The Mexican government has done a great job in promoting their rich culture and traditions. It isn’t only the world-class landmarks like Mayan pyramids, colorful outfits or native dances that get people interested in visiting Mexico.
You might know a bit about famous Mexican artists who have gained worldwide recognition and fame as well as the Mexican culture they promote. But there’s another side to this nation of Mexico that not many people know about.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Mexico’s magic villages’, the Pueblos Magicos en Mexico (also known as Magic Towns) are a group of wonderfully quaint towns on the fringes of big cities such as Cancun etc.
Read on for more info on these quaint villages.
What is a Magic Town?
The Pueblo Magico project was launched by the government in 2001 to promote all those quaint old towns which have preserved their traditional Mexican architecture, culture and heritage. These towns are located along popular tourism routes that access Mexico’s big cities or well-known beaches.
The objective of this ambitious project is to place Mexico on the world map as a tourist destination for those who want more from their traveling experiences than just sunbathing and partying.
The pueblos magicos showcase the genuine Mexico, away from the beaten track and free of commercial tourist traps. These towns will give you a chance to appreciate Mexican traditions, experience rustic life first-hand, enjoy fresh local food cooked in age-old traditional ways.
How many Mexico Pueblos Magicos are there?
There are approx 132 such quaint towns, but there are more towns being added occasionally so this is not an exact number. Each town has its own unique attractions. Most visitors to Mexico tend to head straight for either big cities or beaches during their visit, but all along there are these wonderful towns worth visiting.
Why are the towns called Pueblos Magicos?
These unique villages have been given their name by the government because these towns are magical places that stir the imagination. Even though they are just like any other small villages where life goes on as it has done for centuries , there is something about them which mesmerizes people.
Perhaps their beautiful architecture or colorful surroundings but there’s more to it than that. Traditional festivals , fiestas with music, dance and entertainment are held throughout the year .
You can attend horse races, dance with the locals , enjoy street markets or simply stroll around enjoying the fresh cool air .
These pueblo magicos in Mexico will give you an insight into real life in Mexico away from all the commercialism of cities like Cancun.
The towns are generally safe and secure, even for women travelers. Most towns are peaceful and crime rates are low but of course, always do your research and use common sense as you would travelling anywhere.
So go ahead, unravel the excitement of a magic town .
How to Get To the Mexico Pueblos Magicos?
There are several ways to get around but perhaps the best way is by renting a car. All major car companies have outlets at airports along with offices within cities so getting one shouldn’t be a problem even if you arrive at an unexpected time of the day. If you don’t want to drive on your own, there are taxi companies and local bus services that run throughout the country.
However, some of these towns can be reached only via long-distance buses such as those between Mexico City and Cancun or Merida etc. Local buses, collectivos (shared taxis) and vans may not necessarily go directly to all pueblos magicos but they will take you close enough so you can walk to them if you want. For instance Chichen Itza is a three-hour journey from Cancun and you can take a bus there for approximately $24 US.
How do towns become Pueblo Magicos?
Towns can’t just decide they will be a Pueblo Magico town, they need to earn the status. They firstly have to have a population of minimum 5,000 people and be fairly close to a large city.
If the town reaches this criteria they need to form their own committee which will be in charge of setting up the application.
After that, plans for tourism development must be made and agreed upon. This includes setting aside a special tourism fund for generating and maintaining the tourism sector.
The last step includes making sure that once the Pueblo Magico status has been granted, the committments to developing tourism for the town are consistently kept.
Magical Pueblos in Mexico
So which Mexican towns are worth a visit? Well, if you’re looking for a magical place to stay with a beautiful beach nearby, the town of Tulum might be of interest.
It’s famed for its pristine beaches and laid-back atmosphere where people come to escape city life. There are also Maya ruins in the vicinity , an exciting combination that makes this pueblo truly magical. Just bear in mind, it has gotten more popular in recent years with foreigners so may not feel as authentic as before.
For complete peace and quiet including spectacular beaches, Mazunte is perfect with its empty sand dunes on one side and crashing waves on the other.
Another fascinating pueblo with several activities is San Cristobal de las Casas . It has an amazing location surrounded by mountains and forests, with local markets where you can purchase crafts made by indigenous communities.
Alternatively if you like the idea of staying in a pueblo but don’t want it to be too crowded, the state of Oaxaca is a good choice. The towns overflow with colorful buildings, plazas and cafes, plus there are plenty of things for visitors to do such as visiting museums or attending fiestas.
Why You Need to Visit Pueblos Magicos
If you’d like to experience Mexican culture first hand , this is definitely something not to be missed. If ancient ruins aren’t really your cup of tea, these pueblos de mexico offer quite the alternative – mingling with locals celebrating their culture .
It’s a great way to learn about Mexico, meet open-minded people and simply have a good time. In addition there is the added benefit of not having to pay excessively high prices for accommodation or meals since these towns are quite sparsely populated.
Also money does go further in pueblos magicos in mexico compared to big cities so you can do things on a budget if necessary.
Disadvantages of Mexican Pueblos Magico
I’ll be honest here – although I love these little towns , they’re not perfect places . For example they’re small and very spread out meaning it’s difficult to see a lot of them at a time.
You may find yourself bored if you’re the kind of person who likes to party non-stop . There’s also a lack of decent facilities such as hotels and restaurants but this is sometimes compensated for by lower prices.
Overall it depends on what you want out of your Mexico holiday so don’t be afraid to check out online reviews and ask fellow travellers before choosing which Mexico pueblos magicos to visit.
List of Mexicos Pueblos Magicos
Real de Asientos
San José de Gracia
2. Baja California
3. Baja California Sur
San Cristóbal de las Casas
Chiapa de Corzo
Cuatrociénegas de Carranza
Parras de la Fuente
Nombre de Dios
Mineral de Pozos
Jalpa de Cánovas
Real del Monte
Huasca de Ocampo
Mineral del Chico
San Sebastián del Oeste
Talpa de Allende
Lagos de Moreno
14. State of Mexico
Valle de Bravo
Ixtapan de la Sal
Aculco De Espinoza
Villa del Carbón
Santa Clara del Cobre
18. Nuevo Leon
Capulálpam de Méndez
Huautla de Jimenez
San Pablo Villa de Mitla
San Pedro y San Pablo Teposcolula
Jalpan de Serra
Cadereyta de Montes
Amealco de Bonfil
22. Quintana Roo
23. San Luis Potosi
Real de Catorce
Magdalena de Kino
Coscomatepec de Bravo
Zozocolco de Hidalgo
Jerez de García Salinas
Teúl de González Ortega
Summary of the Mexico Magic Towns
All in all, these Mexico pueblos magicos are great places with something unique and special about them that will appeal to those looking for an authentic experience rather than just another tourist hot spot with fancy bars and nightclubs.
I’d describe them as peaceful towns where locals live simple lives surrounded by natural beauty that visitors can enjoy at their leisure. By now hopefully you’ve decided which places you’d like to visit so read up more on your chosen town and get ready for the trip of a lifetime.
What do you think? Which of the pueblos magicos of Mexico would you like to visit?