3 Weeks in Mexico Itinerary

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During the pandemic, Mexico is one of the very few countries in the world that didn’t close its borders. This leads to a lot of people finding themselves planning a trip there. Mexico is a paradise for beach lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and of course, foodies. It’s also a popular honeymoon destination for many visitors coming from North America and Europe.

Spending 3 weeks in Mexico is an easy task. There are many places to go where your budget can go far and enjoy luxury and comfort. Even travelling with young children, Mexico can be a fantastic destination to spend your annual vacation. For backpackers, Mexico is one of the best places to explore in Latin America. It’s now also getting popular with digital nomads or remote workers.

It’s hard to deny why many people from all over the world are attracted to visiting Mexico. From romantic spots, outdoor activities, delicious local dishes, to interesting history – Mexico has it all. In this article, I will show you a sample of an itinerary for 3 weeks in Mexico. You don’t have to follow it through, but it will help you plan and visualise a trip that is more suitable for you.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO MEXICO

4 images - mexican guys with mariachi instruments, beach in cancun, aerial view of mexico city, teotihuacan pyramid 3-weeks in mexico itinerary

To help you with visualising your trip to Mexico, below are some basic yet important things to remember when travelling there. These tips include when you should go to Mexi, what to bring, getting around, and travel documents to prepare.

If this is your first time in Mexico, perhaps these books about Mexico will help you understand and have a visual idea of the country. These books are also suitable for children and some even come with very cool drawings that describe Mexico very well.

When is the best time to go to Mexico

The most ideal time to visit Mexico is during its dry season which is from November until March. It’s less likely that it will rain but it also means that it’s the peak season. Hotels booked up fast, there is a bigger crowd, and the prices are higher especially during holidays such as Christmas.

Personally, I think November is the best time to travel to Mexico, the climate is cool, there’s less rain, and it’s before the high season hits. January is also a good month, but it can be cold for some people.

What to pack

Your packing list depended on the activities you plan to do while spending 3 weeks in Mexico. If you plan to spend time on the beach, don’t forget your swimsuit, we have a packing list for a beach vacation. But if you are also thinking to go hiking, it’s vital to bring proper clothing as the hiking trails can be challenging at times.

Pack proper hiking shoes and clothing. At the same time, if you know that you want to visit sacred or religious spots, ensure to pack clothing that will cover your shoulders and legs. It’s also vital to bring medicines and other items that might be hard to find in Mexico. Check out our article on what to pack for a 3-week trip.

How to get around

To travel between cities, using a local bus will be the cheapest and often the only option. There are also buses that go on long-distance travel between provinces (called camiones). However, if you are short on time or don’t feel like you can survive overnight buses, it’s best to take a domestic flight especially if the land travel is longer than 6-hours.

You can use ride-hailing apps in major cities. And finally, if you have a driver’s license (from any country), you can drive in Mexico without converting or translating your license to a local one. This is the easiest way to travel around Mexico, plus you get to control your own time, leave when you want, and go when you feel like it.

RELATED POST: 3 weeks in Peru and 3 weeks in Colombia

Visa and COVID-19 protocol

People who wish to visit Mexico with passports from nearly anywhere in the Americas, most of Europe, some East and South East Asia, and most of Oceania are free to enter without a visa for up to 180 days. If your nationality is not on this list, you will have to coordinate with the nearest Mexican Embassy or Consulate to apply for a visa.

As I mentioned above, Mexico never shut down their border and restricted any flights to high-risk areas. As of writing this (June 2022), vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists can enter Mexico. The government also does not require testing upon entry, however, airlines might require you to wear a mask and/or present a COVID-19 test before boarding.

Other travel tips

MUST-SEE PLACES IN MEXICO (pinned map)

Click the enlarge button on the top right corner. Credit: map data: Google

3 WEEKS IN MEXICO ITINERARY

Below is a sample travel itinerary if you plan to explore Mexico for 3 weeks or about 20 days. This itinerary will take you to visit popular spots, go to stunning beaches, and explore the country’s less travelled path.

Mexico City for 3 days

Mexico City, also called CDMX, is the capital of Mexico and it has about 9 million residents. It is situated southeast of the country and known for being one of few capital cities sitting at a high altitude. It’s popular for Templo Mayor (13th-century Aztec Temple), delicious local dishes, friendly people, and lively culture.

3-days in this city is plenty. If you are coming all the way from Europe, Asia, Oceania, and even Africa, three days here will allow you to catch up on sleep, compose your thoughts, and buy items that you will be needing during your entire trip. This includes a local sim card with data, renting a car, and booking domestic flights and tours that you wish to join.

The easiest way to explore Mexico City if you don’t want to rent a car is to buy a hop-on hop-off bus ticket valid for a day. The bus will stop at a specific popular tourist spot where you can get on and off the bus. You can also make your arrival at the very busy Mexico City airport less chaotic by booking a private airport service.

What to see and do in Mexico City

Accommodations in Mexico City

Puebla for 2 days

For food lovers, you have to visit Puebla. It is located about a 2-hour drive east of Mexico City. Since it’s not that far, some people prefer to take a day trip from Mexico City instead, in this way, you can use the extra time on a different destination or add it to a different city.

But before you do that, you should really take a look at Puebla first. It’s a very lively city with colourful buildings and locals who love to dance. Not only it’s the food capital of the country but it’s also loved for its colonial architecture and pottery.

What to see and do in Puebla

Accommodations in Puebla

Oaxaca for 3 days

It takes just a bit over 4-hours to get from Puebla to Oaxaca. The entire drive will take you to little villages and showcase how the atmosphere changes as leave the high altitude and go towards the beach. Oaxaca is still about 1,500m high from sea level and provides a really cool climate.

It’s also popular for very cheerful and diverse local markets. They sell food, handicrafts, souvenirs, and so much more – most products are produced all over Mexico. If you want to visit Zapotex and Mixtec archaeological sites, you definitely have t visit Oaxaca.

What to see and do in Oaxaca

Accommodations in Oaxaca

Merida for 3 days

3 weeks in Mexico is not complete without visiting the Yucatan region. To get to Merida from Oaxaca, you have to a bit over an hour and a half direct flight. Merida is a less-known destination in Mexico, making it a great spot to simply relax and process everything you did and have seen in the last 7 days.

Merida is an interesting place to visit during your 3 weeks in Mexico vacation. It’s rich in Mayan and colonial heritage, which means that it’s an incredible spot to learn the history pre and during colonial times in Mexico. There are a handful of day trips you can take from Merida city centre to its surrounding area.

What to see and do in Merida

Accommodations in Merida

Cancun and Playa del Carmen for 5 days

You can get to Cancun from Merida via bus or driving which takes about 4 hours. Playa del Carmen is only an hour away from Cancun. I recommend you choose between staying in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and taking a day trip to other parts of the region.

Cancun is one of the most popular beach destinations in Mexico. Visitors are mostly from the US but there are also Europeans and even tourists all the way from Asia. Cancun’s beaches are beautiful. It’s covered in fine white sand, crystal clear blue water, and lots of spots to go snorkel.

On the other hand, Playa del Carmen is a smaller town, but equally popular and stunning. There are a lot of things to do here than just laying on the beach and drinking coconut. It is also a turtle nest, this means that if the season is right, you’ll have an easy time spotting them.

You definitely have to include Cancun and Playa del Carmen in your 21-days in Mexico. It has so much to offer and is very different from the highland cities of Mexico, Puebla, and Oaxaca.

What to see and do in Cancun

What to see and do in Playa del Carmen

  • Swim with sea turtles
  • Try parasailing
  • Check out Rio Secreto’s Caves
  • Boat trip to Cozumel
  • Walk around 5th Avenue

Accommodations in Cancun

Accommodations in Playa del Carmen

Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta for 3 days

You can take a flight from Cancun to Guadalajara. Remember to book an airport pick-up in Cancun to make sure you don’t miss your flight.

When travellers decide which “big city” to visit in Mexico, they are often divided between Mexico City and Guadalajara. If you are visiting Mexico for three weeks, you have plenty of time to visit both.

After sunbathing the last 5 days, let’s head back to the valley, Guadalajara stands at 1,566 m above sea level. It is popular for tequila and mariachi music. Guadalajara is also known for its local food; from cheesy tacos to birria, there is something for everyone. Not to mention that these local and mouthwatering food are very affordable.

On the other hand, Puerto Vallarta has become one of the new and favourite beach towns for tourists and even digital nomads. It’s more affordable, the beach is to die for, try surfing, and discover the diverse marine life of this region – there’s no reason not to visit.

The beach is always a great spot to end your trip. Here, you can relax, buy some souvenirs, and enjoy the last few days of your well-deserved vacation. You can reach Puerto Vallarta by taking a 4.5-hour drive or taking the train which is about 6 hours.

What to see and do in Guadalajara

  • Walk around Guadalajara Cathedral and Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan
  • Lake Chapala – combine with Ajijic tour
  • Check out Glorieta de los Niños Héreos and Centro Cultural El Refugio
  • Explore downtown Guadalajara – join a guided tour
  • Eat Tortas Ahogadas
  • Visit Guachimontones Pyramids – enjoy a full-day tour
  • Enjoy Mariachi Bands
  • Visit a mining location of Opal – Magdalena Opal tour
  • Buy souveneirs at Tlaquepaque

Tasting Tequila

When it comes to tequila, Guadalajara is the best. Well, kind of. Tequila is a town north of Guadalajara. It is popular for the production of the spirit “tequila”. On the foot of Tequila Volcano, you will find fields of blue agave, which is the main ingredient of the spirit. You can learn more about Tequila by joining a guided tour.

There are many tequila tours you can book from affordable to premium. There is an affordable full-day tequila tour, you can also book a premium version. For something unique, you can explore Tequila, do some tasting, and go horseback riding. All these tours include a pick-up from your hotel, food, a knowledgeable local guide, and a visit to various distilleries.

What to see and do in Puerto Vallarta

  • Lie on the beach of Playa De Los Muertos, Tranquila Beach, Sayulita, and Las Glorias
  • Explore Islas Marietas National Park and Hidden Beach – enjoy it on a luxury yacht or fun boat tour
  • Hike the Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz
  • Go on an adventure – ride an ATV on Jorullo Bridge, go zip lining with a canopy tour
  • Sign up for a food tour and mixology tour
  • Try sky diving
  • Enjoy a candlelight dinner show and cruise – check the price
  • Visit Vallarta Botanical Gardens
  • Get yourself a hop-on hop-off bus ticket

Accommodations in Guadalajara

Accommodations in Puerto Vallarta

SUMMARY OF 3 WEEKS IN MEXICO ITINERARY

Mexico is a wonderful destination to spend your 3-week vacation. It offers a lot of activities from hiking, trying out different food, learning about Mayan culture, and of course enjoying its amazing beaches. You will not have a hard time finding things to do here. I hope that you found this 3 weeks in Mexico itinerary helpful in creating your own travel plan.

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Unsure where to go in Mexico? Here's an itinerary for Mexico if you plan to spend 15-20 days there highlight the best places to visit in Mexico. via @threeweektraveller

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