Traveling to Mexico during shoulder season - the periods between the high and low tourism seasons - is an often-overlooked win for travelers. Hotel rates and flights tend to be lower than normal, there are fewer crowds, and everything is a little less hectic in general. As a rule of thumb, the high season for travel in Mexico tends to run from mid-December through mid-April - from just before Christmas through spring break to around Semana Santa (the "Holy Week" surrounding the Easter holiday). Of course, there are peaks and valleys during this period for occasions like local festivals or big sporting events. Also, Mexico is large, and specific seasonal timings can vary by region thanks to differences in elevations and climates. This means it's hard to pinpoint a single month or time period for shoulder season that covers the entire country. To help you figure out how you can benefit from a money-saving shoulder-season trip to Mexico, we broke it down by popular destination: Mexico City, Cozumel, Cancun, Veracruz, Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, and Cabos San Lucas. Read on to find out when shoulder season is for the Mexican destination you're heading to - and take advantage of major vacation savings.
Mexico City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, with tourists flying in from around the world for delicious food, beautiful architecture, and an intriguing cultural scene. But think twice between booking over holidays: Christmas and Easter are extremely popular times to visit, and given that it's the capital city, hotel room prices really spike over these holiday periods. The rainy season from June through September in Mexico City puts a damper on the sun (and good weather) - though travelers on a budget can save some cash by visiting during this time.
November - per the general rule of thumb in Mexico - tends to be the best time to make a shoulder-season trip to the city. The rain has largely abated, and hotels aren't nearly as full or expensive as they will be in the coming December weeks. Day of the Dead, at the beginning of November, can correlate with a short-term spike in hotel prices, but if you're coming for a longer stay, it's worth a small surge for a couple of nights to be able to take in this incredible cultural festival. At almost 7,400 feet above sea level, nights in Mexico City can be cool in November, so be sure to pack warmly.
Our Mexico City Hotel Pick: Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is a historic property packed with Art Nouveau charm and character. The stunning Tiffany stained-glass lobby ceiling is a tourist attraction of its own. The 60 rooms are elegant and traditional but offer such modern amenities as 50-inch flat-screen TVs, minibars, and coffeemakers. The rooftop restaurant has impressive views of the square, and there's another restaurant near the lobby, as well as a piano bar with live entertainment. The hotel is situated the zocolo, surrounded by shops, restaurants, and attractions. You can't go wrong here.
Cozumel and Cancun
One of the most popular areas for tourism in Mexico, particularly with Americans, is the Yucatan Peninsula's destination of Cancun. It's a hot and humid region for most of the year, but that doesn't keep the crowds away. In fact, that's why they're here. December and January attract those wanting a bit of winter sun (and who want to make the most out of holiday vacation days). Mid-February through April is Spring Break for U.S. college students, who flock to the resorts for a week of partying. If you want to go to Cancun or the nearby island of Cozumel during this time, you're going to have to plan way ahead to make sure you get the hotel and flights you want. The other high season in this area tends to be July and August when both domestic and international tourists tend to go on vacation, though it can be rainy. In that vein, keep an eye out for hurricanes during the summer. The worst weather tends to hit the area between July and October - and while the prices bottom out during these months, it may or may not be worth the weather risk.
The shoulder seasons tend to be November (primarily), as well as April and May. Going to Cancun and Cozumel during these months means you avoid the Christmas, Spring Break, and winter-sun crowds, while still getting great weather, sunny days, comparatively low humidity - and lower rates on hotel rooms. It's a particularly ideal time if you're considering a destination wedding or honeymoon, with rates at popular resorts and luxury hotels much lower than they typically are during high season. Just keep an eye out for Thanksgiving, a popular time for Americans to head south of the border to give thanks.
Our Cancun Hotel Pick: Grand Residences Riviera Cancun