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Whether you love history or just want to explore more of the amazing archeology around Mexico City, Teotihuacán is an ancient city calling your name!
Located just outside Mexico City, one of the best cities in Latin America, Teotihuacán was at one point the biggest city in central Mexico and one of the largest in the world!
Its name is from a Náhuatl word that roughly means “City of Gods”, which is how it earned that nickname. With its impressive pyramids, temples, palaces, and even ruins of multi-story apartments, this historic city is so worth exploring.
Teotihuacán is a close runner-up to Chichén Itzá when it comes to the most famous ruins site in Mexico. While it’s not as well-known, it’s also much cheaper and more accessible from central Mexico.
The highlight here is definitely the two towering structures – the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. They will have you marveling at their amazing construction, long before modern tools could help. In fact, the awe-inspiring Pyramid of the Sun is the third-largest pyramid in the world today!
To help you make the most of your time visiting Teotihuacán, we have put together the ultimate visitors’ guide. This will help you figure out when to visit, the best tours, and much more!
So, let’s get right into it!
1. About Teotihuacán, Mexico
Teotihuacán is located only 30 miles (50 km) away from Mexico City. It is unknown who exactly built the city back in the 400 B.C. range as there are components of different cultures including Maya, Zapotec, and Mixtec.
In its heyday, this ancient city was the sixth-largest city in the entire world. At one point, it’s believed as many as 125,000 to 200,000 people lived here!
Now, Teotihuacán is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visiting here is one of the top things to do in Mexico!
This was a very important city in the heart of Mexico and it’s still revered today for its Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. These two structures are considered among the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids constructed during this time period.
It’s a popular destination for both tourists and even local students visiting on field trips. Thanks to its close proximity to the capital of Mexico City, it’s the most-visited archeological site in Mexico.
The site covers 8 square miles (20 square kilometers), and was home to many multi-family residential buildings, along with temples, palaces, and pyramids. All the main structures are connected with the Avenue of the Dead – a long road that directly faces the extinct volcano Cerro Gordo.
Much of the origins, history, and culture of this historic city remain a mystery to scholars and archeologists who continue to research and learn more about the site to this day.
2. Where is Teotihuacán?
The ruins of Teotihuacán can be found in central Mexico. The area itself is located 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City, making it a great day trip!
Expect a drive of around an hour if you’re traveling in a rental car from downtown. If you don’t have your own car, not to worry!
You can join a tour or there’s a bus that runs directly between the two locations, every 15 minutes, and costs about 100 pesos, the equivalent of $5 USD. We will give you more info on how to catch the bus (and other great transportation options) below, just keep reading!
3. How much is the entrance fee to Teotihuacán?
The standard entry fee to access Teotihuacán is 85 Mexican Pesos, or about $4 USD. If you have any kids under 13, admission is completely free.
Your entrance fee also includes admission to the two museums here – the Museum of Teotihuacan Culture and the Museum of Teotihuacan Murals. These are great to wander through when you need a break from the hot sun!
If you take a public bus, you could go to the site and back, and pay for entry, all for less than $15 USD. It’s one of the best things to do in Mexico City for travelers on a budget!
I’d recommend avoiding a Sunday visit because Mexican residents get free entry on that day of the week. That means that Sundays are always quite busy, and you’ll face larger crowds.
4. Do you need to purchase tickets in advance?
Currently, there is no option to buy an individual, unguided ticket to Teotihuacán in advance.
The only way you’ll get a ticket in advance is if you book with a tour company, or get transportation that includes access to the site.
Otherwise, expect to wait in line to get your unguided ticket.
5. Can you pay with cash and credit card?
You should be prepared to pay for your entry to Teotihuacán with cash. Not only is this the most reliable option, but it is also the only one if you are buying a ticket in person.
None of the vendors in the area take credit cards, either, so if you’ve saved for a souvenir, make sure to bring enough pesos with you. There are also lots of vendors selling things, so you probably will want to buy something while you’re there.
6. Teotihuacán Hours
Don’t worry about accessing Teotihuacán during your visit, because it is open every day of the year, including holidays.
The entrance opens at 8 am and you can stay until 5 pm. The long hours allow waves of visitors to enter and exit throughout the day so that the area is not too crowded in a short period of time.
The last entry of the day for the site is at 3 pm though. This ensures anyone coming to visit will have enough time to fully explore the site.
Don’t be surprised to see large tour groups all around you and lots of tourists. If you want to avoid crowds, you’ll need to plan ahead and wake up early!
7. When is the best time to visit Teotihuacán?
The very best time to visit Teotihuacán is as soon as it opens in the morning.
This is another one of my biggest travel hacks. People generally take longer to get places in the morning or avoid early visits altogether while traveling. So, grab an extra cup of coffee and beat the rush!
Arrive at Teotihuacán around 8 am so that you are one of the first in line. It’ll be cooler in the morning when the sun is not yet beating down on you, and it will be quieter as you’ll avoid some of the bigger tour groups that tend to gravitate toward mid-day visits.
As I noted earlier, Sundays are especially busy as admission is free for all Mexican residents. If you can, try to avoid Sunday visits as it gets really crowded.
For the time of year, coming during the winter months from December to February is ideal. It’s slightly cooler during this time – especially in the mornings – which is ideal when you’re walking around the site for hours on end.
Related read: Another unique time to see some other incredible ruins is at night! Don’t miss checking out the Chichen Itza Night Show.
8. What are the best tours to Teotihuacán?
To help eliminate some of the guesswork, I’ve found the best tours to Teotihuacán, if you’re hoping to go this route. You’ll have transportation included, and may be able to do some additional activities (like a hot air balloon ride!) that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do on your own.
Teotihuacán Early Access Tour
As I mentioned above, getting to Teotihuacán early is going to help you avoid the bulk of the crowds. This early access tour allows you to see the site right as the gates open with an archeologist guide.
This tour lasts for about 8 hours, including 3 hours of drive time, more or less. Not only do you get to see Teotihuacán and snap photos of the temples and plazas, but your group will stop by an obsidian workshop and participate in a tequila tasting on the way back to Mexico City. Not a bad addition to the tour, if you ask me!
At a cost of just $39 USD, everything but your lunch at the obsidian factory is included. So, you don’t have to worry about any additional costs when it comes to entry, alcohol, transportation, or your guide.
Hot Air Balloon Flight over Teotihuacán
Seeing Teotihuacán up close is amazing, but have you ever wondered what an archeological site like this would look like from the air? Find out by doing this hot air balloon flight over the site!
See the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, the town of San Juan Teotihuacán, the archeological site, and the town of San Martin de las Piramides during your time floating through the air. This magical tour offers a unique experience, from the views to the flight itself.
The trip is 5 hours, including transportation, and your flight lasts 30 minutes to an hour, depending on weather conditions. This tour is about $140 USD and includes breakfast, coffee, tea, alcohol, and transportation to and from Mexico City.
Teotihuacán and Basilica Guadalupe Tour
You can check 3 of Mexico City’s top destinations off your list in just one day with this Teotihuacán and Basilica Guadalupe tour. The two main sites of Teotihuacán and the Basilica are supplemented with a visit to the Square of Three Cultures.
The tour starts with a visit to the square, la Plaza de las Tres Culturas, which includes the church of Santiago de Tlatelolco, the ruins of an Aztec city of the same name, and a monument from 1968.
As you head further out of the city, you’ll stop at the Basilica and see another intersection of old and new, via different portions of the building that were built at very different times. Finally, you’ll have plenty of time to explore and learn all about Teotihuacán itself.
You get round-trip transportation, a knowledgeable guide, lunch, and entry to the sites, all in a 9-hour day. For under $50 USD, you get quite a full day of experiences!
Private Tour of Teotihuacán
If a tour sounds great, but group activities are just not your thing, there is a great private tour of Teotihuacán that may interest you.
You get to the site early enough to avoid the midday crowds, with pick-up around 8 am. Then the beauty of this tour is that you get to set the agenda! You can ask questions of your guide and tour the site at your own pace.
Then, after spending a few hours in the ancient city, you get to taste some local alcoholic drinks like tequila, pulque, and mezcal.
The $85 USD tour includes an air-conditioned private vehicle, a certified guide, and alcohol. Your entry to Teotihuacán will be covered by you, along with lunch and gratuities.
Related read: Looking for more tour ideas? if you’re stopping into Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, these are our top 25 tours and excursions!
9. Can you visit Teotihuacán without a tour?
Yes, you can visit the site without a tour group! If you are wanting to get yourself there and spend a while exploring on your own, this is completely possible.
I, however, would not recommend that route.
Guided tours are the only way that you’ll be able to really dive in and learn about Teotihuacán. If you visit by yourself, you won’t have much context about what you are seeing and might find it doesn’t live up to what you expected. Plus, the guided tours here are really affordable and include some great extras to really add to the experience.
Still, if you decide to visit without a tour, you’ll want to have some cash on hand for entry, your transportation, and anything else you might need along the way.
10. How do you get from Mexico City to Teotihuacán?
If you’re taking a guided tour, transportation is taken care of! However, if you want to get here on your own, the bus is the best option by far.
To catch the bus, head to the Autobuses del Norte Station and look for one of the windows selling tickets to Teotihuacán – usually, it will say something like Zona Arqueologico or Pyramides. The first bus leaves around 6 am and then buses depart every 15-20 minutes after that. Bus fare is around 100 pesos ($5 USD).
Another option is taking a taxi or Uber, but this will be more expensive than the bus. However, a little faster and more convenient.
If you are planning ahead and want private transportation, organized shuttle services are very popular in Mexico. They are quite often the best way to get around major areas if you want a bit more privacy and space.
Bookaway is a popular site that helps you to do your research and book your private transfer, whether that is a taxi, bus, or organized shuttle, between locations.
Many of the tours we talked about will use a private shuttle, but you can also choose this method of transportation without paying for a guided tour once you arrive at Teotihuacán. The same goes for taxis and Ubers, though I didn’t see many cars waiting around when we were there. So, to be safe, it might be best to ask your driver if they are willing to wait the 2-3 hours while you visit.
11. Is it best to have a guide at Teotihuacán?
Yes! This is one of my top tips for visiting Teotihuacán because having a guide is such a game-changer.
You learn so much more and get to really understand the history of the site as you’re exploring and seeing it first-hand.
All of the tours I talked about above include guides, but you can also hire a local guide at the entrance. Be prepared to negotiate a fee, and spend a few hours getting a more private tour of the area.
12. Can you climb the temples at Teotihuacán?
Unfortunately, no, you can’t climb the temples at Teotihuacán anymore. This used to be allowed up until quite recently, but when the ruins reopened after a pandemic closure, climbing was prohibited.
It’s unknown if the Mexican government will allow people to climb up the temple stairs again, so it’s best to check the official Teotihuacán website (look under Schedule and Services) for updates.
It won’t be surprising if climbing here is permanently banned as other sites like Chichén Itzá have also made the move to not allow visitors to climb the ancient structures.
While it can be disappointing, honestly, there is so much more to see here that it really won’t take away from your visit. If you do want a view from higher up, the hot air balloons are the way to go!
13. How long do you need at Teotihuacán?
It is best to have about 3 to 4 hours to explore Teotihuacán.
There is a reason that many tours will last about this long because you are right in the sweet spot between exploring enough but not too much.
This timeframe gives you some leeway to wait in lines for the temples and to enjoy checking out vendors and listening to your guide while making sure you don’t run out of things to do and still have time left to kill.
14. Are the Teotihuacán ruins suitable for kids?
Yes, Teotihuacán is suitable for kids and totally free for them to get in if they are younger than 13.
In fact, I found the site more accessible than I would have expected.
There are provisions for both wheelchair users and strollers where possible, including parking spaces at gates 2, 3, and 5 for visitors with disabilities. Gate 3 is by far the best when it comes to entering by wheelchair or stroller, with ramps and wider walkways.
There is a lot of walking, so make sure to consider that when it comes time to bring or leave the stroller at home.
15. Is Teotihuacán worth it?
Teotihuacán is so worth the visit! We absolutely loved how interactive the whole thing is. The tour guides are so passionate and knowledgeable, not to mention how impressive the ruins really are.
Plus, this is so close to Mexico City, it’s easy to plan a full day trip or even a morning at the site and still have plenty of time left for other activities in the day.
If you are staying in the Mexico City area, I highly recommend taking a day to visit Teotihuacán. You won’t regret it!
Where to Stay Near Teotihuacán, Mexico
If you’re hoping to add a stop at Teotihuacán to your itinerary, the best place to stay is in Mexico City. You’ll be close by, but have plenty of other things to check out and TONS of hotel options.
Mexico City is massive, and with so many different areas to stay in, it can be a bit overwhelming. 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 to stay at before your visit to Teotihuacán!
However, for a quick overview, here are some of my top recommendations.
For budget travelers, the Selina Hostel in downtown Mexico City is a top choice. I stayed here during one of my visits, and I loved the downtown location. Although the area may seem unsafe to some, this is the historic center of Mexico City and where I spent most of my time exploring.
For medium-budget travelers, Hotel MX Roma is a great hotel in La Roma. It has 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, and 24-hour front desk service.
For luxury travelers, Casa Malí by Dominion Boutique Hotel is a top choice. This incredible luxury hotel in the heart of La Condesa offers a very convenient location, close to iconic city landmarks such as the Angel of Independence and Chapultepec Castle. It also offers comfortable family rooms, a spacious and cozy terrace, a gym, and even barbecue facilities for all guests.
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully, you are all set for your visit to Teotihuacán. Especially if you are spending some time in Mexico City, checking out these ancient ruins is a must. While it does take a bit of planning, it’s totally worth it to marvel at these amazing structures and feel like you’re wandering through the pages of a history book.
If you’re in the midst of planning a trip to Mexico, we would love to help! Mexico is one of our favorite countries in the world and we’ve been lucky enough to travel here many times. Whether you want to lounge around on one of the beautiful Mexican beaches or take your time exploring the many cities and towns, check out our other Mexico blogs for lots of ideas!