Teotihuacan From Mexico City: Your Ultimate Guide for 2024

Are you wondering about visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City?

A day trip to Teotihuacan is one of the best things to do, and one I’ve done multiple times. This guide details everything you need to know, including how to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City.

Teotihuacan was one of the most influential cities in Mesoamerica.

Its magnificence is immediately evident when you enter the archeological site and see the two largest Teotihuacan pyramids – the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.

So it’s no wonder that the Aztecs believed Teotihuacan was the center of the universe when they discovered the site centuries after it had been abandoned.

I’ve included details about how to get to Teotihuacan whether you prefer to take a bus, a tour, or the most unique way – from a balloon in the sky!

I’ve also included details about hours, tickets, Teotihuacan facts, and which points of interest you won’t want to miss on a day trip to Teotihuacan from Mexico City.

A view of the Pyramid of the Sun and other Teotihuacan pyramids from atop the Pyramid of the Moon. In the background, people visiting Teotihuacan are seen strolling along the long pathway known as the Avenue of the Dead.

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How to Get to Teotihuacan From Mexico City

First things first, let’s talk about how to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City whether you decide to take a bus or book a tour.

Transport time will vary based on the starting point, transport method, traffic, and time of day but you should plan for about an hour each way to visit Teotihuacan from Mexico City.

Bus to Teotihuacan From Mexico City

To take a bus to Teotihuacan from Mexico City, you’ll first need to take a taxi or the metro to the North bus station.

The metro will be the fastest and least expensive. It also requires you to navigate public transport which includes being aware of your belongings. The details are below.

  • Using the metro, take Yellow Line 5 towards Politecnico and get off 3 stops before the end at Autobuses del Norte.
  • Enter the bus station and turn left, walking past all of the various ticket offices until you find “Puerta 8”
  • Find the booth that says “Piramides” and buy a ticket for the bus to Teotihuacan. You can buy the return ticket now or wait until you’re on the bus to return. If you wait, I recommend not waiting until the last bus that leaves Teotihuacan.
  • It’s best to exit the bus at the first stop (Gate 1). This will strategically place you at an entrance point near one end of The Avenue of the Dead (see things to do in Teotihuacan for a full itinerary of what to see).

Teotihuacan Pyramids Tour

If you want to see multiple sites in a day or avoid the hassle of public transportation, a guided Teotihuacan tour may be the best way to visit. Note that not all tours include transportation.

I’ve included details of the best tours below depending on what you are looking for.

Teotihuacan Hot Air Balloon Tour

If starting with a hot air balloon flight over Teotihuacan sounds exhilarating, then these are the tours for you.

All of these tours start early so that you can watch the sun as it rises over the pyramids. As a result, they also include transportation from Mexico City.

Here are my top picks for a Teotihuacan balloon tour.

After climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, an overview shot of the Avenue of the Dead and smaller Teotihuacan pyramids in between.

Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan

How to Pronounce Teotihuacan

If you’re planning on the Teotihuacan pyramids, you’ve likely wondered how to pronounce Teotihuacan.

The answer is: Tay-O-Tee-Wah-Kahn

It’s a long word but once you can visualize and sound it out, it becomes easier. Like most of the Spanish language, the key is in the sound of the vowels.

Teotihuacan Hours and Tickets

Teotihuacan is open from 8 am to 5 pm every day, including holidays. 

Teotihuacan tickets are 80 pesos which includes entrance to the museum on site. On Sunday entrance is free for Mexican nationals and residents with an ID.

It is possible, though not required to buy Teotihuacan tickets online.

You can leave and re-enter the archeological site multiple as you wish throughout the day. It’s important to keep your entrance ticket to Teotihuacan because you’ll need it to enter the museum.

Visiting Mexico City? Don’t miss the charming pueblo magico of Taxco Mexico

How Long Do I Need to Visit Teotihuacan?

Considering the time needed to fully explore the site, you should expect to spend most of the day taking a day trip to Teotihuacan from Mexico City.

To visit Teotihuacan from Mexico City, you’ll need 3 to 4 hours to explore the Teotihuacan pyramids, other structures, and the museum.

This includes time walking between the sites and quick stops for refreshments or to use the bathroom. If you want to have a sit-down lunch or shop for souvenirs, plan for more time.

While visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City, a group of people walk in the field with the surrounding mountains in the background. In the foreground is a large green cactus plant.

Best Time to Visit Teotihuacan

The best time to visit Teotihuacan is on a weekday morning to avoid the late afternoon sun and crowds. To avoid crowds, you should also avoid going on a Sunday when the entrance is free for Mexican nationals.

If you’re taking a bus to Teotihuacan from Mexico City, you’ll also want to time your departure to avoid rush hour traffic. During this time the roads are clogged with cars and the metro is stuffed with people like a can of sardines.

While typically a little late to see archeological ruins, a start time around 9 am is best to avoid Mexico City’s rush hour traffic. Alternatively, you could opt to spend the night near Teotihuacan (see next).

Can I Spend the Night at Teotihuacan?

While you can’t sleep at the archeological site itself, you can spend the night near Teotihuacan.

In fact, several of the best accommodations in Teotihuacan are located within walking distance of several entrances. The relatively remote location also provides an escape from bustling Mexico City.

And staying in Teotihuacan will ensure you can arrive at the site as soon as they open to beat the crowds and the extreme sun. I’ve included my top picks below, many of which are very affordable.

  • Posada Colibri – Hotel & Spa ($$$$) – Luxury hotel with beautiful gardens, a temazcal, and spa.
  • Hotel Jatziri ($$) – Perfectly located modern hotel with incredible views of the pyramids from the rooftop terrace.
  • Posada y Spa Jade Teotihuacan ($$) – A family-run hotel and spa within walking distance to Teotihuacan.
  • Temazcal Casa de Barro ($$) – Eco-conscious bungalows in a rural setting with a temazcal on site.
  • La Finca del Abuelo Teotihuacan ($) – Traditional property on beautiful grounds with included breakfast.

7 Best Things to Do in Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is centered around the Avenue of the Dead in a grid structure that covers nearly 20 square km (8 square miles). As a result, there is often a long walk between the sites.

Considering the lack of shade, you’ll want to have a plan for navigating the things to do in Teotihuacan. 

To start, it’s important to know that there are multiple entrances and ticket booths at Teotihuacan.

To make the most of your time, get off the bus at the first stop (Gate 1) so that you start at the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. From there you can make your way to the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, and finish with the museum. 

This list of main sites at Teotihuacan follows that path. If you miss getting off the bus at the first stop, don’t worry it may simply require more walking or some backtracking after you enter Teotihuacan.

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1. The Ciudadela

The Ciudadela is located at the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead. The sunken plaza is where most of the residents of Teotihuacan lived. 

Two sides of the plaza are lined with residential complexes that were reserved for the ruling elite. Within the Ciudadela is the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (see next).

2. Temple of Quetzalcoatl | Temple of the Feathered Serpeant

Located within the Ciudadela, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl is the third largest of the Teotihuacan pyramids. Built upon six levels, it’s also the most intricate.

Each level features carved stone heads of The Feathered Serpent. The deity represents the duality of the earth and the sky. 

3. Pyramid of the Sun

A frontal view of the Pyramid of the Sun while people visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City stroll the grounds and climb on top of the pyramid.

The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest and most iconic structure of Teotihuacan. 

It’s located along the Avenue of the Dead, south of the Pyramid of the Moon. While you can no longer climb to the top for stunning views of the surrounding landscape, its size is impressive.

Built in two different phases, it is the third largest pyramid in the world. It measures 66 meters (216 feet) tall with a base that measures approximately 220 by 230 meters (720 by 760 feet).

4. Pyramid of the Moon

An overview of Teotihuacan, Pyramid of the Moon, and the surrounding mountains. In the foreground is a large field with roads cut in and some small trees.

The Pyramid of the Moon is surrounded by smaller pyramids and located on the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead, about half a mile from the Pyramid of the Sun.

It is the second largest structure in Teotihuacan at 43 meters (140 feet) tall with a base that measures 130 by 156 meters (426 by 511 feet). 

A platform on top of The Pyramid of the Moon was used for ceremonies in honor of the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan. Considered the goddess of water, fertility, the earth, and creation, it appears as though this goddess is unique to the city of Teotihuacan.

5. Palace of Quetzalpapalotl

At the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl, Teotihuacan are carved stone columns that lead to a horizontal border with abstract decoration primarily in a red color.

Located near the Pyramid of the Moon is the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl whose name comes from the Nahuatl words quetzal (precious feather) and papalotl (butterfly).

Due to its proximity to the pyramids and the quality of the art, it is believed that this complex was home to high-ranking priests. 

As you walk through the center of the complex you can admire the intricately carved stone columns and carefully restored murals.  

6. Palace of the Jaguars

A mural painted on a stone wall at Teotihuacan depicts a puma with large claws and a thick tail. His head is no longer visible due to erosion. The mural includes abstract decorations in a strong red color.

Jaguars were a prevalent animal in the area which you’ll quickly learn from the vendors who blow through a jaguar head souvenir to mimic the sound of their roar.

But seriously, you can’t miss the murals in the Palace of the Jaguars. It’s considered one of the most sacred sites in Teotihuacan.

7. Teotihuacan Museum

The museum at Teotihuacan features murals and other artifacts found while excavating the site. While the museum is small, it features a few really nice pieces as well as carved obsidian.

Your Teotihuacan ticket includes the entrance fee to the museum. So since you’re here, there’s no reason to skip it. Plus it offers relief from the sun!

Staying in Mexico City? Check out this Mexico City itinerary.

A Brief History of the Teotihuacan Pyramids

The exact origins of Teotihuacan largely remain a mystery.

It’s estimated that the site’s construction began as early as 400 B.C., although it was not completed until 300 A.D. The city reached its prime about 100 years later with an estimated population of more than 100,000 people.

The strong influence of Teotihuacan can be seen in the similar architecture observed at other archeological sites in Mexico. In fact, artifacts found here and at other sites suggests that Teotihuacan was a major trading hub for the region.

The area was rich in obsidian and its residents were known for their fine craftsmanship of obsidian tools.

As mysterious as its origins, so is the sudden abandonment of Teotihuacan a few hundred years after its prime. Although evidence of deliberate damage to some of the structures and sculptures points to a potential uprising among the lower class, nothing has been confirmed.

Three people that are visiting Teotihuacan sit at the top of the steps of a small pyramid. In the background are other Teotihuacan pyramids, small trees, and mountains.

Several hundred years later, the ruins of Teotihuacan were discovered by the Aztecs. They were in awe of the site and named it Teotihuacan which in their native Nahuatl language means, “The place where the gods were created.”

With the excavation of the Teotihuacan pyramids beginning as early as the 18th century, Teotihuacan is one of the most explored sites in Mesoamerica. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Visiting Teotihuacan is one of the best things to do and one of the best day trips from Mexico City.

Facts About Teotihuacan

  • Named by the Aztecs who discovered the site centuries after it was abandoned, Teotihuacan means “the place where the gods were created.”
  • At its height, Teotihuacan was one of the largest cities in Mesoamerica with an estimated population of over 100,000.
  • Known for well-preserved murals and some of the most architecturally significant pyramids built in the pre-Columbian era, most notably the Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon.
  • Teotihuacan exported finely crafted obsidian tools, many of which have been found throughout Mesoamerica.
  • Teotihuacan was mysteriously abandoned several hundred years after its prime.

Questions About Visiting Teotihuacan

Is Teotihuacan worth visiting?

Teotihuacan is absolutely worth visiting. As one of the most influential cities in Mesoamerica, visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City should be a must do on every list.

Why is Teotihuacan important?

Teotihuacan is important because of the influence it had over other pre-Hispanic sites. This is most prominently seen in the architecture at other archeological sites that flourished after Teotihuacan. In addition, Teotihuacan was a center of trade among Mesoamerica.

How much time do you need to visit Teotihuacan?

You will need 3-4 hours to visit Teotihuacan. Considering the transportation time, you should plan to spend most of the day visiting Teotihuacan. If you want to take time for a proper lunch or take a break while visiting the sites, you should plan to spend more time visiting Teotihuacan.

Can you go inside Teotihuacan?

You can go inside Teotihuacan. The ancient city of Teotihuacan is built in a grid structure centered around the Avenue of the Dead. You can get close to several of the Teotihuacan pyramids that were strategically built along this grid-like pattern.

Can you walk up the pyramids at Teotihuacan?

While you can walk up to the pyramids at Teotihuacan, you are no longer allowed to climb the main structures. This includes the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon.

What day do people prefer to go to Teotihuacan?

The best day to go to Teotihuacan is during the week. On the weekends, there are more people visiting Teotihuacan. This is especially true on Sundays when the entrance is free for Mexican nationals.

What do you wear to the Teotihuacan pyramids?

It’s important to wear comfortable clothes and shoes to the Teotihuacan pyramids. Due to the intense sun and lack of shade, it’s recommended to also wear a hat and sunscreen. You should also bring plenty of water and a few snacks, although there are some vendors on site.