hot air balloon teotihuacan mexico city

Mexico City to Teotihuacan: Your Ultimate Guide mexico city pyramids teotihuacan (from Someone Who’s Done it)

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Are you looking for an unforgettable adventure right outside bustling Mexico City? Exploring the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan is a must-do on any trip to the area. As a solo traveler visiting Mexico City, I recently took a day trip to these awe-inspiring structures and even soared over them in a hot air balloon. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my personal experience and essential tips for making the most of your visit to Teotihuacan, whether you choose to go independently or join a guided tour. Get ready to step back in time and immerse yourself in the mysteries of this ancient civilization – trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Mexico City to Teotihuacan: Your Ultimate Guide mexico city pyramids teotihuacan (from Someone Who’s Done it)

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

  • Teotihuacan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located just 40 km northeast of Mexico City
  • You can visit independently by bus or book guided tours, some with unique experiences like hot air balloon rides
  • Must-see structures include the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, Avenue of the Dead, and Temple of Quetzalcoatl
  • Plan to spend 3-5 hours exploring the extensive site
  • Go early on a weekday morning to beat the crowds and heat
  • Bring sun protection, water, snacks, and comfortable shoes
  • Consider visiting the nearby town of San Juan Teotihuacan to round out your day trip

Want all the juicy details? Keep reading for my full guide to traveling from Mexico City to the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

mexico city pyramids teotihuacan: A Brief History

Before diving into the logistics of visiting Teotihuacan, it’s helpful to understand a bit about its fascinating history. This ancient city was one of the largest and most influential in Mesoamerica, with construction beginning as early as 100 BCE. At its height between 450-550 CE, Teotihuacan had a population of up to 200,000 people.

The city layout, centered around the impressive Avenue of the Dead, demonstrates sophisticated urban planning. Teotihuacan was a major center of trade, known for crafting obsidian tools and jewelry. Builders erected the massive Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon for religious ceremonies.

Mysteriously, the city was abandoned around 550 CE and fell into ruin. Centuries later, the Aztecs would discover the site and name it Teotihuacan, meaning “birthplace of the gods” in Nahuatl. The Spanish arrived in the 1500s, hastening the deterioration of the structures.

In the early 20th century, excavations and restorations began in earnest. Today, Teotihuacan is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Mexico’s top tourist attractions, drawing millions of visitors each year to marvel at its scale and mystery.

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Mexico City to Teotihuacan pyramids: How to go from Mexico City to Teotihuacan

Wondering how to get to Teotihuacan pyramids from Mexico city? Teotihuacan’s proximity to Mexico City is not that far.

mexico city to teotihuacan distance

just 40 km northeast of the capital, makes it an easy and popular day trip. You have three main options for getting there:

Mexico city to Teotihuacan Tours

For a more structured and informative experience to pyramid at teotihuacan, consider booking a guided tour from Mexico City. Options range from basic group tours with transportation and site admission to private tours with an archaeologist guide. Specialty tours may include perks like early morning access, hot air balloon rides, visits to nearby workshops and towns, and food/drink tastings.

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Expect to pay between $30-$150+ USD  per person to see the pyramid at teotihuacan depending on group size, inclusions, and unique elements. Some top-rated tours to consider:

hot air balloon teotihuacan mexico city
Tour NameDurationCost (USD)Highlights
Small Group Tour to Teotihuacan8 hrs$45Hotel pickup, bilingual guide, tequila tasting
Hot Air Balloon in Teotihuacan from Mexico City8-10 hrs$159-$169Balloon flight, breakfast, transportation, guided visit
Teotihuacan Early Access tour with Tequila Tasting7 hrs$85-$189Early access, archaeologist guide, craft workshops
Teotihuacan Private Tour from Mexico City10 hrs$114-$120private transfer, private guide, and traditional lunch
Teotihuacan & Basilica Guadalupe Tour with lunch9 hrs$55-$71Basilica of Guadalupe, Tlatelolco site & museum & lunch

Whichever transportation mode you choose, I recommend arriving at Teotihuacan as early as possible (by 8-9 AM) on a weekday to avoid crowds and the midday heat.

Mexico city to Teotihuacan by Bus

Mexico city Teotihuacan bus is the most budget-friendly way to reach Teotihuacan. Head to the Terminal Central del Norte (North Bus Terminal), which you can reach by metro (Line 5, Autobuses del Norte station) or taxi/Uber in Mexico City.

At Puerta 8 (Gate 8), purchase your round-trip ticket from the “Piramides” booth for around 100 MXN pesos ($5 USD). Buses depart frequently, about every 20 minutes, for the 1-hour journey.

Disembark at the first stop (Puerta 1) to be dropped off right near the site entrance. For your return, head back to the same spot (now across the road) and look for the blue “Bus” sign. Alternatively, purchase your return ticket on board.

To help plan your day trip to Teotihuacan, here’s a detailed breakdown of the

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Mexico City to Teotihuacan bus schedule

Departure Point:

Terminal Central del Norte (North Bus Terminal) Location: Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas No. 4907, Colonia Magdalena de las Salinas Metro Stop: Autobuses del Norte (Line 5)

Ticketing:

  • Purchase round-trip or one-way tickets at Puerta 8 (Gate 8) inside the terminal
  • Look for the “Pirámides” or “Teotihuacán” booth or window
  • Fare: Around 100 pesos round-trip or 50 pesos one-way per person
  • Tickets are valid for any departure time on the specified date

mexico city to teotihuacan bus schedule 

Buses run frequently, approximately every 10-30 minutes depending on the time of day. While schedules may vary slightly, expect departures from the North Bus Terminal around:

  • 6:00 AM – 7:00 AM: Every 30 minutes
  • 7:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Every 20 minutes
  • 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM: Every 10-15 minutes
  • 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM: Every 30 minutes

The trip takes about an hour, depending on traffic. Buses drop off passengers at Puerta 1 near the site entrance.

Bus Departure Times from Teotihuacan

 Catch the return bus across the road from where you were dropped off, marked with a blue “Bus” or “Autobuses” sign. Frequencies are similar to the reverse route:

  • 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Every 30 minutes
  • 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM: Every 10-15 minutes
  • 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Every 20 minutes
  • 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Every 30 minutes
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The last bus back to Mexico City from Teotihuacan

typically departs between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM, but always double-check with the driver or attendant to avoid getting stranded.

Tips for a Smooth Bus Trip:

  • For the most comfortable ride and to ensure a seat, catch one of the first morning departures (before 8 AM)
  • Avoid peak crowds by traveling on a weekday instead of a weekend or holiday
  • Be prepared for delays and long lines during rush hour (7-9 AM, 5-7 PM) and the busy Easter and winter holiday seasons
  • Have exact change in pesos for your fare, as drivers don’t always make change for large bills
  • Keep valuables secure and be aware of your surroundings on the bus and at the stations

With buses running regularly throughout the day, you have the flexibility to tailor your Teotihuacan visit to your schedule and energy level. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore the vast site, ideally at least 4-5 hours, before catching a return bus in the late afternoon or early evening.

Bus from Teotihuacan to Mexico city 

Taking the bus back from Teotihuacan to Mexico City is just as straightforward as getting there. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make your return trip a breeze:

Finding the Bus Stop at Teotihuacan:

  • Exit the archaeological site from the same gate you entered (likely Puerta 1)
  • Cross the road to the opposite side, where you’ll see a blue sign that reads “Bus” or “Autobuses”
  • This is the designated spot to catch the return bus to Mexico City’s North Bus Terminal
hot air balloon teotihuacan mexico city

Buying Tickets from Teotihuacan to Mexico City:

  • If you purchased a round-trip ticket in Mexico City, simply show it to the driver as you board
  • If you need a one-way ticket back, you can buy it directly from the driver or an attendant at the bus stop
  • The fare should be around 50-60 pesos per person
  • Be sure to have exact change in pesos, as drivers typically don’t accept bills larger than 200 pesos

Boarding the Bus from Teotihuacan:

  • Buses run frequently, about every 20-30 minutes, so you shouldn’t have to wait long
  • However, lines can be long, especially in the afternoon as day trippers head back to the city
  • Buses are marked with “México” or “Central del Norte” on the windshield
  • If unsure, confirm with the driver that they are heading to the Terminal Central del Norte in Mexico City

The Return Trip to mexico city from Teotihuacan :

  • Settle into your seat and enjoy the ride, which takes about an hour without traffic
  • Buses make few (if any) stops along the way, so there’s no need to worry about missing your destination
  • Once you arrive at the North Bus Terminal, you can easily transfer to the metro, hail a taxi, or request an Uber to your final destination

Tips for a Smooth Return:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to exit the archaeological site and find the bus stop, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend or holiday when crowds are thick
  • Avoid waiting until the last bus of the day (around 6 PM) in case it’s full or delayed
  • Keep an eye on your belongings, as petty theft can occur in crowded bus lines and on public transportation
  • Have a light layer or rain jacket handy, as afternoon showers are common and buses are often air-conditioned
  • If you have any issues or questions, don’t hesitate to ask the bus driver or a fellow passenger for assistance – most people are happy to help tourists navigate the system
Ruins of Pyramid of the Sun

Taking the bus back to Mexico City is an affordable and efficient way to wrap up your day trip to Teotihuacan. With frequent departures and a convenient drop-off location, you’ll be back in the heart of the city in no time, ready to reflect on your incredible journey through ancient history.

Driving from mexico city to Teotihuacan

Driving from Mexico City to Teotihuacan is another convenient option, especially if you want more flexibility in your schedule and the ability to explore the surrounding area. However, it’s only recommended if you’re a confident driver comfortable navigating Mexican roads and traffic. Here’s what you need to know:

Renting a Car in Mexico City:

  • Several major rental agencies (Hertz, Avis, Europcar) operate in Mexico City
  • An international driver’s license is not required, but you must be at least 25 years old
  • Expect to pay around $30-50 USD per day for an economy car
  • Purchase full insurance coverage and inspect the vehicle thoroughly before drivin
  • Reserve an automatic car from Discover cars or Expedia for the best prices and largest selections!

Driving Directions to Teotihuacan mexico:

  • From central Mexico City, take Highway 132D north towards Pirámides/Tulancingo
  • After about 40 km (50 mins), take the clearly marked exit for Teotihuacan
  • Follow signs for the archaeological zone parking lots
  • The drive takes about 1 hour without traffic, but allow extra time during rush hour

Parking at Teotihuacan Mexico:

  • Secure parking is available on-site for 45 pesos per day
  • Lots are located near the main entrance and Puerta 1, 2, 3, and 5
  • Arrive early for the best spots, especially on weekends and holidays

Tips for Driving in Mexico:

  • Have cash on hand for tolls, gas, and parking
  • Stick to the speed limit and be alert for potholes, speed bumps, and unmarked hazards
  • Avoid driving at night if possible due to poor road conditions and visibility
  • Keep valuables hidden and doors locked when parked
  • Consider using a GPS or maps app for navigation, but be aware of spotty cell service
black and white photograph of the archaeological site of teotihuacan

Word of caution: my friend who is Mexican and and speaks Spanish,  drove to Teotihuacan recently, and does not recommend driving especially for tourists. She was stopped by a police officer who demanded they pay $200 USD, they had no recouse and just had to the fine. so be cautious if you are planning to drive. 

Police corruption and bribery, unfortunately, are not uncommon in Mexico, especially targeting foreign drivers who may be more vulnerable to intimidation tactics. Officers may demand exorbitant “fines” for alleged infractions, knowing that tourists are less likely to argue or report the incident.

In addition to potential run-ins with the law, driving in Mexico can be stressful due to heavy traffic, poorly maintained roads, confusing signage, and different driving norms. Parking in unfamiliar areas also leaves your vehicle susceptible to theft or damage.

For these reasons, I generally advise against renting a car and driving in Mexico unless you’re a highly experienced and confident driver with a solid grasp of Spanish and local customs. Even then, it’s crucial to exercise extreme caution and be prepared for the unexpected.

While having your own wheels offers flexibility, the stress and risks of driving often outweigh the benefits, especially for a relatively short day trip from Mexico City. It’s not worth jeopardizing your safety or trip enjoyment to save a few bucks or have more autonomy.

hot air balloon teotihuacan mexico city

If you do decide to brave the roads, be sure to brush up on Mexican driving laws, purchase full insurance coverage, and keep emergency numbers on hand. But for most travelers, I strongly recommend opting for public transportation or a reputable tour to get you to and from Teotihuacan smoothly and safely. Your peace of mind is worth the extra expense.

Although driving offers more autonomy, it also comes with added responsibility and potential stress. If you’re not used to driving in Mexico, it may be simpler and safer to opt for public transportation or a guided tour. But if you feel up for the adventure, having your own wheels can open up opportunities to stop at nearby attractions like the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe or the town of San Juan Teotihuacan at your leisure.

As with any mode of transportation, plan to arrive at the archaeological site as early as possible to avoid crowds and heat. And don’t forget to fuel up both your car and yourself – bring plenty of water and snacks for the journey. With a little preparation and caution, driving from Mexico City to Teotihuacan can be a rewarding way to explore this incredible ancient wonder at your own pace.

What to See Teotihuacan Highlights

Teotihuacan is a massive archaeological complex covering 83 square kilometers. While it’s impossible to see everything in one visit, these are the key structures and sights you won’t want to miss:

  • Avenue of the Dead: This 2.4 km north-south thoroughfare forms the spine of Teotihuacan’s grid layout. Strolling along it provides a sense of the city’s immense scale.
  • Pyramid of the Sun: The largest structure at Teotihuacan, this 65.5 m tall pyramid dating to 200 CE is known for its lofty views. Climbing to the top is no longer allowed.
  • Pyramid of the Moon: Flanked by 12 smaller platforms at the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead, the 43 m Pyramid of the Moon hosted religious ceremonies on its summit. No climbing permitted.
  • Temple of Quetzalcoatl: Also called the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, this six-tier pyramid at the southern end of the avenue features intricate stone carvings of the deity Quetzalcoatl (meaning “feathered serpent”).
  • Palace of Quetzalpapalotl: The courtyard of this elite residential complex showcases colorful, well-preserved murals and sculpted columns depicting the quetzal bird and butterfly.
  • Palace of the Jaguars: More restored wall paintings of jaguars and eagles can be seen at this palace near the Pyramid of the Moon.
  • On-Site Museums: Your entry ticket includes access to two museums with artifacts and exhibits on Teotihuacan culture and history. A nice way to complement your visit.

INSIDER TIP: Upon entering at Gate 1, I suggest making a beeline for the Pyramid of the Moon via the Avenue of the Dead. Its platform provides the best overall view of the site before crowds arrive. Then loop back to see the other major structures and museums.

hot air balloon teotihuacan mexico city

How Long to Spend at Teotihuacan

While you can whiz through in 2-3 hours, I recommend allotting at least 4-5 hours to fully appreciate Teotihuacan. The site is deceptively large with a lot of ground to cover on foot under the hot sun.

Plus, you’ll want to linger at each structure to examine the details, take photos, and ponder their meaning and purpose. Factor in time to visit the museums, grab refreshments, use the restroom, and browse the vendor stalls. If you work up an appetite, several restaurants just outside the park gates serve affordable, casual Mexican fare.

All in all, budget a full day for your Teotihuacan excursion, including transit to/from Mexico City. Pace yourself, take breaks in the shade, and drink plenty of water – at 7,200 ft elevation under an intense sun, it’s easy to get dehydrated and fatigued.

Teotihuacan from Above: Hot Air Ballooning

For a truly unforgettable perspective on Teotihuacan, splurge on a sunrise hot air balloon flight. Soaring over the pyramids as the first rays of light hit the structures is pure magic. Plus, temperatures are much more comfortable than later in the day.

Several companies offer flights, with hotel pickup in Mexico City for $150-$200 USD. There’s typically an early morning departure around 6 AM for the drive to Teotihuacan. After a safety briefing, you’ll board the balloon and embark on a exhilarating 30-50 minute flight.

RELATED: Ultimate Guide To Hot Air balloons over Teotihuacan pyramids

Back on land, you may enjoy breakfast, a champagne toast, and a flight certificate before continuing on to explore the site in depth. Some tour operators include guided visits and behind-the-scenes access to areas closed to the public.

If you want to treat yourself to a bucket list experience, I can attest it’s worth every peso! The aerial view provides both a thrilling joy ride and an unmatched archaeological perspective.

hot air balloon teotihuacan mexico city

Helpful Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan

To make the most of your day trip to the pyramids, keep these tips in mind:

  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and comfy shoes – there is virtually no shade and tons of walking
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and snacks to stay hydrated and energized
  • Visit early on a weekday morning to avoid crowds and heat
  • Bargain respectfully with vendors and guides – amiable haggling is expected
  • Carry small bills and change for purchases and tips
  • Be mindful of altitude – take it slow and listen to your body
  • Re-confirm transportation schedules to avoid getting stranded
  • Don’t miss the town of San Juan Teotihuacan for food, crafts, and a glimpse of local life

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

Visiting Teotihuacan FAQ

How much does it cost to visit Teotihuacan?

As of 2023, admission tickets cost 80 pesos ($4) for adults, free for children under 13 and Mexican seniors on Sundays. Transportation and tour costs vary – budget at least 250 pesos for round-trip bus and entry.

Can you climb the pyramids at Teotihuacan?


No, visitors are no longer permitted to climb the pyramids to help preserve the structures. However, you can still get very close to appreciate their incredible scale and artistry.

How do you pronounce Teotihuacan?

teh-oh-tee-wah-KAHN

Is visiting Teotihuacan safe

? Yes, Teotihuacan is considered a safe tourist attraction. As always though, keep an eye on your belongings, stick to marked paths, and go with a guide if you’re uncomfortable exploring solo.

What should I wear/bring to Teotihuacan?

Dress for a day outdoors in hot sun, including:

  • Breathable, quick-dry layers
  • Closed-toe shoes with good traction
  • Wide-brimmed hat or visor
  • Sunglasses and high-SPF sunscreen
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Lightweight daypack for snacks, camera, etc.

From Mexico City to Teotihuacan

Gazing up at the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of wonder and awe. Who were the people that built these massive monuments? What meaning and purpose did they hold? How did such an advanced civilization essentially vanish?

While we may never know all the answers, a visit to Teotihuacan offers the chance to ponder these questions while immersed in the structures themselves. Whether you travel by public bus or guided tour, allot a full day to soak up the site.

And if you really want to splurge, treat yourself to a sunrise hot air balloon flight – I’m still dreaming of that magical morning floating above it all. However you do it, don’t miss this bucket list day trip from Mexico City. Happy exploring!

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Can You Climb the Pyramids of Teotihuacan?Taking Tours Versus Doing Day Trips IndependentlyHow to Get to Teotihuacan Pyramids by Public Bus and other transportation options. what to expect visiting the pyramids, what are some things that are good to knw before you go

Can You Climb the Pyramids of Teotihuacan? As of 2021, visitors are no longer permitted to climb the main pyramids at Teotihuacan, including the Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. This policy change aims to preserve these ancient structures for future generations. However, you can still get up close to admire the impressive scale and intricate details of the pyramids from ground level.

Taking Tours Versus Doing Day Trips Independently When visiting Teotihuacan, you have the option to join a guided tour or explore the site independently. Here are some pros and cons of each approach:

Guided Tours:

  • Informative commentary from knowledgeable guides
  • Round-trip transportation and admission included
  • Efficient itinerary hitting highlights
  • Potential for unique experiences (early access, workshops, food tastings, etc.)
  • Higher cost than DIY
  • Less flexibility and free time

Independent Day Trips:

  • More budget-friendly, especially by public transit
  • Flexibility to explore at your own pace
  • Can arrive early to beat crowds and heat
  • Opportunity to discover hidden gems
  • Requires more planning and logistics
  • May miss out on insider knowledge and context

Ultimately, the best option depends on your travel style, budget, and interests.

How to Get to Teotihuacan Pyramids by Public Bus Taking the public bus is an easy and economical way to reach Teotihuacan from Mexico City:

  1. Head to Terminal Central del Norte (North Bus Terminal) via taxi/Uber or Metro Line 5 to Autobuses del Norte station.
  2. At Puerta 8, purchase a round-trip ticket to “Piramides” for around 100 pesos from the booth.
  3. Buses depart every 20 minutes for the 1-hour ride. Disembark at Puerta 1, the first stop.
  4. To return, cross the road to the “Bus” sign. Buses run until 6 PM.

Other transportation options include:

  • Uber/Taxi: More convenient but pricier, around 500-800 pesos each way. Confirm return pickup.
  • Guided Tours: Typically include hotel pickup in a van or bus with a bilingual guide. Prices vary widely.
  • Rental Car: Only recommended for experienced drivers comfortable navigating Mexican roads and rules. Secure paid parking available on-site.

What to Expect Visiting the Pyramids Teotihuacan is a vast archaeological site that requires a few hours to explore properly. Wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, a hat, and bring water – there is very little shade and much ground to cover under the hot sun.

A typical visit includes walking along the Avenue of the Dead, the main north-south artery, to see the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and various palaces and plazas. On-site museums display smaller artifacts and provide historical context.

While climbing the pyramids is prohibited, you can still appreciate their grandeur from below. Arrive early (8-9 AM) to enjoy cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Vendors sell souvenirs, snacks and drinks throughout the site. Clean restrooms are available for a small fee.

Things to Know Before You Go 

  • Admission is 80 pesos per adult, free Sundays for Mexican nationals. On-site parking costs 45 pesos.
  • The site is open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM. Last entry is at 3 PM.
  • Afternoon temps can soar, so bring sun protection and stay hydrated. Be mindful of the 7200 ft elevation.
  • Walkways are uneven dirt and stone, so wear sturdy shoes and watch your step. Leave heels and flip-flops at home.
  • Guided tours are available on-site but negotiate the price and itinerary in advance.
  • Be prepared for crowds, especially on weekends and holidays. Go early on a weekday for a quieter experience.
  • Respect the structures – don’t touch, climb, litter or take anything from the site.
  • If mobility is a concern, some paths may be challenging. Contact the site for accessible options.
  • Visit the town of San Juan Teotihuacan nearby for a glimpse of local life, lunch, and shopping.
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