Only 50 km outside of Mexico City is Teotihuacan, a gem of history. Though nobody knows who built the pyramids that are there, they are definitely worth visiting. It’s a great day trip from the city and you can either jump on a bus, take a cab or your hotel might even offer a shuttle.
Here are a few quick tips for once you’re there – before I start telling you our story!
- When going down the pyramid, don’t go down straight. Walk in diagonal! If you didn’t know this Mexican trick already, it’s going to save you hours! It makes going down 1) easier 2) less scary. I don’t promise you won’t look silly, but it works!
- Check the weather before leaving. I wore pants and I regretted that during the whole day. It was so hot!
- Wear comfortable shoes so that you can climb the pyramids. Forget those heels (we actually saw some people wearing heels at the top of pyramids!) You’re going to walk and climb, so be prepared.
- Bring more water than you think you need. There’s nobody selling any at the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, and I promise you’ll want some.
- Wear sunscreen. The sun gets really hot there, you’ll need some.
- If you love history, get a guide. You’ll probably learn much, much more than we did by ourselves.
- Don’t go on the weekend. We learned that the hard way. There were tourists everywhere! We literally had to wait in line to climb the Pyramid of the Sun.
- Try to get there early. Again, it will help you avoid the crowd.
- If you don’t want to buy things from the vendors, just ignore them. I tried saying a polite “No, gracias,” but acknowledging them is a bad idea. They are just going to push more, so ignore them.
How to get there
If you’re like us and are staying in an Airbnb apartment, there’s obviously no shuttle. The best way to get to Teotihuacan was to take the metro to the bus station. Take the yellow line in the direction of Politécnico and get off at the Autobuses del Norte. From there, you can buy a two-way ticket with an open one on the way back. They were only 88 pesos a person, which is around $6USD with the current exchange rate. The buses leave every 15/20 minutes, so don’t worry! There are plenty of departures on the way there and on the way back.
The ride on the bus was… interesting. While we were still in the bus station and ready to leave, a man came in and started giving candies to everyone. For free? Of course not! After everybody had them, he came back to collect them – or take your money if you opened it. Once he was done, he got off the bus.
Then another man came in, this time selling water and snacks. He was fine really; his water was pretty cheap compared to the vendors at the pyramids. He got off while the bus was riding to Teotihuacan.
Then a band came on the bus. I like Mexican music and listening to it, but not on a bus. Not when the band is expecting me to tip them, because there’s no way I can ignore them. What I didn’t like wasn’t the fact that they were on the bus and we were trapped there. Mostly though, I didn’t like that I felt pressured to tip them. I’m going to give my money if I want to, but please, don’t make me feel bad about it.
The admission costs 59 pesos ($4USD). We were dropped at the south end, which meant we had to walk the 3km of the Avenue of the Dead before getting to the pyramids. The first part we visited was La Ciudadela, where the Temple of the Feathered Serpent was located.
The Avenue of the Dead
From the Ciudadela to the Pyramid of the Moon, the Avenue of the Dead is 3 km long. It’s also slowly going up, even though you won’t notice. But if you think it’s like an easy walk in the park, you’re wrong. It goes up and down and up and down, because there are pyramids and steps everywhere. It’s really interesting to walk in the ruins, but it can get tiring quite fast. That’s why some people would skip the Ciudadela and get dropped at the other end, where the two pyramids are.
But I promise it’s worth it! There so many things to look at on the sides of the Avenue.
The Pyramid of the Sun
It’s the most popular pyramid and also the most crowded. Expect to have to wait in line if you’re there on a weekend. The pyramid is a restoration, but that doesn’t take anything away from it. It’s definitely an impressive monument and if you can climb it, I recommend doing it. I’ve seen parents carrying their one year old baby to the top, so you can do it too! There are plenty of places to take breaks and climb at your own pace. People will understand.
The Pyramid of the Moon
Smaller than the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon is still impressive. You can’t climb to the top, but it has a great view of the Avenue of the Dead. In my opinion, this pyramid actually has a better view. Maybe it’s only because I’m an interior designer and I like things that are aligned, but it was also less crowded and faster to climb.
Like the National Museum of Anthropology, Teotihuacan is a must-see when you are visiting Mexico City. Grab your sunglasses and hat, it’s time to explore some ruins and pretend you’re Indiana Jones!