tulum mayan ruins on tulum beach in mexico | yucatan pueblos magicos

Best Yucatan Pueblos Magicos You Must Visit in 2022


Planning to visit some Mexico pueblos magicos?

There are currently 132 pueblos magicos in Mexico, and nine Yucatan pueblos magicos in the Yucatan Peninsula. In case, you’re wondering, the Yucatan Peninsula is a region in southeast Mexico that’s comprised of three states: Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche.

Here is the complete list of Yucatan pueblos magicos, divided by state ⤵

  • Quintana Roo Pueblos Magicos: Bacalar, Isla Mujeres, Tulum
  • Yucatán Pueblos Magicos: Izamal, Maní, Sisal, Valladolid
  • Campeche Pueblos Magicos: Isla Aguada, Palizada

Ready to discover all the Yucatan pueblos magicos in Mexico? Let’s get to it! After you see the list, don’t miss the Yucatan pueblos magicos FAQ, to get answers to all your questions about the pueblos mágicos in Mexico.

BEST YUCATAN PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

What is a Pueblo Mágico?

Yucatan and Mexico pueblos magicos, or magic towns, are pueblos (small towns) recognized by the Mexico Tourism Secretary for certain “magical” qualities. These include unique folklore, rich history and stunning natural beauty.

Promoted by the Mexico Secretary of Tourism, these towns are also welcoming to tourists. Some of the best pueblos mágicos in Yucatan, like Tulum and Valladolid, they’re also some of the most popular Mexico travel destinations.

Yucatan Pueblos Mágicos Map

All the best pueblos magicos in Yucatan have been pinned to the map below for your convenience. If you want to see the complete list of Mexico pueblo magico towns on a map, head to this article, which features 33 of the best pueblos magicos in Mexico.

BEST YUCATAN PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

1. Tulum, Quintana Roo

The Tulum Instagram spots, Tulum Ruins and Tulum cenotes are among the must do Tulum activities.

Tulum pueblo magico is one of the best beaches in Mexico, and most popular travel destinations in Yucatan. In fact, most visitors don’t even realize Tulum is a pueblo magico because it’s so popular even without the prestigious designation.

If this will be your first visit to Tulum, you’re in for a treat. There are so many things to do in Tulum Mexico — from the beautiful beaches along the Caribbean Sea, to the Instagram worthy Tulum art and hotels, the gorgeous Tulum cenotes, and much more.

For an absolute must do Tulum activity, head to the Tulum Mayan Ruins. They are located right on the Tulum Beach Road, just 10 minutes or so from Tulum Town (Downtown Tulum), and considered among the best Mayan ruins in Mexico.

🏝 Need a Tulum hotel, or suggestions on where to stay in Tulum? Check out these Tulum blogs, with accommodation options for all travel styles, group sizes and budgets!

BEST YUCATAN PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

2. Valladolid, Yucatan

Stroll the colorful Calzada de los Frailes (AKA Calle de los Frailes), one of the best Valladolid things to do.

Valladolid pueblo magico is a beautiful colonial city, and among the best day trips from Merida, Mexico. However, you may regret not spending more time in Valladolid Yucatan Mexico, as there’s quite a bit to see and gorgeous yet affordable Valladolid hotels right in downtown.

There are so many things to do in Valladolid, like visiting the Parque Principal (Main Park) to see the Iglesia de San Servacio church. Located right around the popular park, there’s great shops and restaurants for you to sample authentic Yucatecan foods like cochinita pibil.

Spend some strolling the Calzada de los Frailes, a colorful street lined with flower pots, boutique shops and cafes. The Calzada (Promenade) it is one reason Valladolid ranks among the most Instagram worthy Mexico cities, and is one of the must visit Yucatan pueblos magicos.

Among the best shops on this street, there’s Kuxtal Galería de Arte Popular Mexicano & Café, a Mexican folk art shop, and Coqui Coqui Perfumeria, a boutique fragrance store. At the southwest end of the street, don’t miss the 16th Century Ex-Convento de San Bernardino de Siena.

Best valladolid cenotes in yucatan

No visit to Valladolid Yucatan pueblo magico is complete without a swim in Zaci Cenote.

Located minutes from downtown, you’ll want to visit Cenote Zaci. This partially-open cenote (swimmable sinkhole) is popular with locals and visitors alike. There’s also an onsite restaurant where you can try traditional Yucatan food after your swim in this beautiful cenote.

When in Valladolid, Mexico, you’re not far from Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cenote Zaci, there are other great Valladolid cenotes, like Cenote Suytun and Cenote Ik Kil, not too far away.

BEST YUCATAN PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

3. Bacalar, Quintana Roo

a sail boat in the middle of the blue waters of bacalar lagoon mexico
Laguna Bacalar (AKA Bacalar Lake) is the main attraction in the pueblo mágico Bacalar.

Bacalar pueblo magico is a quiet town in the southern part of Quintana Roo State. Its claim to fame is Laguna Bacalar Lake, AKA the Lagoon of Seven Colors, a freshwater lagoon where you can see seven shades of blue, ranging from dark indigo to bright turquoise.

As a very large lake, the best way to experience Bacalar Lagoon is by boat tour where you’ll visit sites like Isla Pajaros (Bird Island) and Canal de Los Piratas (Pirate’s Channel). You’ll also want to spend some time exploring the Bacalar cenotes, like Cenote Azul and Cenote Cocalitos.

When you get hungry, head to Downtown Bacalar to eat at a local restaurant and visit the historic San Felipe Fort. If you have extra time, check out the Costa Maya beach town of Mahahual, Mexico and Kohunlich Mayan Ruins; both located about an hour from Bacalar.

While its popularity grows year after year, Bacalar still feels more low-key than many places in Quintana Roo, like Tulum and Cancun. For now, you can still enjoy a quiet getaway and inexpensive Bacalar accommodations — though it won’t stay a Mexico hidden gem forever!

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

4. Izamal, Yucatan

The yellow Izamal convent, Convent of San Antonio de Padua, located in the town’s main square.

Izamal pueblo magico in the Yucatan Peninsula has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Site list — though for now, it remains a Yucatan pueblo magico. Located about 1.5 hours from Merida, Izamal is one of the best and most popular Merida day trips.

Nicknamed “The Yellow Town,” Izamal is, well — yellow! That’s right: all buildings in Downtown Izamal are bright yellow 💛 Wondering, Why is Izamal painted yellow? No one knows for sure how the paint color came to be, which makes it even more intriguing.

Izamal, Mexico is a small town and you can explore all of downtown in a few hours. While there, don’t miss the Convent of San Antonio de Padua, and take a calesa tour (horse-drawn carriage) to see the rest of Izamal. There’s also Kinich Kakmo Mayan Ruins that you can climb!

When you work up an appetite, head to Kinich Restaurant or Mercado Municipal De Izamal market to enjoy authentic Yucatan food. If you eat meat, sample one of the area’s most interesting dishes, dzik de venado, a shredded venison and veggie dish that’s similar to salpicon.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

5. Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

Isla Mujeres is a five-mile-long island (8 km) in the Mexican Caribbean, a few miles from Cancun, Mexico by boat.

Isla Mujeres pueblo magico is one of the best places to visit in Yucatan. To get there, you’ll take the Cancun to Isla Mujeres ferry, for the 20-30 minute ride over to the island, which is located just across the Bahia de Mujeres (Bay of Women). 

Meaning “Island of Women,” Isla Mujeres was once a popular pilgrimage site with Maya women who went to the island to worship the Mayan goddess, Ixchel. This jaguar deity was the goddess of the moon, medicine, childbirth, midwifery and more.

Overlooking the Caribbean Sea at Punta Sur on the southern tip of the island, you’ll find the Ruins of Ixchel Temple. When you’re ready to swim, head to the Playa Norte on the northern side, which has a long stretch of white sandy beach and calm waters.

swim with the whale sharks in ISLA MUJERES

woman in long sleeved pink shirt swimming next to a giant spotted whale shark in holbox island, one of the most unique places to visit in mexico
Get up close and personal with the largest fish in the sea on a Isla Mujeres whale shark tour.

Besides beaches and Mayan Ruins, one of the best things to do in Isla Mujeres is swim with whale sharks. They are sharks, but they’re incredibly docile, and pose no threats to humans. Whale sharks are also the largest fish in the ocean, averaging an astonishing 35-feet-long (10.5 m) 😳

If you visit Isla Mujeres from May 17 to September 17, large groups of whale sharks swim past the island on their annual migration. During these months time, you can take an Isla Mujeres or Cancun whale shark tour to swim right alongside these gentle giants.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

6. Sisal, Yucatan

Sisal Beach is about 45-minutes from Merida by rental car, and closer to 90-minutes using public transportation. (Photo: Jorge Zapata via Unsplash)

In 2020, Sisal was named a Mexico pueblo magico (magic town). One of the best beaches near Merida Mexico, Sisal is the perfect place to simply enjoy the white sand beach, a swim in the calm Gulf of Mexico waters, and eat some fresh seafood in one of the beachfront restaurants.

You can also rent a kayak or SUP paddleboard and explore the Gulf of Mexico or nearby lagoons on the water. There are some local shops near the beach, a few cafes and restaurants and some economical Sisal hotels — but this is definitely a place to relax on a quiet beach.

When I personally visit Sisal, I rent a beach chair under one of the shaded palapas outside of the Muelle de Sisal restaurant. Rentals are about $50-100 pesos ($2.50-5USD) for the day, and if you order food and drinks from the restaurant, they let you use their bathroom all day.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

7. Maní, Yucatan

historic convent in mani, mexico | yucatan pueblos magicos
Wondering about the best things to do in Maní, Mexico? Don’t miss the Ex Convento de San Miguel Arcángel.

One of the more off the beaten path pueblos magicos in Mexico, Maní is a great place to explore if you want to experience true Yucatan culture. It’s a charming small town, with an impressive, historic Franciscan convent, Ex Convento de San Miguel Arcángel, and a small downtown area.

Also known for its colorful buildings, many visit Maní (which means peanut 🥜!) on a day trip from Merida. Located less than two hours from Merida Mexico by rental car, the best way to get to Maní is to fly into Merida Airport (code: MID) and drive over.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

8. Isla Aguada, Campeche

blue boat in the water near a dock | things to do in campeche mexico
Isla Aguada is one of only two Campeche pueblo magico towns. (Photo: Fernand Repond via Flickr)

Unlike the popular (and crowded!) beaches of the Mexican Caribbean, like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya, the Campeche beaches are peaceful and tranquil. In fact, you might even have them all to yourself, including Isla Aguada, one of the best Campeche beaches.

There’s quite a few fun things to do in Isla Aguada, including just laying on the beach! You can also check out the mangroves of Laguna de Terminos, a protected nature sanctuary of about 2,700-square-miles (7,000 km²), best explored by boat.

This Campeche lagoon has been declared a Natural Dolphin Sanctuary so you can take a Laguna de Terminos boat tour to see huge pods of wild dolphins 🐬 There’s also the small Isla Aguada Museum of Underwater Archeology, which is located in a historic lighthouse.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

9. Palizada, Campeche

colorful buildings in palizada, campeche | yucatan pueblos magicos
Colorful Palizada, Mexico, in Campeche State. (Photo: José Miguel Escobar Pérez via Flickr)

Palizada is located on the western edge of Campeche State, near the border with Tabasco State, where you can see the Great Pyramid of La Venta and the Olmec Ruins. Located on the Río Palizada River, this town was a commercial route for the Mayans in pre-Hispanic times.

Today, it’s one of the best off the beaten path pueblos magicos in Mexico. The buildings in Downtown Palizada are all very colorful, and have the town’s characteristic French tile roofs. If you can, visit Palizada during festival Carnival and Semana Santa (Holy Week or Easter Week).

Yucatan Pueblos Magicos: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Mexico pueblos magicos?

Meaning “magic town,” pueblos magicos in Mexico are small towns highlighted by the Mexico Pueblo Magico Program for their “magical” qualities. This could be a town’s natural beauty, unique folklore, historic importance, natural wonders, interesting festivals, and more.

The designation of pueblo magico is similar to that of a UNESCO World Heritage Site; however, pueblos magicos are limited to just Mexico. Much like a Mexico UNESCO site, it is a great honor for a town to receive the pueblo magico designation.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

How many pueblo magico Mexico towns are there?

colorful street in San Miguel De Allende Mexico
Once a pueblo magico, San Miguel de Allende was removed from the list — though it’s still a Mexico UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The list is updated annually, and on the most recent list, there are 132 pueblos mágicos México officially recognizes. While there are 132 pueblos magicos right now, that number can (and likely will) change in the future. You can find the entire list of pueblos magicos here.

Each year, the Mexico Secretary of Tourism must reevaluates the list; some towns are added and some get removed. In the case of San Miguel de Allende, the city was removed from the list once the population got too high for it to be called a pueblo (small town).

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

How does a town qualify as a Mexico pueblo magico?

There are a few steps to apply, starting with the town forming a Pueblo Magico Committee. The committee handles the application, and when approved, sees that the town remain a place of value for Mexico visitors. If not, their status can be revoked the following year. 

There are three requirements to be considered for Mexico pueblo magico status:

  • The town’s population must be at least 5,000 residents.
  • It must be relatively easy to reach from a major city in Mexico via public transportation or well-maintained roadways.
  • There must have something unique, or magical about it that visitors will want to experience.

As you might imagine, there isn’t an exact definition of magical. However some common qualities include a unique annual festival, stunning natural beauty, interesting folkloric traditions, historic Colonial architecture, and more.

BEST yucatan PUEBLOS MAGICOS in mexico

Which were the first Mexico pueblos magicos?

Tepoztlan Morelos is located one hour from Mexico City, and makes for one of the best Mexico City day trips.

The Mexico pueblo magico program launched in 2001 with just a few cities — Tepoztlan, Real de Catorce, Mexcaltitán de Uribe and Huasca de Ocampo. These four are still on the list of pueblos magicos, though Tepoztlan and Mexcaltitan de Uribe both temporarily lost the status.

By 2009, there were a total of 35 pueblos magicos. In 2012, there were 83, with at least one pueblo magico in all 32 Mexico states (except Mexico City, which is a state). Each year the program grows, as small towns prioritize attaining pueblo magico status.

Final Thoughts: Best Yucatan Pueblos Magicos in Mexico

This list showcases all the Yucatan pueblos magicos, and there really is a perfect one for all types of travelers. For beach-goers, head to Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Sisal, Bacalar and Isla Aguada. If you want to visit some Colonial towns in Mexico, head to Valladolid, Izamal, Maní and Palizada.

Are Yucatan pueblos magicos worth visiting?

Travelers who love venturing off the beaten path will love the pueblos magicos in Yucatan. You will get a much more authentic experience than in a big name destination of Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, so for culture travelers, Mexico magic towns are the way to go.

Merida Travel Planning Guide

🚑 Should I buy Mexico travel insurance?

100% YES! — With basic coverage averaging just $5-10USD per day, enjoy peace of mind with a plan from World Nomads, the biggest name in travel insurance. (Read more)

💧Can you drink the water in Merida?

No — You’ll want to buy a Water-To-Go Bottle, which filters your drinking water so you don’t get sick from drinking water in Mexico, and helps keep you hydrated while traveling Mexico. (Read more)

🚙💨 Is it safe to rent a car in Merida?

Yes — Renting a car in Mexico is one of the best ways to see the country! I always rent with Discover Cars, which checks both international companies and local Mexican companies, so you get the best rates. (Read more)

📲 Will my phone work in Merida?

Maybe — It depends on your company, so check with your provider. If you don’t have free Mexico service, buy a Telcel SIM Card. As Mexico’s largest carrier, Telcel has the best coverage of any Mexico SIM Cards. (Read more)

🏩 What’s the best way to book my Merida accommodation?

For Mexico hotels and hostels, Booking is the best site. If you’re considering a Mexico Airbnb, don’t forget to also check VRBO, which is often cheaper than Airbnb! (Read more)

✈️ What’s the best site to buy Mexico flights? For finding cheap Mexico flights, I recommend Skyscanner.

🎫 Do I need a visa for Mexico?

Likely Not — U.S., Canadian and most European Passport holders don’t need a visa for Mexico; but check here to see if you do need a Mexico travel visa. The majority of travelers will receive a 180-Day FMM Tourist Visa upon arrival.

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