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PLACES TO VISIT
San Cristobal + Palenque
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Latin America »
Mexico City + Colonial Highlands Tour + Yucatan
International flights quoted separately
Experience Mexico's cultural & archaelogical highlights, starting in ancient Mexico City with its pyramids that date back to 300BC & Anthropological Museum with its treasure trove of Olmec, Atzec and Mayan artefacts. Then join a small group tour of the charming Colonial Highlands, before relaxing on the splendid Riviera Maya. 2 departures a month, with dual language Spanish or Italian/English guide.
San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende
Mexico City Airport
where you will be met and transferred to this high altitude city, that is the oldest capital in the Americas and one of the largest cities in the world.
Check into your hotel and embrace this colourful and vibrant city, originally established by the Aztec Indians (the 'Mexica').
Today we recommend an optional full day tour of some of the highlights of
At the heart of the city is the
(or Plaza de la Constitución), a huge central square built by the conquering Spanish over the ceremonial centre of the vanquished Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. Ruins of the 13th century Templo Mayor can be seen here, as well as the baroque
built by the Spanish and the
, which houses historic murals by the famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera. There is a dense concentration of museums and art galleries in this area.
West of the Zócalo the historic centre stretches through the main commercial district, past the National Art Museum to the Tower of Latin America skyscaper and the
Palace of Fine Arts
, with its magnificent Art Deco interior. Both overlook Alameda Central Park, which is the oldest public park in Mexico.
At the end of your tour, enjoy a boat ride on a colourful 'trajinera' through the canals of
, a small village south of the city. These canals are all that is left of the lake on which Mexico City was originally built, and will give you an interesting cultural glimpse into modern urban life. Afterwards you can visit the local market, before returning to your hotel.
Today we suggest you travel 1-hour to the mysterious
, ancient archaelogical ruins that are a UNESCO World Heritate site. This enormous city was built in 300 BC but was inexplicably abandoned centuries before the arrival of the Aztecs, who called it the
Birthplace of the Gods
. This is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Americas and includes the third largest pyramid in the world, constructed according to precise astronomical measurements and filled with sacrificial victims.
You can climb the magnificent Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and view the Butterflies Temple, the Avenue of the Dead and Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Admire the majestic plazas and stone temples, covered with stone statues and faded murals
On our way back to Mexico City, we visit the shrine of
Our Lady of Guadalupe
- one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites on the American continent.
Note: There is the option of an early morning hot air balloon ride over the pyramids, but this must be pre-booked. Try and avoid visiting the pyramids on a Sunday, as it is free for locals so very crowded.
Today join your small group tour of the picturesque
, travelling with an English and Spanish speaking driver/guide.
and travel 4-hours to the Spanish colonial city of
, which is called the city of "cantera rosa" (pink stone). With narrow streets lined with well-preserved 17th and 18th century buildings, the historic centre is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
See the imposing baroque-style cathedral, with its soaring twin towers that preside over the main square - the Plaza de Armas. Also see the Government Palace, the Clavijero Palace and aqueduct, and the Church of the Gualupita.
Afterwards we continue 1-hour to the town of
This morning enjoy a tour of colonial
, the former capital of the kingdom of Purépecha. View the Basilica of Our Lady of Health, House of the Eleven Patios and the Gertrudis Bocanegra Library, with its mural painted by Juan O'Gorman, and Plaza Don Vasco de Quiroga.
We then travel 4-hours to
- Mexico's second largest city and a significant industrial and commercial centre, but also the birthplace of traditional Mariachi folk music and the tequila drink.
In the 1950s many older buildings were razed to allow for wider avenues, modern buildings and shopping centers, but fortunately the most beautiful older buildings were left intact. A stroll through the city will give you an appreciation for its green spaces and public art in its many parks and plazas. At the heart of Guadalajara is the cathedral which, with its twin pointed towers and central dome, it is the most recognizable landmark on the skyline.
This morning we visit the
region, which has given its name to the famous Mexican drink. We visit a hacienda where the process of converting agave into this famous drink will be explained and where you can taste the end product.
Afterwards we visit
, an ancient pottery village that is home to a large number of galleries, with a rich collection of extraordinary pieces of Mexican folk art, before returning to Guadalajara.
This morning there is time to explore
, with its beautiful cathedral surrounded on all four sides by plazas.
Plaza Guadalajara faces the church and has a central fountain with two lions whose paws are resting on the trunk of a tree, the city's coat of arms. To the south is Plaza de Armas with its art nouveau bandstand and matching lamp posts. The adjacent Government Palace has a lovely baroque facade and a spectacular mural in the interior main staircase, which was painted by Jose Clemente Orozco. The innovative Degollado Theatre is also very interesting. To the north of the cathedral is the Rotondo de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, a green space holding a circular monument with seventeen ribbed columns with statues of illustrious local citizens.
In the afternoon we travel 4-hours to the charming colonial city of
. With its many narrow cobbled alleyways and shaded plazas dotted with sidewalk cafes, this former silver mining city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is widely regarded as the most beautiful colonial city in Mexico.
This morning enjoy a tour of
with its many brightly coloured buildings that tumble down the hillside, leading to lovely plazas and underground streets, and reflecting the influences of both the Indian and Spanish cultures that created this lovely city.
This city was the home of the late Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican painter married to Frida Kahlo de Riviera, also a well-known portrait painter. Starting with the panoramic view from the El Pipila momunent, we continue downtown to see the Juarez Theater, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, the University and the Mercado Hidalgo.
In the afternoon, we drive 2-hours to the art and cultural centre of
San Miguel de Allende
. Known for its rich traditions, in which events and festivals play an important role, this is a town that has preserved its ancient culture. Once an important stop on the silver route between Zacatecas and Mexico City, its historic center is filled with well-preserved buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. With its narrow cobblestone streets, leafy courtyards, fine architectural details and sumptuous interiors, San Miguel de Allende is one of the prettiest towns in Mexico with many museums, galleries, restaurants and coffee shops. There are over 240 Indian chapels in this municipality, a few of which have been restored by the local government. Admire the facades of buildings such as the Institute of Arts and Culture, the Municipal Palace (formerly the Inquisition Palace), Mayorazgo House and the Church of San Miguel Archangel.
Today we drive 1-hour to
Santiago de Querétaro
- the cradle of Mexican Independence - where you can enjoy walking through the buildings and facades of its beautiful historical centre. See the palatial and historic House of the Corregidora (now the Government Palace), the house of the Earl of Sierra Gorda and the Palaces of the Marchioness of Villa del Villar.
In the afternoon we drive 4.5-hours back to
, with drop off at your hotel.
Mexico City Airport
for your onward flight.
You will be met at
and transferred 1.5-hours to your beach resort on the spectacular
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the
with its warm turquoise waters, sandy beaches and wonderful snorkelling and diving.
Today we recommend driving 3-hours to
(meaning 'Entrance to the Witches Well') for an optional full day tour to the most famous Mayan Ruins in Mexico.
The focal point of the Northern Mayan lowlands empire from AD 600 until AD 1200, this city had the most diverse population in all the Mayan world. Therefore there are a wide variety of architectural styles at this site.
The most spectacular pyramid is
with its rich cosmological symbolism - all four sides have 365 steps (number of days in a solar year), 52 rectangles (years in a Mayan century) and 18 terraces (months of their religious calendar). Other structures include the enormous Ballcourt, the Observatory, Temple of a Thousand Columns, Kukulcán Temple, Warrior’s Temple, Convent of the Nuns, El Mercado (market place) and the Sacred Cenote (pool) where human sacrifices were carried out.
At leisure to relax at your tropical resort on the spectacular
, lapped by the
crystal clear turquoise waters of the
Great Mayan Reef
(Mesoamerican Barrier Reef) stretches from the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula to the islands off the coast of Honduras and is the largest coral reef in the northern hemisphere. Hundreds of species of fish and many endangered and protected marine animals are found here – including Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley sea turtles, Whale sharks and West Indian manatees – making this a paradise for snorkelling and diving.
There are many optional activities in this holiday area, including snorkelling at
waterpark (the largest natural aquarium in the world); zip lining at
adventure park; day visits to the famous archaeological sites at Chichen Itza or Tulum; the Mayan caves in Aktun Chen; Sian Ka'anor biosphere reserve and
cultural theme park.
Try a Mayan spa treatment or simply stroll along Fifth Avenue and absorb the holiday atmosphere of Playa del Carmen with its wide variety of bars, restaurants and shops.
Transfer 1.5-hours to
for your flight home.
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