Mexico's geographic and cultural diversity makes it a fascinating country, a place where Mexicans of wide-ranging descent live amid fertile valleys, spectacular beaches, tropical forests, rugged mountains, and hot deserts. Several of the suggested itineraries described here will take you through visually stunning landscapes and both big-city and small-town Mexico, where the level of development and the way of life sometimes seems to span a century.

Once inside Mexico, travel is best done by plane, bus, or car. A number of low-cost carriers have recently begun flying domestically, significantly reducing the cost of internal flights. Mexico's first-class buses are comfortable and inexpensive -- though sometimes slow. Car rental has generally become less expensive, and it's also possible to hire a car and driver -- although for greater cost. There is only one true passenger train still operating, which runs along the Copper Canyon to Chihuahua City.

I've tried to keep travel to a minimum in order to maximize time in each destination, so none of these itineraries can be called an exhaustive exploration of Mexico. If you want to see all of the country's most famous sites, however, you can link the central archaeological tour with the Ruta Maya, which would take about 3 weeks. International airports serve major beach resorts, making these convenient gateway points. Remember that it's possible to fly into one airport and out of another, usually without much difference in cost when compared with buying a round-trip ticket in and out of the same airport.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.