Looking to book a day trip from Mexico City?
While there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in Mexico City, there are also so many amazing Mexico City day trips you can take within a 1-4 hours drive.
CDMX, as it’s known, is one of the biggest cities on Earth, so getting out for the day almost feels like you’re visiting another country. Also, seeing the pueblos, or small towns in Mexico, offers another insight into this diverse culture and its peoples.
🗺 FREE MAP: Check out the Mexico Map below, as all places mentioned in this article are pinned to the map so you can get an idea of where everything’s located.
As Mexico has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites of any country on the continent, you’ll find quite a few of the Central Mexico UNESCO Sites on this list. There are also historic cities and pueblos magicos, a prestigious designation similar to a UNESCO Site, but exclusive to Mexico.
With some of the Mexico City day trips on this list about four hours away, you could even turn some of these into Mexico City weekend trips. For those who don’t want to venture that far, this list even includes one of the best places to visit in Mexico City itself — which ends up being a day trip in itself.
In short, by the end of this article, you’re going to find the perfect day trip from Mexico City that will make your CDMX trip feel enriched. You’ll also find some of the best tours in Mexico City to these places, or instructions on how to visit via public transportation.
Ready to find out about the best day trips to all the amazing cities near Mexico City? Let’s get to it, starting with the most famous pyramids in Mexico — the Teotihuacan pyramids, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that also happens to be located in one of the Mexico pueblos magicos.
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DAY TRIP FROM MEXICO CITY MAP
As Central Mexico is a larger area, the Mexico City day trip you decide may come down to location. Each of the 15 unique options of places to take a day trip from Mexico City mentioned in this article have been pinned to the handy map of Mexico below, so you’ll have a visual idea of their location.
Besides physical location, these are all safe places to visit in Mexico. However, as no place on Earth is 100% safe, check out the Mexico Travel FAQ section at the end of the article for Mexico safety tips after you decide on places in Mexico to visit, and a FREE Printable Mexico Packing Guide.
Renting a car in Mexico
The easiest, fastest and most convenient way to go on a day trip from Mexico City is in your own private rental car.
While driving in Mexico is considered quite safe, there’s the obvious caveat to that: You’ll be unfamiliar with Mexico driving laws!
For your convenience, there are 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips below to help you with how to drive in Mexico.
For a rental, Discover Cars is a great company that compares prices at numerous Mexico City car rental agencies to get you the best price.
🚗💨 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips
1. Rent with a reputable company! As they say, “you get what you pay for.” For a reliable Cancun car rental company, go with Discover Cars.
2. Avoid driving at night. When you live in Mexico long enough, you start to realize many people simply avoid driving at night, if they can. If you do drive at night, stick to only main roads and highways.
3. Always use the couta, or toll, roads. Yes, they cost money, but they are much better maintained and generally considered safer. Pro tip: Bring cash for the tolls.
4. Download an offline map. Your signal will go in and out as you travel through rural areas of the Yucatan Peninsula, so download an offline map from Google or Maps.Me. You’ll also want to download some podcasts and music while you’re getting that map.
5. Speed limit signs are in kilometers per hour, not miles per hour. You don’t have to worry about conversion math here; just make sure the speed limit sign number matches your speedometer number.
6. Do not use your cell phone while you’re driving. Not only is this unsafe, it is also illegal. In fact, even having your phone in your hand is a ticket-able offense, so try not to even hold your phone while driving.
7. The rumors are true about the cops expecting bribes. If the cops pull you over, and they only will if you give them a reason to, they will expect a cash “payment” in exchange for not ticketing you.
8. Mexican roads are notorious for their abundant amount of topes (speed bumps). Make sure you keep your eyes on the road, as topes don’t always have signs alerting you to them.
9. Mexico’s gas stations are not self-serve. When you stop for gas, an attendant will pump it for you and take your payment. These people don’t actually work for the gas station, and live off tips. When they finish, it’s customary to tip them at least $10-20 pesos ($0.50-$1).
10. Mexico’s traffic lights go from green to yellow, to flashing yellow for a few seconds, to finally, a red light.
11. Make sure you purchase Mexican car insurance. You are generally not covered in any way through your U.S. company when you drive in any other country.
12. Most travel insurance policies cover driving. In case you’re wondering, Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?… The answer is hell yes! There’s a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important — maybe even more so when traveling during the pandemic.
MEXICO CITY DAY TRIPS: UNESCO SITES
What is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Before explaining a World Heritage Site, you might be wondering What is UNESCO? The acronym UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is a sub-organization within the United Nations, or UN, that focuses specifically on education, science and culture.
World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. —via UNESCO
There are more than 1,100 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in total, with 35 of them in Mexico. This is the largest number of any country on the entire Americas Continent — and in fact, Mexico has the eighth most of any country in the world.
Six Mexico UNESCO Sites are featured below, Teotihuacan, San Miguel de Allende, Xochimilco, Puebla, Morelia and Queretaro. These all make great day trips from Mexico City for their unique beauty and historic value.
RELATED ARTICLE ✈️ 4 Days in Mexico City: The Ultimate CDMX Travel Itinerary
🥃 BOOK THIS TOUR: Teotihuacan Early Access & Liquor Tasting
Day Trip from Mexico City to Teotihuacan
1. Teotihuacan Pyramids
📍 Teotihuacan is located in the pueblo magico of San Juan Teotihuacan, in Estado de Mexico (Mexico state), about 75 minutes from Mexico City.
Planning to visit Teotihuacan (pronounced tay-oh-tee-wok-on) from Mexico City? This is one of the most common Mexico City day trips, and one of those bucket list Mexico places so many hope to see.
Historians date this incredible construction as early as 300 BC, making it well worth a visit and a place in your Mexico City itinerary, to get up close with Mexico’s incredible history. Teotihuacan has been used by various pre-colombian civilizations, from the Teotihuacanos to the Aztecs.
🎈 BOOK THIS TOUR: Hot-Air Balloon Flight Over the Teotihuacan Pyramids
As this UNESCO World Heritage Site and marvel of history and architecture is so important and interesting, the best way to visit Teotihuacan is with a guide. While it’s possible to see on your own, someone who understands the complexities of this ancient marvel will help you understand why Teotihuacan is such a special place.
For those who want to climb the Teotihuacan pyramids, it is permitted to do so. While the trek isn’t easy, you can climb the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl (pronounced ketz-al-co-ah, the Aztec Feathered Serpent God), the Pyramid of the Moon and Pyramid of the Sun, the largest of the three.
When visiting Teotihuacan, make sure to wear eco-friendly sunscreen and bring your reusable LifeStraw Water bottle, which also filters the water to help you to NOT get sick in Mexico! You’ll also want appropriate footwear, as even if you’re not climbing the pyramids, the site is large with plenty to do and see.
Make sure to pack your camera to take plenty of photos and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the pyramids, Teotihuacan Museum and also the Sculpture Garden. It’s best to arrive early in the morning so you can avoid the crowds and the heat, and plan to spend one full day here.
Submitted by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
DAY TRIP FROM MEXICO CITY TO San Miguel de Allende
2. San Miguel de Allende
📍 San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is located in Guanajuato state, about 3.5 hours from Mexico City by car.
San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful colonial town with a very international feel. In the past decade or so, many people from Europe, Canada, and the U.S. have fallen under its spell and relocated to San Miguel for its moderate climate, authentic Mexican cultural vibe and gorgeous esthetics.
Things to do in San Miguel de Allende
Located in Centro Historico (Historic Downtown), you’ll find the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. If you’ve ever seen photos of San Miguel, you’re probably familiar with this iconic pink-colored Gothic church from the 17th Century — one of the most beautiful churches in Mexico.
The parroquia is just one building surrounding El Jardin (the Garden), located in the Zocalo, or the main Town Square. Sit on a bench and enjoy people watching in this beautifully-manicured garden, as street vendors walk by and the sounds of live mariachi music fills the air.
🏰 BOOK THIS TOUR: San Miguel de Allende Day Trip from Mexico City
When it’s time for a snack, head to one of the best restaurants in San Miguel de Allende, Chocolates y Churros San Agustin, located next to the parroquia. Here, you can sample the most beloved sweet treat in San Miguel, churros and hot chocolate to dip them in, as well as other Mexican favorites.
As San Miguel is quaint, you’re within walking distance of everything from the beautiful Biblioteca Publica (Public Library) to the picturesque Instituto Allende (Allende Institute). For shopping, head to the open-air San Miguel de Allende Mercado de Artesanias (Artisan Market) to buy Mexican folk art souvenirs.
If you want to venture outside of town a bit, head to the El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, and the two best hot springs in San Miguel de Allende, Spa La Gruta and Escondido Place. You’ll need a rental car to access both, or you can take a taxi or Uber.
Submitted by Džangir of Dr. Jam Travels
How to get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende
To travel to San Miguel de Allende via bus, head to Terminal del Norte (North Terminal), and buy a ticket to the Central de Autobuses de San Miguel de Allende. As this is a longer trip at close to 3.5 hours each way, opt for the luxury class bus.
Prices vary, but expect to pay about $25USD each way to visit the picturesque town of San Miguel.
🏰 Looking to stay overnight? Book one of the best hotels in San Miguel de Allende, like the beautiful Apapacho Boutique Hotel, Casa Mia Suites and exclusive Live Aqua San Miguel de Allende Resort, just outside of downtown.
Day Trip from Mexico City to Xochimilco
3. Xochimilco (Colorful Boats)
📍 Xochimilco is located in the southern part of Mexico City, in the historic Xochimilco neighborhood, located about one hour from Centro Historico (Historic Downtown).
Though technically located within CDMX city limits, Xochimilco is certainly one of the day trips in Mexico City you can take. Xochimilco (pronounced so-shee-mill-co) is located in the south of the city, about an hour from Centro Historico, so it can feel like a day trip.
One of the best places to visit in Mexico City, a trip to Xochimilco is a fun way to spend the day. Depending on how long of a boat cruise you take, it can be a full day trip in Mexico City, or you can combine with a visit to the nearby Coyoacan neighborhood.
This unique part of CDMX can feel like a totally different world. In fact, it can even have two worlds within it — one part is lively and busy with multicolored boats playing mariachi music, and in another part, it’s quiet and tranquil with lots of nature and no other people around.
🛶 BOOK THIS PRIVATE TOUR: Frida Kahlo Museum, Coyoacan, and Xochimilco
The more popular part of Xochimilco is the one you’ve likely seen online, with lively parties on the gondola-style boats, trajineras (trah-he-ner-as).
At Xochimilco, one of the most popular places in Mexico City, you’ll hop on a brightly-colored trajinera and make your way through the canals as boats with mariachi bands float by to serenade you. There are also boats selling tacos, tamales and even an ancient alcoholic beverage, pulque (pull-kay).
To visit Xochimilco sustainably, consider a tour to the chinampas (chin-am-pas). These are the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco that have been maintained by local farmers for centuries, since the Aztecs hand-dug these canals.
Although you’ll have to visit the chinampas with a tour company, it’s a way to see a sleepy and natural side to Xochimilco, rather than the party side. While cruising down the river with no one else around, you will hardly believe you’re in one of the biggest cities on Earth.
Submitted by Rose of Where Goes Rose
DAY TRIP FROM MEXICO CITY TO Puebla
📍 Puebla City, Mexico, is the capital of Puebla state, located about three hours from Mexico City by car.
Puebla is among the best proper cities near Mexico City you’ll want to visit. It is actually Mexico’s fifth largest city, and makes a fantastic escape from the country’s sprawling capital to somewhere a more manageable size.
It is also one of the only places in Mexico that hosts a large-scale Cinco de Mayo festival. If you’re visiting in early-May, you’ll definitely want to add a Mexico City to Puebla day trip to your CDMX itinerary to experience this festive time in Puebla City.
Things to do in Puebla
Spend some time walking around in Puebla’s Centro Historico (Historic Center), a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its beautiful colonial architecture. Many buildings are adorned with stunning talavera tiles, Mexico’s famed blue and white tiles, that are produced right here in Puebla.
Thanks to the flat terrain and wide sidewalks, the Puebla city center is very walkable. It’s home to a plethora of ornate churches, shops, museums and cafes. Perhaps the most photographed of all Puebla’s beautiful places, be sure to stop by the Callejon de los Sapos, located on Calle 6 Sur.
This picturesque street is lined with gorgeous, brightly-painted buildings, outdoor cafes and adorable shops. Here, you can pick up souvenirs like jewelry, local handicrafts, talavera pottery, and all kinds of treasures in one of the Puebla antique shops.
💒 BOOK THIS TOUR: Puebla and Cholula Full-Day Tour
Puebla Mexican Food
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, pop into El Mural de los Poblanos, known as the best restaurant in Puebla. Here, you can order the city’s signature dish, mole poblano, which has pre-hispanic origins. Mole (pronounced mole-lay), used as both a sauce and a marinade, is Mexico’s national dish.
Puebla might not have the name recognition of Oaxaca in the foodie department, but its cuisine is among the country’s best. When visiting, don’t miss out on all must eats and best Puebla food:
- Cemitas: (pronounced sem-meet-as) gigantic sandwiches that contain pretty much everything;
- Tacos arabes: these “Middle Eastern tacos” are a cross between tacos al pastor and a gyro;
- Molotes: cigar-shaped fried masa dough stuffed with everything from cheese to huitlacoche; and,
- Chalupas: open-face tacos that bear no resemblance to a Taco Bell chalupa! Chalupas are the most famous Puebla street food, and you can only get them at night.
🎒Pro Tip: For those traveling and backpacking Mexico on a budget, Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca make three great stops through the country’s southern states.
Cholula pueblo magico
Nearby Cholula pueblo magico (magic town) is located less than 30 minutes outside of Puebla’s city center. Within this charming village, you’ll find the Great Pyramid of Cholula, which happens to be the world’s largest pyramid, by volume.
The pyramid is only partially excavated, and you can tour the interior via subterranean tunnels. It is located in the Cholula Archeological Zone, beneath the iconic, yellow Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios (Church of Our Lady of Remedies), the most photographed of Cholula’s many churches.
Submitted by Janine of Janine In the World
Puebla & Cholula Tours
Day Trip from Mexico City to Morelia
📍 Morelia, Mexico, is the capital of Michoacan state, located about four hours from Mexico City by car.
Morelia is the capital of Michoacan state, and the 22nd largest city in Mexico. At four hours west of Mexico City, Morelia is a great day or overnight trip with gorgeous-yet-affordable hotels like the stunning Hotel de la Soledad, known as the best hotel in Morelia.
This is one of the most European looking cities in Mexico, with classic architecture and beautiful stone fountains scattered throughout the town.
While so many of Mexico’s colonial cities are painted in varying bright colors, Morelia’s buildings are all kept in their natural stone. These instantly recognizable and well preserved 17th and 18th Century buildings are built out of a characteristic pinkish-colored stone from this part of Mexico.
Things to do in Morelia
One of the most iconic buildings, located right in the Historic Center of Morelia, is the beautiful baroque Catedral de Morelia. Head to the Plaza de Armas to see the Morelia Cathedral, beautiful both inside and out. The Plaza de Armas park makes a nice place to relax for a bit in this bustling city.
Besides the cathedral, the one-mile long Acueducto de Morelia (Morelia Aqueduct), which was built in the 1700s, is one of the oldest sites in town. It is beautiful during the day, but head there at night to its 250 limestone arches lit up.
Head to the Mercado de Artesinias y Dulces (Candy and Crafts Market) to find souvenirs, and as Morelia’s is off the main tourism trail, this Mexico hidden gem is much more affordable than Mexico City. While there, try some of Michoacan’s famous ate (pronounced ah-tay) fruit candy.
Right around the mercado, you can sample the delicious and authentic foods from Michoacan state, like carnitas, and Morelia specifically, like gazpacho, a fruit, cheese and chili mixture. There’s also corundas, a delicious triangular-shaped tamale, you’ll want to try.
How to get from Mexico City to Morelia
To get to Morelia, you can drive your rental car or take the bus. For the bus, head to either Terminal del Norte (North Terminal) or Taxqueña Terminal del Sur (South Terminal), and buy a ticket to the Central de Autobuses de Morelia. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $20USD each way.
DAY TRIP FROM MEXICO CITY TO Queretaro
📍 Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico, is the capital of Queretaro state, located about three hours from Mexico City by car.
Santiago de Queretaro, or simply Queretaro (pronounced care-uh-tare-oh), has long been overshadowed by it’s colorful neighboring towns of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato. However, Queretaro is worth visiting in its own right.
As it’s located about 45 minutes closer to Mexico City than San Miguel de Allende, you’ll have more time to wander this colorful and historic town. Known for colorful buildings, fancy fountains and flower-covered houses, get your camera ready for Queretaro!
Queretaro Pueblos Magicos
Besides the capital city, Queretaro state has some other noteworthy places and pueblos magicos (magic towns). See the world’s third-largest monolith in the city of Bernal, and enjoy the Wine & Cheese Route in Tequisquiapan, Mexico’s second largest wine-producing region behind Valle de Guadalupe.
🚌💨 To see the both of these magical towns in one day, book The Wonders of Queretaro: Private Tour from Mexico City!
Things to do in Queretaro
As its Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) is quaint and pedestrian-friendly, you’ll want to spend some time strolling the streets and taking photos. While walking, don’t miss the prettiest streets in Queretaro: Andador Libertad, Calle Francisco I. Madero, Calle Jose Maria Pino Suarez, Andador Matamoros and Calle Cinco de Mayo.
When it’s time for a walking break and a snack, head to some of the best restaurants in Queretaro, which also happens to be located in very pretty plazas. In Plaza Fundadores, head to La Vieja Varsovia, and in Plaza de Armas, try El Meson de Chucho El Roto.
If you’re looking to try some local beer, head to the Queretaro beer garden. Located inside an old textile factory, the Jardin de Cerveza Hercules is a fun place to eat, drink, people watch and be merry in historic downtown Queretaro.
Love museums? Queretaro has quite a few, including what’s arguably the best museum in Queretaro, the Museo Regional de Queretaro. This beautiful building, once a cathedral, now houses an interesting collection of pre-columbian artifacts, sculptures and pottery.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things in this city is the Queretaro Aqueduct. Built in the early-1700s, the impressive Acueducto de Queretaro has 75 arches. It is beautiful during the day and at night when it’s lit up with different colored lights.
How to get from Mexico City to Queretaro
To get to Queretaro, you can drive your rental car or take the bus. For the bus, head to either Terminal del Norte (North Terminal) or Taxqueña Terminal del Sur (South Terminal), and buy a ticket to Terminal de Autobuses de Santiago de Queretaro. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $15USD each way.
MEXICO CITY DAY TRIPS: PUEBLOS MAGICOS
What is a pueblo magico?
Before getting to this list that details Mexico City trips to pueblos magicos, let’s clear up the What are pueblos magicos? question. Each year, the Mexican Tourism Secretary designates certain pueblos (small towns) in the country as “magical” because they have qualities including unique folklore and amazing natural beauty.
In short, Mexico’s magic towns are similar to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much like the UNESCO designation, it is considered an honor for a town to be proclaimed as a Mexico pueblo magico.
There are about 130 such towns in Mexico, with the list re-evaluated on a yearly basis to make sure all towns are still compliant. For example, a few years back, San Miguel de Allende was removed from the list because the population grew to the point it could no longer be considered a pueblo, or small town.
You’ll find info about seven Mexico pueblos magicos below — Bernal, Tequisquiapan, Taxco, Huasca de Ocampo, Real del Monte (AKA Mineral de Monte), Valle de Bravo and Tepoztlan — which all make great day trips from Mexico City.
RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 150 Best Non-Touristy Things to Do in Mexico City
Day Trip from Mexico City to bernal
7. Pena de Bernal
📍 Bernal, Mexico, is located in Queretaro state, about three hours from Mexico City by car.
The small pueblo magico of San Sebastian Bernal is well known for its Peña de Bernal, the third tallest monolith in the world at 1420-feet (433m). Bernal is worth visiting for those who enjoy hiking outdoors — though even if you don’t hike the Peña de Bernal, you can admire it towering over the landscape.
Bernal offers the chance to see a beautiful, authentic, off the beaten path Mexico travel destination. The town is famous as a holistic healing destination, and many believe there’s an energy vortex in Bernal. It is a popular year-round Mexico City day trip, but many people head there during the Spring Equinox.
Tequisquiapan: Mexico Wine & Cheese Route
Located not far from Bernal, many also head to another pueblo magico to embark on Central Mexico’s Wine and Cheese Route, one of the best day trips from Mexico City.
The nearby town of Tequisquiapan is well known for many vineyards and cheese caves, and the Cheese and Wine in Tequisquiapan from Mexico City is a great option for foodies and wine lovers.
Among the best places on the Mexico Wine and Cheese Route, don’t miss the Finca Sala Vive by Freixenet vineyard, and Cava de Queseos Bocanegra cheese cave.
Things to do in Bernal
If you’re ambitious enough to climb Peña de Bernal, be sure to wear a hat, put on sunscreen, and bring water and food — as it’s a tough, uphill climb. If you do want to hike up, know there are several stopping points along the way, so you never have to go beyond your comfort level.
One of the stops you need to make is the Capilla de las Animas chapel located at one of its high points. It’s a wonderful architectural structure, where you’ll also get a scenic view of the town and the natural landscapes surrounding it.
The iconic yellow Templo de San Sebastian is one of the must see places in Bernal. There are also great museums in Bernal like the Museo de la Mascara (Mask Museum) with beautiful cultural masks, Museo del Cine (Cinema Museum) dedicated to Bernal filmmaker Rosalio Solanoone, and Museo de las Animas (Souls Museum), exhibiting maps and oil paintings from the time of Bernal’s founding.
Submitted by Martin of Travel Explorator
Pena de Bernal Tours
Day Trip from Mexico City to taxco
📍 Taxco, Mexico, is located in Guerrero state, about three hours from Mexico City by car.
Taxco de Alarcon, usually just called Taxco, has also been called the most beautiful pueblo magico in Mexico. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Taxco certainly doesn’t disappoint in the esthetics department.
Located up in the Sierra Madres, this hilly mountain town has interesting vistas from basically anywhere you’re standing or its iconic white buildings and peach-colored Spanish tile roofs. It is also well known for its gorgeous silver art and jewelry, and as one of the few towns still mining silver in Mexico today.
Things to do in Taxco
As this is a hilly town, a great first stop might be to take one of the vintage white VW bugs, Taxco’s taxis, up to the Parroquia de Guadalupe. From this pretty church, you’ll get some of the best views of Taxco, and from there you can walk down the windy cobblestone streets of this town — instead of up them.
Taxco has a lot of charming callejones, or narrow alleyways. These adorable streets are beautiful, do all look similar, so be mindful you don’t get lost. As you walk downhill, make your way back to the Zocalo (Town Square) to see the iconic Parroquia de Santa Prisca y San Sebastián (Church of Santa Prisca).
After walking for a bit, head to the El Adobe restaurant in the Zocalo next to the church, and see if you can snag one of the window tables. If not, head to another restaurant with an outdoor patio, like La Parroquia Restaurant & Bar and Rosa Mexicano, because Taxco is all about the views.
As this is a silversmith town by trade, check out the many silver shops in Taxco to buy something made of silver, and even see some of the artisans working on their craft.
If you’re looking for other souvenirs, head to the outdoor Mercado de Artesanias (Artisan Market) next to the church.
One of the most must see Taxco sites, and a favorite among visitors, is the Cacahuamilpa Caves in Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park.
Venture underground and journey for about 1.5-miles through this cave lit up with colorful lights that reflect off unique geologic formations.
Day Trip from Mexico City to Huasca de Ocampo
9. Huasca de Ocampo (Basaltic Prisms)
📍 Huasca de Ocampo, Mexico, is located in Hidalgo state, about two hours from Mexico City by car.
The Basalt Prisms of Huasca de Ocampo are truly spectacular, and one of Mexico’s most interesting natural wonders. In fact, back in 2007, the Mexican Council for Touristic Promotion included the basaltic prisms on their list of the 13 Best Natural Wonders of Mexico.
Ranging in height from 75- to 150-feet-tall, these giant black stone columns, located in the Santa Maria Regla Canyon, are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. If the basaltic prisms weren’t enough, there are a total of four beautiful waterfalls cascading over them in some parts, feeding the San Antonio Regla dam below.
These giant rocks were formed millions of years ago during the Pleistocene Period, by the slow-cooling of volcanic lava. Rock column formations like these are very rare, but can be seen in a few other places in the world including Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
While at Huasca de Ocampo, start with a walk across the suspension bridge that crosses over the rock formations. Afterwards, hike down to the bottom of the ravine, where you can actually touch the prisms and the waterfalls that run over them.
Located next to the prisms, head to the 18th Century Hacienda of Santa Maria Regla, one of the oldest haciendas in Mexico still standing. It is a gorgeous estate, and was used as a filming location in The Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Real de Monte
Besides Huasca de Ocampo, the state of Hidalgo has another pueblo magico worth visiting. Real de Monte, sometimes called Mineral del Monte, was once one of the biggest mining towns in Mexico. You can still see the Acosta Mine to this day.
Head to the Plaza Principal (Town Square) to see the beautiful Spanish colonial buildings and old churches, and to sample a local delicacy called paste (pronounced past-tay) from a Paste Shop.
These hand pies are similar to the Cornish pasty from Cornwall, England. As many Real de Monte residents trace their lineage back to Cornwall, this town has been dubbed “Little Cornwall.”
Huasca de Ocampo & Real de Monte Tours
Day Trip from Mexico City to Valle de Bravo
10. Valle de Bravo
📍 Valle de Bravo, Mexico, is located in Estado de Mexico (Mexico state), about 2.5 hours from Mexico City by car.
Valle de Bravo is a town on Lake Avandaro, located west of Mexico City. The beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains, makes boating and water sports very popular Valle de Bravo things to do, but don’t forget to look up to see all the hang gliders descending back to land.
The Santuario Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Reserve, a habitat for millions (maybe even billions) of migratory butterflies, is located just north of town. This sanctuary is part of the larger UNESCO World Heritage Property Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico.
In the spring, these butterflies begin an eight month migration that takes them all the way to Eastern Canada and back, during which time four successive generations are born and die. How they find their way back to their overwintering site remains a mystery. —UNESCO
Things to do in Valle de Bravo
Spend some time strolling the cobblestone streets, lined with well-preserved colonial buildings. The beautiful Plaza de la Independencia park houses the 17th Century Parroquia de San Francisco de Asis church, and many great cafes here to get a bite to eat, like La Estacion.
Valle de Bravo has many beautiful places out in nature to explore, like Cascadas Velo de Novia, a waterfall you can walk right up to at the end of a well-maintained trail. The Mirador La Pena overlook, located high atop Valle de Bravo, provides unparalleled 360° views of the town and lake.
A boat tour around the lake is another great option, and of course, head to the Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary if you visit in butterfly season. The season runs from mid-November to April, but the best time to see butterflies in Mexico is from January to early-March.
Visitors looking for a unique experience, can try out paragliding in Valle de Bravo. Jumps are done in tandem with a professional, so you can just enjoy the views as you glide back to land.
Valle de Bravo Tours
Day Trip from Mexico City
📍 Tepoztlan, Mexico, is located in Morelos state, about one hour from Mexico City by car.
Looking to go off the beaten path near Mexico City? Look no further than Tepoztlan in the state of Morelos, located about an hour from Mexico City. The mountain town of Tepoztlan is one of Mexico’s 130 or so pueblos magicos (magic towns).
Tepoztlan is one of the spiritual epicenters of Central Mexico, and many visit for a day trip, or weekend wellness getaway. Here, you’ll find many beautiful spa resorts, like Hotel Boutique Casa Fernanda, Hotel Amomoxtli and Hotel Posada Del Tepozteco, the best hotels in Tepoztlan.
Things to do in Tepoztlan
For many, no trip the Tepoztlan pueblo magico is complete without climbing way up into the mountains to see the Tepozteco Pyramid. This mysterious Aztec pyramid, located high atop the town, is dedicated to Tepoztēcatl, the Aztec god of pulque (pronounced pull-kay).
🍹 What is pulque? An ancient alcoholic drink made from the fermented agave plant, like tequila and mezcal, and very common to Central Mexico.
While not everyone appreciates pulque’s tangy taste and thicker texture, do make sure to at least try some pulque in Tepoztlan. You can try it in its original flavor, or sweetened with things like mango and coconut to cut the tangy taste.
You’ll find pulque sold on the street by local vendors, or at the City Market of Tepoztlan.
Besides pulque, you’ll also find vendors in this bustling and colorful mercado (market) selling tepoznieves, an ice cream/fruit sorbet hybrid first made in Tepoztlan, and the most famous food in Morelos state, cecina, a dried/cured steak.
For a truly unique culinary experience, be on the lookout in the Tepoztlan Market for prehispanic foods, like tlaltequeadas, (veggie pancakes), itacates (fried corn cakes), alaches and quelites (dark green veggies).
How to get from Mexico City to Tepoztlan
The trip to Tepoztlan is easy via rental car, an Uber for about $50USD each way, or a bus for about $10USD each way. For the bus, head to either Terminal del Norte (North Terminal) or Taxqueña Terminal del Sur (South Terminal), and buy a ticket to Terminal OCC Central de Tepoztlan.
MEXICO CITY DAY TRIPS: HISTORIC SITES & CITIES
Day Trip from Mexico City to Pachuca
📍 Pachuca de Soto, Mexico, is the capital of Hidalgo state, located about 90 minutes from Mexico City by car.
When looking for places to visit outside of Mexico City that offer a more local and authentic experience, Pachuca de Soto, usually just called Pachuca, must be on your list. History, colors and culture are three things this city is not short of, so get your camera ready to capture your favorite scenes.
Located in a small valley, Pachuca (pronounced pa-choo-kah) is noted for three things: its charming fluorescent-colored buildings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the picturesque City Center.
Pachuca is the capital city of Hidalgo state, known for having the best barbacoa (barbecue) tacos in all of Mexico. When visiting, also make sure to try some authentic Hidalgo barbacoa at some of the best restaurants in Pachuca, like Restaurante La Blanca and Taqueria Guerrero, both in downtown.
RELATED ARTICLE 🌮 50 of the Best Tacos in Mexico City + Free Map
Things to do in Pachuca
Back in 2015, more than 200 homes in the hilly Palmitas neighborhood, one of the most depressed areas in Pachuca, became the colorful canvas of local artists. The city-wide mural spans about 12.5 miles, and after this colorful facelift, more than 450 families returned to live in pretty Palmitas.
In Centro Historico, Historic Downtown Pachuca, head to see the landmarks sites like Cuartel del Arte. House in the Ex-Convento de San Francisco (Ex-Convent of Saint Francisco), this cultural center is home to a beautiful baroque church, art gallery and Fototeca Nacional Photo Library.
The Reloj Monumental, or Monumental Clock, is a can’t-miss neoclassical tower in the main square, Plaza Independencia. This 130-foot-tall clock tower, the city’s icon, was donated by an English miner — and has machinery identical to that of the famed Big Ben clock tower in London.
If you’re visiting Pachuca in your rental car, head just outside of town to the Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque, or Tembleque Aqueduct. This 30-mile-long aqueduct, constructed from 1554-1571 under the guidance of a Franciscan friar named Padre Francisco de Tembleque, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
All in all, Pachuca is an off the beaten path Mexico travel destination that will leave you in awe of its colors and history. It makes an interesting day trip for anyone wanting to explore the outskirts of Mexico City, and the parts of Central Mexico so few will.
How to get from Mexico City to Pachuca
The trip to Pachuca is easy via your rental car, or an Uber or taxi for about $50USD each way. If you’re traveling in a group, splitting this fare is often more cost effective and faster than taking the bus.
For solo travelers and those familiar with bus travel in Mexico, head to the Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente (TAPO Terminal), and buy a ticket to Central de Autobuses de Pachuca. There are direct buses, and the trip is 90 minutes and costs about $10USD each way.
Contributed by Daniel of Layer Culture
Day Trip from Mexico City to Cuernavaca
📍 Cuernavaca, Mexico, is located in Morelos state, about 75 minutes from Mexico City by car.
Cuernavaca is a super easy Mexico City day trip, perfect for lovers of history, architecture, nature and art. As many of the old haciendas have been turned into resorts, you can stay in luxury for relatively little money at Anticavilla Cuernavaca Hotel and Hacienda San Gabriel de las Palmas.
Cuernavaca is the capital of the Morelos state of Mexico, often called the “City of Eternal Spring” due to its lovely, balmy weather. The city has gorgeous views of the Tepozteco Mountains, and plenty to do on a day trip from CDMX.
Things to do in Cuernavaca
A few must see Cuernavaca sites include the Palacio de Cortes, the palace where Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes lived in the 16th Century. Today, this beautiful home-turned-museum, officially known as the Cuauhnahuac Regional Museum, boasts beautiful murals by unrivaled Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
There’s also the Cuernavaca Cathedral, a 14th Century monastery complex, and bustling outdoor markets, like Mercado Adolfo Lopez Mateos. For art and jewelry, head to Mercado de Artesanias y Plata (AKA Handcrafts Plaza) to purchase artisan pieces and souvenirs.
Outdoors lovers will enjoy exploring the nearby Lagunas de Zempoala National Park, a natural protected area with seven lagoons. In town, spend some time just strolling around, but make sure to visit the pretty Jardin Borda (Borda Garden).
Submitted by Tegan and Alex of Why Not Walk
Day Trip from Mexico City to Tula
14. Tula (Tollan Ruins)
📍 Tula de Allende, Mexico, is located in Hidalgo state, about two hours from Mexico City by car.
Mexico is a traveler’s paradise, with of course, gorgeous yet cheap Caribbean beaches, but also bustling cities with fascinating history, exciting culture, of course, utterly delicious food! If you’re traveling to Mexico City, you already know the country’s capital personifies all of these traits.
Beyond the city itself, spend some time exploring the surrounding areas, which can be just as fascinating as the capital itself. One of the best day trips from Mexico City is the city of Tula, home to the remains of Tollan.
The ruins of the former Toltec civilization’s capital city are located about 60 miles north of CDMX, in the city of Tula de Allende, or just Tula. During the 9th-12th Centuries, Tollan (present-day Tula) was once one of the largest cities in all Mesoamerica.
🗿 BOOK THIS TOUR: Tula And Tepotzotlán Private Day Tour
Unlike most of the ruins in central Mexico, which have closer ties to the Aztec civilization, the ruins of Tollan are thought to have been influenced by the Mayans. The central focus at the site, colossal statues known as the Atlantes, can be seen on the platform of the temple pyramid.
However, there are other pyramids on the site, including a five-story high one upon which used to stand the Temple of the Morning Star. An utterly captivating visit, especially for history buffs, Tollan should definitely be on your list of day trips from Mexico City.
Submitted by Alice of Adventures of Alice
How to get from Mexico City to Tula de Allende
To travel to Tula de Allende via bus, head to Terminal del Norte (North Terminal), and buy a ticket to the Central de Autobuses de Tula de Allende, the main bus station in town. From there, you can take a taxi or Uber to the Tollan Ruins.
Prices vary, but expect to pay about $8USD each way to visit the historic town of Tula by bus.
Day Trip from Mexico City to Iztaccihuatl
15. Iztaccihuatl (Volcano)
📍 Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park is located in three states, with Iztaccihuatl volcano in Estado de Mexico (Mexico state).
Flying into Mexico City, you might have noticed the two large, snow-covered mountains next to one another. These two, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, are the second and third tallest peaks in Mexico, respectively, each at about 17,500-feet.
Iztaccihuatl (pronounced is-ta-see-wa-tel), is a dormant volcanic mountain popular with hikers, and Popocatepetl (po-po-ka-te-pet-tel) is an active stratovolcano.
The two are located in Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, a 155 sq. mile park spanning three states — Puebla, Morelos and Estado de Mexico.
The national park itself is a nice escape out into nature from bustling Mexico City, but many visit to climb Iztaccihuatl and enjoy the stunning views of the Valley of Mexico below. While summiting is reserved for advanced climbers with mountaineering experience, hikers of all levels can make it to different parts.
HOW TO GET FROM MEXICO CITY TO IZTACCIHUATL Volcano
The easiest option is to take the Full-Day Volcano Hiking Tour. If you’d rather go on your own, you can drive your rental car to Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, but be sure to be back in Mexico City before the sun goes down for safety reasons.
To take the bus, head to Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente (TAPO Terminal), and buy a ticket to Sendero. From there, you can take a taxi or Uber to Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $7USD each way for the bus.
🏔 BOOK THIS TOUR: Full-Day Volcano Hiking Tour
Day Trip from Mexico City to tlaxcala
16. BONUS: Tlaxcala (Firefly Sanctuary)
📍 Tlaxcala, Mexico, the smallest state in the country, is located about two hours from Mexico City by car.
For being the smallest state in Mexico, there are quite a few things to do in Tlaxcala (pronounced tuh-lack-scall-uh).
Tlaxcala has some of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Mexico, like the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. This important historical church has even been nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There’s also the Basilica of Our Lady of Ocotlan, located just outside the historic City Center, and Museo de Arte de Tlaxcala (Tlaxcala Art Museum), which houses an impressive collection of Frida Kahlo’s early works.
tlaxcala Firefly sanctuary
Each year, from June-August, the Santuario de las Luciernagas (Nanacamilpa Firefly Sanctuary) in Tlaxcala comes alive at night with tiny glowing creatures. As the window for seeing this natural phenomenon is so short, make sure not to miss it if you’re visiting Mexico City from June-August.
During these three months, many visitors descend upon the small town of Nanacamilpa to see millions of fireflies in the forest during their mating season. Walking around this magical Mexico firefly forest is an experience you’ll never forget, as it looks like something straight out of a fantasy movie.
HOW TO GET FROM MEXICO CITY TO tlaxcala
Please note that it is not considered safe to drive in Mexico at night, so if you are going to see the fireflies in Tlaxcala, do so on the Tour of Tlaxcala and Sanctuary of the Fireflies. Even if it’s not firefly season in Mexico, you can still take the tour of Tlaxcala state.
If you’d rather go on your own, you can drive your rental car or take the bus to Tlaxcala. To travel via bus, head to Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente (TAPO Terminal), and buy a ticket with ATAH to Terminal Central de Tlaxcala. Prices vary, but expect to pay about $10USD each way for the bus.
🌌 BOOK THIS TOUR: Tlaxcala and Sanctuary of the Fireflies
MEXICO TRAVEL GUIDE & FAQ
day trip from mexico city
Is Mexico safe for travel?
If you’re wondering about Mexico travel safety, or even Is Mexico safe for solo travel? the short answer is Yes — for the most part.
As travel safety is a complex question, head to Safe Travel in Mexico: 20 Tips for Solo Female Travelers for a much more in-depth explanation. 🎧 Prefer podcasts? Check out the one below with 35 Mexico travel tips!
While Mexico is generally quite safe for visitors, do keep in mind that no place on Earth is 100% safe. For this reason, you’ll want to follow the 10 General Safety Guidelines and other travel safety suggestions below. These are the same ones you’d follow when traveling anywhere, and they will suffice in Mexico.
RELATED ARTICLE 🇲🇽 How to NOT Get Sick in Mexico: 10 Tips to Avoid Montezuma’s Revenge
Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?
Want an added level of security and peace of mind during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling.
I’ll be honest, when I first started traveling solo, I wasn’t insured. However, after years of solo traveling, I wised up… Now, I even have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important!
If Mexico and Mexico City travel safety are on your mind, get your free quote below now!
Register for the STEP Program
Make sure you enroll in the free STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
After you’ve registered, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.
10 General travel safety tips
- Always listen to your intuition — because your intuition is always right.
- If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
- Don’t walk home alone at night.
- Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
- Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
- Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
- Speaking of bar neighbors… don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
- Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
- Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
- This should be a no brainer, especially in the current travel climate — but get Travel Insurance from World Nomads, one of the biggest names in Mexico travel insurance. Get your free travel insurance quote below.
Do I need a visa for Mexico travel?
No, U.S passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico from the U.S. This is another reason why, in general, Mexico is one of the best travel destinations from the U.S.
When you arrive in Mexico and go through the Immigration line, you’ll receive a 180-day (6 month) FMM tourist card. Though it’s called a card, this is really just a small piece of paper you’ll need to hold on to so you can give it back to Immigration when you leave the country.
There is no charge for the FMM, but if you lose yours, there is a charge of about $550 pesos ($27) to replace it. You’d also need to get to the airport about an extra hour earlier than you’d normally have to in order to do the lost visa paperwork… the bottom line: Don’t lose your FMM!
Do I need to learn Spanish to travel to Mexico?
If you stick to the most popular places in Yucatan, the on the beaten path places — then no, you can get by with just English.
However, it is good manners to learn at last some basic Spanish when you visit Mexico City. Pin and/or save the infographic above on your phone so you’ll always have the words and phrases you need, even if you’re off-WiFi.
However, it is good manners to learn at last some basic Spanish when you visit Mexico. Listen to Episode 13 of the podcast as travel blogger Elizabeth talks about how she learned eight languages, and gives great tips for how to learn language basics in easy, fun ways.
If learning Spanish isn’t in the cards for you, #NoJudgement! Pin and/or save the infographic above on your phone so you’ll always have the words and phrases you need, even if you’re off-WiFi.
day trip from mexico city
What Mexico City airport do I fly into?
The main airport is Mexico City International Airport (code: MEX), which is about 45 minutes by car from Centro Historico (Historic Downtown). If you’re renting a car in Mexico City, this is the best place to do so. If not, head toward the exit, where you’ll find official taxis to take into the city, or you can call an Uber.
📲 Pro Tip: You’ll want to have a SIM Card in Mexico City so you have data at all times to be able to call Uber, use Google Maps, Google Translate and more.
Mexico City Airport Transfers
day trip from mexico city
What do I include on my Mexico packing list?
Mexico is a big country and has varied climates. While most Mexico beaches and beach towns have warm (even hot!) temperatures year-round, you’ll want to double check the weather in the specific place you’re headed, as there’s more temperature fluctuations than most people realize.
As a general rule, Mexican tend to dress on the conservative side. Even in hotter places and pueblos (small towns), jeans and long sleeves are the norm. While on beaches it’s normal to see shorts and sandals, in cities you’ll definitely stand out.
🧳 For a detailed guide on packing for Mexico, head to The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico.
FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico
Need a more detailed Mexico packing guide? Download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below — it covers both Mexico beach packing and Mexico city packing. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.
Did we miss any day trips from Mexico City?
If there was anything — or anywhere — not covered in this article, please join the conversation in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you ❤️
Enjoy these related blogs!
- The Ultimate Merida, Mexico Travel Guide (Written by a Local)
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- Best Solo Female Travel Podcast: Dream To Destination