12 best Mexican holidays

Break for the border where the temples enchant


1 Mayan highlightsExplore Mexico's ancient stone cities with Journey Latin America (tel: 020-8747 8315) on a 16-day "Highlights of Mexico" tour. Visit Mexico City's spectacular Museum of Anthropology, before departing for the pyramids of Teotihuacan, and then heading south for the Indian mountain village of Oaxaca and the Zapotec burial site at Monte Alban. Other highlights include the Lacandon rainforest, and the Mayan cities of Uxmal, Kabah and Chichen Itza. The tour costs from £913 per person, based on two sharing, including room-only hotel accommodation, domestic flights, transfers, transport and guide. International flights cost extra.

1 Mayan highlightsExplore Mexico's ancient stone cities with Journey Latin America (tel: 020-8747 8315) on a 16-day "Highlights of Mexico" tour. Visit Mexico City's spectacular Museum of Anthropology, before departing for the pyramids of Teotihuacan, and then heading south for the Indian mountain village of Oaxaca and the Zapotec burial site at Monte Alban. Other highlights include the Lacandon rainforest, and the Mayan cities of Uxmal, Kabah and Chichen Itza. The tour costs from £913 per person, based on two sharing, including room-only hotel accommodation, domestic flights, transfers, transport and guide. International flights cost extra.

2 Mexico City breakTake a short trip to the world's most populous city with Mundi Color (tel: 020-7828 6021). Two nights at the Hotel Majestic, in the centre of the city overlooking the vast paved Zocalo plaza, costs from £617 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers and room-only accommodation.

3 Habla espagnol?Spend two weeks learning Spanish in Oaxaca. Caledonia Languages Abroad (tel: 0131-621 7721) has a school in a 19th-century hacienda where language and literature classes take place every morning for three hours, followed by cultural workshops in the afternoon on dance, art and music. From £310 per person, including half-board accommodation in private homes and tuition. International flights cost extra.

4 Sierra Madre by bikeTake a mountain-bike tour through the states of Mexico, Morelos, Puebla and Oaxaca on an 18-day cycling holiday with Exodus (tel: 020-8675 5550). This route, aimed at those with above-average levels of fitness, passes through five eco-systems, including desert, coniferous forest (and Mexico's largest cactus forest), rainforest and tropical jungle, before reaching the Pacific and the surf of Puerto Escondido. The price is from £1,295 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transport, camping and hotel accommodation, guides and some meals.

5 Historic tourTake an 11-day tour of Mexico's cobbled colonial cities with South American Experience (tel: 020-7976 5511). The tour departs from Mexico City via the convent of Tepotzotlan on to the lively artisan town of San Miguel de Allende, and the silver-mining mansions of Guanajuato. The price costs from £1,365 per person, based on two sharing, including all flights, transfers and transport, guide, site entrance fees and b&b hotel accommodation.

6 Wild west on horsebackTake a four-legged trip into Mexico's wild west through Equitour (tel: 01865 511642). Follow Mexico's top endurance rider, Jose Schravesande, as he rides cross-country through the Sierra Madre Occidental. From the farmhouse base at the edge of Valle Bravo, daily excursions are made to traditional villages, sub-tropical farmland, pine forest, sugarcane fields and a Monarch butterfly sanctuary. The price is £1,000 per person, based on two sharing, including transfers from Mexico City with one night's room-only hotel accommodation and five-and-a-half day's riding with full board at the private farm estate. International flights cost extra. The eight-day tour is aimed at riders of an intermediate level - the next is on 14-21 October.

7 Diving in CozumelFor the best diving in Mexico head for the island of Cozumel with Dive Worldwide (tel: 01243 870618). A 10-day break at the Fiesta America dive resort starts from £945 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers, b&b accommodation and 10 dives. For beginners, a Padi Open Water course costs from £215 per person, including a four-day course (two days of theory classes can be done beforehand, by correspondence, if the booking is made far enough in advance).

8 Cut-price AcapulcoAcapulco Airtours (tel: 0800 0284936) is offering packages to Acapulco, for departures in November. Stay one week at the two-star Acapulco Malibu for £549 per person, based on two sharing, with room-only accommodation, or at the Copacabana hotel, all-inclusive, for £649. Both prices include return flights from Manchester and transfers.

9 Temples and tequilaTry a four-week overland tour, travelling from Mexico to Antigua on board a four-wheel-drive truck through Dragoman (tel: 01728 861133). Accommodation is a mixture of camping and hotels. The tour takes in the temples and pyramids of the Mayan, Toltec and Aztec civilisations along with cave diving, sea kayaking, jungle walks and horse riding. The price starts from £900 per person, based on two sharing, including transport, camp meals and camping and hotel accommodation. There is also an additional kitty charge (from US$385; £273) to cover activities, meals, entrance fees and so on.

10 Haute-cuisine haciendasIf you want more from Mexican cuisine than burritos and nachos, try a luxury tailor-made tour with Scott Dunn Latin America (tel: 020-8767 8989). Restored colonial haciendas on the Yucatan peninsula offer well-appointed accommodation and visits are arranged to restaurants famed for the local cuisine, derived from both aboriginal Mayan and Spanish Moorish traditions (expect lots of hot peppers). The price is from £1,996 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights to Merida, transfers and nine nights' b&b accommodation. The price also includes a lunch excursion from Hacienda Uayamon to Campech, at the Picoaga restaurant, renowned for its fresh seafood. Dinner at the haciendas costs about US$38 per person.

11 Dolphins and whalesDiscover Baja's whales and turtles on an 10-day boat tour with Wildlife Worldwide (tel: 020-8667 9158). The tour starts in the Sea of Cortes, in search of fin and minke whales and progresses towards the tip of the Baja peninsula in search of humpback whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. The price is from £1,795 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, transfers, expert naturalist guide, full-board cabin and hotel accommodation (one overnight in Los Angeles). Accommodation is on board an 80ft vessel with an additional two Zodiac inflatables for whale-watching at close-quarters.

12 Natural comfortsSet in a 42-acre nature reserve, two hours south of Puerta Vallerta, Hotelito offers ecologically sound accommodation for those who do not want to skimp on comfort. This beach-front cabin-style hotel is solar powered and candle-lit and guests take semi open-air showers using Hotelito's natural soaps, shampoos and body oils. Food is cooked in a traditional Mexican kitchen using locally grown produce and there is a turtle protection scheme run on the hotel's beach during the hatching season. The price is from £2,205 per double room, including full-board accommodation, transfers from Puerta Vallerta, activities such as horse riding, boating, mountain biking, bird watching and kayaking, and use of the spa, although treatments are extra. Contact Cathy Matos Tours (tel: 020-7284 2550).

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