Mexico City is amazing! High-altitude and high-octane, the Western Hemisphere’s largest and most populous metropolis has an awesome culinary scene, fascinating architecture, and wonderful art galleries and museums. As amazing as Mexico City is, and while visitors should definitely experience all that CDMX has to offer, there’s no denying that large, high-octane, and populous (8.5 million people!) can quickly become overwhelming. Consider briefly escaping the whirl of Mexico City to explore other fascinating towns and sites within easy reach for an awesome day trip. Here some of the best day trips from Mexico City.
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25 miles (40 km) from Mexico City lies the ruins and pyramids of the ancient Mesoamerican city, Teotihuacan. The Teotihuacan complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
Teotihuacan, which translates to “birthplace of the gods”, is anthropologically significant not only because of the pyramids but also because of its complex, multi-family residential compounds, well-preserved murals, and the Avenue of the Dead, the massive boulevard which links the pyramids and the temple.
The complex is known for its two pyramids the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. The Pyramid of the Sun stands 65.5 meters (216 feet) tall is the largest pyramid in Teotihuacan, and the 3rd largest in the world, and is believed to have been built around 200 C.E. by the Indigenous people of the region.
Visitors can climb the approximately 250 steps of either pyramid for panoramic views of the complex and nearby mountains. The complex also houses the Museum of Teotihuacan Culture, which includes artifacts discovered during excavations.
NOTE: Due to Covid, it’s currently not possible to climb the pyramids, though there are a couple of areas open for panoramic shots. Opening times for the complex have also been reduced and much of it isn’t accessible, including the Palace of Quetzapapaloti, which houses the paintings, and the walkway in the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Despite these restrictions, I would argue that it’s still worth going and walking around the complex and seeing the pyramids up close even if you can’t climb to the top.
Please check the website before you go for updated information.
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About 100 miles outside of Mexico City, situated on a steep hillside in the picturesque city of Taxco. With its narrow, winding cobbled streets and opulent architecture Taxco is considered one of the best-preserved colonial cities in Mexico and is listed as a National Historic Monument.
Taxco, which produces 65% of Mexico’s silver, is also known as the “World Silver Capital. There are 6 working mines in the vicinity and an estimated 300 silversmiths who sell their goods in shops throughout town.
The 18th-century church, Parroquia de Santa Prisca y San Sebastían, sits in the main square, Plaza Borda, which is named for the Spaniard José de la Borda who made a fortune from the Taxco silver mines he owned. Commonly referred to as Santa Prisca, the famous rose-colored Baroque church was built between 1751 – 1758 and its stone twin towers are an excellent example of Churrigueresque, the highly ornate baroque architecture popular in Latin American countries. Inside Santa Prisca are several carved images of saints and angels covered in gold leaf, and paintings by Vera Cruz master, Miguel Cabrera.
Taxco is also famous for its Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations. Many events take place around the city, but none as renowned as the Passion Play which takes place on Good Friday and portrays the crucifixion of Christ. This cherished annual tradition is a must-see if you are around during the Easter holidays.
Toluca is located about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Mexico City. Second only to Mexico City in the number of museums and famous for its attractive historical center, Toluca is a great option for those who want to delve deeper into Mexico’s art and culture scene. A few outstanding museum options are Museo de la Acuarela, Centro Cultural Mexiquense and Museo Torres Bicentenario.
Toluca is famous for several of its architectural gems, including Los Portales, a monumental set of 19th-century arches found in the historic center that houses restaurants and shops selling typical Mexican candies and souvenirs, and Catedral de Toluca, which stands as an excellent example of the Neo-Classical style. Then there is Cosmovitral Botanical Garden. While the flora and fauna are all incredible, it is the stunning stained glass that steals the show.
Toluca is also famous for being the chorizo-producing capital of Mexico, so visitors are encouraged to try some of the delicious cured meat while there.
Tickets for the Teotihuacan day trip from Mexico City including options for fast track, fast track access, and transport from Mexico City, Teotihuacan, and Shrine of Guadalupe, Teotihuacan pyramids, and hot air balloon ride with an English-speaking guide can be purchased via Tiqets.
Virtual tours and seminars for Teotihuacan and other Mexico City sites and attractions can be purchased via Context Travel (be sure to use my discount code: unstoppable).
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