceal courtyards, fountains, gardens and loggias with outdoor dining and sitting areas and fireplaces. Also very appealing is the climate. Most of the year the weather is lovely with warm sunny days and cool evenings. Perfect for sleeping and houses are even more magical at night when their fireplaces are lit.
“There are lots of good restaurants and great shops with wonderful furnishings and decorative objects (shipping is easily arranged so I can justify buying more). There are also quite a few fascinating historical sites within easy reach of town. Plus, every month of the year are holidays, festivals and parades which are celebrated con mucho gusto!
“A little advice: Because of the cobblestones, high curbs and uneven sidewalks wear sensible shoes (I’m not kidding) and if you’re watching fireworks in the Jardín, the main plaza, be ready to run since fireworks sometimes fly every which way. Or do as the locals do and use the metal lid of garbage can as an umbrella/shield. It can be exciting yet totally entertaining. Also, don’t bother trying to figure out the times church bells peal and in some cases, clang. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason.
“San Miguel is one of those special places people go back to year after year and I completely understand why!”
Many thanks to Pamela for her vivid illustration of this magical Mexican town!
Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende
Enjoy the best of San Miguel de Allende’s historic ambiance at Quinta Quebrada, the most alluring and luxurious rental property. The unique 16th-century house is hidden by tall walls which enclose almost one acre of graceful grounds where you’ll find courtyards, follies, gardens full of climbing roses and cascading bougainvillea, a number of terraces, loggias, a pool and a hot tub.
The interior is a veritable living museum, decorated in period Mexican furniture and art with 17th and 18th-century furnishings and objets d’art from faraway destinations like India, Italy, and Spain. There are 11 bedrooms and a total of 13,864 square feet of living space spread over three floors. The historic home offers complete privacy while also being a short walk from El Jardín, the main plaza of the picturesque old city.
Learn more about this one of a kind holiday rental by reaching out to Pamela H. Murdock here.
Twenty-five miles north of busy Puerta Vallarta along the Riviera Nayarit you can find this very charming colonial town, a favorite of our experts at In Villas Veritas who specialize in villas in nearby Punta Mita.
“Sayulita that has lovely shops and a ‘surf’ vibe,” describes Laura Blair, director of In Villas Veritas. “The town makes for a great day or half day trip from Punta Mita.”
The true highlight of the laid-back town is its abundance of fabulous boutiques featuring artisanal handicrafts by the Huichol, the local indigenous tribe of this area of Mexico. Plan to go on the weekend when there are extra markets with exceptional textiles and jewelry. Enjoy a refreshing break during your wanderings for some homemade ice cream or tangy tequila cocktail.
Where to Stay near Sayulita
Enjoy the best of this part of Mexico by staying at the splendid Casa Majani, located around 25 minutes from Sayulita in the coastal luxury resort of Punta Mita. Available through In Villas Veritas, this stunning villa was designed by world-renowned architects Manolo Mestre and Juan Collignon who’ve paid homage to the natural surroundings while incorporating the contemporary to create alluring and meditative experience.
A network of pathways through expansive reflection pools connects each unique structure, creating the illusion that the six-bedroom villa is suspended over the Pacific. Nested underneath a palm-thatched roof, is an enchanting living and dining terrace featuring a sustainable tropical wood dining table which seats 12. The two connected pools blend with sea and sky and offer undisturbed views of the blue horizon with over 150 feet of infinity edge. Inside, the family room provides guests with a most comfortable space to watch a movie, listen to music, or enjoy a board game. There is also a yoga and fitness room, adorned with native wood flooring and floor to ceiling windows onto the reflection pools and lush native gardens.
There are two individually decorated king-sized master suites with luxurious en-suite baths, including hand crafted tubs and indoor and outdoor showers. There are four additional rooms located in two different buildings on the property, one with two queen size beds and a seating area, perfect for a family.
Savor the best of Mexico’s Pacific Coast at the enchanting Casa Majani by contacting In Villas Veritas at this link.
The picturesque capital of the Yucatán can sometimes be overlooked by visitors to the area, however, it’s a go-to favorite of our Senior Account Manager Naomi Clark. The vibrant city is both rich in both Mayan and colonial history and has has served as the American Capital of Culture twice, in 2000 and 2017. The city revolves around the Plaza de la Independencia, overflowing with trees and zigzagged with walkways, its also home to the imposing Mérida Cathedral and luminous Iglesia de la Tercera Orden, colonial-era churches which incorporate relics from ancient Mayan temples. A stroll down its main avenue, the Paseo de Montejo, will take you past many beautiful historic mansions and an annually changing sculpture exhibit. The city also has a great variety of excellent restaurants, boutiques and art galleries.
Where to Stay in Merida.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for exploring the Yucatan, have a look at this great article on Tulum’s Mayan Ruins by the Luxury Columnist.