22 Days of Central and Southern Mexico including cosmopolitan Mexico City, the colonial cities of Puebla, Oaxaca, Taxco and Cuernavaca and the beaches of Acapulco and Puerto Escondido
North AmericaMexico22 days / October 2020
Highs & Lows
The colonial charm of Taxco, the laidback atmosphere of Puerto Escondido and the soaring cliffs of Acapulco
The bus ride between Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido is very curvy!
I started this trip with a rough itinerary in mind which I ended up changing throughout the trip. If you have a flexible schedule, I highly recommend planning your trip step by step - Mexico has many amazing things to see and you never know what place you will fall in love with!
- Mexico City - 3 days
- Puebla, including Cholula - 2 days
- Oaxaca - 1.5 days
- Puerto Escondido - 7 days
- Acapulco - 2.5 days
- Taxco - 2 days
- Cuernavaca - 2 days
- Mexico City - 2 days
This was my second trip to Mexico City and I loved it! The residential neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma are full of great restaurants and bars with leafy streets and gorgeous little parks. The historical center of Mexico City is lined with colonial-style buildings and the government buildings are stunning.
The Frida Kahlo House/Museum is very interesting (although a little sad) and the pyramids of Teotihuacan are a must see for history lovers.
Puebla is a gorgeous little city located two hours from Mexico City. The brick streets, colorful houses and stunning main square are picture perfect and the magnificent churches offer a nice escape from the rain or sun! The nice centro area itself is pretty small and two days is plenty to get a good feel for the city.
Cholula, home of the world's biggest pyramid, is a short bus ride from Puebla Centro. There is a Spanish colonial church at the top of the pyramid and it is easy to think that the pyramid itself is a big hill! Although the pyramid itself was closed due to COVID, I was able to walk around the base of it and check out some of the ruins.
Oaxaca is one of the "trendiest" tourist attractions in Mexico and foreigner travelers have been flocking to see the gorgeous architecture and experience the unique indigenous culture. Although I originally planned on staying 3 days, I only stayed 1.5 days in the end as it strongly resembled a smaller version of Merida, the city that I live in. The main square was closed when I was there due to COVID but other smaller squares were open and full of families and friends enjoying the beautiful weather.
Although I am not normally a big beach lover, I heard many wonderful things about Puerto Escondido from fellow backpackers and expats in Mexico that I decided to make the arduous trip there from Oaxaca City. The "bus" ride takes 7 hours and is in a large minivan rather than a normal bus. My driver drove like a race car driver and the trip was a bit nauseating. Luckily a friend had advised me to take motion sickness pills before the trip and I was incredible grateful that I did!
Although I originally thought I would stay 2 or 3 days, I absolutely fell in love with Puerto Escondido and ended up staying 7 nights/8 days (a flexible travel schedule is key here!). The beaches of Puerto Escondido are all very different and this makes it really important when booking a place to stay.
Below are the beaches that I visited.......
- Zicatela is one of the main beach areas and although you can't swim there, it is said to be some of the best surfing in the world. The beach is lined with beach bars and the main drag has a lot of restaurants serving all budgets.
- La Punta is the hub of backpackers and budget travelers. Trendy bars line the dirt streets and people with surfboards roam the streets. The beach is an amazing place to watch the sunset. I was able to swim there one day when the water was a bit more calm but I would really only recommend swimming to confident swimmers.
- Playa Bacocho is a long, stretch of beautiful sand but the water is again a bit too rough to swim in (I tried it once and immediately regretted it after being tossed around like a doll. Luckily, the only thing the ocean swallowed was my hair tie). There is an awesome beach club right on the beach though where you can use their swimming pool, have dinner and enjoy sunset drinks. Playa Bacocho is also the place where you can "libertad de tortuga" (free the turtles). For only 100 pesos, you can release a baby turtle into the ocean. It was a surprisingly emotional moment seeing my little guy (who I named Alejandro) make his way unsteadily to the water.
- Playa Carrizalillo is one of the best beaches to swim at and is set back in a little cove offering protecting from the pounding waves. Novice surfers try to master the small waves and beach bars offer an enticing place to spend the afternoon. The beach is accessed by a long stairway down from the cliff above so make sure to come mentally prepared!
- Playa la Coral is a tiny beach and accessible via Playa Bacocho or by paying 70 pesos for direct beach access at the outdated, run-down hotel at the top of the hill. The beach is very secluded and was virtually empty the day I went. It was a great place to relax and safe to swim in.
Acapulco is a destination with an illustrious past but unfortunately, a horrible reputation now. More well known for drug cartels and crime than its soaring cliffs and welcoming beaches, Acapulco has been avoided by international travelers for years (Mexicans still flock there though.) I decided to go there after talking to many other backpackers who had recently been there and reading trip reviews on different websites and I am so glad that I did!
The bus from Puerto Escondido to Acapulco took around 10 hours on narrow roads surrounded by lush fields. The road took us through small towns where the driver would frequently stop and buy the local specialty of the area (cookies, coconut sweets, agua fresca, etc). Although I had been warned that the road could be dangerous by a Mexican friend, people who had driven there said that it was safe and the bus company promised that nothing had happened in the past 10 years. Luckily, the ride was uneventful and I never felt unsafe.
I arrived in Acapulco in the late evening and after a quick dinner at Dominos' Pizza, I went straight to the hotel. The next day, I spent the morning exploring the old famous hotels from the 1950s (I highly recommend checking out Los Flamingos Hotel for a coffee or a beer. The view is spectacular!). I walked along the beach around the bay and headed to Hotel Mirador to see the world famous cliff divers. The hotel restaurant offers a great vantage point to watch the show but charged a steep 200 peso cover charge (although this does include a free drink). I was able to stay as long as I wanted and the shows are every hour from 7 pm onwards. It was a quick walk back to my hotel where I had a great night sleep.
The next morning, I had just enough time for breakfast and a swimming before catching the bus to Taxco.
Taxco is known for its silver production and the historical city center is testament to the fortunes that were made here. Narrow alleyways and steep streets open up into hidden squares and the huge cathedral towers over the city. The city can awe even the most jaded traveler and is the perfect stopping point between Acapulco and Mexico City. I spent my days wandering through the streets and indulging at the restaurants and bars. T
Cuernavaca was a very pleasant surprise at the end of a long trip. Although it is the capital of Morelos, the city is small and easily walkable and absolutely buzzing with people. The buildings are an interesting mixture of colonial and 20th century architecture and there are a plethora of museums there (a few of which were actually open) including the Palace of Cortes (which was sadly closed). The city also has ancient ruins which are just a short bus ride or a long walk from the main square. I was a bit tired so spent my time there having leisurely lunches at the cafes and catching up on some much needed sleep.
As the last stop on my tour, I decided to stay spend my time exploring the parks and enjoying the trendy neighborhoods of the city. Long walks down Reforma (the main boulevard of the city), running in the parks and meeting up with friends filled my time and next thing I knew, it was time to head home.
Q & A
What would you have changed?Nothing - it was a great trip.
Anything go wrong during the trip?I got a bit sick after eating at a restaurant in Acapulco that made me travel a bit slower than normal.
Tips you would give a friend?As long as you stay in touristy areas, Mexico is a very safe country to travel in. Never, ever do drugs as you may get involved with the wrong people. I prefer to stay in hostels when traveling since you can make new friends and I often find them a bit safer than staying in a hotel room alone (safety in numbers!)
Packing tips?Mexico City is at a high elevation and can get surprisingly cold at night. Make sure to pack layers and travel as lightly as possible.
Transportation Tips?The long distance buses in Mexico are extremely comfortable with spacious seats. They are also very safe. You can book online or directly at the bus station.
Any surprises?I was very pleasantly surprised by both Acapulco and Cuernavaca. I was a bit disappointed in Oaxaca though.
Booking details?I booked all of my hotels on Booking.com and booked some of my buses online using Rome2Rio as a guide. There are many different bus companies in Mexico servicing different parts of the country and I have found that Rome2Rio is the best source for finding different options.