PEOPLE OFTEN FOCUS on the cultural or culinary landscape when they think of traveling to Mexico — the way indigenous traditions are woven into the modern society, and a cuisine that’s been recognized by UNESCO as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” These points are worthy of attention and exploration, without a doubt.

But you can’t discount the geographic landscapes contained within this country’s borders, both natural and manmade. We’re talking snow-capped peaks, river gorges rimmed with plunging waterfalls, and sunken swimming holes that look straight out of an artist’s rendering, along with cities of colorful colonial architecture and ruins left behind by powerful Mesoamerican civilizations.

These are landscapes you’ll find in Mexico and nowhere else.

1

Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas

The steep walls of this canyon rise almost a thousand meters above the Grijalva River. Jaguars, crocodiles, anteaters, and numerous species of monkeys roam the forests that hem the gorge.
Photo: Mr. Theklan

2

Mexico TS

Photo: Carlos Adampol

3

Guanajuato, Guanajuato

Surrounded by mountains, this colorful town looks like a perfect Mexican diorama. A UNESCO World Heritage City, Guanajuato is known for its colonial buildings and cobblestone streets just wide enough for one person. The acclaimed international arts event Festival Cervantino takes place here in fall.
Photo: jiuguangw

4

Basaltic prisms of Santa María Regla, Hidalgo

A lot of complex geological processes had to occur for this place to exist. Located in central Mexico, the geometric columns decorate a gorge where four waterfalls give the final magic touch to the view.
Photo: Noé Martínez L

5

Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur

At the tip of one of the world’s largest and longest peninsulas (Baja California), Cabo San Lucas has great beaches, scuba diving, luxury resorts, and these seriously picturesque sea arches marking the boundary between the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez.
Photo: Heath Cajandig

6

Cenotes of the Yucatán peninsula

These flooded cave systems are found all around the Yucatán peninsula, and each of them has unique characteristics. Typically ensconced in jungle, with vines dripping from overhead, the underground pools look like scenes from another world...or maybe another time.
Photo: Vvillamon

7

Loreto, Baja California Sur

Loreto is an isolated piece of paradise in the north of Mexico. Located on the Baja Peninsula between the La Giganta mountain range and the Sea of Cortez, Loreto has it all: impressive views of the Baja desert, rock paintings, incredible beaches, islands to explore, and the seafood...oh man, the seafood!
Photo: wisley

8

Agua Azul, Chiapas

A natural spectacle of colors, the intense blue of the terraced Agua Azul waterfall contrasts beautifully with the surrounding rainforest. About 40 miles from the ruins at Palenque, the falls are on the road to the historic town of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Photo: Arian Zwegers

9

Mexico City’s downtown

Mexico City's Centro Histórico is packed with impressive architecture and monuments from different periods in Mexican history: The ruins of the old Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the grand Metropolitan Cathedral, impressive colonial palaces, and contemporary monuments stand side by side in the center of the Mexican capital.
Photo: jiuguangw

10

Xilitla, San Luis Potosí

In the middle of the mountainous Huasteca region, there’s a forest full of irregular sculptures, doors leading to nowhere, and staircases to heaven. Las Pozas was an art project constructed by the English surrealist Edward James in his later years and remains a magical little spot in the jungle for visitors to explore.
Photo: Rod Waddington

11

Janitzio Island, Michoacán

In the middle of Lake Pátzcuaro, there’s a little island that’s famous for its white fish dishes and its Day of the Dead traditions. A few hours and a ferry ride away from the city of Morelia, Janitzio’s steep streets and colorful houses make for quite the sight. Climb the statue of Morelos, rising from the island's crown, for a bird’s-eye view of the entire area.
Photo: Christopher William Adach

12

El Rosario, Michoacán

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve occupies a huge area in the states of Michoacán and México. Among the few sites open to the public, El Rosario is probably the best known. During the winter months, visitors get one hell of a spectacle from the millions of orange butterflies who make their home in the treetops.
Photo: Luna sin estrellas

13

Agave fields of Tequila, Jalisco

Just two hours from Guadalajara, the Jalisco hills acquire their characteristic bluish hue from the ample agave plantations in the area. This is the place where every real tequila comes from. Such a magical beverage could only be produced in an equally magical place.
Photo: MaloMalverde

14

Tulum, Quintana Roo

With its white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, Mexico’s Caribbean Coast is pretty spectacular all on its own. Add Maya ruins to the view and you have a unique spot among Central America’s many archaeological sites.
Photo: Lars Plougmann

15

Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

Did you know Mexico has a canyon system that’s larger and, in some places, deeper than the Grand Canyon? Home to the Tarahumara people, Copper Canyon is a natural wonder that’s located in the northwestern state of Chihuahua.
Photo: Comefilm

16

Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca

Petrified waterfalls, natural freshwater springs, and exceptional views of Oaxaca’s Central Valley define Hierve el Agua. These impressive rock structures have been formed by mineral accumulations fed by the springs at the top of the cliff; the biggest of the two “stone falls” rises almost a hundred meters over the valley. The best views come from the natural infinity pool at the edge.
Photo: Rsamardich

17

Bernal, Querétaro

With a 1,421ft monolith—the third largest in the world—rising just a few miles beyond its cobbled streets, the little town of Bernal in central Mexico inhabits a unique landscape. And it’s not just photographers who flock to the Pueblo Mágico; rock climbers come here for the multi-pitch routes on la peña.
Photo: iivangm

18

Zipolite, Oaxaca

The state of Oaxaca has some amazing beaches. Zipolite is just one of many not-so-touristy places along the Pacific Coast, and it’s not far from other chilled out surf spots like Puerto Escondido and Mazunte.
Photo: impermeableazul

19

Basaseachic Falls, Chihuahua

There’s more to northern Mexico than desert. The indigenous Tarahumara people live in the mountains in the northwest of the country; this is also where you’ll find Basaseachic Falls, the second tallest waterfall in Mexico.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

20

Marieta Islands, Nayarit

The real star of this collection of islets is a little beach hidden behind the cliffs of one of the islands. It’s a unique place, with limestone walls surrounding a few meters of golden sand, turquoise Pacific waves lapping at it through a cavernous stone arch. Only in Mexico.
Photo: courtesy of Visit Mexico


This post is proudly produced in partnership with Visit Mexico.
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