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Explore Colourful Mexico

A holiday to Mexico is the perfect combination of tropical weather, beautiful landscapes and Latin American culture. Whether you’re looking to relax or explore, Mexico delivers on all counts. Its historical monuments give an eye-opening view into the ancient civilisations that once habited the country, whilst its jungles, mountains and beaches are equally astounding in their beauty.

The Riviera Maya is well suited to those with a taste for luxury, with an endless row of all inclusive 5* resorts along its Atlantic coastline. It has unsurprisingly become a honeymoon hotspot as a result; however the area really does offer something for everyone – from newlyweds to families to ‘spring breakers’. Over on the Pacific coast, the popular resort of Puerto Vallarta has countless activities on offer to tear you away from its sandy shores, including your chance to see humpback whales during their annual migration to the area from December to March.

Away from its coastal borders, Mexico has just as much to offer. Cosmopolitan Mexico City is the country’s bustling capital, with enough religious, historical and artistic monuments to more than fill your holiday itinerary. The cobbled streets of the city’s old town guide tourists through seven centuries of history, dating back to the Aztec civilisation in the 14th Century.

Wherever your Mexican adventure takes you, be sure to make the most of the night-time economy and enjoy the true taste of Mexico – tequila!

Visit the Aztecs and Mayans

Mexico’s fascinating past is much as a reason to visit as its beautiful beaches. The country has an incredible 34 UNESCO world heritage sites, ranging from Mexico City’s historic centre, to the rock paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco and the 500 year old Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque. Together, the sites build a picture of Mexico’s rich and diverse history, which begins around 8000 BCE.

The legacy of the famous Aztec and Mayan dynasties is still visible through the remnants of their architectural prowess scattered across Mexico and further south into Central America. Much of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan has stood the test of time. Located just north of Mexico City, visitors can easily arrange a trip to this incredibly well preserved site and climb the steps of the crowning ‘Pyramid of the Sun’. In Mexico City centre, the 16th century colonial style architecture favoured by the conquering Spanish has also been conserved, in particular the cathedral of the Zócalo Plaza.

The Mayan civilisation left their mark in rural Mexico, where temple tops can be spotted above the jungle canopy. The resorts of Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are a convenient starting point for day trips to the Riviera Maya’s countless historical sites including the recognizable pyramid of Chitzen Itza and the beachside ruins at Tulum, where the natural and man-made worlds have perfectly collided.

Mexico's 'Day of the Dead'

‘Dia de los Muertos’ is a cultural institution dating back to the Aztec civilisation, when the festival dedicated to Queen of the Underworld lasted an entire month. Now Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead on both the 1st and 2nd of November, the time at which it is believed that the gates of heaven are briefly opened to allow the souls of the dead to reunite with their families.

Death is treated as an unavoidable consequence of life, and unlike Halloween, the festival doesn’t focus on the eerie or frightening. Instead, the first two days of November are used to honour those who have died. Families pay tribute to the dead by building ‘ofrendas’ – altars decorated with flowers, candles and tributes - and cooking the favourite foods of the deceased. Large gatherings take place at the country’s cemeteries, where people visit the graves of their ancestors to pay their respects and place flowers – in particular bright yellow or orange Mexican marigolds.

Is not commonplace for large-scale parades to take place in town and cities - the Mexico City parade featured in recent James Bond film ‘Spectre’ was far from an accurate representation of the celebrations, which are usually intimate and personal to families. Visitors can expect, however, to find signs of the Day of the Dead in the shops and market stalls of the country’s towns and cities, in particular through the abundance of sugar skulls, which have become synonymous with the festivities. Most are used for decorative purposes only, with the names of the deceased traditionally inscribed into the skull, however edible sugar paste delicacies taking the form of skulls or coffins and adorned with brightly coloured icing are popular treats for children celebrating the festival.

What to eat in Mexico

Authentic Mexican food is colourful, varied and bursting with flavour from fresh local produce.

Corn and beans have remained staple foods for centuries. Traditional Mexican tortillas are most often prepared with corn masa flour in its yellow or blue varieties - the masa is moulded into small rounds which are quickly toasted. Tortillas are sold fresh in the food markets, piled high on market stalls or in cloth-lined baskets. Stale tortillas become tostadas – fried in boiling oil until they become crispy and then topped with ‘frijoles (refried beans), slow cooked meat or ceviche.

Mexico City has become a haven for foodies, with a good selection of high quality restaurants complementing the abundant street food markets. Tacos al pastor – thinly sliced marinated pork coated in chilli sauce and served in small tortillas with onions, coriander and pineapple - are synonymous with the city and can be found in its many hole-in-the-wall establishments.

Authentic Mexican food is somewhat harder to find in the country’s holiday resorts, where the tastes of tourists are widely catered for through western-style fajitas and hard shell tacos. Take a step off the beaten track to experience the real deal; just a couple of streets away from the main tourist strip you’ll discover traditional cantinas and Mexican-style fast food. Be sure to stop in at the local corner shops as here you’ll find the best ice-cream and fresh juice for a fraction of the price it would be in resort.

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