Viva Mexico: A Solo Female Travel Adventure from Mexico City to Tulum

Valentina Pucciano, travel writer at One Planet Journey, with a focus on solo female travel, embarks on an unforgettable and unexpected journey in the land of the Maya, from Mexico City to the Yucatan peninsula. Mouth watering street food, wonders of the word, tequila tasting, and the Frida Kahlo museum are a few of the highlights awaiting you in this epic exploration of marvellous Mexico.


Planning the trip of a lifetime

Escaping the cold weather in Europe and jumping into the tropical paradise of Mexico turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I didn’t mind missing the usual Christmas routine: long lunches, hugs and kisses every five minutes and the most asked question: “So, did you find a boyfriend?”

I already pictured myself in a bikini wearing sunglasses, soaking up the sun and sipping coconut water. Adios amigos!

I often travel with British Airways departing from Heathrow, London, as the company offers a great option for carry-on bags and direct flights to different destinations. My round-trip ticket from London to Mexico City ended up costing £900.

As a solo female traveller, safety is always top of mind, and for parts of the journey, after the initial period in Mexico City, I planned to join a group of travellers via a tour operator.

I believed close to three weeks would be adequate to come back regenerated and tanned enough to make people jealous. From the capital, I would move towards Oaxaca, San Cristobal, Palenque, Bacalar, Valladolid, and finish in Tulum.


Mexico City

Arriving in Mexico City, I cherished the fact that in December I could wear shorts and a t-shirt while the weather in London and Italy remained miserable. “I love my life!” Heading out for breakfast and strolling around the streets fast became my favourite part of the day, which brings me to the first question. Where should you stay?



Some of the best and safest areas to lodge are the districts of Coyoacán, Condesa, Roma, and Polanco. My choice fell on a boutique hotel only walking distance from the centre in Coyoacán. Tourists flock to this neighbourhood for its vibrant bohemian atmosphere and the renowned Frida Kahlo Museum. For a pleasant experience, expect to spend around $60 per night without breakfast. 

Colourful sign saying Coyoacán, in Mexico City.
Coyoacán – my chosen neighbourhood


Tacos, the traditional cuisine, is a given, and after spending almost a week in the capital, I managed to eat my way through most of the possible versions of this street food. I had tacos with tuna, then cheese, followed by chorizo, only to go vegetarian with guacamole, and on it went. My favourite? Without question, the barbacoa meat. Barbacoa traces its origins back to the original Mexican technique where beef is slow-cooked underground, resulting in exceptional flavour, and a delightful melting sensation in your mouth.

One of the most recommended places to enjoy tacos in the capital is Taqueria Orinoco, in the Roma district. Famous for its taco Al Pastor (pork meat) with hints of both sweet and savoury, and the Chicharrón (deep-fried pork rind), it is open every day from 1 pm until 3.30 am. As you can imagine, there’s a bit of a queue to secure a spot, but it’s worth it. Prices vary from $2 to $5 dollars, excluding drinks. 

I normally don’t eat spicy food and had initial concerns about the available choices. To my relief, I didn’t have to starve, instead relishing in genuine Mexican cuisine without a constant burning sensation spreading across my lips.

Taco platter with tuna
Tuna tacos – beautiful and delicious


When I planned this adventure, I knew I had to include a tequila and mezcal tasting experience. They both originate from the agave plant, but while mezcal comes from a wide range of agave types, you can only use the blue variety to make tequila. If you are lucky enough, you may get a shot with the worm inside. 🤔

Three bottles of Tequila and mezcal.
Tequila and Mezcal tasting

Culture tour in Mexico City

If you are passionate about history and art, Mexico City’s got you covered. I chose the Frida Kahlo Museum, Palace of Fine Arts, Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Castle, and listened to mariachi songs on the boats called trajineras. There is also Teotihuacan, located 40 km from the capital, the largest and most populated centre in the pre-Columbian Americas. Vámonos!


Frida Kahlo Museum

This is your opportunity to get to know the enigmatic woman and one of Mexico’s most iconic artists. Step into the vibrant world of the Frida Kahlo Museum, affectionately known as Casa Azul, because of the cobalt-blue walls. Located in the quaint neighbourhood of Coyoacán, this is the home of Frida Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera. It’s also where she died in 1954, much too early at age 47.

You will find yourself immersed in the intimate spaces where Kahlo lived, loved, and created her masterpieces. From her colourful gardens to her belongings, every floor and room tells a story of resilience, passion, and creative expression. You get a sense of Kahlo’s enduring legacy in Mexican art and culture. On an international level, her fame took off in the 1990s, and today her work commands prices in the millions of dollars.


Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)

Artistic grandeur in the heart of Mexico City, the Palace of Fine Arts also goes by the name of the Cathedral of Mexico. It’s easy to see why, designed in the neoclassical and art nouveau styles, this architectural marvel houses masterpieces, including murals by renowned Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. If you’re like me, the palace’s majestic art deco interiors will captivate you. The sculpted details tell the story of Mexico’s tumultuous history and vibrant spirit. They deserve special attention.


Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropología)

Huge is an understatement. This place is massive, eight hectares to be exact, and is among the most popular places to visit in Mexico. Enter the fascinating worlds of ancient civilisations at this cultural landmark within the lush grounds of Chapultepec Park. It’s perfect to get a crash course in thousands of years of Mexican history, art, and culture. From towering Aztec sculptures to intricate Mayan artefacts, the exhibits shed light on the indigenous traditions that continue to shape Mexico’s identity.


Chapultepec Castle (Castillo de Chapultepec)

Once you get to the top of the verdant hills of Chapultepec Park (meaning hill of the grasshopper in Aztec), the imposing castle, built as a summer residence for the colonial viceroy, offers you panoramic views of Mexico City from its terraces. Once the seat of Mexican emperors and presidents, this historic fortress also doubled as the movie location for William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.



Moving around the city by tube is dirt cheap, as one route costs only 5 pesos, which is $0,29. However, it takes almost an hour door-to-door to reach some destinations; so instead of going underground, I sometimes opted for an Uber. The ride took 30 minutes on average, without counting the traffic, and cost roughly $10.

Another perk of travelling solo is the chance to talk to local people and learn more about the cultural differences. By taking Uber, I would converse with the drivers even though my Spanish isn’t fluent. It’s such a pleasant sensation talking to someone you don’t know and feeling a lovely energy coming from them. It inspires optimism about human connections.



Beyond the busy streets of Mexico City, you have to visit ancient Teotihuacan, an archaeological wonder of multiple stepped pyramids dedicated to the Sun and the Moon. Designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also known as the “City of the Gods,” and predates Aztec culture. In the opening half of the first millennium, it had a population size of 125 000, making it the sixth largest in the world. Lining the Avenue of the Dead, you can find intricate murals, towering temples, and sacred monuments, echoes of a civilisation that once thrived here.

Pyramid complex of Teotihuacan
Stepped pyramids of Teotihuacan

From solo female travel in Mexico to becoming part of a group in Oaxaca

As I left Mexico City and arrived in Oaxaca, I joined a tour group with a set itinerary. In Oaxaca, I had a cultural experience visiting an alebrijes factory. Alebrijes, handcrafted wood objects, represent zoomorphic creatures. I tried painting these little figures, which made me appreciate the effort these workers put into them. It’s hard and detailed work.

In Oaxaca, the tour group hiked to Hierve el Agua, a set of travertine rock formations resembling waterfalls. During the walk, I saw two poisonous plants and the skeleton of a cactus. When a cactus dies, it turns into wood adopting a grey hue. Fascinating! Maybe something to try at home?


San Cristóbal de las Casas

In the state of Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas is a lively town, filled with pedestrian-friendly streets and pastel dwellings. I had the pleasure of visiting a small village outside the main area, San Juan Chamula, where a population of indigenous people live and only speak their native language. They’ve always gone their own way and resisted the Spanish already in 1524. Like many other such communities here, the clothes they wear function as an identity marker, in this case a lot of deep purple and pink.

I recommend a good local guide as you want to maximise your visit to the region, and it makes understanding the cultural codes much easier.

Arched, pastel coloured building.
San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas


From San Cristóbal, the journey continued to Palenque, which is still part of Chiapas. Palenque is a must-see spot for Maya ruins, dating back from 226 BC to ca. 799 AD. If you fancy yourself a hobby archeologist, about 90% of the total area of the ancient city is unexplored, leaving an untold number of structures covered by jungle.

Walking among the pyramids of Palenque, it’s hard not to experience a profound sense of awe and wonder, a deep connection to the past. Surrounded by towering stone edifices adorned with intricate carvings and symbols, it feels like they guide us visitors on a transformative journey through time and history.

Stepped pyramid of stone with cloudy sky above
Maya ruins in Palenque, Mexico


Another day, another adventure. I left Chiapas as Bacalar and its amazing lagoon beckoned. Imagine seven shades of colours in the water. It changes from crystal clear to dark blue depending on the depth, with a white limestone bottom. I had a great time on the boat trip listening to reggaeton music, and eating fresh fruit from a surfing board while standing in the shallows.

The Bacalar lagoon is a window to the past, featuring incredible life forms, stromatolites, which are sedimentary calcium carbonate structures and among the oldest known fossils on Earth, dating back over 3.5 billion years. No wonder they attract tourists, but one should be aware not to get too close and risk damage.

Bacalar turned out to be an interesting and unexpected place. As I headed for dinner with two girls, I strayed near the jungle edge to avoid the bats flying over my head. All of a sudden, I heard a roaring sound. I didn’t let curiosity lead me to danger, instead I made a hasty retreat.

Crystal clear waters of the Bacalar lagoon.
The paradise of the Bacalar Lagoon


Excitement levels rose as the group reached Valladolid for more water related adventure, this time to explore a cenote. Cenotes are natural sinkholes, formed when the limestone collapses and groundwater rises. The ancient Mayans used them for water supplies and the occasional sacrificial offering. On the Yucatán Peninsula alone, there’s an estimated 10,000 cenotes.

Wearing a life vest is mandatory because of the depth of the hole. On average, they can be 8-15 metres deep. The entrance fee for Cenote Zaci is around 60 pesos, which is less than $4. What a dream!

Near Valladolid, one of the new seven wonders of the world, the pyramid of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza, rises to the sky. Mayans built this temple to venerate Kukulkan, the feathered serpent god. During equinox, the late afternoon sun creates a light and shadow illusion of this snake creeping down the staircase.

Mayans also worshipped a bird called Resplendent Quetzal. If you stay in front of the pyramid and clap your hands, the resulting echo from the top of the building resembles a chirping bird. It doesn’t work if you try it from the sides.



After Chichen Itza and the unbearable heat, Tulum emerged as a much needed destination. I dreamt of white sand and cocktails by the beach, and quickly booked one more day to enjoy the sea at Playa Paraiso.

Tulum is a melting pot of tourists from all over the world, and therefore brimming with restaurants and small souvenir shops. You can also catch a show of Lucha libre, the famous free wrestling style originating in Mexico. You probably know it from the colourful masks, the acrobatic high-flying manoeuvres, and the chaotic tag team fights with three fighters on each side.

Sandy beach with lush vegatation.
Playa Paraiso, Tulum 

Mexico – a deep travel destination

Mexico beckons travellers with an incredible tapestry of history, culture, food, and natural beauty, offering an immersive journey into this vibrant nation. I wanted an adventure and Mexico gave me one, and I know you will too. From the bustling streets of Mexico City, via the ancient ruins of Chichen Itza and Palenque, to the tranquil shores of Tulum, I loved my trip, and the encounters I had.

Every corner of this diverse country invites exploration and discovery. Deep travel in Mexico means delving beneath the surface to uncover hidden gems, connect with local communities, and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s complex identity. Whether you explore indigenous traditions in Oaxaca, sample authentic cuisine, or trek through the lush jungles of Chiapas, the reward comes as transformative experiences that leave a lasting impact.

Travelling is the best addiction and as a sole female traveller, I also feel fortunate to have experienced the joy of a larger group and meeting new friends. I will come back and spend more time visiting the beaches in Yucatan on my return. Mexico, nos vemos pronto!

Have you been to Mexico? What experience did you enjoy most? Let us know in the comment section!
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