Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Soumya
Ready to plan the best day trip to Teotihuacan from Mexico City?
That’s a great idea because visiting the Teotihuacan pyramids is one of the best things to do when in Mexico City.
Located only 30 miles (48.5 km) from Mexico City, Teotihuacan makes for a wonderful day trip destination.
Teotihuacan is filled with history from more than 2,000 years ago. Once home to a powerful pre-Hispanic civilization, the ruins of Teotihuacan have numerous stories to tell.
Three iconic pyramids, a sprawling ancient city, and a mysterious past make Teotihuacan one of Mexico’s most impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Add to that a wonderful but hidden collection of murals and you have the most amazing Teotihuacan day trip from Mexico City.
When visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City, you can learn all about the ancient Teotihuacanos, their lives, ceremonies, and religious practices at the pyramids, residences, and two fascinating museums onsite.
In this ultimate Teotihuacan Pyramids Travel Guide, we talk about all the wonderful things to do at Teotihuacan including riding a hot air balloon, how to easily get to the pyramids from Mexico City, the best Teotihuacan tours, and what to expect.
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How to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City?
Mexico City to Teotihuacan by Bus
Contrary to what you might have heard or read elsewhere, it is actually easy to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City by bus.
On our first Teotihuacan day trip, we took the bus from Mexico City and had a comfortable journey. And that’s why it was such an easy addition to our 4-day Mexico City itinerary.
Teotihuacan Bus Details
First, get to Terminal del Norte in Mexico City because this is where Teotihuacan buses depart from.
Terminal del Norte (Google Maps) is located right outside Autobus del Norte metro station which you can get to by using Metro Line 5 or the Yellow Line.
Head to Gate 8 at Terminal del Norte where you will see a ticket counter for Autobuses Teotihuacan. This is where you can buy your tickets and board the bus.
Gate 8 is fairly easy to locate. But in case you aren’t able to, look out for the pyramid symbol/sign that says “Los Piramides” or “Zona Archaeologico”.
Buy your tickets from the staff at the desk of Autobuses Teotihuacan. Buses operate every 15 mins from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., all days of the week.
One-way tickets cost around 52 pesos ($2.6) and round trips are priced at around 105 pesos ($5.5). The staff speak English and tickets are timed. Make sure you don’t miss the bus you are on.
Board your bus at Sala Gate 8. Buses usually have a label with “Piramides” written on them.
If you have trouble locating the bus, feel free to ask. We asked a local and he was happy to direct us to the right bus.
Once inside the bus, take the seat mentioned in your ticket. The bus journey from Mexico City to Teotihuacan takes around 60-90 minutes.
Mexico City to Teotihuacan Bus Departure Times
The first bus for Teotihuacan leaves Terminal del Norte around 6:00 a.m. and every 15 minutes after that. Getting on a 6:30/6:45 a.m. bus is perfect to make it to the pyramids right when the gates open at 8:00 a.m.
When you get off the bus, be sure to check with the driver about the last departure from Teotihuacan.
As far as I am aware, the last bus from Teotihuacan to Mexico City is at 6:00 pm in the evening. We left around 5:00 p.m. so that we had some buffer. But the hours keep changing every year. Be sure to ask your driver or at the ticket counter in Mexico City.
Where to get off the bus at Teotihuacan?
Once you arrive at the pyramids, get off at Gate 1/Gate 2. Gate 1 is near the Feathered Serpent Pyramid whereas Gate 2 is right in front of the Sun Pyramid.
If you’re planning for a shorter tour, Gate 2 is the best.
But if you’re planning to see the entire site, I recommend getting down at Gate 1 and going all the way to the Moon Pyramid in the north.
You can board your bus back to Mexico City at Gate 2. They leave every 15 mins from there.
Mexico City to Teotihuacan by Car or Taxi
An easier and more convenient way to get from Mexico City to Teotihuacan is by rental car or taxi.
If you’re looking for reliable and safe taxi options, I highly recommend Uber and DiDi cabs in Mexico City. We have used them numerous times and found them cheaper and more convenient than the regular taxis.
Another way to pre-book a car for yourself is to ask your hotel to arrange one for you (with a chauffeur) that you can hire for the day. It may be a little pricey but safe, reliable, and very flexible.
Guided Tour to Teotihuacan Pyramids from Mexico City
Guided tours are really the best way to visit the ruins of Teotihuacan. Mexico City offers numerous tours ranging between a few hours to full-day getaways.
One of the most popular options is to start the day with a hot air balloon ride over the pyramids and then follow it up with a guided tour of the archeological site.
I also love this Archeology Tour of Teotihuacan which takes you deeper into the history, art, and culture of the ancient city.
What are the best Teotihuacan tours?
Here are the 3 most highly-rated guided tours of Teotihucan.
If you are looking for an immersive Teotihuacan day trip that takes care of all logistics, then be sure to sign up for one of these.
- This full-day Teotihuacan tour from Mexico City is a highly-rated tour on Viator and includes the top 3 attractions in Mexico City – Teotihuacan, Tlatelolco, and the Guadalupe Shrine. Also includes tequila tasting!
- This Teotihuacan early-access tour takes you on an early-morning tour of the ruins and offers tequila tastings for a very affordable price. It is one of the highest-rated Teotihuacan tours in the market.
- If you are looking for a private tour of Teotihuacan, here’s a half-day tour that you’ll love. The tour includes round-trip transfers and the services of a knowledgeable tour guide.
Even though most of these tours include entrance fees, I recommend double-checking on that before you book. For more ideas check out our post on the Best Guided Tours of Teotihuacan Pyramids.
If you’re looking only for a hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan, then here are some great options.
About the Ancient City of Teotihuacan
- The ancient city of Teotihuacan was built and settled in around 200 BCE. This was long before the Aztecs arrived in case you’re thinking Teotihuacan is an Aztec ruin. The Aztecs discovered the abandoned city in the 1400s and named it Teotihuacan, meaning “Birthplace of the Gods”.
- The city rose to great heights and became extremely powerful in the region around 400 CE.
- At its apogee, Teotihuacan was the largest city in Mesoamerica with more than 125,000 people living in it.
- Both animal and human sacrifices were common at Teotihuacan pyramids, originally shrines.
- Nothing much is known of the Teotihuacanos and their lifestyle because of the absence of a written script.
- They were skillful painters for sure – I mean look at their mural collection. Whatever little we know is that many of these people were traders and Teotihuacan was a major exporter of obsidian, a precious stone.
- Researchers believe that Teotihuacan was a multi-cultural society with a mix of Mayan, Oto-Pamean, and Totonac groups.
- The Teotihuacan civilization declined between the 6th and 7th centuries. The city of Teotihuacan was pillaged and burned. Possibly because of an uprising of the lower classes of the society against the elite??
Teotihuacan is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in the history of humankind. This makes Teotihuacan one of the most iconic landmarks in Mexico City and definitely the best reason to visit CDMX.
Keen to learn more about the Ancient City of Teotihuacan? Check out these 14 incredible Teotihuacan facts that’ll totally blow your mind away.
What to do on your Teotihuacan day trip from Mexico City?
There are three ancient Mexican pyramids in Teotihuacan – pyramids of the Sun, the Moon, and the Feathered Serpent.
Beyond the pyramids, the site also features many attractive murals including the famous Jaguar Mural and the mural of the Spider Woman or the Great Goddess.
There are two museums at Teotihuacan – Museo de la Cultura Teotihuacan (on-site Teotihuacan Cultural Museum) and Beatriz de la Fuente Mural Museum.
Even though Teotihuacan is spread over a large area, a fair bit of it is organized around the Avenue of the Dead.
Begin your Teotihuacan tour at the Temple of the Feathered Serpent at the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead and walk north to the Pyramid of the Moon to see the best of the ruins.
Another great option is to begin your day with a hot air balloon ride over the pyramids. You can then follow it up with a DIY or guided tour of the ruins.
Best Teotihuacan Attractions
Avenue of the Dead
I found it easy to understand the city of Teotihuacan by focusing on the Avenue of the Dead which is the main street around which all major attractions lie.
The street runs along a north-south axis and is nearly 1.5 miles (2.5km) long.
The best way to explore Teotihuacan is to walk along the Avenue of Dead and keep checking out the attractions that come along with it.
Here’s how I would recommend you to do it.
- Begin at the southern end of the Avenue of the Dead. Here you’ll find the Feathered Serpent Pyramid and the Citadel (Gate 1).
- Walk north to find smaller ruins such as the Viking Group and the massive Pyramid of the Sun on your right.
- The Teotihuacan Museum is right next to the Sun Pyramid. The patio of 4 temples will be on your left.
- Walk further north to find the ruins of the Palace of Itzpapalotl and the Jaguar Mural.
- At the end of the walkway, on the northern end, you will see the Pyramid of the Moon.
Feathered Serpent Pyramid & Citadel
As you enter the Teotihuacan archaeological complex at Gate 1, you will first notice the Citadel and the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.
The Citadel, or Ciudadela as it is locally known, is a large, enclosed space that could accommodate more than 100,000 people at the same time. Once the religious center of the city, the Citadel played host to festivals, ceremonies, and parades.
Think of the Colosseum in Rome. The Citadel of Teotihuacan held equal significance.
At one end of the Citadel, stands the Feathered Serpent Pyramid or the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, the mythical Serpent God of pre-Columbian times.
The Temple of Feathered Serpent is the smallest pyramid in the Teotihuacan ensemble.
Yet, it is one of the most iconic because of the plumed serpent sculptures that adorn its stairs and walls.
You can climb an adosada platform in front of this pyramid to get a closer look at the carvings.
It is also interesting to note that Quetzalcoatl makes an appearance across several Mesoamerican civilizations including the Mayans. Remember the mysterious tales of Serpent God, Kukulcan at Chichen Itza?
Pyramid of the Sun
As you walk ahead on the Avenue of the Dead, you will come across the massive Pyramid of the Sun on your right.
Believed to have been built around 200 CE, Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Sun is the second-largest pyramid in Latin America and one of the most impressive landmarks in Mexico.
There are several theories as to why Teotihuacanos built a huge Pyramid of the Sun.
One suggests that this was probably a temple for the Mesoamerican God, Huehueteotl. A second theory suggests this was probably a royal burial place. Another proposes that this was probably the place of human origin according to Aztec mythology.
Whatever the reason, it is quite evident that the Pyramid of the Sun was a place of great veneration.
The Sun Pyramid is nearly 250ft high and is not open to climbing anymore.
Teotihuacan Cultural Museum
The museum at Teotihuacan is one of the best things to see while visiting Teotihuacan.
Located right next to the Pyramid of the Sun, it not only provides much-needed respite from the sun but also gives you rich insights into ancient Teotihuacan culture and life.
Plenty of historical artifacts line the display cases with explanations in both English and Spanish.
Even though the museum is small, it does a good job of putting history into perspective.
Palace of Itzpapalotl or Queztalpapalotl
Another impressive but often missed structure at Teotihuacan is the Palace of Itzpapalotl.
The name literally translates to the Palace of Butterflies because of the numerous reliefs of mythical birds that adorn the palace’s inner courtyard.
The Palace of Itzpapalotl is one of the best places to see ancient Teotihuacan murals.
The inner rooms of the Teotihuacan palace are adorned with stunning frescoes. Some of them represent jaguars playing conches and mythical birds watering gardens.
No one knows for sure what purpose the palace served. Some say it was the residence of priests. With so many important temples nearby, I cannot help but agree.
Pyramid of the Moon
At the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead lies the Pyramid of the Moon. It looks like a small replica of the massive Cerro Gordo mountain right behind the pyramid.
The Moon Pyramid was dedicated to the Mesoamerican Goddess of Teotihuacan or the Great Goddess of Fertility, Water, and Life.
Tall and majestic, the pyramid’s appearance often hides the ghastly stories of human and animal sacrifices that once happened here.
The pyramid underwent several reconstructions between 100 – 450 CE and grew larger with time.
The Pyramid of the Moon has been closed for climbing since COVID-19.
Mural tour of Teotihuacan
Now, this is something that I was not aware of when I planned my visit to Teotihuacan from Mexico City. I only found out once I got there and was surprised to see so many wonderful frescoes.
You can actually do a DIY mural tour in Teotihuacan. It includes the Beatriz de la Fuente Museum of Murals, the Palace of Butterflies, and several individual murals in between.
Best Murals at Teotihuacan
- Beatriz de la Fuente Mural Museum: This museum is located a little away from the archaeological site, about 800m from the Palace of Butterflies, near Gate 3. At the Beatriz de la Fuente Mural Museum in Teotihuacan, you will find an amazing collection of 50+ mural pieces that adorned the walls of palaces and other residences 2000 years ago!
For opening hours and details of the mural tour, check the official website.
- Palace of Butterflies: I have already talked about it here.
- Mural of Jaguar: The jaguar is probably the most common animal that makes an appearance in literally every Teotihuacan structure. You will find the most famous jaguar mural while walking on the Avenue of the Dead. Located in a small alcove, between the Pyramid of the Sun and that of the Moon, the majestic beast makes for an excellent photo op.
- Tepantitla Architectural Complex: You’ll find some of the best Teotihuacan murals at the Tepantitla Architectural Complex. Look out for the image of the Great Goddess with a mythical tree emerging from her head.
Hot-Air Balloon Ride over Teotihuacan
Riding on a hot-air balloon over the pyramids of Teotihuacan and getting a bird’s eye view of how this ancient city must have looked 2000 years ago is a must-have experience in Mexico City.
I recently rode the most amazing Teotihuacan hot air balloon with Volare and was spellbound by the sights. Here’s a detailed review of my balloon experience in case you need the deets.
Map of Teotihuacan Attractions
Practical information for planning your Mexico City to Teotihuacan day trip
Teotihuacan Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for Teotihuacan Pyramids is 90 pesos (approx. $5.2).
Admission includes the archaeological site as well as the museums of Teotihuacan culture and murals.
You need to pay an additional 50 pesos ($2.8) if you have a video camera.
Get your skip-the-line tickets for Teotihuacan Pyramids here.
You can also buy them at the box office at any one of the gates in Teotihuacan. But remember that the box office can get pretty crowded if you arrive after 10:00 a.m.
Teotihuacan Opening Hours
The archaeological site of Teotihuacan is open 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m., 365 days a year.
Since the site is open on Mondays when most other CDMX attractions are closed, Teotihuacan is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico City on a Monday.
Mexican citizens and residents have free entry to Teotihuacan on Sundays.
Well, that just means that Teotihuacan is crowded on Sundays and Mondays. Therefore, Tuesday – Saturday are the best days to visit the pyramids of Teotihuacan.
Teotihuacan Entrance Gates
There are 5 gates at the Teotihuacan Archaeological Site.
- Gate 1 is at the southern end of the Avenue of Dead by the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.
- Gate 2 is right in front of the Pyramid of the Sun.
- Gate 3 is near the Pyramid of the Moon.
- Gates 4 & 5 are behind the Pyramid of the Sun.
I highly recommend beginning your day at Gate 1 for a complete south-to-north tour of the archeological site. You can do the same tour (north to south) if you begin at Gate 3.
Best time to visit Teotihuacan
The best time to visit Teotihuacan is early in the morning as soon as the site opens. That way, you will have more favorable weather, and the place relatively empty.
Tour buses usually start arriving after 10:00 am with the highest numbers arriving around noon.
Noon is also extremely uncomfortable for climbing the pyramids since the sun is directly overhead.
You would ideally want to finish the pyramids earlier in the morning and check out the museums at noon.
The best seasons to visit Teotihuacan are spring and fall because temperatures are mild and walking and climbing are pleasant.
The best days to visit Teotihuacan are between Tuesday – Saturday when the site is relatively less crowded than on Sundays and Mondays.
Other helpful tips for visiting Teotihuacan from Mexico City
- Visit early in the morning to avoid the tour crowds.
- Carry enough water, a hat, and sunscreen. It can get terribly hot in Teotihuacan and all that walking can drain you. If you are visiting early in the morning, make sure you have some water with you because the shops around the entrances don’t open up until a little later.
- The three pyramids at Teotihuacan are now closed for climbing. The only structure that you can still climb is the adosada structure in front of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid to get a closer look at the carvings.
- A good pair of walking shoes (preferably with non-slip soles) is essential.
- Have a stash of toilet paper in your bag because you may not find them in the toilets.
- Even though Gate 1 is the perfect place to begin your Teotihuacan day trip, it may not be the least crowded. Most people usually get in at this gate and therefore, souvenir stalls here are pricey. If you wish to enter via a less-crowded gate, then go for Gate 3 (closest to the Pyramid of the Moon).
- If you need to use the toilet at Terminal Norte Bus Station, there are some right behind the ticket counters and cost 6-7 pesos per person. There are several toilets in the archeological zone.
Mexico City to Teotihuacan Travel FAQ
Teotihuacan in Mexico is absolutely worth visiting. It is one of the oldest and most mysterious archaeological sites in the Americas with 3 massive pyramids that date back to 200 CE. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Teotihuacan is an amazing place to learn about the life and culture of the Teotihuacan Civilizations that disappeared without a trace.
Yes, Teotihuacan is open for visitors. They are open 365 days a year, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Be sure to check for updated opening hours on their official website before planning your day trip.
The Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan are located 30 miles (less than 50km) away from Mexico City. Refer to our Aztec ruins guide for more Aztec pyramids near Mexico City.
Teotihuacan is famous for its massive pyramids from 2,000 years ago. The Pyramid of the Sun is the second-largest pyramid in the Americas and the third-largest in the world. Additionally, Teotihuacan is also a great place to learn about the mural arts of the ancient people of Mesoamerica.
The best way to visit Teotihuacan is on a guided tour that includes round-trip transfers from Mexico City as well as the services of a knowledgeable tour guide. You can also take the bus from the Norte Terminal in Mexico City, rent a car, or hire an Uber or DiDi cab to visit Teotihuacan.
The Archeological Site of Teotihuacan opens at 8:00 am in the morning. However, hours may change on special days. So, be sure to check their official website before you go.
Yes, you need tickets to enter Teotihuacan. Tickets are priced at 90 pesos (~$5.2). You can buy Teotihuacan tickets at the ticket counters on-site or online.
Depending on your interests in history and art, you may need anywhere between 2-5 hours at Teotihuacan.
There are five entrance gates at Teotihuacan. I highly recommend entering Teotihuacan at Gate 1 on the southern end so that you can explore the ruins completely from south to north.
No, you cannot climb the pyramids of Teotihuacan any longer. The only structure that you can still climb at Teotihuacan is an adosada platform in front of the Feathered Serpent Pyramid to get a closer look at the plumed serpent carvings.
Mexico City is only 30 miles or 48.5 km away from the Teotihuacan ruins.
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