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15 BEST Day Trips from Mexico City

15 BEST Day Trips from Mexico City

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Mexico City is truly an incredible place. It’s a huge city with an infectious energy, and there are a ton of amazing tours and experiences to be had here. But although you could spend weeks in this city (and we have!) without getting bored, there are also a ton of epic day trips nearby that you really shouldn’t miss. 

We’ve been to Mexico City several times and every time we’re here, we always plan a couple of days outside of the city. Really the best thing about day trips from Mexico City is the sheer variety of them! Whether you want ancient history, adrenaline-fuelled adventures, natural wonders, or a good old-fashioned party boat, you can find it within easy reach of the Mexican capital. 

We love visiting Mexico because it’s such a fascinating, culturally rich country so we’ve picked out day trips that really showcase that. It’s honestly amazing just how much the area around Mexico City has to offer! 

Don’t have time to read the full article? Our absolute favorite day trips from Mexico City include:

  1. Seeing the ancient city of Teotihuacan
  2. Cruising the canals of Parque Xochimilco on a party boat
  3. Soaking in hot springs on the side of a mountain at Las Grutas Tolantongo
  4. Wandering around the gorgeous and colorful town of San Miguel de Allende
  5. Taking a guided hike to the summit of Iztaccihuatl Volcano

Best Day Trips from Mexico City

1. Teotihuacan 

Teotihuacán temples
Teotihuacán temples
A lady stands at the top of The Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, Mexico
Sadly, you can’t climb the temples anymore.
  • Distance from Mexico City: 51.5 kilometers (32 miles)
  • Time needed: 8 hours or more
  • What you need: Car, bus, guided tour 

Teotihuacan is the most popular day trip from Mexico City, and for good reason. It’s home to some of the best-preserved pyramids in the world! For me, it’s a close runner-up to the famous Chichén Itzá and Teotihuacan is actually way cheaper to visit and much closer to Mexico City!

Teotihuacan was one of the biggest cities in pre-Hispanic Mexico, and it’s believed that around 150,000 people lived here at its height. Other than that, not much is known about the ancient city. It’s thought that several different civilizations lived here, but no one can be sure who actually founded the city, or why it was eventually abandoned around 650 AD. This definitely adds a layer of mystery to this impressive archaeological site! 

The most important pyramids here are the Sun and Moon Pyramids and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Their size and complexity are a true testament to how skilled the ancient inhabitants of Mexico were. The Pyramid of the Sun is actually the third-largest pyramid in the world. You used to be able to climb it and we did on one of our last visits, but sadly this is no longer the case.

It takes about an hour to drive from Mexico City to Teotihuacan’s location if you’re renting a car in Mexico. Or there’s a direct bus that runs from the Autobuses del Norte station. Buses leave every 15 minutes from 6 am onwards and it costs around 100 MXN, which is roughly $6 USD, for a ticket. 

Bailey and Daniel at Teotihuacan, Mexico
The main temple!

Once you get there, admission to Teotihuacan costs 85 MXN, which is around $4 USD or it’s completely free for kids under 13, so this is a very budget-friendly day trip from Mexico City. 

And of course, there are plenty of guided tours to Teotihuacan from Mexico City which include transport. We loved visiting with a guide because we got way more information about what we were seeing and the incredible history everywhere we turned. It made our visit so much more interesting!

This group tour to Teotihuacan includes both a 1-hour guided tour of the archaeological site and then free time to wander around and marvel on your own. This was the perfect balance for us so we got a bit of the background, but then had time to wander on our own and grab some amazing photos!

The tour also includes a visit to the Shrine of Guadalupe, which is one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. You’ll also see Tlatelolco, the site of an ancient Aztec market, and get a tequila tasting, so all in all, it’s a very well-rounded cultural day out! Plus, at $60 USD when you book online in advance, we think it’s pretty good value for money given that you get four experiences in one. 

If you prefer a private experience, then this private tour is just the ticket. You’ll be picked up early and get to Teotihuacan at 8 am, just as the gates open. This is one of our biggest tips for visiting Teotihuacan – arriving here early to beat the heat and have time to explore before it gets crowded. 

A private tour means you get a personalized look at the pyramids from your guide who is a professional art historian and really brings this ancient city to life! There’s also a tequila and mezcal tasting included, which we say is a must while you’re in Mexico! You can even opt to add on lunch in a restaurant that’s housed in a natural grotto for a super unique dining experience. Lunch is on your own, but everything else is included in the $110 USD price tag, so grab a spot on a private tour here!

Baily does a tequila tasting on a Teotihuacan Tour from Mexico city
I’m not a huge fan of tequila but I still enjoy the tastings!
Volare Mexico Hot Air Balloon ride in Mexico
Photo credit: Volare Mexico

Of course, the ultimate way to see the Teotihuacan Pyramids is from high above, while floating in a hot air balloon! You’ll get insane views of the gigantic pyramids and you can tick a hot air balloon ride off your bucket list at the same time. The balloon setup takes place while you enjoy coffee and breakfast before taking to the air.

The flight lasts 30-50 minutes, depending on the weather conditions and the pilot even rotates the balloon so you get the best views of the ruins. When you book online, it costs $152 USD if you drive yourself, or $175 USD including round-trip transport from Mexico City. 

2. Xochimilco

Xochimilco Canals with a colorful boat during a tour from Mexico City
The canals are so cool to see!
A colorful boat on the Xochimilco canals in Mexico City
It’s a fun day out!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 25 kilometers (15.5 miles)
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • What you need: Car, taxi, electric train, guided tour 

Parque Xochimilco is known for its canals and colorful party boats, so a day trip here promises to be a fun and lively experience! We absolutely loved our visit here because of how close it is to Mexico City and sipping on cocktails while cruising along the canals was a blast. 

The canals were built by the Aztecs as a way to get around via the water, and they actually covered a much bigger area, but it’s still pretty cool that the canals of Xochimilco remain. 

Here, you can rent one of these eye-catching boats and cruise along the canals while enjoying a drink. Plus, there are lots of boats selling souvenirs and snacks, and you can also pay a Mariachi band to serenade you from their boat! There’s such a fun atmosphere on the canals, so you really can’t miss this one. 

It only takes about half an hour to get from central Mexico City to Xochimilco. The easiest way is to take a taxi, although you can also take the subway. You’ll need to head to Tasqueña, which is at the end of the blue line, and then switch to the Tren Ligero. Stay on until the end of the line and voila, you will have reached Xochimilco! 

Once you arrive, it costs around 500 MXN per hour (roughly $27 USD) to rent a boat, which isn’t bad since it can fit up to 20 people. 

Xochimilco Canals near Mexico City
Xochimilco Canals near Mexico City

It’s pretty easy to visit Xochimilco on your own, but the drivers of the boats don’t speak English, so if you want to learn more about the canals, it’s worth taking a guided tour. 

This party boat tour is a ton of fun. For $70 USD, it includes unlimited drinks on board, including tequila and mezcal, as well as snacks, fresh guacamole, and a local guide. You’ll also stop at the (admittedly creepy) Island of the Dolls, where you’ll find tons of abandoned dolls, which are displayed in an attempt to appease the spirit of a young girl who drowned in the river. It’s a bit dark compared to the party happening on the canals, but interesting nonetheless!

We actually did this Mexico City super saver tour which combines a visit to Xochimilco with some of Mexico City’s top sights, like strolling along the cobblestone streets of the Coyoacan neighborhood and wandering around the Frida Kahlo Museum. Mexico City is huge so this tour is a great way to make the most of your time here, and we saw a ton! We really felt it was worth the $51 USD (or $77 USD including museum admission) since the tour was 10 hours and filled with a lot of our must-sees!

Related Read: Foodies will also love adding on a taco tour in Mexico City before or after one of these day trips. We found some of the best local taco spots in the city with our helpful guide!

3. Tolantongo 

A small pool at the Tolantongo springs in mexico
It’s one of the most unique places in Mexico!
A man relaxes in the Tolantongo in mexico
Ahh paradise!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 200 kilometers (125 miles) 
  • Time needed: 14-16 hours
  • What you need: Guided tour 

Taking a day trip to Las Grutas Tolantongo was one of the best things that we did in Mexico City. It’s famous for its Insta-worthy hot springs, which are on the side of a mountain, so you get epic views as you soak in the warm, therapeutic waters. 

What a lot of people don’t realize about these springs, though, is that some of them are inside the Las Grutas caves. You actually walk right under waterfalls to get inside and explore – plus you can stop for a relaxing soak along the way, which is a pretty epic experience.

And as if that weren’t enough, as well as the gorgeous hot springs, Tolantongo is also home to a zipline and suspension bridge. The zipline is extra, but only 200 MXN (~$11 USD), so we thought it was totally worth adding on. It made this place feel like an adventure park crossed with a spa! 

It’s a pretty long drive from Mexico City (at least 3.5 hours each way), so we only recommend doing a day trip if you take a guided tour. We took this tour and although it was a long day, it was an awesome experience and the tour company really thought of everything. 

A view of the hot pools at Las Grutas Tolantongo Mexico Hot Springs
The hot pools are some of the most beautiful in the world!

For example, they broke up the long journey with a stop in San Cristobal for breakfast, which was included in the price of the tour. They also gave everyone a backpack with everything that we needed to explore the caves and waterfalls safely, and we really liked having a guide to make sure that we got the most out of the park.

We also stopped for snacks on our way home and got to try a traditional treat that English miners in the area used to eat. It reminded me of a cross between a croissant and an empanada and it was delicious!

The tour cost $140 USD, so it was one of the more expensive tours we did in Mexico City, but we think it was worth the splurge. It was an absolute blast, but it would have been way too much driving to do it ourselves in a single day. Plus, it was still cheaper to do the tour than to stay overnight. You can book this incredible day trip to Tolantongo that’s completely planned for you online here!

4. Puebla and Cholula 

Cute street in Puebla, Mexico
Cute street in Puebla, Mexico
Palafoxiana Library in Puebla, Mexico
Palafoxiana Library in Puebla, Mexico
  • Distance from Mexico City: 135 kilometers (84 miles) 
  • Time needed: 9 hours 
  • What you need: Car, guided tour 

Puebla and Cholula are two gorgeous cities that are only 10 kilometers (6 miles) apart, so it makes sense to visit them both on a day trip from Mexico City! 

Puebla is one of the biggest cities in Mexico and there are a ton of interesting (and super cheap) things to do. You can visit Palafoxiana Library, which is the oldest library in the Americas, and ride the giant ferris wheel for just a couple of dollars (riding at sunset is especially pretty!). We also loved visiting the city’s traditional Mexican candy stores and the colorful Los Sapos neighborhood. 

Meanwhile, Cholula is smaller and more historic. The main attraction here is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which is one of the biggest pyramids in the world, and you can actually walk through its tunnels! There are also lots of beautiful churches here, like the ornate Templo San Francisco Acatepec, which took around a century to build.

Bailey at the Great Pyramid of Cholula ruins near Mexico city
Exploring the ruins!
In the underground caves of Great Pyramid of Cholula, Mexico
It’s so cool that you can enter the pyramid!

You can reach these cities via public transport, but it’s not ideal for a day trip. If you only have a day, then we think it’s best to take a guided tour as it will save time and take you right to the highlights. 

This tour gives you a fantastic overview of the two cities and includes a walking tour of both around the most beautiful buildings. Along the way, your guide will teach you a lot about the rich history of Puebla and Cholula and you’ll even stop at a craft market at the end to pick up a few souvenirs! It costs $71 USD, not including lunch (or anything you choose to buy at the end!), and lasts for the entire day. 

Or if you prefer a private tour, this full-day tour will take you to the Great Pyramid, several famous churches, a local handicraft market, and the Palafoxiana Library. You really do get to see all of the best sights that these two cities have to offer in just one day. We also like that it isn’t rushed since the tour is just for you and your group! The price per person varies between $75-$185 USD, depending on the size of your group. 

5. San Miguel de Allende 

San Miguel de Allende
Look how gorgeous the streets are!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 272 kilometers (169 miles) 
  • Time needed: 10 hours
  • What you need: Guided tour 

With its colorful baroque buildings, winding streets, and friendly people, San Miguel de Allende has got charm in spades. In fact, tons of expats and digital nomads from Europe and the US are flocking here because it’s such a great place to be. 

When in San Miguel de Allende, you have to check out Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the pink Gothic cathedral that’s right in the main square. There’s also a beautiful public library, a cute folk souvenir market, and you can visit the House of Ignacio Allende, where the famous Mexican army captain and independence fighter was born and raised. Best of all, all of these attractions are within walking distance of one another! 

San Miguel de Allende is almost a 4-hour drive from Mexico City, so it’s a pretty long day trip. However, it’s a very vibrant town and we still think it’s worth visiting if you’re short on time. It’s definitely best to go on a guided tour though, because there’s so much drive time involved. At least you can sleep on the way back when someone else is taking care of the driving! 

This tour includes round-trip transport from Mexico City and will take you to all of San Miguel de Allende’s must-see spots with a walking tour in the morning. I love the handicraft market here – there’s everything from paper mache to blown glass decorations, and it’s hard to resist picking up something! Then the afternoon is free so you can explore the city by yourself. It costs $96 USD when you book online and lasts for around 11 hours including travel time.

6. Cuernavaca and Taxco 

The cathedral in Taxco, Mexico
The architecture is something to see!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 87 km (54 mi) to Cuernavaca, 178 km (110 mi) to Taxco
  • Time needed: 10 hours
  • What you need: Guided tour 

Cuernavaca and Taxco are about a 1.5-hour drive apart, but their respective locations mean that it makes sense to combine them on a day trip from Mexico City. 

Cuernavaca is a lovely, leafy city that’s known as the City of Eternal Spring due to its permanently balmy weather and all of the plants and flowers around. There’s lots of beautiful architecture here as well as some great museums, and the historic Cuernavaca Cathedral is an interesting place to visit. History fans should make a beeline for the Palacio de Cortes, where notorious Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés lived. 

Meanwhile, Taxco is a silver mining town, although it’s also famed for being the most beautiful pueblo magico in Mexico. Pueblo magicos are towns promoted by the Mexican government for their beauty, so this is a pretty big deal! 

One of the most famous things to do in Taxco is visit the William Spratling Museum that’s full of incredible silverware artifacts. We also recommend a ride on the Taxco cable car for beautiful views over this iconic pueblo magico! It’s around 150 MXN (~$8 USD) round trip and for the views, it’s well worth it!

Visiting these two towns on the same day requires a lot of driving, so it’s best to take a tour. This guided tour gives you plenty of time to explore both Cuernavaca and Taxco. In the latter, you’ll get to visit a silver workshop to learn more about the process and how to recognize quality silver when you see it! You also get to go down a pre-Hispanic mine and get a feel for what it was like for the workers, which we think is a really cool experience. 

The tour costs $69 USD per person including everything except lunch. So we think it’s a convenient and budget-friendly way to see these two towns on a day trip from Mexico City! You can check out all the available days and book online with Viator here.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

7. Basaltic Prisms 

Stone steps at Basaltic Prisms, Mexico
Stone steps at Basaltic Prisms, Mexico
A waterfall at the Basaltic Prisms near Mexico City, Mexico
It’s a unique formation!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 122 kilometers (75 miles)
  • Time needed: 5 hours
  • What you need: Car, guided tour 

The Basaltic prisms of Huasca de Ocampo are huge stone columns that measure up to 150 feet (46 meters) tall. Located in the Santa Maria Regla Canyon, they are millions of years old and super rare. They were formed by the rapid cooling of volcanic lava, and are considered to be one of Mexico’s natural wonders. 

You can explore the Basaltic prisms via a network of stairways, suspension bridges, and walkways. There are four waterfalls to admire, which flow prettily over the unusual rock formations. You can even hike down to the bottom of the ravine, where you’re allowed to touch the stone prisms. 

Admission tickets cost 100 MXN ($5-6 USD) per person, and you’ll need about an hour to explore them. There’s no bus that runs between Mexico City and Huasca de Ocampo, so you’ll either need to drive in a rental vehicle or take a guided tour. 

We like this private tour because it takes you to the historic mining town of Real del Monte as well. And hey, if you’re coming all the way from Mexico City, you might as well make a day of it, right?

One fun (and slightly surprising) fact is that a lot of residents from Real del Monte are descended from Cornwall in England, which is famous for its pasties. Real del Monte has its own equivalent, called pastes, and on this tour, you get to try your hand at making your own! 

All in all, we think that this tour helps you get a lot more out of your day trip to the Basaltic Prisms and it’s great for exploring some off-the-beaten-track destinations near Mexico City. It costs $141 USD per person and lasts for about 11 hours, so prepare for a long day! The tour is available Wednesday-Sunday and since it’s a private tour, you’ll want to book in advance!

Related Read: Another natural wonder that’s totally worth the hype is Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca. These are petrified waterfalls that look like something out of a fairytale!

8. Las Estacas Natural Park

Beautiful pond at Las Estacas Natural Park
It’s a small paradise!
A pool at Las Estacas Natural Park in Mexico
Anyone for a swim!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 122 kilometers (75 miles)
  • Time needed: 8 hours 
  • What you need: Car

We love getting out of the city to spend time in nature, so if you’re ready to do the same, consider a day trip to Las Estacas Natural Park

It’s a natural water park known for its bright blue water, tropical plants, and lazy rivers. You feel a million miles away from the city as you explore this place, and right now it’s still a pretty well-kept secret. You won’t find many other tourists here!

The park also has cenotes, ziplines, caves, and walking trails, so this really is one for outdoor adventurers. You can rent snorkeling gear or even book a scuba lesson. Or for a little relaxation, you can float along the river or check out the hotel and spa where you can treat yourself to a pampering session!

You can drive yourself or book this day trip tour that takes care of all the details! You’ll be picked up in Mexico City and whisked off to this piece of paradise for the day. The $135 USD cost includes entrance to Las Estacas, and the chance to enjoy the heated pools or kids’ area if you’re traveling as a family. A meal grilled to your liking is also included and extras (like snorkeling or a massage) can be purchased on-site.

If you’re driving here, entry to the park costs 495 MXN ($27 USD) and any activities are an additional cost, so it’s a bit steep compared to a lot of other attractions we’ve mentioned on this list. However, you can quite easily spend the whole day here relaxing and exploring, so if you’re keen to get out of the city and immerse yourself in nature, it’s definitely worth it. 

There’s a decent restaurant in the park, or you can bring a picnic in with you. You can rent lockers at the spa if you like, although it probably won’t be necessary. 

We recommend allowing at least 4 hours to enjoy the park, but you may well find yourself wanting to stay longer because this place is pretty darn magical! 

9. Tepoztlán 

Tepozteco Mountain to visit El Tepozteco Temple
El Tepozteco Temple
Tepozteco Mountain to visit El Tepozteco Temple, Mexico
El Tepozteco Temple
  • Distance from Mexico City: 81 kilometers (50 miles)
  • Time needed: 6-7 hours 
  • What you need: Bus, car

One of the things we love most about Mexico is that it combines culture and tradition with natural beauty and adventurous experiences, and that’s perfectly summarized by the small mountain town of Tepoztlán.

Tepoztlán is an awesome place to soak up the atmosphere and really get to know more about the local lifestyle. It’s also pretty culturally significant since legend has it that Tepoztlán is the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent deity who was the God of learning and literature. 

One of the best things to do in Tepoztlán is to head up Tepozteco Mountain to visit El Tepozteco Temple, which is dedicated to the god of pulque, an alcoholic beverage made of sap. The temple itself is quite small, but you get nice views from up here, so we think it’s worth going. 

And speaking of pulque, we feel it’s only right to try some while you’re in town! You can head to Pulques el Nectar, where you can get a mug of it for around 40 MXN (around $2 USD). It tastes quite strange – kind of like a cross between beer and yogurt. There are different flavors available, and the staff is happy to let you try before you buy. 

If pulque isn’t your thing, you can always head to Lagartija Club Mezcal instead to try some local artisan mezcal brands. 

There are also some cool local markets to check out while you’re in town, like Mercado Tepoztlán where you can find lots of fresh produce, handmade artisan goods, and, best of all, yummy street food! 

The area is also well known for its Aztec steam baths, which take place in stone buildings that look a bit like igloos. If you get the chance to take a steam bath while you’re in town, you should go for it! 

It takes around 1.5 hours to drive to Tepoztlán, or you can take the bus from the Tazqueña bus terminal right to Tepoztlán. The fare costs around 130 pesos (~$7 USD) and buses run between 6 am and 11 pm. 

10. Valle de Bravo 

A paraglider in Valle de Bravo, Mexico
It’s a stunning place to paraglide!
Town of Valle de Bravo from above!
Town of Valle de Bravo from above!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 140 kilometers (87 miles)
  • Time needed: 9 hours
  • What you need: Car, bus 

Valle de Bravo is a beautiful lakeside town and a total adventure hub. You can either drive here or take a direct bus from the Mexico Poniente station, which takes around 2.5 hours. 

Valle de Bravo sits on the edge of Lake Avándaro and it’s the perfect Mexico City day trip for anyone who loves spending time outdoors, be it friends, families, couples … you name it! 

You can swim in Lake Avándaro but I’ll warn you that the water is pretty cold! Lots of people prefer to explore the water with SUP boards or kayaks, which you can rent from somewhere like Mexico Paddle Co.

We also highly recommend a hike through a pine forest from Valle de Bravo to La Torre viewpoint. The trail is steep in places but fairly easy overall, and is only 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) long, so it should take you 45 minutes to an hour to get to La Torre. Once you’re up there, you’ll have beautiful views of the town, the water, and the rolling hills and mountains in the distance. You’ll also probably see lots of paragliders flying overhead, which brings us to what Valle de Bravo is best known for!

Valle de Bravo is famous for being a paragliding hotspot due to consistently great conditions and stunning views. Many paragliding competitions are actually held here annually, including the Monarca Open in January. 

It’s no surprise that paragliding is hands down the top thing to do in Valle de Bravo, and it’s best to book in advance since it’s such a popular activity here. This paragliding experience costs $135 USD including transport from Valle de Bravo to the launch point, a 30-minute flight, and photos! Paragliding has this weightless feeling to it and you really feel like you’re in a postcard with the stunning views surrounding you. After trying this ourselves, I’ll say there’s really no feeling quite like it! 

Or, if you prefer, you can book this 30-minute hang gliding flight instead for $197 USD. Hang gliding is faster than paragliding so it’s an even bigger adrenaline rush! This flight takes you around a giant rock in the area with lush, green rolling hills like a carpet below you. It’s so scenic! The pilots are really experienced and even make complete newbies feel at ease.

11. Malinalco

A building part of the Zona Arqueológica de Malinalco, Mexico
Zona Arqueológica de Malinalco, Mexico
Inside of the Malinalco Cathedral
Malinalco Cathedral
  • Distance from Mexico City: 100 kilometers (62 miles)
  • Time needed: 8 hours
  • What you need: Bus, car

Malinalco is one of the lesser-known magic towns near Mexico City, and it’s a great place for a quiet and relaxing day trip. 

One of our favorite things about Malinalco is the Archeological Zone, which has a pyramid you can actually climb! So many places in Mexico have stopped visitors from climbing the pyramids, so make sure you take the chance to go full Indiana Jones and climb the Sun House here. 

There’s also a beautiful convent which is over 500 years old, and the 4.7 km (2.9 mi) Tepetates Trail takes you hiking through the hills for some great views of the town. 

There are also some fantastic local restaurants in Malinalco. Since it’s off the beaten tourist track, it’s a great place to try some authentic Mexican cuisine. Los Placeres Malinalco is one of the best in town. Trust us, the food in Mexico is always so much better when you get off of the tourist track! 

It’s also definitely worth heading into the hills for a mezcal tasting at Mezcal La Cascada. You’ll learn all about how mezcal is made and try some of the local varieties. If you’re looking to take some mezcal back home with you after your trip, this is a great place to buy it. 

It’s possible to use public transport to get from Mexico City to Malinalco. You can take the train to Observatorio, and then change to take the Chalma line bus to Malinalco, which takes just under 2 hours. Or if you’ve got a rental car, you can just drive instead, which is probably the easier option. 

Related Read: If you haven’t had your fill of mezcal yet, some of the best Lucha Libre shows in Mexico City also include a mezcal tasting! It’s just a fun way to spend an evening overall.

12. Hike Iztaccihuatl Volcano 

Popocatépetl as seen from Iztaccihuatl Volcano 
Popocatépetl as seen from Iztaccihuatl Volcano 
Climbing Iztaccihuatl Volcano 
On our way to the top!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 109 kilometers (68 miles)
  • Time needed: 8 hours
  • What you need: Car, guided tour, bus + taxi

Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl National Park (or Itza-Popo for short) is home to two volcanoes, which are the second and third tallest in all of Mexico!

The story goes that the two volcanoes were formed when a princess fell in love with a warrior. Their love was forbidden, and so the gods turned them into volcanoes so that they could be together. 

The Popocatepetl volcano is the taller of the two giants, and you can’t climb it since it’s an active volcano. You can watch it smoking from inside the park though which is pretty cool! 

Once you arrive, you are allowed to hike the Iztaccihuatl volcano, but going all the way to the summit is a pretty big undertaking that is best done on a guided tour. However, for those who want a more chilled hike, there are several easier trails to enjoy.

The Paso de Corté trail is considered one of the park’s best. It’s a 15.3-kilometer (9.5-mile) out-and-back hike from La Joya, the most popular entrance point to the park, to Paso de Corté. You’ll pass some fantastic viewpoints along the way where you can see both volcanoes. Although the trail is fairly long, it’s pretty easy and very well-signed. 

Iztaccihuatl Volcano in the distance
Such a beautiful area!

If you want to check hiking up a (dormant!) volcano off your bucket list, summiting Iztaccihuatl is the way to do it! This Iztaccihuatl Volcano Climb is a well-rated tour that takes care of all the details so you can focus on enjoying the experience and catching your breath!

It’s a very long hike to the top of the volcano, so we strongly recommend doing it with a guide. It’s so much safer to go with a local who knows the terrain and its challenges well! We also like that this is a private tour, so you can go at your own pace and your guide is solely focused on your group. Ice axes and crampons are provided, as well as breakfast, snacks, water, and transport to and from Mexico City.

The tour costs $335 USD per person, and when you reach the summit you’ll be 17,000 feet (5,230 meters) above sea level, which is a pretty epic experience. You’ll literally feel like you’re on top of the world! 

Entry to the park costs 50 MXN (around $2.50 USD) and the best way to get there is to drive. Alternatively, you can take the bus from Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros Oriente (TAPO) to the Amecameca Terminal, which will cost around 35 MXN ($2 USD). Then, from the bus station, it’s a 45-minute taxi ride to the park entrance, which will cost around 450 pesos ($25 USD). 

13. Pachuca 

Town square of Pachuca as seen from a drone
Town square of Pachuca
Colorful buildings in Pachuca, Mexico
Colorful buildings in Pachuca, Mexico
  • Distance from Mexico City: 90 kilometers (56 miles)
  • Time needed: 6-7 hours 
  • What you need: Bus, car

Pachuca is a small, artsy city that has a lot to offer visitors outside of the typical tourist experiences. It’s very scenic and surrounded by rolling hills, making it the perfect place to go hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. In short, it’s exactly our kind of place! 

Probably the most famous thing about Pachuca is the Palmitas neighborhood, which is home to one of the biggest street art murals in the whole world! It’s actually painted across many different houses on the hillside. The best place to admire it is from the bridge across the Avenidas River. Trust us, it will do great things for your Instagram profile! 

But of course, you shouldn’t just admire Palmitas from afar. It’s worth spending an hour or so wandering the streets of this super colorful neighborhood and snapping photos. 

Perhaps most importantly, Pachuca is the home of barbecue tacos, which are considered to be the best in Mexico. If that’s not a good reason to visit this colorful city, then we don’t know what is! 

It’s an easy drive from Mexico City to Pachuca, and it takes just over 1.5 hours. You can also take the bus, which is a cheap option but it does take around 2.5 hours. Head to Potrero Station and catch the bus to Colinas del Valle, which is a 10-minute walk from the center of Pachuca. 

14. Tula Ruins 

Pillars as seen from the top of a temple at Tula Ruins 
These are well-preserved ruins!
Statue at the Tula Ruins in Mexico
Statue at the Tula Ruins in Mexico
  • Distance from Mexico City: 96 kilometers (60 miles)
  • Time needed: 6 hours 
  • What you need: Car, guided tour

The ancient city of Tula was the capital of the Toltec civilization, which thrived in central Mexico between roughly 950-1150 AD. No one is quite sure why the Toltec Empire collapsed, but lots of historians believe that it was due to either agricultural problems, civil war, or overcrowding. 

Whatever the reason, the Tula Ruins are very well preserved. You can see the impressive Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl, which is guarded by towering stone sculptures that depict Tula warriors. You can also see ball courts and more residential areas where ordinary Toltec people lived.

If you want to visit the Tula Ruins by yourself, then it’s a 1.5-hour drive each way or a 2-hour bus ride from Metro Aquiles Serdán to Tula on the Camión route. Entry to the archaeological site costs 65 MXN, but you’ll have to pay an extra 35 MXN if you want to take photos, which you obviously will, so expect to pay 100 MXN ($6 USD) in total. 

However, we think that it’s always so much better to visit ruins with a knowledgeable guide who can give you so much more insight into the history behind them. For $110 USD, this two-part private tour first takes you on a guided visit to the Tula Ruins. These ruins are not crazy busy like other famous ruins in Mexico, so it really feels like you’re stepping back in time with your guide. Then it’s off to visit the “magic town” of Tepoztlán (a stop we mentioned earlier!) on the way home where you’ll tour a monastery, and have free time to explore. 

15. Hike Nevado de Toluca Volcano 

People climb Nevado de Toluca Volcano in Mexico
People climb Nevado de Toluca Volcano in Mexico
The lake at Nevado de Toluca Volcano in mexico
The lake!
  • Distance from Mexico City: 110 kilometers (68 miles)
  • Time needed: 12 hours 
  • What you need: Car, guided tour

Remember when we talked about the Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl volcanoes, which are Mexico’s second and third-highest peaks? Well, Nevado de Toluca comes in strong at number four. It’s 15,354 feet (4,680 meters) high, and there are beautiful twin lakes inside of its crater! 

If you love hiking as much as we do, you’ll probably be itching to get out of the city limits and explore this majestic peak – and the great news is that you can do it in a single day. 

It’s a 2-3 hour drive to get here from Mexico City and there’s no convenient bus connection. The drive can also be pretty bumpy and might require a 4WD, so it may be better to join a guided tour

On arrival, you’ll need to pay around 55 MXN ($3 USD) for a wristband in order to be able to hike. There are several trails to choose from, but we think the best one is the Circuito Lagos del Nevado de Toluca trail, as it gives you fantastic views of the lakes. 

The trail is 9.8 kilometers (6.1 miles) long and it’s a moderate hike. It’s a loop trail and it takes around four hours to complete. Do be aware though that there’s an elevation gain of almost 1,640 feet (500 meters), so don’t feel bad about stopping for frequent breaks – we actually recommend it! 

If you’re nervous about tackling Nevado de Toluca Volcano on your own, this guided hike is our pick. This way, you’ll have an experienced guide to lead the way, and the $115 USD price also includes trekking poles, lunch, and snacks, so you won’t have to worry about bringing those yourself. We think this is the best way to hike Nevado de Toluca because all of the logistics are taken care of for you so you can just enjoy the journey. 

Where to Stay in Mexico City

Selina Mexico City Downtown
Photo Credit – Selina

Mexico City is massive, and there are lots of different areas to stay in. For this reason, we wrote a full guide on the best areas to stay in Mexico City as well as the best hostels in Mexico City! These blogs should help you choose an awesome hotel for your stay!

However, for a quick overview, here are some of my top recommendations.

Luxury – $$$

For luxury travelers, Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is a top choice. This incredible 5-star hotel has the BEST location since it’s right in the Zócalo – the main plaza in the city. This is a beautiful, historic hotel with a lobby that looks like it belongs in a movie! You’re within walking distance of so many of Mexico City’s best sights and the rooms are spacious. Plus, breakfast on the rooftop terrace is a highlight!

Rooms start at $200 USD per night, but you’ll save a lot on transportation costs since you can walk to so many amazing places! Book a room online here.

Mid-range – $$

Hotel MX Roma is a clean, medium-budget hotel in La Roma, close to shops, bars, and restaurants. It has both standard and family rooms equipped with air conditioning, private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen satellite TV. It offers a space with a terrace to enjoy with family or friends, private parking, a gym, free bikes, and 24-hour front desk service. It’s also an allergy-free property, so there’s no smoking and they use hypoallergenic products.

Rooms run $150 USD in peak season. However, you can snag one as cheap as $70 USD a night when you book in advance online!

Budget – $

For budget travelers, the Selina Hostel in downtown Mexico City is a great, well-known chain. I stayed here during one of my visits and loved the downtown location. Although the area may seem unsafe to some, it’s the historic center of Mexico City and where I spent most of my time. They have a common area, pool table, board games, and a bar – so it’s easy to meet others. If working remotely, there’s also a coworking space for an extra fee.

Bunk beds cost around $25 USD, and private rooms start at $80 USD. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can book Selina Hostel online through Hostelworld or Booking.com.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Bailey in Mexico City
Thanks for reading!

Whether you’re spending three days in Mexico City or an entire week, make sure you get beyond city limits! These day trips from Mexico City are the perfect way to add some adventure and variety to your travels around Mexico. Let me know which trip you’re planning to take or any of your questions in the comments below!

If you need inspiration for your upcoming vacation, take a look at our other Mexico blogs. We’ve lived and traveled extensively around this country, so we have lots to share.

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35 EXCITING Things to do in Oaxaca City, Mexico

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