It’s no secret that Cancun is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Hotel prices, as well as occupancy rates, are continually increasing as the high season approaches, and Cancun is also expected to break tourism records this winter.
That being said, you might be looking for a different type of Mexican Caribbean vacation this winter. If you’re longing to get away from the crowds and travel chaos, these beautiful magic towns are within driving distance of the Cancun airport.
Just FYI, magic towns are also known as Mexico’s pueblo magicos, which are towns across the nation that have been officially recognized to offer unique experiences to visitors, from culture to food to beauty and more.
Bacalar is a bit further than Cancun than the other magic towns on our list, but the drive will definitely be worth it. Head down the highway towards the Belize border before Chetumal, and you’ll hit Bacalar, a historic beach town home to the Lake of the Seven Colors. This stunning lagoon is Bacalar’s claim to fame, and travelers can’t get enough.
When not exploring the clear waters of the lagoon by boat tour, you can wander the town center, support the local vendors by buying handmade jewelry and local honey at the weekend market, and unwind with an amazing seafood dinner by sunset.
Save the snorkeling for another day and head inland to the Yucatan. About three hours from Cancun Airport is the magic town of Izamal, also known as the “Yellow City.” Immerse yourself in Mayan history on your vacation here as you explore the pyramids of Itzamatul, Chaltun Ha, el Conejo, and Kinih-Kakmoen in the archeological zone.
Live your best travel life by splurging on a stay at a local Hacienda, which is a boutique luxury stay at a historic Hacienda home, one of the many attractions that the Yucatan is famous for.
Not the mention, all the beautiful yellow walls, and historic architecture are so darn Instagrammable that you’ll be able to up your ‘gram game in no time.
It would be a shame to take a vacation to the Mexican Caribbean and not check out the historical offerings of Valladolid, a pueblo magico for good reason. Head two hours west of Cancun, and you’ll be in this colorful city with so much to offer. Beyond the iconic attraction of Chichen Itza, the town of Valladolid is filled with amazing boutique hotels to stay at, colorful streets to explore, and culinary offerings that tell a story of this town’s historic past.
Time goes a little slower here in Valladolid, making this destination a great place to chill out and get to know another part of Mexico. Head out to the Centro Historico after sunset and get yourself a marquesita before heading out to a cute little bar on Calle de los Frailes.
The closest magic town to Cancun Airport is Isla Mujeres, just a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Cancun. Isla Mujeres is a great place to get away from the tourist crowds of Cancun and get on island time as you spend your afternoons snorkeling and wandering the cute streets, all before taking in a sunset cocktail on your rooftop of choice.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in this seaside pueblo magico, here’s a list of the top hotels in Isla Mujeres.
When talking about travel destinations in the Mexican Caribbean, it’s hard not to mention Tulum. One of the most popular pueblo magicos near Cancun by far, Tulum has something for just about any type of traveler. From stunning beaches to a world-class food scene, Tulum has transformed from the bohemian-beach town it once was in the 70s to one of the top beach towns in the world for international travelers to visit.
Whether you’re looking for a stylish all-inclusive stay, try out a little yoga retreat, or just spend a few days hanging out in downtown Tulum to see what the fuss is all about, know that Tulum is less than a two-hour drive from Cancun Airport.
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