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Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

(90,000+ reviews from top 30 attractions)
Museums Historic Sites Sightseeing
Once the core of a powerful Aztec empire, Central Mexico and Gulf Coast now contains some of the country's most popular tourist destinations, offering a blend of coastal and inland activities. Most Central Mexico and Gulf Coast holidays understandably involve stops at sandy beaches, but if you wish to enrich your experience with a bit of culture and history, don't miss Guanajuato City and Veracruz. While exploring these cities, you can museum hop, get to know the country's arts and music scene, discover numerous historic buildings, and mingle with ex-pats from Canada and the United States. For that ultimate Central Mexico and Gulf Coast sightseeing experience, spend some time exploring the region's World Heritage-listed archaeological sites. Put Central Mexico and Gulf Coast at the heart of your travel plans by using our Mexico vacation trip planner.
Read the Central Mexico and Gulf Coast Holiday Planning Guide »
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Visit top cities in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast:
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Recently planned trips to Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

3 days in Mexico City BY A USER FROM CANADA July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 19 days in Mexico City BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM August, culture, outdoors, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, culture, outdoors, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 7 days in Mexico City BY A USER FROM COSTA RICA September, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 17 days in Mexico BY A USER FROM SWITZERLAND August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Queretaro BY A USER FROM MEXICO May, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 29 days in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast BY A USER FROM MEXICO May, hidden gems PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 32 days in Mexico BY A USER FROM GERMANY July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: July, culture, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 10 days in Mexico BY A USER FROM MEXICO May, outdoors, popular PREFERENCES: May, outdoors ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 4 days in Mexico City BY A USER FROM INDIA July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Mexico BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 8 days in San Miguel de Allende BY A USER FROM MEXICO May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 9 days in Yucatan Peninsula & Mexico City BY A USER FROM DOMINICAN REPUBLIC August, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, culture, outdoors, beaches, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium
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Central Mexico and Gulf Coast Holiday Planning Guide

Once the core of a powerful Aztec empire, Central Mexico and Gulf Coast now contain some of the country's most popular tourist destinations, offering a blend of coastal and inland activities. Most Central Mexico and Gulf Coast holidays understandably involve stops at sandy beaches, but if you wish to enrich your experience with a bit of culture and history, don't miss Guanajuato City and Veracruz. While exploring these cities, you can museum hop, get to know the country's arts and music scene, discover numerous historic buildings, and mingle with ex-pats from Canada and the United States. For that ultimate Central Mexico and Gulf Coast sightseeing experience, spend some time exploring the region's World Heritage-listed archaeological sites.

Places to Visit in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Cities in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Mexico City: A tour of this giant city, known as the "City of Palaces," leads you on an adventure through history, from the pre-Columbian past of the Americas to the powerful Spanish colonial empire.

San Miguel de Allende: This relaxed, small town, which played an important role in the Mexican struggle for independence, attracts history buffs and art enthusiasts wishing to take part in its thriving arts scene.

Puebla: Thanks to its photogenic colonial buildings, the "City of Angels" takes a high spot on Central Mexico and Gulf Coast itineraries made by architecture enthusiasts.

San Juan Teotihuacan: The World Heritage-listed "City of Gods" makes an ideal day-trip idea for anthropology and history buffs on their Central Mexico and Gulf Coast tours.

Guanajuato: Recognized as a World Heritage Site, this old city with a youthful energy lures visitors with its pleasant tree-shaded plazas, lively streets, friendly sidewalk cafes, and local festivals.

Queretaro City: This fast growing and modern, yet charming and sophisticated city draws visitors looking to add a bit of history and culture to their Central Mexico and Gulf Coast vacation.

Popular Central Mexico and Gulf Coast Tourist Attractions

Chapultepec Castle: Perched atop a sacred Aztec hill 2,325 m (7,628 ft) above sea level, the castle houses an anthropology museum and provides views over the capital city.

Palacio de Bellas Artes: This impressive, domed palace from the 1930s houses works from Mexican and international artists, as well as a theater.

Zona Arqueologica Teotihuacan: This enormous complex of temples and pyramids is one of the best preserved examples of Mesoamerican civilization in modern-day Mexico and a reason behind many Central Mexico and Gulf Coast tours.

Frida Kahlo Museum: The bright blue house of one of Mexico's most renowned modern artists deserves to be found on all Central Mexico and Gulf Coast itineraries put together by art enthusiasts.

La Pena de Bernal: This huge rock offers hiking opportunities, while affording views over the town and across the countryside.

Coyoacan: The historical center of one of Mexico City's 16 boroughs consists of about 30 city blocks, intersected by narrow cobblestoned streets and dotted with small plazas retaining a bohemian character and relaxed atmosphere.

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel: With its numerous spires reaching for the sky, the main landmark of San Miguel de Allende looks more like something out of a fairy tale than from real life.

Inmobiliaria Paseo de la Reforma: Modeled after some of Europe's grandest boulevards of the 1860s, one of Mexico City's major thoroughfares hosts some of the country's tallest buildings and the Angel of Independence monument.

Aquarium of Veracruz: This modern aquarium allows you to observe numerous aquatic species, as well as jungle animals and plants--an ideal activity for a family holiday in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast.

Zocalo: Used as a gathering point in the 16th century, Puebla's World Heritage-listed square hosts a basilica, many ornate Spanish colonial buildings, and a variety of stores and restaurants.

Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Cuisine of Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

As the largest city in Mexico and a center for migration, Mexico City features a diverse cuisine influenced by many foreign countries as well as some pre-Hispanic cooking.

Don't miss a chance to try some street food specialties, such as tacos with different fillings and tortas (large sandwiches). You will find lunch counters on every street serving barbacoa (slow-cooked lamb with cilantro and onions) and birria (a hearty, chili-flavored stew made with beef, pork, goat, or mutton).

If you want to taste some exotic, pre-Columbian food during your Central Mexico and Gulf Coast vacation, look for specialized eateries with insects on the menu. The national dish of Mexico, mole poblano with mulatto peppers and chocolate originated from the small town of Puebla.

The Gulf Coast cooking received influences from the Creole culture of Cuba and New Orleans, reflected in the use of plantains, peanuts, yucca and sweet potatoes. Chicken in peanut sauce is a typical dish that bears this Afro-Cuban mark.

Widespread use of vanilla and corn is the result of the indigenous heritage, while herbs like cilantro, parsley, thyme, and marjoram were introduced into the region's diet by the Europeans.

The most popular dish from Veracruz is huachinango a la veracruzana (a red snapper in a light tomato sauce). Another famous regional dish is a paella-like meal called arroz a la tumbada, made with rice, shellfish, tomatoes, and red peppers, and seasoned with cilantro, parsley, and oregano.

The state of Tabasco, made famous by the eponymous hot sauce, offers an unmatched variety of seafood choices, so be sure to try some crab and crayfish during your holiday in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast.

Shopping in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Mexico City boasts many shopping neighborhoods, some of a bohemian character like Coyoacan and other more upscale and exclusive like Polanco.

Talavera poblana, a type of maiolica pottery unique to Puebla, make a good souvenir to take home from your Central Mexico and Gulf Coast vacation. Lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) masks originate from Guanajuato, while the galleries of San Miguel de Allende offer paintings and sculptures, pottery, antique furniture, vintage textiles, and photographs of 19th-century Mexico.

Other popular souvenirs include mascaras, colorful, handcrafted masks depicting demons, angels, devils, and pale European faces. Traditional costumed dancers from Morelos have been using these masks for centuries during Carnival and other festivities.

Know Before You Go on a Trip to Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Interesting Facts About Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Mexico City is slowly sinking because it rests over the ruins of a great Aztec city that was built on a lake

● Central Mexico gifted the world with one of its major grain crops--corn

● The Gulf Stream, a major ocean current, originates in the Gulf of Mexico

● Over 750 known historical shipwrecks, some dating as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries, were discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

● Mexico City is home to the oldest university in North America, founded in 1551

Holidays & Festivals in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

You might consider planning your Central Mexico and Gulf Coast vacation around the region's colorful holidays, such as Carnival. Veracruz is the place to be during this lively event that takes place in February.

As Mexico is a festive nation, all of its towns have their own feast days. One of the most magical, La Calaca Festival takes place in San Miguel de Allende on the Day of the Dead (November 1). People flock from all over Mexico to participate in live art installations, costumed processions, and graveyard ceremonies accompanied with music.

A city of a distinct colonial and indigenous character, Patzcuaro also gets animated on Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead).

All cities celebrate Independence Day with fireworks and parades on September 16.

Useful Central Mexico and Gulf Coast Travel Tips

Climate of Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

Central Mexico and Gulf Coast enjoy a moderate or cool climate, which depends on the altitude.

Cities on the high plateau, including the capital and San Miguel de Allende receive a lot of sunshine throughout the year, but have lower temperatures than cities along the Gulf Coast.

Veracruz enjoys an average temperature of around 26 C (80 F) all year round, while areas with higher elevation have cooler temperatures hovering around 20 C (68 F).

The rainy season lasts from June through September, although in general Central Mexico does not receive an abundance of precipitation.

December and January are the coldest months with temperatures dropping below 5 C (41 F) at night. March and April are the busiest months, so plan your Central Mexico and Gulf Coast vacation accordingly.

Transportation in Central Mexico and Gulf Coast

The easiest and least expensive way to travel between cities and towns on your Central Mexico and Gulf Coast vacation is to use "camiones," a.k.a. local buses.

In big cities the many transportation options include the subway and metrobus, which are safe and inexpensive. Other choices like minibuses and minivans (called either colectivos or combis) are faster and run along fixed urban routes. Just hold out your hand and they will pick you up at a street corner.

Taxis are also common, but check first if they have a working meter. If not, you will have to haggle for the price upfront.