Of all the major ruins in Mexico, the ancient city of Teotihuacan is one of the best. The archaeological site is located only an hour from Mexico City, right by the San Juan River. Everything you need to craft the perfect visit to Teotihuacan is right here in this guide!
The prehispanic city was one of the first major cities in the Western Hemisphere. It was also close to being the largest city in ancient Mexico. So, as you can imagine, it holds a lot of historical value.
I lived in Mexico City for nearly a year and am here to spill the beans on how to visit the ancient city of Teotihuacan. It’s one of the best excursions from Mexico City, but it takes a little planning to get the most out of the day.
How to Visit Teotihuacan
How to Get to Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan is 30 miles (49 kilometers) northeast of Mexico City and there are a few different ways to get there:
🚌 Bus – The most affordable way to reach Teotihuacan is by bus. If you’re really on a budget in Mexico City, you can take the Metro from La Raza station to Autobuses del Norte station and follow the signs to the bus station. Alternatively, you can just grab an Uber to the bus station for a couple of bucks.
Once you’re at the station, go to Puerta 8 and grab a ticket to the pyramids or archaeological zone with Autobuses Teotihuacan. It’ll cost between USD 2 to USD 6 and take a little less than an hour to arrive in the city. The buses leave every 20 minutes and run for most of the day.
🚋 Tours – In my opinion, the best way to get to Teotihuacan is by joining a tour. The tours are really affordable, and they take all of the questions out of getting to the city. All you have to worry about is waking up and bringing your camera.
Plus, many of the tours have an additional layer of adventure. Like this Hot Air Balloon Flight over Teotihuacan, or this, Teotihuacan Pyramids with Tequila Tasting Private Tour.
🚘 Renting a Car – Though it’s possible to rent a car with Discover Cars and drive yourself to the archeological site, I wouldn’t recommend it. This will definitely be the most expensive, and potentially the least fun, way to visit. I’d recommend renting a car in Mexico if you’re going on a further weekend trip, but it’s a hassle for a site that’s just an hour away.
🚗 Uber – Uber is only a slightly less expensive option than renting a car to visit Teotihuacan. As of 2022, an Uber X from Mexico City to the Teotihuacan Pyramids costs MXN 800 (USD 39.16) each way.
Hours and Details About Teotihuacan
🎟️ Tickets & Pricing – A standard ticket to the archaeological zone costs MXN 80 (USD 3.91). This will grant you access to the zone and both museums. Teotihuacan is free on Sundays for Mexican citizens and residents.
🕠 Hours – Teotihuacan is open every day from 8 AM to 4:30 PM, except on Fridays when it closes at 4 PM.
♿ Accessibility – This attraction isn’t completely accessible, but there are a few efforts made at accessibility for wheelchair users. Gate 5 of Teotihuacan has accessible parking. Luckily, it’s located in a great spot right behind the Pyramid of the Sun, the museum, and an accessible restroom.
After parking, follow the path from Gate 5 to the Avenue of the Dead. Using this main road of the ancient city, you’ll be able to wander around the archaeological complex fairly easily.
👉 Need a hotel? Check out our picks for the best hotels in Mexico City.
Things to Do at Teotihuacan
The well-preserved history and structures of the Teotihuacan Valley are a worthy sight in and of themselves. But, the beautiful natural environment around the archaeological zone makes it an especially fun day trip out of Mexico City. You can even take your experience to the next level with a hot air balloon ride over the monumental architecture.
When you’re visiting, there are a few main sites to see.
🏺 The Museum of Teotihuacan Culture
With all the excitement of seeing the pyramids, many visitors forget about the museum, but it’s the perfect first stop to learn a little about life in Teotihuacan. The cost of Museo de la Cultura Teotihuacana is included in your entrance fee to the archaelogical zone.
The museum features many numerous stone heads, ancient artifacts, art pieces, and a 3D model of the city. Additionally, there’s a stunning view of the Pyramid of the Sun.
☀️ Pyramid of the Sun
The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid in the city, and it’s absolutely enormous. The cool thing about the Pyramid of the Sun is that you don’t have to just sit by and look up at it. You can actually climb it all the way to the top and get a bird’s eye view of the city.
The trek up to the top of the pyramid isn’t super difficult, but it can get a little crowded. Be prepared and wear comfortable shoes.
🌙 Pyramid of the Moon
The second-largest structure at Teotihuacan is the Pyramid of the Moon. The truncated pyramid is still pretty huge, though, sitting at over 140 feet high. It’s believed that this pyramid’s platform was a prized viewing spot for ritual sacrifice.
🥀 Avenue of the Dead
The Avenue of the Dead is basically Teotihuacan’s main street and runs through the middle of the ancient city. It’s a mile and a half long, aligned slightly east of true north, and points directly at a nearby sacred peak called Cerro Gordo, an extinct volcano.
You’ll use the Avenue of the Dead to wander between the different pyramids and structures.
🐉 Palace of Quetzalpapalotl / Feathered Serpent Pyramid
Although the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl is the smallest pyramid, it’s still definitely worth a visit. Also known as the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, it’s named after the feathered serpent deity that’s carved into the walls of the structure. When the Feathered Serpent Pyramid was discovered, over a hundred bodies were found buried underneath. It’s believed that these people might’ve been sacrificed.
The Temple of Feathered Snails is also inside the Palace of Quetzapapalotl, which is known for its huge murals.
🐆 Palacio de los Jaguares
Near the Palace of Quetzapaplotl is Palacio de los Jaguares, or Palace of the Jaguars. This structure is on the smaller side compared to the pyramids. The thing that puts Palacio de los Jaguares on the map is its decorative wall paintings of jaguars in red.
👉 Read Next: Best Things to Do in CDMX, Mexico
History of Teotihuacan Pyramids
🧐 Mysterious Beginnings
The history behind the miraculous Teotihuacan is a little bit mysterious. Nobody is actually sure who built the city or exactly what their culture was like. It has features of a Mayan city and Toltec culture but is also reminiscent of neighboring cultures.
It’s believed that construction on Teotihuacan began around 400 BCE. At its height, Teotihuacan had a total population of over 150,000, making it one of the biggest cities of ancient times.
🔍 Aztec Discovery
All that’s known definitively is that the Aztecs stumbled across the urban grid in the 1400s. Then, they named it Teotihuacan – the place where gods were created. By then, the city had already been abandoned for thousands of years.
There are no military structures in the area, despite the seemingly advanced architecture. There were tools, ritual relics, and indications of a rich culture in the city, but there weren’t any clues about what might’ve happened there or where everyone went.
Today, the city of Teotihuacan remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries. The most recent hope for more information about the city was found in the form of a secret tunnel. It’s believed that this tunnel network could hold the key to understanding Teotihuacan.
What to Bring to Teotihuacan
See our full guide to what to pack for Mexico. Specifically for Teotihuacan, you’ll want to bring:
🧴 Sunscreen & Hat
Once you get out into the archaeological complex, there will be little to no cover from the blazing hot sun. It’s practically a guaranteed sunburn if you show up unprepared so I recommend bringing sunscreen and a hat. The last thing you want when you’re having fun in Mexico City is a searing sunburn.
Put it on before you leave and bring it with you just in case.
👉 Pro Tip: Being prepared for weather should be one of your top priorities in this region. Read our guide to safety in Mexico City for more key info.
Being prepared with water is especially crucial when you’re doing an activity that gets you moving. Like, climbing to the top of a giant pyramid for example.
Suppose you do forget your water bottle, though, no worries. You can grab water, sunscreen, and souvenirs from the on-site museum.
As you’re probably starting to realize, it’s going to be sunny and hot when you visit this particular attraction. So, sunglasses are a must. It gets really bright out there without anything to create little shady spots.
👟 Comfortable Sneakers
At this attraction, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. Whether you’re just strolling down the Avenue of the Dead to see each pyramid from the ground level, or you’re making the full-blown hike up to the top of the pyramid. You definitely want to be wearing some comfortable sneakers to do it.
If you’re planning on taking some model shots and want to wear cuter shoes, pack them in your bag. You don’t want to risk walking around in heels all day at this place.
👉 Need more things to do on your trip to Mexico? Check out our list of 33 fun things to do in Mexico City.
Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan
You can read our full guide to travel tips for Mexico, but here are a few you especially need to remember when visiting the pyramids at Teotihuacan:
🚶♂️ Get a Guide to Show You the Pyramids
While you can still have a great time visiting Teotihuacan by yourself, I’d highly recommend hiring a guide or joining a tour. It’s humbling and exciting to simply stand side by side with an ancient pyramid. But, when you go there with a guide, you learn about every little detail as if you’re seeing it with your own eyes.
Plus, many tours include round-trip transportation from central Mexico City.
Here is the highest-rated tour to Teotihuacan. It’s less than $50 per person, and includes a stop at a few other nearby historical sites (plus a tequila tasting!).
🎈 Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
One of the coolest things you can do on your trip to Teotihuacan is taking a hot air balloon ride. These types of day trips will usually include transportation, a float over the pyramids, and lunch with champagne. It’s the perfect way to merge a day of history with a thrilling activity. Click here to book your hot air balloon ride.
🌞 Go in the Morning
Since Teotihuacan is one of the most popular attractions in Mexico, there are usually a bunch of people there. Arrive in the morning if you’re hoping for a more tranquil experience or want to take photos without all the crowds. Doors open at 8 AM, so try to get there right before then.
📸 Leave the Tripod at Home
This tip is important for professional photographers or enthusiasts novices – leave the tripod at home or get a permit way ahead of time.
You must have a permit to use a tripod. If you don’t have one, you won’t be allowed to use it. Additionally, if you plan on using hand-held video equipment, like a GoPro, you’ll need to pay a small fee of MXN 45 (USD 2.20).
📚Looking for more CDMX history? Give my list of the 13 best museums in Mexico City a shot.
FAQs about Visiting Teotihuacan
Is Teotihuacan Aztec or Mayan?
The original origins of Teotihuacan are a mystery, and scientists have theorized the site could have been a mix of several nearby cultures. However, it was discovered by the Aztecs and given its modern name of Teotihuacan in the 1400s.
Why is Teotihuacan so important?
Teotihuacan is so important because its believed to have been one of the largest and most successful cultures of the ancient world. The city was likely a wealthy area of a cosmopolitan nature that was a key point of trade for the rest of the area. However, we still don’t know where the hundreds of thousands of people that lived there went. Or why they left a seemingly thriving city.
Did Mayans Build Teotihuacan?
It’s unknown who built Teotihuacan. Some people believe that the city was created by the Toltec culture because of suggestions from colonial period texts. The city also demonstrates features from the Maya region and other cultures.
Is Teotihuacan the same as Tenochtitlan?
Teotihuacan is not the same as Tenochtitlan. Teotihuacan is a ruin located an hour north of CDMX. Tenochtitlan was the Aztec capital that was destroyed by the Spanish, and its located in the Historic Center of CDMX.
How much does Teotihuacan cost?
It costs MXN 80 (USD 3.91) to enter the Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone.
You’re all set for your trip to Teotihuacan! If you’re looking for more great ideas, then check out this epic list of things to do in Mexico City.
Safe travels, and enjoy your visit to Teotihuacan.
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