our mexico top ten

We spent ten weeks in Mexico basking in the sunshine, snapping photos in colourful colonial streets and sampling a huge array of street food. Travelling from the states of Quintana Roo and Yucatan in the East to the West Coast of Jalisco via Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacan and Colima, we have been lucky to experience much of what makes this huge country so great.

Mexico truly has something to offer every sort of tourist and budget; here is our top ten places to visit and things to see or experience. 

#1 zipolite - the ultimate beach bum town

'Zipolite te atrapa' and for good reason: this place is a little gem on Mexico's Oaxaca coast and you will probably struggle to leave. This stunning uncrowded beach, with strong and challenging surf and an LGBT friendly hippy crowd is the ideal place for simply doing (or wearing) nothing. 

#2 valladolid - colonial charm and character

Mayan grandmothers selling their wares; sun-bleached, colour washed walls; battered cowboy's hats atop faces which could tell a 1,000 stories.

Valladolid is the real Yucatan and an excellent example of a Mexican colonial town with a moment waiting to be captured on every street corner. 

#3 street food - fresh, spicy, cheap and delicious

Forget everything you think about Mexican food: it's not fajitas, it's not burritos and it doesn't come out of yellow box.

On every street you'll find a stall with home-made salsas, hand-made tortillas, frijoles of some variety,  fresh coriander and sizzling meat waiting to be layered, wrapped and wolfed down. Indulge yourself for less than £2 a plate. 

#4 sophisticated seniors - old age done with style

Whilst the average British male may grow old gracefully, they do so lacking a little style. Yes, the flat-cap, cardigan and shiny brown Clark's shoes may look endearing on grandad, but the men in Mexico do things a little differently. Doubtless through necessity rather than an innate desire to emanate Clint Eastwood, the ageing population of Mexico are more Charlton Heston than Morecambe and Wise in levels of suaveness and cool. And they're a dream to photograph.

#5 lucha libre - a night of high-flying entertainment

Known for its colourful costumes, high-flying manoeuvres and pantomime antics, Lucha Libre (free fight) is a Mexican institution, as globally recognised as the taco or a donkey called Jose in a sombrero.

The locals are enthralled with the theatre of it all – the crowd cuts across class, gender and age. For good, wholesome and unpretentious fun, head to a wrestling event somewhere in Mexico and get in touch with your inner-child. 

#6 oaxaca City - a taste of mexico

Pronounced 'wa-ha-ca", we were shocked that we had never heard of Oaxaca City; then we realised we were saying it all wrong. 

Renowned as the culinary capital of Mexico - for both traditional and contemporary cuisine - any foodie worth their Himalayan rock salt hoping to sample a true taste of the country (washed down with local mezcal) must spend a few days here. The small city's colourful cobblestone streets also provide a lovely setting to walk off the extra weight you'll inevitably put on from all the mole. 

#7 sipping mezcal and tequila 

Like it or loathe it, no trip to Mexico is complete without a least one agave-induced hangover. Often relegated to the back of the liquor cabinet after a horrific teenage experience, tequila and mezcal have developed a rep as bad as the hangovers they induce.

Once we discovered that Mexicans only export the bad stuff and tasted a few of the good- we mean actually swished around our mouths a la Jilly Goolden, not downed from a shot gloss or licked off a bare abdomen - we began to understand that not all tequila is created equal.  Get off the beaten track to find old-style mezcal micro-distilleries in Oaxaca or head out to tequila country in Jalisco.

#8 bacalar - a lake like no other

Lying just 25 kilometres from the city of Chetumal, this large lagoon remains a little known secret of the Yucatan Peninsula. Although the vast tourism opportunities are slowly being realised, for now you can enjoy the crystal clear waters of this beautiful fresh water lake undisturbed.

#9 maruata - live like Robinson Crusoe

The guidebooks have pages dedicated to the large tourist traps up and down Mexico's Pacific Coast, and whilst you will undoubtedly find pristine white sand beaches and sparkling waters, you will have to share the vistas with countless other travellers and some deckchairs. Travel off the beaten track, along the dusty roads of the Michoacan coast and you will discover something else entirely - Maruata.

This small community is perched upon the most beautiful beach we have found, shared only with local fishermen and the odd vacationing Mexican; those looking for a real Robinson Crusoe experience need look no further.

#10 surfing - catch a wave along the coast

Along the Pacific coastline, you will discover convoys of 4x4s and VW Camper Vans housing Antipodeans in search of the next break. Some of the best waves in the world are found here and whether you're an old pro or a newbie, you'll find a swell to suit you. 

and something you probably should do anyway...... Chichen Itza

Mexico is home to a vast array of Mayan ruins but to visit all would take up a lot time, money and miles. Although one of UNESCO's 'Seven New Wonders of the World', Chichen Itza has not technically made it into our top ten, but no trip to this beautiful country would be complete without a few hours spent here. Here's how to do it on a budget AND to guarantee you get your photos with no other tourists in the way. 

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