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 Yucatan 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
- Mexico itinerary 3 weeks – Chiapas
- Yucatan peninsula Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
- Planning a trip to Guatemala – after your Mexico initerary 3 weeks
- Pin and save three week itinerary for Mexico for later
- More about Mexico
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 itineray 3 weeks.
Curious to read all tips for what to do in Mexico? Discover scenic and cultural destinations, art, beaches, culinary experiences, archaeological highlights and information about safety, best travel time and transportation 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 (fine arts palace). In the afternoon, you can travel by subway to the city park Bosque de Chapultepec.
Let yourself be taken 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 Coayacan 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.
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 – Teotihuacan – Puebla (day 3)
From Mexico City you can travel in about 3 hours to the nice city of Puebla de los Angéles, the city of angels (depending on traffic of course) But, if you are interested in history, make sure to stop at Teotihuacan, 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. Teotihuacan 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. Teotihuacan can be reached within 1.5/2 hours from Mexico City.
Want to read more about Teotihuacan? Check out the next article for the best ruins to visit in Mexico.
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 and look for the typical sweets and colored ceramics where Puebla is famous for.
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.
Oaxaca (day 6) – Mexico itinerary 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 many markets and discover the 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 spice sauce that sometimes consist 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 Alban + Hierve el Agua (day 7)
Today you can use to explore the Oaxaca surroundings. You can book a tour or rent a car and go by yourself. These are two places that I recommend visiting.
If you are intersted in history, visit Monte Alban, 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.
Want to know more about visiting Monte Alban ruins in Mexico? In the next article, I’m taking you on a journey through Monte Alban and telling you more about the former city of the Zapotecs.
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 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 Cristobal. 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
Tehuantepec – Canyon del Sumidero – San Cristobal (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. You can take a boat trip of about 2 hours and chances are you’ll meet crocodiles, iguanas, monkeys and birds along the way. It is a nice place to add to your road trip and three weeks in Mexico itinerary.
Canyon del Sumidero is located near the village of Chiapa de Corzo. There are different embarkation points for your boat tour. Cahuare, is recommened, because it is often not that busy here. Avoid weekends anyway, when it’s busy with Mexican day-trippers. Also, bring something warm clothes, because of the high walls, you’ll be in the shade most of the time.
San Cristobal de las Casas (day 10)
San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico 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 Cristobal, Mexico 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 at the markets. Also, the city is full with restaurants and coffee stores.
Curious about this nice mountain town? Read here what you can do in San Cristobal de las Casas Mexico, with the best sights and tips.
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 one of the most unique unique churches of Mexico: Iglesia de San Juan. This little white church, located in the middle of the square, shows a special mixture of the Catholic and indigenous beliefs. Countless people come here daily to make offerings in which they honor their saints through rituals.
Inside the church it is dark, mirrors hang everywhere and pine needles are strewn on the ground. Families sit in a circle, light their candles, drink pure alcohol, shout at their saints and at the same time twist the necks of their brought chickens. Very intriguing to step into a completely different world like this! You can combine a visit to San Juan Chamula with a visit to the village of Zinacantán. Here you can visit local families and learn more about their traditional weaving techniques.
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 Cristobal de las Casas. Want to know more about San Cristóbal de las Casas? Have a look in my San Cristóbal guide.
San Cristobal 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.
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 Aqua 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.
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.
Want to discover more Mayan temples? Read more about the most beautiful Mayan temples in Mexico in the following article.
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.
From Chiapas to Guatemala
If you are planning to continue your journey to Guatemala, then you can travel from Palenque to the town of 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 and Yaxha.
Have a look at Guatemala travel itineraries such as:
Or check out things to do in Guatemala | 20 travel tips
Yucatan peninsula Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
Palenque – Uxmal – Merida (day 14)
Today is the day to leave the jungle and green Chiapas environment behind and travel to the Yucatan Peninsula. It’s a long day and you have two options. You can travel straight to Merida (7 hours), the capital of Yucatan 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 Merida 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 Merida)
Merida is called the cultural capital of Yucatan. 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 Merida. And don’t forget to enjoy a culinary experience in one of the great restaurants such as Huuet.
Interested in history and archaeology? On the way to Merida, 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 complexes. Also, it is still possible to climb to the top of some pyramids. Uxmal is a 85 km drive from Mérida. Read more about the best ruins to visit in Mexico and how to reach them in the following article.
Celestún (day 16)
If you decide to spend three nights in Merida, you will have one entire day to explore Merida and one day left to visit Celestun. 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 by taking a 1 or 2 hour boat trip and admire these beautiful birds.
Merida – Valladolid (day 17)
From Merida it’s 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 one of the nearby cenotes.
Curious to visit this lovely city? In the next article you’ll find 25 tips for what to do in Valladolid in Mexico.
Valladolid – Chichen Itza – Izamal (day 18) – highlight of Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
The next morning you want to wake up really early and visit Chichen Itza, 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. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited places in Yuacatan Mexico but something you don’t want to miss in your Mexico itinerary for 3 weeks.
Chichen Itza is a 45 minute drive of Valladolid. Just make sure you are at the door at 8 o’clock (when the site opens). Then the market stalls are still building up and you’ll be ahead of the tour buses. Between 10 and 10:30, most buses arrive from Cancun and that’s when you really want to be gone. 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 this is completely justified because the center of the city is really painted all yellow. It is really worth 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.
Tulum (day 20 + day 21) – last days of your Mexico itinerary 3 weeks
And then it’s 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 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. Sometimes there are great offers at Tulum Beach. But most times, Tulum town has the most economic options. If there is a bike available, you are at the beach within half an hour. Enjoy the beach, jungle and great food. 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 Cancun within 2 hours (depending on traffic) and catch a flight back home.
Planning a trip 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 Cancun, directly to Flores. Flores is one of the main towns in Peten province and your gateways to Maya ruins such as Tikal and Yaxha.
Guatemala has it all! Colonial cities, where you can stroll around for days. Indigenous villages and markets, where people walk in colorful traditional costumes. But also fascinating ancient Maya cities, located deep in the jungle, a Pacific and Caribbean coast, breathtaking lakes and many active volcanoes! In this article you’ll find the best things to do in Guatemala. I’m not only sharing the highlights of Guatemala, but also travel tips for off the beaten track destinations, cultural and gastronomic experiences. Besides that you’ll find a special section about beautiful hotels, different Guatemala travel itineraries, best traveling time and safety.
Pin and save three week itinerary for Mexico for later
More about Mexico
Did you enjoy reading this itinerary for Mexico? In the next article you’ll find my best travel tips for what to do in Mexico. Discover scenic and cultural destinations, art, beaches, culinary experiences, archaeological highlights and information about safety, best travel time and transportation. Looking for more tips and inspiration? Also check out the Mexico archive for articles about the best things to do in Oaxaca, a guide for Valladolid and the yellow city of Mexico, Izamal, what to do in San Criostobal de Las Casas and a 3 week itinerary for Mexico. Interested in archaeology? Read more about Yaxchilán, Monte Alban and the best ruins to visit in Mexico in the following articles.