|Destination:||Caribbean and Central America|
The history of Mexico is one that spans over three millennia, with a complex system of civilisations dominating the land for more than 13,000 years prior to Spanish colonisation in the 16th century. This 12-day Central Mexico adventure will take you to a place where history and modern life collide, a place where Aztec temple ruins sit side by side with bustling suburbia, and a place where art, music and traditional culture interweave seamlessly. Explore ruins at Teotihuacan and Tzintzuntzan, discover life in San Miguel de Allende as you travel the countryside, taste traditional sweets in Morelia and visit cathedrals and historical sizes of various colours, shapes and histories. Your Central Mexico tour will take you past the tourists and directly to the heartland of this fascinating country.
Day 1 Mexico City
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Mexico. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your group leader and travel group. Modern meets ancient in Mexico City one of the world’s largest urban centres. Although crowded, Mexicos capital offers a great variety of impressive museums, galleries and architecture, along with exciting nightlife and delicious street food. Head to the Zocalo, the city’s central square, to see Aztec ruins and colonial architecture, relax in one of the many parks, plazas and gardens or, better yet, take an Urban Adventure tour with an expert local guide. Find out more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Mexico-City-tours.
Day 2 Mexico City
Enjoy a leader-led city tour taking in some of the most historic sights of the city, including a visit to the Zocalo in the centre of the city, as well as Templo Mayor, the Government Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral. Afterwards, the rest of your day is free. If art is your thing, head to the Frida Kahlo museum in the Colonia del Carmen neighbourhood. If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. Speak to your group leader for more recommendations in and around this bustling metropolis. In the evening, explore Mexico’s exciting night life, learn some dance moves from the locals and party the night away to the sounds of a mariachi band.
Day 3 Teotihuacan Ruins / Queretaro
Travel from Mexico City by private vehicle for a guided tour of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, and on the way, learn some Spanish lingo with an informal language class with your group leader. Located 50 kilometres north-east of Mexico City are the archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan. This was once the country’s biggest ancient city and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. With the help of a local guide we have time to stroll down The Avenue of the Dead, uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly 2000 years ago. Continue on to Queretaro (approximately 3.5 hours), where the bustling city streets give way to a pretty scene of plazas and museums. On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the city. Queretaro’s downtown area was named a World Heritage site in 1996 and the town has been at the centre of several important events in Mexican history. This was where the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was ratified in 1848, ending the Mexican-American War and ceding a large amount of territory to the USA. Queretaro was also where Austria’s Archduke Maximilian was executed in 1867, and the city where the Mexican Constitution was signed in 1917.
Day 4 Queretaro
Spend a free day exploring the pedestrian streets, plazas, churches and museums of Queretaro, or alternatively, head out on a day tour along the wine and cheese route. Several wineries and cheese farms allow visitors and let you see the different stages of production, as well as sample different varieties of their produce. Another option is to take a trip to Pena de Bernal: an imposing rock formation, considered to be the world’s third largest monolith after Gibraltar and Brazil’s Sugar Loaf. The village at the foot of the rock is a charming town with cobblestone streets and colourful houses as well as artisan stalls selling wool blankets and ponchos, quinces, guavas and peanut candy.
Day 5 San Miguel de Allende
Today, journey to the historic San Miguel de Allende (approximately 1.5 hours). On arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation tour of this colonial town and will also take you inside the San Felipe Neri and La Parroquia churches, as well as the Independence Museum, to learn about the town’s role in the Mexican War of Independence. Spend some free time strolling the streets, visiting one the numerous galleries, and admiring the architecture, understanding why the city received World Heritage status in 2008.
Day 6 Guanajuato
Take a 2-hour drive to the colourful streets of Guanajuato. Today you leader will take you on a walking tour of the city to get you acquainted with its mansions and tree-filled plazas. The historic heart of the city has a very European feel with sidewalk cafes, museums, theatres, markets and monuments of mostly neoclassical and baroque architecture. This afternoon, why not visit the Alhondiga de Granaditas (Regional Museum of Guanajuato): a museum which was originally a grain storehouse, then a fortress, and the site of the first major rebel victory in Mexico’s War of Independence. Today it showcases the history and art of the region. Especially impressive are Jose Chavez Morado’s murals on the staircases.
Day 7 Guanajuato
Spend a free day strolling around the historic downtown and the colourful houses of Guanajuato. Alternatively, you could discover the city’s silver mining history at La Valenciana mine. Silver was first discovered in Guanajuato in the 1600s and La Valencia subsequently became one of the richest and most productive silver mines in the world. You can see an example of the wealth generated from the mine at the nearby church. You may also like to visit the Museo de las Momias (Mummy Museum). Many mummified bodies have been found in the ravines around Guanajuato, due to the soil and weather conditions that prevail in the area. The mummies date from the mid-1800s up until the 1950s and the museum has over 100 in its collection. Guanajuato was also the birthplace of Diego Rivera, and his childhood home has now been converted into a museum, with the ground floor a reconstruction of how the home may have looked during Rivera’s time, and the upper floors containing exhibitions of his art and sketches.
Day 8 Patzcuaro
Drive 4 hours south to Patzcuaro. Discover this city’s pretty streets and impressive churches on an orientation walk with your group leader. Later in the afternoon, take a boat trip out to Janitzio Island. The boat takes about 20 minutes out to this popular island, famous for its fishermen using butterfly nets, and the dominating statue of Jose Maria Morelos: a hero of Mexico’s independence.
Day 9 Tzintzuntzan Ruins / Morelia
Visit the World Heritage-listed stone ruins of Tzintzuntzan en route to Morelia (approximately 1.5 hours). These ruins were part of the Tarascan empire up until the conquest by the Spanish in the 1520s. The site that remains today was part of the ceremonial centre and contains a large plaza and five circular pyramids which are iconic to the region. On arrival in Morelia, your next stop, the group leader will take you on a walk through the city to get your bearings. You will also have time to visit the pink-stone cathedral, which houses one of the largest organs in Latin America.
Day 10 Morelia
Morelia is a great place to just walk around and take in the atmosphere, as well as being a photographer’s dream. The historic town has been used in many movies and advertisements, and is a popular place for wedding and family photographs. One of the most impressive sights is the aqueduct that crosses the city, supported by 253 baroque-style arches. The music conservatory, housed in a former convent, is also well worth a look, as are taquerias dotted throughout the city. To satisfy a sweet tooth, Morelia also boasts the Mercado de Dulces, or Candy Market, with hundreds of sugary treats, as well as crafts and sweet liquors on offer.
Day 11 Mexico City
Return to Mexico City, perhaps with a stop to visit the breathtaking El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve on the way (season depending). It’s home to millions of these colourful beings from December to March each year, so your group leader will be able to decide if its a good time to visit. Outside of these months, return directly to Mexico City, and spend some more time scratching the surface of this vibrant hub. Say salud to your group with dinner at a local taqueria tonight your leader will know a great spot to eat.
Day 12 Mexico City
With no activities planned for today, you are welcome to leave at any time. If you wish to spend more time in Mexico City, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).