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12 Days in Mexico: From Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City

Trip Highlights: Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, and Mexico City

This 12 Days in Mexico travel itinerary takes you on a captivating journey through Mexico’s heart. We begin in the vibrant streets of Puerto Vallarta, transitioning seamlessly to the historic splendors of Guadalajara and San Miguel de Allende. Next, we dive into the dynamic energy of Mexico City. Each day unravels new adventures, from ancient pyramids to lively canals, skillfully blending relaxation with exploration. Designed to showcase Mexico’s diverse charm, this itinerary offers a journey as rich and varied as the country itself.

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Teotihuacan Pyramids)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Teotihuacan Pyramids)

Taking a Bus in Mexico

For 12 days in Mexico, traveling by bus, we found it surprisingly comfortable and convenient. The buses were modern and equipped with air conditioning, ensuring a calm and pleasant journey. Spacious seats and smooth rides made our travels relaxing. To streamline our trip, we booked our bus tickets through this website and here, which made finding the proper routes and times effortless, enhancing our overall travel experience in Mexico.

Day 1: Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!

Welcome to Day 1 of your 12 Days in Mexico! Arrive in the morning and start with a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Malecon Boardwalk, soaking in the coastal views. As you stroll, enjoy the spectacular ocean views and witness the lively street performers. Admire the intricate sand sculptures and browse local artisan stalls for unique souvenirs. Feel the lively pulse of the city while enjoying delicious street food. As the afternoon sunsets, go to “El Pescador.” This spot offers some of the best local seafood, perfect for a delightful dinner to end your first day.

Day 2: Culture and Beach Day

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Puerto Vallarta)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Puerto Vallarta)

Start your morning at Café de Olla, savoring authentic flavors. Then, visit the iconic Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a must-see in Puerto Vallarta. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the old town, soaking in vibrant colors and rich culture. Head up to Mirador de La Cruz for breathtaking city and ocean views. Later, stroll through Zona Romantica‘s charming streets. Unwind at Conchas Chinas beach for a serene sunset. Conclude with dinner at La Palapa, enjoying beachside ambiance and delicious seafood. If you can squeeze in, consider a tequila-tasting tour to savor Mexico’s iconic spirit during the day (2 hours).

Day 3: Hiking and 6 Hidden Beaches

On Day 3 in Puerto Vallarta, join a full-day hike to Puerto Vallarta’s six hidden beaches. Start with a scenic boat ride, then hike through lush jungles to each secluded beach. Enjoy snorkeling in crystal-clear waters and spotting vibrant marine life. Or, embark on the Yelapa and Majahuitas Adventure Cruise. This cruise offers a mix of relaxation, snorkeling, and exploring charming coastal villages, complete with a waterfall visit in Yelapa.

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta

In Puerto Vallarta, Hostel Vallarta is a top pick for budget-friendly yet vibrant stays in the heart of downtown. Also, Jet’s Gay Youth Hostel caters to the LGBTQ community (and straight-friendly, too!). For a mid-range option, Hotel Rio Malecón offers excellent value and accessibility to key attractions. Those seeking luxury will find “The Sheraton Buganvilias Resort” perfect, blending luxury with a prime location. You can also book them on Expedia.

Day 4: Off to Guadalajara by Bus and Self-Guided Walking Tour

On Day 4 of this 12 Days in Mexico itinerary, hop on the early bus and be ready to explore Guadalajara by 10 AM. Your self-guided tour starts at the magnificent Guadalajara Cathedral. Next, head over to the lively Plaza de Armas, then experience the historic beauty of the Palace of the Governor. Meander through Calle Pedro Moreno, famed as the Street of Weddings.

Feel the music at Plaza de Los Mariachis and browse the San Juan de Dios market. Discover handcrafted wonders at Libertad Market and take a moment at The Chairs. Admire the art at the Institute Cultural Cabañas, stroll down Paseo Hospicio, and take in the architecture of Teatro Degollado. Conclude with the vibrant energy of Plaza Guadalajara before enjoying a well-deserved dinner at “La Chata.”

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Guadalajara)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Guadalajara)

Where to Stay in Guadalajara

In Guadalajara, Hostel Hospedarte Centro offers budget-friendly, vibrant stays in the city’s heart. Hotel Morales combines comfort and convenience for a mid-range option, nestled close to downtown attractions. Hotel Demetria stands out for luxury seekers with its exquisite design and premium amenities, and it is located ideally for exploring the city’s charm. 

Day 5: To San Miguel de Allende – The World’s Most Beautiful City

On Day 5, embrace a serene morning in Guadalajara. Maybe revisit the historic district’s charm one last time. Or, if you plan to stay one more night, become a tequila expert for a day! Then, at 2 PM, set off for San Miguel de Allende by bus, the city that Travel + Leisure named the “Best City in the World” 4 times! Your arrival at 8 PM marks the beginning of an exploration in a city renowned for its unparalleled beauty, a distinction it has proudly held for these notable years.

Day 6: Self-guided Walking Tour of San Miguel, a UNESCO World Heritage City

Start at the iconic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, with its pink towers reaching sky-high. Stroll to the historic Bellas Artes to view captivating murals. Wander through the artisanal Mercado de Artesanías for unique finds. Next, discover El Jardín Main Square, a bustling hub of activity. Visit Casa del Mayorazgo de la Canal, showcasing colonial elegance. Pop into the Iglesia de San Francisco, another architectural gem. Walk along Callejón del Chorro, a picturesque alley, to the lush Parque Juárez.

Admire Instituto Allende for art and culture. Refresh at San Miguel’s Public Library, a haven for book lovers. Head to El Mirador for panoramic views. Visit El Charco del Ingenio, a botanical garden. Finally, unwind at the relaxing La Gruta Spa, capping off your tour with serene moments. Enjoy dinner at a local favorite, perhaps the charming Cumpanio, for contemporary cuisine.

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (San Miguel de Allende)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (San Miguel de Allende)

Day 7: The Pyramids and the Sistine Chapel of the Americas

On Day 7 of our 12 Days in Mexico, we embarked on a captivating 5-hour tour to Cañada de la Virgen. Here, we explored an ancient archaeological site, marveled at the pyramid complex, and learned about the Otomi people from an expert guide. After the tour, we ventured to the Santuario de Atotonilco by hiring a taxi to take us there and back. This UNESCO-listed gem, a mere 20 minutes from the city, is aptly dubbed the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas.” We admired its stunning frescoes, a testament to rich Mexican religious art

Where to stay in San Miguel de Allende

In San Miguel de Allende, accommodation options cater to all budgets while ensuring comfort and accessibility. The Hostel Inn is downtown for budget travelers and offers affordability and a friendly atmosphere. Those seeking mid-range lodging will find Casa Mia Suites, a charming and well-reviewed choice, ideally located. Colonial Luxury Home stands out for luxury seekers, offering exquisite comfort and elegance just steps from the city’s heart.

Day 8: To Mexico City! 

On Day 8, you caught the early 7:30 AM bus, journeying towards vibrant Mexico City. Arriving around noon, you swiftly checked into your hotel, taking some well-deserved rest after the long trip. Later, rejuvenated, you ventured out to Alameda Central. Here, you relaxed, soaking up the lively atmosphere and immersing yourself in the heart of the city’s cultural and historical essence. This day marked a smooth transition from the calm of San Miguel to the bustling energy of Mexico City.

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Mexico City)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Mexico City)

Day 9: Exploring the Historic District of Mexico City! 

On day 9 of our 12 days in Mexico itinerary, we began your self-guided walking tour at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City, soaking in its colonial magnificence. A short walk led us to the National Palace, home to Diego Rivera’s awe-inspiring murals depicting Mexico’s history. Next, we immersed ourselves in Aztec culture at the Templo Mayor Museum. Then, meandered to Plaza de Santo Domingo, a place echoing historical charm. Post-lunch, we admired the architectural splendor of the Esperanza Iris City Theater.

Our next stop, the Museo Nacional De Arte (MUNAL), showcases exquisite Mexican art. Then, we visited the visually stunning Postal Palace. Proceeded to the Palace of Fine Arts, where you’ll find more of Diego Rivera’s mesmerizing murals, a feast for the eyes. Ended our day at Mirador Torre Latino for an unforgettable sunset view. For dinner, we headed to “La Casa de Toño”. This well-reviewed eatery offers delicious, affordable Mexican cuisine. Today’s journey through Mexico City’s historic heart reveals a rich blend of art, history, and urban culture. Of course, you can join a tour if that’s your thing. 

Day 10: Teotihuacan Pyramids

On day 10 of our 12 days in Mexico itinerary, we embarked on an exciting trip to the majestic Teotihuacan pyramids. First, we marveled at the imposing Pyramid of the Sun, climbing its steps for a panoramic view. Then, we strolled along the Avenue of the Dead, absorbing the site’s ancient aura. Next, we explored the equally impressive Pyramid of the Moon, uncovering its mysteries. This journey through time deeply connected us with Mexico’s rich pre-Columbian history, making for an unforgettable experience.

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Xochimilco)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (Xochimilco)

Day 11: Frida Kahlo’s House and Xochimilco River Boat

On Day 11, we set off early, eager for our cultural adventure. Our first stop: the charming Coyoacán. We hired an Uber, and our driver suggested visiting the historical center first. It was a delightful detour, filled with quaint streets and local life. We then made our way to Frida Kahlo’s House. Heads up – the lines can get long, so booking your tickets ahead is wise! We lined up for almost 2 hours! Goodness! Inside, we were enthralled by Frida’s personal world: her vivid paintings, the studio where she poured her soul onto canvas, and the colorful garden that reflects her vibrant spirit. After soaking in Frida’s legacy, we headed to Xochimilco. The afternoon was spent on a traditional “trajinera” boat, gliding through lively canals. We were surrounded by floating mariachi bands, bright decorations, and the joyful pulse of Mexico. It was the perfect blend of tranquility and festivity – a true highlight of our trip! And yes, if you’re comfortable with group sightseeing, there’s a tour of these two places

Where to stay in Mexico City

In Mexico City, accommodation options cater to all preferences. For budget travelers, Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral offers affordability and a lively atmosphere in the city’s heart. Mid-range seekers find comfort and convenience at Hotel Stanza, which is ideally located for exploring. Those seeking luxury can indulge in Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City, offering luxury and exceptional service, ensuring a memorable stay in this vibrant metropolis.

Day 12: Farewell Mexico! 

On Day 12, we woke up early, packed our bags, and checked out of the hotel by 8 AM. We headed to the airport, ready for our flight back at 11 AM.

12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (San Miguel de Allende)
12 Days in Mexico Travel Itinerary (San Miguel de Allende)

Our “12 Days in Mexico” adventure was an exhilarating blend of discovery, excitement, and cultural immersion. Every day unfolded new experiences, bonding us closer to the heart and soul of Mexico. We embraced each moment, from serene mornings to lively evenings, creating a tapestry of unforgettable memories. This journey was more than just travel; it was a journey through a rich, vibrant culture. As we look back, we cherish every step of this incredible twelve-day exploration, leaving us enriched and inspired. May this 12 Days in Mexico travel itinerary help you create your own adventure by bus in Mexico – from the ocean to the heart of the capital!

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