Thinking of taking a few road trips to Mexico? There’s no better way to fall in love with a place than to take a road trip and drive the route yourself.
If you’ve never been to Mexico, you may wonder if it’s safe to drive in Mexico. We spent six months traveling all over Mexico from Baja California to the Yucatan Peninsula and had an amazing time on our trip!
Traveling to Mexico is much safer than most people expect, but there are a few things to keep in mind to have a safe and enjoyable time.
When it comes to planning your perfect Mexico road trip, we’ve got you covered! In this post, we share some of the best routes for road trips in Mexico.
See also: Tips for planning the ultimate trip to Mexico
Road Trips in Mexico: The Best Routes to Explore
The Baja California peninsula spans 760 miles from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas. Living in Southern California, I’ve traveled to Baja California on several occasions, including spending a few weeks driving the entire peninsula.
Baja California is a popular region to visit in the winter, when the weather starts to get colder in the United States and Canada.
There is a lot of ground to cover in Baja California, so I recommend setting aside two weeks if you plan to drive the entire route. If you are short on time, focus your travel planning on certain areas such as Northern Baixa Baixa or Southern Baixa Baixa.
See also: Where to Stop Along a California Coastal Road Trip
Here are some of the top destinations to visit in Baja California:
The Guadalupe Valley is often called the “Napa” of Mexico. This region produces 90% of the wine sold in all of Mexico and is best known for luxury boutique hotels and wine tastings.
See also: Guadalupe Canyon: A Hot Spring Oasis in Mexico
Ensenada is a popular getaway destination for Southern California locals. This is also a stop on the 3 day cruise from Long Beach that I have taken several times. Ensenada’s top attractions include La Bufadora by the sea, off-road adventures and local markets where you can get amazing deals on handmade goods.
Todos Santos is a little hidden gem that many people don’t know about. In this small but welcoming city, visitors can enjoy surfing, yoga retreats, galleries and relaxing in quiet boutique hotels.
La Paz was one of my favorite stops on our Baja California road trip. Here visitors can spend the day relaxing on Balandra Beach, famous for its clear blue waters.
Cabo San Lucas
Although Cabo San Lucas has a reputation as a “party town”, there is much more to this town than clubs and bars! Cabo is home to unique natural rock formations such as the Cabo San Lucas Arch, as well as stunning white sand beaches and fun outdoor adventures.
read the Complete Baja California itinerary at FunLifeCrisis.com!
For a laid-back Mexico road trip, start in Cancun and then head south along the 200-mile coast to Bacalar. The entire Yucatan coast is so beautiful, you’re sure to have a great time!
Check out the ruins of Tulum, explore underground cenotes, and stay at top-rated hotels along the way.
See also: Where to Stay in Tulum: Budget Beachfront Accommodation
Here are some of the best places to visit in the Yucatan Peninsula:
Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular vacation destinations and the starting point for those taking road trips to the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo. From Cancun, you can also hop on a ferry to the tropical island of Isla Mujeres, known for world-class snorkeling and scuba diving.
See also: Historic sites and attractions in Cancun
If you have time, I recommend stopping in Playa del Carmen while driving between Cancun and Tulum. Playa del Carmen is a laid-back coastal resort town that has a reputation for world-class beaches and amazing coral reefs teeming with colorful fish.
When it comes to Tulum, people either love it or hate it. We spent a few days visiting Tulum on our Yucatan road trip and really enjoyed our time here. But this city is a bit commercialized, so it’s not as authentic as visiting other places in Mexico.
Tulum is best known for boutique hotels, top-rated restaurants, eclectic shops, beachfront bars, and the Tulum Historic Archeological Zone.
See also: Reasons to travel to Tulum, Mexico
Bacalar is a bit under the radar for international visitors, but it really is one of the most beautiful destinations in Mexico. Bacalar is not easy to get to: it is located near the border with Belize, about 2.5 hours south of Tulum. But if you can get out here, you’ll be amazed by the Bacalar lagoon, known for its mesmerizing turquoise hues.
Looking for a Mexico road trip that’s a little more off the grid? Highway 307 is one of the most rugged yet beautiful routes in Mexico that is known for its stunning waterfalls, blue lakes, historic ruins, and turquoise rivers surrounded by lush, dense jungle. The more you drive on this route, the more you will fall in love with the natural scenery here!
Route 307 starts in San Cristóbal de las Casas and descends into Guatemala in a loop before ending in Palenque. If you want, you can even cross into Guatemala for a day or two before continuing your road trip through Mexico.
Here are some of the top destinations to visit on Highway 307:
Lagunas de Montebello National Park
This National Park is one of the most beautiful attractions in southern Mexico that is located on the border with Guatemala. Here you can visit 59 lakes known for their stunning deep blue color.
Here, you can take hiking trails overlooking colorful lakes or sign up for a boat tour that takes you to remote islands in the middle of these lakes. There are several major lakes that you can visit here with varying amenities and accessibility.
One of my favorite stops on Route 307 was the ruins of Yaxchilán hidden deep in the jungle. You can only visit these ancient Mayan ruins by signing up for a guided river tour that takes you to this remote location; book a visit here.
This whole adventure will make you feel like you’re in an Indiana Jones movie! During this tour, you will be able to see crocodiles, howler monkeys, giant lizards and several species of birds that reside in the jungle.
The Agua Azul waterfall is one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Mexico. This attraction consists of a stunning blue river, waterfalls and swimming areas.
At this location, visitors can also camp overnight, grab food at one of the many food stalls, and browse the souvenir stalls. There are multiple impressive viewing platforms to enjoy the views of this blue river and waterfalls.
Frequently asked questions about driving in Mexico
We hope this post has inspired you to plan more road trips to Mexico! Mexico is truly one of the most beautiful countries in North America and an amazing place to visit if you enjoy unique outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking for a beach, jungle or mountain adventure, Mexico has it all!
Before you leave on your trip, here are some frequently asked questions about driving and safety in Mexico.
Is it safe to travel by road in Mexico?
We spent 6 months traveling in Mexico and for the most part felt safe during our trip. We tried to avoid the big cities and stuck to beach or jungle destinations that were more relaxed and much less crowded.
Here are some tips for driving in Mexico:
- Don’t drive at night. It is much safer to travel during the day for many reasons. The roads in Mexico are not in the best condition, so driving at night puts you at risk of hitting a pothole, bumps (low speed) or getting stuck in the sand (which happened to us on several occasions ).
- Keep a copy of your driver’s license, passport, car insurance and car registration stored in a cloud in case they are lost or stolen.
- Pay the toll roads instead of taking the free roads. Yes, it will be so worth it! Freeways are in much better shape and faster than the free versions.
- Get local insurance. Local Mexico insurance is required if you plan to drive there, which you can easily get online.
See also: Reasons to plan a vacation to Mexico
Is driving in Mexico difficult?
While driving in Mexico isn’t as dangerous as you might think, it’s still very challenging, especially if you’re covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
The hardest thing about driving in Mexico is that you have to constantly pay attention to your surroundings because there is always a lot going on. Even if you follow all driving rules and laws, it doesn’t mean others will. It’s a bit of a ‘wild west’ when it comes to driving, so most international visitors are intimidated to drive there themselves.
While driving in Mexico, others will cut you off, honk and speed around you. You will have to watch out for motorbikes, cyclists, children running down the street, people crossing without warning, animals, dogs, cats, chickens… It goes without saying that driving in Mexico requires a lot of energy, of so we always prefer to travel slowly and enjoy the car while taking amazing road trips in Mexico.