Once the centre of the Mixtec and Zapotec civilisations, the city of Oaxaca is one of the country’s most beautiful colonial towns. The main square is lined with graceful arcades, sidewalk cafes and street vendors, and the surrounding cobbled streets are easily explored on foot. Stay in a converted colonial house or former convent and soak up the atmosphere while sampling the excellent regional cooking. In the surrounding Central Valleys, visitors can discover colourful markets and small indigenous villages specialising in different crafts, such as weaving and pottery. Visit the archaeological ruins including the Zapotec site of Monte Alban and the Mixtec stonework friezes in the little town of Mitla.
Historic Puebla, just 2 hours to the east of Mexico City, is known for its numerous baroque churches, delicious cuisine and Talavera ceramic tiles and pottery. Outside the city find little villages whose churches feature exuberant interior decorations by indigenous artists, or visit the world’s largest pyramid at Cholula, now overgrown and topped with a colonial era church.