The colonization of Central America added an extra layer of fascinating history to the continent and left us with some of the most beautiful and atmospheric cities in the Americas.

Even today, Central America's colonial cities still have the ability to carry visitors back in time. Their streets that have retained the same charm and timeless feel that put them on the radar of travellers, attracted by their beauty and layers of history and culture.

Mexico's best colonial cities and towns are concentrated in the centre of the country, with places like Puebla, San Miguel de Allende, Queretaro, Taxco and Cuernavaca all surrounding Mexico City. Heading east, San Cristobal is perhaps the most attractive colonial city in the country, whilst Merida and Campeche are both excellent basis from which to explore the Mayan ruins of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Arguably the most photogenic of all the colonial cities in Central America is Nicaragua's Granada, a colourful city on the shores of the vast Lake Nicaragua, famed for its fantastic neo-classical cathedral, friendly locals and horse-drawn carriages. Anitgua in Guatemala might perhaps dispute that claim, backed as it is by two towering volcanoes and boasting lively markets, a thriving cultural scene and exquisite colonial architecture.

Across the Caribbean sea, the island of Cuba offers its own colonial splendours. Havana and Trinidad in particular are as astonishingly beautiful as they are utterly fascinating, they are cities in which visitors can discover the unique society that has made the country one of the most alluring travel destinations in the world.

See below for more on each destination and for a selection of tours that will take you to the best colonial cities in Central America.

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" Catedrál de Granada, Nicaragua " by Carlos Adampol Galindo - licensed under CC BY

The Ambos Mundos Tour - Holidays to Landmark Tours, Multi-Country Itineraries

Landmark Tours, Multi-Country Itineraries

Ambos Mundos Tour

12 Nights from £3,315 €3,078 $3,309

The proud, defiant traditions of Cuba contrast with impressive Mayan pyramids of the Yucatan, both sharing similar Spanish colonial heritage but very diffe…

The Ambos Mundos Tour
Tours in Landmark Tours, Multi-Country Itineraries

12 Nights from £3,315 €3,078 $3,309

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Travel to Havana

    Day 2 - Havana city tour

    Day 3 - Havana at leisure 

    Day 4 - Vinales

    Day 5 - Havana at leisure

  2. Days 6-7 - Yucatan

  3. Days 8-9 - Chichén Itzá

  4. Days 10-13 - Leisure in Playa del Carmen

The Senderos Tour - Holidays to Group Tours

Group Tours

Senderos Tour

15 Nights from £2,483 €2,079 $2,227

Journey overland to admire the myriad of landscapes and cultures along the route. Peeling back layers to discover ancient Mayan and Aztec pyramids, combine…

The Senderos Tour
Tours in Group Tours

15 Nights from £2,483 €2,079 $2,227

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Flight to Mexico City

    Day 2 - Mexico City at leisure

    Day 3 - City Tour of Mexico City

    Day 4 - Pyramids of Teotihuacan & Guadalupe

  2. Day 5 - Puebla & Travel to Oaxaca

    Day 6 - Oaxaca tour & ruins of Monte Alban

    Day 7 - Site of Mitla and Teotlitan & Tule villages

  3. Day 9 - Sumidero Canyon Boat Trip

    Day 10 - City tour San Cristobal

  4. Day 11 - Misol-Ha & travel to Palenque

    Day 12 - Visit Palenque archaeological site

  5. Day 13 - Visit Uxmal ruins & travel to Merida

  6. Day 14 - Explore Chichén Itzá

    Day 15 - Playa del Carmen at leisure

    Day 16 - Return flight

    Day 17 - Arrive home

The Sombrero Tour - Trinidad - Holidays to Cuba

Cuba

Sombrero Tour

10 Nights from £2,371 €1,945 $2,082

Cuba projects a surreal mise-en-scene of classic cars, cyclists and derelict buildings, standing next to pristine, beautifully renovated colonial squares, …

The Sombrero Tour
Tours in Cuba

10 Nights from £2,371 €1,945 $2,082

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Departure from the UK

    Day 2 - Old Havana Tour

    Days 3-4 - Free to explore at leisure

  2. Day 5 - Full day Tour Viñales

  3. Day 6 - Bay of Pigs Museum & Cienfuegos tour

  4. Day 7 - Transfer to Trinidad

    Day 8 - Walking tour Trinidad

    Day 9 - Trinidad at leisure

  5. Day 10 - Santa Clara

    Day 11 - Return to the UK

The Castillo Tour - Ometepe Island - Holidays to Nicaragua

Nicaragua

Castillo Tour

7 Nights from £1,514 €916 $968

Local people are eager to show you the country's natural splendor, tropical forests, traditions and culture, incredible beaches, massive island volcanoes a…

The Castillo Tour
Tours in Nicaragua

7 Nights from £1,514 €916 $968

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Travel to Ometepe

    Day 2 - Explore or stay by the beach

  2. Day 3 - Granada

    Day 4 - Boat trip to the Lake

  3. Day 5 - Leon

    Day 6 - Cerro Negro

    Day 7 - Managua & Leon Viejo

    Day 8 - Departure

The Mirador Tour - Holidays to Mexico

Mexico

Mirador Tour

14 Nights from £3,414 €3,196 $3,438

A land steeped in ancient history, colonial past and scattered with Mayan and Aztec pyramids. We include the stunning Chiapas region with villages nestled …

The Mirador Tour
Tours in Mexico

14 Nights from £3,414 €3,196 $3,438

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Day 1 - Departure from UK

    Day 2 - Anthropological Museum & Pyramids of Teotihuacan

    Day 3 - Mexico City at leisure

  2. Day 4 - Puebla

    Day 5 - Monte Albán

    Day 6 - Oaxaca at leisure

  3. Day 7 - Sumidero Canyon

    Day 8 - San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan

    Day 9 - San Cristobal at leisure

  4. Day 10 - Transfer to Palenque

    Day 11 - Tour of Palenque site

  5. Day 12 - Tour of Merida

    Day 13 - Uxmal excursion

  6. Day 14 - Chichén Itzá

    Day 15 - Return home

The Viceroy Tour - San Miguel de Allende - Holidays to Mexico

Mexico

Viceroy Tour

7 Nights from £1,313 €675 $706

The historic towns of Mexico City are hidden gems called Pueblos Magicos ( Magical Towns) with cobbled streets, colonial houses painted in bright colours a…

The Viceroy Tour
Tours in Mexico

7 Nights from £1,313 €675 $706

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Itinerary Summary

  1. Days 1-3 - Visit to the huge pre-Aztec pyramids

  2. Days 4-7 - Visit major colonial and historic cities

  3. Day 8 - Travel back to UK