Tulum

7 Best Mexican Road Trips

With dramatic scenery and empty roads, Mexico is a rousing road trip destination. Whether you are looking for ocean views, desert landscapes or rainforest adventures, you’ll find them all down Mexico way. From leisurely drives to thrilling rides, there are loads of routes from which to choose. So what are you waiting for? Start your engine! We are going south of the border with some of the best Mexican road trips to enjoy right now.

South of the Border: 7 Best Mexican Road Trips

1. Coastal Route 15

Mexico 15 International Highway or Mexico-Nogales Highway begins in the north at the Mexico–United States border crossing at Heroica Nogales, Sonora and runs to Mexico City over 2,360km (1466 miles) to the south. En route, you’ll pass through cactus-covered mountains and valleys, verdant lush farmland and tropical coastal plains and forest. Most people head to the seaside resort of Puerto Vallarta from the border but whatever your destination along this route, the coastal views are simply breathtaking. The vivid blue of the Pacific accompanies you all the way as do the sound of the waves. This is one of the best Mexican road trips for those who love surfing as there are plenty of good spots along the way.

Puerto Vallarta

2. Riviera Maya

You can drive the Riviera Maya from Cancún to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere in around three hours but you will want to leave a lot longer to enjoy the spoils of this beautiful coastal route in the Yucatan Peninsula. This route is an easy one for tourists as it hits up some of the most popular holiday spots in the region. Starting in party central, Cancún you’ll pass postcard-perfect Caribbean beaches, for instance, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum and you can stop off and explore fascinating Mayan ruins and jump into crystal clear cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes). Your final destination is the sublime Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, spectacular wildlife and awe-inspiring Mayan ruins.

Tulum

3. Yucatan Peninsula Loop

This Yucatan Peninsula Loop starts and finishes in the city of Mérida and is a wonderful route for those who want to see many Mayan ruins, for instance, one of the 7 New Wonders of the World: Chichen Itza. The 900km (560-mile) route also gives you an opportunity to take a refreshing dip in the Instagram-famous Cenote Suytun. Starting in the colourful, beautiful city of Merida hit the road towards Valladolid, one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns). From here, head to Bacalar to bask in the beauty of the otherworldly lagoon. If you can tear yourself away from this place, make your way back up north towards the ancient Maya city of Uxmal before heading back to Mérida. This is an incredibly rewarding road trip through Mexican history and heritage hotspots.

Best Mexican Road Trips

4. Jalisco Loop

The state of Jalisco is in western Mexican and fringes the Pacific Ocean. It is the birthplace of mariachi music and tequila. So you know you are going to have a good time road-tripping through here.

The state capital Guadalajara is replete with colonial plazas and archetural gems like the neoclassical Teatro Degollado and splendid Guadalajara Cathedral. From Guadalajara, drive to Tapalpa, which is only two hours away. Stretch your legs with a walk around the labyrinth of cobblestoned streets with buildings with whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs. Onwards to the coast and Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta where you can surf the waves. From here, make your way back to Guadalajara via Tequila, the birthplace of the famous liquor. Admire the agave fields, visit a distillery or two and stock up on a few bottles to take home with you to have later, after your road trip. Remember: never drink and drive.

Best Mexican Road Trips

5. Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende

This 271km (168-mile) route is ideal for food lovers and those who want an authentic taste of Mexico and Mexican cuisine. After exploring the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City, jump in the car and persevere the traffic till you leave the city heading towards Teotihuacan. Stop here and visit the famed mesoamerican ruins. From here, follow the Querétaro wine and cheese route to Tequisquiapan. Querétaro is the second-largest wine-producing region in Mexico, so we suggest parking up for the night and enjoying a glass or two of the local vino. The next stop is Bernal where you can visit Mexico’s largest monolith. After admiring this very large rock, keep driving north towards Querétaro and finally to San Miguel de Allende, a charming colonial town. The best thing about this road trip is the wonderful and flavourful food produced in the local restaurants and street vendors all along the route.

Teotihuacan

6. Chiapas Loop

Chiapas is a state in southern Mexico that borders Guatemala and fringes the Pacific Ocean. This incredibly beautiful part of Mexico is mountainous with dense rainforest. The area is littered with Mayan archaeological sites and Spanish colonial towns. On this 432km (268-mile) looped route, which starts and ends in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, you’ll visit San Cristobal de las Casas, Yaxchilan, Cascada El Chiflón as well as Agua Azul. En route, you’ll encounter lakes and lagoons, waterfalls, cenotes, gorges and wonderful wildlife like crocodiles, spider monkeys and colourful birds. Highlights include Sumidero Canyon, El Chorreadero Falls, the Yaxchilán ruins, Agua Azul Chiapas and El Chiflon and the Cenotes of Chiapas. This is one wet and wild Mexican road trip.

Best Mexican Road Trips

7. Baja Peninsula

This route stretches some 1623km (1014 miles) from Tijuana at the US border south to Cabo San Lucas. It is a road trip of epic proportions. On this route, the landscape switches from dry desert to sandy coastlines, lush vineyards to cactus forests. You really do at times feel like you are in no man’s land. It is one of the best Mexican road trips if you want to get off the beaten track. Having sampled the nightlife of Tijuana, jump in the car and start the journey south. You’ll pass through Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s biggest wine-producing region before reaching the port city of Ensenada. From here, follow the spectacular Highway 1 all the way south. Stop off along the way in La Paz and Todos Santos before reaching the resort city of Cabo San Lucas. When you arrive, just remember, what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo!

Best Mexican Road Trips Cabo San Lucas

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

View stories