12 Best Day Trips Around Mexico City: Best Place to Visit & Tours

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Mexico City is the nation’s capital and largest city, but it’s also one of Mexico’s most underrated and under-visited cities. Travelers have long preferred to bask in the sunshine along the coastline than to explore the culture and history of Mexico City.

But there is so much to see and discover, that the city is slowly becoming a tourist attraction in its own right, and that’s before you even start to contemplate the epic opportunities that there are to be had taking day trips from Mexico City.

Once you’ve seen all that the confines of the historic city have to offer, escape the busy streets and head further afield to enjoy the best day trips from Mexico City. Explore the ancient Aztec culture, ruins, and old cities that still stand in the countryside.

Visit quaint, colorful, small towns for a taste of the slower, rural, Mexican life and even try and hike a volcano.

There is a lot waiting for you in around Mexico City, so start exploring. Here’s our guide to the best day trips to help you to get the most out of your trip and to see the best sites.

Don’t leave home without: Top 10 Mexico City (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide)

12 Best Day Trips from Mexico City

Teotihuacan Pyramids

1. Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is one of Mexico’s most famous and important tourist attractions and it’s waiting for you just 50 kilometers, and 45 minutes away from the center of Mexico City. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site like few others in the world.

It’s one of the best examples of pre-Spanish architecture and culture in the entirety of the Americas, and the scale of this ancient city will astound you when you first lay eyes upon it.

Related Article: The Amazing Mexico City Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is the site of one of the largest temples in Mexico, and some of the largest structures ever built in the ancient world. Huge, stone stepped pyramids are laid out on an enormous plain and it’s thought that at the height of its power in the first century AD, over 150,000 people could have lived here.

It’s truly an extraordinary sight, but it’s even more extraordinary to think that this civilization fell long before Europeans even arrived in Mexico, and long before the Aztecs held power as well.

Our top recommended tours of Teotihuacan:

Puebla, Mexico

2. Puebla City

Puebla City is located 150 kilometers from Mexico City and is one of Mexico’s most important, colonial-era cities. Puebla was built by the Spanish in the early 16th century and it’s now one of the oldest cities in Mexico.

With its long history and many surviving colonial streets and Spanish influenced architecture, the city’s old center is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There are many fine museums, which will take you on a journey through the history of the region, and of the city, while the cathedrals and churches are some of the most extravagant in the country.

Our top recommended tours of Puebla City:

Cholula cathedral in Mexico

3. Cholula

On the outskirts of Puebla can be found in the ancient city of Cholula. This is one of the oldest, continually inhabited cities anywhere in the Americas, with evidence of civilization dating back to as far as 500 BC.

Many travelers will visit Cholula to see the towering Great Pyramid, a staggering structure that reaches a height of 55 meters.

This archaeological site is one of the most fascinating in Mexico, because at first, you may not even recognize it as a pyramid temple. It was abandoned many centuries ago and over time, grass and trees covered the ruins, to such an extent that it becomes unrecognizable and was thought to be just a tall hill.

The Spanish even built a church on top. Archaeologists eventually realized that actually, this was more than just a hill, but a great temple.

Our top recommended tours of Cholula:

Main cathedral in Taxco, Mexico

4. Taxco

Taxco is a charming, ramshackle town to the south-west of Mexico City, known for its vibrant, white painted houses and scenic surroundings.

Hidden away in a valley in the shade of dramatic hills, the town is full of well preserved colonial architecture – in particular, its famous, white houses – and many will visit just to see the incredible sight of Taxco’s twin-towered church, which dominates the skyline.

The town began life as the center of silver mining in the region and although the mines have mostly run dry now, Taxco’s artisans and silversmiths are still held in high esteem across the country for their intricate skills.

Our top recommended tours of Taxco:

Palace in Cuernavaca, Mexico

5. Cuernavaca

South of Mexico City on the cool slopes of the mountains here can be found in the city of Cuernavaca. It’s one of the greenest places in Mexico, and throughout history has been used as a summer retreat by the people of Mexico City. When it gets too hot, they move here.

Aztec nobility had summer houses built here, and Cortes, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, had a palace built here after his victories. That palace still stands and is one of the oldest standing Hispanic structures in the Americas.

Cuernavaca is a lovely retreat from the chaos and heat of Mexico City, and one of the best day trips to be had in the region.

Our top recommended tours of Cuernavaca:

cathedral in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

6. San Miguel de Allende

About as far north as you can get on a day trip from Mexico City, is the intriguing city of San Miguel de Allende. This city is a Spanish influenced, colonial city with a World Heritage Center and a charming appeal.

The city is famous for the nearby Sanctuary of Atotonilco, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Sanctuary was built in the 18th century and the local religious legends surrounding the founding friar are quite extraordinary.

Our top recommended tours of San Miguel de Allende:

7. Tepotzotlan

Tepotzotlan is a city whose roots were laid far back in the days of the Aztecs. With an interesting history, much of the city is delightful to stroll around, with many museums showcasing both indigenous and colonial events and culture to visitors.

The city became a place of renowned learning when Jesuits set up the first school here in the late 16th century, a tradition that continues in the city through the many educational centers and museums.

The main attractions are the Museum of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, where you can discover a detailed look back at local history, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Temple of San Francisco Javier. Tours are limited to this city. 

Our top recommended tour of Tepotzotlan:

Statues in Tula, Mexico

8. Tula

The ancient site of Tula was the extensive capital of the ancient Toltec Kingdom. This kingdom consisted of a civilization that preceded the Aztecs in Mexico City but was long gone by the time the Spanish arrived.

The legends of this city and the people that lived here carried on through the Aztec tales, and then into Spanish literature. It’s one of the most profound temple sites, and the influences that carried over to other civilizations play an important role in Mexican history.

It’s a place that can’t be missed, and being so close to Mexico City, makes for an excellent day trip.

Our top recommended tours of Tula:

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide)

9. Tenayuca

Tenayuca is an impressive pre-Spanish, archaeological site that’s found close to Mexico. It once stood on the shores of Lake Texcoco, until the waters receded. Tenayuca is thought to predate even the Aztec cities in the region.

The tall, 20-meter high temple is intricately carved and designed with local motifs that have somehow survived to this day. It’s a beautiful structure to explore, with many statues of local gods and goddesses all carved at an extreme level of detail.  

G Adventures offers 16 multi-day trips throughout Mexico: Simply use this link to book today!

Iztaccihuatl Volcano

10. Iztaccihuatl Volcano

South of the city Iztaccihuatl Volcano can be found. This high peak offers the adventurous traveler one of the more outdoor and challenging day trips from Mexico City.

In the southern peaks, Iztaccihuatl Volcano stands at 5200 meters in height and is usually covered in snow for most of the year. A trail runs up to around 4000 meters, and on trips from the city, it’s possible with a guide to tackling this lower summit.

It’s a challenge, and it’s not easy, but it makes for a unique experience while traveling to Mexico City. Many tour companies run organized, group trips, departing early in the morning, and for safety, it’s best to join one of these.

It’s a long day of walking, but the views of the mountains and the volcano are absolutely spectacular.  

Our top recommended tours of Iztaccihuatl Volcano:

11. Pachuca

Pachuca is one of the most vibrantly colorful towns in Mexico. It’s an incredible place to see and is found an hour and a half’s drive from Mexico City center.

The colonial-style buildings are all painted in extreme shades of colorful paint, giving the town a very unique look. More than just colorful buildings though, Pachuca has one of the most unique histories of any town in Mexico.

It was settled by Cornish miners from England, unusual for this part of the world, and even today many of the houses are in an English style, with the most famous culinary item being a form of Mexican-Cornish Pasty.

It’s even said that it was the Cornish settlers who first brought soccer to Mexico.

12. Desierto de Los Leones

The Desierto de Los Leones is a national park found right on the outskirts of Mexico City’s southern suburbs. In English, the name means Desert of the Lions, and it makes for an excellent, and close escape from the city.

It’s not actually a desert in the usual sense, but a green, tree-filled forest, that’s known as a wild and rugged landscape that’s perfect for hiking and walking in the great outdoors.

It’s a lot cooler here than in the city and it makes for one of the best day trips from Mexico City.

Recommended Multi-Day Mexico Tours:

  • G Adventures Central Mexico Adventure Tour– Slip off those all-inclusive wristbands and look beyond the beachfront complexes to uncover a fascinating layer of Mexican culture. This nine-day trip hits all the marks with an itinerary that gets you climbing ancient pyramids and exploring ruins. Embark on a taco street crawl and learn how mezcal is made from its birthplace in Oaxaca. If you’re yearning to take a dip into an infinity pool with a view, the mineral ponds of Hierve el Agua have got you covered.
  • G Adventures Classic Mexico Adventure Tour– If you want to experience all the flavors of Mexico you’re going to need more than just tacos and tequila ­— the music, the history, and the people all have a little something you’ll crave. Cities, beaches, jungle, and the curious spices of mole sauce all await on this 14-day tour that lets you hit the beach, discover the ruins of the Mayans, and wander colonial cities. Think of this as Mexico 101 ­without the pop quiz.
  • G Adventures Mexico- Cities, Cuisine & Ruins– From the hustle of modern Mexico City, which preserves its magic from centuries gone by, to the ruins at Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, this adventure takes in all the cultural and historical highlights. It’s perfect for travelers on a tight budget looking to see as much as possible of this diverse region.

More on Mexico:

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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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