Excursions from Mexico City: the best day trips around Mexico City

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Lluis Enric Mayans

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Mexico City, also known as Tenochtitlán, is a riot of history and antiquity. The historic capital of the Aztec empire, today offers real wonders to be explored, with splendid pre-Columbian and colonial monuments that were built by the great past civilizations: just think of those of Cuicuilco, Teotihuacan and Tula.

The colonial centers of Cuernavaca and Puebla and the mining ones of Taxco are also not to be missed. You will really be spoiled for choice! Here are the best day trips around Mexico City.


  1. Cuicuilco Archaeological Site
  2. Teotihuacan
  3. Tula
  4. Cuernavaca
  5. Taxco
  6. Puebla
  7. Coyoacan
  8. Parque Nacional Nevado de Toluca
  9. Grutas de Cacahuamilpa
  10. Xochimilco and Isla de Las Munecas
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Archaeological Site of Cuicuilco

It is one of the oldest archaeological sites located in the Valley of Mexico, near Lake Texcoco. This Mesoamerican site, dating back to 600 BC, was destroyed by an eruption of the Xitle volcano. The inhabitants who remained after the eruption emigrated to Teotihuacàn and Toluca, and thus absorbed the cuicuilca culture and traditions.
In the th century, studies unearthed thousands of finds, such as those by Byron Cummings with the pottery and by Eduardo Noguera near the pyramid. An archaeological village of high historical value not to be missedFurthermore, from the top of the hill you can admire an incredible panorama of Mexico City.

  • Range: 16,1 km
  • by car from Mexico Central Norte in 21 min; By bus (in about 1 hour) from Mexico Central Norte: from the Potrero stop (10 min) bus 1-3 in 40 min stops at Dr. Galvez (MXM 26,69, € 1,00). By night bus in 11 min you arrive at Villa Olimpica, just 3 min from the site - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-17: 00
  • free

2 - Teotihuacan

Literally "the place where men become gods".
This is an enchanting place, one of the most ancient splendors a few kilometers from the city.
Declared Unesco World Heritage, today the site boasts thousands of tourists every day. To visit it you need to prepare for a long walk and a stairway in the steep pyramids at an altitude of 2.300 meters. The ideal is therefore to dress in comfortable clothes and shoes.

Teotihuacan was founded before the Christian era and at the time housed around 200.000 people with an extension of over 20 km. Its most beautiful attractions are certainly the Quetzalcoatl Temple, the amazing pyramids built in honor of the sun and moon gods, the Jaguar Palace, as well as the wonderful rural paintings and ceramics. A truly unique mix of history and mystery.

  • Range: 50 km
  • by car in about 2 hours from Mexico Central Norte; by bus every 30 min from Mexico Central Norte in 1h and 27 mi journey (every 15 min) at a cost of MXN 53,38 (€ 2,00) - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-17: 00
  • MXN 65,00 (€ 3,11)
  • From Mexico City: access to Teotihuacán with archaeologist

3 - Tula

The most important Toltec site of Mexico, which was active between 900 and 1200 AD with a population of 40 thousand individuals and an extension of 16 km.

It was founded by the Toltec king Topiltzin, high priest of Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent god), who decided to settle in the Yucatan.
The most characteristic elements of the site are the famous Atlases, the gigantic stone statues representing four warriors over 4 meters high that surround the Pyramid of the Morning Star and the Palacio, the burnt palace.

Do not miss: the Coatepantli, the Chac Mool and the Zompantli. Also visit the Jorge R. Acosta Museum, where you can admire the real finds and some replicas of the Toltec culture; the name derives from the Mexican archaeologist who carried out the excavations in the area in the 40s.

  • Range: 93 km
  • by car in 20 min from Mexico Central Norte; by bus from Mexico Central Norte with 1 hour and 30 min ride (every 20 min) to Tula de Allende, costs MXN 133,45 (€ 5,00), then taxi with a 10 min ride to Tula, MXN 293,59 , 11,00 (€ ) - Get directions
  • every day 9: 00-17: 00
  • MXN 70,00 (€ 3,35)

4 - Cuernavaca

A place with a warm climate and lots of charm and entertainment. It is about a holiday resort that in the Hispanic era it was mostly frequented by its rulers; Cortès even had a palace built there.
Cuernavaca is famous for its characteristic murals designed by Diego Rivera in 1930, depicting the historical events of Mexico at the time of the revolution, now also home to the Museo Regional de Cuauhnàhuac with a vast collection of both historical and archaeological finds. In the ancient cloister of the cathedral de la Asuncion, similar to a fortress, built around 1520, it is located the Robert Brady Museum, which houses a rich collection of works by Frida Kahlo.

A locality ideal for adventure lovers, as you can still organize beautiful ones excursions near the volcanoes, to the mountains and nearby prairies and rivers, with activities such as caving, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and so on.

Also not to be missed are the Amanalco canyon, the Palace of Cortès and the Jardines Borda, designed just like those of Versailles by José de la Borda, a wealthy silver tycoon who often spent his holidays here.

  • Range: 86 km
  • by car in 1 hour and a half via from Mexico Central Norte; by bus from Mexico Norte in 2 hours of travel every hour, up to the Cuernavaca stop. Travel cost max MXN 213,52 (€ 8,00) - Get directions
  • museum and palace 9: 00-17: 30 every day except Monday; jardines every day 9: 00-18: 00; cathedral every day 7: 30-20: 00
  • museum and palace MXN 50,00 (€ 2,40), free on Sundays; jardines MXN 15,00 adults, children free (€ 0,72); free cathedral
  • Full day tour of Taxco and Cuernavaca from Mexico City

5 - Taxco

Located at 1.800 meters above sea level, it looks like one characteristic colonial city surrounded by mountains, halfway between Mexico City and Acapulco. It was discovered by the Spaniards in 1522 thanks to the discovery of silver in that same area; in fact you will find shops that sell silver jewelry, the typical souvenir of Taxco.

You will also notice numerous colonial style buildings and important historical monuments such as the church of Santa Prisca on Plaza Borda with its Churrigueresque façade. Its cobbled streets a little inclined and its squares where you can sit and relax are fascinating. A travel experience definitely not to be missed.

  • Range: 178 km
  • by car in 5 and a half hours via PUE 148 - Get directions
  • Taxco and Cuernavaca: Full-Day Tour from Mexico City

6 - Puebla

Capital of the homonymous state, it is the fourth city of Mexico, but also one of the oldest colonial cities. It was founded in 1531 by a Mexican settlement reorganized by Spanish colonists.
Its historic center, Zòcalo, has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Strolling you can admire churches, palaces and museums that house important colonial art and handicraft collections with archaeological finds from all over the country. The city is also famous for its beautiful Talavera pottery (typical majolica), which you can find on almost every building present, and for being the birthplace of Mole Poblano, the Mexican national dish. An unmissable city where tradition, culture and art are always present with a perfect mix of ancient and modern.

  • Range: 135 km
  • by car in about 2 hours from Mexico Central Norte; by bus from Mexico Central Norte in 2h and 20 min to Puebla Terminal CAPU. Frequency every hour, maximum cost of the ticket MXN 600,00 (€ 23,00) - Get directions
  • Puebla: Private 3-Hour Walking Tour with Tasting Puebla and Cholula: Full-Day Tour from Mexico City

7 - Coyoacán

A beautiful suburb whose name literally means "place of the coyote", the animal symbol of the neighborhood. You cannot miss a pleasant walk through the sixteenth-century streets of the colonial era, among art, squares and craft markets. You breathe aair of great culture thanks to the presence of artists, thinkers, artisans and street musicians, a bohemian atmosphere where the spirit of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo hovers, the famous artist who spent her short life in Coyoacàn characterized by passion and suffering. Not to be missed in fact Blue house, at number 247 of Calle de Londres, the same deep blue house in which he was born, lived and died. The visit continues with the Mercado de Coyoacán with its aromas and colors, the Parque Allende with Plaza Hidalgo, the heart of city life. For an excellent refreshment stop do not miss the dishes based on tasty Mexican tacos.

  • Range: 10 km
  • by car in 15 min from Mexico Central Norte (16,5 km). By metro Line 3 in 43 min - from Mexico Central Norte walk for 16 min to Protero 1-2 then metro to Viveros stop - every frequency 27 min, cost MXN 26,69 (€ 1,00) - Get directions
  • Casa Azul on Tuesday 10: 00-17: 30, Wednesday 11: 00-17: 30, from Thursday to Sunday 10: 00-17: 30
  • Casa Azul, MXN 250,00 (€ 9,37) during the week - MXN 270,00 (€ 10,12) at the weekend
  • Mexico City: Frida Kahlo's life, art and flavors tour

8 - Parque Nacional Nevado de Toluca

The Nevado de Toluca is a dormant volcano surrounded by extraordinary landscapes, theideal for lovers of extreme sports or walks in nature.
The volcano culminates at 4.690 meters at Pico de Fraile, the fourth highest peak in Mexico. You can reach the summit starting from lake of the moon, from which to admire an extraordinary view of the splendid Laguna del Sole with its crystal clear waters and the other two volcanoes to the west: Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. Another pleasant activity to practice in the park is trout fishing in the Ciènega nursery.

  • Range: 130 km
  • by car from Mexico Central Norte in 2h (112 km). By bus from Mexico Norte to Raices in almost 2 hours of travel, frequency every 3 hours, maximum cost MXN 110,00 (€ 5,00). From Raicesin by taxi to the Park in 16 km and 44 min at a cost of MXM 100,00 (€ 4,00) - Get directions
  • always open
  • free
  • 2-Day Trekking to Nevado de Toluca and Valle de Bravo From Mexico City: Tour Nevado de Toluca From Mexico City: Sunrise from Nevado de Toluca Crater

9 - Grutas de Cacahuamilpa

The park is primarily known for being among the largest cave systems in the world, characterized by underground rivers and numerous tunnels dug into the rock.
It is visited by about 350 thousand people a year, curious to admire the high rock walls up to 80 meters with stalactites and stalagmites, the cave several km long and a semi-illuminated path of 4km and a half with natural rooms of incredible proportions. An incredible place, ideal for all lovers of caving.

  • Range: 111 km
  • by car in almost 2 hours (157 km) from Mexico Central Norte. By metro 1-2, from the Potrero stop, in 8 min (MXN 5,00, € 1,00), get off at Hidalgo 1-3, then change from Hidalgo 1-2 in 23 min to Tasquena (MXN 5,00 , € 1,00). From here take the bus to Cuernavaca (twice a day), MXN 2 (€ 290,00). A taxi is required for 11,00 km to the caves in 72 hour of travel at a cost of about MXN 1 (€ 400,00) - Get directions
  • guided tours every hour from 10:00 to 17:00
  • 76 MXN (€ 2,88)
  • Mexico City: private Cacahuamilpa caves and Taxco Taxco tour, Cacahuamilpa Caves and Cuernavaca full day tour

10 - Xochimilco and Isla de Las Munecas

The island of dolls in a remote Mexican lagoon, one of the scariest places in the world, given the presence of hundreds of dolls hanging from the trees.
The lagoon is characterized by a wild aspect with aquatic plants and typical fauna of a thousand colors. To get there, just take the fat tourist boats, the "trajineras" which hold 10 to 25 people. Prices and duration may vary. If you add an island tour to a canal tour the whole tour will take approximately 4 hours.
Waiting for you there will be the many dolls hanging almost everywhere, and certainly not all intact!

Curiosity: legend has it that the dolls guard the spirit of a child drowned in the lagoon. Don Julian Santana Barrera, a middle-aged farmer, who moved to this place, saw a child drown in the lagoon but was unable to save her. Many believe that this little girl never hesitated and that she was only the fruit of man's madness. In either case, days after the tragedy, the man fished a doll from the waters and thinking it belonged to the child, tied it to a tree as a form of respect. He began to collect dolls and hang them, until he was found drowned in the same spot where the baby died.

  • Range: 28 km
  • from Mexico Central Norte by car in 26 min; to Xochimilco from Mexico Central Norte, from Potrero 1-2 by metro, in 8 min to Hidalgo 1-3 (MXN 5,00, € 1,00) - change from Hidalgo 1-2 in 23 min to Tasquena ( MXM 5,00, € 1,00) - change from Terminal Tasquena to Terminal Xochimilco in 35 min. At the lagoon, embark from the Cuemanco embarcadero, the Fernando Celada embarcadero and the San Cristóbal embarcadero, MXM 200,00 per hour (€ 12,00) - Get directions
  • always open
  • free

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