How to plan an awesome day trip to Teotihuacán Pyramids, Mexico

Teotihuacán is no ordinary place. It is ancient, shrouded in mystery, and once Mesoamerica’s greatest city. This complex of majestic temples is known for its two massive pyramids, Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon).

Teotihuacán lies in a mountain-ringed valley just 50km from Mexico City, and it’s the perfect place for a day trip. Here’s how to do it.

Read next: Things to do in Mexico City

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What to see at Teotihuacan Pyramids

Teotihuacán is a huge UNESCO site with a 2,000 year-old history. Between the pyramids and the museum, there’s a ton to see and you can easily spend a whole day there. Trust me, the site is massive! If you’re short on time or just want to see the main sights, this is what to look for:

  • Pyramid of the Sun – The largest pyramid at Teotihuacán and the third largest pyramid in the world.
  • Pyramid of the Moon – The second largest pyramid on site, used to conduct ceremonies in honor of the goddess of water, fertility and the earth.
  • Temple of the Feathered Serpent – The third largest pyramid at Teotihuacán takes its name from the iconic carved heads that adorn the eastern side.
  • Palace of Quetzlpapalotl – It has ornately carved pillars and beautiful murals, all centered around a beautiful courtyard.
  • Avenue of the Dead – The main path between the pyramids in Teotihuacán.
  • On-site museum – There’s a museum at the entrance to help make sense of it all.
Teotihuacan is no ordinary place. It is ancient, shrouded in mystery, and once Mesoamerica’s greatest city. Here's how to plan a day trip to Teotihuacan Pyramids from Mexico City.

PRACTICAL INFO

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 9 am to 5 pm.

Entrance fee: 70 pesos – includes entry into the museum.

Best time to visit: Arrive early in the morning as there is almost no shade and it gets warm fast.

How much time to spend: 4-5 hours. The avenue is 2,5 km long, and it takes time to climb the pyramids.

Brief history of Teotihuacán

For those unfamiliar, Teotihuacán is old. Very, very old. It was built around 100 BC and collapsed a thousand years later in 550 AD due to invasion or famine (no one really knows). Unlike the pyramids in Egypt, Teotihuacan wasn’t just a religious temple. It was a city, and a large one. At its highest, this mysterious metropolis reached a peak population of 200,000 people.

Most other famous temples in Mexico were either built by the Aztecs or the Mayans, but no one knows who built Teotihuacán. One thing all experts can agree on is that the Aztecs named the city Teotihuacán, meaning ‘place of the gods’.

Teotihuacan, Mexico

Pyramid of the Sun

Tip: Begin at The Pyramid of the Sun so you can climb all 248 steps before it gets too hot. Simply enter through the second or third entrance, Puerta 2 or 3.

Let’s start with the massive Pyramid of the Sun. At 70m high and over 215m wide, it’s the third largest pyramid in the world after the Great Pyramid of Cholula at 400m (also in Mexico) and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt at 139 m.

To make it even more grand, the Pyramid of the Sun consists of over 3 million tons of stone. And to think it was built without any metal tools or help from animals – that’s darn impressive.

Read next: The best beaches in Mexico

Teotihuacan, Mexico

In 1971, archeologists found a secret tunnel inside the pyramid that led to more than 50,000 ritual objects and a set of chambers. Experts believe that these chambers were used for rituals and maybe even as a burial-place for the city’s elite.

For the people of Teotihuacán, the Pyramid of the Sun had a strong religious significance. And it continues today more than 2,000 years later. Every year on March 21st, visitors flock to the top of Mexico’s Pyramid of the Sun to celebrate the spring equinox.

Teotihuacan, Mexico
Plaza of the Sun
Teotihuacan, Mexico

Pyramid of the Moon 

If you follow the road to the end, you reach the Pyramid of the Moon, a similar but smaller temple. The steps are steeper, but at the top of the pyramid you’re rewarded with a really great view as you can see directly down the Avenue of the Dead past the Pyramid of the Sun.

In front of the pyramid (Plaza of the Moon) are twelve small pyramid platforms, large enough for thousands of the city’s residents to witness the political and religious rituals that took place at the top of Pyramid of the Moon.

Read next: San Cristobal de las Casas – the cultural capital of Chiapas

Teotihuacan, Mexico
Plaza of the Moon

The Pyramid of the Moon was built between 1 and 350 AD as the first large building in Teotihuacán. Both human and animal sacrifices and other offerings have been discovered inside the pyramid.

Back then, many Mesoamerican cultures sacrificed the enemies that they captured in battle. They did that to keep the social order and ensure that the priests and holy men retained their grip on power. If you’ve seen the movie Apocalypto, you have an idea of how it went down.

Teotihuacan, Mexico
The well-known view of Pyramid of the Moon
Teotihuacán, Mexico

Temple of the feathered serpent

Enclosed within the citadel’s walls is the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, also known as Quetzalcóatl Temple.

The Temple of the Feathered Serpent is the third largest pyramid at Teotihuacán, constructed in 200 AD. This six-level step pyramid is notable partly due to the discovery in the 1980s of more than a hundred sacrifice victims found buried beneath the structure.

Teotihuacan, Mexico
Temple of the Feathered Serpent
Teotihuacan, Mexico

Avenue of the dead

The main road through Teotihuacán was called the Avenue of the Dead by the Aztecs because the mounds on the sides looked like tombs (they were not though). The road varies between 40 to 95 meters wide and 2.5 kilometers long, but archeologists believe that it was almost double that in its prime.

Teotihuacan, Mexico
Avenue of the Dead with Pyramid of the Moon at the end 
Teotihuacan, Mexico
Teotihuacan, Mexico

Teotihuacán is a unique place.

I’ve been to a number of temple cities like Angkor Wat and Palenque, but Teotihuacán was different. Maybe it had to do with the fact that it’s not swathed in jungle like the two other temples, or maybe it was the massive pyramid structures that made an impression.

Either way, a day trip to Teotihuacán is awesome. If you’re in Mexico City or Northern Mexico, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Teotihuacan, Mexico

How to get to Teotihuacán from Mexico City

There are several ways to visit Teotihuacán on a day trip from Mexico City, but these two options make most sense:

By public transportation (the best option) 

This is what we did, and it’s easy. The bus to Teotihuacán is comfortable, it takes about an hour depending on traffic, and a round-trip ticket costs 100 pesos/$6 per person. This is how to do it:

  1. Take the metro to Terminal Central del Norte also known as the Autobuses del Norte metro station.
  2. Walk across the street to the North Central Bus Terminal.
  3. Once you’re inside the bus terminal, go left and walk towards Gate 8 at the end of the hallway. Look for the bus company called Autobuses Teotihuacán.
  4. Buy a return ticket (100 pesos/$6 USD) or a one-way (50 pesos/$3 USD) to Los Piramides. Busses leave every 20 minutes and your seat is assigned on the ticket.
  5. The ticket office speak English and can help you find the departure area.

With a guided tour bus

You can also join a tour bus from your hotel. Bare in mind, though, that tour companies often spend a lot of your time promoting specific vendors and stores – that means you won’t have as much time at Teotihuacán.

As a reader notes in the comments below, he only had 1,5 hours at Teotihuacán, which is not enough time to explore the site. If you go with a tour bus, try to find one that offers multiple arriving and departure times.

Where to stay in Mexico City

Roma or Condesa are the most popular neighbourhoods in Mexico City. Both areas are in the heart of the city and it’s easy to get to the most important landmarks. Plus these areas are walkable and very safe.

Condesa DF – Surrounded by stylish bars and restaurants, this popular hotel (with elegant rooms!) is located in the chic and bohemian Condesa neighbourhood. There’s a roof top terrace and you’ll get tequila on arrival. Click here to see the latest prices. 

Capital Suites Luxury Residences & Offices – Gosh, this place, you guys! It’s super spacious, modern, the staff is so helpful and it’s cheap! It’s located in Roma, close to nice restaurants and sights. Click here to see the latest prices. 

Mexico City

What to bring on your day trip

  • Good walking shoes – You’re looking at 6-7 km of walking, including the climb up the pyramids. Those pyramids are no joke so you need comfortable and breathable footwear. These are my all-time favorite travel shoes, but if you’ve got other outdoor adventures in Mexico (volcano hiking or jungle trekking), I would bring a pair of hiking boots and leave the sneakers (and Converse) at home.
  • Sunscreen
  • A good pair of sunglasses
  • A hat. The sun at Teotihuacan is harsh and there’s no shade. I suggest bringing a simple baseball cap, a panama hat or a fedora to protect your face. Something like this one.
  • Always check the weather forecast before you go. It might rain, in which case you should bring a breathable rain jacket.
  • Sports bra
  • Seamless leggings or yoga/athletic pants. I always wear seamless leggings when I hike. What’s so great about seamless pieces is that they’re super lightweight, breathable and really allow you to move around. I always bring at least one pair on my travels.
  • Hiking poles (if you have bad knees).
  • 2 l. water (you can’t drink the tap water in Mexico)
  • A small backpack for your things. I always bring my Haglofs day back, which is great for day trips such as this (and carry-on luggage on the plane). But any day pack will do – just make sure it’s comfortable and ergonomic. You’ll be walking a lot.
Teotihuacan, Mexico

Have you been to Teotihuacán? Any tips for others?

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98 Comments

    1. Hi Steve, we got there by public bus (see above under “How to get to Teotihuacán from Mexico City”). It’s really easy and also your best option.

  1. I was at Teotihuacan way back in September of 1973. Looking to back there in the fall of 2018 It’s very, very beautiful city!!!

  2. I went on a tour bus as I only had one day in Mexico City. It might be useful the add that many of these day tours leave you as little as an hour and a half to visit Teotihuacan at the end – which isn’t anywhere near enough. Such information will emphasise the benefit of using the public transport option to get there.

  3. Thank you for the information. Very helpful. One question. Is there a fee to enter the pyramid or just the bust ticket ?

  4. Hi Miriam,

    I just used your guide and it helped a ton! Just want to extend my thanks! I would also recommend that tourists try “La Gruta”. It is quite expensive by Mexican standards (expect American/European prices) but the food and service are good and you get to eat in a cave. It is just a 5 minutes walk from Pyramide del Sol.

    Also as an update to your guide: The site is open everyday (you show that it is closed on Mondays, but I just went this past Monday). As a side note, I was able to enter at 8:30am though I am not sure if that is the norm. And there is a small increase in the price of the bus as Feb 2018, it is now 104 pesos round trip (52 for a one-way ticket).

    Thanks again,
    Ray

    1. I’m really glad to hear that, Ray! Thanks for letting me know.

      And thanks for the update to my guide. Your info is really helpful to both me and my readers! I didn’t know about La Gruta, but it sure sounds cool, especially the whole cave thing.

      All the best from Denmark

      1. I liked the información and blog and I am mexican so it’s funny to read recommendations from you, they are really useful. Just one thing, the movie from Spielberg I think, Apocalypto does not represent the culture, is such a bad reference. We in Mexico would never recommend it to understand ancient cultures, it is such a bad version of Hollywood to sell the movie, there are better movies or I would even recommend to go to the National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec which is way better not only to make sense of teotihuacan but many other indigenous cultures and civilizations in Mexico.

  5. Can anyone give insight as what day it’s best to travel? We were thinking Sunday, leaving Mexico City at 6am to travel to the pyramids

    1. Hi Danielle,
      I can’t give you a straight answer, but I’d think Sunday is a busy day since it’s the weekend and more locals might visit. But it’s a good time of day you’re planning to visit, both in terms of the weather and how busy it tends to get later during the day.

      Have a great trip!

  6. Do you need a tour guide once you reach there? How do you understand what to do once you’re there?

    1. Hi Riddhi,
      It’s a personal preference, I think. We didn’t have a tour guide, but instead read up on the history before going (and I’m glad we did). I believe you can get a map at the entrance so you know where to go, but the main pyramids are hard to miss. If you feel more comfortable with a tour guide and want the background history on site then you should get a guide.

    1. Good question, but I don’t know the answer, unfortunately. If I were you, I’d shoot them an email and ask; I bet you’re not the first one wondering about this.

  7. I’m planning a trip out here in June or July. Has anyone else traveled at this time? It looks like all of June will be rainy at Teotihuacan, which is a bummer.

    Also, I need hotel or Airbnb recommendations that are close to everything.

    Thanks!

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I am visiting Mexico City for the first time this summer. Teotihuacan is on my list. Question about public transport. Do you buy your roundtrip ticket at the “Terminal Central del Norte” initially? You mentioned seat assignments. I wasn’t sure if you buy one initially at the station and then another on your way back from the site. So excited to finally see this in person. Thanks!

    1. Hi Alex,
      We just bought our tickets at the Terminal Central del Norte. When you get the ticket they will also assign you a seat. No need to book anything in advance 🙂

      Have an amazing trip!

  9. I was there last year and going back in October. A few notes to expand on yours: I’m arthritic with bad knees, and it’s a LOT of walking. Be prepared for that, but don’t let it stop you. You can take an Uber from Zocalo to the bus station for justa few dollars, save at least thirty minutes, and save your legs for the pyramids. The transfer between stations is brutal … at least a half mile walk. The bus is lovely; we had a mariachi band playing in the aisle for tips. Also, beware of the vendors on the pyramid grounds. Once you even start to interact with them, they will follow you and harangue you until you finally buy something just to get them to leave you alone. Given physical limitations, I found that a half day was sufficient, as I was unable to climb. Still well worth the trip!

  10. Hey nice write up. Do you think if we got there late, around 3 or so, we;d be able to stay beyond the closing hour of 5pm? And would there be buses?

  11. My husband, son, nephew, and I went yesterday and it was wonderful! We drove there (we brought our car all the way from Georgia!) and parked at Puerta 2. I appreciate all of your tips. When I went during Christmastime two years ago it was VERY windy, but yesterday was perfect.
    Thank you to Ray for recommending “La Gruta” restaurant. It was fabulous! My son and nephew and, well all of us, loved eating inside of a cave.
    This was my third time to the pyramids in 17 years, but my FIRST time to the Temple of the Feathered Serpent which was really cool because it was some great sculpting and carvings on the facade of that pyramid which you don’t see in the more popular Sun and Moon Pyramids. It is on the same property so I recommend walking over to see it.

    1. Wow, you drove all the way from Georgia? That must have been an amazing road trip. Thanks so much for your recommendation on the Feathered Serpent temple, Jennifer. I really enjoyed it as well.

  12. I love your blog! Thank you so much.
    I have a 6hr layover in mexico city,I’m wondering if its enough to visit even one of the pyramids?

    1. Hi Cherry, it would be cutting it very close. If you’re ambitious then anything is possible, but you would need a taxi or pre-booked private transfer to ensure you don’t miss your flight.

  13. This is great! I’m going there in two weeks! Just one question. Do you go back to the terminal for the ride back to CDMX? Are there departure times posted? Also, are there water vendors just in case we run out? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Leslie, when you’re done exploring Teotihuacan, exit at gate 2 and walk through the parking lot to the main road. You can also get picked up at at gate 3. The bus will pick you up at that main intersection. You can buy water when you get there 🙂

  14. Hi Miriam thanks for the information. I really like uber for short trips in the city like ti the bus station. The bus onloads you right by the entrance. You can wait at the same place for pickup. If you lose your return ticket i found they sell return fare right on the bus. I didn’t find water within the park but right outside every gate are vendors with everything. What a great day trip thanks

    1. Hi Chris, thanks so much for pitching in! Great tip about the ticket and water – I don’t recall finding any water on site either, but there were plenty outside.

  15. Tak for god blog Miriam! Just stumbled upon your blog when I googled how to get to Teotihuacan on public transport and your blog came up immediately. We just went today and followed your guidance and it was perfect and so easy and cheap. Although rates have gone up since you went it’s so minor it is not a big issue. We followed all of your advise which was great. One thing to note is that there is no food or drinks once you enter the entrance, they only sell souvenirs. But you can exit to go grab food and drinks and go back in again with your ticket without any problem. We spent a total of 5 hours there including a 45 min break for lunch, and now on the bus back to CDMX. We haven’t used uber or taxi and just taken the metro to get to the bus station too, so easy and quick.

  16. Thanks for the great post. I’ll be heading out to mexico city this thursday. Would you recommend taking an uber all the way to the pyramids?

  17. Thank you for the blog. Visiting Mexico City in Jan 2019 and this was one of the places we wanted to visit. Thought of taking a tour bus but your instructions are so good, we will take the public transport and spend time with the Aztecs rather than in a souvenir shop.

  18. Hi,. We have been to the pyramids 3 times in various years. We always took the underground subway to the northernmost stop at Indios Verdes and took the bus from right there. Is that not still possible?

  19. Thank you for your informative blog, Miriam! Question for you: Do you know if the bus has a set return time (i.e., we have to be on a particular bus when we buy the return ticket) or if it’s valid for any bus? Also, have you come across a timetable of the bus?

    Thanks!

    1. You’re very welcome, Sam! When I went, the busses left every 20 minutes, but I don’t know the current time schedule unfortunately.

  20. Thank you for the very useful info. We left CDMX at 9:15am and were back by 2pm today, thanks to all your info. Yes, it is 104 pesos return and you get dropped off at gate 1. Bus stops at Gate 3 and 2 on way back. Best to be at Gate 3 if one wants good seats. We got off at Deportivo metro (2nd stop in CDMX) and yes, it does look a bit more safe then Indios Verde. Having said that, we then promptly took the metro in the opposite direction and ended up in Indios Verde and it was fine :). Just seems a bit more homeless people there. Overall, it is easy to do. We would also recommend to be there by 10am latest. A lot more crowds later on makes climbing the pyramids harder and it gets hot. Enjoy everyone!

  21. We’re on the bus back to Mexico City now. Thanks for this guide!!! It was super helpful, especially the information about how to get there 🙂

  22. Is there a way to buy an entrance ticket to the site in advance? I was looking online and couldn’t find anything.

  23. Thanks for the very informative blog Miriam. I’m planning to go there this weekend. I want to try the Hot balloon ride as well. Do you know any information about it? Timings, ticket price, etc.

  24. We used your directions for public transportation (Metro train and Bus from Autobuses del Norte) to get to Teotiuacán yesterday.

    Very clear and easy to follow directions for inside the bus station.

    We were charged 104 pesos/adult and 52 pesos/kid for return tickets on the bus. We didn’t need to designate a return time, just got on a bus that looked the same and said “Centro/Mexico” on the window, and the bus driver confirmed it was returning to Centro del Autobuses del Norte.

    Entry to Teotiuacán was 75peso/adult and free for kids (ours are 12 and 8). I’m not sure if they would take credit cards, but we paid cash.

    1. Hi Rebecca, thanks so much for sharing your experience. It’s been a few years since we visited, so it’s good to hear about your recent trip!

  25. Great post Miriam! Was really helpful for our trip to the pyramids today :o)
    For anyone short of time we arrived in the afternoon on a Sunday and it was busy but totally fine.

    We didn’t queue to get in at all.
    There was a queue around half way up the pyramid of the Sun (the biggest pyramid) to get to the top. So we went and looked at the temple of the moon first (climbed that as far as you can go) and then walked down towards the feathered serpent temple. Before heading back to the pyramid of the sun.

    The site closes at 5pm but as long as you start the ascent to the top of the pyramid of the sun by 5 you can climb to the top and back down before they start asking you leave.

    We started to ascend the pyramid of the sun at 4:56 and didn’t have to queue at all right to the top! :o) … so I think a good tip if you arrive late to leave this to the end!

  26. Thank you so much for this blog, it was so helpful.
    We were staying on Reforma, so got an Uber to and from the station aprox 65 pesos each way. Just be aware when collected from the station thst your Uber may be on the oppodite side to where you come out
    The return bus fare is now 104 pesos and we wete dtopped at gate 2. Be careful not to get off in the village or you have a long walk
    When getting on the bus at the station be aware it may not be in the correct slot. We were told 8 but it was in 6. It said San Juan on the front with no mention of Pyramids. Luckily the totally non English speaking conductor spotted our white skin, and dragged us on to the bus just as it was leaving.

  27. Booking my flight tonight. I’m in PV and this is really the main reason for my trip to Mexico!

  28. My wife and I followed your Pyramid directions and they were flawless. We ubered to the North Central Bus Station and then followed your directions left to Gate 8 at the end.. Cannot miss Autobus to Teotihucan booth! I think RT for two was just a little more no but insignificant amount. Easy to find bus leaving for Pyramids and also easy locating bus to return back to Central Norte bus station where we once again ubered back to our hotel. Thanks for the clear cut directions!
    PRO TIP – Get there early before the sun gets hot and the crowds arrive. We got there around 9am and spent about 2 hours there because a lot is closed because of C-19. On our way out there were many arriving.

  29. Hi,
    Thank you for your blog and all the great information, I will rely on it for trip. We are planning to visit the Pyramids this summer, but I do have one question: Are there Public restrooms available and Food merchants at the Pyramids?… you know just in case ….lol

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