With many northerners experiencing freezing temperatures and snow during the winter, a tropical destination like Mexico is a popular warm-weather escape. If you’re planning to go south of the border in winter, here are some tips for travelling to Mexico and helpful advice to make the most of your visit.

Aerial image of beach area at Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Cancun

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach, Cancun

The weather is varied

Though Mexico is known for its hot weather, the winter weather can vary from region to region. Be sure to check the average temperatures for the place you plan to visit before you go, as winter can bring chilly temperatures to some places. Fortunately, many areas have warm weather for outdoor adventures or beach trips so you can get out of the frigid North. On top of that, many parts of Mexico experience 10 hours of daylight during the winter season, so you’ll have plenty of time for all your fun.

What to pack

Because the weather varies in Mexico during winter, it’s important to anticipate the temperatures and know before you go so you can pack appropriately. If you’re going to a place that experiences low winter temperatures, be sure to pack plenty of lightweight, medium, and heavy layers. It’s also good to pack some warm-weather gear like short-sleeved shirts, tank tops, shorts, sandals, and swimwear. Regardless of how warm it may be in your destination, one of the things you’ll wish you knew is that the sun is powerful in Mexico, so pack plenty of high-SPF sunscreen and use it liberally to avoid a sunburn.

Winter is the time for traditional festivals

If you want to experience authentic Mexican culture, there’s no better time to visit than during winter. Many of the country’s traditional festivals take place during the winter months, starting with the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December. During the holiday season, you can experience traditions like Posadas and try delicious seasonal foods. There are also Carnival celebrations, which usually take place in February, and the spectacular Fiesta de los Parachicos, which is typically in January or February.

People worshipping at Basilica de Guadalupe

Basilica de Guadalupe

Book travel early

Winter is the busy season for most Mexico destinations. If you’re planning to travel to Mexico in the winter months, especially during the holiday season, be sure to book your travel and accommodation early. Ideally, you’ll want to book a few months in advance, but you may have an opportunity to catch a deal on a last-minute trip. Also, keep in mind that the school holidays and extended weekends are popular travel times for Mexican families, so the popular tourist spots are more likely to be booked up.

The best vacation spots depend on what you want to do

In addition to boasting famous beaches, Mexico is a remarkably diverse country with an array of different experiences for all types of travellers. If you’re looking for a beach experience, you can find great vacation destinations in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Cabos. If you prefer a more urban experience, Oaxaca City, Merida, and Mexico City are great choices. If natural environments for outdoor adventurers are more your thing, you can find spectacular outdoor spaces in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, home to Sumidero Canyon National Park, and Copper Canyon.

People on a beach promenade in cabo Corrientes

Cabo Corrientes

You’ll have the ruin sites to yourself

The busy winter season brings more travellers to the most popular attractions. Among Mexico’s biggest draws are the ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins, which attract many people during the busy season. If you want to experience the ruins of ancient cultures away from the crowds, there are plenty of lesser-known sites you can explore, such as Monte Alban, Calakmul, and Palenque. You could even book a tour to some of these sites to learn more about the history and culture.

Animals travel south, too

It’s not just humans who want to escape the cold. Many migratory animal species travel south for the winter, such as monarch butterflies, whales, and numerous bird species. If you enjoy animals, visit Mexico during the winter months to take advantage of amazing opportunities such as whale watching, butterfly spotting, and bird-watching, as well as some encounters and sightings of other incredible species. This is an exceptional opportunity for bird enthusiasts because you can see a vibrant mix of native and non-native species.

Safety and travel tips

If you’re planning a trip, it’s important to be aware of some travel tips and safety tips to be sure you have the best possible experience. Many people in Mexico speak some English, but it’s good to learn some basic Spanish words and phrases like “thank you” or “where is the restroom?” It’s also good to keep some cash on you, especially in more remote areas that may not have credit card machines. One of the most important safety tips is to avoid the water completely and stick to bottled water. You can use the shower and sink water in high-end hotels, however, because it’s filtered.

Plan your trip

Now that you have all the necessary information before visiting Mexico in winter, you’re ready to plan your adventure. Take a look at deals on Mexico vacations on Expedia to save on your trip and make the most of your experience.