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Best Things to Do in Teotihuacan

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It was one of the biggest, most populous cities around the globe. However, nowadays, the pyramids are all that is left of the city that was once Teotihuacan situated in Mexico.

It is situated close to modern-day Mexico City, the pyramids of Teotihuacan are a UNESCO World Heritage Site that should be on any traveler’s bucket list. A number of the largest pyramids can still be climbable, providing breathtaking views from the summit of these ancient pre-Hispanic pieces of engineering.

It’s a fascinating area to visit, and to help you plan your journey, here’s our information on Teotihuacan!

A Brief History of the Teotihuacan Pyramids

Teotihuacan located in Mexico is unavoidably linked to its past; for it’s an archaeological site! So it’s good to prepare yourself with some basic knowledge of the past before visiting Teotihuacan.

The ruin of Teotihuacan and the surviving pyramids are the only remains of the once most influential city in Mesoamerica. It isn’t only pre-Hispanic but predates even the Aztecs, who were the force to be faced when Europeans first arrived in the 1500s.

Teotihuacan was established in the 1st Century AD, and the city grew into one of the largest cities in the region. It was a center for culture, art, history and civilisation within the Teotihuacan Valley, and had enormous influence over the rest of the region. The city came to be one of the largest cities around the globe, home to tens of thousands of residents. The present-day pyramids were built (primarily for religious reasons) at the height of the city’s strength. In the seventh century A.D., Teotihuacan was starting to disappear for unidentified reasons (at simultaneously, other Mayan towns in south-central Mexico were becoming abandoned).

The city’s ruins and the pyramids were a source of influence for many centuries to come However. The Aztecs who were the first to establish their capital city of Tenochtitlan towards South (where Mexico City stands today) visited the temples. The name Teotihuacan is believed to mean “Birthplace for the Gods” in the local Aztec dialect.

After the Spanish conquest the pyramids went into disrepair, and then archaeological work began centuries later. Today, there’s an increased appreciation for Teotihuacan, and it’s one of the most preserved examples of pre-Hispanic pyramids in Mexico.

Best Date to Visit Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is best explored in the spring, winter, or in the spring and summer months. The most suitable months for travel to Teotihuacan are from November until May, when the weather is dry and the temperatures are cool.

Because the elevation that is Teotihuacan is 2,300 meters (7,500 feet) which means that winters in the area can be quite cold even though it’s located at the heart of Central Mexico. Winter is a great time to beat the crowds (except at Christmas) and, if you’re not accustomed to hot temperatures, it’s the perfect time to explore without overheating.

In spring the sun shines and temperatures start to rise however, tourist numbers are picking up, too. Summer can be extremely humid with the temperature characterised by continuous rainfall (not the best time to be outside, visiting Pyramids).

No matter what season you go to make sure to plan a trip to Teotihuacan in the middle of the week. The pyramids at Teotihuacan are within Mexico City, and on weekends, they can be very busy.

Teotihuacan is located north of Mexico City; around 50 kilometers (nearly 32 miles) away from the city’s central area. Tours to Teotihuacan begin every day, throughout the year, and it’s very easy to get there on an excursion from Mexico City.

Recommendation: We highly suggest this Teotihuacan day tour from Mexico City. On this early morning tour you will beat the crowds and enjoy the impressive site of archeology just as it starts to open its doors to visitors during the day. You can explore its many structures, plazas and murals in a tranquil, peaceful beautiful and mystical ambience that will provide you with a more authentic experience of this great city of ancient Mexico.

There are plenty of organized tours however, it’s also fairly easy to catch the tourist bus that goes to the ruins (even if it’s your first time using public transport throughout Mexico). Public buses run frequently (every one minute or so) at the terminal of Autobuses del Norte, Mexico City’s most important northern bus terminal.

The bus terminal is home to the metro station of its own (Autobuses Del Norte Metropolitano) that is located on the Yellow Line (Line 5). You can purchase one ticket for the metro, or use the metro’s pre-paid card. Travel is cheap for just five dollars a ride.

You can save a lot of time by taking the Uber for a ride to your station, though. They are safe, easy to book via the app, and a surprising value. When you arrive at the terminal, you’ll see advertisements on various counters promoting the bus to Teotihuacan (complete with pictures of the pyramids to help make things easy). You can queue up, and then jump to the next departure.

The trip could take as little than 45 mins from the terminal according to travel. There are several entry points and exits into the complex of pyramids, but just go to the first stop at The Pyramids (Gate 1). Get your ticket for entry (a very reasonable 80 pesos per day ticket) and then begin exploring.

When you return on the way back, you can take the bus again from another exit, rather than returning to your starting point. Buses run throughout the whole day (the monuments open between 9 a.m. to five p.m.).

You could hire a car and travel to Teotihuacan!

What is the minimum time I need to Visit Teotihuacan?

It is possible to visit Teotihuacan in an excursion of a day from Mexico City, but with the long wait and transportation times , you’ll likely take a whole day to explore.

For the pyramids at Teotihuacan as a whole, you’ll need at minimum three to four hours to experience all the attractions. It includes walking time between the pyramids and at the museum, and several breaks for refreshments and lunch.

Can I Spend the Night in Teotihuacan?

It’s not possible to stay the night in the pyramids itself, however, you can stay the night in the town nearby. You can walk from the pyramids to the city center There’s an array of accommodations available to book.

It’s not necessary to stay overnight however, it could mean you can get in early enough to visit the pyramids and watch the evening sunset or go to the sunrise for a hot air balloon flight.

Top Things to do in Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is spread over many miles, so be ready for a lot of walking throughout the day. You can also hire bicycles near the entrance in case you’d prefer. If you own your own car, you’ll be able to drive around the edge of the complex and park in different locations, but you’ll still being walking in and out.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to take the bus, jump off at the first entry point to pick up the return trip at the final entrance (start at Gate 1 of the Temple of Quetzalcoatl by Gate 1 and end at the Pyramid of the Moon by Gate 3).

With this in mind Here are the top things to see and do during the Teotihuacan tour.

1. Temple of Quetzalcoatl

The Temple of Quetzalcoatl (also known as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent) is the third-largest of the pyramids at Teotihuacan. It’s located next to Gate 1 and is the first temple to be seen by day-trippers.

It’s not as impressive as other pyramids that you be able to see from a distance, but it’s full of history Some of it dark. There are mass graves discovered around the pyramid, hidden under the ground are tunnels the temple. The temple is within the city walls – rather than outside, like the other temples do.

2. Avenue of the Dead

The Avenue of the Dead is 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) in length and begins from to the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in a completely straight line that leads to The Pyramid of the Moon.

This was the main highway of the city of Teotihuacan and is named since it would be the path taken by those destined to be buried on the pyramids.

You’ll be walking along the avenue during your trip making stops at temples and other places along the route.

3. Pyramid of the Sun

The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan is found along the Avenue of the Dead, between the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramid of the Moon. It is the biggest structure in the city, and also the most famous and easily identifiable.

It’s also the place which everyone climbs to get until they reach the top so make sure you’re prepared for a long trek to the top of the stairs. It’s worth the cost because of the stunning views (and all 360°).

The pyramid is an impressive piece of engineering. It’s thought to date back to around 200 A.D. and rises up to 65 meters (about 213 feet) in height, making it the third largest stone pyramid ever built anywhere in the world.

4. Pyramid of the Moon

The Pyramid of the Moon is located at the very side of the Avenue of the Dead, where the road terminates. The structure is 43 meters (about 142 feet) in height. It is comprised of seven distinct layers that lead to the top.

It’s believed that the Pyramid was a significant site for ritual sacrifice and religious ceremonies since graves were discovered around the base and in the pyramid’s layers inside the structure.

5. Palace of Quetzalpapalotl

At the base of the Pyramid of the Moon, you can walk through the excavations that were the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl.

You can see extensive murals that have been meticulously restored, and that demonstrate the ability to create art developed in the pre-Hispanic world.

The precise function of the palace is unclear however it could have served as the residence of the highest-ranking priest due to its proximity to temples.

6. Teotihuacan Museum

The tiny Teotihuacan Museum gives an insight into the past and archaeology that surrounds the pyramids and the city of ancient times.

There are artifacts, brief descriptions, along with illustrations of how the city would have looked like in the past. The information isn’t as deep however it does allow you to visualize the city as a whole.

7. Hot Air Balloon Cruise

Another of the thrilling ways to get to know Teotihuacan is to take an air balloon ride across the pyramids. You can arrange these in advance. Like most hot air balloon flights the best time to take them is early in the morning.

From the air, you’ll get an aerial view of the entire area and the surrounding valley which truly puts the size and extent of the city into stark perspective.

Tips for visiting Teotihuacan

1. Visit The Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City First

There’s not a lot of information about the pyramids if you’re strolling around and it’s a good option to go to the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City before you travel to Teotihuacan.

The Museum of Anthropology is one of the largest museums in the world. And there’s a lot of information about the past of Teotihuacan and the civilization that created the pyramids.

The museum covers nearly all known periods that are part of Mexican history, too which means you can start to piece the story together and understand how the pyramids are positioned on the chronology.

2. Leave Early, But Not Too Late

If you’re heading to Mexico City you’ll need to leave early-ish to enjoy a full day. You should, however, avoid rush hour in the city. This goes for anyone traveling via the metro, car or Uber!

Mexico City’s rush hours are known for their chaos, and the metro system is packed (literally to the point of being suffocating) and the streets are completely blocked.

Make sure to begin your journey at 9 a.m. to avoid the most crowded rush hour in the city. You’ll have enough time to explore the pyramids before returning to your hotel before the rush of evening.

Recommendation: If you book a tour you don’t have to worry about finding the right bus or navigating rush hour traffic. Plus, you get to take a stroll with an experienced guide who can tell you everything you need to know about the past of this important city pre-Hispanic. Tours for day tours are low-cost and seriously take the stress out of your trip into The Teotihuacan Pyramids.

3. Make sure you wear a hat and Sunscreen

There’s no shade in the entire pyramid complex (except in the museums) since everything’s so expansive.

When you climb to the top of the pyramids as well as the walk through the Avenue of the Dead, you’ll always be in the sunlight. Also, don’t forget to wear a sun-hat and put on sunscreen, even in winter.

4. Take a Guided Tour of the Pyramids

Although you can explore the park on your own but having a dedicated Teotihuacan guide can really make the experience more real.

If you weren’t able to book a guided tour in advance it is possible to hire the assistance of an local guide for Teotihuacan at the entrance.

Costs are fair and you’ll walk away from those pyramids at Teotihuacan with a greater understanding of their significance than you did before you came.

The pyramids of Teotihuacan are one of the most stunning archaeological sites on earth which is a must for anyone traveling to Mexico City. The pre-Hispanic ruins have stood the test of time, and provide a fascinating insight into the intricate cultures that grew and died long before Europeans came to Mexican shores. It’s a great day trip to Mexico City!