Unlock the mysteries behind one of the most captivating Mayan cities of all time, Chichén Itzá, located in eastern Yucatán state. This world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site that belonged to the Itzá tribe was first founded during AD 600 and redeveloped various times throughout history by different groups which came to occupy the area. Chichén Itzá is most admired for demonstrating magnificent architectural styles of the Mayan culture as well as exhibiting unique forms of art, structures and ancient hieroglyphics.
It consists in a complex of ruins made of huge stone blocks and generally structured as a pyramid. These constructions, each one with its own distinct name, contains broad stairways, vaulted chambers, sculpted figures, inscriptions, and coloured paintings similar to Aztec picture-writing. Although it is uncertain as to what this city was used for it is speculated that it served a religious and cultural purpose. Chichén Itzá's most iconic structure is its centrepiece, El Castillo also known as Kulkulcán pyramid, and designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. This awe-inspiring structure is not only a huge temple, it is an extraordinary vision and of course, the perfect background for a photo moment. Other interesting structures include El Caracol, the Temple of the Warriors, the Palace, the Sacred Well and the Ball Court.
Not everybody would associate gorgeous Caribbean-like beaches, crystal clear waters and white sands as being part of Mexico but be sure that it does! Commencing 20 miles south of Cancun and stretching from Puerto Morelos all the way down to Punta Allen is the Riviera Maya or Mayan Riviera in the eastern part of Yucatán. It is here that you will discover Mexico's prime jewel fit for family holidays; golfing trips, romantic getaways, ecological adventure holidays and not forgetting splendid Spa experiences. Dominated by tourism, the Riviera Maya mega-resort whose coastline is hugged by the Caribbean Sea is an authentic paradise on earth filled with ancient Mayan cities, archaeological sites, ecological reserves, lagoons, extensive mangrove swamps, and the second largest coral reef in the world. Its beaches are lined with deck chairs, palm trees and private huts for accommodation although hotels and other tourist facilities are also available in the region. There are various luxurious destinations you can choose to head to in the Riviera Maya such as Playa del Carmen, Xcaret, Akumal, Xel-Ha, Tulum and Sian Ka'an. You can also take a short ferry ride to the fascinating Cozumel island and participate in several water activities. In fact there are many stimulating activities that can be done in the Riviera Maya other than topping up your tan such as snorkelling, diving, jungle excursions and extraordinary cave tours. Don't let the opportunity pass you by!
Occupying south-central Mexico is its capital and largest city, Mexico City in the Distrito Federal. This vibrant urban city is Mexico's financial, cultural and economic centre and is rich in must-visit attractions both historical and modern. Located in the centre of Mexico City is its most busy and important landmark as well as UNESCO World Heritage Site; Zócalo otherwise known as Plaza of the Constitution located in the Tenochtitlán Aztec city. In this huge square, you'll find terrific monuments of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries including the Baroque National Catherdral, the Municipal Palace and the National Palace. Zócalo is transformed into a giant ice rink during winter season, so if you fancy skating in Mexico, this will be a unique opportunity! Mexico City is marked by an eclectic mix of rich and poor neighbourhoods which symbolizes the imbalance of incomes among its inhabitants. Whilst its debilitated areas are grim-looking its metropolitan areas are filled with hundreds of astounding high rise colourful buildings and beautiful monuments. Its most recognised monument is the Angel of Independence in Paseo de la Reforma avenue and is an awesome vision at night. Whilst in Mexico City make sure to add the Museo Soumaya in Polanco, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Trajineras at Xochimilco, the Mexican Revolution monument, Templo Mayor, the National Museum of Anthropology and the Fine Arts Palace to your list of must-sees also.
You might already have sampled Mexican food down at your local take-away but eating Mexican food in Mexico is an entirely different experience and one that you are sure to love. Mexican cuisine is mostly comprised of native ingredients such as corn, chili peppers, tomatoes, squash, avocado, cocoa and vanilla. These ingredients when combined together create an explosion of colours and flavours that will have you salivating just by looking at the dishes. Some must-eat dishes you should try whilst in the country are authentic Tacos (soft corn tortillas stuffed with meat, chicken or seafood); Tortillas (a flat savoury pancake made of wheat flour or maize and often served as bread), Frijoles (beans which are boiled or fried and served as a main ingredient or as a garnish), Guacamole (mashed avocado, onion, coriander and chillies served as a garnish or dip), Enchiladas (rolled or folded tortillas stuffed with chicken, pork, vegetables and then baked), Quesadillas (folded tortillas stuffed with cheese and then grilled) and Salsa (sauce made of tomatoes, onion, chili and cilantro). The most traditional and popular Mexican drinks include Tequila - a strong spirit drunk in the form of a margarita or tequila shots; Chocolate, a real cocoa bean chocolate drink and lastly Café De Olla or "Coffee from the pot" which consists in Mexican coffee simmered all day long and mixed with cinnamon and cloves to make a sweet coffee drink.
If you thought you had to travel to Egypt to feast your eyes on some pyramids then you couldn't be further from the truth as Mexico has some pyramids of its own which are actually some of the largest and oldest pyramids in the world. During your visit to Mexico, visit Teotihuacan also designated the City of the Gods and regarded as one of the most important preserved remains of the Mesoamerican civilization. Teotihuacan is an inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of four main attractions – The Temple of the Moon – located in the centre of the complex; The Temple of the Sun – the largest of the pyramids with the best views over the landscape; The Temple of Quetzalcoatl – the most sacred temple with stone serpent heads for decoration; and Museo Teotihuacán – the park's museum with brilliant exhibitions and a miniature recreation of the entire archaeological site. You will find many vendors around the complex where you can buy plenty of interesting souvenirs to take back home with you such as carvings in stone or volcanic rock, statue heads, "Aztec" flutes, and jewellery. The outside of the complex also offers some places to eat, shops and one hotel for those that wish to stay close to this sacred location. A great time to visit Teotihuacan is during special religious events which take place at the site.