Your Mexican culture tour begins with a direct flight to the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City. Its Aztec heritage is still strong today and ancient stone remains are never far from the gleam of the modern glass buildings. Pick up a piece of street art or walk along the palm tree boulevards and enjoy a coffee in one of the many quirky cafes. Admire the stately mansions set in colonial neighbourhoods or spend a quiet moment in a city park.
Ancient and artistic history is on the agenda today, and there’s plenty to take in. A visit to the pre-Aztec archaeological site of Teotihuacan, located just outside the city, brings you to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famous for its pyramidal structures that date as far back as the 1st-century AD. In the afternoon the city’s historical centre beckons. Take a stroll through the colonial grandeur of Colonia Roma, appreciating the mix of Art Deco and European styles. Art junkies should head to the Blue House where renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was born and died.
It’s a short flight to Chiapas, where Mexican culture is doused with intoxicating Mayan influences. As you explore Tuxtla and San Cristobal the indigenous cultures, colonial history and natural beauty of the area are revealed. Look down if you dare at the 900m deep Canyon Sumidero, hike through the traditional Chiapa de Corzo and take a boat trip down the Grijalva River through a canyon rich in flora and fauna.
The narrow cobblestone streets of San Cristobal de la Casas are lined with brightly painted buildings, stalls and markets. Choose a handmade souvenir from local families selling traditional crafts in this art lover’s paradise: the town’s many barrios are all famous for specific handicraft skills. Try weaving, pot throwing or metal casting as you learn from the masters and head to a pavement cafe to admire, or discreetly hide, your handiwork.
An early start today sees the air become steamier as lowland jungles and shimmering waterfalls pepper your drive through the Sierra Madre to the soaring foliage-swathed Mayan temples of Palenque. Discover the impressive temples at Tonina, get a little wet under the 100 ft Misol-Ha waterfall and then get ready to immerse yourself in the ceremonial pyramids and city states of the mysterious ancient Maya.
It’s all very Indiana Jones as you breakthrough the dense foliage that shroud the romantic ruins on the Usumacinta River floodplain. Here the largest Mesoamerican step pyramid, the Temple of Inscriptions, towers above you. The location of ceremonial sacrifices is etched with important hieroglyphics that have contributed significantly to the study of Mayan civilisation. In the afternoon, you’ll step forward in history as you head to the walled fortress of Campeche, a beautiful, but little explored colonial city on the Gulf of Mexico.
Spend the day exploring the cobbled streets of Campeche, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and picturesque historic port town. The remains of a hefty defence system of imposing walls and fortresses lead to Baroque churches and pretty pastel painted houses. The city comes alive in the evening, so make the most of it's ethereal lighting with a short moonlight city tour through this captivating colonial fairyland.
Explore more UNESCO wonders today: Uxmal is the most spectacular of all the ancient Maya cities on the Yucatan peninsular. Here the Puuc architecture is characterised by elaborate horizontal stonework towering into the piercing blue skies. The evocatively named Pyramid of the Magician and Houses of the Turtles and of the Birds all live up to their promise, as will the classic Mexican meal of pollo y cochinita pibil accompanied by a cerveza that follows.
Merida, cultural capital of the Yucatan, is a cosmopolitan city buzzing with boutiques, galleries and museums. Behind the glitz lies the historic heart of the city’s colonial history. With a strong tradition of music and dance, the squares offer up the perfect outdoor theatre.
We'll get you in before the crowds to enjoy one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza, at its serene best. The astronomical and engineering accomplishments here are astounding. Your private guide can help you appreciate the mystical significance of angles and measurements here. Representing the pinnacle of Mayan civilisation the Kukulkan Pyramid must have greatly pleased the feathered serpent god it was dedicated to. You'll continue to the Caribbean coastline of the Riviera Maya for some rather more modern pleasures.
Mexico serves up some of the best cultural treats in Latin America, but it’s equally famous for its sand beaches and sea-lapped escapes. Hide away for three sun-dappled days on a boutique resort along the Riviera Maya: swimming, spa treatments and gourmet foods are the order of the day and night here. If your sandy toes lead to itchy feet you can try snorkelling or diving, head to Tulum for a clifftop tour of the Mayan ruins there or explore the tropical forests, mangroves and marshes of Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.
On your Mexican culture tour you have discovered plenty about ancient cultures and Mexican history, music and art. It’s time to head back to the UK with a wealth of new memories and suitcase full of colourful Mexican souvenirs.