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On The Road: Explore Mexico in a Week or More

So you’re planning a road trip through Mexico. You one week or longer. Where on earth do you begin? Do you visit the densely-forested mountains? Explore the deserts of Chihuahua? Soak up the festival culture in the cities or retreat to the Pacific coast? We sent Chris Moss to find the best routes, however long your stay..

To see where you should visit if you’re staying for a weekend, click here.

One week in…Yucatán, Chichen Itza, Isla Holbox and Mexico City

Do all of the Yucatán itinerary, as before, then add on a full day at Chichen Itza, the deservedly famous poster-child of the Mundo Maya, plus tag on two nights on the enchanted Isla Holbox.

 Indulge in chef Jorge Vallejo’s contemporary Mexican cuisine at Quintonil in the Polanco district, known for its fine restaurants

Mexico City: Indulge in chef Jorge Vallejo’s contemporary Mexican cuisine at Quintonil in the Polanco district, known for its fine restaurants

It’s a two-hour drive via a highway and a traffic-free back road through the Mayan villages and palm forests of the Yum Balam (meaning Lord Jaguar) biosphere reserve. Holbox is part of this 380,000-acre protected area and was overlooked by travelers for decades.

A handful of smart properties have been established, but local authorities like to keep cars away. Golf cart taxis meet visitors off the ferry after a 30-minute crossing and move visitors around the sandy roads.

Overlooking a quiet beach is Casa Sandra, owned by Cuban artist Sandra Pérez Lozano. Its 18 lovely rooms feature Mexican fabrics and Pérez’s paintings. There is also a villa, which is ideal for families. The restaurant has a superb wine list and excellent fish – try the mango-spiked ceviche or lobster tamales.

By day, this is a place to kick back, swim, read and set off in small launches for a spot of diving (dolphins, turtles and a shipwreck) or sport fishing (tarpon, snook and mackerel are abundant). Fortunately, the island is balmy year-round. Peak season is June to October when it’s possible to swim with the whale sharks that congregate in the seas here.

Isla Holbox: Escape to this enchanted island to catch the glitterati chilling in low-key bars – and to spot whale sharks in the crystal clear azure waters

Isla Holbox: Escape to this enchanted island to catch the glitterati chilling in low-key bars – and to spot whale sharks in the crystal clear azure waters

When you’ve had your fill, fly on to Mexico City – and keep an eye out for the majestic Popocatépetl volcano on your approach. Mexico City International is open to private aircraft, but both the Aeropuerto de Altizapán and Toluca are private-plane friendly, quieter and only 45 minutes and 65 minutes transfer from the city center, respectively.

Hang out by day on the Zócalo, the massive plaza in the heart of the old city, and see the huge murals at the castle in the Chapultepec Park. Mexico City is now only second to São Paulo, Brazil in the use of helicopters.

Helitaxis are popular, and the local company Helitour is the best – indeed, only – way to get some sense of an impressive city that sprawls for more than 3,000 square miles.

Evenings should be dedicated to fine dining at restaurants, Quintonil, Pujol and Biko – the latter two earned a well-deserved place in Elite Traveler’s Top 100 Restaurants 2015 global round-up. When deciding where to stay, there’s no shortage of choice. There is a slick W Hotel – ask for the Extreme Wow Suite, with stupendous 180-degree city views – and some much-loved established local properties in leafy Polanco and Condesa.

Or for something different, stay at the 28-room Rodavento Boutique Hotel, which has stylish tented suites and a Japanese onsen–inspired spa.