by Kate Storm
Mexico is both enormous and endlessly captivating to visit: a 2 weeks in Mexico itinerary has almost limitless cities, towns, mountains, deserts, and–of course–beaches to choose from… so how do you narrow it down?
After spending 6 weeks carving a Mexico backpacking route through some of the country’s most beautiful spots, ranging from wildly popular places to those almost totally devoid of tourists, we put together this itinerary for first-time visitors to Mexico.
We recommend this Mexico itinerary to first-timers for a few reasons: it sticks to some of Mexico’s safest regions. It’s fairly simple to get to each destination. It samples cities, towns, waterfalls, ruins, and beaches–in other words, it has a little bit of everything.
Like all of our 2-week itineraries, this one doesn’t cover 14 solid days, but instead provides a plan for 11 days, leaving a few spots blank to serve as travel days between regions and to enter and leave the country.
Will you be able to cover everything in the country with only 2 weeks in Mexico? Absolutely not–two visits later, we still have a wish list a mile long.
But if you’re looking to fall in love with Mexico in 2 weeks, this is how to do it.
The Ultimate 2 Weeks in Mexico Itinerary for First Time Visitors
Mexico City: 3 Days
Mexico City is one of our favorite cities in the world and the perfect start to a 2 week Mexico itinerary: enormous, bustling, full of delicious food, and home to the only castle in North America to actually be home to sovereign rulers, Mexico City is an absolute gem of a (giant) city.
While you’re in town, don’t miss visiting the famous Anthropology Museum, checking out the ruins of Teotihuacan and Templo Mayor, admiring the beauty of Palacio de Bellas Artes, and, of course, eating as many tacos al pastor as you can.
Things to Consider
Though Mexico City is generally safe for travelers (like many large cities, it has some dangerous neighborhoods, but as a tourist, you’ll have no reason to ever be near them), if you’re not used to traveling in large cities or in Latin America in general, you may consider taking a guided tour on your first day in town to help ease you into the city and get your bearings.
Typically speaking, Mexico City’s public transportation is the best way to get around–their subways and buses may be crowded, but they are incredibly inexpensive, efficient, and safe. It is recommended to avoid hailing taxis on the street–if you need one, call an Uber instead.
If you would prefer a bit more structure on your first day in Mexico City, check out this Mexico City walking tour!
Where to Stay in Mexico City
The Centro Historico neighborhood is home to many of Mexico City’s tourist attractions and makes a great, central location to stay in for the first visit to Mexico.
If you’d prefer something a little quieter, the neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa are wildly popular with people seeking a slightly more residential feel and plenty of access to pretty parks and delightful coffee shops.READ NEXTThe Perfect 3 Days in Mexico City Itinerary
Here are a few well-reviewed Mexico City hotels that feature excellent reviews and location scores, free wifi, and midrange prices:
Centro Historico: Hotel Catedral — Less than 400 meters from the Zocalo that the hub of Mexico City tourism, this hotel makes a great choice for a first-time visitor to Mexico.
Centro Historico: Hotel Punto MX — Similarly located to Hotel Catedral, this hotel’s central location is a major selling point to first-time visitors to Mexico.
Roma: Casa Colima — Well-reviewed and much more affordable than staying right near the Zocalo, this hotel in the laid-back neighborhood of Roma makes a great base while in Mexico City.
Condesa: Casa Condesa Amatlan 84 — If you’re looking for something midrange in the trendy neighborhood of Condesa, this is your spot! Both the location and staff at this property have glowing reviews.
Chiapas: 4 Days
Chiapas is one of our favorite states in Mexico: quiet and less touristy than some other Mexican destinations while still being firmly enough on the beaten path to be a good option for first-time visitors, Chiapas is home to incredible nature.
Don’t leave Chiapas without staring up at the magnificence that is the El Chiflon waterfall (and ideally, several other waterfalls in Chiapas), taking a horseback ride to the Templo de San Juan to step foot inside what is still the most unique house of worship we have ever entered, climbing over the ruins of Palenque, riding a boat through Sumidero Canyon, and swimming in the beautiful Agua Azul waterfalls.
Chiapas is the Mexico we dream about: home to friendly people, incredible nature, tasty food, and the lowest prices you’ll find on this 2 weeks in Mexico itinerary, don’t be surprised if it becomes your favorite spot in Mexico too.READ NEXT11 Reasons to Visit & Exciting Things to Do in Chiapas, Mexico
Things to Consider
Chiapas is fairly rural, so for a first-time visitor to Mexico, we recommend seeing most of the above highlights on a guided tour.
This is easier than it sounds–the city of San Cristobal de las Casas, where we recommend you base yourself in Chiapas, is home to dozens of small tourist agencies willing to book you on tours to any and all of the above destinations for incredibly low prices–think $15-20 USD for a full-day tour, depending on what you are doing, and around $10 USD for a half-day tour.
Simply go in and arrange what you want to do the next day the afternoon beforehand, and you’re good to go! Don’t be afraid to shop around–while prices are generally similar throughout the city, you may want to stop in a few shops before committing to ensure who you book through is selling at a fair price.
Where to Stay in Chiapas
With 4 days in Chiapas, the question of where to base yourself is easy: San Cristobal de las Casas.
The capital of and largest city in Chiapas, San Cristobal de las Casas is easy and comfortable to travel in (think plentiful food options from grocery stores to restaurants to street food, ATM’s, big box stores if you need to pick up anything in particular, tourist agencies to book excursions through, plenty of places to stay), while also being colorful and beautiful in its own right.
Though we stayed in an Airbnb during our time in Chiapas, here are a couple of hotels that we would consider staying in if we visited Chiapas again (like all of our hotel recommendations, they are midrange, with wifi, a great location, and excellent ratings).
Mision Grande San Cristobal de las Casas — Located right in the center of town, Mision Grande makes a great base for exploring Chiapas.
Hotel Posada Primavera — Set a mere 200 meters from the San Cristobal Cathedral and featuring an adorable courtyard, Hotel Posada Primavera is another great option for a base in Chiapas.
Beaches of the Yucatan: 4 Days
The Yucatan Peninsula is made up of two Mexican states (Yucatan and Quintana Roo), and it’s this peninsula where a lot of Mexico’s most popular attractions are found: tourism hot spots like Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum are all located here, as is Chichen Itza, the pink lakes of Mexico, and more cenotes than you can count.
Your time on the Yucatan peninsula is perfect for soaking up the sunshine on the beach, going scuba diving or snorkeling, sailing in the Caribbean, swimming in cenotes, climbing ruins, and enjoying delicious seafood.
Things to Consider
These four days will undoubtedly be among the most expensive and crowded of your 2 weeks in Mexico–the Yucatan peninsula is beautiful, exciting, and has an international reputation for being safe, so tourists flock there and tourism-driven services follow.
This is not a reason to stay away, but it is something to be aware of: expect higher prices and bigger crowds wherever you go.
If you’re comfortable with independent travel, you might want to consider renting a car to visit lesser-known ruins in the area such as Coba or Ek Balam (or simply use your wheels to beat the crowds to the ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza). A car also gives you access to more offbeat cenotes, and if you’re willing to drive a few hours out of the way, Mexico’s famous pink lakes.
If you’d prefer to play it safe and stick with groups in this part of Mexico, don’t worry: tours abound in the area for just about anything you can imagine.
Where to Stay in the Yucatan
Choosing where to stay for your time in the Yucatan peninsula is going to be one of the hardest choices when putting together your 2 weeks in Mexico itinerary.
We recommend Playa del Carmen for new travelers or those who want to be close to plenty of tours and resources, Tulum for those looking for a laid-back hippie atmosphere (and are willing to pay for it–Tulum is pricey by Mexico standards), the island of Cozumel if scuba diving is your goal, or possibly Isla Holbox if you’re looking for a more laid-back destination, far away from high rises and resorts.
Keep in mind that the area’s largest (and generally cheapest to fly in and out of) airport is in Cancun, though Cozumel does have its own airport as well.