Teotihuacan near Mexico City is one of the places people recommend you visit. This big archeological complex is the largest pre-Hispanic city!
I knew very little about Teotihuacan before I got to Mexico City, but I knew it was definitely a sight to see during my trip. First, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, which means it is recognized and protected for having cultural, scientific, or historical significance.
Teotihuacan is the largest pre-Hispanic, Mesoamerican site. While there you’ll likely walk on the Avenue of the Dead, climb Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon, and walk through Temple of Quetzalcoatl. You’ll also see varieties of cactus flora. Read on for more information about getting there, what you’ll see, and where to eat!
Getting to Teotihuacan and Tickets
The bus ride is about an hour one way. It is about 30 miles away but there are at least two bus stops along the way. You could also join a tour company, hire a private driver, or try a taxi.
I used these directions for the bus and it worked out perfectly. Directions abbreviated below:
- We took an Uber to the Autobuses del Norte bus station.
- Find Gate 8 all the way to the left of the building.
- Buy tickets under the Autobuses del Teotihuacan sign. Tickets are $54 one way and it’s easiest to buy a round-trip ticket. You’ll get a ticket with a time for the next bus and your return trip can be anytime during that day.
- The cashier will point you to where to get on the bus, around the corner through gate 8.
Teotihuacan opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. I recommend getting on a bus in the 8 a.m. hour to avoid the crowds and as much heat/sun as possible. We arrived around 9:15 a.m., explored the site for a few hours, ate lunch, explored another part of the site, got on the bus, took a nap, and arrived back in Mexico City around 3:30 p.m. We toured around fairly quickly and spent five hours there, including time for lunch.
Tickets to get into Teotihuacan are $70 pesos per person and you can pay at the gate. There will also be people offering guide services at the entrance.
You could also see Teotihuacan by hot air balloon! The morning we went, we saw several in the sky.
History of Teotihuacan and Walking So Many Steps
This place is huge. If you enter from the main entrance, you’ll immediately feel this. The Avenue of the Dead, the main, wide path to the Pyramid of the Moon feels strangely expansive. I guess that is expected when the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world.
The tallest pyramid is Pyramid of the Sun, which has 200 plus steps. You’ll definitely get a work out from all of these steps. When you’re facing Pyramid of the Sun, the second tallest pyramid, Pyramid of the Moon, is to your left. Both give you incredible views of the site and surrounding area. Check out the view on top Pyramid of the Sun:
The history of Teotihuacan is also very interesting. It existed more than a thousand years before the Aztecs arrived in central Mexico. The Aztecs are who gave it the current name Teotihuacan. It’s architecture, specifically, the design and the function of certain buildings show the influences and existence of multiple civilizations at Teotihuacan. Having visited Maya ruins recently, it’s intriguing to know Teotihuacan has a similar architectural style or maybe it was the Mayas that adopted the style.
Now, don’t get Teotihuacan confused with Tenochtitlan. Tenochtitlan was another Mesoamerican civilization and capital of the Mexico people. You can see these ruins in Mexico City’s Zócalo at Templo Mayor.
Currently, researchers and scholars have a few theories about why the civilization collapsed and was abandoned. It could have been invaders, an internal uprising of the poor against the rich, or the effects of a volcano. They’re still excavating the site, so maybe one day they’ll find evidence of its beginnings and endings.
Learn More About Teotihuacan
There are a handful of signs throughout the site and there’s a small museum on site that will tell you more about the site. Many of the artifacts can be found at the National Museum of Anthropology, where you’ll find a whole section dedicated to Teotihuacan. The small museum at Teotihuacan has a replica of the site. Outside the window is Pyramid of the Sun!
Eating Near Teotihuacan
You’ll likely want to eat at the cave restaurant everyone talks about, La Gruta. It’s outside Puerta 5, which is behind Pyramid of the Sun on the right-hand side. You’ll find it by following signs for the museum. Go through the parking lot and the main gate and veer to the left. You’ll see a big sign on a road to the restaurant.
This restaurant is architecturally impressive, as the photos show you. The food was definitely the most disappointing of everything we ate in Mexico City, BUT we did try a local dish – torta with guacamole and topped with fried grasshoppers.
Know that if you eat here, you’ll be making a big trek back to Puerta 2 or 3 to get on the bus.
There are also a few restaurants near Puerta 2 that looked promising.
Quick Tips for Your Trip to Teotihuacan
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing! Some steps are steeper than others. Go at your own pace.
- Don’t forget sunscreen. Bring it with you. As you can see from these photos, there is little to no shade at the site.
- Wear sunglasses. Wear a hat or there are vendors selling hats for a couple of bucks around the site.
- Bring bottled water.
How to Get Back to Mexico City
Exit Puerta 2 or 3 and a bus will come by every 20 minutes. You’ll likely take a nap on the bus, which is perfect to get ready for the rest of your day in Mexico City!
Phew, our trip to Teotihuacan involved long transportation, sunny skies, and lots of wonder. It’s crazy to think about the mechanics that whoever built Teotihuacan employed to make it happen. How long did it take to clear out the land and built each temple and wall piece by piece? The site has withstood so much and if you can’t tell from the photos and my words so far, THE SITE IS MASSIVE.
Teotihuacan really is a sight to see! From a person that enjoys history and culture, I think it’s worth it for a half-day trip. Plus, you’ll be getting your exercise done so you can eat more tacos in Mexico City later. Win win! 😉