Your guide on the best time to visit Mexico
Are you thinking about booking a holiday to Mexico? Maybe some friends have recently been and had an amazing time? No matter the reason, the most common question asked by travelers is when is the best time to visit Mexico and explore everything it has to offer.
The majority of the approximately 40 million visitors each year choose to do so in the winter months between December and April. This is seen as the peak season because of its minimal rain and plentiful sunshine. However, it isn’t as straightforward as this and you need to consider where you want to go, what you want to do and what you want to spend.
With over 5,000 miles of beaches, stunning mountains and a diverse interior including deserts, jungles and highlands each have its only microclimate. For example, you may wish to consider exploring the ruins of Chichen Itza in the shoulder season (November and May) as there will be fewer tourists but still reasonable weather.
It may even be worthwhile exploring Mexico in the low season (June to October), which is the wet season. The rain can be intense but often short in duration and will allow you plenty of time to visit the beach, spend the day shopping or exploring the many stunning cities. This is particularly appealing to those on a budget who want to get the best value possible.
Best months to visit Mexico
We have broken down the travel seasons into three broad groups: peak, shoulder and low season. Within each, you can then consider particular cities or regions and whether they have a better month to visit. This will be particularly important for those wanting to head to the most popular tourist locations such as Cancun or Puerto Vallarta but want to avoid the big events such as Spring Break.
Peak Season (December to April)
As you would expect, the most popular time for people to travel to Mexico is during the winter. As the cold weather moves in, people from the USA and Canada are searching for an escape to the sunshine.
During the peak season, you will get the best weather but also higher prices and larger crowds. For example, travelling around Christmas and the New Year is incredibly popular. Likewise, the American holiday of Spring Break falls close to the Easter week in Mexico known as Semana Santa. The number one piece of advice here is to book early and ensure you have everything in place, otherwise, you could end up not getting your dream accommodation or paying a significant premium for it.
Shoulder Season (November and May)
An alternative time to visit Mexico is one of the shoulder seasons. In essence, these are the months that either marks the start of the rainy season or signify it is coming to an end. However, be careful to check which region you’re visiting because it may still be hurricane season, such as in the Yucatan region.
This is a popular time for those wanting to explore historical locations or relax on the beach without so many tourists around. Whilst there can be some rain, it is often only for a short time and won’t impact your journey too much. One of the biggest reasons to visit in November is the Day of the Dead, a truly exciting traditional holiday that everyone should try to experience once in their life. This falls on the 1st and 2nd November each year.
Low Season (June to October)
Whilst this is the low season for international visitors due to the more extreme weather, it is still popular with domestic tourists. As a result, you can get some fantastic deals during the week and even at the weekends but it can still be busy.
These months do include the hurricane season for the Caribbean region and we would advise you to plan carefully if you wish to travel around that area of Mexico. Ultimately, if you’re on a budget or wish to avoid the crowds, then you can get some great deals on a gorgeous holiday in the low season.
Best time to visit by holiday type
Each visitor will have their own idea about what makes up their dream vacation. It may be spending a week on a gorgeous beach in the sun, drinking cocktails. Or it may be exploring the historical cities and ruins that cover this wonderful country. We’ve put together a breakdown of the best times to visit Mexico based on the type of holiday.
For those wanting some fun in the sun, on one of the countless perfect beaches that line the Mexican coast, then the peak season of December to April is the way to go. You will get sunny weather and warmer seas. As an added bonus, you can still find a range of quieter weeks before the big party events.
For those wanting to visit Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico, December offers the chance for smaller crowds and good weather. On the other side of the country in the Yucatan Peninsula, December offers some great deals for Cancun, Tulum etc.
Cities & Festivals
One of the best times to visit Mexico is in early November. With the chances of fantastic weather in places like Mexico City you also get the chance to experience the Day of the Dead festival in all of its glory. It can get busy so expect higher prices and the requirement to book in advance but it certainly offers every visitor the chance to experience an exciting city break.
For those wanting to explore one of the many cities of Mexico then springtime offers a great alternative. With April and May signalling the end of the peak tourist season, you will still get to enjoy the weather whilst not having to fight your way through crowds. Just be aware of the many festivals held throughout each region in Mexico, such as Semana Santa which is around Easter. This will mean the cities are much busier and accommodation becomes a premium.
Mexico is known across the world as one of the best party destinations and it certainly lives up to this reputation. The crowds flock down to Cancun, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta in March and April, particularly around Spring Break. With stunning weather, party venues and exciting nightlife, you can’t go wrong! If you’re wanting to celebrate with college-age tourists then this is a perfect time.
It is important to note that the party season also extends from May into late June when many high school graduates journey down to celebrate. Even in the quieter periods, the Mexican nightlife and sense of fun are unrivalled and you will have a good time.
Very much in line with the months that tourists escape the cold weather of the USA, whales also make the journey down from the freezing waters of the north. The waters around Mexico are perfect for whales to mate and give birth to their offspring and you will be able to choose from a range of whale watching excursions between December and March.
Some of the most popular places to visit for this include Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, with a range of whale breeds choosing to spend the winter here. Perhaps the most common is the majestic humpback whale, whose natural curiosity and size make them easy to spot.
We believe that the best time to visit Mexico if you’re a history buff is the shoulder season of May. Travel across the country visiting the many archaeological sites without the crowds that the peak season brings. If you’ve been reading about Chichen Itza or Teotihuacan then we promise it will live up to your expectations.
You can choose to explore these ruins in other months such as December and January but you will have to do so with a lot of other people. Waiting a few months and finding an offpeak weekday trip and you will have space to immerse yourself in the history of Mexico.
There is some interesting research out there about the best time to visit Mexico if you’re looking for the best deal. The important caveat here is that just because it’s a cheap deal, doesn’t mean it’s the best time for your particular type of holiday. For example, if you want a beach holiday then going out of season may not live up to your expectations, but it will save you plenty of money!
A key bit of advice for every reader is to consider a weekday trip in the summer. Not only will there be fewer international tourists, but the number of domestic visitors will be reduced too. You may well have to deal with some rain and heat, but it can lead to significant savings. With these savings, you can then enjoy more of your destination, treat yourself with a shopping spree or just simply save the money for something else.
Each destination has its cheapest month and its most expensive month. Decide on the location you want to visit within Mexico and then plan times. For example, Cabo San Lucas in August will mean significant savings on air travel when compared to the peak season.
In terms of planning and preparation, we recommend booking at least eight weeks in advance, pushing this even further back if you’re wanting to fly to Cancun or one of the popular party destinations in the peak season. Booking in advance will always help with reducing the costs and guarantee you get the most suitable flights and accommodation.
Best time to visit Mexico by event
The people of Mexico love to party and celebrate with a public holiday, special event or spiritual festival. This means there is an opportunity almost all year round to visit Mexico and experience one of these remarkable celebrations.
Christmas and New Year events
You will be spoilt for choice if you want to visit Mexico around the Christmas and New Year period. Mexico celebrates almost continuously throughout this Christmas period and it is the very definition of holiday mode. The legendary New Years Eve parties in Mexico City, Los Cabos and Playa del Carmen are the envy of the world. It will mean paying a premium price and you will be mingling with a lot of other tourists, but it is an event well worth attending.
Mexico is a religious country and the springtime, particularly around Easter and the week leading up to it is one of the most significant times of the year for the country. Semana Santa, known as Holy Week embodies this period and it is particularly popular with domestic tourists who go on holiday or visit relatives. If you visit during this holiday, you will be treated to parades, religious events at the many stunning cathedrals, as well as delicious street food and local music.
The fall season offers two of the biggest events in the Mexican calendar. Firstly, Mexican Independence Day is held around the 15th and 16th of September (some people wrongly believe independence day is the Cinco de Mayo festival). This event is celebrated with huge celebrations, parties, parades and firework shows, something to excite and delight every visitor.
Perhaps the most well known Mexican festival is the Day of the Dead. This falls on the 1st and 2nd November and we recommend every tourist tries to visit during this time at some point in their life. This sacred day honors the ancestors of the Mexican people, with candles and orange flowers covering relatives graves. In the larger cities, they hold fantastic parades full of people in fancy dress, operating puppets and playing music.
The summary for this article is quite simple – the best time to visit Mexico would appear to be the peak season of December to April. However, there are so many more variables involved that you should consider before you go to Mexico. If you think about what you wish to do, where you wish to visit and what you want to experience, you can create the perfect holiday full of memories you will cherish forever.