Hot Spring Pools at the Tolantongo Resort

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo Hot Springs Mexico: What You Need to Know

Save To Read Later:

Are you dreaming of soaking in the healing thermal waters of Las Grutas de Tolantongo in 2024? It’s one of the most picture-perfect hot spring in Mexico City.

Located just a few hours from Mexico City, this natural wonder lures visitors from around the world with its steamy caves, bright turquoise pools, and mesmerizing river winding through a towering box canyon. As a solo traveler based in Mexico City who just went on a tour to Grutas De Tolantongo hot springs, I have everything you need to know to plan the perfect Grutas de Tolantongo getaway in this comprehensive guide!

ready to book the best Las Grutas de Tolantongo tour from mexico city?

Book this Amazing Las Grutas de Tolantongo in Mexico tour— a convenient and comfortable experience with a near-perfect 5 Star ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  rating.

note: there are many spellings of this hot spring in Mexico:grutos de tolantongo, Grutas de Tolatongo Mexico, Aguas de Tolantongo, Los grutas de Tolantongo, Grutas Tolantongo, La gruta de Tolantongo, Las gruta de Tolantongo, Las Grutas Mexico, Grutas Tolantonga, Tolongo Mexico, and La Grutas de Tolantongo — the official name is Las Grutas de Tolantongo.

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo Hot Springs Mexico: What You Need to Know

No time to read it all? Here are the highlights:

  • Las Grutas de Tolantongo is a sprawling hot spring resort located about 4 hours from Mexico City
  • Top things to do include soaking in the layered cliff pools, swimming in the turquoise river, exploring the steamy caves and tunnel, and ziplining over the canyon
  • You can visit Tolantongo on a day trip, but staying overnight at the on-site hotels or campground allows more time to enjoy the springs
  • Buses and tours are available from Mexico City, or you can drive yourself
  • Bring pesos (it’s cash only), water shoes, a waterproof phone case, sunscreen, and a towel
  • See recommended tours and hotels below

Intrigued? Keep reading for all the juicy details to make your Tolantongo hot springs adventure a reality.

Hot Spring Pools at the Tolantongo Resort

What are Las Grutas de Tolantongo?

The word “grutas” means caves in Spanish, so Las Grutas de Tolantongo translates to the Tolantongo Caves in English. But this magical place, nestled deep in the mountains of Hidalgo state, is so much more than just a cave. It’s an enormous hot spring water park of sorts, sprawling along the walls of a dramatic box canyon.

The showstopper attraction is the series of man-made, cliffside infinity pools with jaw-dropping mountain and canyon views. The milky blue mineral water is naturally heated by thermal springs inside the mountain and pumped into the pools, which range in temperature from refreshing to piping hot.

Hugging the canyon floor below winds a milky blue river, dammed into warm pools perfect for soaking away your stresses. At the back of the canyon looms the cave itself, where a thermal waterfall cascades from an opening shrouded in steam and mist. There’s also a tunnel where scorching hot spring water flows through narrow passageways.

The resort has on-site hotels, a campground, restaurants, and even a zipline that whisks you high above the enchanting scene. It’s a playground for nature lovers and hot springs enthusiasts, offering a totally unique experience you won’t find anywhere else in Mexico.

INSIDER TIP: While Tolantongo is sometimes called the “Mexico City hot springs,” it’s actually nowhere near Mexico City. Plan on at least a 3-4 hour drive or bus ride to reach it from CDMX.

How to Visit Grutas De Tolantongo and how to Get to Grutas de Tolantongo

Join a Las Gratas de Tolantongo Tours

 If you prefer to avoid navigating public transportation, take a guided Tolantongo hot springs tour is a hassle-free way to experience Tolantongo. This is the option I took and the tour i recommend. This tour include:

  • Round-trip transportation by air-conditioned van
  • EARLY departure (get there before most people!) and leave before the traffic gets bad.
  • Guided walks to Tolantongo’s main attractions
  • Entrance fee

Tours depart Mexico City early in the morning (around 4 am) and return late at night (around 6 pm). It makes for a long day but maximizes your time at the springs.

Aerial Photography of Grutas Tolantongo in Mexico

Best Hot springs in mexico Grutas de tolantongo group tours to check out:

If you prefer a private tour to Tolantongo hot springs

I highly recommend this highly-rated option from Viator. Guides are knowledgeable and trips can be tailored to your interests.

Most visitors travel to Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City, about a 3-4 hour drive away. You have three main transportation options:

  1. Drive there independently
  2. Take a public bus to Ixmiquilpan and then a taxi/colectivo
  3. Join a guided tour with transportation included

how to get to Grutas de Tolantongo from Mexico City:

  • Take Highway 85D north towards Pachuca
  • Take Exit 19 toward Ixmiquilpan/Tula
  • Continue on Highway 27 to Ixmiquilpan
  • In Ixmiquilpan, turn left onto Highway 27 towards Cardonal
  • Follow signs for Las Grutas de Tolantongo
  • The entrance will be on your left after about 17 miles/27 km
Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

INSIDER TIP: You do not need an SUV or 4×4 to drive to Tolantongo. The roads are curvy but paved the whole way. There are some dropoffs on the mountain road from Ixmiquilpan to the resort, so drive carefully.

how to get to grutas de tolantongo By Bus

To go by bus, first take a bus from Mexico City’s Terminal Central del Norte to Ixmiquilpan on Flecha Roja or Ovnibus. Buses leave about every 30 minutes from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm and take 3 hours. A one-way ticket costs about $350 pesos ($18).

From the Ixmiquilpan bus station, you have two options to get to Tolantongo:

  1. Take a taxi for about $600 pesos ($31)
  2. Take a colectivo (shared van) for $60 pesos ($3)

how to get to grutas de tolantongo By The colectivo

is much cheaper but only leaves 4 times a day at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:30 pm. To catch it, walk or take a short tax.

Staying Overnight at grutas de tolantongo 

To really savor the magic of Tolantongo, I recommend staying at least one night. That way you can hit the pools early before the day-trippers arrive and soak under the stars after dark. The complex has several hotels and a campground to choose from.

INSIDER TIP: None of the hotels accept reservations in advance. Accommodations are first-come, first-served. To score a room, arrive as early in the day as possible to claim your spot. You can pay and get your key at the administration office near the entrance.

best grutas de tolantongo hotels

  • Hotel Paraíso Escondido – This is the largest and newest hotel, located closest to the cliff pools. Rooms are basic but comfortable, with 1-3 beds.
  • las grutas de tolantongo resort price range from $1050-2200 pesos ($53-112 USD) per night.
  • La Gruta Hotel – Perched on a hill above the river and camping area, this hotel offers incredible views. The recent remodel added stylish touches to the simple rooms. Rates range from $800-1300 pesos ($40-66) per night.
  • Molanguito Hotel – Open only on weekends and holidays, this budget hotel has a motel vibe but a great location near the cave. Rooms start at $800 pesos ($40) per night.

INSIDER TIP: Hotels only take PESOS. If the hotels are fully booked, you can try these options 10-20 minutes down the road:

  • Hotel Paraíso Huasca de Ocampo – upscale resort with epic views and a pool
  • Hotel Tollan-Tongo – modest but comfy roadside inn with a restaurant

Camping at as Grutas de Tolantongo

If you want to rough it, you can camp along the banks of the river. It’s a popular option with Mexican families on a budget. You can bring your own gear or rent everything you need on-site, including tents, sleeping pads, and grills.

Grutas tolantongo Campsite rental fees:

  • Small tent – $120 pesos ($6)
  • Large tent – $250 pesos ($12)
  • Sleeping pad – $150 pesos ($7.50)
  • Blanket – $120 pesos ($6)

There are several bathhouses with showers and flush toilets near the campsites. However, they can get pretty grimy with the crowds. A few important notes:

  • Campsites have little shade and are mostly exposed to the elements. Bring extra sunscreen and be prepared for chilly nights in winter.
  • The campsites are known to get rowdy, so don’t expect peace and quiet. Loud music often goes late into the night, especially on weekends.
  • In rainy season (June-Oct), flash flooding is a risk near the river. Don’t pitch your tent too close to the water’s edge.

History and Location Grutas Tolantongo

has been a pilgrimage site for locals seeking the therapeutic benefits of the springs for generations. But it wasn’t developed as a tourist destination until the 1970s. Today, the resort is managed like a cooperative by the local ejido (communal landowners) of San Cristobal, who have invested in extensive (yet relatively rustic) tourist infrastructure.

Where is Grutas de Tolantongo located:

  • Grutas de Tolantongo is In Hidalgo state, central Mexico
  • About 17 miles/27 km from Ixmiquilpan, the nearest town
  • Grutas de Tolantongo is 126 miles/203 km from Mexico City
  • Grutas de Tolantongo is  120 miles/194 km from Queretaro
  • Grutas de Tolantongo is  154 miles/248 km from San Miguel de Allende

It sits at an elevation of around 4,200 feet/1280 meters in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. The climate is semi-arid, with warm days and cool nights most of the year.

must-know tips before visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo

Bring cash to Las Grutas de Tolantongo hidalgo 

Tolantongo is a CASH ONLY resort. They do not accept credit cards anywhere on the premises. Bring plenty of Mexican pesos to cover your entrance fee, accommodations, food, and extras like the zipline or locker rental. The closest ATM is an hour away in Ixmiquilpan, so come prepared.

INSIDER TIP: Budget at least $1500-2000 pesos ($75-100 USD) per person per day for tickets, meals, and incidentals. Bring more if you plan to stay overnight or do additional activities.

It’s a Hike at Grutas de Tolontango 

The resort is massive and spread out over a vast canyon. While there are some shuttle vans, you’ll do a lot of walking on uneven terrain and stairs to get between the springs, hotels, and restaurants. Mobility-challenged visitors may have difficulty navigating the site. Wear sturdy, non-slip footwear.

Las Grutas de Tolantongo is all natural

The hot springs are 100% natural and minimally treated. The mineral-rich waters have a slightly sulfuric smell and can leave a residue on your skin and swimwear. Avoid submerging your head or ingesting the water. The rocks around the springs are slick with mineral buildup, so watch your step.

Be Strategic With Your Schedule 

Tolantongo is busiest on weekends and holidays, when locals descend en masse. To avoid the worst of the crowds, arrive first thing in the morning (gates open at 7 am) and stake out your spot in the pools. Weekdays see thinner crowds. Shoulder season (March-May and Sept-Nov) has great weather and fewer people.

Travel Light

You’ll be walking, wading, and hopping in and out of pools all day, so keep your load minimal. A small, waterproof daypack with your essentials (towel, water shoes, snacks, cash, etc) is ideal. The resort has bathroom lockers to stash valuables, but they’re not super secure. If you’re staying overnight, leave the bulk of your luggage in your room and just bring what you need to the springs.

Las Grutas de tolantongo map

Las Grutas de Tolantongo MEXICO  mexico map

Lockers at Las Grutas de Tolantongo & Other Amenities at Grutas Tolantongo

Grutas de Tolantongo offers a range of amenities to make your visit comfortable, though they are relatively basic. Here’s what you can expect:

Lockers at las grutas de tolantongo

 There are several banks of lockers located throughout the resort where you can stash your belongings while you soak. The main locations are:

  • Near the entrance, behind the ticket booth
  • Outside the tunnel and cave
  • By the pools, near the bathrooms

Lockers come in two sizes:

  • Small lockers (for wallets, phones, keys, etc): $100 pesos ($5 USD) per day
  • Large lockers (for small bags, towels, clothes): $150 pesos ($7.50 USD) per day

To use a locker, find an unoccupied one and insert the appropriate amount of coins into the slot. Take the key with you and keep it safe, as lost keys incur a hefty replacement fee. When you return to collect your things, insert the key to get your coins back.

INSIDER TIP: Lockers are first-come, first-served and can fill up quickly on busy days. Arrive early to snag one in your preferred location. Always keep valuables locked up, as petty theft can be an issue with the crowds.

Bathrooms and Changing Rooms at Grutas de Tolantongo 

 Bathroom facilities are located near the parking lot, by the cave entrance, at the pools, and in the hotel lobby areas. They are tiled, open-air stalls with toilets (some Western, some squat-style) and sinks. Toilet paper is not always stocked, so carry some with you.

Changing rooms are in the same locations and have small benches and hooks to hang clothes and towels. They are separated by gender but don’t offer much privacy, so wear your swimsuit under your clothes when you arrive.

Showers are also available by the bathrooms, but the water is tepid at best. Flip-flops are a must, as the floors get quite grimy with the volume of visitors.

Restaurants and Shops at Grutas de Tolantongo 

Gratos Tolantongo has about a dozen small restaurants and food stands sprinkled throughout the property. Most serve typical Mexican fare like tacos, quesadillas, tortas, and seafood. There are a few sit-down restaurants with larger menus, including a popular spot perched on a hill with great canyon views.

Prices are reasonable, with meals ranging from $70-200 pesos ($3.50-10 USD). Snacks and drinks are also available at small stands near the springs. Note that most eateries close by 6 pm, so plan accordingly.

There are also a few sundries shops selling forgotten essentials like sunscreen, bottled water, and ice cream. A small tienda (convenience store) near the entrance has a bit more of a selection (chips, beer, soda, floaties) but at inflated prices.

INSIDER TIP: Food and drink service can be very slow when it’s busy. If you’re ravenous after a day of soaking, it’s faster to grab something from a food stall than wait for a table at a restaurant.

Other Amenities at  Las Grotas De Tolantongo:

  • Parking: A large, dirt parking lot is located near the entrance. It costs $30 pesos ($1.50) per day for cars and $15 pesos ($0.75) for motorcycles. There are attendants to direct traffic but no formal security.
  • Life Jackets: You can rent life jackets for $50 pesos ($2.50) per day at stands near the river and pools. They come in adult and child sizes.
  • Towels: The hotels provide towels for guests, but there are no towels available to rent for day visitors. Bring your own if you’re not staying overnight.
  • WiFi: There is no public WiFi at Tolantongo and cell service can be spotty given the remote location. Some hotels offer WiFi in the lobby for guests only. Consider it a chance for a digital detox!

BONUS PRO TIP: If you fall in love with Tolantongo (and you will), consider returning for one of their epic festivals. Semana Santa (Easter week) and Day of the Dead bring all-night parties, live music, and special events to the canyon – it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Things to Do at Tolantongo: hidalgo mexico hot springs

You could easily spend several days exploring all the nooks and crannies of this massive complex. But here are the highlights you won’t want to miss:

The Pools at Grutas de Tolantongo 

Most visitors make a beeline for Tolantongo’s famous infinity pools. Tiered along the cliffside, these manmade pools are filled with milky, mineral-rich water heated to around 95°F/35°C by the thermal springs inside the mountain.

From here, you can soak in the warm water while taking in panoramic views of the canyon and mountains. The lower pools are the most popular and offer the most Instagrammable angles. But if you climb higher, you’ll find more secluded pools and even better views.

INSIDER TIP: Arrive by 8 am to stake out a prime pool spot and get your perfect shot before the crowds descend. The tour I went on  was an early tour! It started at 4am so we got there 2 hours before most tours started arriving!

The River Grutas de Tolantongo is

In my opinion, the velvety turquoise river winding through the bottom of the canyon gives the pools a run for their money. The river is dammed at intervals to create a series of warm swimming holes with waterfalls cascading between each level.

Floating in the opaque blue waters surrounded by towering canyon walls feels like a surreal dream. The mineral deposits are so thick that they coated my waterproof phone case in a thin white film! The water feels amazing on tired muscles or skin issues.

To find a quieter spot away from the crowds, follow the river upstream toward the far side of the canyon. You may even stumble across some small caves to explore along the banks.

The Cave and Waterfall las grutas tolantongo.

The source of Tolantongo’s thermal waters is the cave at the rear of the canyon. Outside the cave entrance, a powerful waterfall spills from an upper opening, creating a dramatic steamy scene. Inside the cave, hot water pours from the ceiling and walls, turning it into a natural sauna.

Most visitors are content to hang out near the entrance and snap photos. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can swim through the mist into the cave’s interior chambers. Just be careful, as the water gets progressively hotter the deeper you go. There’s also a strong current where the waterfall enters the cave.

The Tunnel at grutas de tolantongo hildalgo

To the left of the waterfall, you’ll spot a dark opening leading to a narrow tunnel carved into the rock. As you climb the steps into the passage, scorching hot spring water will flow over your feet. The tunnel is pitch dark, so you’ll want to bring a waterproof flashlight or use your phone’s light to navigate.

About halfway through, the passage opens into a small grotto with about a foot of steaming water covering the floor. From here you can either turn back or continue to the tunnel’s end, where you’ll emerge onto a ledge overlooking the river below.

INSIDER TIP: The tunnel is not for the claustrophobic! The hot water and tight spaces create an intense, steamy environment. Take it slow and turn around if you feel uncomfortable.

The Zipline at Hildago Grutas de Tolantongo is

For a shot of adrenaline, hop on Tolantongo’s zipline course. Four different zip cables crisscross the canyon, offering a bird’s eye view of the hot springs, river, and mountains. At nearly a mile long altogether and reaching heights of over 250 feet/80 meters, it’s the biggest zipline in Hidalgo.

The tour takes about an hour to complete, as you zip from one platform to the next while guides on either end control your speed and braking. It costs $250 pesos (about $13 USD) per person for the whole course. You can pay and join the tour near the entrance to the tunnel.

Hiking Trails at Grutas de Tolantongo

While most visitors stick to the main hot springs areas, a network of hiking trails wind through the hills above the canyon. You can access them near the hotels and campgrounds. One mirador (viewpoint) trail offers incredible aerial views looking down over the entire complex.

The trails aren’t clearly marked, but they’re relatively easy to follow and not too strenuous. Just be sure to wear decent walking shoes and bring sun protection, as shade is minimal. Also watch your step, as the gravelly dirt paths can be slippery. The resort’s website has a basic trail map you can reference.

Grutas tolantongo Packing List Essentials

  • Biodegradable sunscreen (required)
  • Water shoes with decent traction
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Flashlight or headlamp (you can purchase there)
  • Water bottle
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toiletries and personal medications (bring Dramamine if you get car sick! the road is very windy and bumpy)
  • Cash (pesos only)

INSIDER TIP: Tolantongo does not accept any credit cards and there are no ATMs on site. The closest ATM is an hour away in Ixmiquilpan. Bring plenty of cash to cover your expenses.

ready to book the best Las Grutas de Tolantongo tour from mexico city?

Book this Amazing Las Grutas de Tolantongo in Mexico tour— a convenient and comfortable experience with a near-perfect 5 Star ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  rating.

mexico Travel guide & articles

Here are my top travel resources and helpful travel articles & tips to help you get started with traveling.

Mexico Travel Resources

Other Grutas Tolantongo FAQs

How much does it cost to enter Grutas Tolantongo? Admission costs $180 pesos ($9 USD) per adult, which includes access to all the hot springs areas. Kids under 4 enter free. If you stay overnight, you’ll need to pay the entrance fee again the next day. Parking costs an additional $30 pesos ($1.50) per day.

Can you bring food and drink into grutas Tolantongo?

Officially, outside food and drink are not allowed. Guards at the entrance may check bags and coolers. However, they seem to allow small snacks and bottled water. If you want a full meal, there are several on-site restaurants and food stands. Prices are reasonable, with combos from $70-150 pesos ($3.50-$7.50).

Are there changing rooms and bathrooms?

Yes, there are bathhouses with changing stalls, toilets, and showers sprinkled throughout the resort. Facilities are basic and can get dirty, so bring shower sandals. There are also banks of lockers near the entrance, tunnel, and pools that you can rent for $100-150 pesos ($5-7.50) per day.

Is the water clean at Grutas Tolantongo?

The water comes directly from thermal springs inside the mountains and is not chemically treated. By the nature of the minerals, it has a rather murky, milky appearance. While high mineral content can be therapeutic, use caution. Don’t submerge your head and try not to get water in your mouth or nose to avoid infection.

When is the best time to go to Tolantongo?

Tolantongo is open year-round, even on holidays, from 7 am to 8 pm daily. Weekdays are less crowded than weekends. Dec-Feb are the coolest months, with lows in the 30s°F (-1°C) at night but still warm enough to swim during the day. March-May are the hottest and driest months, with temps up to 90°F (32°C). June-Oct is rainy season.

Is Tolantongo suitable for kids and pets?

The hot springs are very family-friendly and you’ll see people of all ages, from babies to grannies, enjoying the waters. However, you’ll need to keep a close eye on young kids as there are many steep and slippery areas. Pets are not allowed anywhere in the resort.

Are there other hot springs nearby?

Next door to Tolantongo is the Grutas de la Gloria resort, which has similar spring-fed pools in a slightly less developed setting. It’s smaller and tends to be less crowded. Admission is $150 pesos ($7.50) for adults.

Final Tips for a Fantastic Tolantongo Trip

  • Start at the pools early in the morning for the best chance of getting a prime spot and photos without tons

Here are a few final tips to make your visit to Las Grutas de Tolantongo absolutely epic:

Arrive early: I can’t stress this enough. Aim to get there by 8 am, especially on weekends, to stake out a spot in the best pools and beat the crowds. You’ll also have the magical experience of watching the canyon fill with steam as the thermal springs meet the cool morning air.

Protect your feet: The entire resort is natural, uneven terrain. Navigating the slippery rocks around the springs and rivers is much easier (and safer) with good water shoes. I love closed-toe aqua socks with rubber soles for a secure fit and traction.

Stay for sunset: Most day trippers start heading out by late afternoon. Stick around until dusk when the light beautifully illuminates the canyon walls in a golden glow. You’ll have the springs mostly to yourself and it’s the perfect time to soak and savor the serenity.

BYO drinks: While outside food and drink are technically not allowed, we saw many locals discreetly enjoying their own snacks and cervezas around the campsites and in the hidden corners of the pools. I recommend bringing a small soft cooler to keep water and adult beverages cold. Just be lowkey and clean up after yourself.

Get off the beaten path: The most accessible pools and river area near the parking lot get packed during peak hours. Go for a little wander to find quieter pockets of paradise. Some of my favorite spots were way up the canyon along the river’s edge and on the far side of the top tier of pools.

Embrace the quirk: Tolantongo is delightfully eccentric. Where else can you find a random medieval castle, a half-built, abandoned Greek amphitheater, and a trippy tunnel of LED lights all in one place? Poke around and see what other hidden gems you discover. It’s all part of the resort’s weird charm.

Know before you go: Manage your expectations. The tourism infrastructure is basic and the facilities aren’t always the cleanest due to the sheer volume of visitors. Staff can seem indifferent. If you come with an easy-going, adaptable attitude and remember you’re there for the incredible natural setting, you’ll have a blast.

I hope this comprehensive guide has given you all the info you need to plan an unforgettable Tolantongo adventure. Dive in and enjoy soaking in the therapeutic waters and otherworldly landscapes of this one-of-a-kind place. Trust me, the long journey is SO worth the magical memories you’ll make.

Save To Read Later:

Similar Posts