Mexico is such an inspiring country with so many different things to do and see. Every region has its own characteristics and highlights and you will need months to explore. But what if you have three weeks in Mexico and want to get the most out of your travels? What should you see and do? This is my Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks, bringing you from Mexico City all the way to the Yucatán peninsula. I will show you beautiful cities, places in nature, archaeological sights, activities and cultural highlights to include in your trip. Enjoy and get inspired to visit Mexico!
- Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
- Kick off your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks in: Mexico City (day 1)
- Xochimilco (day 2)
- Mexico City – Teotihuacán – Puebla (day 3)
- Puebla (Day 4)
- Puebla – Oaxaca (day 5)
- Oaxaca (day 6) – best city to visit during this Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks
- Monte Albán + Hierve el Agua (day 7)
- Travel day Oaxaca – Tehuantepec (day 8)
- Mexico itinerary 3 weeks – Chiapas province
- Mexico itinerary 3 weeks – Yucatán peninsula
- Palenque – Uxmal – Mérida (day 14 and 15)
- Laguna de Celestún (day 16)
- Mérida – Valladolid (day 17)
- Valladolid – Chichén Itzá – Izamal (day 18) – highlight of this Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks
- Izamal (day 19)
- Beaches of the Riviera Maya (day 20 + day 21) – last days of your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
- Isla Holbox and Mahahual
- How to get around in Mexico
- Travel to Guatemala – after your Mexico initerary 3 weeks
- More about Mexico
- Pin and save three week itinerary for Mexico for later
Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
Mexico is the country of colonial cities, colorful markets, inspiring art, stunning natural phenomena, delicious cuisine and beautiful beaches. During a trip to Mexico you will get to know the Maya, Aztec and other highly developed civilizations. In the cities you can stroll around for hours and enjoy a fantastic atmosphere. And there are many scenic destinations to discover. Enjoy this article with my personal recommendations for the best Mexico itinerary in 3 weeks, from Mexico City to Yucatán.
Curious to read all my tips for Mexico? Discover scenic and cultural destinations and find information about safety and best travel time in my Mexico travel guide.
Kick off your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks in: Mexico City (day 1)
Start your journey in Mexico City, a metropolis, with millions of inhabitants. There is so much to do in this city, especially if you are interested in art, sightseeing, lovely neighborhoods and great restaurants. If you have only one day, visit the colonial center with the famous Zocalo, the central square, the cathedral, the post office, the markets, viewpoints and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.
In the afternoon, you can travel by subway to the city park Bosque de Chapultepec. Let yourself be taken here on a wonderful journey through the pre-Columbian history of Mexico, in the Museum of Anthropology. Or if you are interested in Frida Kahlo, travel to the bohemian neighbourhood of Coyoacán and visit her former home, La Casa Azul. In the evening make sure you have a dinner in one of the restaurants in nice neighborhoods such as Roma or Condesa. Rosetta, Blanco Colima and Huset, located on the Calle Colima are a few of my favorite places.
Xochimilco (day 2)
One of the things you can’t miss during your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks is a visit to the floating gardens of Xochimilco. Xochilmilco was built in Aztec times as an immense water transport system, surrounded by chinampas, floating gardens for agriculture. Today it is a popular weekend for locals and tourists alike.
You can rent a colored gondola and sail through the canals for a few hours. Along the way you’ll encounter boats with mariachi bands, who for a few pesos will sing you the typical mariachi songs. Xochimilco can best be reached by car within an hour from Mexico City. There are also numerous tours and buses that run in this direction.
Mexico City – Teotihuacán – Puebla (day 3)
From Mexico City you can travel in about 3 hours to the city of Puebla de los Angéles, depending on traffic of course. But, if you are interested in history, make sure to stop at Teotihuacán along the way, famous for its impressive pyramids of the sun and moon.
Almost everyone knows the famous Mayan temples in Mexico. But Mexico has many other pre-Columbian cultures, such as the Mixtecs, Aztecs and the Zapotecs. Teotihuacán was built by the Toltecs and later used as an important ceremonial center by the Aztecs. Between 300-700 AD, the city, with 200,000 inhabitants, was the same size as Rome. Something that was incredibly large at the time. Via countless steep steps you walk all the way to the top of the pyramids to enjoy a panoramic view of the surroundings. Teotihuacán can be reached within 2 hours from Mexico City. It is also possible to book a tour, including transportation and a guide. Recommended if you want to learn more about the history. Are you traveling by car? Make sure to buy your tickets in advance here, so you don’t have to make a line upon arrival.
Do you want to read more about Teotihuacán? Check out the next article for the best ruins to visit in Mexico.
Hotels in Puebla
Puebla (Day 4)
Puebla de los Angéles, the city of angels, is a city that is often skipped during a trip through Mexico. And that’s a pity. Puebla has an interesting mix of both historical sights and trendy art galleries, restaurants and stores. Despite the nearly 2 million inhabitants, the center has managed to retain its friendly and charming atmosphere. If you have one day in Puebla, make sure to visit the Templo de Santo Domingo and the chapel of Saint Rosario, which is entirely covered in gold leaf. You can stroll around the many markets to buy colored ceramics and taste some Puebla candies in Calle de los Dulce.
One of the nicest neighborhoods is the antique district El Cajellón de los Sapos, with colored houses, artists and stores. This is also a great place to taste the traditional mole in one of the restaurants. Mole poblano is a delicious spicy chili sauce with light chocolate flavor.
Puebla – Oaxaca (day 5)
Today you will travel to Oaxaca, one of the most beautiful cities you will find in this Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks. Because the city has always attracted many artists, scientists, poets and writers, Oaxaca is often considered the cultural capital. There are plenty of events, exhibitions and festivals taking place.
If you travel from Puebla to Oaxaca by car, you can visit Tule along the way, a tree with one of the stoutest tree trunks in the world.
- Pug Seal Oaxaca
- Majagua Hotel Boutique
- Hotel con Corazón
- Grana B&B
- Casa Antonieta
- Nardazul “Casa de Sueños”
- Boulenc Bed and Bread
- Hotel Casa Santo Origen
Oaxaca (day 6) – best city to visit during this Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks
Oaxaca’s city center is easy to explore and everything is within walking distance. Walk through the colonial streets and squares around the main plaza, enter the churches and have a look in the many art galleries and shops.
Also, stroll around the markets and discover spices, chocolate and alejibres, wooden figurines with dots which are used during the annual Día de los Muertos. Try local specialities such as the mexcal, (a kind of tequila), and the Chapulines with lemon, a crunchy grasshopper snack. Oaxaca is also famous for its mole, a delicious sauce that sometimes consists of up to 30 different herbs.
As this is a Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks, I’m focusing only on the highlights. You could easily spend days in Oaxaca. Want to know more about Oaxaca and all the different things to do? Have a look in my Oaxaca travel guide.
Monte Albán + Hierve el Agua (day 7)
If you are intersted in history, visit Monte Albán, one of Mexico’s earliest cities and the political, cultural and religious center of the Zapotecs for 2000 years. It is said that the Zapotecs were the first people, inhabiting the central valley and mountains of the Oaxaca state, around 500 BC. Today you can visit this archaeological site. The good things is that it is less crowded than many other ruins in Mexico, wich will make your visit very pieceful.
Hierve el Agua
Another great place to visit is Hierve el Agua, about 1.5 hours away from Oaxaca. It is a unique rock formation, consisting of three plateaus and pools, where you can swim. The first plateau is often the busiest. The second point, also called the eye is quieter and offers a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. At the third point, you have a view of the unusual shaped waterfall.
Travel day Oaxaca – Tehuantepec (day 8)
Today can be a bit boring, as you will be traveling the entire day. It will be mostly driving by car, until you reach your destination half way to spend the night. The best is to find a place in Tehuantepec or somewhere around, as it’s almost half way before you reach San Cristóbal de las Casas. You also can take a flight to Tuxla in Chiapas. But personally I like these kind of road trips to experience different sides of the country.
This is an overview with availability and latest prices of hotels in Tehuantepec.
Mexico itinerary 3 weeks – Chiapas province
Tehuantepec – Canyon del Sumidero – San Cristóbal de las Casas (day 9)
From Tehuantepec you want to travel all the way to San Cristóbal de las Casas, a small town in the mountains of the Chiapas state. But before you reach this place, you can make a stop at a unique destination: Canyon del Sumidero. With a length of 15 km and walls of 1000 meters high, this is one of the deepest canyons in the world. A boat trip of about 2 hours will guide along the canyon and there is a big chance of seeing crocodiles, iguanas, monkeys and birds along the way. It is a nice place to add to your three weeks in Mexico itinerary.
Canyon del Sumidero is located near the village of Chiapa de Corzo. One of my tips for experiencing Canyon del Sumidero in Mexico is to book your boat trip in advance, so you don’t have to make a line. Especially on weekends, as it can get very crowded. Boat trips can be booked here.
San Cristóbal de las Casas (day 10)
San Cristóbal de las Casas is located in Chiapas, a state with the highest percentage of indigenous people in the country. This is immediately visible in the street scene of San Cristóbal. Many people walk around in colorful traditional costumes, where you can tell by the style and patterns which group they belong to. Beautiful to observe.
In San Cristóbal de las Casas you can stroll around the charming streets, enjoy the colored houses, visit viewpoints, explore the anthropological museum Casa Na Bolom and go shopping for unique handmade products. Also, the city is full with restaurants and coffee stores.
Hotel San Cristóbal
San Juan Chamula (day 11)
Today you have some time to explore the surroundings. Make sure to visit San Juan Chamula. Not only is it nice to walk through this village of the Tzotzil people and visit the local market. Here you will also find a very unique church; Iglesia de San Juan. This little white church, located in the middle of the square, shows a special mix of the catholic and indigenous beliefs. Countless people come here daily to make offerings in which they honor their saints through rituals.
You can combine a visit to San Juan Chamula with the village of Zinacantán. Here you can meet local families and learn about their traditional weaving techniques. More information about visiting the villages can be found here.
As this is a Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks, I’m focusing only on some of the highlights. But there is so much more to do in and around San Cristóbal de las Casas. Do you want to read more? Have a look in my San Cristóbal de las Casas guide.
San Cristóbal de las Casas – Palenque (day 12)
Today you will be traveling to Palenque, famous for its Maya archaeological site. You can spend the night in Palenque town or in one of the jungle lodges between the town and Palenque ruins, wich I highly recommended. If you are traveling this Mexico itinerary 3 weeks with your own car, you can make a stop at two beautiful waterfalls, that Chiapas is famous for.
This is an overview with hotels in and around Palenque.
Misol Há is a large waterfall of 35 meters high, which is often the setting for film sets. Special about this place is that you can also walk behind the waterfall (watch out for slippery conditions) to the entrance of a cave. And in Agua Azul you can swim in the crystal clear blue pools. The azure water, surrounded by lush jungle, birds and mysterious caves, will make your visit truly unforgettable.
It is important to always check the latest security status during your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks. The state of Chiapas has been dealing with violent conflicts between the former guerilla (Zapatistas), civilians and authorities. And still every now and then things can be tricky. One of the roads leading to the falls is regularly involved in this. You can also book a tour to the waterfalls. Check the latest prices and availability here: Agua Azul and Misol Há.
Palenque ruins + waterfalls (day 13)
Make sure to wake up early this day to visit the Palenque ruins. This way you are able to avoid the big crowds. Palenque is one of the archaeological highlights in Mexico because of its location in the jungle ( located at a 30 min drive from Palenque town). The Maya temples that rise above the jungle and the mysterious mist that hangs over the ruins make a visit so worthwhile. You need a full morning to explore.
Do you want to learn more about the history of the Maya? It could be interesting to visit Palenque with a guide. Check out the different archaeological tours here.
If you have some energy left, visit the Roberto Barrios waterfalls or any of the waterfalls you were not able to visit yesterday. Or just relax and enjoy the impressions of the day.
Do you want to discover more Mayan temples? Read more about the most beautiful Mayan temples in Mexico in the following article.
From Chiapas to Guatemala
If you are planning to continue your journey to Guatemala, then you can travel from Palenque to the town of Frontera Corozal in Mexico. Also your gateway to the archaeological site Yaxchilán. You will cross the Usumacinta river by boat to the Guatemalan border town Bethel. From here, it will take you 4 hours to reach Flores, your starting point for discovering Maya ruins such as Tikal, Yaxha and El Mirador.
Have a look at Guatemala travel itineraries such as:
- Guatemala itinerary 10 days
- 7 days Guatemala itinerary
- Guatemala 2 week itinerary
- Guatemala itinerary 3 weeks
- Or check out things to do in Guatemala | 20 travel tips
Mexico itinerary 3 weeks – Yucatán peninsula
Palenque – Uxmal – Mérida (day 14 and 15)
Today is the day to leave the jungle and green Chiapas environment behind and travel to the Yucatán peninsula. It is a long day and you have two options. You can travel straight to Mérida, the capital of Yucatán (7 hours) and stop along the way at the Uxmal ruins. Or travel to Campeche (5 hours) and spend the night in this colonial town located on the Gulf of Mexico.
Option 1: (1 night in Campeche, continue to Mérida for 2 nights)
Campeche is on the Unesco World Heritage list and known for its ancient city walls, pastel-colored houses and infamous history. You can stroll through the city’s colonial streets, look for street art and learn more about its history. Calle 59 is the most beautiful street for pictures, because of the colored houses and fine terraces. At the end of the day you want to be at the Malecón for a stunning sunset.
Option 2: (3 nights in Mérida)
Mérida is called the cultural capital of Yucatán. And that’s because of the museums, design stores, high end restaurants, numerous festivals and art projects that take place there. Despite the size of the city, it has the friendly atmosphere of a provincial town. You can walk through the beautiful colonial center and discover the Paseo de Montejo, also known as the Champs-Élysées of Mérida. And don’t forget to enjoy a culinary experience in one of the great restaurants such as Huniik.
Hotels in Mérida
- Casa Lecanda
- Rosas & Xocolate Boutique Hotel
- Hacienda Xcanatun
- El Palacito Secreto Boutique Hotel
- More hotels in Mérida
Interested in history and archaeology? On the way to Mérida, you can visit the Maya ruins of Uxmal, known for its Puuc style. Mosaic work that is truly impressive. Besides that, it is a less visited site in comparison to other Maya ruins in Mexico. Also, it is still possible to climb to the top of some pyramids.
Uxmal is a 85 km drive from Mérida. Are you interested in learning more about the history of Uxmal? Then I recommend going with a guide on a Uxmal tour. This is an overview of different tours where you can also check availability and prices.
Laguna de Celestún (day 16)
If you decide to spend three nights in Mérida, you will have one entire day to explore Mérida and one day left to visit Laguna de Celestún. This protected nature reserve consists of mangrove forests and is the habitat of crocodiles, sea turtles and more than 200 bird species. Between November and March, you can observe an amazing amount of flamingos here. It is best to explore Celestún by taking a 1 or 2 hour boat trip and admire these beautiful birds.
Check out prices and availability for a tour to the flamingos in Celestún here.
Mérida – Valladolid (day 17)
From Mérida it is a short 2-hour drive to Valladolid. Valladolid is a typical Mexican city with a relaxed atmosphere. You will find a plaza with a large cathedral, a monastery, colonial buildings with countless colors and even a cenote located in the middle of the city. One of the most beautiful streets in Valladolid is Calle de los Frailes, where almost every building is worth a picture. Valladolid is a great city to include in your Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks and also a perfect base for a visit to Chichén Itzá and the nearby cenotes.
Curious to visit this beautiful city? In the next article you’ll find my tips for what to do in Valladolid in Mexico.
Hotels in Valladolid
Valladolid – Chichén Itzá – Izamal (day 18) – highlight of this Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks
The next morning you want to wake up really early and visit Chichén Itzá, listed as wonder of the world. The Temple of Kukulchan (El Castillo), is probably the most photographed building in Mexico. It is a perfect pyramid, wich consists of 4 staircases with 91 steps each, equal to the number of days of the solstice. You will also be able to observe the largest ball court from the former Mayan empire, an ancient cenote that the Mayans used for their rituals, an area with 1,000 identical columns and an ancient observatory. Chichén Itzá is one of the most visited places in Yucatán Mexico but something you don’t want to miss in your Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks.
If you want to visit Chichén Itzá, it is important to go very early in the morning. Make sure you book a ticket with early access here, so you don’t have to stand in line. Looking for a guided tour? This is an overview with tours where you can check availability and prices.
Do you want to read more about Chichén Itzá and other Maya ruïns? Read more about the best ruins to visit in Mexico in the next article.
After your visit, you can make a stop at one of the cenotes around Valladolid. These are water-filled caves or hollows that played an important role in Mayan times. Nowadays you can visit these cenotes to swim, dive or just enjoy the beautiful atmosphere. Cenote Ik Kil is beautiful but almost always busy. It is completely open at the top, allowing the sun to shine in. The beautiful light and green lianas coming down from the cenote create a heavenly picture. Another popular and beautiful cenote is Suytun, known for its mysterious atmosphere and platform in the middle.
Izamal (day 19)
From here continue your journey to Izamal, better known as the yellow city of Mexico. And it is called like that for a reason, as the center of the city is completely painted in yellow. It is really recommended to include this small city in your Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks, as it is very photogenic. You can walk through the yellow center, visit the yellow monastery and climb the remains of ancient pyramids. Don’t forget to plan a lunch at Kinich.
Izamal is located 1.5 hours from Valladolid, Mexico. In the next article you will find my tips for what to do in Izamal.
Hotels in Izamal
- Hacienda Sacnicte – a former hacienda transformed into a luxury boutique hotel.
- More hotels can be found here.
Beaches of the Riviera Maya (day 20 + day 21) – last days of your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
And then it is time to finish you Mexico itinerary 3 weeks with some well-deserved time at the beach. For me, the most beautiful beach at the Riviera Maya is still bohemian paradise Tulum. It is the Ibiza of Mexico, set in a mysterious jungle setting with beautiful beaches. Everything in Tulum is beautiful and instagrammable. The only downside is that prices have become very high. So make sure to do your research to find a good value for money hotel.
Hotels in Tulum
Sometimes you will find great offers for hotels around Tulum beach. But most times, Tulum town has the most economic options. One of my favorite places to stay in Tulum town is Villa Geminis Boutique hotel. They have bikes available, bringing you to the beach within half an hour. Do you have more money to spend? Go full force and stay at the beach at Casa Malca, Nomade, Hotelito Azul, Papaya Playa Project or Be Tulum. Enjoy the beach, jungle and great food at Hartwoord and Arca. And if you can’t get enough of the Maya history, the Tulum ruins are just around the corner, located at the beach.
This is an overview with availability and latest prices of hotels in Tulum.
In Tulum or at some of the other beaches, you will finish your initerary for Mexico. From Tulum you can travel to the airport of Cancún within 2 hours (depending on traffic) and catch a flight back home.
Isla Holbox and Mahahual
Do you have more time in Mexico? Then I would defintely recommend you to visit beautiful Isla Holbox or drive south and relax on the beach of Mahahual. Both destinations are more quiet and often have a better price-quality ratio. Moreover you can enjoy cool street art at Isla Holbox.
Hotels in Holbox
- Villas Caracol
- Hotel Boutique Casa Muuch Holbox
- Mystique Holbox
- Villas Palapas del Mar
- More hotels on Isla Holbox
Hotels in Mahahual
- One of the most beautiful hotels is 40 Cañones.
- This is an overview with availability and latest prices of hotels in Mahahual.
How to get around in Mexico
I find it easy to rent a car and travel around Mexico. The roads are in good shape and you are free to stop whereever you want. If you go for this option, it is important to be well informed about the safety on certain routes, especially in Chiapas state. Rentalcars is a great place to search and compare your car rental options. They also have great discounts and cancellation policies. Just make sure to be well insured.
Travel to Guatemala – after your Mexico initerary 3 weeks
If you are planning to continue your journey to Guatemala, after your 3 weeks itinerary for Mexico. Then you can travel from Tulum to bordertown Chetumal, in the south, bordered with Belize. From here you can travel through Belize to Flores in Guatemala. It will take you a full day, as you need to cross two borders. Another option is to take a plane from Cancún, directly to Flores. Flores is one of the main towns in Petén province and your gateways to Maya ruins such as Tikal, Yaxha and El Mirador.
Curious about Guatemala? In this article you’ll find the best things to do in Guatemala. Besides that you’ll find articles about beautiful hotels in Guatemala, different travel itineraries, best traveling time and safety in Guatemala.
More about Mexico
Did you enjoy reading this itinerary for 3 weeks in Mexico? In the next articles you can read more of my tips for Mexico:
- 30 things to do in Mexico
- City Guide Valladolid
- Oaxaca City Guide
- Things to do in Izamal, the yellow city of Mexico
- What to do in San Cristóbal de Las Casas
Interested in art, culture and archaeology? Read my articles about:
- Yaxchilán, the remote Maya site in Mexico
- Monte Albán, the ruines near Oaxaca
- The best ruins to visit in Mexico
- Frida Kahlo house and museum
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