Mexican cities known for their cultural and culinary prowess won big in our annual “World’s Best Awards” survey for 2023.
Year after year, Mexico is among the most popular destinations among T+L readers. In 2022, it was also crowned T+L’s Destination of the Year for its alluring mix of history, spectacular natural landscapes, vibrant cultural scene, and outstanding gastronomy. And while the country’s powdery beaches and charming villages continue to draw R&R-loving crowds, more travelers, including T+L readers, are centering their itineraries on Mexico’s dazzling cities — from the bustling metropolises of Mexico City and Guadalajara to pocket-sized jewels like San Miguel de Allende.
How Voting Works
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Nearly 165,000 T+L readers completed the 2023 survey, an increase of nearly 25 percent over pre-pandemic voting levels. A total of more than 685,000 votes were cast across over 8,500 unique properties (hotels, cities, cruise lines, etc.).
Cities were specifically rated on the criteria below:
For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are averages of these responses.
What Readers Loved
The enchanting pueblo of San Miguel de Allende won the hearts of T+L readers (yet again!), snagging the No. 2 spot on this year’s list. Travelers raved about its well-preserved architecture and rich craft traditions. “It’s like traveling back in time,” commented one reader. Others gushed about its walkability and inviting atmosphere. And while San Miguel de Allende is relatively small compared to other cities on this list — namely No. 3 Mexico City and No. 5 Guadalajara — T+L readers urged other visitors to take their time soaking up its charms. “I recommend going for a week during La Calaca,” suggested one reader, referring to the days-long celebration that coincides with Festival Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the end of October.
Similarly, respondents raved about Mérida (No. 4), a gateway to some of the country’s most well-known Maya archaeological sites, including Chichén Itzá, just 75 miles away. Still, the city — Yucatan’s capital — feels like an “undiscovered gem,” commented one reader, with another person waxing poetic about the town’s atmospheric plazas and deep sense of history: “The architecture is beautiful, it’s so colorful, and the city is steeped in tradition. I recommend it to everyone!”
T+L readers had a hard time identifying just one thing that they loved about Mexico City, where world-class museums, pilgrimage-worthy dining, colorful neighborhoods and markets, and an emerging contemporary fashion scene combine for an unforgettable getaway. “It’s one of the most amazing cities in the world,” commented one reader, with another saying, “It offers a long list of things to see and do that will keep you coming back for more.”
Cinching the No. 5 spot on the list is Guadalajara, Mexico’s seventh-largest city, which offers just as much action as CDMX with fewer crowds and less congestion. As for the No. 1 winner on this year’s list? Read on to find out.
“Hands down one of the coolest cities in the whole world,” gushed one reader about this centuries-old town in southern Mexico. Widely considered one of Mexico’s cultural capitals, Oaxaca is a maze of historical monuments, lively street markets, stunning churches, contemporary art galleries, colorful street art, and charming plazas (it’s no wonder the town has earned UNESCO World Heritage status). It’s also a “foodie’s mecca,” as one T+L reader pointed out, highlighting regional flavors like spiced chocolate, molé negro, crispy tlayudas, and masa-based antojitos. The street food is legendary, and if you want to ascend to gastronomic heaven, Oaxaca is also home to some of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants, like Enrique Olvera’s Criollo and Alejandro Ruiz’s Casa Oaxaca. In recent years, the hotel scene has also heated up, with newcomers like Escondido Oaxaca and Hotel Sin Nombre rounding out the city’s world-class accommodations. “This place is unbelievable,” gushed one respondent.
— T+L READER
The Full List
1. Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Reader Score: 93.53
2. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Reader Score: 91.19
3. Mexico City
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Reader Score: 90.55
4. Mérida, Yucatán
Reader Score: 88.81
5. Guadalajara, Jalisco
Reader Score: 88.13