While Mexico’s beautiful beaches and resort destinations usually grab the spotlight and the majority of visitors, much of Mexico’s charms lie in the small pueblos and villages nestled in foothills, hidden in the mountains, or off-the-beaten path somewhere along the coasts. For travelers ready to explore beyond the popular beach areas and/or maybe add a few days of exploration to their sun and sand vacation, Mexico offers many options not too far from places like Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and Punta Mita. Below is a list of special places, called “Magic Towns” that can be easily connected with your beach getaway!
What is a Magic Town? Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns or Magical Villages) are a selection of Mexican villages whose cultural, historical, gastronomical, or natural treasures have been deemed exceptionally special and meaningful to Mexico’s heritage. While each town stands outs for their unique characteristics, travelers will find themselves transported to simpler times, far from the hustle and bustle of developed tourist cities. The Magical Towns in Mexico Program totals 111 destinations in all 31 states of Mexico (2016) and holds the responsibility for preserving Mexican culture and legacy.
Los Cabos, Baja Califoria Sur
Magical Village – Todos Santos
A Pueblo Magico since 2006, Todos Santos is just a one hour drive from Cabo San Lucas situated at the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. An oasis in the middle of a desert peninsula, this small town offers a friendly atmosphere and laid-back approach to life. Heavily populated by artists, surfers, and expats who come to Todos Santos for inspiration, the town has everything from pristine beaches with ideal surfing waves, to old sugar baron estates that have converted to quaint nooks, cafes, and art galleries, making it the bohemian capital of Baja.
La Paz, Baja California Sur
Magic Town- Loreto
A Pueblo Magico since 2012, Loreto is four hours from La Paz. Both beach destinations, Loreto is one of the oldest settlements in Baja and offers authentic local culture paired with unspoiled paradises. Visitors can wander through its history of Spanish missionaries, visit caves that tell a story through prehistoric paintings, or simply enjoy the nature and islands of the Sea of Cortez. Loreto is also a great location to head out on whale-watching adventures in Magdalena Bay.
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Magical Village – San Sebastian del Oeste
A Pueblo Magico since 2011, San Sebastian is one and a half hours from Puerto Vallarta located at the foot of the Western Sierra Madre mountains. Once the most important mining city with over 20,000 residents, today there are only around 600 who have stayed to preserve this special relic. The picturesque town makes visitors feel transported to an old wild west movie with its cobbled streets flanked by tree, white buildings, and old adobe houses. One of San Sebastian del Oeste´s greatest highlights is the Cerro de la Bufa, 2,400 meters above sea level, boasting stunning panoramic views of Banderas Bays and incredible sunsets.
Other Pueblos Magicos in Jalisco: Talpa de Allende, Lagos de Moreno, Mazamitla, Mascota, Tapalpa
Riviera Nayarit and Punta Mita, Nayarit
Magical Town – Sayulita
Named a Pueblo Magico in 2015, Sayulita is just a 30 minute drive from Punta Mita. This small, seaside surfer town and funking fishing village offers a laid-back, bohemian vibe with no shortage of friendly locals and colorful shops, cafes, and restaurants. Sayulita lends to new experiences, whether it is learning to surf for the first time, discovering local indigenous Huichol culture, or making friends with visitors from around the world. It is a great place to relax, or for the more adventurous, practice watersports among the Pacific waves.
Other Pueblos Magicos in Nayarit: Jala
Cancun, Quintana Roo
Magical Village – Isla Mujeres
Named a Pueblo Magico in 2015, Isla Mujeres is a 25 minute ferry ride from Cancun. This island is surrounded with varied shades of calm, turqoise waters surrounding reefs full of tropical fish. The unhurried lifestyle and unqiue Carribean culture of Isla Mujeres is a stark contrast from the mainland of Cancun and a refreshing memory of simpler days. Once a hiding place for pirates, today all who visit Isla Mujeres find it to be a true treasure and special mark on the map.
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
Magical Town – Tulum
Named a Pueblo Magico in 2015, Tulum is just one hour from Playa del Carmen located at the southernmost tip of the Riviera Maya. Once an off the beaten path coastal destination known for its picturesque archaeological site perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, today, Tulum has grown into a world-class tourism destination. While most people head to Tulum for the hippie-chic boutique hotels and organic, off-the-grid restaurants, the real magic lies in Mother Nature’s surrounding gifts. Within Tulum’s muncipality, visitors can discover the wonders of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, the Muyil Lagoon, a handful of cenotes, and the beaches and marine turtle sanctuaries of Akumal, Xcacel, and Bahia Principe.
Magical Village – Bacalar
A Pueblo Magico since 2006, Bacalar is a three hour drive from Playa del Carmen. Known as the ¨Lagoon of Seven Colors¨ Bacalar´s varied water depths create a unique gradient of blue tones across the lake. Within Bacalar´s lagoon is Cenote Azul, a way of communication for freshwater and a mystical-Mayan sinkhole surrounded by jungle vegetation,perfect for snorklers and scuba divers. Before settling into the idyllic coastal town we know today, Bacalar´s history includes Mayan influence, Spanish dominance, and pirate raids, all which can be relived through the relics left behind such as the grand Fort of San Felipe.
Magical Town – Taxco
A Pueblo Magico since 2002, Taxco is a four hour drive inland from Acapulco and forms part of the “Triangle of the Sun” tourist route. Formally one of the most important silver mining-towns, this pictureqesque village is best discovered by wandering the narrow cobblestoned alleys in search for the perfect silver jewelry or art still crafted there today. Visitors can also enjoy taking a ride on the cable car for scenic views of elegant colonial facades, antique houses and palaces, and age-old churches and towers that have stood the test of time.
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Magical Village – Mazunte
A Pueblo Magico since 2015, Mazunte is a one hour drive from Puerto Escondido. The magic of Mazunte lies in its simplicity as this coastal town focuses on the natural environment and how to make it attractive to visitors without too much disruption. It all started with The Museum of Sea Tutles, an ecotourism project created in the 1970s when the hunting of turtles in the area was at its height; today Mazunte has now stood out for their continuation of developing sustainable strategies and care for the wider natural environment. Mazunte also offers low-cost, rustic hotel options as a way to prioritize respect for the environment over tourism.
Other Pueblos Magicos in Oaxaca: Capulalpam, Huautla de Jimenez, San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Tepozcolula
Magical Town – Cosalá
A Pueblo Magico since 2005, Cosalá is a two and a half hour drive from Mazatlan. Cosalá’s history dates back more than two thousand years ago when pre-Hispanic tribes settled as evidenced by their petroglyphs that remain today. Later, Spanish conquerors discovered mines and the area’s mineral richness fed colonial ambition with gold and silver for centuries. Today the town is surprising colorful for the gloomy mysteries left to be discovered: a church built ontop of a graveyard of its deveotees, secret tunnels and passageways, a mining history that speaks to rebellion, and the legends and presence of ghosts in many of the old buildings
Cosala is a colorful old mining town. Other Pueblos Magicos in Sinaloa: El Rosario, Mocorito, El Fuerte
Magical Village – Comala
A Pueblo Magico since 2002, Comala is a one and a half-hour drive from Manzanillo, right outside the capital of Colima. Known as Pueblito Blanco (White Village) Comala’s buildings are painted white with contrasting red tile roofs, and from the center of the main plaza visitors can enjoy excellent views of the twin volcanoes, Volcán de Fuego and Volcan Nevado de Colima. Wandering the cobblestone streets, visitors can find local handicrafts, folk art, and some of the region’s finest harvested coffee. Just outside of town, heading toward the Volcano of Fire is the stunning hotel property Hacienda San San Antonio – an experience that exposes guests to diverse aspects of regional art, cuisine, traditional music, natural surrounding beauty and various recreational activities.
READY TO VISIT THE PUEBLOS MAGICOS OF MEXICO?
If you’re interested in traveling to Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos, browse our sample itineraries below or contact Journey Mexico today.
The Luxurious Discovery of Quintana Roo’s Magic Towns – Visit the Riviera Maya in a privileged way, including private aviation to Bacalar, yachting to Isla Mujeres, and luxury accommodations in Tulum-Sian Ka’an – covering all three of Quintana Roo’s Pueblos Magicos.
Todos Santos to Los Cabos – Spend a few days in the Pueblo Magico of Todos Santos to explore the vibrant artist community, surf the waves at Los Cerritos, and hike a magical nature trail. A day trip out to La Paz is highlighted to swim with the impressive whale sharks and the journey ends with a stay in Los Cabos.
The Magical Town of Veracruz – Discover the Magical Towns of Veracruz, including Xico and Coatepec, and embark on a journey through the most beautifully quaint and historically rich areas of the state.
Discovering the El Antiguo Camino by Horse – Discover the Antiguo Camino Real, the original trail Spanish Conquistadors used to transport silver and treasures, with a visit to the Magic Town of Taxco and stays at a vintage Hacienda in Morelos and a authentic Rancho in Guanajuato.