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Top 5 Student Cities in Mexico

Top 5 Student Cities in Mexico Top 5 Student Cities in Mexico

Planning to study in Mexico? Before you settle on a Mexican university, think about where you want to be based. Below we’ve picked out five of the most exciting cities in Mexico for international students. You may find some surprises in store…

1. Mexico City

Mexico CityWhen you think about Mexico City, your first thought might be of the city’s reputation for danger. A couple of years ago, that may have been a fair response, but now the City of Palaces has considerably changed, thanks to the government’s focus on clamping down on drug-related crime. Of course, no city in the world comes risk-free, but this booming capital is certainly no longer off-limits. Indeed, it’s ranked among the world’s top 100 student cities.

What is also little known of Mexico City is that it holds the record for the most museums in a single city. From art galleries to a museum of shoes (yes, it’s a real place), you will never be short of cultural outings! We recommend you start with the Templo Mayor Museo, which boasts an impressive collection of archaeological findings from the region; the Museum of Frida Khalo, renowned for its cobalt blue walls and for being the birthplace of the artist; and the National Museum of Anthropology, the most-visited museum in Mexico.

If you prefer to stroll around, Condesa and Roma are the hippest neighborhoods to go for a coffee, and the Colonia Centro is considered the heart of the city. The Paseo de la Reforma is also a must-see as it is the most famous avenue of the city. Along its 15 kilometers, you will find the Angel of Independence, a statue commemorating the 100 years of the War of Independence and the Zona Rosa, known for its gay community and fabulous shopping and nightlife.

Mexico City is a goldmine of architectural styles, ranging from the colonial to the baroque. It has become a design hub, with many artists relocating to the city. In October, the Design Week takes place to promote designers and architects in the city. And if modern architecture is your interest, then you’ll enjoy visiting award-winning modern buildings such as the Hotel Habitá and the Camino Real.

2. Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del CarmenOut of the 9,330 kilometers of Mexican coastline, the beaches of Playa Del Carmen in the Quintana Roo state are considered the most beautiful in the country. Think large expenses of white sand and pristine turquoise water – what better place to relax while you study in Mexico?

But there’s much more to do in Playa Del Carmen than simply lying on the sand. You can go shopping on Quintana Avenue (literally meaning the fifth avenue), where cool bars and luxurious hotels will entertain you all night, often with famous DJs lined up to play.

If you enjoy diving, then don’t miss a trip to the Island of Cozumel, which is only a 45-minute boat ride away from the shore. Dozens of diving companies are based there to help you discover the wonders of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. It’s one of the top diving spot in Mexico!

Further opportunities for exploration around Playa Del Carmen are plenty. Go visit the pyramid of Tulum, which is only an hour away from the city, or make a day trip to Cancun, a busy city north of the Riviera Maya.

3. Merida

MeridaNext on our list of top student cities in Mexico is also within the Yucatan Peninsula, being the state’s largest city and capital: Merida. The city in itself is a mixture of colonial art and Mayan heritage, with numerous music, arts and theatre festivals taking place throughout the year. Merida is also home to four universities, giving it a large student community and adding to its appeal as a study destination.

Merida is home to many historical buildings, including the Cathedral of Ildefonso which was built in the 16th century, making it the oldest cathedral of the American continent. It was erected on Mayan ruins. Along the Paseo de Montejo, you will find the Flag Monument and the Regional Anthropology Museum. If you want to learn more about Mayan culture, make sure you visit the Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya. The building in itself is worth a visit!

The nightlife in Merida is particularly rich and varied. Local bands play live music in the many plazas and parks, galleries open late to showcase the latest trendy exhibitions, and famous DJs keep the dancefloors busy all night in the city’s most popular clubs. Some cool places to check out are Amarantus, El Cielo and Cherry’s.

An hour away from Merida city center is the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, a restored henequen farming area where locals still work the plant on which the region’s prosperity was once based. You will also have the opportunity to experience swimming in a natural crystal water swimming pool: the Cenote Dzul-Ha. Book a guided day trip to make the most of your visit.

4. Mazatlan

MazatlanWe now leave the Yucatan region for the Pacific Coast. In the state of Sinaloa, you’ll find the second-largest Mexican city, Mazatlan. Like most of the coastal cities in Mexico, Mazatlan boasts gorgeous beaches and luxury resorts. So what makes the “Pacific Pearl” stand out?

In Mazatlan, you will find the world’s second-tallest lighthouse, El Faro. If you climb its 325 steps, you will be rewarded with a breath-taking view of the city and the harbor. The spot has become a must-visit for many tourists and is kept well-maintained and secured. For lovers of historical facts, the lighthouse was built in 1879 and electricity was introduced around 1933. Its light is created by a 1,000-watt bulb!

The second visit you have to make in Mazatlan is to the Devil’s Cave. Spooked already? The people of Mazatlan locked the entry to the cave because they believed the devil was inside, waiting to trap anyone foolish enough to venture there. It was also believed that pirates used this place to hide their treasures. Regardless of how easily you scare, you can’t miss a trip to the Devil’s Cave!

Finally, get the best Mexican vibes in the historic center of the city. The Mercado area is filled with shops and cafés, and its cathedral dates back to 1875. Most tourists will be found exploring the port area, but if you want to dig deeper head for Old Mazatlan, where you can enjoy a coffee and even some live music at the acclaimed Altazor Ars Café.

5. Guanajuato

GuanajuatoFor the last on our list of the best student cities in Mexico, we move away from the coast and into the central area of the country. Nestled in a valley, we find the city of Guanajuato, capital of Guanajuato state. The city made its fortune through the mines in the mountains surrounding it, and its rich history can still be witnessed around the corners of its narrow streets. Like all great cities, Guanajuato has something for everyone.

If you are an archaeology enthusiast, you are going to love Guanajuato and its mummies. Indeed, the city is famous for its collection of 111 naturally mummified corpses exhumed from the municipal cemetery of the Tepetapa neighborhood. The Mummies Museum has displayed 59 mummies since its opening in 1970.

If art and literature are more your thing, you will love the Festival Internacional Cervantino. This annual event, first organized by students of the University of Guanajuato, gathers artists from different fields and nationalities around Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes. Operas are sung, theatre productions are shown, and art exhibitions are held throughout the month of October.

Finally, take the time to stroll around the narrow streets of Guanajuato and discover its other landmarks: the statue of local hero, El Pipila, the immensity of the Alhondiga de Granaditas and the city’s most beautiful plaza, the Jardín de la Unión.

Feeling ready to study in Mexico? Be sure to check out the latest edition of the QS University Tops: Latin America.

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Written by Céline Fraimund
Celine is studying a Masters Marketing & Corporate Communications at Université Libre de Bruxelles, and is currently joining QS for an internship in social media. She's a movie fanatic and loves to travel, discover and laugh.

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