Teotihuacan (Mexico City): The Definitive Guide + Tips


Teotihuacan: How to visit the archeological site?

Teotihuacan is a must-see destination for anyone who loves history and archaeology. It’s one of the most amazing attractions in Mexico City, and you won’t regret visiting it!

But I have a confession to make: I didn’t go there until my third time in the capital. Why did I delay so much? Because I had been let down by other famous sites like Chichen Itza and Tulum.

I had already explored some lesser-known and less crowded archaeological sites in Mexico, such as Uxmal and Kabah, Calakmul and Edzná.

I wasn’t very excited about seeing a touristy place, but when I finally did… I was blown away!

This guide will give you all the practical tips you need to plan your Teotihuacan visit: what to see, how to get there by yourself or with a tour, how to buy the tickets, where to stay near Teotihuacan and much more!

Book your Tickets for Teotihuacan

If you prefer to book your tickets for Teotihuacan without reading the article (even though I recommend it to know all the details about the archaeological site with practical information!) here are the two types of tickets available.

You can simply click on the name of the ticket that interests you to book:

  • Early entry to Teotihuacan: morning guided tour with hotel pick-up, visit to an obsidian workshop, tequila tasting and buffet lunch.
  • Balloon flight over Teotihuacan: fly over the site and the valley of Teotihuacan, with pick-up at your hotel (optional), buffet breakfast, a toast and flight certificate. Entrance to Teotihuacan not included.

What is Teotihuacan?

Teotihuacan was a huge city in Mesoamerica, about 25 miles away from Mexico City.

Its name means “Place where men became gods” or “City of the Gods”, which shows how important it was!

It is thought that it was founded and inhabited by an early group between the 1st and 7th centuries. It reached its height in the 5th century, when it spanned over 11.5 square miles and had 150,000 (or maybe even 250,000!) people from different parts of Mesoamerica.

Teotihuacan is a World Heritage Site by Unesco because of its amazing value, but there are many secrets about the city:

  • First of all, we still don’t know who built it. And to make it more interesting, Teotihuacan seems to have been a diverse city! In fact, digs have found evidence of different groups, living in different areas.
  • We also don’t know why it fell: there are many ideas, such as drought or socio-political conflicts.
  • The gods were the same as in other parts of Mesoamerica (such as the famous feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc, the rain god), but we don’t know their order of importance. We don’t even know to whom the pyramids of the sun and moon were dedicated!

The Aztecs came when the site was already empty. They built the new city of Teotihuacan and lived there from the 13th century until the 16th century, when the Spanish invaders came.

My Advice
To avoid the crowds, book this morning guided tour of Teotihuacan with pick-up from your hotel and a tequila, mezcal and pulque tasting:

A balloon flight over Teotihuacan is one of the most amazing experiences you can have in Mexico! Book it here:

What to see in Teotihuacan?

The archaeological site of Teotihuacan covers an area of 10 square miles, of which only 2% has been excavated.

This is, for now, what you can’t miss in Teotihuacan:

1. The Pyramid of the Sun or Tonatiuh

The pyramid of the sun is the tallest and most impressive pyramid of the site. It stands at 215 ft high and has a volume of more than 1 million cubic meters! 🤯

There used to be a temple on top of the pyramid, but it has vanished over time.

It is the second largest pyramid in the New World.

Unfortunately, since 2020, it is no longer possible to climb the pyramid of the Sun.
pirámide del sol teotihuacán
pirámide del sol teotihuacán

2. The Avenue of the Dead

The Avenue of the Dead is the main street of Teotihuacan, which linked the Pyramid of the Moon with the ancient city on a north-south axis.

You will walk along it as you move from one structure to another.

Don’t miss the beautiful Puma Mural, which shows a large cat in profile with its mouth open and claws sticking out.

Fun Fact
When you walk down this 130-foot wide avenue, you will see that it is lined with a series of small pyramids.

The Aztecs mistakenly called it Miccaotli (the Avenue of the Dead) because they thought they were tombs, but now we know that these ceremonial structures were temples dedicated to minor gods!  

calzada de los muertos teotihuacán
Avenue of the Dead Teotihuacán
pirámide teotihuacán
small pyramid teotihuacan

3. The Pyramid of the Moon or Meztl Itzaquatl

The Pyramid of the Moon is the final destination on the Avenue of the Dead.

This pyramid was built differently from the Pyramid of the Sun, which was completed in one go. This one was constructed over at least seven phases, from 100 to 650 AD, reaching a height of 138 feet.

It is located in the center of the Calzada de los Muertos and it is easy to imagine a great ceremony in this grandiose (and intimidating) setting. Actually, archaeologists have discovered human sacrifices and jade offerings inside the Pyramid of the Moon.

You can no longer climb the Pyramid of the Moon since 2020.

It was an exhilarating experience to go up and down, and I must say that the view was even more amazing than from the Pyramid of the Sun!

pirámide de la luna teotihuacán
pyramid of the moon teotihuacan
escaleras teotihuacán
the stairs of the Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacán
The view from the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacán. Photo Karla Acosta

4. The Palace of Quetzalpapálotl

This palace, located in front of the Avenue of the Dead, is thought to be the home of Teotihuacan’s elite.

It has three structures that were rebuilt in the 1960s:

  • Feathered Snails: it is hidden in the lower part of the Palace and has murals of birds and various symbols. It also has a temple with a door that has stone carvings of snails with feathers (that’s why it’s called “feathered snails”)
  • The Courtyard Pillars: it is the center of the complex. It has several images of birds, including quetzals
  • The Palace of the Jaguars: this is where you can see a stunning mural of jaguars and eagles eating human hearts, as well as a throne shaped like a jaguar.
palacio quetzalpapálotl teotihuacán
Palace of Quetzalpapálotl teotihuacán

5. The Citadel

South of the Calzada de los Muertos, you will find the Citadel. The Spanish conquistadors gave it this name because they thought (wrongly) that it was a military structure.

It is a large archaeological complex that contains the Temple of the Feathered Serpent or Temple of Quetzalcoatl, a significant public square with an altar in the middle and a temple called the South Building.

The facades of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl are amazing, as they have more than 300 sculptures of feathered serpents, geometric shapes and marine elements.

6. The museums of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan has two museums:

Museum of Teotihuacan Culture: it is very close to the Pyramid of the Sun. It displays about 600 different artifacts and objects, related to religion, art and daily life, made with various materials (obsidian, ceramics, shells, bone, wood, etc.).

It is a chance to learn more about the economic, social, political, technological and religious aspects of Teotihuacan.

Museum of Teotihuacan Murals (Beatriz de la Fuente): it is located behind the Pyramid of the Moon, just outside the site.

It showcases the art of Teotihuacan (architecture, sculpture, painting) through nine thematic rooms. It shows the techniques (and how they changed) of the Teotihuacan murals.

7. Flying over Teotihuacan in a hot-air balloon

A hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan is not only a wonderful and romantic way to explore the ancient site, but also one of the most beautiful experiences you can have in Mexico!

The flight lasts for an hour and starts early in the morning with the sunrise as your backdrop. You will soar 2600 feet above the ground and get a breathtaking view of Teotihuacan that shows you how massive the site really is.

I highly recommend booking this hot air balloon tour in Teotihuacan because it also includes the pick-up at your hotel in Mexico City.

This is very convenient because most tours don’t include transportation to the site, and you have to be there by 5am (which means an hour-long drive from the city 😬).

Please note that children under 4 years old and pregnant women are not allowed to fly in the balloon.

Also, you have to be able to stand up for an hour in the basket without sitting down.

Hot air balloon flight over Teotihuacan

What is the best way to visit Teotihuacan?

Teotihuacan is a huge site with so much to see and learn, and that’s why I recommend hiring a tour to Teotihuacan: you would miss out on a lot if you go there without a guide!

The best way to explore the site is to book this early access guided tour (with fewer crowds!) that also includes a mezcal tasting:

If you have rented a car in Mexico and can go on your own, you should know that there are also guides at the archaeological site itself.

To get the most out of your visit to Teotihuacan, I advise you to take into account 2 elements: choosing the right entrance gate and choosing a route.

The gates of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan has five gates:

  • Gate 1: This is the beginning of the Avenue of the Dead and the most popular entrance. I recommend starting your Teotihuacan tour here because it lets you see the attractions in a more logical order.
  • Gate 2: This is across from the Avenue of the Dead. I chose this one. It’s not the most convenient entrance, since I had to zigzag left and right, but it has the advantage of bringing you right in front of the Pyramid of the Sun and there’s no better way to start your visit than that.
  • Gate 3: It is the closest to the Pyramid of the Moon and the mural museum
  • Gate 4: It is behind the Pyramid of the Sun
  • Gate 5: It is also behind the Pyramid of the Sun, but on the other side, and it is the closest to the museum of Teotihuacan culture

The routes of Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is so big that it’s hard to see everything in one visit, so INAH recommends two routes, depending on what you’re interested in:

  • Monuments Route (2h): This starts at Gate 1 and ends at Gate 3. You begin at the Avenue of the Dead and walk through the central area of the site where the main structures are (Citadel, Pyramid of the Sun, Plaza of the Moon).
  • Murals Route (1h 45): This starts at Gate 3 and ends at Gate 4. You get to see the artistic expressions of Teotihuacan, starting at the Museum of Murals, then going through Los Jaguares and Quetzalpapallotl, then the Mural of the Puma, and ending at the Tepantitla Complex, where you can admire Tlalocan, one of the most impressive murals of the Teotihuacan culture!

You can also check out the residential areas of Teotihuacan, called Tetitla and Atetelco, which are outside the archaeological site.

This is a chance to see how the people of Teotihuacan lived in their rooms, courtyards, corridors and streets. There are also some beautiful murals there. To get there, take the road between gates 1 and 2 – there’s a sign that shows you where to go.

Tourist map of Teotihuacan

Here is the map of Teotihuacan with all the tourist attractions mentioned in the article:

How much does Teotihuacan cost?

  • Entrance fee: 90 pesos per person
  • Parking: 50 pesos per car
  • A guide: between 600 and 850 pesos

 When we got to the site, a young man tried to trick us into thinking that an official guide inside cost 1200 pesos and that he was giving us a good deal by offering us the service for 850 pesos.

When we turned him down… he immediately dropped to 700 pesos.

We said no again because we hadn’t planned for that extra expense, but once we were inside I asked and the price of an official guide was 600 pesos.

How to get to Teotihuacan?

The site is 25 miles from Mexico City, so it is best to go by car or by signing up for an organized tour, but it is also possible to use public transportation.

Here is How to get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City:

With a car

It depends on traffic and the starting point in Mexico City (it’s a big city!), but it takes about 1 hour from Mexico City.

The route is quite easy: take the Mexico Pachuca Highway, then the San Juan Teotihuacan toll road. The GPS marks well the route to follow.

The toll costs 83 pesos one way and another 83 pesos on the return trip. You can check the tolls at Traza tu Ruta.

To rent a car, personally, I always use Rentalcars.com, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Rentalcars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

With a guided tour

If you don’t have a vehicle, this is the best way to see Teotihuacán! 😉

You have plenty of choices, but I recommend this amazing tour to Teotihuacan that includes transportation, guide and tasting of mezcal, tequila and pulque (3 typical Mexican drinks!), all for a very affordable price.

Book it here:

By public transportation

I don’t recommend this option because it takes a long time and it’s not very safe.

But it’s up to you, if you’re on a tight budget and you really want to take the bus to Teotihuacán, here’s how:

  • Take the yellow metro line 5 to Central de autobuses del Norte.
  • At the station, take one of the “Autobuses Teotihuacán” that leave from gate 8.

The trip takes 1 hour and costs 55 pesos each way (cash only). Buses leave every 10-15 minutes.

What to bring to Teotihuacan?

First of all: good shoes! You don’t need special hiking shoes, just comfortable sneakers, but this is important, because you’ll have to walk a lot.

Also: water (you can also buy it at the entrance if you forgot your bottle), a hat or cap, and sunscreen and sunglasses, since there’s not much shade.

I suggest light clothing, and a sweater or jacket, as the weather in Mexico City can change and mornings are always cool.

What is The Best time to Visit Teotihuacan?

Teotihuacan is open every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but it gets crowded in December, July and August, as well as on holidays (like Holy Week), Sundays and the spring equinox in late March.

It’s rainy season from June to November, so remember that it might rain in the afternoon.

Where to stay when visiting Teotihuacan (Mexico City)

Teotihuacan is best visited as a day trip from Mexico City.

Here are some of the best hotels in Mexico City for different budgets:

  • Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral (historic center): one of the best hostels in Mexico City. Clean dorms and rooms, amazing rooftop terrace with bar, great atmosphere and an exceptional view over the cathedral and the Zocalo, starting at 15$usd for a dorm and 32 $usd for a private room!
  • Hotel Villa Condesa (Condesa): if you are looking for a romantic hotel in Mexico City, this is a little oasis in the heart of La Condesa. It is an elegant house with small green terraces and tastefully decorated rooms. Rooms are spacious, breakfast is very good and the service is particularly attentive. Around 160$usd per night!
  • Casa Goliana (Roma Norte): high-end hotel with the best value for money in its category, located in an early 20th century house, typical of the Roma area. Rooftop terrace, comfortable rooms, very attentive staff, and good breakfasts. Around 190$usd per night
  • Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City (Juarez): this 5 star hotel is one of the best hotels in Mexico City, ideal for a business trip or a romantic stay. Located on Paseo de la Reforma between Colonia Juarez and Roma Norte. A large indoor garden, gym, swimming pool, spa, restaurant, and bar, Around 640$usd per night!

My advice
For the best areas and hotels in Mexico City for all budgets, check out my complete guide: Where to stay in Mexico City?

Where to eat in Teotihuacan?

There are many restaurants in Teotihuacan and they will try to lure you in when you leave the site. Some of them are “tourist traps”, so here are some recommendations:

Techinanco: this is a local restaurant that doesn’t look fancy, but there some grandmas cook delicious homemade Mexican food at reasonable prices. It’s only a 5 minute walk from gate 3, behind the pyramid of the moon (or a 30 minute walk from gate 2).

Gran Teocalli: this is a nice restaurant if you are visiting Teotihuacan with your family. The restaurant is cozy, the decor is pleasant with several murals and art pieces, it has a buffet (which is convenient if you go to Teotihuacan with kids!) and offers a dance and music show. Website

La Gruta: This is the most famous restaurant in Teotihuacan. It’s inside a huge cave, so it has a unique atmosphere. It’s worth a visit for the experience, but don’t expect great value. The food and service are not as good as other places. My tip: if you really want to go, share a guacamole (you can’t go wrong with that!) and a drink, but that’s it. Website

La Caverna: What do you do when something works? Copy it! Seeing how popular La Gruta was, they opened La Caverna, which is a smaller and cozier version. I have to say I liked it a lot because the service was friendly and attentive, and the prices were more reasonable than La Gruta. My Margarita was delicious! Facebook Page

restaurant Teotihuacán La Caverna
restaurant Teotihuacán La Caverna

How to find the best price for your flight ticket

Mexico City Airport officially named Benito-Juárez International Airport receives a lot of national and international flights. It is the most important airport in Latin America!

To save money on flight tickets, you can use our flight comparator for Mexico, in partnership with Skyscanner: it’s the guarantee to pay the best price for your international and domestic flights!

Book your trip now and save money!

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visit teotihuacan
visit teotihuacan

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

Discussion2 Comments

  1. Jem

    Hi! I appreciate very much your comprehensive guide (with bits of fun trivia) of Teotihuacan. Very helpful to a solo and DIY traveler like me. Thank you!

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