The capital of Mexico is a fantastic city to explore, yet it is often overlooked by travelers in favor of more popular tourist destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula or along the Pacific Coast. Should you decide to linger in Mexico City long enough, you’ll discover a city that is packed with history, culture and art.
But there’s more! You can go on many day trips from Mexico City. Whether you are looking for a cultural escape to a nearby archeological site or one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos; whether you want to stretch your legs on a hike or discover a hidden gem, you will find something to match your interest, budget and mode of transportation.
Curios to discover the best day trips from Mexico City? Continue reading!
13 Fabulous Day Trips From Mexico City
Anyone that has an interest in ancient archeological ruins should make a day trip to Teotihuacan. This is a must-do experience in the Mexico City region.
One of the highlights of Teotihuacan is the enigmatic Pyramid of the Sun. After much study, archeologists are still unsure how long it took to build the pyramid. The scientists can only go on approximations of other pyramid construction: they estimate took 14 thousand people working 10-hour days for 139 years to complete this structure.
You can easily spend an entire day wandering around and exploring these wondrous ruins. The photo opportunities at this site are outstanding. If you want to make the climb, bring a water bottle, hat and sunscreen to protect you while you walk up the famous pyramids. You can get to the first platform of the Pyramid of the Moon and marvel at the view of the larger Pyramid of the Sun and of the Avenue of the Dead below.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Teotihuacan is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Standard admission costs 80 pesos (around $4 USD).
HOW TO GET THERE: There are a few ways to get to Teotihuacan. Guided day trips from Mexico City are available. These provide transportation to and from the site, as well as a guide to provide historical facts and information. The buses departing from the Terminal Central del Norte in Mexico City travel to the site. Taxis and Uber are also another option, although it will cost a bit more than the bus.
For more information, make sure to read my post The Complete Guide To Visiting Teotihuacan.
Xochimilco is one of the most popular day trips from Mexico City, because it’s really easy to get there from the center of town as it is only 17 miles south of the city center. It is famous for the floating gardens and canals, part of a water transport system that was built by the Atzecs.
The best way to enjoy Xochimilco is on a boat ride that takes you around the canals. However, riding the colorful gondolas – locally called trajinera – is a very popular thing to do and you should definitely expect the place to be crowded. Another thing you can enjoy in Xochimilco is the food – street food (think tacos, tamales and more) is the way to go there! Keep your ears out for the mariachi bands that often play in the area, too.
HOW TO GET THERE: You can get to Xochimilco on a combination of metro and light rail (tren ligero). From the center of town (ie the Zocalo) hop on a Line 2 (blue) train to Tasqueña. Once there, hop on a light rail to Xochimilco. Alternatively you can join a guided tour that will include all transportation costs, a guide and obviously a boat ride.
Book your guided tour of Xochimilco here.
The Aztec Pyramid of Tenayuca
Located just 7.5 miles north of Mexico City, the Aztec Pyramid of Tenayuca is worth the jaunt out of the city.
At the Templo Mayor, the Nahua people most likely used this pyramid for stargazing and worship of gods. The basement of the pyramid contains architectural characteristics from the Late Postclassic Period (1200-1521); here Tlaloc (God of rain) and Huitzilopochtli (God of war) were worshipped.
A site worth seeing here is the Serpent Wall. The Coatepantli has 138 serpent sculptures covering three sides of the building. There is also a vault with decorations of skeletons and skulls that symbolize the sunset.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The Aztec Pyramid of Tenayuca is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The entrance fee is 55 pesos ($2.76 USD).
HOW TO GET THERE: You can easily get here with a taxi, Uber or rental car. If you prefer the Metrobus, use line 3 to get to the site.
Tula and Tepotzotlan
Tula and Tepozotlan are often visited together on day trips from Mexico City.
Tula is home to the beautiful Tula de Allende Cathedral. Yet, it’s best known for Tollán, the capital of the Toltec empire, a strong, militaristic empire that at its peak had a population of 60,000 people. The region was first inhabited in the early 7th century and research and archeological findings show a significant influence by the Maya civilization of the Yucatán: like the Maya, the Toltecs gave special significance to eagles and jaguars and were accustomed to mass human sacrifices.
The most impressive sight in Tula is the Atlantes, colossal statues that were assembled on the platform of the temple pyramid and which were used to support the roof of the temple (currently no longer visible). Another place you should not miss is the Temple of the five-story-high stepped pyramid on which the Temple of the Morning Star once stood. Make sure to pass by the Palacio Quemado (Burnt-down Palace), which in its full glory was made of large courtyards and beautiful rooms.
The beautiful town and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tepozotlan is just a short journey of about 25-miles northeast of Mexico City. The shape of the surrounding hills inspired the name Tepotzotlan, which is Nahuati and means ‘among humpbacks’.
If you decide to visit this tiny colonial town, be sure to see the old convent and church. The convent is now a museum of religious art and artifacts. The church is a great example of Mexican Baroque architecture. Inside is an octagonal room, and altars carved from wood and painted gold. The chapel from San Francisco Javier is definitely a must see. There is also a mural on the ceiling created by local Indian artists. Finally, El Tepotzeco Pyramid will offer impressive views of the city below.
HOW TO GET THERE: Getting to Tula and Tepotzotlan is pretty easy as there are several transportation options available. You can take the train from the Buenavista station in the city to Cuautitlan, from there you can get a taxi to the site. Or you can opt for a bus from the Terminal Central del Norte. You can also use a rental car or take a taxi directly from the city. Alternatively, you can join a guided tour. Most tours include a combined visit of Tepozotlan and Tula.
For information on guided tours of Tepozotlan and Tula click here.
Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl
Part of the Izta-Popo National Park, you will be amazed by the beauty and majesty of these mountains in the Mexican Highlands. Popocatepetl is only 43-miles from Mexico City, where its glacier peak can be seen depending on weather conditions. Popocatepetl is Mexico’s most active volcano and, with its 5,452 meters (17,887 feet) the second-highest in North America.
Iztaccihuatl is Nahuati for ‘white woman’ and has four separate snow-capped peaks. According to the legend, these peaks represent the head, chest, knees, and feet of a sleeping woman when looking from the east or west. This mountain is the lowest peak (at “only” 5,286 meters, 17,342 feet) that has snow and glaciers in Mexico.
Another point of interest nearby is Popocatepetl-Iztaccihuatl National Park. This is home to the Paso de Cortes (Cortes Pass) where Hernan Cortes and fellow conquerors marched from the Gulf of Mexico to Tenochtitlan on November 3, 1519.
HOW TO GET THERE: You can easily get to Izta-Popo National Park by bus from TAPO bus station – just look for Volcanoes Line bus to Amecameca. Once there, take a taxi to the park. However, you honestly need a guide to hike these volcanoes, so you are better off joining a guided tour from the capital. Thankfully, there are many available.
To book your guided volcano hike, click here.
Read my post The Best National Parks In Mexico.
Puebla and Cholula
Just past the mountains Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, lie two quaint Mexican cities perfect for a day trip from Mexico City: Puebla and Cholula.
Puebla is the fourth largest city in Mexico and is considered a main hub of the central Mexico region. It is known for its architectural structures. Founded in 1531, you will see buildings around town in styles that range from Renaissance to Mexican Baroque.
Puebla is the birthplace of mole poblano. A dish served in Mexican eateries worldwide, mole poblano is considered the national dish of Mexico. While in Puebla, it is worth the experience to dine on mole poblano from one of the local restaurants.
Cholula, officially known as Cholula de Rivadavia, is another small city adjacent to Puebla that is worth a visit. A site of note includes the Great Pyramid that has the Nuestra Senora de los Remedios sanctuary at the top. Every year the spring equinox is celebrated here, as well as the feast of the Virgin of the Remedies.
HOW TO GET THERE: Getting to these notable small cities is easy. If you drive or take a taxi, the ride will take about an hour and a half from the city. A more economic option is the Estrella Roja bus that departs from Mexico City TAPO once daily and costs about $9-$15 USD. There are also several tour operators that host day trips from Mexico City to Puebla and Cholula.
For more information about guided tours of Puebla and Cholula departing from Mexico City, click here.
One of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos, Tepoztlán is a lovely place to visit on day trips from Mexico City. According to legend, this is where many Atzec gods, including Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent god, were born – in fact, Tepoztlan has been an important religious site for centuries.
The city is fairly small. You will find a nice archeological site where you can go up the Aztec Tepozteco pyramid; a 16th century former Dominican monastery; a small museum; a weekly craft market and a nearby national park with plenty of good hiking trails.
HOW TO GET THERE: Buses to Tepoztlan leave regularly from the bus terminal in southern Mexico City.
Tlaxcala is located on the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt about 77-miles east of Mexico City. The archeological ruins of Tlaxcala are not as well-known as others in Mexico. The sites of Cacaxtla, Xochitecatl and Tizatlan are the major ruins here.
Xochitecatl was built around 300 to 400 AD. It contained a ceremonial center with structures including ‘The Spiral Building’, ‘The Volcano Base’, ‘The Serpent Pyramid’, and ‘The Flower Pyramid’.
Cacaxtla originated between 600 to 900 AD. Here you can view many murals such as Scorpion Man, Venus Temple, and Battle Mural, where the paint is made from mineral pigments.
Tizatlan has many structures made from adobe brick. There are two stucco-covered altars where human sacrifices were made. Just beyond these altars are murals depicting the gods Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc and Mayahuel.
HOW TO GET THERE: To get to Tlaxala from Mexico City, you can catch the bus from Mexico City TAPO. The drive from the city is about two hours.
If you favor Spanish colonial architecture, the visit to Morelia is worth the 180-mile trip. In the main square, you will be in awe of the beautiful 17th century Baroque cathedral. Another place of note, Clavijero Palace, dates back to 1660.
Several notable festivals take place in Morelia. The annual Festival de Musica de Morelia features over 40 concerts from about 500 artists. Every year in June, students flock to Morelia to study at the International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia. For film fans, there is the Festival International de Cine de Morelia. SalsaMich takes place every March, where salsa dancers from across the country compete for prizes. Rock climbing enthusiasts gather at El Paredon de la Nona, just south of the city for the Festival de Escala.
HOW TO GET THERE: It takes a few hours to get to Morelia from Mexico City, no matter what mode of transportation you use. In a car, the journey will take just over three hours. By bus the trip from either Mexico Poniente or Mexico Norte will take four to five hours, with a cost ranging from $20-$40 USD.
San Miguel de Allende
Although quite far from Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende is worth the trip to see this picturesque colonial town. When you stroll around town, you will see the flourishing art scene with paintings, sculpture and pottery for sale by locals.
A highlight here is the Church of El Oratorio de San Felipe Neri. This pink stone façade Indian structure dates back to 1712. Inside is the painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe and 33 paintings detailing the life of St. Felipe Neri, all painted by Miguel Cabrera.
HOW TO GET THERE: San Miguel de Allende is located 168-miles northwest of Mexico City. To get here by car will take just over three hours. It takes much much longer on public transportation, as you’ll have to take the subway to Mexico Central Norte. At about three hours on the bus, you will arrive at Tequisquiapan. From there you can take a taxi for the last leg of the journey to San Miguel de Allende.
For information on guided day trips from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende, click here.
Cuernavaca and Taxco
Taxco and Cuernavaca are a excellent places to visit on a day trip from Mexico City.
Located in Morelos State, Cuernavaca is known as the “City of Eternal Springtime” – the Aztec knew this very well as they established their summer residences here to escape the heat of the city.
Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes did exactly the same thing – he built his summer residence there. In fact, to date the Palace of Cortes remains the main attraction in town. It’s also home of numerous murals by Diego Rivera, Mexico’s most famous painter and husband of Frida Kahlo. Make sure not to miss The Robert Brady Museum, known to be the best in town.
HOW TO GET THERE: Buses to Cuernavaca depart regularly from Mexico City southern terminal. The journey takes about one hour.
You can easily combine your visit of Cuernavaca with that of Taxco, another lovely small town famous for its production of silver jewelry. Other than checking out jewelry, you should make it a point to visit the 1758 Church of Santa Prisca, a masterpiece of Churrigueresque architecture and a real sight to behold.
For guided tours of Cuernavava and Taxo from Mexico City, click here.
Valle de Bravo
97 miles west of Mexico City, Valle de Bravo is a lovely lake town on the shore of Lake Avandaro, a beautiful man-made lake. A popular weekend destination for wealthy people living in Mexico City who are attracted by the many excellent hotels and golf courses, Valle de Bravo was founded by the Matlatzinca people, in the 15th century the city was conquered by the Atzecs. Subsequently, a Franciscan convent was established by the Spaniards. In the 20th century Valle de Bravo became an electricity hub, supplying water and electricity to Mexico City.
Unmissable sights in Valle de Bravo include the well curated archeological museum; St. Mary’s Chapel; the 17th-century San Francisco de Asis Church; the Barrio de Santa Maria Ahuacatlan and the handicraft market. Yet, the best thing to do in Valle – as locals affectionately call it – is spending time on the lake, enjoying one (or all) water sports – from water skiing to kayaking; from sailing to paragliding.
Make sure not to miss the Vero de Novia Waterfall, an easy walk from downtown Valle de Bravo.
HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest way to get to Valle de Bravo from Mexico City is by car. Alternatively, consider joining a guided tour such as this one.
Santiago de Querétaro
This is one of the lesser popular day trips from Mexico City, but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth going! The historical center of Santiago de Querétaro is a UNESCO World Heritage style and deserves to be explore. The Aqueduct outside of town is another interesting sight, built in classic Roman-style. Finally, this part of the country is known for the many mezcal distilleries so don’t miss the opportunity to visit one!
HOW TO GET THERE: Buses from Terminal Central del Norte in Mexico City depart regularly to Santiago de Querétaro. The journey takes about two hours.
Needless to say, there are many more places that you can visit from Mexico City! Toluca for example is easily reached by public transport, home of a beautiful botanical garden and providing easy access to the Nevado de Toluca, one of Mexico’s highest volcanoes; Real del Monte, in the state of Hidalgo is a nice mining town almost entirely built by miners that were brought in to work on the mines from Cornwall, it’s located at a whopping 2,700 meters (8,858 feet) above sea level. Looking for more Atzec ruins? Head to Malinalco, 59 miles southwest of the capital.
What other Mexico City day trips would you recommend?
Make sure to read my other posts about Mexico:
- The Best Travel Tips For Mexico
- The Best Itinerary For 3 Days In Mexico City
- The Best Museums In Mexico City
- Where To Stay In Mexico City
- The Best Mexico Itinerary
- The Best Beaches In Mexico
- The Best Things To Do In Yucatan
- What To Eat In Mexico
- How Not To Get Sick In Mexico