12 Must-Visit Destinations in Mexico for a Winter Vacation

Things to do in Mexico City – A World to Travel-147

Are you looking for a warm escape from the cold winter weather?

Mexico is the perfect destination for a winter vacation, offering warm weather, stunning beaches, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and plenty of activities to keep you entertained.

Plus, if you’re from the United States or Canada, flights to Mexico are quick and affordable.

Here are 12 must-visit destinations in Mexico for a winter vacation whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure.

Read on to discover the best winter vacation spots in Mexico!

Best Destinations in Mexico for a Winter Vacation

Whether you’re looking for beaches, mountains, colonial towns, or lively cities, Mexico has it all. That said, in most areas, the winter weather is warm and sunny, making it the perfect escape from the cold. So much so that it has been growing in popularity, with many air travel companies offering a reduction in private jet prices and opening the doors to a vast display of wonders.

Here are the top destinations in Mexico for a winter getaway:

1. Cancun

Located on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Cancun is the quintessential Mexico beach destination, known for its stunning turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and lively party scene. But there’s more to this popular vacation spot than just its world-famous spring break parties.

In Cancun, you can explore ancient Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza (a UNESCO World Heritage site), shop at upscale malls or traditional markets, or simply relax on the beach with a margarita in hand. And there’s no shortage of activities, from snorkeling and scuba diving to zip lining through the jungle.

Cancun also offers a variety of all-inclusive resorts, making it easy to plan a stress-free vacation.  All meals, drinks, and resort activities are often included in the price, leaving you with nothing to worry about except enjoying your vacation.

2. Riviera Maya

Just south of Cancun, Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a stretch of Caribbean coastline and is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and eco-adventures.

In Riviera Maya, visitors can explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, swim in cenotes (natural sinkholes filled with crystal clear water), or snorkel with sea turtles in Akumal Bay. 

Plus, the region’s numerous adventure parks offer ziplining adventures, ATV experiences, and a variety of adrenaline-pumping activities.

The Riviera Maya also offers a variety of luxury all-inclusive resorts including posh overwater bungalows and beachfront suites.  Guests can also enjoy expansive pools with swim-up bars, pampering spas, and world-class restaurants.

3. Puerto Vallarta

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is a beach town that offers a stunning coastline and charming old-town atmosphere.

Spend your days lounging on Puerto Vallarta’s golden sand beaches or take a boat ride to the nearby Marietas Islands, where you can spot wildlife like whales, dolphins, and sea turtles, and explore hidden caves.

Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets of Puerto Vallarta’s old town and browse colorful markets selling traditional Mexican handicrafts and artwork. 

And don’t miss the chance to sample Mexico’s delicious cuisine, from fresh seafood to traditional favorites like tacos and enchiladas.

4. Los Cabos

Located at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, Los Cabos offers both beautiful beaches and desert landscapes. Los Cabos is made up of two towns, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, each offering a unique vibe.

Cabo San Lucas is known for its lively nightlife, upscale restaurants, and luxury resorts. San Jose del Cabo offers a more laid-back atmosphere with traditional Mexican charm, art galleries, and relaxing beachfront resorts like Cabo Azul.

In Los Cabos, visitors can enjoy world-class golf courses, deep-sea fishing, whale-watching tours, and other adventure activities. Although some of the beaches are not swimmable due to strong currents, the destination still offers plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun on beach loungers or poolside at your resort.

And don’t miss a boat ride to see Cabo’s most famous attraction, “El Arco”, a towering rock formation at the southernmost tip of Mexico. Here, you can also visit Lover’s Beach, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez.

5. Playa del Carmen

Located just 1 hour south of Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a bit more relaxed and laid-back than its northern neighbor and offers an affordable winter escape. There’s plenty to do with its stunning beaches, nearby archeological sites, and many freshwater cenotes.

Playa del Carmen is known for its vibrant nightlife and upbeat beach clubs, as well as its shops, restaurants, and bars along 5th Avenue. This pedestrian-only street is the most happening part of town and offers a variety of dining options, from traditional Mexican cuisine to international fare.

There are many different kinds of accommodation options in Playa del Carmen to fit any budget.  You can stay in one of Playa del Carmen’s all-inclusive resorts or rent a beachfront condo for a more intimate vacation experience. And you’ll be within easy walking distance to the town’s beaches and attractions.

6. Tulum

If you’re looking for an alternative to the bustling beach scene of Cancun, head to Tulum. This smaller resort town has a hippie-chic vibe, drawing in yoga enthusiasts and eco-conscious travelers.

Visit the famous Mayan ruins of Tulum, perched on top of a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.

In addition to its ruins and stunning beaches, Tulum is also known for its cenotes–natural sinkholes filled with crystal-clear water. Cool off with a refreshing swim or go snorkeling to spot underwater cave formations.

And for a unique experience, stay at one of Tulum’s beachfront hotels made from sustainable materials and offering yoga classes and holistic spa treatments.

While a winter vacation to Tulum won’t come cheap, the destination offers a more upscale and relaxing atmosphere with a focus on wellness.

7. Cozumel

Just off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is Mexico’s largest Caribbean island known for its stunning coral reefs. It’s a popular destination for scuba diving and snorkeling, with many dive shops offering trips to explore the colorful reefs and dive sites around the island.

Aside from excellent snorkeling and diving, Cozumel offers plenty of other water sports and activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and deep-sea fishing.

On land, explore the island’s shops and restaurants in its main town, San Miguel de Cozumel. And don’t miss a visit to the San Gervasio Mayan ruins, once a pilgrimage site for Mayan women.

Accommodation on Cozumel ranges from budget-friendly hotels to luxury all-inclusive resorts. And with direct ferry access from Playa del Carmen, it’s easy to visit Cozumel for a day trip or add it onto a Mexico winter vacation itinerary.

8. Mexico City

Mexico’s bustling capital may not immediately come to mind as a winter vacation destination, but the city offers plenty of cultural and historical attractions, as well as a lively food scene

Visit Mexico City’s main attractions like the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan and the National Anthropology Museum, or explore the city’s colonial-era buildings like the magnificent Palacio de Bellas Artes. And don’t miss out on Mexico City’s famous street food, from tacos and quesadillas to tlacoyos and elote.

Stay in the trendy Roma or Condesa neighborhoods, filled with colorful street art, hip bars and cafes, and boutique shops. While it won’t be as warm as Mexico’s beach destinations, the temperatures in Mexico City are still comfortable and mild in the winter months. Plus there are lots of interesting day trips from Mexico city to keep you entertained.

9. Holbox Island

Located off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Holbox is an island offering a remote and tranquil winter escape. The island is known for its stunning beaches and calm turquoise waters, as well as its diverse wildlife–including flamingos and whale sharks.

Relax on the beach, take boat tours to spot these amazing animals in their natural habitat, or even view the bioluminescence that lights up the waters around Holbox at night.

Holbox Island has a very laid-back atmosphere, with small boutique hotels and restaurants lining the beachfront. There are no cars on the island so you’ll have to explore by bike or golf cart.

And while the island may not have the most stable infrastructure, it’s one of Mexico’s most stunning beach destinations and the perfect place to relax and unwind on a Mexico winter vacation.

10. Isla Mujeres

Located just a short ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres offers a tropical island escape from the busy tourist scene.

Relax on the island’s tranquil beaches or take a catamaran sail or boat tour to explore its clear turquoise waters or underwater sculpture museum. 

You can also visit the Mayan ruins of Ixchel at the island’s southernmost point or explore the island’s colorful streets, filled with local shops and restaurants.

Stay in one of the island’s beachfront hotels or rent a villa for a more intimate vacation experience with stunning ocean views. And don’t miss out on visiting the spectacular Playa Norte, considered one of Mexico’s best beaches.

11. San Miguel de Allende

If you’re looking for a charming small town in Mexico with colonial architecture, an artsy atmosphere, and fantastic food, then look no further than San Miguel de Allende.

Nestled in Mexico’s central highlands, San Miguel de Allende offers colorful cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and stunning mountain views.

Explore the town’s many art galleries or take a cooking class to learn about Mexico’s delicious cuisine. And don’t miss a visit to the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the stunning pink church that dominates the town’s main plaza.

Stay in one of the town’s beautiful colonial-style hotels or book a trendy Mexican-style vacation rental.  The weather in San Miguel de Allende in winter is cool with mild temperatures, perfect for exploring the town’s charming streets and attractions.

12. Sayulita

Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast just north of Puerto Vallarta, the small beach town of Sayulita offers a laid-back atmosphere, stunning beaches, and excellent surfing.

Relax on Sayulita’s picturesque beach or take surf lessons at one of the many surf schools in town. Explore the colorful streets lined with boutiques, art galleries, and delicious restaurants.

Stay in one of Sayulita’s charming beachfront hotels or rent a villa for a more private vacation experience.

Visiting Mexico in Winter: FAQs

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting Mexico in winter:

Is winter a good time to visit Mexico?

Winter is a great time to visit Mexico, as it is typically dry and mild with the least amount of humidity. Beach destinations on Mexico’s Caribbean coast will be warm and sunny with comfortable water temperatures all year round.

Mexico’s winter temperatures on the Pacific coast will be slightly cooler with colder water, but it’s still a great time to visit as there will be plenty of sun.

Central Mexico destinations like Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende will have cool but comfortable weather in winter, perfect for exploring the cities’ attractions and cultural offerings.

Where is the best place to spend winter in Mexico?

Mexico’s Caribbean coast will typically have the warmest temperatures during winter. However, the best places to spend winter will depend on your preferences. In fact, you might be surprised that it does snow in Mexico!

Mexico has a diverse range of destinations, from bustling beach towns to vibrant cities to charming colonial towns.

Consider what kind of vacation you want – relaxation, adventure, or culture – and choose a destination accordingly.

Is Mexico a good place to visit in December?

Yes, Mexico is a great place to visit in December.  The weather will be mild and dry, making it a great time for outdoor activities and beach vacations.

The warmest place in Mexico in December will typically be on the Caribbean coast, although Mexico’s Pacific coast will also be warm and sunny.

December is also the peak season for many tourist destinations in Mexico, offering a wide range of holiday events and activities for Christmas and the New Year.  Be sure to book accommodations in advance as they can fill up quickly during this busy time of year.

Can you go to the beach in Mexico in January?

Yes, Mexico has many beach destinations that are enjoyable in January. Mexico’s Caribbean coast will have the warmest water temperatures during this time, making it a great time for swimming and water activities.

Keep in mind that some areas may be cooler during this time of year, so consider bringing a jacket or light sweater for cooler evenings.

Conclusion: Mexico Winter Vacation Destinations

Overall, Mexico offers a variety of top winter destinations–from beach towns to charming colonial cities to small surf retreats.

Consider which type of vacation you’re looking for and choose the best destination for you–whether it’s the warm Caribbean beaches, cultural attractions of Mexico City, or laid-back atmosphere of Sayulita.

And don’t forget to book accommodations in advance as Mexico’s top destinations can fill up quickly during the winter season. No matter which destination you choose, Mexico is sure to offer a memorable and enjoyable winter vacation.

Allison Sicking is a travel blogger with a passion for Spanish and a love of Latin American travel. She created the travel blog Viva La Travelista after moving to Playa del Carmen, Mexico to empowering others to travel safely and confidently in Spanish-speaking countries. Follow her blog to find out how to travel Mexico like a local with her insider travel tips!