5 Best Day Trips from Mexico City
Living in Mexico City, you’ll want to take advantage of all the amazing sites nearby. Just a stone’s throw away, you’ll find a bevy of cultural and historical wonders. There are dozens of day trips you could take from Mexico City, but we’ve narrowed it down to top five to satisfy your desire for adventure and cultural exploration.
Pyramids of Teotihuacán, State of Mexico
One of the closest (and most popular) sites to Mexico City is the ancient city of Teotihuacán. Easily accessible by bus, this short trip to one of the most famous archeological sites in all of Mexico takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes from the city center. It’s not actually a city anymore but is still one of the most fascinating day excursions you can embark on.
The pyramids and ancient ruins leftover from this Mesoamerican settlement are breathtaking, and you can make your trip more engaging by climbing the Pyramid of the Sun and Moon. At the top, you will be able to see for miles across the Mexican countryside. This UNESCO World Heritage site should be on your bucket list of sites to visit while in Mexico City, as its filled with historical murals, relics, and archaeological finds.
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
This one-of-a-kind day trip is a 60-mile, two-hour drive outside of Mexico City, but worth it if you have an affinity for nature and have access to a car. Also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the reserve contains most of the over-wintering sites of the eastern population of monarch butterflies. Each winter, millions of butterflies arrive from eastern North America, clustering together on pine and oyamel trees. Oftentimes, there are so many butterflies on the trees, that the branches sag, and they appear orange. At the first signs of spring, the butterflies take flight and migrate back across North America.
Visitors can hike (about an hour both ways) up to the area where the millions of butterflies congregate for the winter. The reserve also offers guided walking tours as well as an option to visit the area on horseback. The reserve is open to the public from November to March and is visited by thousands of Mexican and international tourists each year.
Santiago de Querétaro
Another place recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site is the city of Santiago de Querétaro. A two-and-a-half-hour drive from Mexico City, you’ll find plenty of historic sites, from stunning colonial architecture to brightly-colored buildings. The city is also filled with museums, churches, and convents, and is regarded as one of Mexico’s safest cities.
Wine-lovers will especially enjoy Santiago de Querétaro because of its fantastic vineyards that attract wine enthusiasts from across the globe. Viñedos La Redonda and Freixenet are just two of many popular wineries that offer free tours.
Toluca, State of Mexico
For history and culture buffs, visiting the state capital of the Estado de México is a dream come true. Second only to Mexico City in total number of museums, Toluca is the perfect day trip to learn more about Mexico’s storied past. Some notable options include the Museo de Bellas Artes, Centro Cultural Mexiquense, and the Cosmovitral Botanical Garden, adorned with stunning glass murals.
In addition to its plethora of museums, Toluca is also home to the beautiful Toluca Cathedral and the Temple of La Merced, one of the most important ancient convents founded by Spaniards. When visiting Toluca, be sure to come hungry, as it’s famous for its chorizo, a regional sausage made primarily of ground pork, tomato sauce, and a unique mix of spices. If you have access to a car, it is a quick, 50-minute drive to Toluca from Mexico City.
Puebla / Cholula, Puebla
While Puebla and Cholula are two separate cities, they are located right next to each other, making it easy to visit both in one day. Puebla is known for its history, cuisine, and unique landscape, as it’s situated in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It is one of Mexico’s top five colonial cities and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Two remaining forts from the battles with the French in the 19th century are major attractions, as well as the Ex-Hacienda de Chautla, an impressive English castle set in the middle of a lake. Don’t miss stopping in the Zocalo plaza to gaze upon the 16th century Puebla Cathedral and dine on some local cuisine.
Cholula is a small city situated just to the west of the capital city of Puebla, about 2 to 2.5 hours from Mexico City. It is home to the world’s largest pyramid called Pirámide Tepanapa and was built by the Tlachihualtepetl people. In the 16th century, a Catholic cathedral was built atop the pyramid and still stands today. Though the pyramid is nearly recognizable as a man-made structure due to years of neglect, there are museums and tours nearby that shed light on the impressive structure it once was.
Both cities are also conveniently located near the Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park, a popular place to hike, bike and camp.
What are you waiting for? Grab your backpack and go explore these exciting day trip destinations. Adventure awaits!