If Paris is too passé for your next international vacation, it’s time to consider a more off-the-beaten path experience. A number of destinations deliver great adventures and excellent value, with fewer tour-bus hordes.
For this ranking, MONEY has scoured its Best in Travel database to identify seven cities that may not be at the top of tourists’ lists—yet—but are packed with incredible things to do, delicious flavors to try, and unique places to stay. (And for more travel inspiration, check out all 17 of the top destinations named in MONEY’s 2017 Best in Travel.)
1. Oaxaca, Mexico
Total Cost of a Week for Two: $1,948
Forget Cabo and Cancun: Mexico’s real gem sits in the foothills of the Sierra Madre.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Established in 1977, our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. We use innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocea
With early access, unlock the secrets of the ancient Maya civilization as you explore Chichén Itzá with an archaeologist guide. Tucked deep in the Yucatan jungle, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is filled with the weathered remains of temples, tombs, and pyramids that date back to the 8th century.
Get a head start, waking up early to beat the crowds and experience Chichén Itzá in the cool morning hours. Follow your guide between sites as you explore the evolution of Maya architecture, from the early Puuc styles to Chenes forms. Admire the looming facade of the pyramid El Castillo, imagine the players of ancient ball games on the site’s massive courts, and discuss impressions of the afterlife at the entrances of tombs.
Along the way, uncover how Chichén Itzá was constructed in stages over hundreds of years.
A busload of German tourists heading to Maya ruins in Mexico has been robbed on a back road, according to prosecutors in Chiapas state. Seven armed men seized cash and valuables from the 28 visitors.
Mexican media, including the newspaper “El Universal,” reported Tuesday that masked robbers armed with guns and knives intercepted the German tourists and their guides en route to the ruins at Palenque.
Villagers in the impoverished southern Mexican region, who sometimes demand small toll charges from visitors, had blocked the normal route.
Diverting onto a rural back-road, the tourists were initially given a police escort, but that ended at a regional boundary. The robbers then struck on a difficult stretch.
Never mind the border wall. Mexico has a strong case to sue the United States for territories its northern neighbor seized in the mid 19th century, according to a legal expert.
Armed with historical documents and testimony, Mexico could mount a legal case to annul the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ceded roughly half of the nation’s territory to the United States in 1848, as part of a peace treaty that put an end to the U.S. occupation of Mexico during the Mexican-American War, Mexican criminal lawyer Guillermo Hamdan Castro told Xinhua in an interview.
Over the past three decades, Hamdan has headed a group of legal experts studying the infamous deal, hoping to see the case debated at the Hague-based International Court of Justice.
Chances are, you have seen images of Chichen Itza or Palenque, the stunning archeological remains of grand Mayan cities in Mexico. Perhaps you’ve even visited these sites at some point. Considerably less well-known, though, is Teotihuacan, or “the place where the gods were created.” In my mind, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Teotihuacan is western hemisphere’s ultimate pyramid city, vastly more impressive than even its more famous brethren on the Yucatan peninsula. Only 10% of the city has been excavated – and it is still enough to cause the most seasoned traveler to gape in astonishment.
Teotihuacan is located in central Mexico, only about an hour bus ride from Mexico City, making it a perfect day trip destination. It features a large array of remarkably well-preserved pyramids, temples ornately adorned with art, grand boulevards interwoven with remnants of centuries-old streets, and numerous marketplaces.
Just about an hour drive west of San Miguel de Allende is another UNESCO World Heritage town, Guanajuato. But unique from every other town you will find in Mexico, Guanajato is more “European” than Mexican. The town was originally founded all the way back in the 1500’s. Having been built around the silver mining trade, the town still has some active mines. These mines lie buried within the steep hills, flanking the main thoroughfare. If you’re looking for a destination to stay fit, this is it! Most of the roads run beneath the town, making it an idyllic walking (or rather “climbing”) city.
Arid weather is typical for this beautiful, unique colonial town in central Mexico. At over 6,000 ft elevation, warm days and cool nights are consistent at this time of year.
Imagine a picturesque, narrow valley, with houses and churches painted in all colors of the rainbow crammed onto the slopes of its surrounding hills; winding alleyways and steep staircases, for vehicles impossible to reach; small, quaint squares and gardens with old stone fountains and wrought-iron benches under centuries-old, carefully manicured trees; impressive colonial mansions and theaters built of pink sandstone or adobe, revealing a strong Spanish influence; a remarkable subterranean road system where once a river used to flow; and an abundance of music, visual arts, good food, and intriguing legends.
The picture-perfect city of Guanajuato (meaning “the place of frogs” in the indigenous Purépecha language), is situated in Central Mexico, at an altitude of approximately 2,000 meters (6,561 feet).
Modernism Week highlights Mexico City’s midcentury modernism heritage to preview upcoming April trip.
While Mexico City is the oldest capital in the Americas (founded in 1325), it’s the period between the 1940s and late 1960s that most intrigues Modernism Week event organizers.
On the heels of Modernism Week’s successful featured tour to Cuba last year, organizers are gearing up for the next architectural sojourn — this time to Mexico City in April. The tour, which takes place April 8–13, will focus on Mexico City’s significant midcentury modern architecture including the residence and work of Luis Barragán, one of Mexico’s most renowned architects, as well as some UNESCO World Heritage sites.
They’re gaily-coloured, vibrant and brightly-hued, so could these houses be situated in the most colourful neighbourhoods in the world?
Houses and residential areas tend to be designed in muted or neutral colour palettes, but there are some wonderfully vibrant exceptions to be found around the world. You could never be blue if you lived in one of these cheery and colourful neighbourhoods.
The brightly-coloured buildings are situated in the Malay Quarter of Cape Town, close to Table Mountain.
Caminito (or ‘little walkway’ in Spanish) is a street museum and traditional alley located in La Boca, a neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.
These jewel-coloured houses can be found on the Whitehead waterfront in County Antrim.
Guanajuato, the capital of Guanajuato state, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and charming colonial-era city situated in a picturesque valley. Read more
For most of us, Mexico is all about the party beach towns – but we’re here to make a rebuttal. There is a whole other side of this culturally vibrant country outside the typical tourist stomping grounds. So, instead of a repeat trip to yet another all-inclusive beachside resort (admittedly, there are some incredible ones), open your heart to the colorful locales and stunning colonial architecture you’ve been missing out on. Prepare yourself for a magical ride through five of Mexico’s most beautiful towns and cities.
Considered the most romantic city in Mexico, Guanajuato is a UNESCO World Heritage site chock-full of gorgeous colonial buildings, colorful homes speckling hills, narrow alleys akin to Venice, and tree-lined plazas. Sigh.
Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro, is home to Iturbide’s Theatre, where current Mexican Constitution of 1917 was proclaimed; it was also the third most important capital city during the Spanish Viceroyalty in Mexico (1535-1821), as well as being the state where the Mexican War of Independence, to end the rule of the Spanish crown, was plotted.
Querétaro is one of the first destinations in Mexico and the Historical Landmarks Trail of capital city of Santiago de Querétaro, along with the five Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, built between 1751 and 1766, achieved UNESCO’s World Heritage status in 1996 and 2003, respectively.
Visitors to the Franciscan Missions can also go climbing, tracking and camping in neighboring municipalities of Jalpan, Pinal de Amoles, Landa de Matamoros, Arroyo Seco, Peñamiller and San Joaquín.
Millennials are enamoured by the United Nations. Consider the young undergrad, Antonio Soriano who is the UNESCO Delegate for the Harvard National Model United Nations of 2017. He writes:
Welcome to Harvard National Model United Nations 2017! My name is Antonio Soriano, and it is my honour to serve as the Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)…UNESCO aims to establish peace that is built not only on political and economic agreements but also on humanity’s morality and the concept of intellectual solidarity…Don’t hesitate to email me with any question.”
So here is my question for Soriano, “How well does UNESCO do its job?” The answer is not very well.
Erica Abad glides down the ancient canals of Xochimilco, a borough of Mexico City, on her gondola-like boat. Her cousin, Efren Lopez, steers their boat — called a chalupa — by pushing against the canal floor with a long wooden pole, while Abad flips a sizzling quesadilla on a steel griddle fitted into the boat. When a group of people on a nearby barge signal to them to order some quesadillas, Lopez navigates the boat toward them. And Abad places a few more quesadillas on the griddle for their customers. As the quesadillas turn golden, with the cheese inside perfectly melted, she fills them with huitlacoche (a deliciously earthy fungus that grows on organic corn), mushroom, chorizo, squash blossom and other ingredients.
Away from the coast is where you’ll find Mexico’s best architecture, cuisine and culture.
For most Americans, Mexico is a land of palm-lined beaches and all-inclusive resorts. But the country’s richest cultural experiences, most stunning architecture, most jaw-dropping ancient ruins and tastiest cuisine can all be found in the interior of the country.
Most of Mexico’s colonial towns and urban metropolises are far from the beach, and mostly gloriously devoid of the hordes of tourists that swarm the country’s coast. Here just a few of the top places you should visit:
San Miguel de Allende
Let’s get this out of the way: San Miguel de Allende is touristy, filled with expats and feels as much like Europe as it does like Mexico. But it’s filled with foreigners for a reason.
Over the summer Lucas and I went on a trip to Cancun, Mexico. Cancun isn’t the kind of destination that I’d choose to visit but we went due to a great reason- I had won the trip!
I’m not really into spending days at the beach or by the pool but Lucas loves being in the water so I knew that it would be a great time for him. To break up the beach/pool time, I scheduled a day trip to Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Our trip was provided by Viator. We took the Small- Group Tour with Private Entrance. (The tour was ran by Gray Line Cancun Yucatan.)
Some things you know are going to be unforgettable from beginning to end: Pulp Fiction, test-driving a Porsche 911, the Rolling Stones in concert. So it is with diving Mexico’s Revillagigedo Archipelago.
It’s possible in a single day — even a single dive — to encounter humpback whales blowing mere yards from the boat, while underwater, giant mantas flap past in acrobatic twirls. Sharks? It depends on the day, but hammerheads, whitetips, silvertips, silkies, threshers, Galapagos and tigers all are possible. In the eastern Pacific waters off this island chain better known to American divers as the Socorros, the action starts the moment you arrive.
Collectively, the island group — Socorro, Roca Partida, San Benedicto and Clarion — is one of the holy grails of adrenaline-seeking divers.