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Mexico is popular with visitors on any budget and appeals to many interests. We’ve seen this broad allure on the backpacker trail and in many expat areas. Still, we’re amazed by how much there is in Mexico off the beaten path. We’ve visited many overlooked cities and towns still offering plenty to see and do – we’ll share our favourites and perhaps convince you to visit some.

More obvious cities and towns may be for you but consider seeing more of Mexico. You’ll still find evocative colonial charm, museums, historical sites and great day trips nearby. In fact, visiting these cities will leave you wondering how you almost overlooked them in the first place! I’ll reveal cities to add to your list and what to do when you get there.

Cities in Mexico off the Beaten Path and What to Expect

These aren’t undiscovered cities and towns in Mexico and you won’t have them to yourself. Still, expect less tourists and lively cities full of enough things to keep independently-minded travellers busy. This article gives a brief intro to each city and useful information on attractions and day trips when applicable. So get ready to discover some great cities in Mexico off the beaten path.


Aguascalientes


This prosperous capital city is noteworthy for several museums and it’s aguas calientes, or hot waters. Visitors will also find a lively central plaza flanked by colonial buildings and a gorgeous cathedral. This pleasant diversion isn’t a blip on the radar of most travellers, yet Aguascalientes offers so much to do. This is one of our favourite cities in Mexico off the beaten path for several reasons.

Where: This city, in Aguascalientes state, is 310 miles (500 km) northwest of Mexico City and 135 miles (220 km) northeast of Guadalajara.


Things to Do in Aguascalientes


Museo Nacional de la Muerte 

Where: Corners

Hours:

  • 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Website: www.museodelamuerte.uaa.mx

A papier mache figurine of a stylized skeleton weaving a brightly colored cloth.

This museum pays homage to death in true Mexican fashion. Historical and archaeological representations of all things death-related thrive here. Learn how and why dying has taken on a life of it’s own in the Mexican psyche. You’ll enjoy the papier mâché skulls and bony figurines in various poses – even naughty ones! It’s all in good taste and touches on a very Mexican subject, indeed.

Museo José Guadalupe Posada

Where: Corners of Abasolo and Jesús Díaz de León, 5 blocks south of

Hours:

  • 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Speaking of death, Aguascalientes is the birthplace of a national treasure – José Guadalupe Posada. He created a stir during the reign of Porfirio Díaz by producing and publishing satirical cartoons.

His caricature etchings spanned all social classes but emphatically parodied the elite. These cartoons were accessible to all rather than just the literate. José Posada isn’t known to all, however his Calavera Catrina engraving is synonymous with Mexico.

Baños Termales de Ojocaliente

Where: 102 Avenida Tecnólogico; t

Hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, daily.

Website: www.banostermalesojocaliente.mx

Don’t be shocked to discover yourself in hot water while visiting Aguascalientes. Bathers have been enjoying Baños Termales de Ojocaliente for over 200 years. Today, you’ll find a variety of sunken private tubs to choose from. Azulejo-tiled private rooms with bath start at 150 pesos per hour and feature unlimited hot water. See why Aguascalientes is one of the most relaxing cities in Mexico off the beaten path.

A green, arched colonial bath house building in Aguascalientes, a city in Mexico off the beaten path of many tourists.
Banos Termales de Ojo Caliente in Aguascalientes

We rented a tanque room featuring a tub for two filled with enough hot water to dissolve any ache. Simply stop by, pick a room size and get ready for a rather serious bath. Visit their website for an idea of room types and current prices.

Templo del Señor del Encino

Where: Adjacent to Museo José Guadalupe Posada.

This church is noteworthy for a black statue of Jesus Christ some believe is slowly growing. Believers say continued growth will spark a series of worldwide disasters. Better get to Aguascalientes soon…

Museo de Aguascalientes

Where: Corners of Calle Gral. Ignacio Zaragoza and Pedro Parga, 5 blocks northeast of

Hours:

  • 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

This neoclassical building features works from another Aguascalientes artist – Santurnino Herrán. Also on display are temporary exhibits, sculptures, stained glass and a well-manicured inner courtyard.

Museo Regional de Historia

Where: 118 Venustiano Carranza, one block behind

Hours: 

  • 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Website: www.inah.gob.mx

Bones and lithics mix with contemporary costumes, weapons and other objects at this museum. The impressive colonial building housing this museum is worth a look, too. Check the website or stop in to see which temporary exhibits are in town.


Uruapan


This off the beaten path Mexican city boasts an amazing national park – downtown! Add to that 3 great day trips and you have a clear winner. You’ll also find several artesanía shops and cheap, delicious food. Uruapan is quite appealing with her whitewashed old structures and Spanish tile roofs, too. You’ve likely never heard of Uruapan but that’s no reason to skip a visit.

Where: Uruapan is in Michoacán state; the city is 165 miles (264 km) southeast of Guadalajara and 260 miles (415 km) west of Mexico City.


Things to Do in Uruapan


Parque Nacional Barranca del Cupatitzio

Where: Downtown, about seven blocks west of Uruapan’s main plaza; take Avenida Independencia to the park entrance.

Hours: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, daily.

Website: www.gob.mx/parque-nacional-barraca-del-cupatitzio

It’s easy to forget you’re in a city while visiting this lush, jungle-like paradise. Tropical plants, birds, butterflies and plenty of crystal-clear water is the name of the game here. The source of the Rio Cupatitzio is located at the north end of the park at Rodilla del Diablo, or the Devil’s Knee. Here, water springs from the ground in a blue pool before beginning it’s flow through the park.

Most of the fresh water continues along it’s natural path of flow. The rest is diverted and channeled to form waterfalls and power elaborate fountains throughout the park. You’ll notice the unique channeling system in effect, running alongside the walking paths. This diverted water eventually flows back into the river proper. To sum it up, this park is a natural and man-made thing of beauty.

Museo Indigena la Huatapera

Where: Northeast corner of Urapan’s main plaza.

Hours: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm, daily.

This building from the 1530’s houses native and folk arts from this region and beyond. Check out the masks decorated with real hair and teeth. Also on display is an impressive variety of pottery. The window and door surrounds were carved in a combination of Christian and Islamic styles.


Day Trips from Uruapan


When you’ve run out of things to do in Uruapan choose from this assortment of day trips:

Volcan Paracutín and Templo San Juan Parangaricutiro

Volcan Paracutín was born from a smoking chasm which formed in a field in 1943. Over 9 years this hole continued to slowly belch lava, eventually burying the village of San Juan Parangaricutiro. The village was consumed slowly – residents easily fled – and all that remains is the church sprouting from the hardened lava.

Walk along the upper facade and bell tower and peer in – lava entered the church but didn’t completely fill it. Most visitors hire a horse and guide in Angahuan village for the journey up Volcan Paracutín. Guides also take visitors to the church on horseback however we easily walked here from Angahuan ourselves. Combine visits to the volcano and church or choose each separately.

A ruined church bell tower poking up from the ground at a tourist site in Mexico off the beaten path.
The ruined church of San Juan Parangaricutiro

How to Get There: Buses (1 hour) to Angahuan depart from Calle Juarez and Venustiano Carranza, 7 blocks north of Uruapan’s main plaza. Guides with horses greet visitors getting off the bus. You don’t need a horse to visit the church but these are recommended for the volcano. Head west on the main road through Angahuan village toward Volcan Paracutín.

Cascada de la Tzaráracua

Here, the Rio Cupatitzio thunders 90 feet over a cliff into a cool blue pool. Be prepared to go down (and back up!) 500 steps to reach the base of the falls, or hire a horse and guide instead. A small cable car spans the river and brings visitors to the base of the falls.

How to Get There: The falls are 7 miles (11 km) south of Uruapan. Buses to Cascada de Tzaráracua depart in front of Hotel Regis on Uruapan’s main plaza. On the other hand, take a taxi for 100 pesos each way.

The Ruins of Tingambato

These ruins surrounded by avocado fields are associated with the Teotihuacan culture. Included are 2 plazas, a 25-foot tall pyramid and a tomb which contained a skeleton and several dozen skulls. Tingambato also has a ball court, rare at sites in Western Mexico. This site isn’t overwhelming but it makes a nice day trip from Uruapan.

How to Get There: Take any bus to the village of Tingambato from Uruapan’s bus terminal. Buses heading toward either Pátzcuaro or Morelia stop in Tingambato village. The ruins of Tingambato lie on the southern edge of the village.


Pátzcuaro


This colonial town is another example of Mexico off the beaten path. Pátzcuaro is neither hidden nor undiscovered and is deemed a Pueblo Mágico by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism. Most visitors here are Mexican, however Pátzcuaro is rather popular with foreigners during Día de los Muertos.

Where: Pátzcuaro is in Michoacán state, 215 miles (350 km) west of Mexico City and 200 miles (325 km) southeast of Guadalajara.

An official logo for "Pueblo Magicos" in Mexico.


Things to Do in Pátzcuaro


Plaza Vasco de Quiroga

This is Pátzcuaro’s main plaza (there are 4 altogether) and ground-zero for people-watching. It’s also quite atmospheric, surrounded by fine 17th-century buildings and a statue of Vasco de Quiroga, revered for his advocacy of indigenous peoples. Mexican cities and towns are full of evocative main squares and this is a fine example, indeed.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Salud

Where: One block northeast of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga.

This church is famous throughout Mexico for alleged miracles granted to pilgrims. Because of this, devotees flock here for Señora de Salud located behind the altar. Also, Vasco de Quiroga’s tomb lies just inside the main door. The exterior of this church is rather simple, however inside is a completely different scene altogether.

Casa de la Once Patios

Where: On Madrigal de las Altas Torres, one block southeast of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga.

Hours:

  • 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Friday through Wednesday.
  • Closed Thursday.

One of Mexico’s first hospitals occupied this site. This was replaced by a convent built in 1740 which today houses Casa de la Once Patios, or House of the 11 Courtyards. Individual handicraft shops occupy the patios, each selling wares associated with certain regions of Mexico.

Museo de Artes y Industrias Populares

Where: Corners of Alcatarillas and Arciga, one block east of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga.

Hours: 

  • 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

There’s quite a bit going on at this fascinating museum. On this site was the first university in the Americas, built atop pre-Hispanic foundations still visible behind the courtyard. Today, the museum holds permanent exhibits, religious art, masks, dioramas, and jewellery.

Don’t miss the retablos, or small paintings made to thank God for protection from accidents and illnesses. Many of these are quite elaborate and others are whimsical, however they’re all quite amusing. Also, visit the traditional Purépecha house and replica Michoacán kitchen.

El Estribo

Where: El Estribo is 2 miles (3.5 km) west of Pátzcuaro.

How to Get There: From the southwest corner of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga follow Ponce de Leon right. Continue straight and follow signs to El Estribo.

A road from town slowly heads uphill to a viewpoint overlooking Lago de Pátzcuaro. This walk is easy compared to the 418 steps leading to the lookout point. The leisurely stroll and the climb to El Estribo (The Stirrup) takes about an hour.


Day Trips from Pátzcuaro


The Village of Tócuaro

This small village is well known for artisans carving fine wooden masks. We visited several workshops and even purchased two masks to take home. There’s not much to this village; the real draw is meeting the craftsmen and purchasing from the source.

A brightly colored wood mask of a bat's face with horns from Tocuaro, Mexico on a woven mat.
One of our masks from Tocuaro, Mexico.

How to Get There: Buses marked Lago leave Plaza Chica, two blocks north of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga. Get off the bus on the highway before reaching the lake. For Tócuaro catch any bus heading west; the ride to the village takes 30 minutes.

The Village of Tzintzuntzan

Where: The village of Tzintzuntzan is 9 miles (15 km ) north of Pátzcuaro.

How to Get There: Buses to Tzintzuntzan leave quite from the main bus terminal in Pátzcuaro; the ride to the village takes about 20 minutes.

A trip to this lakeside village, pronounced Zint-Zunt-Zan, presents several attractions within walking distance of the centre. First, explore the Archaeological Ruins of Tzintzuntzan (9:00 am – 5:30 pm, daily), the only vestige of the pre-Hispanic Tarascan State. This group fought off all attempts of Aztec conquest while preventing a significant portion of their expansion.

The Antiguo Covento Franciscano de Santa Ana (Franciscan Convent, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, daily) was built with stones from ancient Tzintzuntzan. The Spanish built this vast campus for Franciscan monks in the 16th century. The courtyard of this sprawling site contains olive trees planted by Quiroga himself. These are still alive and represent the oldest of olive trees in the Americas.

Also on site are two separate churches; one built for the monks and one for the indigenous Purépecha. The latter, Templo de Nuestro Señora de La Salud, houses a very sacred image of Christ decked in flowers during Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Templo de San Francisco, built for the monks, contains murals and an elaborate wooden ceiling.

Lago de Pátzcuaro and Isla Janitzio

Take a boat to picturesque Isla Janitzio and visit the interesting Morelos statue. Enter this 130-foot tall statue (9:00 am – 8:00 pm, daily) and make your way to the top for amazing views of the lake. A walkway circles the interior of the statue and features murals depicting the life of this independence leader. The wrist of his raised right arm features a glassed-in viewing platform.

How to Get There: Take any bus marked Lago from Plaza Chica, two blocks north of Plaza Vasco de Quiroga. Purchase tickets at the dock; boats leave when full and the crossing takes 20 minutes. This trip here is worthwhile even though it’s full of touts and tacky souvenir shops.


Morelia


The entire historical centre of Morelia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Indeed, this is one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico off the beaten path we visited. It’s also a young and lively city, thanks to the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo. A European ambiance and an inspiring cathedral certainly make Morelia a city you should consider visiting.

Where: Morelia is in Michoacán state, 185 miles (300 km) west of Mexico City and 180 miles (285 km) southeast of Guadalajara.


Things to Do in Morelia


Main Cathedral

Where: Plaza de Armas, located in the very heart of Morelia.

Morelia’s main church rivals any in Mexico for beauty, grandeur and elegance – and that’s just the inside. The exterior ain’t that bad either, especially when lit up at night. The 230-foot tall (70 m) twin towers feature baroque, Herreresque and neoclassical styling. Admiring this church inside and out should be your first order of business during a visit to Morelia.

El Acueducto and Fuente Las Tarascas

Where: Avenida Acueducto begins 11 blocks east of Plaza de Armas.

This avenue follows an aqueduct built for the city during the 1780’s. Today, more than 250 arches make up this iconic structure, made especially atmospheric when lit up in the evening. Boutique hotels, cafes and restaurants here add a further touch of sophistication to Morelia.

Fuente las Tarascas, a fountain with 3 topless women holding up a tray of fruit in Morelia, Mexico, a city in Mexico off the beaten path of many tourists.

On the aqueduct’s west end is Fuente Las Tarascas, featuring 3 topless women holding up a rather large fruit tray. The original fountain was somehow stolen in 1940 and the current is a replica. Behind this is the aptly named Calle del Romance featuring more quaint shops, bars and restaurants.

Palacio de Justicia

Hours: 

  • 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • Closed Saturday and Sunday.

On the southwest corner of Plaza de Armas sits this rather imposing, French-looking palacio. Inside is a bright, spacious courtyard featuring murals depicting the revolution and the on-site justice museum. Learn how Mexico’s early inhabitants doled out justice during pre-Hispanic times.

Museo Regional Michoacano

Hours:

  • 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Also on the southwest corner of Plaza de Armas, this former palace showcases pre-Hispanic and colonial art and weaponry. The central courtyard features some historical murals portraying Mexico’s rather tumultuous history.

Mercado de Dulces

Where: Two blocks left of the northwest corner of Plaza de Arams, then right on Calle Valentín Gómez Farias The market is on the right.

Morelia has a rather serious sweet tooth and this market celebrates that sugary affliction. All sorts of caramelized, candied and preserved goodies fill the shelves and stalls here. Try the stacks of cocadas (candied coconut) or the olitas de tamarindo (clay pots of sticky tamarind paste).

Santuario de Guadalupe

Where: About halfway along Avenida Acueducto, then left at Plaza Morelos. Santuario de Guadalupe is on the northeast corner of the plaza.

Few churches anywhere drip as much color and psychedelic flair as Santuario de Gudalupe. Don’t let the rather plain exterior fool you –  the interior breathes a wild purple and gold-gilded design you’ll get lost in. The flamboyant ceiling and walls here are simply crawling with texture.


Zacatecas


If you like Guanajuato, you’ll love Zacatecas. Both cities made their fortunes mining silver and both retain colonial appeal. See the big photo at the top of this article? That’s Zacatecas you’re seeing, not Guanajuato. So come here expecting a city just as beautiful but pleasantly less touristy. Guanajuato just  has a funicular, but Zacatecas has a Swiss-built cable car spanning the entire city.

Where: Zacatecas, the capital of it’s namesake state, is 210 miles (340 km) north of Guadalajara and 380 miles (610 km) northwest of Mexico City.


Things to Do in Zacatecas


Teleférico

Where: From Geanro Codina take the stairs up Callejón de García Rojas to the teleférico platform.

Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, daily.

There’s no better way to see any city than by skimming above it via cable car. These orange gondolas leave every 10 minutes and the journey to Cerro de la Buffa (see below) takes eight minutes. Keep your camera ready and enjoy the dizzying views over the rooftops of Zacatecas.

Cerro de la Buffa

This historic hilltop overlooking Zacatecas features several monuments and a museum. Pancho Villa’s 1916 victory in battle over General Huerta’s forces is commemorated on the site where it all happened. You cannot miss the giant statues of the victors on horeseback, especially Villa with his gun raised triumphantly. Of course, expect commanding views of Zacatecas and beyond.

How to Get Here: Take the teleférico (see above) or push your heart to the limit with a walk up the hill. The climb to the top begins behind the cathedral on Calle del Angel, then left onto Altapalmira. You can always walk one way and take the teleférico back the other way.

Museo Raphael Coronel

Where: Corners of San Francisco and Segunda de Matamoros, northeast of Zacatecas’ main cathedral.

Hours: 

  • 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Thursday through Tuesday.
  • Closed Wednesday.
A ruined Jesuit Convent in Zacatecas, Mexico with a blue, cloudless sky in the background.
Ruined Jesuit Convent on the grounds of the Raphael Coronel Museum in Zacatecas, Mexico.

This amazing museum showcases Zacatecan artist Rafael Coronel’s astounding collection of ceremonial masks and folk art. Also on display are pre-Hispanic items and a few drawings from Diego Rivera, Raphael Coronel’s father-in-law. Just as impressive as this entire cache of art is the 16th-century convent which houses this museum today.

Mina el Eden

Where: From the cathedral head south on Hidalgo three long block to Juarez, then right. Continue straight past the hospital, then right on Antonio Dovali Jaime to the Mina El Eden. Or reach the other entrance to the mine, about 100 yards southwest of the Teleférico platform (see above).

Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, daily.

This rich ore mine operated for almost 400 years and put Zacatecas on the map. Today, visitors journey into the earth to learn more about the El Eden’s checkered past. Don a mining helmet and check out displays of fossils and brilliant gems and minerals from around Mexico and beyond. Exhibits also include better-than-average dioramas and human figures depicting miners through the years.

Museo Pedro Coronel

Where: Plazuela Santo Domingo, corners of Aquiles Serdán and Fernando Villalpando.

Hours:

  • 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

This is easily one of the most impressive art museums in Mexico. Pedro Coronel, like his brother, amassed  a rather extensive collection of art. Pedro’s collection spans the globe and features many different mediums. From ancient Egypt to Goya to Kandinsky, Coronel’s assemblage is truly impressive. This museum also features paintings and sculptures from Pedro Coronel himself.


Day Trips From Zacatecas


La Quemada Archaeological Site

Speculation remains as to which group built this city, or why. La Quemada (9:00 am – 10:00 pm, daily), or Burnt City, was already established when, in 700 AD, a defensive wall was partially constructed. This indicates it was used as a trading post which likely competed with nearby sites. At some point this centre was burned, suggesting a sudden and extreme decline.

How to Get There: From Zacatecas’ main terminal take any bus to Villanueva and ask to be dropped at the site entrance.

Jerez de García Salinas

Simply referred to as Jerez, this Pueblo Magico town is a worthwhile day (or overnight!) trip from Zacatecas. There isn’t much to do besides strolling or sitting on the square but Jerez is the perfect spot for doing that. Explore the historic center of town and enjoy a corner of Mexico off the beaten path. Colonial charm, several churches and a lively Sunday market are what this town is about.

How to Get There: Frequent buses to Jerez leave from Zacatecas’ main terminal.


Veracruz


This coastal city in Mexico off the beaten path is noteworthy for marimba music, gulf breezes, a lively malecón and Veracruzana-style seafood. Enjoy all of these in one day, or three days. In fact, you’ll find plenty in Veracruz and a few day trips to keep you here longer. This coastal city is popular with Mexicans on holidays, however few foreign visitors ever realize how truly bewitching Veracruz is.

Where: Veracruz, the largest city in Veracruz state, is 250 miles (400 km) east of Mexico City.


Things to Do in Veracruz


Zócalo

The official heart of Veracruz is where to get your bearings and soak up serious rhythms. Marimba groups belt out tinkling tunes under swaying palms throughout the day. Mariachi ensembles get in on the action too, especially during late afternoon and evening. This is a lively and well-maintained central plaza, however it doesn’t compare to many we’ve seen; the cathedral and surrounding buildings lack any flair.

San Juan de Ulúa Fortress

Hours:

  • 9:30 am – 4:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Website: www.sanjuandeulua.inah.gob.mx

How to Get There: Save the bother of a long, hot walk on busy roads and take a taxi here.

Built originally on an island, San Juan de Ulúa is today swallowed up by Veracruz’ busy seaport, however it’s still an evocative place full of history. Juan de Grijaval landed on this island during his expedition off the coast of Mexico in 1518; Cortes landed one year later. Construction of the the fortress began in 1535. Today, visitors can explore passageways, battlements and a large courtyard.

Malecón

Enjoy a nice 5 mile (8 km) walk or run along Veracruz’s seaside walkway. It’s lined with seafood restaurants, shops, monuments, several attractions and plenty of sandy beach. The seafood restaurants along the malecón compete heavily for your business, flapping menus to get your attention and practically seating you at a table as you shuffle by.

Los Portales de Veracruz

The north side of Veracruz’s zócalo features a handful of bars and restaurants beneath porticos. Nothing can top grabbing a table alfresco while listening to marimba and watching Veracuzanos dance the evening away.

Fototeca Juan Malpica Mimendi

The modern photographic and video exhibits here are worth a gander and admission is free. This cultural center is spread over 3 floors of a restored colonial building on the southeast side of the zócalo. Other mediums of rotating contemporary art are featured here, too.

Plaza de Atresanías

Where: Three blocks northeast of the zócalo on Veracruz’s waterfront.

Hone your haggling skills and come here for a souvenir experience pare excellence. From sombreros and coffee mugs to jewellery and assorted confections, this is THE place to browse for things you may or may not need.

Museo Naval México

Where: Calle Mariano Arista, three blocks southeast of the zócalo.

Hours:

  • 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Considering the history of Veracruz it’s no shock the city has an excellent naval museum. From Cortes and the Spanish conquest to the country’s navy today, the focus here is large-scale ship models, real aircraft, artifacts, uniforms and weaponry related to Mexico’s maritime history.

Learn how a perceived slight led U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to order an attack on Veracruz and the Mexican Navy. This ultimately led to the Battle of Veracruz in 1914 and U.S. occupation  of the city for seven months.


A Day Trip From Veracruz


Quiahuiztlán

This pre-Hispanic cemetery 45 miles (70 km) north of Veracruz features views to die for. More than 70 tombs resembling miniature temples sit on a hillside overlooking the lush green hills and the sea just beyond. A striking, massive outcrop of rock overlooks these little-visited Totonac tombs. Quiahuiztlán overlooks  the village of Villa Rica, likely the site of Spain’s first settlement in Mexico.

How to Get There: From Veracruz’s main terminal take any bus north along coastal highway 180. Ask the driver to drop you at the turn for Quiahuiztlán. From here it’s a scenic 30-minute walk uphill to the site entrance.

Hours: 

  • 9:00 am – 4:30 pm,Tuesday through Sunday.
  • Closed Monday.

Chihuahua


This northern city in Mexico off the beaten path is actually at the end (or beginning) of the very popular Copper Canyon Railway. Sadly, most foreign visitors give the city of Chihuahua a skip, but we absolutely love it here. The colonial center is full of sights and other attractions lie within walking distance. Two big names in Mexican history have individual museums commemorating them here.

Where: This capital city in Chihuahua state is 720 miles (1165 km) north of Guadalajara.


What to Do in Chihuahua


Museo de la Revolución

Where: 3010 Calle 10a, east of Plaza de Armas

Hours:

  • 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
  • 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Sundays and holidays.
  • Closed Monday.

Website: : www.gob.mx/museo-historico-de-la-revolucion

The black 1922 Dodge car in which Pancho Villa was killed in with several bullet holes visible in the Museum of the Mexican Revolution in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Chihuahua is well off the beaten path in Mexico

Pancho Villa’s former mansion was donated to Chihuahua by his wife upon her death in 1981. It’s now an amazing museum filled with furnishings, weapons, photos, documents and the bullet-riddled car Pancho was assassinated in. Come prepared to spend several hours here.

Plaza de Armas

Chihuahua’s historical centre is a good place to begin. This large square features a Spanish Baroque cathedral easily worth a look around. Two pedestrianized streets northeast of the cathedral, Calles Libertad and Victoria, are lined with shops and restaurants.

Hidalgo’s Dungeon

Where: 901 Calle Libertad, 5 blocks northeast of Plaza de Armas

Hours: 

  • 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Wednesday through Monday.
  • Closed Tuesday.

Website: www.casadechihuahua.org.mx

Father Miguel Hidalgo, the father of the Mexican Revolution, was imprisoned in a dank cell in Chihuahua prior to his execution in 1811. That cell still contains some of his personal belongings. It’s located in Casa Chihuahua, a museum and cultural centre several blocks from Plaza de Armas.

Hidalgo’s Execution Site

Where: 901 Calle Juan Aldama, opposite Casa Chihuahua, 5 blocks northeast of Plaza de Armas.

Hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, daily.

Across from his dungeon at Casa Chihuahua is another building where Hidalgo was executed. A plaque in the courtyard of this colonial building marks the exact spot where he was shot. An adjacent shrine features a permanent flame signifying his spirit.


Pin Me Now!

Three photos of tourist areas off the beaten path in Mexico; an old doorway in Patzcuaro, a village square in Michoacan and an art exhibit in the city of Chihuahua.

A collage of four ruins in Mexico off the beaten path of tourists.

Two photos of places in Mexico; one of the city of Chihuahua featuring a canopy of colorful umbrellas over a street and the other depicting a rurlak village in the state of Michoacan.

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6 Comments

  1. Have you been to Querétaro?? Most Americans have never heard of it, but it’s so beautiful and historic!

    • Emily,

      We passed through on a bus. Since then, we have read about Queretaro and will visit next year – it does sound quite nice.

      The city of San Luis Potosi is also calling out to us. Have you any more suggestions? We love Mexico and want to see more. In 2013 – 2014 we visited all but 3 states and it still wasn’t enough for us!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  2. Way to give Aguascalientes, Veracruz, and Zacatecas some love! I’m also surprised how little attention they get–but maybe that’s one of the best things about them! 😉 And I would have thought that Patzcuaro would have been on an over-touristed list like San Cristobal de las Casas . . . I’m so glad to know it’s not like that! I hope to check it out someday! (And I would have avoided it, except for your recommendation, as I’ve been assuming for years that it’s a touristy mecca. Good to know!)

    • Jill.

      Yeah, perhaps we should keep these places a secret! Patzcuaro has a HUGE Day of the Dead celebration and things get crazy there at that time from what we have heard. It is a Pueblo Magico, but was a real pleasant place to be when we visited in August. The 2 squares in Patzcuaro are understated but very atmospheric.

      Zacatecas seems to be getting some tourists, and right so – it is a beautiful city! We fell hard for so many places in Mexico. We spent 5 months hitchhiking there and that meant going to some quiet towns and cities. On our next trip we will hit some favourites and some new places like San Luis Potosi city and Queretaro city.

      Thanks so much for the great comment, Jill!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  3. Great post, have taken notes for our onward journey

    • Suzanne,
      Best of luck as yous make your way through Mexico! There is plenty to see in this amazing country. We look forward to hearing of the rest of your travels there and beyond! Perhaps we will cross paths in Mexico or Central America some day….
      We are glad you enjoyed the post.
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

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