Teotihuacan, or the Temple of the Sun, is an expansive ancient archaeological site and perfect for a visit on a day trip that can be taken from Mexico City.
When you arrive in Mexico City, you will most likely be presented with many options for tours of Teotihuacan, ranging in price from 400MXN and up. These tours generally include transportation to and from the site, an entry ticket into the site, and perhaps a snack or lunch. The reality is that you can also perform this day trip quite easily by yourself, with the total cost equaling out to under 200MXN.
As backpackers, we aren’t the fondest of organised tours. Sometimes we come across some good ones but other times we prefer to arrange activities in our own time, and go at our own pace. There is of course nothing wrong with taking a tour, and as mentioned we saw ones as low as 400MXN on offer, so use that as a guide if you are researching one for yourself.
If, like us, you would like to attempt Teotihuacan without a guide, here is how to go about it:
The route to get to Teotihuacan involves firstly taking a metro train, and then a bus to the actual site.
To do this, hop on the metro and travel to Autobuses del Norte station, on the yellow line. A one-way ticket on the metro, no matter the length of the ride, will cost you 5 peso.
Once you reach Autobuses del Norte station, exit and you will see the del Norte bus station. Enter and make your way to the left towards gate number 8. As you reach gate number 8, you will see a ticket window for ‘Autobuses Teotihuacan’. Purchase a return (volver) ticket from this window either for Pyramides or Zona Arqueologico (they will know where you are trying to go). The price for this ticket as of November 2016 is 92 peso.
The buses for Teotihuacan leave from one of the bays at gate 8, so make sure to ask your ticket seller which bay to go to before going outside. Additionally, there are no toilets for the approximate 1 hour journey on the bus so ensure you go (for 5 peso in the station) before you board. Finally, please check your ticket as you buy it, as your journey to Teotihuacan will be for a specific time, and there are no allocated seats.
The bus will drop you off at the main entrance to the site, named Puerta 1. This is where you will buy your ticket, currently priced at 65 peso. The site itself is laid out along one long avenue, called the ‘Avenue of the Dead’. Whilst this is over 2 miles in length, don’t fret too much about having to walk back as your return bus will pick you up from Puerta 3, the exit at the other end of the site.
As you exit at the other end of the site, it is best to visit each archeological find from one end to the other. Some of the highlights that we would highly recommend include:
- The Temple of Quetzalcóatl: being at the beginning of the site it is a great spot to learn about the administrative side of this ancient group and to get your bearings of the site.The stairs here are quite steep, so it is also an opportunity to get your legs ready for the upcoming pyramids of the sun and moon.
- The Pyramid of the Sun: this is the largest pyramid on the site, and is best tackled early before the site gets too busy and the sun gets too hot.The climb is well worth it and provides an even greater understanding of how the ancient civilisation and city would have worked.
- The Mural of the Puma: you can see this mural as you make your way towards the Pyramid of the Moon. The painting is well-preserved and provides even further context of what this ancient civilisation was capable of.
- The Pyramid of the Moon: whilst you can only climb halfway up this pyramid, the view is so good that it won’t matter that you can’t go higher.Being the last proper ‘climb’ of the day, and with steeper steps than all previous, you will feel it on your legs. However, the view provides an outstanding perspective of the entire site looking south, and we found ourselves sitting at the top just looking out over the ancient city.
- The Castle of Quetzalcóatl: the castle provides a continuation of what was previously seen through the mural of the puma. Extravagant artwork on the walls, unlike anything else seen on the site.A lot of this area has been reconstructed to what they think it used to look like, so whilst this area isn’t as ‘historic’ as others, it is still spectacular to behold.
Once you are done with your site visit, you will want to exit at Puerta 3, walk through the parking lot and wait on the road for a return bus to come. Your return ticket is not for any designated time, and buses run every 20 minutes approximately until 6pm (or thereabouts).
In addition to this information, here are some additional hints and tips for the site that we came across that are hopefully as helpful for you:
- You will come across many people selling jewelry, whistles, and different artwork along your visit. Don’t buy off the first one you see, as many will have the same thing and you can haggle for the price you want to pay
- Bring plenty of water, and sunscreen (we got burnt). You can buy water at each gate, but it is always good to carry some with you
- Either bring lunch with you, or exit the site at Puerta 2 (near the Pyramid of the Sun) and eat at one of the street vendors or small restaurants here. You are allowed to exit and re-enter at any time on the same day with your ticket.
- Don’t visit on a Sunday. It is free for Mexican nationals to visit the site on this day and it can get quite busy.
All-in-all, you should have a great time at Teotihuacan. It is a great experience to gain some insight into what used to be thousands of years ago.