How to Travel from Mexico City to Teotihuacan

Plan your independent day trip or tour with our quick explainer guide to the routes and transport options from Mexico City to Teotihuacan

Around an hour from the Mexican capital, you’ll find two of the most important Mesoamerican pyramids and a UNESCO World Heritage Site shrouded in mystery.

A vast complex of archeological ruins outside of Mexico City, Teotihuacán is thought to have been the largest and most advanced city in the Americas at its pre-Aztec peak, and visiting the site is a popular day trip from the capital.

However, as many travellers find the Nahuatl name a bit of a tongue-twister, Teotihuacán also goes by a couple of other, easier to pronounce ones too: the Mexico City Pyramids, or simply Las Pirámides.

You can visit Teotihuacan from Mexico City by bus, taxi, or join a guided tour which takes care of the transport and logistics. Overall, it’s going to be about two hours one-way doing it with public transport.

In this ‘routes’ post we’ve shared everything you need to know to head out there on your own – including the one mistake you must avoid – as well as a selection of the best tours in case that’s a better fit for your travel style or itinerary.

There are pros and cons to whichever way you do it, and budget may be your deciding factor. However, some travellers may prefer to opt for the bucket-list experience of a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over the pyramids instead of doing it independently or joining a standard tour.

This is everything you need to know on how to get to Teotihuacán from Mexico City.

p.s. We’ll be writing our in-depth guide to Teotihuacán and its historical sigificance, but in the meantime, you can find our ‘Travel Better’ tips for everyone visiting Teotihuacan. Spoiler alert: it’s best to avoid Sundays and Mondays if you can.

The Teotihuacan Essentials

/ Largest city of pre-Aztec central Mexico, famous for the giant Pyramids of The Sun & Moon

/ Located 50km from Mexico City

/ Most-visited archeological site in Mexico

/ Pronounced ‘teh-oh-te-wa-can’, but you can also just say Las Pirámides

/ Buses depart regularly from Central de Autobuses del Norte – tickets not available online

/ Cheapest option is a metro + bus combo for M$95 per person, two hours one-way

/ Quickest option is a private tour or taxi

/ Site open daily 9am-5pm, tickets cost M$90 at entrance

/ Start early to avoid worst of traffic, heat, and crowds

/ This is ahighly-rated ‘express’ guided tour from CDMX

How Long Do You Need At Teotihuacan?

Before planning and finalising your transport to Teotihuacan, it’s important to establish whether it’s a realistic inclusion in your Mexico City itinerary.

We think you need four to five hours to meaningfully explore and enjoy Teotihuacan independently due to the size of the site; any proper visit involves a fair bit of walking and it’s pretty much all in the open-air, so on a hot and sunny Mexican day a few rest and water breaks are essential.

If you’re on a tighter schedule or with a guide, you could trim that down to around three hours, but it’s important to bear in mind that your round-trip travel time from Mexico City means it would be a bit silly to come this far through the traffic to only spend a couple of hours.

So, with travel time included, you’re looking at nearly eight hours all in if you do it independently with public transport.

Is Teotihuacán worth that? Personally, we do both think visiting Teotihuacan is one of the best things to do in Mexico City for first-timers, but only if you’re visiting the city for more than two days; otherwise, you’ll be sacrificing a half-day of everything else the massive city has to offer in easy reach.

It is also important to know before you go that, unlike Monte Alban in Oaxaca –  you are no longer allowed to walk on or ascend to the top of the two giant pyramids. This is good for their preservation, but really not so good for the visitor experience, and this new rule took us and many other visitors by surprise.

Unfortunately, this change means you are no longer able to access some of the best view points atop the famous Pyramids of the Sun & Moon, and so makes the sunrise Teotihuacan hot-air balloon experiences something to seriously consider for some visitors. Two highly rated options are:

Teotihuacan Hot Air Balloon Flight & Breakfast

The Hot Air Balloon Adventure

Go By Bus From Mexico City to Teotihuacan

Route | Mexico City > Northern Bus Station > Puerta 2 Entrance at Teotihuacan

Travel Time | Two Hours from Mexico City To Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Cost | M$95 – M$200 per person

Travel To Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte

Regular buses depart from Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte, which is also referred to as the Northern Bus Station.

As there are several bus stations in Mexico City, you really need to make 100% certain that you’ve chosen the right one when planning your route or booking your transport.

The full address for the Northern Bus Station is ‘Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 4907, Panamericana’, and we’ve shared the Google Maps details for it too: Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte

The vast majority of you will require a taxi or Uber there from your accommodation, or you can travel by the metro/subway.

Taxi / Uber | We don’t alway use Uber when we travel, but in Mexico City it is the most convenient and safest way to get from A to B for certain journeys.

If things go smoothly, you’re looking at 25 mins from the Zocalo/downtown and 25-35 minutes from popular neighbourhoods Roma Norte and La Condesa in the west of the city. Mexico City is however notorious for its traffic, and journeys to the bus station can often be subject to delays, jams, and slow-moving traffic. Setting off from our Airbnb in Roma Norte at 7.37am, the Uber took 22 minutes on quiet morning roads and cost M$100 ($6 USD).

Metro | The yellow Line 5 towards Politecnico goes to the bus station, with the stop called ‘Autobuses del Norte’.

However, a connection to join Line 5 will be required from another metro line if you’re staying in the city centre, Roma Norte and La Condesa.

Travel time with the metro will be around 45-60 minutes, costing just M$5 for a ticket.

Travel Tip // Whichever method you use, recommend an early start to avoid the worst of the traffic or commuters in the metro, and also to avoid arriving at the peak of the busiest + hottest time of day at Teotihuacan.

2. Find The Bus To Teotihuacan

The company you need to find is Autobuses Teotihuacan, located at the far left of the main hall inside the large bus station. There are dozens of bus company offices and kiosks next to each other, but their one is easy to identify with the blue pyramid and yellow sun logo, a small sign in the offices saying ‘PIRÁMIDES’, and usually a line of gringos.

If in doubt, head towards Sala / Puerta 8 and you’ll be in the right area.

You cannot buy their bus tickets in advance or online, and there isn’t a fixed schedule available either. However, we asked the lady at the ticket desk how often buses go to Teotihuacan, and she said there are departures every 20 minutes or so, with the first leaving Mexico City around 6am; as Teotihuacan doesn’t open until 9am though, there’s no point catching that one.

If you want to be amongst the first at the site though, we suggest arriving at the bus station for around 7am.

Ticket prices will be listed on that PIRÁMIDES sign, and in early 2023 they were:

· One-way | MX$60 per person / $3.5 USD

· Round-trip | MX$120 per person / $7 USD

Remember, you can simply ask for tickets to ‘Pirámides’ rather than Teotihuacan, with the former name becoming more common due to people stumbling over how to pronounce Teotihuacan (for reference, it’s roughly ‘teh-oh-te-wa-can’)

It’s easiest to buy your round-trip ticket in the station, but note that bus drivers will still accept payment on board with cash on the journey back (limited change available though). Your outward ticket is for a specific bus departure time, but the return ticket will allow you on any service back from the site.

At the Autobuses Teotihuacan ticket desk, it was cash only when we did the trip, and they have a large sign advising people to check their change before they leave the ticket kiosk.

Your tickets may say Zona Arqueologica, rather the Teotihuacan or Pyramids, and seats are assigned too.

After you’ve purchased them, go to the left of the kiosk where you’ll find Puerta 8; the Teotihuacan bus will depart from one of the numbered bays, and it’s a good idea to confirm with the driver when boarding that you’re on the right one!

Travel Tip // Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte is a very large, modern bus station, and you’ll find lots of options inside for quick breakfast or a coffee if you’ve sensibly decided to forgo breakfast for an earlier start. Unfortunately, the options aren’t great for vegetarians, so we suggest finding somewhere serving chilaquiles or tacos de canasta (the downside of being a large and modern bus station, is that it doesn’t have anyone outside selling street food like others in Mexico).

It’s also best to bring along enough cash for your day trip to Teotihuacan as the ATMs in the bus station aren’t reliable.

If going with public transport suits your travel style, but you don’t speak Spanish or are a little intimated by the logistics in Mexico City, then consider joining this highly-rated tour. The local guide meets you in the historic centre, and the group (limited to 20 people) travels to/from Teotihuacan via public transport (metro and bus), before exploring the ruins and returning together.

3. Arrive At The Correct Teotihuacan Entrance

Typical travel time from the bus station in Mexico City to Teotihuacan is just under or just over an hour depending on traffic; our bus left at 8.45am and arrived at 9.50.

We suggest you look out the window for most of the journey as you emerge from the dense urban centre, pass the colourful new settlements sprawling up the hills on the outskirts of CDMX, and go through a couple of pretty little colonial towns.

After you pass through San Juan Teotihuacán, the bus driver will shout ‘piramides’ or ‘arqueologica‘, letting you know it’s time to disembark, and the bus will drop you off at the side of the road.

From there, it’s a very short and signposted walk to the entrance and ticket office at Puerta 2 (Google Maps)

Note that there are several entrances for Teotihuacán – Puerta 1, 2, and 3 – which correspond to different car parks. We were dropped off and entered via Puerta 2, which was ideal for entering with the huge Pyramid of The Sun right in your eyeliner. If the bus drops you off nearer another entrance – don’t worry! It will simply mean arriving in with a bit of a longer walk from the north or south sides.

For the return bus journey though, you will need to exit via Puerta 2, and the place to wait for the regular buses back to CDMX is on the side of the road after the car park. There’s no sign or bus shelter so, to help you, we’ve shared the correct place to wait on Google Maps

To buy your tickets, simply join the queue at the small ticket booth or use the small self-service machine, which has both Spanish and English instructions and accepts card payments. It’s M$90 per person, with no concessions or discounts available for non-Mexicans.

Note that there will be several people offering your private tours in the vicinity of the ticket office, who can be quite persistent.

* the return journey can be much longer than the outward one, and we’ve put some tips for you in the ‘Travel Better’ section at the end of this post.

Travel Tip // If you’d like to travel independently to/from the site, but would prefer more historical context and insight as you explore it, then this Archaeologist Tour may be a good option. The specialist guides – experts in history and archaeology – meet you at the Teotihuacan entrance, and know every pebble and pyramid. Find out more here

Tours From Mexico City To Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Doing the above journey independently will be pretty straightforward for most travellers, but the main drawback is that the total travel time can add up, especially if you don’t set the alarm clock early enough, and really eat into your Mexico City itinerary.

Tours offer the alternative of a more time-efficient experience as you only have to reach a city centre pick-up point, or be collected at your accommodation if you select a private Teotihuacan tour

Some travellers will also prefer to have the ruins brought to life by a guide, rather than depending on their own research, curiosity, or eye for detail.

However, the most important point to bear in mind is that some options are half-day tours, whilst others are full-day as they incorporate a couple of other sites in and around Mexico City as well as stops for lunch, tastings, and souvenirs; make sure you know whether you really want to do the extras before finalising anything.

The final consideration is whether you want to give yourself a bucket-list experience and do a hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan. All of them involve an early departure from Mexico City at around 4/5 am, and the ballon rides typically give you 30-45 minutes up in the air at sunrise. Most companies include transfers to/from Mexico City and time at Teotihuacán afterward as standard, but with some you have to select a specific package.

We’ve done the hard work for you and shared a selection of the best highly-rated Teotihuacan tours from Mexico City below – which all offer free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance.

The Best Teotihuacan Tours

Teotihuacan Hot Air Balloon Flight & Breakfast | This experience has so many excellent reviews, but note that you have to select the package with transfers and time at the ruins if required. You can compare prices and book it here or on Viator

Alternatively, this balloon experience includes transfers from Mexico City as standard, as well as time at the ruins after your 40-minute balloon flight.

Express Half-Day Tour | This tour emphasises getting there early before the crowds and getting you back to Mexico City so you still have plenty of the day left for other activities. They offer hotel pickup and drop-off in select Mexico City areas as well as 2.5 hours in the site with a knowledgeable English-speaking guide.

Teotihuacan, Guadalupe Shrine, Tlatelolco & Tequila | This popular full-day tour gives you two hours on the site in the afternoon, with a guide for the first hour. The morning portion includes visits to the Tlatelolco archaeological site and the Shrine of Guadalupe, one of the most popular Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. You can find out more here, and you can also book it here

The Archaeologist Tour | If you’d like to travel independently to/from the site, but want historical context and insight as you explore it, then this Archaeologist Tour is the best option. The specialist guides – experts in history and archaeology – meet you at the Teotihuacan entrance, and know every pebble and pyramid. Their reviews are fantastic across the board.

Private Tour from Mexico City| This private tour includes door-to-door transport and three hours exploring Teotihuacan with your guide.

A Taxi or Uber to Teotihuacan

If you really don’t fancy a tour, there’s a group of you, or the focus is on maximising your time in the capital or the the pyramids, then you absolutely could opt commandeer a taxi or Uber to go straight from your accommodation in Mexico City to Teotihuacan.

A few points to bear in mind:

· Uber is a popular, ubiquitous, and secure more of transport in Mexico City

· The app will also be much easier to get price estimates and book short-notice than a regular taxi

· Many taxi drivers you just hail won’t be willing to do this route, and you may also need to factor in time for finding an Uber willing to take a fare taking them outside the city

· When we checked out the prices, it ranged from M$450-600 one-way from Roma Norte. This is just an estimate though, as surge price increases are frequent

· Make triple sure that you’ve put the right Teotihuacan in as the destination, as there are lots of places and streets using that name, as well as the town next to the site, and our Uber usually defaults to everywhere but the right place! For reference, this is the Google Maps pin for the Pyramids of Teotihuacan

· Our research indicates that getting a ride back with an Uber from Teotihuacan isn’t difficult, but you need to factor in extra waiting time. You may of course be able to negotiate an ‘off the books’ deal with the driver to wait and take you back, but we’ll leave that up to you

· Some reports mention the mobile phone signal being patchy at the site, but you will always be able to find a signal to get onto the app

· You could easily do an Uber one-way and take the bus back as a Plan B

· Remember that traffic on the way back will be much worse, so the original time and fare estimate will likely increase.

Travel Better Tips for The Teotihuacan Pyramids

+ Bring plenty water with you. We use and recommend Water-To-Go filter bottles everywhere we go to cut down our single-use plastic and give instant access to clean, safe drinking water – even from the bathroom taps here. Buy yours here on Amazon or use ‘ADR15’ for a 15% off on the official website.

+ If setting off early from Mexico City, you’ll probably need to wear a layer, but after a few hours at the site you most definitely won’t need it anymore.

+ Much of Teotihuacan is in the open-air, and there are few areas to seek out shade. Wear and bring suncream, and it’s a good idea to have a hat too.

+ There are bathrooms and some places to buy snacks at all the entrances, but it’s a sensible idea to have something to eat before you arrive or go through the entrance.

+ It’s also a very good idea to go to the bathroom before you go in the site, otherwise will necessitate a walk out of your way back to one of the entrances.

+ As mentioned, you should bring enough cash for this day-trip plus emergencies. You can use card for the tickets at some entrances, but don’t depend on the machines working.

+ Sundays & Mondays will be the busiest days, and you should avoid those if possible. On Sundays, all Mexican citizens and residents enjoy free access, whilst lots of tourists will go on Mondays due to lots of the Mexico City museums being shut.

+ This should go without saying, but don’t be a dick. Respect the restrictions in place, the ruins, and other visitors. One dick insisted on walking around with his top off like he was on the Costa del Sol and, despite a security guard asking him politely to put it back on, took it off shortly after.

+ In our main guide to visiting Teotihuacan, we’ll be going into more detail about the experience and the history. However, we should note that the on site museum is very much a worthwhile stop for adding a lot more context and depth to you visit. It’s also home to more of the treasures of Teotihuacan.

+ There are multiple vendors lining the Calzada de los Muertos, selling souvenirs, hats, and umbrellas. They’re also the reason for the the constant jaguar calls (you’ll know what we mean once you hear the first one).

+ We do a lot of research before we visit ruins and archaeological sites so that we can a decent level of context and background. There’s an ok level of signage in English here but a knowledgeable guide really will help you get more of certain aspects. You will find them outside the entrances, but it’s a good idea to establish their credentials and level of English before confirming any price or duration. As mentioned, The Archaeologist Tour would be a good alternative if you’d prefer to book a specialist ahead of your arrival, who will meet you at the entrance.

+ The site closes at 5pm, but we recommend leaving a little before this to guarantee yourself a spot on the last buses back to Mexico City. I am afraid that we don’t have a firm answer on what time the last bus passes, but do let us know in the comments if you find out!

+ Lastly, getting a taxi back from Central de Autobuses del Norte station added a lot of time to our day. There’s an easy-to-find kiosk where you order and pay for the official taxi up front, then you join the queue out front. The gents in the overalls have a system in place, but the queue took 25 minutes to go down, and then we were in traffic for way longer than hoped. As far as we’re aware, Ubers aren’t permitted to pick up from the bus station, but if you find a way round this you’d still face the traffic issue, as well as working out where you can safely meet it amongst the stream of stopping vehicles.

It may be better to just get on the metro (we wish we did in hindsight), but do let us know about your own experience!

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