3 Weeks in Mexico Itinerary

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During the pandemic, Mexico was 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. Although Mexico is now becoming a bit more expensive, it’s still more affordable than Europe.

It’s hard to deny why many people from all over the world are attracted to visiting Mexico. From romantic spots, outdoor activities, and 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 more suitable trip.


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 Mexico, 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 book up fast, there is a bigger crowd, and the prices are higher, especially during holidays such as Christmas.

The best time to visit Mexico is during its shoulder seasons: April to May and September to October. These periods offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. During the shoulder seasons, you can enjoy a balance of good weather and lighter tourism, making it ideal for exploring Mexico’s beaches, cities, and cultural sites.

Peak season runs from December to March, with sunny days and lots of tourists, especially in coastal areas. The rainy season varies by region but generally occurs from June to September, bringing afternoon showers that cool things down.

Are 3 weeks enough for Mexico

20 days in Mexico is plenty of time, but you still have to be mindful of the places you want to visit. You don’t want to overload your itinerary and plan to see places that are too far from one another or where there are no easy or quick ways to get there.

Cramming your itinerary and getting to super rural areas could mean that you will be spending most of your time in bus terminals and airports. This doesn’t mean that you can’t go off the trail; it just means that you should add 1-2 rural areas to your Mexico travel itinerary.

Plan to see 3-4 major cities and check if there are areas near those places that are less touristy if you want to get away from the usual crowd. When the bus or driving takes more than 6 or 7 hours, it might be best to take a flight if that’s an option.

Average cost for 20 days in Mexico

A good budget for 3 weeks in Mexico is around $1,700. That allows you to spend around $80 a day, which should cover a mid-range hotel, food, tours, and transportation. Of course, you won’t be going on a tour every day. So, on some days, you will be spending less than $80 or more than that.

If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can make this trip at around $1,200 if you stay in hostel dorm rooms, take buses for long-distance trips, and travel on foot around the cities.

Let’s say you’re on a honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary and looking to make your Mexico trip luxurious. In that situation, plan to spend around $2,500 to $5,000, which covers high-end hotels and resorts, using private transfers, taking domestic flights, and booking premium tours.

Keep in mind that these budgets don’t cover your flight to Mexico and back home, plus travel insurance and other travel gear that you need.

What to pack

Your packing list depends 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 of going 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 want to visit sacred or religious spots, 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

Using a local bus will be the cheapest and often the only option to travel between cities. 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. This includes Uber, Didi, Cabify, Bear, and Bolt. 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. Renting a car allows you to travel and have control of your own time and schedule.

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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.

Other travel tips


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


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.

ANOTHER ITINERARY TO CONSIDER: 3 weeks in Ecuador and Colombia

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 is known for being one of the few capital cities that sit 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 need 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 that is 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.

2 images - on the left is a Mariachi Band. On the right is the Aztec architecture at Teotihuacan.

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 at 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 is it the food capital of the country, but it’s also loved for its colonial architecture and pottery.

The fastest way to get from Mexico City to Puebla is by car or bus via the direct highway, taking about 2 to 2.5 hours, and covering a distance of approximately 136 kilometers (about 85 miles). The cheapest way is typically by bus, with several companies operating this route, offering affordable and comfortable travel options,

Buses frequently depart from Mexico City’s eastern bus terminal (TAPO) and other points, making this a convenient and efficient option for travellers looking to explore the historic city of Puebla.

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.

You have to try these Oaxaca traditional dishes during your visit, which should be available at food stalls and restaurants. If you want to visit Zapotec and Mixtec archaeological sites, you definitely have to visit Oaxaca.

The fastest way from Puebla to Oaxaca is by flying, but with limited direct flights, most travellers choose to drive or take a direct bus, taking about 4 to 5 hours to cover the approximately 340 km (about 211 miles).

The cheapest way is typically by bus, with several companies offering routes between these cities, providing a balance between cost and travel time.

2 images - on the left is the cliff of Cenote Chichen Itza. On the right is the dome church in Campeche

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 take 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 before and during colonial times in Mexico. There are a handful of day trips you can take from Merida city centre to its surrounding area.

The fastest way to get from Oaxaca to Mérida is by flying, with the journey taking about 3 to 5 hours, including transfers and wait times at airports.

The cheapest way is by long-distance bus, which is significantly more affordable but can take around 20 to 25 hours due to the distance of approximately 1,300 km(about 808 miles).

What to see and do in Merida

Accommodations in Merida

2 images - on the left is the downtown aerial view of Mexico City. On the right is the Tulum Ruins

Cancun and Playa del Carmen for 5 days

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. If you have never been here, this list of travel tips for Cancun will definitely be helpful.

On the other hand, Playa del Carmen is a smaller town but equally popular and stunning. There are many things to do here other than just lying on the beach and drinking coconut. It is also a turtle nest, which 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 20 days in Mexico. It has so much to offer and is very different from the highland cities of Mexico, Puebla, and Oaxaca. If you have some extra time, you can spend a few days in Tulum as well.

You can get to Cancun from Merida by bus or by car, 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.

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

2 images - on the left is the boat along the shoreline in Playa Del Carmen. On the right i a hat on the sand written "cancun"

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 takes 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


3 images of Mexican dishes - on the left is a basket of three tacos. In the middle is a bowl of pozle. on the right is a bowl or arroz con leche - 3 weeks in Mexico itinerary

Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. So don’t forget to try some during your visit:

  • Tacos al Pastor – Thinly sliced pork marinated in a blend of spices and cooked on a vertical spit, typically served with pineapple, onions, and cilantro on small tortillas.
  • Chiles en Nogada – Poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo (a mixture of meat and fruits), topped with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, representing the colours of the Mexican flag.
  • Mole Poblano – A rich, complex sauce made with over 20 ingredients, including chilli peppers and chocolate, served over chicken or turkey.
  • Ceviche – Fresh seafood cured in citrus juices and spiced with chilli peppers, onions, and cilantro.
  • Tamales – Corn dough stuffed with meats, cheeses, or vegetables, wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.
  • Pozole – A hearty soup made with hominy, meat (usually pork), and garnished with lettuce, radish, onion, lime, and chilli.
  • Enchiladas – Corn tortillas rolled around a filling and covered with a chilli pepper sauce, often garnished with cheese, sour cream, and onions.
  • Carnitas – Slow-cooked pork that’s then fried to achieve a perfect tenderness and crispiness, served with tortillas and salsas.
  • Elote – Grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayonnaise, cheese, chilli powder, and lime, a popular street food.
  • Churros – Fried dough pastries, often sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and served with chocolate sauce for dipping.
  • Flan – A creamy caramel dessert resembling custard, known for its rich flavour and smooth texture.
  • Tres Leches Cake – A moist cake soaked in three types of milk, topped with whipped cream or meringue.
  • Arroz con Leche – A sweet and comforting rice pudding made with cinnamon and raisins.
  • Horchata – A refreshing, sweet beverage made from rice, cinnamon, and vanilla, often served cold.
  • Tequila – Mexico’s famous distilled spirit, made from the blue agave plant, is enjoyed neatly or in cocktails.
  • Mezcal – Similar to tequila but with a smokier flavour, made from various types of agave, and often served with orange slices and chilli powder.


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.


Three weeks in Mexico offers a colorful tapestry of experiences: from the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan to the crystal-clear waters of Cancun, and the vibrant streets of Mexico City. It's a journey through rich culture and stunning landscapes. via @threeweektraveller