Mexico insider tour: Day of the Dead, Volcanoes and Tequila
A 14 day tour into authentic Mexican traditions
Immerse yourself in Mexican authenticity on this colourful trip! You will have an unforgettable experience as you celebrate the traditional Festival of the Dead. This itinerary allows you to discover the character of the capital and surrounding colonial cities during the most important festival of the year… as you have never seen before! A symbol of Mexican folklore, this celebration will awaken all your senses. You will discover a lunar landscape created by the Paricutin volcano, taste Tequila made fresh from the ranch and fall in love with Mexican tradition.
Length of stay: 14 days
Kind: Adventure tours and activities
Fix: For all public
Countries visited: Mexico
San Miguel de Allende
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Day 1 : México
Arrive in the Sprawling City of Mexico
Welcome to Mexico City !
Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Option included: English speaking guide at the airport. Overnight stay at the Hampton Inn Centro Historico Mexico City. (queen bed)
Day 2 : México
A Tour Around Mexico City
After breakfast, meet in the hotel lobby. Depart for a city tour, starting with the Zocalo , one of the largest squares in the world. There stands the largest Cathedral in the Americas, built on the site of the former grand Aztec temple ‘Teocalli’. Its three naves shelter many chapels and altars adorned with gold, including the beautiful ‘Altar of Forgiveness’. The Palacio Nacional (National Palace) was built on top of the Palace of Moctezuma and features frescos painted by famous Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Nowadays, it houses the President’s offices. The Templo Mayor (only outside) is a relic of the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitlan… a pre-Columbian temple in the middle of urban jungle: simply amazing!
Visit the National Museum of Anthropology
In the afternoon, visit the National Museum of Anthropology (closed on Mondays) considered to be one of the most harmonious settings conceived to revive ancient antiques. Inaugurated in 1964, the museum is perfectly integrated in the scenery of the park. It contains a considerable amount of pre-Columbian archeological objects and presents the indigenous groups that lived (and still live) in Mexico in a lively and engaging manner.
Return to the hotel at the end of the day. Option included : Entrance fees to the National Museum of Anthropology. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at the Hampton Inn Centro Historico Mexico City. (queen bed)
Day 3 : México
Experience the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Meet in the hotel lobby and depart for a visit of the surroundings of Mexico City . North of the city, visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe , built in the 17th century. It is the most important religious site of Latin America and a major pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics coming from all over the world. You can also see the Old Basilica that is slowly sinking into the ground. The Old Basilica shelters a reproduction of the Black Madonna, which can be seen behind the choir inside the modern basilica.
Today, head to the archeological site of Teotihuacan with the pyramids of the Moon and the Sun, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (Quetzalcóatl), the Temple of the Feathered Snails and the Palace of the Jaguars. The ‘City of the Gods’ was built in the seventh century and was probably, with its 200,000 inhabitants, the most populated city in the world at that time.
Afterwards, visit a carved obsidian workshop . Obsidian is volcanic glass-stone produced when felsic lava cools so fast that it practically doesn’t crystallize and it was once one of the most important materials distributed in Mesoamerica. Your host gives will also give you flavors of tequila to taste.
Then, head back to Mexico City for the evening.
Suggestions for the Evening (contact us) :
– Show of Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling), which is a very popular sport in Mexico. Visit the great arena of the capital and watch this incredible spectacle – a great atmosphere is guaranteed! (Only Tuesday at 19:00, Friday at 20:00 and Sunday at 17:00).
– Folklore Ballet at the Bellas Artes Palace is one of the best experiences in Mexico City – a whirlwind of color, beauty and music. (Only Wednesday and Sunday – 20:30) Option included : Entrance fees to Teotihuacan. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at the Hampton Inn Centro Historico Mexico City. (queen bed)
Day 4 : México
Day of the Dead Celebrations in Mexico City
Today you will discover the traditions of the day of the dead , a Mexican holiday characterized by many customs. In the late morning, head towards the south of the city to have lunch on a boat on the Xochimilco Lake . Here you can appreciate the festive colors and flavors of Mexico and enjoy local music played by a Mariachi band.
Afterwards, head to San Andrés Mixquic , one of the birthplaces of the celebrations that traditionally last 3 days: the first one is dedicated to deceased children, the second one to people who died violent deaths, and the third one to all the other deceased. In every home, the families make altars where they leave many offerings: bread, fruits, candles, candies, tequila, the favorite food of parted loved ones…
Outside, Mexicans decorate the path leading to the cemetery with candles and bright orange flowers to show the deceased the path they need to follow. On November 2nd a Calaveras festival takes place, as well as various concerts, dances and speeches. In the evening, families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves with flowers and candles to illuminate the path so the deceased can find their way through the darkness. Prayers and flickering lights fill the cemetery and the villagers share a feast on the graves, dance and sing.
In the evening, families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves with flowers and candles to illuminate the path of the dead as they walk through the darkness. The cemetery is then lit up by flickering lights and the sound of people’s prayers. The villagers share a feast by the graves, dancing and singing. Head back to your hotel in Mexico City at around midnight. Option included : Boat in Xochimilco. Option included : Lunch on board of the Xochimilco boat. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at the Hampton Inn Centro Historico Mexico City. (queen bed)
Day 5 : México
Journey to Queretaro
Today, travel the colonial city of Queretaro . On the way stop in the Magic Town of Tepotzotlan . Admire its impressive religious architecture, particularly the Church of San Francisco Javier, one of the most magnificent in Mexico and stroll through the handicrafts market.
After, visit the archeological site of Tula , ancient capital of the Toltec civilization. Visit the archeological site with its impressive statues ‘Los Atlantes’. These are massive columns each carved in the likeness of Toltec warriors.
In the evening, arrive in Queretaro , a remarkable town built in classic architecture, and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Visit the town, walk through numerous stately houses, fountains, churches and convents and relax in the shady plazas. The Santa Clara Church is particularly interesting: the simplicity of its façade makes a strong contrast with its exuberant interior decoration. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Option included : Entrance fees to Tula. Option included : Entrance fees to museo del virreinato. Overnight stay at the hotel Gran Hotel. (From Monday to Friday, the hotel offers continental breakfast from 7:00 to 10:00 in one of the VIP rooms. At weekends breakfast buffet at the Comalli restaurant).
Day 6 : Queretaro
Morning in Sleepy Querétaro
After breakfast, travel to Queretaro , a remarkable town built in classic architecture, and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Visit the town, walk through numerous stately houses, fountains, churches and convents and relax in the shady plazas. The Santa Clara Church is particularly interesting: the simplicity of its façade makes a strong contrast with its exuberant interior decoration.
Explore Beautiful San Miguel de Allende
Travel to San Miguel de Allende , a charming, colonial city with narrow cobbled streets. The pastel colors, the dozens of handicraft shops and the colonial architecture, give a delightful atmosphere to the city. Wander around the city and visit the parish church, the Plaza de Allende and the churches of Santo Domingo, San Francisco and San Felipe Neri. See the Spanish architecture, experience the thriving arts scene and immerse yourself in one of the many of the local festivals that take place throughout the year. In 2008, this amazing city was recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Spend the evening in San Miguel de Allende . Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at the hotel Monteverde.
Day 7 : San Miguel de Allende
After breakfast, depart for Guanajuato , with its pastel colored houses and numerous flowered window boxes. Free day to explore Guanajuato. Roam through this ancient silver mine’s capital, designated a World Heritage site by Unesco. Take your time. Visit the monument El Pipila (Guanajuato savior) and the dam de la Olla. Also, take a visit to a silver mine (guide and helmet available), the ex-hacienda del Cochero (inquisition’s museum) and finally the San Cayetano temple.
In the late morning, visit the ‘Callejon del Beso’, the Alley of the Kiss. Listen to the tragic love story of a boy and a girl separated by the alley between their windows. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at hotel Meson de los Poetas. Standard room.
Day 8 : Guanajuato
The Island of Janitzio
This morning travel to the state of Michoacan. Hop on a boat for a visit to Janitzio island which means ‘where it rains’. On the way, encounter the fishermen with their unique butterfly nets fishing in the lake. Once on the island, stroll up to the top and visit the statue of Morelos , a true architectural masterpiece, that tells the story of the Mexican revolution. Wander back down through the meandering streets of the island. For lunch, we suggest that you eat local food in a traditional fonda.
The Magic Town of Patzcuaro
In the afternoon, continue towards the peaceful town of Patzcuaro , one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos and the center of the Tarascan population. On the way, stop in the village of Tzintzuntzan , famous for its monastery and its wooden handicrafts. Patzcuaro is a charming town with colorful markets and pleasant squares all surrounded by green mountains with pines and spruces. You can admire its adobe houses built over the quiet streets while listening to Michoacana folk music. Visit the ‘house of eleven patios’ , an ancient Dominican convent built in the seventeenth century. Option included : Janitzio island (boat + tickets included) Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at hotel Casa del Refugio.
Option included : Standard room.
Day 9 : Patzcuaro
Horseback Riding over Paracutin
This morning, depart early to travel to the city of Uruapan. From there, continue on until you reach the Purepecha village of Angahuan . Here you can experience a horseback riding daytrip to the volcano Paracutin (2,700 m), an extraordinary geological phenomenon. In 1943 the volcano rose up in the middle of a corn field and within one year it had ‘grown’ 400 meters/ 7,000ft high. Its lava covered 20 km2 (8 square miles) and had swallowed up villages. You will ride through conifer forests to reach the foothills of the volcano. Have lunch with a gorgeous view over the region.
For the more courageous, there is the option to hike for around an hour to the summit of the volcano to enjoy a superb view over the crater and the valley partly buried in lava. Descend through a lunar scenery of volcanic ash and strange shapes solidified in black lava blocks. The fumaroles of the volcano demonstrate how the forces of Mother Earth are always there!
The Buried Village of San Juan Parangaricutiro Viejo
In the afternoon, arrive at the ruins of the village of San Juan Parangaricutiro Viejo, where you can see a church tower which is half buried in lava. This is all that remains of a Mexican village completely swallowed by lava.
Return to Patzcuaro having covered approximately 20km on horseback. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Option included : Paricutin horse riding. Overnight stay at hotel Casa del Refugio.
Option included : Standard room.
Day 10 : Patzcuaro
Guadalajara, Home of Mariachi and Tequila
Today, travel to Guadalajara , the second largest town in Mexico, and the state capital of Jalisco. It’s also the hometown of the mariachis, the rodeos, tequila and the Mexican humor.
In the morning, go for a discovery walk of the center of town and its main attractions: the cathedral built in 1616, the Plaza de los Laureles lined with beautiful laurel trees. Admire the murals by Gabriel Flores in the Presidencia Municipal (city hall), and then continue to la Plaza de Armas, south of the cathedral, where it is easy to imagine the city back in the colonial time.
Visit the Palacio de Gobierno , (nowadays offices of the governor) with its murals by José Clemente Orozco, and more specifically the renowned portrait of Miguel Hidalgo, the Mexican pioneer of the Independence movement to free Mexico from Spain. Free time at the Plaza Tapatia, a commercial and pedestrian street. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at the hotel de Mendoza.
Day 11 : Guadalajara
On the Road to Tequila
This morning head to the the Magic Town of Tequila , which gave its name to the famous beverage. Fields of blue agave will unfold before your eyes, while the distillation steam of the tequila is still tangible… There is the possibility to visit the Jose Cuervo distillery, where you can learn how the Mexicans make and appreciate this precious nectar (entrance fee not included).
In the afternoon, take a walk down the streets of this pueblo magico . Visit the zocalo in the centre of town and the small museum Casa Sauze (10 pesos) where it’s possible to find beautiful handicrafts for a reasonable price. Option included : English speaking tour guide. Overnight At the Hotel Villa Tequila. Room Aguamiel
(2 pax max)
Day 12 : Tequila
The Road to Puerto Vallarta
Free morning in Tequila then drive to the Pacific Ocean. Puerto Vallarta is a small colonial city between mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It’s a lively city with traditional cobbled streets, incredible golden sunsets and white sandy beaches. The River Cuale divides the town into north and south. On the southern end is the quaint Romantic Zone where the Playa los Muertos attracts sun worshippers to its golden sand and countless beach bars. Further south the seaside villages of Boca de Tomatlan and Mismaloya where The Night of the Iguana was filmed. North of the river, the Old Town meanders uphill to Gringo Gulch, a picturesque residential area. Option included : Entrada Jose Cuervo Overnight stay at hotel playa los arcos.
Day 13 : Puerto Vallarta
Sunny Puerto Vallarta
Day of leisure to enjoy the beautiful city of Puerto Vallarta . The is a great place in which to rest on the white sandy beaches during the day and party away with a cocktail in the evening.
Note : Transport is not included on this day. Overnight stay at hotel playa los arcos.