Mexico’s colonial gems

If you’re looking for more from your Mexican holiday than turquoise seas and white sands then head inland to explore some of the country’s beautiful colonial cities. Not just picture-perfect UNESCO heritage sites, these colourful towns serve up Mexican realness (side note – it’s *possible* that I’ve been watching too much RuPaul’s Drag Race).

Agave in an Oaxacan mezcal bar. Open-air party in Merida’s main streets. Mole poblano, the famous spiced chocolate sauce, in Puebla. Pretty AND fun? Gurrl.

Guanajuato

Wander the cobbled streets of this colourful UNESCO World Heritage site in central Mexico, strikingly set in a narrow valley. The former silver mining city is lively year-round, but really kicks off each October when up to 200,000 visitors from Mexico and around the world flock to attend  international arts festival, the Festival Cervantino.

Oaxaca

Not just a pretty face, this beautiful southern city is also home to a revered regional cuisine and boasts one of the best Dia de Los Muertos festivals in Mexico. Soak up the cafe culture with a spot of people-watching on a picturesque square by day, and then spend your evening hopping between charming bars to sample mezcal, the ancient, agave-based spirit that’s handcrafted in Oaxacan villages.

Puebla

Puebla, Mexico

Photo by Russ Bowling via FLickr

Just over 100 kilometres outside of Mexico City, Puebla is the self-proclaimed home of Mexico’s best street food and the famous mole sauce. In between putting those claims to the test, take a digestive stroll around the historical centre, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which is home to an astounding number of churches and tiled colonial buildings.

Merida

Head inland on the Yucatán peninsula, away from the white sand beaches and the spring breakers, to explore of the largest historic centres outside of Mexico City. Time your visit with the weekend; in the evenings, the main streets are closed to traffic and the city becomes an open-air party with music and street vendors.

San Miguel de Allende

Arguably Mexico’s prettiest city, San Miguel de Allende has long drawn in expats with its laidback charms. While away your days in eclectic shops, like art and design centre Fabrica La Aurora, and then settle in to watch the impressive sunset from one of the city’s many rooftop bars.

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