Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Janine
Wondering about the best day trips from Mexico? These fantastic Mexico City excursions highlight many different sides of Mexico.
There’s no question that you could spend years exploring Mexico City and still not see everything. I mean, I once filled almost an entire week just visiting the Centro Historico. However, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle of big city life.
Fortunately, Mexico City is surrounded by beautiful towns, cities, and historical sites that extend in literally every direction, many of which are worthy of a dedicated trip!
Some of these, like Teotihuacán, are likely part of your itinerary already. But there are also numerous Pueblos Magicos and charming colonials cities that don’t get quite the same hype, despite being totally worthy of it. These destinations offer the opportunity to experience Mexican culture at a much slower pace.
I asked a few fellow travel bloggers to share their favorite day trips from Mexico City. Read on for their dreamiest recommendations.
You’ll be keen to incorporate a couple of these excursions into your Mexico City itinerary.
- Sight Seeing in Mexico City’s Centro Historico
- What to Wear in Mexico City
- What to Know Before Visiting Mexico
Best Day Trips From Mexico City
1. Taste mole poblano and shop for Talavera in Puebla City, Puebla
Puebla City is located 68 miles southeast of Mexico City, making it an easy day trip from Mexico City. When I think of Puebla, Mole Poblano, Talavera pottery, and Cinco de Mayo come to mind.
No disrespect to Americans celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day on a day that celebrates the Battle of Puebla, when an outnumbered Mexican Army won a battle against French soldiers during the Franco-Mexican War… Any excuse for a marg and guac, amirite?
If you want to be authentic and go for round two, celebrate Mexico’s independence on September 16, Mexico’s actual Independence Day.
Puebla’s claim to fame in Mexico, and with foodies worldwide, is their mole poblano, considered a national dish.
Mole refers to a group of sauces made with chilies varying widely from region to region. Mole poblano is a labor-intensive, rich, dark-brown sauce made with many varieties of chilies, a bit of chocolate (to counter the heat of the chilies and contribute to the color but does not dominate), and depending on the family recipe passed down over generations, a few dozen other sour, sweet, and thickening-enhancing ingredients.
If you’re around, Puebla celebrates a mole poblano festival in early June; though, the city has no shortage of parades and festivals throughout the year.
Puebla’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is quintessential colonial Mexico retaining much of its mid-16th century architecture.
Strolling through Puebla, admiring its architecture, Talavera ceramics and tiles, the Zócalo, with its green spaces, statues and monuments, while snapping photos and eating mole poblano is a full day.
If time permits, dip into the Palafoxiana Library, the oldest public library in the Americas, or the Museum of Folk Art in the former Santa Rosa convent. According to legend, mole poblano was invented in its stunning kitchen, covered in Talavera tiles.
Talavera pottery is governed by regulations that pertain to the towns of origin due to the quality of their natural clays, the six permitted colors made from natural pigments, the designs, the creation process, and the authenticity certification.
Don’t forget to bring a bag on your day trip to Puebla to carry and protect your Talavera purchases!
2. Explore the world’s largest pyramid in Cholula, Puebla
Cholula is a small town located just 78 miles from Mexico City and 9 miles from Puebla. Like other Mexican colonial towns, it has a zócalo flanked with cafés, restaurants, and shops (find Puebla’s Talavera ceramics here).
Though, the main draw of Cholula, as a day trip from Mexico City, is its history and towering landscape.
The name Cholula, derived from a Nahuatl (the language of the Aztecs) word, meaning “the place of the retreat,” is also the namesake for a famous hot sauce. If you live in the U.S. you know the one.
Cholula’s vitality as the oldest inhabited city in America for some 2,500 years inspired the name.
The draw to the area is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, Tlachihualtepetl in Nahuatl, meaning “made-by-hand mountain.” Built in the third century BC by the Aztecs, it grew by multiple layers throughout the centuries, becoming the largest temple in the world by volume.
By the time the Spaniards built the sanctuary Nuestra Señora de los Remedios in the 16th century, the pyramid was grown over by Mother Nature. Whether the Spaniards knew what was under the hill is unknown.
The church is stunning, showcasing neoclassical architecture, tile-covered domes, and swoon-worthy views of the town and valley. Adding to this majestic landscape are two volcanoes: the Popocatepetl (active) and the Iztaccihuatl (dormant).
The best time to visit the site is in the morning when there’s a chance to view the volcanoes. Block off plenty of time to explore the pyramid’s tunnels and the excavated areas.
3. Soak up Mesoamerican history at Teotihuacán
Teotihuacán is undoubtedly one of the most popular day trips from Mexico City, and for a good reason: it is picturesque and has a fascinating history.
Archaeologists believe the site was founded about 100 years BCE. It had been abandoned for hundreds of years by the time the Aztecs arrived.
Once the largest city in Mesoamerica, with a population of around 150,000, Teotihuacán is now the most popular archaeological site in Mexico, hosting over 4 million visitors each year.
The Sun and Moon Pyramids are the main draws, but the Temple of Quetzalcoatl is equally impressive if you ask me. On this smaller but similarly remarkable pyramid, you can see intricate carvings of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, and Tlaloc, the god of rain.
When you enter the archaeological site, the famous Avenue of the Dead stretches out to your left. Instead of venturing left toward the pyramids, go right toward The Ciudadela to check out Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc for yourself!
Afterward, walk the Avenue of the Dead and scamper up the Pyramid of the Sun for the obligatory selfie (I did it too, no shame!). The pyramid is steep, sun-soaked, and crowded: take water and expect to stand in line.
Buses run to Teotihuacán frequently from the Central del Norte, or you can do as I did on my most recent visit and take a tour.
Viator offers a half-day tour of Teotihuacán with an archaeologist who will explain the significance of what you are seeing.
There aren’t many interpretive signs at the site. The history is fascinating, so it’s worth hiring a guide to help you understand the significance of what you’re looking at. This particular tour also includes a Tequila, Mezcal, and Pulque tasting.
4. Shop for Mexican silver in Taxco, Guerrero
In a sea of Puebla day trips and Teotihuacán tours, so many people forget about Taxco, Guerrero.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with Puebla or Teotihuacán (they’re some of my favourite pyramids in Mexico), but you should make room for a quick trip to Taxco too.
One word: silver!
And now three more words: incredibly affordable silver.
Once a mining hub, Taxco is now a beautiful colonial town. Almost all the buildings are whitewashed to within an inch of their lives, and the narrow, cobbled streets are overrun by bright red VW Bugs.
Sounds pretty great, right?
Add to that the fact that Taxco is surprisingly accessible from Mexico City—there are tons of buses that run from the southern Tasqueña bus station daily, for something like $15 USD return, and the journey is only two hours long—and you have the recipe for a speedy day trip that will have you refreshed on your return to the capital.
As for things to do in Taxco, the stunning central plaza and cathedral surely steal the show. Try to grab lunch anywhere with an elevated balcony or rooftop to get the best views over the town.
Alternatively, pay a visit to the knock-off Christ the Redeemer, which offers even better views over Taxco and the surroundings. Other than that, stroll around and, ahh, buy silver!
Plenty of places will try and overcharge you or even just sell you a bit of tat masquerading as real silver; however, don’t incorrectly assume that all Taxco’s silver is false. This was a huge silver-producing town and, as such, has some of the best in the country. You just have to know where to look.
My recommendation? Real de Minas Platería.
If you want to read more about Taxco, you can read my, prepare yourself, ~sterling~ post over at Northern Lauren!
5. Wander picturesque Tesquisquiapan and Bernal, Querétaro
Last summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to live in Mexico City with my fiancé and his family from April until September. We went on so many day trips, but one that really stands out was when we made the 2.5-hour drive to Tequisquiapan and Bernal.
The towns are about 30 minutes away from each other and are both so beautiful. Plus, they are both Pueblos Mágicos or “Magic Towns.”
I can definitely say that it felt magical wandering through the colourful buildings that constantly seemed to overflow with bright, fragrant flowers.
If you make this day trip, be sure to visit the churches in each town and stop to smell the flowers too!
Bernal is home to the Peña de Bernal, a large monolith that can be seen from many spots in the hilly town. We didn’t climb it when I visited, but I believe you can if you want to. It’s actually the third biggest monolith in the world, which is pretty cool.
The town of Bernal is a bit smaller than Tequisquiapan. There are tons of artisan shops in Bernal, and all the buildings are painted in bright yellow, pink, and other colourful hues.
Tequisquiapan, Querétaro is a Pueblo Mágico a couple of hours from Mexico City. Photo Cred: Just Leaving Footprints
Tequisquiapan is home to a large artisan market where I wanted to spend all of my money. I ended up purchasing only a denim romper and an embroidered dress.
If I could give a nickname to Tequisquiapan, it would be the “Town of Flowers.” Bright pink flowers spill out over almost all the colourful Spanish buildings. The architecture is brilliant, and although we didn’t visit it, there is a water park to cool off at as well.
I made so many day trips while living in Mexico City last year, and this one was one of my absolute favourites! So if you’re heading to Mexico City, be sure to add these gems to your list.
6. Visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Coyoacan
by Lannie of Lannie’s Food & Travel Adventures
There is no woman who defines Mexican art more than Frida Kahlo. Frida lived an incredible life, full of emotions and tragedy, most of it taking place at La Casa Azul (The Blue House), also known as Museo Frida Kahlo.
She was born there, grew up, lived there with her husband (Diego Rivera), and eventually passed away there. While you can find Frida’s art all around Mexico City, true fans will love to visit La Casa Azul. Today, La Casa Azul is a museum decided to her life and work.
Some of her earlier works are exhibited in La Casa Azul, along with original furniture and personal effects.
One of my favorite parts of La Casa Azul is an ongoing exhibition, showcasing her dresses. Frida was known for blouses and skirts highlighting colourful, traditional Mexican textiles.
Located in Coyocan, it’s easiest to Uber there from central Mexico City. It is also accessible from Metro Line 3 (Coyocan stop), with a 15-20 minute walk from the station.
Editor’s Note: While Coyoacan is technically located within CDMX, I’ve included it as a day trip from Mexico City because it has a totally different feel. It’s well worth spending an entire day wandering around this area and soaking up all of its charm. I would even recommend taking a tour of Coyoacan so you can learn all about what makes this neighborhood so special.
The Blue House is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. Because this museum is so popular, tickets must to be purchased in advance for a set entrance time. You can book tickets here.
Your ticket also includes admission to the Anahuacalli Museum (valid for one year). Designed by Frida’s husband, Diego Rivera, the Anahuacalli Museum houses thousands of pre-Hispanic pieces.
Following a day of art and history, consider having dinner at Pujol – consistently ranked one of the best restaurants in the world.
7. Take a day trip to Cuernavaca, Morelos
by Marco of Nomadic FIRE
With affordable costs, a vibrant culture, and a world-renown food scene, there is no mystery as to why expats and tourists love living in Mexico.
Mexico’s capital city is always on the list of top cities to live in Latin America. However, with almost 28 million people in the metro area, traffic jams, pollution, and masses of people come as part of the package.
For a break from the city’s grit and grind, visitors head to the beautiful town of Cuernavaca for a day or two of relaxation in the tranquil green hills.
Roughly 85 km outside of Mexico City, Cuernavaca is known for its charming colonial architecture, beautiful mountain views, and moderate climate.
However, it was not until recently that the “City of Eternal Spring” became a destination for those looking to escape the crowded streets of Mexico City.
Compared to Mexico City’s hustle, life is slower in Cuernavaca. People here spend the day strolling through the colorful colonial streets, enjoy some people-watching in the city center’s Juárez and Morelos Gardens, or take a leisurely boat ride in the Borda Garden’s lake.
In the afternoon, there is a choice of nearby activities and sites:
- Palacio de Cortés – a colonial European-style palace that also houses the Cauhnáhuac Museum
- Teopanzolco – archaeological ruins built by the Aztecs around the 12th century.
Don’t miss out on trying the Morelos region’s specialty foods. The dishes in this state use more pre-colonial recipes than in Mexico City. Try something with cactus for a unique treat.
Continue Planning Your Trip!
Mexico Guide Books
This Mexico phrasebook will help you communicate, even if your Spanish skills are lacking.
This Mexico travel guide is packed with all the info you could ever need.
I use a combination of Booking, Airbnb, and VRBO to find accommodation throughout Mexico.
Some cities in Mexico have more listings on VRBO than Airbnb (or vice versa), so it’s best to check both to find the perfect place!
Rental cars add tons of flexibility to your travel plans. If you opt to rent one, I recommend using Discover Cars to find the best rates!
Skyscanner is my favorite tool for finding the best deals on airfare.
Never leave home without travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers super-affordable policies that cover things like medical expenses, trip interruption, and lost luggage. They even offer coverage for some expenses related to COVID-19. Their policies are particularly great for long-term travelers, making them a great option for Mexico.
There’s no question that knowing basic Spanish is wildly beneficial in Mexico. It helps you stay aware of your surroundings, solve problems, and make friends!
RocketSpanish has a well-structured program that will take you from bumbling to conversational in just a few modules. Start your free trial today!
Still have questions?
Join my Female Travelers in Mexico Facebook group, a supportive community of fellow Mexico travel enthusiasts, where you can find answers to all your travel questions!