Bear with me, because I’m about to get pretentious about one of my favourite destinations. If Mexico isn’t on your list to travel, well I’m sorry, but I’m quite confident you haven’t fully appreciated all it has to offer – especially for solo travellers.
I didn’t always have this progressive perspective on Mexico travel. As a Canadian, I used to view a trip to Mexico exclusively as an all-inclusive resort stay with a day trip to Chichen Itza. So if you were to tell me a year ago that I’d be spending nearly two weeks on a solo trip that’d take me to Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla and Mazunte, I’d think you’d have me confused for someone else.
But luckily for me, this trip would end up being one of my all-time favourites.
Mexico truly has something for every traveller: an unparalleled cuisine for foodies, one of the best museums in the world for history buffs (Museo Nacional de Antropología) and incredible natural beauty for nature lovers. And for solo travellers, it offers even more added benefits. I experienced them myself during both my independent travels and time on Intrepid’s 9-day Mexico Real Food Adventure tour.
Here are a few reasons why Mexico is the perfect solo travel destination.
There’s a diverse range of offerings
As a solo traveller with a limited time and budget, I love doing trips where I can tick a couple boxes. It’s why I opt for places where I can satisfy my hyperactive need for food, nature, history and culture stimulation, all at once. For all my fellow multi-purpose travellers, Mexico might as well be our mecca. Delicious cuisine? Check. A fascinating history? You got it. Unparalleled natural beauty? Uh, duh! Mexico is blessed with diverse natural landscapes, including the Sierra Madre mountains to arid stretches dotted with agave (a.k.a. tequila and mezcal territory).
Every day of my trip was jammed-packed with bucket list-worthy moments. Heck, in a 24-hour stretch in Mexico City alone, I got serenaded by a Mariachi band, ate some of the city’s best tacos and visited the famous Teotihuacan pyramids on Urban Adventures’ Beyond Mexico City: Hidden Teotihuacan & Family Dinner tour.
You’ll feel welcomed
If there’s one thing I’ve learned travelling, it’s that the local people want you there. I mean, as long as you’re actually positively benefitting their country, that is. And Mexico is no exception to this. Wherever I went, I could feel this sense of genuine hospitality – from the kind woman at a Mexico City taqueria who patiently helped me order tacos as I blubbered through broken Spanish, to the lovely family of obsidian makers that helped me find the perfect necklace.
I can’t speak on behalf of Mexico’s busy beach towns and all-inclusives, but everywhere I went I felt welcomed. There was even a moment in Oaxaca City where one of the many recurring street parties was breaking out, and I was welcomed in to crash the festivities (with shots of mezcal, of course).
Enjoy a rising number of travel options
Gone are the days where tourists flock to Mexico exclusively for spring breaks and stretches of beaches. More travellers are heading to Mexico to experience the real Mexico. In fact, one of my coworkers recently spent three months backpacking through Mexico with friends. It was him that told me about his adventures, and I’m so glad I let these anecdotal tales convince me to go.
After travelling a few days solo and then on my Mexico Real Food Adventure tour, I fell deeply in love with the country. The days solo I stayed in a hostel, which was great (other than they were loudly filming a Mexican soap opera at night during my stay, but that’s another story). But the tour part of my trip was a real highlight.
My local leader, Balam, showed us the ins and outs of Mexico’s delicious food scene, the group was absolutely wonderful and it was so nice having the logistics planned for me.
It’s easy to get to
We’ve all been there: the long-haul journey of three different connecting flights (*shivers*). Not ideal. While Mexico is definitely a big trip for those living far away, it’s still a pretty easy place to get to thanks to Mexico City’s prime location and well-connected international airport.
For Londoners, you can get to Mexico City with just one stop in Atlanta, Amsterdam or Paris. Aussies coming from Sydney can get to Mexico City with one stop in either Houston or Los Angeles. And for us lucky North Americans, it’s a cakewalk. My flight to Mexico City from Toronto was a laughable 5-hour direct flight – about the same time (and price) it takes me to get to my parents in Calgary.
It’s really the coolest
Call it ignorance, but before going to Mexico, I didn’t realize how ridiculously cool Mexico actually is. I knew about the eternal awesomeness of Frida Kahlo, the epic taco scene and the catchy tunes of Mariachi. But Mexico is so packed with other underrated gems that you can spend a lifetime uncovering them all.
Let’s start where it all began: Mesoamerica. Did you know there are ruins of an Aztec pyramid right in the centre of Mexico City? Yeah, I hadn’t either (it’s called Templo Mayor if you want to Google it).
You might even find the ancient civilizations of Mexico – Aztecs, Zapotecs and Mayas – so interesting that you’ll spend seven hours in the National Museum of Anthropology like I did.
And if modern society is more your thing, fear not. You can enjoy Oaxaca City’s blossoming craft beer scene, catch a Lucha Libre show in Puebla and visit the creepy Island of the Dolls instead.
Want to travel Mexico with fellow solo travellers? Check out our 9-day Mexico Real Food Adventure – for Solo Travellers tour.
Not a solo traveller? Check out our range of other amazing Mexico tours.
(Image of locals in Teotihuacan c/o Lucy Piper for Intrepid Travel, all other images taken by Libby Shabada)