If you're visiting the ruins of Tula in Central Mexico, you have to check this ultimate travel guide for the Tula Archeological Site that has all the information you need. A hidden gem in Mexico, Tula is one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico.

Ruins Of Tula Mexico – The Lost City Of The Toltecs

Last Updated on January 21, 2024 by Soumya

The Ruins of Tula, located in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, are the remnants of the ancient city of Tula or Tollan, once the thriving epicenter of the Toltec civilization. 

Known to have flourished between 900 and 1150 CE, the Toltec city of Tula was renowned for its complex societal structure and advanced architectural prowess. 

The most iconic structures are the towering Atlantean figures made of stone that represent Toltec warriors. They stand guard over the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, adding to the mystique and grandeur of the lost city of Tula. 

Visiting the Tula Archeological Site in Mexico provides a glimpse into the rich history and cultural legacy of the Toltecs, a Mexican civilization that we don’t talk about much.

In this ultimate travel guide for Tula, Mexico, I tell you about the best things to do in Tula, how to get to the ruins from Mexico City, and lots of travel tips.

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Author at the Atlantean Statues in Tula, Mexico
Marveling at the Atlantean Warriors of Tula, Mexico.

Best Things to Do at the Ruins of Tula, Mexico

The Archeological Site of Tula or the Tula Ruins are located near a town called Tula de Allende in the State of Hidalgo in Mexico. 

Tula was once the prosperous capital of the Toltecs. This empire was an indomitable force in Central Mexico between the fall of Teotihuacan and the rise of the Aztecs

Here are some of the best things to do in the ancient city of Tula in Mexico.

Explore the Ball Court of Tula Ruins

Tula ball court
A Mesoamerican ball court at the ruins of Tula in Mexico.

One of the must-visit spots in the Tula Archeological Site is the Mesoamerican ball court. It is also the first thing you’ll encounter when entering the Tula archeological site.

This unique structure was central to Toltec society and was essential to religious and social rituals

Only a little is left of the ball court except for some niches that once held sculptures of Tollan gods

The sheer scale of the ball court is mind-boggling. Walking through the Tula Ball Court gives a sense of the grand spectacles that once took place there.

Trivia: Ball games were standard across pre-Hispanic civilizations. They were loud, rough, and exciting. More often, they were connected with human sacrifice rituals. 
The largest Mesoamerican ball court was found at Chichen Itza, and the Mayans were one of the civilizations that made the ball game famous across Mexico.
Ulama, a non-brutal form of the ball game, survives even today in some parts of Sinaloa in Mexico.

Visit the Wall of Snakes (El Coatepantli)

Tula wall of snakes
The Wall of Snakes in Tula with extensive wall carvings.

A unique thing to see at the Tula Archeological Site is the Wall of Snakes, also known as “El Coatepantli.” 

Named for its intricate carvings of feathered serpents devouring human figures and skeletons, the Coatepantli symbolizes Toltec mythology and cosmology. 

The carvings are believed to be connected with the Toltec human sacrifice rituals.

The wall once served as a boundary marker, delineating sacred space within the ancient city of Tollan.  

Today, the Wall of Snakes gives us an insight into the artistry and the religious rituals of the Toltecs.

This part of the Tula ruins is covered, providing respite from the hot Mexican sun. 

Check out Tula’s famous Atlantean Figures at Pyramid B

The Atlantean warrior statues of Tula ruins in Mexico
Massive Atlantean warrior figures at the ruins of Tula in Mexico.

The Pyramid B is the main pyramid at Tula ruins. 

Also known as the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl or of the “Morning Star,” Pyramid B has, on top of it, massive stone figures known as the Atlantean warriors that are symbolic of Tula.

Believed to represent Toltec warriors, these Atlantean figures are unique to Tula in Mexico. 

Even though Atlantean figures have been excavated in other Mexican historic sites, including Chichen Itza and the Aztec ruins of Mexico City, the ones at Tula are colossal – about 15 feet tall. It was done to convey the power of the Tollan king and instill fear in the enemies. 

Sculptors from the ancient Toltec Empire made these figures from local stone and carved them by hand. Notice their feathered headdresses, armored clothing, and footwear.

It is believed that these figures held up the roof of the altar of Quetzalcoatl. 

Pyramid B was an important religious space during the Toltec times. Royal families and important priests would have had access to this altar.

You can still climb Pyramid B today and see the Atlantean figures up close. The pyramid is about 30 feet tall, so the climb is manageable. 

Visit the Burnt Palace in Tula

Tula Burnt Palace or Palace of Columns
The Burnt Palace from the top of Quetzalcoatl Pyramid in Tula, Mexico.

Another important attraction at the ruins of Tula is the Burnt Palace. 

It is called the “Burnt Palace” because it was damaged by fire long ago but still bears impressive stonework and architectural elements.

This was where the kings held their religious ceremonies in which all important dignitaries participated. 

There’s a central hall, and many smaller ones surround it.

Even though there are no roofs today, the columns that held up roofs are still there, making the entire place look like a maze of columns. That’s why it is also called the Palace of the Columns.

Low benches at the Burnt Palace in Tula, Mexico
Carvings on the low benches at the Palace of Columns.

You can also see several low benches with extensive carvings at the palace. They reminded me of the benches at the Templo Mayor Aztec Ruins in Mexico City Historic Center.

Carved with warrior processions, these benches were used for sitting in the olden days but had a more symbolic representation of wars and victories. 

Walk around the plaza

Once you’re done exploring the main attractions of the Tula ruins, I recommend walking around the massive plaza.

Surrounded by important buildings on all sides, the plaza at Tula would once have a hub of all activity. 

There are other pyramids, though not in a state of climbing, a wall of skulls, an adoratory, and another ball court a few meters away.

The massive plaza of Tula
View of the plaza in Tula from the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl.

Explore the Tula Museum

Be sure to visit the Archeological Museum when visiting the ruins of Tula in Mexico.

The museum houses various artifacts discovered during archeological excavations and provides valuable context about Toltec culture and history.

Practical Information for Visiting Tula Ruins, Mexico

Tula Archeological Site Opening Hours

The Archeological Site of Tula in Hidalgo, Mexico, is open every day of the week, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Box office closes at 4:30 pm. 

Opening hours notice at Tula Archeological Site in Mexico
The official poster shows the opening hours of the Tula Archeological Site.

Even though many websites, including the official INAH website, say that the ruins are closed on Mondays, this poster (see above) at the Tula ticket office tells us that it is open Monday – Sunday

We did not visit on a Monday but asked the ticket office guy, who confirmed it was open on Mondays.

If you’ve visited Tula on a Monday, do let us know in the comments below. It is hard to be sure otherwise.

Admission Tickets for Tula

You can buy tickets to the Tula Archeological Site at the box office.

There are barely any crowds here, given that it is a true Mexican hidden gem. So, don’t worry about long lines. 

You can also buy your Tula Archeological Site tickets online here.

The tickets cost 95 pesos ($5.5).

How to get to Tula Ruins from Mexico City?

The ruins of Tula are only a couple of hours away from Mexico City. Therefore, they are easily covered on a day trip from Mexico City.

You can get to the Tula ruins from Mexico City by bus, car, and tour.

Intercity buses departing from Terminal Autobuses del Norte
Ovnibus runs between Mexico City Norte Station and Tula de Allende.

Getting to Tula from Mexico City by Bus

The cheapest and the most common way to get to Tula from Mexico City is by bus. You can take a direct bus from the Norte bus station in Mexico City to Tula. 

The journey takes approximately two hours, depending on traffic. 

The bus to Tula will drop you at the Tula de Allende town bus station. From the bus stop in Tula de Allende, you can take a taxi to the Tula ruins – this journey takes around 10 mins. 

We took the Ovnibus from Mexico City to Tula, and it was a comfortable journey.

Even though it is easy to get to the Tula ruins by bus and taxi, there is a small problem when returning from the ruins. 

You will not find taxis easily at the Tula archeological site. You’ll have to walk to the main road (about 7-10 mins) and then wait for a cab to show up. 

It is best to have your car or visit with a guided tour in such a scenario.

Pro Tip: Refer to our guide on Mexico City Public Transportation for details on bus stations and metro lines.

Getting to Tula from Mexico City by Car

A more convenient option is renting a car and driving from Mexico City to Tula. 

The journey is about 50 miles (82 km) and should take around 1.5 hours one way. 

Pyramid at Tula with Atlantean figures
The main Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl or Pyramid B at the ruins of Tula.

Getting to Tula from Mexico City by Guided Tour

Another great way to visit the ruins of Tula is to book a guided tour from Mexico City

Guided tours of Tula from Mexico City typically include roundtrip transportation, a tour of the archaeological site, and a visit to the nearby Pueblo Magico, Tepotzotlan, the churrigueresque capital of Mexico.

Even though this option is a little expensive, a guided tour is the best way to get from Mexico City to Tula because you don’t have to worry about logistics and can sit back and relax while learning a lot from your local tour guide at the same time.

Mexico Tula Ruins Travel Tips

  • The Mexican ruins of Tula are primarily out in the open, and it can get really hot here, even in winter. Be sure to carry a hat, water, and sunscreen. 

  • The walk from the entrance gate to the ruins is pretty long, about 15 minutes. Wear a good pair of walking shoes so that you’re comfortable walking and climbing pyramids. 

  • Getting a taxi to Tula ruins from the bus station in Tula de Allende is easy. But the return trip is more complicated. You’ll not find taxis easily at the archeological site. We had to walk to the main road and wait a while before we got one. Having your own car or booking a guided tour is always best.

  • Visit on a guided Tula ruins tour to get deeper insights into the ancient city. There are markers at the site, but they don’t say much about the Tula structures except a few lines. Further, a guided tour takes care of transport, which can be a pain in Tula.

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If you're visiting the ruins of Tula in Central Mexico, you have to check this ultimate travel guide for the Tula Archeological Site that has all the information you need. A hidden gem in Mexico, Tula is one of the most unique places to visit in Mexico.

Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

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