Did You Know…?
One of the Mexican Tourism Secretariat’s flagship programs in recent years has been its Magic Towns designation. This is a program after my own heart, and one that was long overdue when it was finally begun in 2001. Mexico’s Magic Towns (Pueblos Mágicos) range from tiny, almost undiscovered villages on the coast to sizeable inland cities. What they all have in common is that they have some truly special cultural, historic or social importance.
One of the first Magic Towns to be accepted into the program was the fascinating island-village of Mexcaltitán in Nayarit, to which I devoted an entire chapter in my Western Mexico, A Traveller’s Treasury. Now, almost every state has at least one Magic Town; there are now (2020) more than 120 scattered across the Republic.
Towns accepted into the program have access to federal funds for publicity and improvements. For example, some of the towns have already relocated all those ugly wires that despoil so many Mexican towns safely underground, well out of sight. In all cases, a local committee oversees the projects, ensuring that local viewpoints are always to the fore.
Update – 2016 – Ten new “Magic Towns” have been announced, bringing the total number nationwide to 121. The latest additions are:
- Melchor Múzquiz, Coahuila
- Nombre de Dios, Durango
- Comonfort, Guanajuato
- Zimapán, Hidalgo
- Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
- Compostela, Nayarit
- Amealco de Bonfil, Querétaro
- Aquismón, San Luis Potosí
- Bustamante, Nuevo León
- Guadalupe, Zacatecas
Update – 2015 – The latest 28 additions to the Magic Towns program are:
- San José de Casas (Aguascalientes)
- Candela and Guerrero (Coahuila)
- Palenque (Chiapas)
- Aculco, Ixtapan de la Sal, Teotihuacán, San Martín de las Pirámides and Villa de Carbón (State of Mexico – Estado de México)
- Tecozahutla (Hidalgo)
- Mascota and Talpa de Allende (Jalisco)
- Sayulita, (Nayarit)
- Linares (Nuevo León)
- Huautla de Jiménez, Mazunte, San Pablo Villa Mitla and San Pedro y San Pablo (Oaxaca)
- Atlixco and Huauchinango (Puebla)
- Isla Mujeres and Tulum (Quintana Roo)
- San Joaquín (Querétaro)
- Mocorito (Sinaloa)
- Tlaxco (Tlaxcala)
- Coscomatepec, Orizaba and Zozocolco (Veracruz)
– Update – 2012
Mexico’s Magic Town (Pueblo Mágico) designation is given to inland destinations that offer a complementary tourism based on historic and cultural attributes. Between them, Magic Towns welcomed 2.3 million tourists in 2011. Mexico’s federal Tourism Secretariat has announced there will be 52 Magic Towns by 2012, when the promotional program is due to end. Mexico recently added two more towns, bringing the current total to 50 Magic Towns.
The following list of Mexico’s Magic Towns is accurate as of August 2008. Click on the names in blue to be redirected to an article about that particular place right here on Mexico Connect.
The Magic Towns, in approximate order of their date of designation, are:
- Mexcaltitán, Nayarit
- Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo
- Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí
- Tepoztlán, Morelos
- Taxco, Guerrero
- Tepotzotlán, State of México
- Tapalpa, Jalisco
- Comala, Colima
- Pátzcuaro, Michoacán
- Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
- San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
- Cuetzalan, Puebla
- Izamal, Yucatán
- Tequila, Jalisco
- San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas2004:
- Real del Monte, Hidalgo
- Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila
- Valle de Bravo, State of México
- Mazamitla, Jalisco
- Álamos, Sonora
- Cosalá, Sinaloa
- Bernal, Querétaro
- Coatepec, Veracruz
- Papantla, Veracruz
- Asientos, Aguascalientes
- Cuitzeo, Michoacán
- Santiago, Nuevo León
- Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
- Bacalar, Quintana Roo
- Jerez de García Salinas, Zacatecas
- Huamantla, Tlaxcala
- Mier, Tamaulipas
- Creel, Chihuahua
- Chichimilá, Yucatan
- Capulalpam de Mendez, Oaxaca
While there are three towns on the list I have not yet visited (note to self: have to remedy that asap!), I’m very confident that all the places designated Magic Towns offer plenty of interest for anyone who wants to discover what makes Mexico such an incredibly fascinating place to explore.
The larger towns on the list, such as San Miguel de Allende, Todos Santos and San Cristóbal de las Casas, are already well known to many visitors. Personally, I prefer some of the smaller, lesser known towns such as Cuetzalan, Jerez and Real del Monte. I love the indigenous atmosphere of Cuetzalan, the storied stones of Jerez, and Real del Monte is on my favorites list not least because it is the only place I know in Mexico where you can buy decent Cornish pasties!
Which towns should be on the list and have not yet been so honored? Well, that would be telling…
- The continued devaluation of the Magic Town program
- The distribution of Mexico’s Magic Towns (with links to many earlier posts)
- Mexico’s Magic Towns program going international
- Mexico’s Magic Towns program under review (Nov 2014)
2 thoughts on “Did you know? Mexico has more than 100 Magic Towns”
Are magic towns still entitled to federal funding?
Hi Ed, As you know the Magic Towns program is a federal program. The precise regulations and conditions have been revised several times in the two decades since the program was first announced. Federal funding for Magic Towns has varied greatly from one year to the next. In the past couple of years, I have been led to believe that the federal budget has not included any specific funding for the program. I am not 100% sure whether or not this really makes much difference to how the program is implemented, given that several different allocations of the federal budget may have a part to play in specific projects in Magic Towns, depending on their focus (infrastructure, roads, signage, promotion, etc). Regards, Tony.