Thinking about taking a few roads trip in Mexico? There’s no better way to fall in love with a place than heading on a road trip and driving the route yourself.
If you’ve never been to Mexico before, you may be wondering if it’s safe to drive in Mexico. We spent six months traveling across all of Mexico from Baja California to the Yucatán Peninsula and had a wonderful time on our trip!
It is much safer to travel in Mexico than most people expect, but there are some things to keep in mind to have a safe and enjoyable time.
When it comes to planning out your perfect Mexico road trip itinerary, we have you covered! In this post, we share some of the best routes for road trips in Mexico.
Road trips in Mexico: The best routes to explore
The Baja California Peninsula spans 760 miles from Tijuana down to Cabo San Lucas. Living in Southern California, I have traveled to Baja California on multiple occasions, including spending a few weeks driving across the entire peninsula.
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’re short on time, focus your trip planning on certain areas like northern Baja or southern Baja.
Here are some of the top destinations to visit at Baja California:
Valle De Guadalupe
Valle De Guadalupe is often called the ‘Napa’ of Mexico. This region produces 90% of the wine sold in all of Mexico and is best known for upscale, boutique hotels and wine-tasting.
Ensenada is a popular getaway destination for Southern California locals. This is also a stopover on the 3-day cruise from Long Beach that I’ve taken several times. Top attractions in Ensenada include the oceanfront La Bufadora, off-roading adventures, and local markets where you can get amazing deals on handcrafted goods.
Todos Santos is a hidden little gem that many people don’t know about. In this small, but welcoming town visitors can enjoy surfing, yoga retreats, galleries, and relaxation at laid-back boutique hotels.
La Paz was one of my favorite stops along our Baja California road trip. Here visitors can spend the day lounging at Playa Balandra which is famous for its blue, clear water.
Cabo San Lucas
While Cabo San Lucas has a reputation for being a ‘Party Town’, there is so much more to this city than nightclubs and bars! Cabo is home to unique natural rock formations such as The Arch of Cabo San Lucas, along with stunning white sand beaches and fun outdoor adventures.
Read the full Baja California itinerary on FunLifeCrisis.com!
For a relaxed Mexico road trip, start with Cancún and then head south along the 200-mile shoreline toward Bacalar. The entire Yucatán coast is so gorgeous that you’re bound to have a great time!
Check out the ruins in Tulum, explore underground cenotes, and stay in top-rated hotels along the way.
Here are some of the best locations to visit at the Yucatán Peninsula:
Cancún is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Mexico and the starting point for those heading on road trips in the Yucatán and Quintana Roo states. From Cancún, you can also hop on a ferry over to the tropical Isla Mujeres Island which is known for world-class snorkeling and scuba diving.
See also: Cancun Historical Sights and Attractions
Playa Del Carmen
If you’ve got time, I recommend stopping at Playa Del Carmen while driving between Cancún and Tulum. Playa Del Carmen is a relaxed coastal resort town that has a reputation for having world-class beaches and amazing coral reefs full of 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 historic Tulum Archaeological Zone.
See also: Reasons to Travel To Tulum, Mexico
Bacalar is a bit under the radar for international visitors, but it is truly one of the most gorgeous destinations in Mexico. Bacalar is not easy to reach– it is located near the Belize border, about 2.5 hours south of Tulum. But if you can make it out here, you will be amazed by Bacalar Lagoon which is known for its mesmerizing turquoise hues.
Looking for a Mexico road trip route that’s a bit more off the grid? Highway 307 is one of the most rugged but beautiful routes in Mexico that’s known for stunning waterfalls, blue lakes, historic ruins, and turquoise rivers surrounded by a lush, dense jungle. The further you will drive on this route, the more you will fall in love with the natural scenery here!
Route 307 starts in San Cristobal de las Casas and travels down towards Guatemala in a loop before ending in Palenque. If you’re up for it, 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 at the Highway 307:
Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello
This National Park is one of the most beautiful attractions in Southern Mexico that is situated on the border with Guatemala. Here you can visit 59 lakes that are known for their stunning, deep blue color.
At this location, you can go on hiking trails that overlook colorful lakes or sign up for a boat tour that will take you to remote islands at the center of these lakes. There are several main lakes that you can visit here with varying amenities and accessibility.
One of my favorite stops along route 307 was the Yaxchilán ruins that are hidden deep in the jungle. You can only visit these ancient Mayan ruins by signing up for a guided river tour that will take you to this remote location – book a tour here.
This entire adventure will make you feel like you’re in an Indiana Jones movie! During this tour, you’ll get to see crocodiles, howler monkeys, giant lizards, and various bird species that reside in the jungle.
The Agua Azul waterfall is one of the most gorgeous places that 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 through the souvenir stands. There are multiple breathtaking viewing platforms for enjoying 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 in Mexico! Mexico is truly one of the most beautiful countries in North America and an incredible 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 head out on your trip, here are a few frequently asked questions about safety and driving in Mexico.
Is it safe to travel by road in Mexico?
We spent 6 months traveling in Mexico and for the most part, we felt safe during our trip. We tried to avoid large cities and stuck to beach or jungle destinations that were more laid back and a lot less crowded.
Here are a few 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 greatest conditions so driving at night puts you at risk of hitting a pothole, topes (speed bumps), or getting stuck in the sand (which happened to us on multiple occasions).
- Keep a copy of your driver’s license, passport, car insurance, and car registration stored on a cloud in case they get lost or stolen.
- Pay for toll roads instead of taking the free roads. Yes, it will be so worth it! The toll roads are in much better shape and are faster than the free versions.
- Get local insurance. It is required to have local Mexico insurance 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 is not as dangerous as you may think, it is still very difficult, especially if you’re covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time.
The hardest part about driving in Mexico is that you need to constantly pay attention to the surroundings because there is always a lot going on. Even if you follow all the driving rules and laws, it does not mean others will. It’s a bit of a ‘wild west’ when it comes to driving so most international visitors feel intimidated to drive there themselves.
While driving in Mexico, others will cut you off, honk, and speed around you. You will need to watch out for motorcycles, bikers, kids running on the street, people crossing without notice, animals, dogs, cats, chickens… you name it. Needless to say, driving in Mexico takes a lot of energy so we always prefer to travel slowly and enjoy the drive while taking in the incredible road trips in Mexico.