The best tours and excursions in Mexico

Mexico is packed full of adventure. Blending history and culture with exciting, adrenaline-filled activities, you can do everything from climbing ancient, sunbeaten Mayan ruins to snorkelling with whale sharks.

Add to this diverse landscapes, vibrant cities and some of the best wonders on the planet – not to mention the spectacular food – and you’ll understand why we can’t get enough of the place.

Daytrip to Chichen Itza

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is Mexico’s most visited archaeological site and is a magnificent display of Mayan culture.

Easily accessed from neighbouring resorts Cancun and Cozamel, regular tours give you the opportunity to come and marvel at the monuments and surrounding colonial towns.

Marvel at the Temple of the Jaguars and the Temple of Skulls where the Mayans would display the heads of sacrificial victims and stand in awe as you are faced with the Kukulkan, a vast, 365-stepped pyramid. Miss the crowds and midday sun by visiting early in the morning.

Swim with whale sharks

Encounters with wildlife don’t get much better than this as you swim alongside these majestic creatures through the blue Caribbean Sea.

Measuring up to 12 metres in length, whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean, and while the word ‘shark’ might leave you apprehensive, these gentle giants feed solely on plankton.

Not only will you have the exciting opportunity to swim alongside whale sharks as they pass through Mexico, the beautiful coral reefs are also home to pods of dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays and schools of tropical fish.

Day of the Dead

If you’re fortunate enough to be in Mexico between 31st October and 2nd November you’ll find music, performances and celebrations on every street corner for the epic Day of the Dead festival. This is an excellent time to visit, providing the opportunity to observe first hand this unique occasion.

Dating back to indigenous times, the national holiday is held to remember dearly departed loved ones. On par with New Year’s Eve in terms of parties, it’s not a gloomy or morbid affair, rather a colourful holiday celebrating life.

Visit the City of the Gods

Head out early to the sacred site of the Teotihuacan pyramids, also known as the City of the Gods, which preserves the remains of one of the most important civilizations in Mesoamerica.

The UNESCO World Heritage site, easily accessed from Mexico City, is a maze of plazas and pyramids and was once the largest city in Mexico.

Admire the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the Avenue of the Dead and Quetzalpapalotl Palace. Or climb to the top of the Sun and Moon Pyramids for spectacular views and photo opportunities that make your friends and family back home reel with jealousy.

Dive at Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres offers dive sites like no other in the world. In 2009 a monumental underwater museum called MUSA – Museo Subacuatico de Arte – was created in the water surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. Its aim is to promote the recovery of the natural reef by drawing divers away.

Designed by British sculptor Jason de Caires, the installation consists of 500 permanent life-size sculptures and is divided into two galleries – Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc. Both are suitable for snorkelling while Salon Manchones, at eight metres deep, is also suited for divers.

The site is easily accessed and the ferry from Cancun will have you here in 20 minutes.

Scale Iztaccihuatl Volcano

Climbing this dormant volcano just outside Mexico City is a must for outdoor enthusiasts. The intermediate hike ends a few thousand feet short of the snowcapped summit at 17,000 feet and offers spectacular views of the active volcano Popocatepetl and the Valley of Mexico.

The climbing is fairly moderate but expect some rock scrambling across the different trails. Iztaccihuatl can be hiked at any time of the year but the best conditions, with the least amount of snow or rain, are from December through to early March.

Discover Mexico City

There is no place for boredom in the expansive, metropolitan capital of Mexico City. And with 16 boroughs and more than 300 neighbourhoods, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start.

Most tourist attractions are concentrated in the historic centre, including the Plaza de la Constitucion, the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor, Palace of Fine Arts and Alameda Park.

The cosmopolitan and cultured city is high speed with pockets of respite in the form of traditional cantinas, fascinating museums and tranquil strolls along ancient canals. After a long day of sightseeing, head to Plaza Garibaldi and listen to live mariachi music while you sip mezcal – similar to tequila – and eat tacos.

Ride the rails on Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacifico

One of the world’s most incredible rail journeys and northern Mexico’s single biggest attraction, The Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacifico presents 656 kilometres of track, 37 bridges and 86 tunnels.

From the sweaty Pacific coast at Los Mochis, the train fights its way across the Continental Divide amid the peaks of Sierra Madre Occidental to the plains of Chihuahua for a total of 15 breathtaking hours.

Affectionately referred to as El Chepe by the locals, the railway operates one daily train in each direction, connecting Chihuahua to the Pacific coast. Scaling the arid interior of northern Mexico across tricky canyons smothered in dense forest, the tracks rise up over 2,400 metres and yield mesmerising views.

All carriages come with air conditioning and the dining cart serves up traditional Mexican snacks, ensuring you don’t go hungry.