Mexico is strewn with multicolored, jewel-like cities from coast to coast and all down its mountainous, central spine. These cities and towns, known as Pueblos Magicos, or Magical Towns, are cultural treasures bestowed with this designation thanks to their commitment to heritage and tradition.
Mexico has more than 100 of these towns all over the country. You may know many of them, like Sayulita just north of Puerto Vallarta, Todos Santos near Los Cabos and Isla Mujeres just off the coast of Cancun. Some are lesser known, like San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas and Taxco in Guerrero. And still there are those that are likely completely off the radar, like Patzcuaro in Michoacan and Real de Catorce in San Luis Potosi.
As we head into 2021, there are a few more Magic Towns being inducted into the exclusive fold, giving travelers new reasons to venture off the beaten path in Mexico in the new year.
The state of Yucatan has inducted two of its towns as Magical Towns: Sisal and Mani. Mani is located 62 miles southeast from Merida and is known for the thriving Mayan culture that permeates its streets. A community of artisans living in Mani is dedicated to embroidering blouses, suits and traditional huipiles garments. In addition to Mayan tradition, history and heritage, Mani has stunning Spanish architecture that dates back to the 16th century, like the church and convent of San Miguel Arcangel.
Sisal is a sleepy, laid-back beach town about half an hour northwest of Merida that is known for its ecotourism, seafood and beaches with powder-soft sand. The only other towns in Yucatan that have the Magical Town designation are Izamal and Valladolid.
On the opposite coast, the state of Jalisco has named the lakeside town of Ajijic its latest Magical Town. Ajijic, long a favorite hideaway for Canadian and American expats and snowbirds, is known for the stunning lake at its center, the largest lake in Mexico. The town is surrounded by the towering Sierra Madre Mountains and features a waterfront promenade, hot springs, restaurants, galleries and boutiques. Jalisco's other Magical Towns include Tequila, Tlaquepaque, San Sebastian del Oeste, Lagos de Moreno, Mazamitla, Talpa de Allende, Tapalpa and Mascota.
Back in November, the state of Nayarit welcomed the island village of Mexcaltitan onto the list of Magical Towns, as well. Just a short boat ride away from the exclusive Riviera Nayarit, Mexcaltitan is known as the Venice of Mexico, thanks to the canals that form within the streets during the rainy season. No cars are permitted on the island. Instead, locals move around the island on canoes. Brightly colored houses sit perched upon the town's high sidewalks, and its restaurants are known for serving some of the best seafood and ceviche in Mexico.
Correction: Isla Mujeres is just off the coast of Cancun; an earlier version of this article placed the town near Tulum, which is about two hours south.