If you have visited Mexico any time in the last decade, there is a strong chance that you heard the term Pueblo Magico thrown around. A Pueblo Magico, or magical town in English, is a town or small city that is specially designated as unique by the Mexican government. Since 2001, the Mexican government has been identifying places around the country that have unique histories, legends, mysteries, symbolism, or traditions. If selected, a city or town is given the status as a Pueblo Magico as well as money to help build up the local tourism industry. The program has received great reviews, and it has done a great deal in terms of improving local economies and increasing tourism to destinations all over Mexico.
What Is the Best Pueblo Magico to Visit?
There are over 130 Pueblos Magicos throughout Mexico, and they are found in every single state. There is probably a Pueblo Magico near where you may already be planning to go! All of Mexico’s biggest cities have a handful of Pueblos Magicos within a couple of hours, and while some are better than others, almost all Pueblos Magicos are worth visiting.
There is no singular definition of what make a Pueblo Magico a Pueblo Magico. Some of Mexico’s most famous destinations – like Tulum – are Pueblos Magicos, while many of the 130+ special towns are places you likely have never heard of.
We have not visited all of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos, because frankly it is really difficult to get to them all! We lived in Mexico for a year and a half traveling nonstop and we couldn’t even get to half of them. With that being said, there are a few that we visited that stand out from some of the others.
Tepoztlan is a gorgeous town tucked into the mountains just an hour or two from Mexico City. The hiking here as well as the local ice cream are fantastic.
As the name would suggest, Tequila is the home of tequila. This little town just 2 hours outside of Guadalajara is a constant party, and drinking in the streets is highly encouraged. There is so much to see and do here, and the tequila drinks make the experience even better!
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
Dolores Hidalgo is located just 45 minutes north of San Miguel de Allende, which is one of Mexico’s most famous destinations – especially around Dia de Los Muertos. This little town is filled with charm, and the town’s square is literally lined with local ice cream vendors with really exotic flavors. The ice cream is what makes this place great.
Valladolid is one of the most charming places we’ve visited in Mexico. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, Valladolid is a great hub for people that want to visit cenotes and it is also located just 40 minutes away from Chichen Itza, which is the only Wonder of the World in North America.
Cholula is near and dear to our hearts, as it was our home base for half of our time living in Mexico. This little town is filled with history, great food and the biggest pyramid in the world. Yes, bigger than Egypt.
Just 30 minutes down the road from Cholula is Atlixco, which is the cutest little town we visited in Mexico. This place feels like rural France in so many ways, and it is an awesome day trip from Puebla if you’re looking for a quick stop outside of the city!
Orizaba as a city was mediocre. We really enjoyed it, but it wouldn’t have made this list if it weren’t for its riverwalk with an outdoor zoo. This zoo riverwalk is one of the most unique (and under marketed) experiences we had anywhere in Mexico. We highly recommend visiting, and it isn’t horribly far from Puebla and Mexico City!
Tulum, Quintana Roo
I have some really mixed opinions on Tulum. I truly do love this funky, lively town, but I think its massive tourism has eaten away at what made it a Pueblo Magico in the first place. I totally recommend visiting for the great beach clubs and trendy restaurants, but Tulum isn’t really a Pueblo Magico experience, if you ask me.
Are There Any Pueblos Magicos That Are Not Worth Visiting?
I said above that almost every Pueblo Magico is worth visiting, and I stand by that statement. I do think, though, that some Pueblos Magicos are better than others, and some are a little overhyped. Here are a few Pueblos Magicos that I found to be a bit disappointing:
Sayulita is known as a trendy surfing town on Mexico’s west coast, and it is just a quick bus ride north of Puerto Vallarta. Unfortunately, I had heard great things about Sayulita and had high expectations before visiting. Sayulita isn’t a bad town by any means, but it was a lot more meh than I anticipated.
Ajijic sits along Lake Chapala, which is Mexico’s biggest lake. This little town has one of Mexico’s largest expat communities, and just like with Sayulita, I had high expectations and was left a little but underwhelmed. Cute town, but I do not understand the hype whatsoever.
Thanks for reading our post about Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos! We loved visiting these charming spots in Mexico, and we’re sure you will too. If you have any questions about traveling to a Pueblo Magico, let us know by dropping a comment below! Otherwise, thanks for reading and have a wonderful day.