Mexico resorts in picturesque destinations like Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, and beyond are perfect for honeymoons. They specialize in catering to couples and romance, and offer world-class service, white-sand beaches, indulgent spas, refreshing cocktails, plush suites, concierges to plan your outings, incredible cuisine inspired by regions all around the world, and endless other perks. However, some travelers might want to see a side of Mexico that's a bit more off the beaten path.
If that describes you, or you're just curious about another side of Mexico, then read on. This list is a compilation of some of our favorite places in Mexico where big resorts are few and far between, and touristy bars and restaurants are nowhere to be found, but you can still find delightfully romantic accommodations and restaurants showing you how the locals themselves kick back, dine, play, and enjoy life.
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
Chiapas, a state on the Guatamalan border, is home to San Cristobal de las Casas, a hilly Spanish colonial town with cobblestoned streets and plazas, charming churches, colorful street markets, and delicious dining. There are charming places to stay here, and you'll be near must-see sites like the crystal-clear flowing waters of Agua Azul and El Canyon del Sumidero; a dramatic tropial valley flanked by cliffs that you can explore via boat tour. You'll also be practically within spitting distance of ancient Mayan ruins and tropical rainforests, making it perfect for a little adventure, a little dining and relaxation, and plenty of jaw-dropping beauty.
Isla Holbox, Quintana Roo
For all its charm and beauy -- and there's plenty -- Chiapas isn't a beach destination. Isla Holbox, on the other hand, is basically nothing but beach. Only about 26 miles long and an easy trip from Cancun or Playa del Carmen, this is a quiet little fishing island and largely-undiscovered honeymoon gem where there isn't much to do other than laze on the sand and let the beauty of the day pass you by. For couples that want to get away from it all, even if just for a brief trip away from the bustle of a busier area, Isla Holbox is perfect. The place is so small and sleepy that there are barely even any cars; locals get around on bikes and golf carts almost exclusively, and the hotels here are all small, uber-charming boutiques.
Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca
The small city of Oaxaca de Juarez, named for the mountainous coastal state of which it is the capital, is charming, fun, and sweet. Discover 16th-century cathedrals, plazas with colorful murals bustling with street vendors, amazing tamale carts and artisan markets, street fairs and dancers, and delightful cuisine. Whether you try a hole-in-the wall taco joint consisting of a single woman hand-making tortillas from scratch and topping them with sizzling, ultra-fresh ingredients, or a formal restaurant with all the romantic trimmings, you've got options here. You can also trek to national parks to explore the mountains, or make a day trip to the southern coast to check out Oaxaca state's chill, quiet, authentic-feeling beaches in towns like Huatulco, where you can find bigger all-inclusive resorts to satisfy your craving for luxury.
Isla Espíritu Santo, Baja California Sur
Another quiet beach destination in Mexico, Isla Espíritu Santo lies off the coast of Baja California Sur, and is a protected ecological area known for its stunning beauty and incredible animals and plants. Kicking back on crescent-shaped bays, snorkeling through coral reefs, and swimming with playful sea lions is only the beginning. This is the type of place that captures people's hearts...backpackers have been known to schedule a couple of days to "check it out," only to find themselves hanging around for weeks, captivated by the beauty and wonder of Isla Espíritu Santo like a spell has been cast.
The capital of the state of Michoacán, Morelia is another charming colonial city with all the romance couples can handle. Teeming with buildings preserved from the 1600s-1700s, Morelia has been delcared an official UNESCO World Heritage site for its historical significance. And there's lots to explore in the city itself., like a variety of festivals year-round and a world-class dining scene. But a short trip away yields attractions like rejuvenating mineral hot springs, zoos, hiking, and horseback riding in the surrounding hills. Oh, and if you go at the right time (during winter), you can catch one of the largest migrations of monarch butterflies in the world, where millions of these colorful critters flutter through and find spots to roost on their way south from Canada.
This tiny town lies before an enormous bay and is covered in thick green jungles, and just 45 minutes (about 20 miles) by boat from Puerto Vallarta, it's a perfect place for couples who want to truly escape from it all. You won't even hear a gas-powered engine, save for the possibility of an approaching boat, because there aren't even any cars here. It's basically just a pristine, unspoiled beach with a few locally-owned hotels. The cuisine is mostly seafood, and is incredible without the usual tourist prices. For those looking for an antidote to honeymoon explorations in more crowded areas, Yelapa is just the ticket.
Tlaxcala City, Tlaxcala
Another state capital, Tlaxcala is set in a lush valley between the dramatic backdrop of two volcanoes, Tlaxcala is a truly ancient city brimming with natural and historical wonders. Aside from the architecture, you can enjoy visits to hundreds of different archaelogical sites along with day trips hiking the volcanoes and exploring the jaw-dropping natural beaty of the surrounding area.
Bacalar, Quintana Roo
Home to a freshwater lagoon, this quiet town has prevented large amounts of development from springing up to preserve the beaches and jungles that surround it. The result is a quiet little slice of paradise tailor-made for ecotourism and relaxation alike. The lagoon is perfect for picturesque kayaking, paddleboarding, and other activities, and the prices are affordable. Just don't expect much of an actual "town" to explore with the nightlife and restaurants you'd expect from a more urban area...Bacalar is all about the scenery and relaxed fun on the water.
Ciudad Guanajuato, Guanajuato
Another Mexican city honored with the designation of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guanajuato was founded in 1559 as a hotspot for gold and silver mining. The university here brings a wealth of cultural sites, events, and activities like orchestras, festivals, art ehibitions, and theatrical performances. There are plenty of amazing restaurants for foodie couples to check out for casual lunches and intimate date nights. Despite all there is to do here, the city itself is so delightful that you might be tempted to stroll along the streets, flowing down from verdant hillside cliffs, and watch in wonder as you pass the colorful buildings and stunning churches to soak it all in.
Tepoztlán is a small town where the quiet pace of life attracts those few visitors lucky enough to have discovered it. With dramatic cliffs in the background, you can explore the charming markets and quaint shops here before adventuring up into the hills to explore the ruins of the ancient temple known as El Tepozteco, a temple built in honor of an Aztec god. You won't need much time here, as the town is nice and compact, but you'll love every minute of the time you spend.