Cancun is already the number one destination for Americans going abroad this year, but it is set to become even more popular in winter when the long-anticipated Maya Train launches.
A scenic train going on a loop around the Yucatan Peninsula, linking all of the top attractions in the Caribbean provinces of the country? Yes please!
The train will revolutionize travel in the region and help Cancun visitors reach lesser-known locations that were previously harder to get to.
In case you’re wondering where exactly you can go with the train, we bring you 3 exciting Maya Train destinations that will soon be easier to reach from the city.
One of Mexico’s trendiest destinations right now, having amassed millions of views on TikTok, Bacalar is a quaint town in the Southern half of the Quintana Roo state, away from the hustle and bustle of the resort zones and their riotous party scene.
It is your best bet at experiencing the Mexican Caribbean at its most authentic, as it is locally known as a stronghold for Mayan culture, having been inhabited since pre-Columbian times, and in 2006, it was awarded the title of ‘Magical Town‘ – way before the coveted designation was handed out at random.
To this day, huge international luxury brands and upscale resorts are yet to firm their roots in the area, being repeatedly fenced off by family-owned businesses and independently-run boutique hotels.
When staying locally, tourists have a myriad of wellness retreats bounded by the verdant jungle to pick from on the shores of the landmark Lake Bacalar, or Lake of Seven Colors, which unlike the Mayan Coast, does not suffer from rising levels of sargassum.
Sitting 133 miles from Cancun, Bacalar will be an easy day trip from the city once the Tren Maya launches, as it is only four stops away on the Chetumal line, and the two-and-a-half-hour drive, often disrupted by heavy traffic, could become a much shorter train ride.
129 miles northwest and only 3 stops away from Cancun Terminal, on the planned Cancun-Merida line, Izamal is a colonial-era gem notorious for its yellow-tinged townscape.
Originally a Mayan settlement, it was repopulated by European colonizers in the 16th century.
They pushed out the locals and built a new city out of the rubbles of the previous one, though Izamal’s indigenous character was not fully lost, as ruins of Mayan pyramids and temples – the City of Hills – have been preserved for posteriority.
With its Mayan stone-carved churches, arcaded convent, and picturesque streets, Izamal is one of the prettiest cities in the Yucatan Peninsula, and certainly all of Mexico, having been granted ‘Magical Town’ status as early as 2002.
The famous open atrium of the Franciscan Monastery of San Antonio de Padua, built atop an ancient Mayan acropolis in 1591, is second in size only to the Vatican City’s.
One stop after Izamal, Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan – not to be mistaken for the wider peninsula – and a most fascinating historical city, laying claim to being one of the first European settlements in all of the Americas.
Merida’s appeal lies in its rich heritage, which includes a 16th-century cathedral erected with stones from surrounding Mayan ruins, and the oldest to be established in mainland America, Italian and French-style architecture, and unique cuisine, combining both native and post-Columbian elements.
We wouldn’t suggest you visit Merida on a day trip, as it will take roughly three hours to get there from Cancun on the train, but maybe you could spend the night and explore it at a lower pace, as there’s no certainly no shortage of incredible sights around its Old Town to take in.
Additionally, Merida boasts one of the highest safety levels and quality of life indices anywhere in Latin America. It is often referred to as the best city for living in Mexico, so you’ll have no issues getting around town or staying overnight.
Learn more about the Maya Train and other incredible towns you will be able to visit from Cancun with the Maya Train here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com