Enjoy a Varied Climate in Mexico - Best Time to Visit & Regional Differences

By Wendy Justice

As far as climate is concerned, Mexico offers something for everyone. Whether you prefer four distinct seasons, or year-round summer weather, if you like vibrant cities or prefer small towns, or whether you want to live by the beach reveling in the sunshine or in a historic colonial-era town where you might have to bundle up at night.

Mexico has some of the steamiest jungles and rainforests, the most arid deserts, the most welcoming warm sea waters and cenote swimming holes, and a dazzling assortment of high-altitude expat havens offering nearly perfect weather throughout the year. During the winter, it’s quite possible to see snow-capped mountains, too.

Whatever climate you’re yearning for, Mexico has you covered.

Regional Differences

Mexico is a large, diverse country that stretches for nearly 2,000 miles north to south, and the climate varies depending on where you are. The northern regions bordering the U.S. consist of primarily desert—hot and dry for most of the year, though it may get cool at night and during the winter months. If it snows in San Diego, the state of Baja California will probably receive snow, too—it’s not common, but it’s been known to happen. Some of the mountains in the northwest part of the country also occasionally get below-freezing temperatures and snow during the winter months.

Most of central Mexico has an elevation that ranges from around 4,000 feet to over 8,000 feet, a plateau that extends from the U.S. border to almost the entire length of Mexico. These higher elevations typically bring mild weather year-round to the entire region. The majority of Mexicans live in these highlands, which include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, Guanajuato, Oaxaca City, and Pueblo.

Many expats also choose to live in these temperate climates. The most popular high-altitude destinations for expats are San Miguel de Allende, Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico City, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Guanajuato, Oaxaca City, and San Cristóbal de las Casas.

The coastal regions near sea level are generally warmer and more humid than the rest of Mexico, especially in the southern reaches of the country and along the Gulf and Caribbean coasts in the Yucatán Peninsula. Snowbirds from cooler climates in the United States and Canada head to the beaches every winter to enjoy the warm tropical climates of the Riviera Maya, Mérida and Progreso, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, La Paz, and Cabo San Lucas. Several of these destinations, including Puerto Vallarta, the Riviera Maya, and Mérida, boast sizable year-round expat communities, which attract not only North Americans, but Europeans, as well.

Average Temperatures

Altitude plays a big factor in Mexico’s climate. Generally, the higher the elevation, the cooler the average temperature. The closer you are to sea level, the hotter and often more humid it is. In beach areas, high temperatures and humidity are tempered by cooling sea breezes.

Baja California, which includes Tijuana, Rosarito, and Ensenada, has a Mediterranean climate, with mild summers and cool winters. The hottest months are from July through September, with most days between 70 F and 80 F, though occasionally, it can get to the 90s F or even above 100 F.

Baja Sur, where you’ll find La Paz, Loreto, Todos Santos, and Cabo San Lucas, has a desert climate, with hot summer days around 90 F, and evenings cooling into the 70s and 80s F. Winters are mild, with highs in the 70s F and into the 50s F at night.

The Colonial Highlands region, the geographic center of the country, includes the cities of San Miguel de Allende, Santiago de Querétaro, and Guanajuato. Daytime temperatures are generally in the 70s F and low-80s F, cooling to the upper 40s F and low 50s F at night. During the coldest months of December and January, temperatures may approach freezing on some nights. The hottest and driest months are April through June; the temperatures drop during the late summer when rains begin to cool things down. Since the highlands are semi-desert, humidity is generally low.

Other cities on the central plateau that are popular with expats include Chapala, Ajijic, Morelia, and Patzcuaro. All have similar weather: comfortable springlike days, cool evenings, and low humidity.

The higher altitudes of Mexico’s interior continue south. Oaxaca City and San Cristóbal de las Casas both enjoy comfortable temperatures, with the warmest times of the year falling between March and May and the coldest from November through January. San Cristóbal, at an elevation of 7,200 feet, will often have temperatures below freezing during the winter months. During summer, most days are in the low 70s F.

Along the Pacific coast, you’ll find the large resort town of Puerto Vallarta, as well as smaller funky beach towns like Sayulita. This region has a warm, humid climate, with June to November being the hottest time of year—temperatures hit the 90s F during the day—while it’s in the low 80s F between December and April.

The Yucatán Peninsula, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the north and the Caribbean to the south, includes the popular expat havens of Mérida, Progreso, Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and Tulúm. Temperatures remain high all year in this region and only vary by about nine degrees between the highs of summer and the lows of winter, with average temperatures between 75 F and 82 F. However, there can be some extremely hot spells. Temperatures over 100 F in Mérida are common in the height of summer and even occasionally during the winter months, though temperatures in nearby Progreso, on the Gulf, tend to be cooler because of the nearly constant sea breezes.


Most of Mexico has both wet and dry seasons. The rainiest months occur between May and October. The arid and semi-arid areas that comprise the Colonial Highlands and parts of the Baja Peninsula may see only a little rain, or none at all, during this period. Farther south, rainfall becomes more frequent; expect to see plenty of rainy days and evenings, with occasional heavy thunderstorms, during the wet season in Morelia, Patzcuaro, Oaxaca City, and San Cristóbal.

The rainy season in the Yucatán Peninsula occurs from August to November, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms. This is a humid part of the country—plan on days with 80% to 90% humidity at any time of the year.

Hurricanes and Natural Disasters

Hurricanes occur mainly along the Pacific side of the country in and around Michoacán State and along the southern part of the Baja Peninsula. The Caribbean side of the Yucatán Peninsula will occasionally have strong storms and hurricanes, though they only rarely seem to make it to the Gulf side of the peninsula. Hurricanes happen most frequently during the month of September.

Although earthquakes can occur anywhere, they’re far more common along the Pacific coast, which is located along several tectonic plates. Places popular with expats that have a fairly significant risk of earthquakes include Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, and the north and eastern sides of the Baja Peninsula. Though earthquakes aren’t especially common in Mexico City, the area occasionally gets hit by a strong one, such as the 7.1 magnitude quake in 2017.

Mexico is located along the Pacific Rim of Fire, which makes it susceptible to not only earthquakes but volcanic activity. The majestic Popocatepetl volcano, between Mexico City and Puebla, erupted most recently in May 2023.

Mexico’s infrastructure is well developed, and most areas are well-equipped to handle these events, especially in tourist meccas and where expats are likely to live. Most roads and buildings in these areas are designed to withstand the whims of nature. Roads might close for a day or two due to flooding, or an airport may shut down for a few hours if a volcano is acting up, but it’s usually a temporary, short-lived inconvenience.

Roads and buildings may not be up to international standards in rural areas, but these aren’t the places where most expats find themselves. Regardless of where a natural disaster strikes, though, the government is quite efficient at getting things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Outdoor Activities

Mexico is a world-class playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Exploring the mountainous forests, waterfalls, and spectacular scenery of the central part of the country is a treat for all ages. Fishing, rafting, mountain climbing, and nature walks are all easily accessible, and you’ll want to check out a winery or take in an outdoor concert or two, as well. Rains, when they do occur, are usually in the late afternoon or at night.

On the coasts, you’ll find all manner of water sports, caves and cenotes (the partially underground freshwater pools of the Yucatán Peninsula), and atmospheric ancient ruins to explore. The coastal resort towns come alive at night when the temperatures drop.

The southern states are a naturalist’s, birder’s and photographer’s paradise. The diversity of flora and fauna is overwhelming.

The Baja Peninsula has beautiful beaches, whale nurseries, wineries, and even some climbable mountains. The dry, desert-like climate of southern Baja is especially good for year-round outdoor activities.

Clothing and Gear

Mexico has a fierce glare, and using adequate UV protection, even on cloudy days, is strongly recommended. During the summer, the sun can be directly overhead and those unfiltered rays—the UV index frequently goes above 10—can cause a burn in minutes. Bring a wide-brimmed hat, a good sunscreen, seek shade, and cover up when the sun is blazing. Keep hydrated. Some people also carry an umbrella for sun protection.

Nights are often warm and steamy along the coasts but can get chilly, or even cold, at night in the higher elevations. Nights in the highlands of central Mexico are usually in the 50’s F or below, even during the summer months, so you may want to have a light jacket to stay warm.

Mexican weather forecasts—especially using U.S. weather apps—are notoriously unreliable. You’ll usually get a more accurate sense of the day’s weather by looking out your window. Be prepared for rain even in the dry season, and of course, be prepared for plenty of sunshine, too.

Video: The Best Time to Visit Mexico

By Jason Holland


Whether you want to stay in a beach town with warm water and gentle sea breezes year-round, or in a highland town in the interior with spring-like weather every day, you’ll find that Mexico has something for everybody. It’s not surprising that so many people from the U.S. and Canada come here to escape the cold during the winter, and that so many of them eventually make Mexico their permanent home.