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The capital of this country, Mexico City, is a vibrant and eclectic city that will take your breath away, fill your tummy with the most exciting flavour combos and warm your heart with the welcoming attitude of its people. If you are more of a beach person, however, and rather spend your escape away from the city, Mexico has La Riviera Maya, which is perfect for a peaceful and equally colourful South American experience. From stunning accomodations to delicious Michelin tables and historical sites that'll leave you speechless, here's the only checklist you need for your next holiday in Mexico!

 What To Do: Mexico City
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Palacio de Bellas Artes, Downtown Mexico City

When in Mexico City, it's impossible not to soak up the rich cultural history that exists all around. Whether you're in the middle of the city or at a natural cave nearby, here are items to include in your programme: 

  1. Castillo de Chapultepec: Situated inside the beautiful Bosque de Chaputepec is this royal castle  that served as residence for Mexican Emperor Maxmilian I and Empress Carlota in 1864.
  2. Palacio de Bellas Artes: An art lover? Here's where you can explore a large theatre, concert hall, museum and galleries for paintings and other works of art—all in one spot! Murals created by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and other renowned Mexican artists of the 20th century lie here as well.   
  3. Teotihuacan: A UNESCO's World Heritage, this ancient Mesoamerican city is where the Aztecs established themselves and where you can you'll find beautiful pyramids. 
  4. Casa Azul: Get a glimpse into Frida Kahlo's world—her childhood residence and where she lived next to Diego Rivera during the last years of her life. You'll be able to take a look of her rooms, artwork, studio and famously beautiful Mexican kitchen. 

 What To Do: La Riviera Maya

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Tulum, Rivera Maya

La Riviera Maya has an endless number of ecological parks where you can make memories in nature, such as diving, swimming with dolphins and releasing sea turtles.  At the same time, La Riviera Maya also has some of the most exciting shopping spots, including La Quinta Avenida—yes, that's "Fifth Avenue" like New York—ideal for sprees with the fam and/or friends. 

  1. Chichen Itza: A World Heritage Site, here's where you'll find a magnificient pre-Hispanic city built by the Mayan empire in Central America. 
  2. Xel-Ha: One of the nation's biggest ecological parks, great adventures are waiting for you here, whether it's swimming with dolphins and other lovely aquatic creatures or visiting a beautiful natural aquarium.  
  3. Quinta Avenida: At this gorgeous shopping street you can find wonderful Mexican works of art, clothing stores, cafes and restaurants. 

Where To Eat: Mexico City

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Photo: Courtesy of Pujol

Mexico City is home to plenty of restaurants marketed by the Michelin Guide and World's 50 Best. Many offering traditional Mexican food with delicious, modern twists, make sure try some mole, fried banana with beans, seafood pozole and mezcal or tequila when you see it on the menu.

  1. Dulce Patria:  Part of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants, this restaurant serves rich Mexican traditions in a modern, colorful and creative way. 
  2. Pujol:  Named by the Wall Street Journal as the best in Mexico City, you'll have to book this restaurant before flying out to Mexico. 
  3. Quintonil: The best way to experience this restaurant is through the 12-dish tasting menu. Rumour has it that the final course is a finale of cactus, lemon and salt. 
  4. Galanga Thai Kitchen: For those of you with a tendency to miss home when away, this is one of the most prominent Thai restaurants in Mexico for a little Thai pick-me-up on your extended trip. 

Where To Eat: La  Riviera Maya

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Photo: Courtesy of Diners Club

It’s all about seafood at La Riviera Maya, and the best part about dining in this area is that you can have the freshest seafood at a prestigious restaurant or in the middle of a jungle if you prefer.  

  1. Axiote: The menu here is crazy creative, including several ceviche styles such as shrimp with lime and coconut milk.
  2. Cenacolo: Located in La Quinta Avenida, this is one of the area's best Italian restaurants that's worth a try on your trip. 
  3. Hartwood: A 100% sustainable restaurant to try and be inspired by. 

Where To Stay: Mexico City

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Photo: Courtesy of St Regis

Depending on your mood, there are many brilliant five star hotels for accomodations on your trip to Mexico City. Here are our recommendations for both artistic boutique hotels in prime location in the city or famous hotel names you'll recognise who live up to their reputation: 

  1. Downtown Mexico: This artistic boutique hotel located right in the city centre blends colonial 17th century grandeur with a raw industrial edge. 
  2. Hotel Carlota: A modern boutique hotel radiating simplicity, elegance and innovation that is located in one of the most beautiful areas of the city. 
  3. La Valise: A home away from home, La Valise is a charming hotel located in an area of the city famed for its cultural diversity, cool restaurants and bars and private boutiques. 
  4. St Regis: Get one of the most beautiful views of the city by staying at the classy St Regis. 
  5. Four Seasons: A favourite choice among visiting artists, musicians, royalty and politicians. 
  6. JW Marriott : Find this famous hotel in one of the most luxurious areas of Mexico City, close to the best restaurants in town. 

Where To Stay: La Riviera Maya

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Photo: Courtesy of Mayakoba Riviera Maya

La Riviera Maya is full of breathtaking all-inclusive resorts located at prime beach spots. Each of them housing top quality spas, restaurants and bars, you'll be tempted to never leave the premises. After all, it's the celebrity way to book a suite on your own private island and spend the days indulging in peaceful private yoga sessions, spas and in-house dining. Here are a few hotel suggestions to help you on your way: 

  1. Rosewood Mayakoba: A family-friendly place, this resort even offers a babysitter service so that parents can have their own fun and relaxation during the stay.  
  2. Banyan Tree Mayakoba: This private venue is absolutely immersed in nature and complemented by the signature warmth of Banyan Tree hospitality. 
  3. Fairmont Mayakoba : Stay at the largest luxury hotel of the Mayakoba complex, offering 401 suites and 34 villas. 

(See also: 10 New Hotels Worth Travelling To This Year)

Tags: Mexico, Central America, La Riviera Maya, Mexico City