Ventanas Mexico

Resources for full- or part-time life in Mexico

Ventanas Mexico provides resources to people considering moving or retiring to Mexico, including a blog, the section It's Cheaper in Mexico, and the books the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," and "If Only I Had a Place' on renting in Mexico.

The Pueblos Magicos of Mexico

 
Bernal, Querétaro

Bernal, Querétaro

You can have have a multitude of Mexican friends and still be unaware of the most obvious places to to see in this vast country. Leave it to my Spanish practice partner in Colima, rather than my friends in Mazatán to tell me about the Pueblos Magicos de Mexico.

Now I can’t get them out of my mind.

Perhaps it's how the very name “Pueblos Magicos” calls forth and capitalizes on the impression of the magic realism made famous by Latin American writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude,”  Laura Esquivel’s  “Like Water for Chocolate,” or Isabel de Allende’s “House of Spirits”  Mexico acknowledges and embraces its magical qualities.

The criteria of selection for the aspirant town is to have preserved its cultural and historical significance over time against the pressures of modernity. A total of 111 locations have received the designation for it's magical qualities of architectural or historical significance.  

Some sites are recognized for natural beauty and target ecotourism, others are known for their legends and local traditions.  Recently 28 new locales were added to the long standing list of 83.

Newest Additions

Real del Monte, Hidalgo

Real del Monte, Hidalgo

San José de Gracia, Aguascalientes

Palenque, Chiapas

Casas Grandes, Chihuahua

Ixtapan de la Sal, State of Mexico

Teotihuarán, State of Mexico

Mascota, Jalisco

Talpa de Allende, Jalisco

Sayulita, Nayarit

Linares Nuevo León

Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca

Mazunte, Oaxaca

Mitla, Oaxaca

Sayulita

Sayulita

Teposcolula, Oaxaca

Atlixco y Huauchinango, Puebla

San Joaquín, Querétaro

Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

Tulum, Quintana Roo

Mocorito, Sinaloa

Tlaxco, Tiaxcalo

Cascomatepec, Veracruz

Orizaba, Veracruz

Zozocolco de Hidalgo, Veracruz

The Pueblos Magicos form an elite club. When a town receives the designation, it receives government funding for improvements such as painting the facades of houses or repairing electrical grids and other infrastructure.  Almost 200 of small towns applied for the designation in the last go around.

Highlights on the Ten Best Pueblos Magicos

Izamal, Yucatan

Izamal, Yucatan

You can assume that  all the Pueblos Magicos share characteristics of having beautiful historic churches and convents, unique local cuisine, rich religious history, geographically specific artisanal wares and architecture reflecting colonial Spanish and Indian cultures. 

Real Del Monte, Hidalgo

The village is an excellent point of departure for the corridor of the Hidalgo Mountains (Corredor de las Montaña), with breathtaking lakes, forests and canyons. Originally established as a mining town, it keeps its mining traditions alive by offerings of elaborate silver, jewelry and other art. Prepare for cold weather here.

Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi

Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi

Tequisquiapan, Querétaro -

People from Mexico City come here for colonial architecture,  the National Cheese and Wine Fair (Feria Nacional de Queso y Vino and water parks (balenarios).

Most popular purchases are baskets and wicker. On week-ends, local legends are re-enacted along with a number of feast and holy days celebrated year-round

Real de Catorce, San Luis de Potosí

A tiny village in the desert known for its spiritual energy, poets and bohemians (The sacred food is peyote) and a stop along the pilgrimage of St. Francis de Assisi who is venerated here as “Panchito.” Also known for its local ghost, Jergas.

Izamal, Yucatan

Izamal is alive with Mayan culture, including a magical light and sound show, “The Light of the Maya,” with its strolling monks, incense, narration in the atrium of the convent is said to be a must, along with Mayan pyramids, plazas and horse-drawn carriage rides taken by everyone.

Tapijulapa, Tabasco

This mining town runs along to the Amatán River and although it has a picturesque church, a casino and plaza, what this Pueblo Magico is known for is Kolen Jaá, a jungle ecological preserve, a “a natural world of magic and adventure,” where you rappel, camp and climb canopies. The preserve also has a hotel.

Valle de Bravo, Pátzcuaro

Valle de Bravo, Pátzcuaro

Valle de Bravo, Pátzcuaro

Known for the Monarch Butterfly Preserve, one of Mexico’s top ecotourism destinations,Valle de Bravo also hosts a massive and most radical rock festival in Mexico’s history (Festival de Rock and Ruedas) and auto racing event in nearby Avandaro. Valle de Bravo's daily life revolves around its lakes and their kayaking, sailing, para-gliding and water skiing opportunties.

Bernál, Querétaro

A more relaxing town that can be fully explored by foot, Bernál is best known by the Peña de Bernál, a massive rock that is the third highest in the world that can be seen from anywhere in the city. The town is also known for its regional vineyards you can explore though it's “ruta de vino,’ including Cavas Freixenet de Mexico and their Spanish sparkling wines.

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

One of the most deeply rooted indigenous areas of Mexico, you can tour the Mayan villages that surround the beautiful city. [wikipedia has a complete travelers' guide]

Taxco de Alarcón, Guerrero

Taxco, Guerrero

Taxco, Guerrero

Best known for its silver and silver work, Mexican sites advise to try to see the view of the city from up high.  Some distance from Taxco de Alarcón are the spectacular Los Pozas Azules, three differently hued pools.

If you are planning a trip to Mexico, Pueblos Magicos exist in each of Mexico’s 31 states, so no matter where you visit, you are likely not more than a few hours from one. Each has its own unique personality.  

The original 83 are

Real de Asientos, Aguascalientes

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur

Palizada, Campeche

Parras de la Fuente, Coahuilar

San Joaquin

San Joaquin

Comala, Colima

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

Creel, Chihuahua

Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato

Taxco, Guerrero

Real del Monte, Hidalgo

Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo

Mazamitla, Jalisco

Tapalpa, Jalisco

Tequila, Jalisco

Malinalco, México

Orizaba

Orizaba

Tepotzotlán, México

Valle de Bravo, México

Cuitzeo, Michoacán

Pátzcuaro, Michoacán

Sta. Clara del Cobre, Michoacán

Tlalpujahua, Michoacan

Tepoztlán, Morelos

Santiago, Nuevo León

Capulálpam de Méndez, Oaxaca

Cuetzalan del Progreso, Puebla

Zacatlán, Puebla

Bernal, Querétaro

Jalpan de Serra, Querétaro

Bacalar, Quintana Roo

Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí

Cosalá, Sinaloa

Jalpan de Serra, Queretaro

Jalpan de Serra, Queretaro

El Fuerte, Sinaloa

Álamos, Sonora

Tapijulapa, Tabasco

Mier, Tamaulipas

Huamantla, Tlaxcala

Coatepec, Veracruz

Izamal, Yucatán

Jeréz de García Salinas, Zacatecas

Teúl de González Ortega, Zacatecas

Mineral del Chico, Hidalgo

Tlayacapan, Morelos

Cadereyta de Montes, Querétaro

Tula, Tamaulipas

El Oro, Estado de México

Tula, Tamaulpipas

Tula, Tamaulpipas

Xico, Veracruz

San Sebastián del Oeste, Jalisco

Xilitla, San Luis Potosí

Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato

Sombrerete, Zacatecas

Mineral de Angangueo, Michoacán

Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila

Magdalena de Kino, Sonora

Pahuatlán, Puebla

Loreto, Baja California Sur

Valladolid, Yucatán

Metepec, Estado de México

Comitán, Chiapas

Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas

Pino, Zacatecas

Pino, Zacatecas

Huichapan, Hidalgo

Tequisquiapan, Querétaro

Batopilas, Chihuahua

Chignahuapan, Puebla

Cholula, Puebla

Pino, Zacatecas

Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco

Tacámbaro, Michoacán

Calvillo, Aguascalientes

Nochistlán, Zacatecas

Jiquilpan, Michoacán

Tlatlauquitepec, Puebla

Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán

Mapimí, Durango

Papantla, Veracruz

Papantla, Veracruz

Papantla, Veracruz

Tecate, Baja California

Arteaga, Coahuila

Viesca, Coahuila

Jalpa, Guanajuato

Salvatierra, Guanajuato

Yuriria, Guanajuato

Xicotepec, Puebla

Jala, Nayarit

El Rosario, Sinaloa

Much of this information has been gleaned from Spanish-language sites. Let me know if you have any corrections or would like to share your story of an experience you had there!

Related Links:

Latin American Authors Everyone Should Know - Huffington Post

Richard Perry's excellent photographic journal on colonial Mexico, Jim and Carole's Mexican Adventure

Coming up:  The wonderful and grossly under-rated power of not giving a shit.

Most recent:  We might die with a whimper but our lives should be a great shout-out. 

Kerry Baker

Kerry Baker

Hola - I am a partner with Ventanas Mexico which provides insight and resources to those considering expat life in Mexico, including "If Only I Had a Place" for aspiring expats seeking to rent in Mexico. 

I am also author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," a curation of the best Spanish language tools on the web.  Check out the review on Amazon. There is no Spanish tool like it.