Mexico, with its big landscapes and good modern network of paved roads, is ideal for independent exploration by self drive car hire. No more so than in the highland colonial-cities loop, and on the Pacific coast. Your hire car is provided and your point-to point itinerary planned out for you, with hotel reservations made in advance and maps provided.
Northwest of Mexico City are crumpled ranges of gnarled, humpy but starkly beautiful hills. Here, and in the bountiful valleys of the Bajío, Spanish colonists built fortunes from the mining of precious metals, especially silver, and a necklace of prosperous towns sprung up which share a heritage of baroque churches, leafy squares and pastel-washed houses.
Each has its own character: the university town Guanajuato, built in a narrow gorge, is a centre for music, theatre and dance, while the homely yet international little town of San Miguel de Allende is a magnet for artists. Morelia shows off some of the grandest monumental colonial architecture, and Querétaro is renowned for its impressive colonial aqueduct.
Continue for some beach time at Zihuatanejo on the glorious sands of the Pacific coast.