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Mexico City + Colonial Highlands (pvt guide) + Beach


XPA12G
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,495
International flights quoted separately
Explore Mexico City and the charming Spanish towns of the Colonial Highlands, travelling with your own English speaking driver/guide. Visit the beautiful cities of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Santiago de Queretaro, Dolores Hidalgo, Mineral De Pozos and Atotonilco, before relaxing on the Caribbean beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula. All transfers & specified sightseeing included.
Photo Colonial Highlands Mexico Private Tour
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Mexico City
• 
Xochimilo
• 
Teotihuacan Pyramids
• 
Santiago de Queretaro
• 
San Miguel de Allende
• 
Guanajuato
• 
Dolores Hidalgo
• 
Mineral De Pozos
• 
Sanctuary of Atotonilco
• 
Riviera Maya
• 
Mexico City
• 
Xochimilo
• 
Teotihuacan Pyramids
• 
Santiago de Queretaro
• 
San Miguel de Allende
• 
Guanajuato
• 
Dolores Hidalgo
• 
Mineral De Pozos
• 
Sanctuary of Atotonilco
• 
Riviera Maya
Day 1
Arrive at 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').
Day 2
Today enjoy a full day tour of the highlights of Mexico City.
 
At the heart of the city is the Zócalo (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 Metropolitan Cathedral built by the Spanish and the National Palace, 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.
 
Leaving the city, we make a brief stop at the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe - one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites on the American continent.
 
Afterwards we continue 1-hour to the mysterious Teotihuacan Pyramids, 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 the 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, before returning to Mexico City.
 
Note: Try and avoid visiting the pyramids on a Sunday, as it is free for locals so very crowded.
Day 3
At leisure to independently explore the sights of colourful Mexico City.
 
The world class National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepac Park is not to be missed, with its many ancient Olmec, Aztec, Mayan and other pre-Colombian artefacts - including the Stone of the Sun (the Aztec calendar stone) and the statue of Xochipilli. Chapultepec Castle is nearby.
 
The Palace of Fine Arts with its magnificent dome is well worth a visit, as well as the historic Frida Kahlo Art Museum (or Blue House) dedicated to her work. With its numerous world class museums, dramatic art murals, thriving music scene and exploding culinary scene, in Mexico City you will be spoilt for choice.
 
You can also enjoy a boat ride on a colourful 'trajinera' through the canals of Xochimilco, 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.
 
Note: Try and avoid visiting museums on a Sunday, as they are free for locals so very crowded.
Day 4
Today we leave Mexico City and travel 4.5-hours to the art and cultural centre of San Miguel de Allende in the Colonial Highlands.
 
We stop along the way at Santiago de Queretaro, a beautiful colonial city that played an important role during the Mexican War of Independence and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city was founded in 1531 by Franciscan monks at an important crossroads, and four of the most significant events in Mexican history have taken place here. Plans for Mexican independence from Spain were devised here in 1810; the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified here in 1848, ending the Mexican-American War and surrendering 55% of Mexico’s territory to the United States; in 1867 the Austrian Archduke Maximilian was executed on a hill overlooking the city; and the Mexican Constitution was signed here in 1917.
 
The city has a wealth of outstanding 17th and 18th century buildings, including the ochre San Francisco Church and the baroque Church of Santa Rosa de Viterbo. The historic centre has charming stone streets with fountains, lovely colonial mansions, pedestrian walkways (andadores) and quaint plazas that are little changed since colonial days.
 
We continue to San Miguel de Allende, known for its rich traditions in which events and festivals play an important role, as this is a town that has preserved its ancient culture.
Day 5
Today is free to explore on foot the fortified town of San Miguel de Allende with your guide.
 
San Miguel de Allende is a city that manages to be both quaint and cosmopolitan at the same time. 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.
Day 6
Today we leave San Miguel and travel 2-hours to the charming colonial city of Guanajuato.
 
With its many narrow cobbled alleyways and shaded plazas dotted with sidewalk cafes, this former silver mining city is today a UNESCO World Heritage site and widely regarded as the most beautiful colonial city in Mexico.
Day 7
Today enjoy a tour of Guanajuato with its many brightly coloured buildings that tumble down the hillside, leading to lovely plazas and squares, and reflecting the influences of both the Indian and Spanish cultures that created this lovely city.
 
Here we visit the Mummy Museum, where over 100 bodies dug up from the local cemetery were found to be perfectly preserved, due to the large amounts of clay and limestone in the ground.
 
We also visit the home of the late Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican painter married to Frida Kahlo de Riviera, also a well-known portrait painter. Here you will see many works of art, as well as the furniture from their home.
 
Afterwards we take the funicular tram-car up the side of the mountain, for spectacular views over the city, as close up views of the large statue of El Pipila, a hero of the Mexican struggle for independence. In the evening you can dine on typical Mexican cuisine (own account).
Day 8
We leave Guanajuato today and travel 1-hours to Dolores Hidalgo, the cradle of Mexican independence. It was here, at daybreak on 16 September 1810, that the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla famously initiated the call to take up arms against the colonial Spanish.
 
We take a brief tour of this historic centre and visit some of the most significant buildings used during the Mexican War of Independence.
 
After lunch at a typical Mexican restaurant (own account) we continue 1-hour to Mineral de Pozos, a ghost town that has twice been abandoned but is now inhabited by the descendents of former miners, who have restored many of its old houses, plazas and streets. This area has many centuries-old mines and the nearby haciendas evoke the riches of these now-exhausted silver and gold deposits.
 
We visit the 18th-century San Pedro parish church with its spectacular cupola, atrium and austere interior  decorated with period frescos. We also pause at Juarez Garden - a plaza with a beautiful gazebo at its centre and surrounded by restored homes, many of which are now boutique hotels, galleries, craft shops and jewellery stores.
 
After checking into your hotel, you can relax and try a tequila (own account).
Day 9
We depart from Mineral de Poz today and travel 5-hours to Mexico City.
 
Along the way we visit the majestic 18th century Sanctuary of Atotonilco - a church complex known as the "Sistine Chapel of Mexico" with imposing walls, nave, sacristy, over six adjoining chapels and dressing rooms. Decorated with murals, easel paintings, altars and sculptures this majestic shrine has been declared a World Heritage site.
 
Continue to Mexico City, where you will be dropped off at your airport hotel.
Day 10
Make your own way from your airport hotel by courtesy shuttle bus to Mexico City Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Cancun Airport and transferred 1.5-hours to your beach resort on the spectacular Riviera Maya.
 
Check into your hotel and relax on the shores of the Caribbean Sea with its warm turquoise waters, sandy beaches and wonderful snorkelling and diving.
Day 11
Today we recommend driving 3-hours to Chichen Itza (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 El Castillo 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.
Day 12
At leisure to relax at your tropical resort on the spectacular Riviera Maya, lapped by the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
 
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 Xel-Ha waterpark (the largest natural aquarium in the world); zip lining at Xplor 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 Xcaret 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.
Day 13
Transfer 1.5-hours to Cancun Airport for your flight home.

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