Mexico Pueblos Magicos are a special designation given to Mexican towns for their cultural significance, historical importance, charm, or beauty.
These magic towns, as it translates in English, offer visitors the opportunity to see, try, or learn something they can’t experience elsewhere. And are some of the best places to visit across the country!
This Mexico pueblos magicos guide will share more about what a pueblo magico is, how towns become a pueblo magico, and 10 of our favorite magic towns in Mexico to visit.
Becoming a Mexico pueblo magico
The goal of the Mexico pueblos mágicos was to promote tourism in smaller towns while upholding certain standards for international and national visitors.
The Government wanted to encourage tourists to expand their travels beyond the typical hot spots like Cancun, Mexico City, Oaxaca de Juarez, or Cabo San Lucas. And pueblo magicos were the way they achieved it.
The program started in 2001 with three Pueblos Mágicos but quickly expanded as other areas saw the success of tourism thanks to this designation. Today there are 132 different Mexico pueblos mágicos. 23 of which, we have personally visited in our year and a half of traveling Mexico.
There are several requirements the town must have in order to become a Mexico Pueblo Magico including:
- A minimum of 5,000 inhabitants
- Be no more than 200 km (~125 miles) from a major tourist destination
- Have cultural relevance, unique natural beauty, or historical importance
- Have a dedicated ‘Tourism Development Program’ to ensure tourism needs are being met
- Have the infrastructure to accommodate tourists (such as public transportation, hotels, and restaurants)
From there, the area has to create a Pueblo Magico committee which applies for Pueblo Magico status. If at any point the town doesn’t uphold these standards after being named a Pueblo Magico, the tourism board can revoke its status.
These rules ensure tourists are getting a safe, comfortable, and unique experience as they are visiting a pueblo magico. It also keeps the towns held to a certain standard.
The best Mexico pueblos magicos to visit
We highly encourage you to visit as many Mexico Pueblos Magicos as you can. Each is so different from the other and every destination has its own amazing experiences to offer.
However, given there are well over 100 different towns to visit, you will likely need to several different trips to visit them all.
Mexico’s Pueblo Magico website has a fantastic map of the Pueblos Magicos across the country. They provide some information and photos about each destination which can help you narrow down what magic towns you want to see first.
They also have a feature that allows you to search for an activity, such as food, history, nature, hiking, or beaches to determine which Mexico pueblo magico you may want to visit. If preferred, you can search by state too.
10 of our favorite Mexico magic towns
The list below is 10 of our personal favorite pueblos magicos we’ve visited in Mexico. However, we want to emphasize that this is simply a starting point. We’ve visited countless other incredible areas that we’d love to mention and encourage you to visit.
Use this as a starting point to get acquainted with some of the larger, more popular, or most unique towns to visit.
1. Isla Aguada
Isla Aguada is one of the newest Pueblo Magicos which earned the title in 2021. This tiny beach town is about a 40-minute drive from Ciudad del Carmen and a two-hour drive from the historic fortified city of Campeche.
Isla Aguada takes the title of #1 on our list of favorite pueblos magicos simply because of our history here. We ended up parking our RV at Freedom Shores Hotel and RV Park for three months after the onset of the global pandemic in 2020. We grew close with the owner and fell in love with the charm, nature, and slow lifestyle of this island.
It truly is a slice of paradise. On our last trip, we were able to explore more of the island, taking a boat tour of the mangroves and getting up close and personal with dolphins. A must-do experience if you’re coming here.
Bacalar is a pueblo magico located in Quintana Roo, Mexico about 40 minutes from the border of Belize. Famous for its Laguna de Siete Colores (Lake of Seven Colors), its crystal clear blue water rivals the Maldives.
The town is one of the most visited Pueblos Magicos in Mexico and has no shortage of great restaurants, shops, and unique accommodations to stay in. We loved our week in Bacalar and thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit the lagoon, swim in a cenote, and float down the natural lazy river called Los Rapidos.
Aside from being absolutely stunning, parts of the lake are made up of Stromatolites. These macrofossils were formed over 3 billion years ago and are attributed to creating the ozone that protects our earth. Very few places in the world do Stromatolites still exist, making this already amazing area even more unique.
Patzcuaro is a small city in the state of Michoacán that is most commonly known for its Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead celebrations. It’s believed the towns that surround the Lago de Patzcuaro (including Patzcuaro) are where the Dia de Los Muertos celebration originated. Making it an extremely authentic place to witness this celebration.
We visited this charming historic city for Dia de los Muertos in 2021. It was one of the most incredible cultural experiences we’ve ever had and highly encourage visitors to come here to witness it for themselves.
Even if you can’t make it here for Dia De Los Muertos, Patzcuaro is still worth coming to! It has incredible food, affordable prices, and a very charming historic centro.
Xiltila is a colorful colonial city nestled in the jungle-covered mountains of San Luis Potosí. This area is most commonly known for the surrealist sculpture garden Las Pozas (pictured below). But the town itself is super charming. It has fantastic traditional cuisine you can only find in this region, like zacahuil (a large tamale baked underground with pork or chicken) and bocolitos (gorditas) of stew.
Like Patzcuaro, this is a fantastic city to be in for the Day of the Dead Celebration. The multi-day event has elaborate costumes, parades, and beautifully decorated cemeteries. There are also great outdoor activities to do nearby. Including visiting beautiful waterfalls or rappelling down Xilo Grotto.
5. Valle de Bravo
Valle de Bravo in Mexico State (Estado de Mexico) is about a two-hour drive from Mexico City. Which makes this charming lakeside town a popular weekend getaway for people who live in the city. Valle de Bravo’s adorable historic center with cobblestone streets, white buildings, and terracotta tile roofs is reminiscent of other pueblos magicos across the country.
However, Valle de Bravo offers visitors some unique activities. Including sailing Lake Avandaro or paragliding. Due to the wind patterns in the mountains, Valle is one of the top places in the world for paragliding. We tried this for the first time during our visit and had an absolute blast!
Valle de Bravo is also a forty-minute drive from one of Mexico’s four butterfly sanctuaries. Making it a fantastic hopping point to experience the monarch butterfly migration in winter.
6. San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal de Las Casas in Chiapas Mexico is one of the most colorful, unique, and vibrant Pueblo Magicos we’ve visited. It’s a much larger city compared to the rest but still oozes charm, history, and culture. Nestled high in the mountains this area has a cool climate year-round.
Home to more indigenous tribes than any other state, this city is a melting pot of cultures which is evident in its food, art, music, and crafts.
We have an entire blog post about this incredible pueblo magico including the top things to do here. But if there’s one thing you take away from this, it’s that San Cristobal de Las Casas is 100% worth visiting!
Roughly an hour and a half outside of Mexico City, Tepotzlan in Morelos, Mexico is one of the most popular Pueblo Magicos to visit, especially by Mexican Nationals. One of the biggest draws to visiting Tepotzlan is to see the ancient Aztec ruins at the Archaeological Zone Tepozteco. But the city has so much to do and see on its own.
The Mercado, or central market, has some of the best food stalls we’ve seen and fantastic shopping all around. Keep an eye out for the authentic dancers called Chinelos who wear a mask and brightly beaded hats in the city. A temezcal experience is also a must-do here!
The town was so colorful and the backdrop of the mountains made every view from the streets all the more stunning.
8. Todos Santos
The Baja California peninsula is home to just 3 pueblo magicos. Two of which, are on this list. Todos Santos is by far the most popular pueblo magico in the peninsula. Only an hour’s drive from Los Cabos, this expat hot spot is one of the fastest-growing towns in Baja California Sur.
It’s easy to see why after visiting. It has incredible restaurants, gorgeous beaches, fantastic surfing, and unique history of once being the largest sugar cane producer in Baja.
Loreto is Baja California Sur’s other pueblo magico and the oldest city in all of the Californias. It was once the capital of Baja California and played an important role in the establishment of the territories we know today. Loreto is also the only pueblo magico to have an international airport, making it extremely easy for visitors to come here.
The small town has a lot to do and see both on sea and land and is a fantastic place to enjoy wildlife or go fishing. If you’re interested in seeing some of the top things to do there, make sure to check out this post.
Palenque is a small town in the heart of the Chiapas jungle that’s just a few minutes drive to one of Mexico’s largest archelogical sites. Zona Archeologico de Palenque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and absolutely stunning.
The ruins today are tucked into a lush jungle that are home to loads of animals like macaws, spider monkeys, jaguars, and turkey’s. However, this city at it’s peak wouldn’t have had much trees. Instead it would have had colorful buildings and stucco walkways connecting it to the other ruins in the region.
We highly recommend hiring a guide for a tour here. There is so much to learn about this place, this will ensure you’re getting the most knowledge in a short period of time. Don’t miss out of visiting one of the nearby waterfalls either. Chiapas is home to dozens of incredible waterfalls.
These are only a few of the amazing Mexico Pueblo Magicos to visit throughout the country. We are constantly adding new ones to our list as we plan our return trips to Mexico. We’d love to know what some of your favorite pueblo magicos are in the comments below.