Mexico's different climates, cuisines and cultures make for an enticingly varied trip. Visit desert canyons in the north, Spanish colonial towns in the centre or Mayan jungle cities in the south. In the middle of it all is frenetic Mexico City, one of the world's largest conurbations.
Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, Mexico was home to great civilisations. Mexico City was built straight on top of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitln, a city of islands and bridges constructed on Lake Texcoco. Relive its spirit today in the garden suburb of Xochimilco, where brightly painted boats shunt along its waterways. Near the city, the pre-Columbian pyramids at Teotihuacn still stand. The east of Mexico was dominated by the Mayan empire. Visit the Mayan archaeological site of Palenque in the Chiapas jungle, or climb the iconic UNESCO-listed Castillo (castle) temple at Chichn Itz, near the Gulf coast.
Given the size of the capital Mexico City overall, the central plaza, the Zcalo, is appropriately enormous. It's home to the 17th-century Metropolitan Cathedral, the remains of the Aztec Great Pyramid, and the vast National Palace, decorated with the colourful murals of Mexican artist, Diego Rivera. Inland Puebla has fine Spanish colonial architecture, as does Guadalajara, Mexico's second city and major cultural centre. Indigenous culture is strong in beautiful San Cristbl de las Casas, set in a Chiapas region mountain valley in the south.
The spectacular pine-coated Sierra Madre mountain range in the north is a draw for trekkers. If that's too active, relax and enjoy the views from the Copper Canyon railway, which runs from Chihuahua to the Pacific coast. The pristine Yucatn coast is dotted with beach resorts such as Cozumel and Playa del Carmen and edged by rich coral reefs. Its hinterland, however, is pockmarked by eerie, cool cenotes, underground pools revered by the Maya and perfect for escaping the heat.