Mexico is the ultimate destination for a culture, cuisine and Caribbean coast combo holiday. This two-week holiday will take you from bustling, culture-crammed Mexico City to Oaxaca - Mexico's undisputed creative and culinary hub - and then onto the Yucatan Peninsula for history near Merida and blissful relaxation on the beach.
Today you'll leave London after lunch and arrive in Mexico City just in time for dinner after an 11-and-a-half-hour flight so make sure the iPad is fully charged.
After you've cleared customs and collected you're bags, a member of our team will meet you for a private transfer to your luxury boutique hotel in a fashionable downtown colonia or district. Since getting your stomach onto local time is the best way to beat jet lag, don't skip dinner in the hotel's restaurant before bed.
This morning is all about getting your bearings, so after breakfast take your handy Dossier and go for a walk around the neighbourhood. As Mexico City is huge, we'll have recommended the colonia that's best for you, whether you want plenty of shopping, museums or parks on your doorstep.
Be sure to be back at your hotel in time for lunch, wearing some seriously loose trousers, because this afternoon you will be taken on a gastronomic adventure through Mexico City's history. Over the course of the afternoon, your expert guide will take you through the streets of downtown Mexico City, regaling you with stories from its 700-year history, stopping at eight different eateries and shops - from the oldest sweet shop in Mexico to the best spot for contemporary Mexican cuisine. By the end you'll know your tacos from your tostados, tlacoyos, flautas, pambazos, gorditas, huaraches and sopes. If you still have room for dinner, we'd recommend picking somewhere from your trusty Dossier and then taking a taxi back to your hotel, to prepare for a day of culture tomorrow.
If yesterday was all about culinary curiosities, then today is all about art and love.
After breakfast, you will take a private transfer to the Frida Kahlo Museum, where you will be met by an expert guide for a three-hour tour of the museum, the house where Leon Trotsky lived when he was in exile, and the Museo Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, where Kahlo and fellow artist Diego Rivera lived and loved during their tumultuous affair. Your expert guide will take you through the lives of two of Mexico's most enthralling and groundbreaking artists of 20th century Mexico, and how one the political heavyweights of European politics came to be intertwined in their lives.
This afternoon, we recommend visiting the Zona Rosa, Mexico City's highlife and nightlife district, for a spot of shopping and people watching. This evening is your last in Mexico City, so we'd suggest visiting Plaza Garibaldi for a pre-dinner drink and to listen to the Mariachi bands who gather there, and then dinner at one for the restaurants in our Dossier.
This morning, after a leisurely final breakfast at you hotel, you will take a private transfer back to the airport for a one-hour flight to your next destination: Oaxaca (pronounced 'wahaca').
This region is the creative and indigenous heart of Mexico, where many of the country's religions, foods and festivals originate. Your flight will land around lunchtime, and after a private transfer to your hotel we recommend stretching your legs and heading to another one of the restaurants in our comprehensive Dossier. This afternoon is yours to do with as you like, so why not head to the Textile Museum to learn about traditional Oaxacan crafts and handiworks?
For dinner, we've booked you a table at chic boutique hotel Casa Oaxaca's restaurant for a gastronomic experience like no other. Weather permitting; you'll be seated on the rooftop, where the views are just as spectacular as the food.
Today, we've arranged a private walking tour of the cobbled colonial streets of Oaxaca, taking in the governmental palace, the spectacular cathedral and the best of the cities shops, selling handmade items such as crockery and rugs. You'll finish in the main market, where you can buy an enormous tlayuda tortilla for lunch.
After lunch, it's time for a visit to Monte Alban, a pre-Columbian city a short drive from Oaxaca. Here, your expert guide will show you around the ruins of the Zapotec city, which was once home to a highly sophisticated society of around 25,000 people. You will see tombs containing paintings and symbolic stone carvings, ceremonial platforms, ancient pyramids and the ball court where sacrificial victims would be selected according to the rules of a gruesome Mesoamerican ball game.
It's back to Oaxaca for dinner and drinks tonight, and we highly recommend heading to the Zocalo, or town square, where the locals head to the numerous pavement cafés (check you Dossier for our favourites), and you can listen to the sounds of the local bands.
After rather a full-on day yesterday, this morning we recommend you take some time to relax by the pool. This afternoon, you have a private cookery course in the heart of the city.
After a private transfer to the cooking school, you will visit a colourful local market to choose your ingredients before heading to the kitchen to cook a delicious four-course meal from recipes passed down the generations. For Mexicans nowhere better encapsulates the variety and complexity of their national cuisine than Oaxaca, so to learn to cook traditional dishes here is a real treat.
Since you'll probably be stuffed to the gills with your delicious culinary creations, this evening we suggest that you head to a local mezcaleria bar (consult your trusty Dossier for our recommendations). Mezcal (tequila's classier cousin) comes from the region and can be absolutely delicious. Then it's back to your hotel for one last night before you head to Merida in the morning.
This morning you'll need to be up bright and early for your private transfer back to the airport.
Your connecting flight to Merida leaves at breakfast time and, after a brief stop in Mexico City, you'll arrive at your destination just in time for lunch. The combined flights and lay over take around four hours. Merida, the state capital of the Yucatan Peninsula, was once home to the pieds à terre of the region's wealthy. Today, the colonial city is a buzzing city of elegant buildings, a thriving art scene, exclusive hotels and excellent cuisine, frequently named as one of Mexico's nicest cities. After a short private transfer to your hotel, you'll be checking in just in time for a late lunch.
After a relaxing afternoon exploring the region, we have arranged a private dinner à deux in a perfect hideaway, where the only light will come from twinkling candles and the only sounds you'll hear will be the chatter of the countless local birds.
After a more leisurely start than yesterday, today you will be swimming in cenotes.
The Yucatan Peninsula is honeycombed with these collapsed sinkholes which were formed by ancient underground rivers through the limestone bed rock. Revered, and feared, by the ancient Maya they were shrouded in mystery as the entrances to the underworld of Xibalba. Cenotes are one of the most wonderful places that you can go swimming and with a snorkel you can discover a wondrous sculptural display of stalactites and stalagmites within their cool depths. Though it's not for the easily spooked; recent surveys of some cenotes have found that the bottoms of the caverns are littered with human bones, with no explanation as to how they got there. We can also arrange proper diving trips in the cenotes.
After a full day of exploring cenotes its back to your hotel for a dinner and an early night, as you'll be up early again tomorrow.
This morning it's a very early start, but with good reason, as you'll be visiting one of the most beautiful, archeologically impressive and important sites in the whole of the Americas.
As a result, Chichen Itza is often thronged with tourists, not to mention baking hot at mid-day, which is why we recommend rousing yourself before even the dawn chorus and getting to the site to see the dawn. Not only will you have it almost to yourselves to explore the incredible ruins with your expert guide, but the pyramids are, in our opinion, at their most beautiful at sunrise. Highlights include the Temple of Kulkulkan, the ball court (where games had slightly higher stakes than a Sunday five-a-side league - at certain times of year the losing side would be sacrificed!) and the observatory.
After a morning of archaeology it's back to the hotel for an afternoon of calm relaxation. Depending on where you stay there's plenty to do, including borrowing bikes to explore, dipping in the pool and enjoying a well-deserved spa session.
After all this adventure, a little bit of down time is undoubtedly necessary, which is where the white sandy beaches and the beautifully serene Caribbean sea of the Yucatan Peninsula come in.
After a morning's private transfer to the beautiful coast, you'll arrive at your home for the next three days. It would be perfectly understandable if you were to spend your time here pottering between your room, the beach and the pool, but for those looking for something a little more active, our favourite beachfront hotels on the Riviera Maya offer sailing, kayaking, and snorkelling among other activities. All also have on-site spas. The offshore reef system (part of the world's second biggest reef) and cenotes also offer a perfect chance for divers to, well, dive in.
Today is your last day in Mexico, so it's time for one last dip in the gin clear Caribbean and a leisurely lunch before a half hour or so private transfer to Cancun International Airport for your evening overnight flight back home, which takes roughly nine hours.
Your flight lands into London late morning.
If you would like to book the itinerary mentioned above, with economy flights, during mid-season and staying in our preferred room category at our preferred hotels.
If you would like to pare back the above itinerary by travelling at non-peak times, staying in a standard room and removing some or all of the guided activities.
If you are looking for something extra special, we can discuss with you upgrading your accommodation, flights or activities.