Exploring The Ancient City of Teotihuacan, Mexico.
After getting our fill of tacos, tacos and more tacos and exploring far and wide in the gigantic Mexico City, only one thing was on our minds next, the ancient city of Teotihuacan. Balandra Beach, Guanajuato and Guadalajara are amongst our main explorations so far in Mexico, so it’s not surprising that the visit to Teotihuacan to explore the pyramids was eagerly anticipated.
Getting a tour to take us to and around Teotihuacan from Mexico City was out of the question. If I can do something myself without a tour, via public transport, that’s exactly what I’ll do. You have much more control over your day and it often works out much cheaper, what more can you ask for? I’ll tell you exactly how to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City and what you do once you’re there.
First things first, for those who don’t know…
What is Teotihuacan?
First of all, how exactly do you pronounce Teotihuacan? Tee-oh-tee-wah-can.
Teotihuacan is an ancient city. Construction began here 2100 years ago. No one actually knows who built this city. The current name of the city – Teotihuacan, given by the Aztecs, means ‘the place where gods were created’ (a modest name then?)
The city had an estimated population of around 100,000. An archaeological project founded around 2200 structures known as ‘apartment complexes’, where multiple families would have lived within the city.
The city’s main street is called the Avenue of the Dead, a name also given by the Aztecs. This avenue runs for more than 2 miles and contains the three pyramid complexes which are accessible for exploration today.
Get more information on Teotihuacan from UNESCO.
Where is Teotihuacan?
Teotihuacan is in the state of Mexico City. The city is 48km north-east of Mexico City, so the majority of people tend to base themselves there for the exploration of the pyramids.
Exploring the Teotihuacan Pyramids
The short 1-hour bus journey – costing 100 MXN ($5.50) for a return ticket – from Mexico City brings you to Gate 1 of Teotihuacan. Next up, how much is Teotihuacan? The entrance fee is 70 MXN ($3.85). Once you’ve paid at the gate you can begin your journey through the ancient city.
The handy thing about the bus dropping you at Gate 1 is you are literally at the beginning of the avenue of the dead so you can explore everything, without having to go back on yourself. There is a little bit of a walk to the main pyramids (around 15 mins) so this is a good or a bad thing, depending on if you like walking or not!
Temple of the Feathered Serpent
The first of the Teotihuacan pyramids is the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (formally knows as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl). The detail on the beastly heads which extend from this Pyramid is artistic genius. I was in awe of the design of this temple, so it’s fair to say I got a bit caught up in wandering around staring at the intricate designs on the many heads.
Pyramid of the Sun
It’s the intricacy of the design on the Temple of the Feathered Serpent which amazes most people. The exact opposite goes for the Pyramid of the Sun. It’s difficult for the sheer size of this pyramid not to catch you out. If it doesn’t hit you when you’re on the ground, you’ll certainly come to terms with the size when you’re scaling the steps of the pyramid on a hot and humid Mexican day. To put it into perspective the Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world (behind the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza).
The tiring climb to the top is well worth it when you get the reward of far and wide views of Teotihuacan and the surrounding area.
Relax a little when you’re on the top. I definitely needed to due to sweating from places I never even knew you could! Like I said though… Well worth it!
Pyramid of the Moon
Although the Pyramid of the Moon is not as tall as its counterpart the Pyramid of the Sun, the views from the top are no less spectacular. The main reason is due to the position of this pyramid, once you scale the ridiculous high steps (I’ve got long legs and I was stretching to reach the next step), you have a view all the way down the Avenue of the Dead.
How to get to Teotihuacan
Getting from Mexico City to Teotihuacan via bus could not be easier, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. How do you get to Teotihuacan by bus then? From wherever you are in Mexico City you can jump on the sometimes hectic, but handy underground and head to the Autobuses del Norte stop on Line 5. Alternatively, get yourself an Uber to Autobus del Norte, they work out cheap enough if it’s split between a few of you.
Once you enter the station, turn left and walk all the way down to the end of the station until you reach stand 8. The stand you’re looking for is, not so surprisingly named Autobuses Teotihuacan. Ask for a return ticket to Pyramides (the stop located outside the Teotihuacan pyramid complex). The ticket will cost 100 MXN (5.50 USD) (price in May ’17). The return ticket is open, so you don’t need to specify a time you’ll be coming back. 100 MXN for a bus that takes you from Mexico City to the Teotihuacan Pyramids is far cheaper than any tour.
Like I said, the bus drops you off right outside Gate 1 of the complex, so just head towards the entrance and buy your tickets and you’re in, job done!
Top Tips for Visiting Teotihuacan
- Take your own food. Bring your lunch with you. There are food vendors at the entrance and exit to the site, but in all honesty, the food doesn’t look great and it’s overpriced.
- Do the hike in the morning. The earlier the better. Don’t forget, you’re in Mexico. The weather will be hot and humid. Not ideal for climbing the 248 steps leading up the Pyramid of the Sun.
- Don’t worry about the loud growling cat noises you’ll hear. There are vendors walking around with this kind of whistle which make the noise of a growling leopard. Stupidly I was a bit scared when I heard the first one until I turned round to see who and where it was coming from.
- There are guides you can hire at the entrance to the complex. A guide isn’t necessary as the complex isn’t that large (exploring takes 1.5-2 hours) and there are information signs around. However, if you’d like to know more detailed information, go ahead and hire a guide.
- It isn’t immediately clear where to get the bus from on your way back. Just head to the first road out of Gate 3 and wait for the bus there. Flag it down when you see it coming.
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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section.
Have you been to Teotihuacan before? Are you planning to visit Teotihuacan and would you do it without a tour after seeing this post? Do you have an upcoming trip to Mexico soon?
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