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Tour Teotihuacan on a Budget

If you are in Mexico City and want to visit Teotihuacan, you don’t have to go on a guided tour. You can save lots of money by choosing to go on your own. Just 30 miles northeast from Mexico City, visiting Teotihuacan is an easy day trip.  

Top Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan with four pictures of the complex

Teotihuacan History

Established in 200 BC, this ancient Mesoamerican city reached its peak around 500 AD before collapsing around 800 AD. Archeologists believe that the city was multi-ethnic, inhabited by Otomo, Zapotec, Mixtec, Maya and Nahua people. The city was abandoned for centuries before the Aztecs arrived. Often referred to as the “City of the Gods,” this UNESCO World Heritage site offers a glimpse into another time.

 

Bus from Mexico City to Teotihuacan

The easiest way to get there is by bus, which takes a little over an hour. Buses leave every 20 minutes from Terminal Central del Norte station, with the first departure at 6 am until about 2 pm. Tickets are 68 pesos each way (as of May 2024); cash only. There are 2 ATMs at the bus station, but they are notoriously always broken, so please plan ahead and have cash ready. You can buy your return at the same time or wait and buy it on the return bus. Buses usually have air conditioning but will be full heading north to the pyramids.

 

You can take metro line 5 to the bus terminal and follow signs from the metro station. Once you enter the terminal, turn left and go to the farthest gate (number 8). You will see a blue and white sign for tickets to the pyramids.

 

We took the bus from the North Bus Terminal because it is easily marked, but you can also take the bus from the Indio Verdes or Deportivo 18 de Marzo. The pick-up location is a little harder to find from these spots, so I’d recommend just getting off the bus here on the return if these metro lines are better for your commute.

 

You can take an Uber out to Teotihuacan but expect to pay $75-$100 each way. We noticed it was slightly cheaper on the return because drivers simply wanted a fare to go back into the city, but the bus is easy to find from gate 2.

 

Teotihuacan Entrances

There are 5 main gates into Teotihuacan. The bus will drop you at gate 2. Entrance is 95 pesos per person; cash only. There is only one ATM on site (inside gate 1). We made the mistake of thinking credit cards could be used and had to walk 1 km from gate 2 to gate 1. There is a sidewalk that goes all the way down, and I actually would suggest going in gate 1 because you can start on one end of the ruins at the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and make your way to the Sun Pyramid by the Avenue of the Dead (about 2.5 km).  The Feathered Serpent is the only pyramid you can currently climb as the Sun and Moon pyramids have been closed for access.

 


Free App Tour of Teotihuacan

If you are doing a self-guided tour (which I suggest for all budget travelers and those wanting their own pacing), download the Smart Guide app for a free walking tour of Teotihuacan. You can select the Teotihuacan guide while connected to Wi-Fi. When you arrive at the pyramids, the app will use geolocating to offer guides for each spot you pass.

 

Lunch at Teotihuacan

When you visit Teotihuacan, be sure to make a lunch reservation at La Gruta. Located inside a cave, this unique dining experience offers live music at night on the weekends too. We were expecting good ambiance and not so great food, but we were very pleasantly surprised with wonderful dishes. We ordered the Mexican Sampler Platter with chicken mole, steak asada (tasajo), tamale and taquito. It was filling and enough for 2 people to share. We also ordered the pumpkin seed chicken, and the sauce was amazing!!! It comes with rice, and you can request fresh tortillas to mop up all the additional sauce when the meat is gone. They are strict on reservation timing, so give yourself enough time to exit the monument (at Gate 5) and walk to the restaurant, which is about 10 minutes from the gate. Credit cards accepted.

museo de sitio teotihuacan sign

Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan

Arrive Early: Beat the tour crowds by arriving when the site opens at 9 am. It’s much easier to walk in the cooler temperatures too.

Wear Comfortable Shoes: The complex is quite long and spread out, walking 3-5 km throughout the day, so be sure to wear good walking shoes.

Bring Water and Snacks: While there are vendors stationed around the complex, it’s a good idea to bring your own water and snacks. There is almost no shade along the Avenue of the Dead or along the pyramids, so it’s important to stay hydrated.

Use Sun Protection & a Hat: The sun can be intense, so wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for added protection.

 

If you start your morning at gate 1, you can take a couple of hours exploring up to the Sun Pyramid. Exit gate 5 for lunch at La Gruta. After lunch, head back into gate 5 and explore the museum. You can cross the complex to exit at gate 2 and grab the bus back to the city.

 

Pro Tip: Your ticket is good for the whole day. You can come and go as long as you re-enter before 3 pm, which allows you to exit the complex for lunch.

 

If you want to see the pyramids from a truly fantastic viewpoint, come early for a hot air balloon ride.  This Viator tour is the best reviewed for the price and includes transportation from Mexico City.  

 

Enjoy your time exploring the vast plaza. The scale is quite impressive, making it a true jewel of Mexico’s ancient heritage.


 

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Guest
Jun 22
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This restaurant was amazing!! Excellent food & service & ambiance!

It is HOT with no shade but this site is SO WORTH visiting!

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