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The Best Places To Go Backpacking In Mexico


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Petronella Sternberg



Are you an adventurous traveler looking to explore the hidden gems of Mexico? Look no further! With its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and welcoming people, Mexico offers a plethora of exciting backpacking opportunities. From stunning natural wonders to vibrant cities, this mesmerizing country has something for everyone.


Backpacking in Mexico allows you to immerse yourself in its vibrant culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and discover breathtaking landscapes that rival any other destination in the world. Whether you are a beach lover, a history buff, an adrenaline junkie, or a nature enthusiast, Mexico has it all.


From the majestic Copper Canyon in the north to the magnificent ruins of Palenque in the south, there are countless destinations that deserve a spot on your Mexico backpacking itinerary. So grab your backpack and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!


In this article, we will dive into the top 10 best places to go backpacking in Mexico, each with its unique charm and attractions. Whether you prefer off-the-beaten-path destinations or bustling cities, you’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your wanderlust.


So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your camping gear, and let’s explore the best places to go backpacking in Mexico that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a desire to return.


Copper Canyon

If you’re a nature enthusiast and seeking a thrilling backpacking experience, head to the breathtaking Copper Canyon in the state of Chihuahua. Spanning over 25,000 square miles, this vast canyon system is even larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States.


Home to indigenous Tarahumara communities, the Copper Canyon offers an incredible cultural experience along with its stunning natural beauty. As you hike through the canyon’s rugged trails, you’ll be awestruck by the soaring cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests that surround you.


One of the best ways to explore the Copper Canyon is by taking the famous Chihuahua al Pacífico Railway, also known as the “Chepe.” This train journey offers breathtaking views of the canyon as it winds through its rugged landscapes and crosses over impressive bridges.


For the more adventurous backpackers, you can choose to hike or bike through the canyon, immersing yourself in its natural wonders. The Urique and Batopilas canyons are favorite destinations for backpackers seeking a more challenging and remote experience. Camping under the starry sky in the midst of this awe-inspiring landscape will surely be a highlight of your Mexican backpacking adventure.


Along the way, make sure to visit the charming Tarahumara villages and learn about their rich traditions and way of life. Interacting with the locals will provide you with a unique cultural insight that sets the Copper Canyon apart from other destinations.


Embrace the allure of the Copper Canyon and witness its grandeur firsthand. This remarkable natural wonder will leave you in awe and inspire you to connect with nature in a truly unforgettable way.



For a truly authentic Mexican experience, backpacking in Oaxaca is a must. Located in southern Mexico, Oaxaca is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant markets, and stunning landscapes.


Begin your journey in the enchanting city of Oaxaca de Juarez, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is a treasure trove of colonial architecture, with vibrant plazas, ornate churches, and historic buildings lining its charming streets. Explore the bustling markets, where you can sample local delicacies like chapulines (grasshoppers) and mezcal, a traditional Mexican spirit.


From Oaxaca City, venture out to explore the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with picturesque villages known for their artisan crafts. In the village of Teotitlán del Valle, you can learn about the ancient art of weaving and even try your hand at creating your own textile masterpiece.


Outdoor enthusiasts will be thrilled to discover the natural wonders of Oaxaca. Just a short distance from the city, you’ll find Hierve el Agua, a stunning petrified waterfall with natural pools perfect for a refreshing swim. Hike through the Sierra Norte mountains, where you can spot unique flora and fauna while enjoying breathtaking views of the landscape below.


No visit to Oaxaca would be complete without exploring its archaeological sites. Monte Albán, a pre-Columbian city perched on a hilltop, offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient Zapotec civilization. Venturing further afield, you can visit the impressive ruins of Mitla and the mystical archaeological site of Yagul.


Additionally, Oaxaca is known for its colorful celebrations and festivals. If you’re lucky enough to be there during Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), you’ll witness the city come alive with vibrant decorations, traditional music, and elaborate altars honoring deceased loved ones.


With its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, backpacking in Oaxaca will provide you with a truly immersive Mexican experience that will leave a lasting impression.



Located in the southernmost part of Mexico, the state of Chiapas is a backpacker’s paradise with its stunning landscapes, rich indigenous culture, and ancient ruins.


Begin your Chiapas adventure in the charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas, known for its colonial architecture and vibrant indigenous markets. Immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring the surrounding Tzotzil and Tzeltal villages, where you can witness traditional ceremonies and crafts.


A must-visit destination in Chiapas is the awe-inspiring Palenque archaeological site. Surrounded by lush jungle, Palenque is renowned for its well-preserved Mayan ruins, including the iconic Temple of the Inscriptions. Walking through the ancient city, you’ll feel the mystical energy and grandeur of this once-thriving civilization.


If you’re a nature lover, make sure to visit the stunning Agua Azul waterfalls and the turquoise-colored Misol-Ha waterfall. These natural wonders offer the perfect place to cool off and connect with nature.


Another unique destination in Chiapas is the Sumidero Canyon, a 2,500-foot-deep gorge carved by the Grijalva River. Take a boat tour through the canyon, marveling at its towering cliffs and spotting wildlife such as crocodiles and monkeys.


For the adventurous backpackers, a trek to the remote Lacandon Jungle is a must. This vast rainforest is home to the indigenous Lacandon people, and exploring its dense foliage and hidden cenotes (natural sinkholes) will make you feel like a true Indiana Jones.


Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the mesmerizing Mayan ruins of Bonampak and Yaxchilan. These lesser-known sites offer a more intimate experience, with intricate murals and ancient structures that will transport you back in time.


Chiapas captivates with its natural beauty, ancient heritage, and warm hospitality. Backpacking through this diverse state will reveal the true essence of Mexico and provide you with memories that will last a lifetime.


Baja California Peninsula

The Baja California Peninsula offers a unique and unforgettable backpacking experience for adventure seekers. Stretching over 1,200 kilometers, this pristine paradise is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Sea of Cortez on the east, providing endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.


Start your journey in the bustling city of La Paz, with its beautiful waterfront promenade and vibrant culinary scene. From there, head south to Cabo San Lucas, known for its stunning beaches, world-class resorts, and vibrant nightlife. Take a boat excursion to the famous El Arco, a natural rock formation that marks the southern tip of the peninsula.


If you’re a nature lover, make sure to visit the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts diverse ecosystems and hiking trails. Explore the desert landscapes, swim in hidden waterfalls, and spot unique flora and fauna along the way.


For the adrenaline junkies, Baja California offers excellent opportunities for surfing, snorkeling, and diving. The warm waters of the Sea of Cortez are home to an abundance of marine life, including whales, dolphins, and colorful coral reefs.


As you explore the peninsula, don’t miss the chance to visit the remote and picturesque town of Todos Santos. Known for its vibrant art scene, charming streets, and beautiful beaches, this coastal gem offers a laid-back and bohemian atmosphere.


If you’re up for a road trip, drive along the stunning Baja California Highway, also known as the “Mexican Route 1.” This scenic route hugs the coastline, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and opportunities to discover hidden gems along the way.


Lastly, don’t forget to indulge in Baja California’s world-renowned cuisine. From fresh seafood tacos to mouthwatering ceviche, the flavors of Baja will tantalize your taste buds and complete your backpacking adventure.


With its stunning landscapes, diverse marine life, and vibrant culture, the Baja California Peninsula is a dream destination for adventurous backpackers. Soak up the sun, embrace the ocean breeze, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this remarkable corner of Mexico.


Yucatan Peninsula

The Yucatan Peninsula is a tropical paradise that offers a mix of ancient Mayan ruins, stunning beaches, and vibrant cultural experiences. Located in southeastern Mexico, this region is a popular destination for backpackers seeking a combination of history, natural beauty, and relaxation.


Start your Yucatan adventure by visiting the iconic Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Explore the magnificent ruins of this ancient Mayan city, including the majestic El Castillo pyramid and the Temple of the Warriors.


Head to the charming city of Merida, known as the “White City” due to its striking colonial buildings. Explore the bustling markets, admire the colorful facades, and enjoy traditional Yucatecan cuisine, such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted pork) and panuchos (corn tortillas stuffed with refried beans and topped with meat and vegetables).


No visit to the Yucatan Peninsula is complete without experiencing the natural wonders of the region. Take a dip in the crystal-clear cenotes, natural sinkholes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock. These refreshing swimming holes are scattered throughout the peninsula and offer a unique and magical experience.


Continue your journey to the Riviera Maya, where you’ll find pristine white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. Visit the beautiful coastal town of Tulum, famous for its Mayan ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Relax on the beach, go snorkeling in the coral reefs, or take a dip in one of the many cenotes in the area.


For the adventure seekers, explore the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This vast protected area is home to diverse wildlife, including jaguars, manatees, and crocodiles. Kayak through the mangroves and witness the stunning beauty of this ecological treasure.


Don’t forget to sample the traditional Yucatecan cuisine, which offers a blend of Mayan and Spanish flavors. Try delectable dishes such as cochinita pibil (marinated and slow-roasted pork), poc chuc (grilled marinated pork), and papadzules (rolled tortillas filled with hard-boiled eggs and topped with a rich tomato sauce).


The Yucatan Peninsula offers an incredible blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences. Backpacking through this region will open your eyes to the fascinating world of the ancient Mayans and leave you with memories of breathtaking landscapes and warm hospitality.



Guanajuato, located in central Mexico, is a city that exudes charm, history, and artistic flair. Known for its colorful buildings, narrow streets, and vibrant cultural scene, Guanajuato is a perfect destination for backpackers seeking a unique and enchanting experience.


Start your exploration in Guanajuato’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander through the winding alleys and discover stunning colonial architecture, including the iconic Teatro Juarez and the impressive Basilica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the famous Callejón del Beso, or Alley of the Kiss, known for its narrowness that allows couples to kiss each other from the balconies of neighboring houses. It is said that if you kiss your loved one on the third step of the alley, your love will last forever.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Diego Rivera House Museum is a must. This former residence of the renowned Mexican muralist offers a glimpse into his life and work. Immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of Guanajuato by exploring the numerous galleries and attending cultural events and festivals.


Continue your adventure by visiting the fascinating Museo de las Momias, where naturally preserved bodies are on display. It offers a unique and slightly eerie experience, showcasing the mummification process and providing insight into Guanajuato’s history and traditions.


For a panoramic view of the city, take the funicular or climb up to the El Pipila Monument. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking vistas of Guanajuato’s colorful buildings and the surrounding mountains.


Guanajuato is also home to the Cervantino Festival, one of the most important cultural events in Mexico. Held in October, this international arts festival celebrates theater, music, dance, and visual arts, attracting talent from around the world.


Take a break from city exploration and delve into the underground world of Guanajuato by visiting the underground streets and tunnels. These tunnels were originally built to divert the Guanajuato River and prevent floods, but they now serve as a unique and fascinating way to navigate the city.


Guanajuato will capture your heart with its captivating architecture, artistic ambiance, and rich cultural heritage. As you wander through its streets and absorb its vibrant energy, you’ll understand why this city has a special place in the hearts of both locals and travelers alike.


Mexico City

Mexico City, the vibrant capital of Mexico, is a bustling metropolis that offers a mix of history, culture, and culinary delights. With its rich heritage, impressive architecture, and thriving arts scene, backpacking in Mexico City is a captivating experience.


Start your exploration in the city’s historic center, known as the Zocalo. Here, you’ll find the iconic Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the Americas, as well as the National Palace with its renowned Diego Rivera murals depicting Mexico’s history.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the ancient ruins of Templo Mayor, an archaeological site that was once the epicenter of the Aztec empire. Explore the ancient pyramids and learn about Mexico City’s pre-Hispanic roots.


Immerse yourself in Mexican art by visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum, located in the famous blue house where the renowned artist lived. Admire Kahlo’s iconic paintings and learn about her life and struggles.


Mexico City is a mecca for food lovers, offering a wide array of culinary delights. Indulge in authentic street food such as tacos, tamales, and tlacoyos at local markets or try contemporary Mexican cuisine at upscale restaurants. Don’t forget to savor traditional Mexican beverages like horchata and micheladas.


Explore the trendy neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa, known for their lively atmosphere, hip cafes, and art galleries. These neighborhoods showcase the city’s rich cultural diversity, with their international restaurants, boutique shops, and picturesque parks.


To escape the urban hustle, visit the serene and picturesque neighborhood of Coyoacan. Wander through its colorful streets, visit the delightful Coyoacan Market, and enjoy the bohemian atmosphere that inspired artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.


For a breathtaking view of the city, visit the Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks in the world. Explore the historic Chapultepec Castle and enjoy a peaceful picnic in the park’s lush surroundings.


With its dynamic energy, rich cultural heritage, and mouthwatering cuisine, Mexico City offers a myriad of experiences for backpackers. Allow yourself to be enchanted by the city’s vibrant essence and create unforgettable memories in the heart of Mexico.


Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, nestled on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is a tropical paradise that offers stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a charming old town. With its beautiful scenery and warm hospitality, it’s no wonder that Puerto Vallarta is a popular destination for backpackers seeking sun, relaxation, and adventure.


Start your journey in the central Malecon, a lively boardwalk that stretches along the coastline. Stroll along the iconic oceanfront promenade, lined with shops, restaurants, and vibrant sculptures. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the bay as you soak up the sun and feel the refreshing ocean breeze.


Visit the charming Old Town, known as Zona Romantica, with its cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. Explore the local markets, art galleries, and boutique shops that showcase the vibrant culture and creativity of Puerto Vallarta.


For the adventure seekers, Puerto Vallarta offers a wide range of thrilling activities. Go snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters, where you can encounter colorful marine life and explore vibrant coral reefs. Embark on a thrilling zip line tour through the lush jungle, or try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding.


Take a boat tour to the nearby Marietas Islands, a hidden gem known for its stunning hidden beach. Swim through a cave and emerge onto a secluded stretch of white sand surrounded by turquoise waters. This hidden paradise is a nature lover’s dream.


As the sun sets, Puerto Vallarta comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. Experience the lively party scene in the city’s clubs and bars, or enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach while being serenaded by live mariachi music.


Don’t miss the opportunity to sample the delicious local cuisine. Indulge in fresh seafood, such as ceviche and grilled fish, or try traditional Mexican dishes like tacos al pastor or pozole. Be sure to pair your meal with a refreshing margarita or a locally crafted tequila.


Puerto Vallarta offers a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re seeking beachside tranquility or thrilling outdoor activities, this tropical paradise has it all. Allow yourself to be captivated by the beauty of Puerto Vallarta and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Nestled on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, Mazunte is a hidden gem that offers tranquility, natural beauty, and a laid-back atmosphere. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the serenity of nature, Mazunte is the perfect destination for your backpacking adventure.


Mazunte is known for its pristine beaches, where you can relax under the sun, swim in the turquoise waters, and enjoy stunning sunsets. One of the highlights is Playa Mermejita, a secluded beach surrounded by cliffs that offers breathtaking views and tranquility.


For nature enthusiasts, a visit to the National Mexican Turtle Center is a must. Learn about the conservation efforts to protect these endangered species, and if you’re lucky, you might witness a sea turtle nesting or hatchlings making their way to the ocean.


Take a hike to the Punta Cometa, the southernmost point of Oaxaca’s coast. This rugged peninsula offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and is a prime spot for whale-watching during the migration season.


Explore the charming town center of Mazunte and visit the Mazunte Natural Cosmetics Cooperative, where you can learn about sustainable and eco-friendly practices in the production of soaps, shampoos, and other natural products.


Take a short boat ride to the nearby towns of San Agustinillo and Zipolite, which offer their own unique charm. San Agustinillo is known for its calm waters, ideal for swimming and paddleboarding. Zipolite, on the other hand, is famous for its clothing-optional beach and bohemian vibe.


Indulge in the delicious seafood that Mazunte has to offer. Sample fresh ceviche, grilled fish, or the local specialty, tlayudas, which are large tortillas topped with a variety of ingredients. Pair your meal with a refreshing coconut water or a cold beer.


Mazunte’s relaxed atmosphere, stunning natural beauty, and commitment to sustainability make it a must-visit destination for backpackers. Embrace the serenity of this coastal paradise and let Mazunte rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.


Playa del Carmen

Located on the Riviera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is a vibrant beach destination that offers a perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and nightlife. With its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and energetic atmosphere, Playa del Carmen is a top choice for backpackers seeking sun, fun, and a lively social scene.


Begin your Playa del Carmen experience by soaking up the sun on the beautiful white-sand beaches. Whether you’re looking to relax on a beach lounger or engage in water sports such as snorkeling or paddleboarding, Playa del Carmen’s beaches have something for everyone.


Take a stroll along Quinta Avenida, the bustling pedestrian street lined with restaurants, shops, and bars. Explore the vibrant local markets and indulge in delicious street food, such as tacos, empanadas, and elotes (grilled corn on the cob).


If you’re a nature lover, venture outside the city and explore the region’s stunning natural wonders. Visit the famous cenotes, sinkholes filled with crystal-clear groundwater, where you can swim, snorkel, or even dive. Discover the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and experience its diverse ecosystems and wildlife.


For the thrill-seekers, Playa del Carmen is the gateway to many exciting adventures. Take a ferry to the nearby island of Cozumel, known for its world-class scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities. Dive among vibrant coral reefs and spot amazing marine life.


No visit to Playa del Carmen is complete without exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, located just a short drive away. Marvel at the well-preserved structures overlooking the stunning turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.


As the sun sets, Playa del Carmen comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. Head to the famous Coco Bongo for an unforgettable show with live performances and non-stop entertainment. Dance the night away in the numerous beach clubs, bars, and nightclubs that line the streets.


Playa del Carmen offers the perfect combination of relaxation, adventure, and lively entertainment. Whether you want to spend your days lounging on the beach, exploring ancient ruins, or enjoying the vibrant nightlife, Playa del Carmen has it all.



The diverse landscapes, rich culture, and warm hospitality of Mexico make it an exceptional destination for backpackers seeking thrilling adventures and unforgettable experiences. From the majestic Copper Canyon in the north to the picturesque beaches of Playa del Carmen in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico offers something for every type of traveler.


As you explore the top backpacking destinations in Mexico, you will be captivated by the natural beauty, ancient ruins, vibrant cities, and mouthwatering cuisine that this country has to offer. Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the bustling streets of Mexico City, hike through the rugged trails of the Copper Canyon, or relax on the pristine beaches of Mazunte, each destination has its own unique charm and attractions.


When backpacking in Mexico, it’s important to embrace the cultural experiences and engage with the local communities. Whether you’re learning about indigenous traditions in Chiapas or indulging in traditional dishes in Oaxaca, connecting with the local culture will enhance your overall experience and leave a lasting impact.


Additionally, Mexico offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. From diving in the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula to exploring the jungles of Chiapas, the country’s natural landscapes provide a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities or seeking a tranquil retreat, Mexico has it all.


Lastly, always remember to travel responsibly and respect the environment, culture, and traditions of the places you visit. Contribute to the preservation of the natural wonders and support local businesses that prioritize sustainability.


So, grab your backpack and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the stunning landscapes and cultural treasures of Mexico. Immerse yourself in ancient history, indulge in delicious cuisine, connect with locals, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Mexico awaits, ready to offer you an adventure like no other.