How to Go to Teotihuacan Without Paying for a Tour
Teotihuacan is a popular day trip from Mexico City, and you’ll find plenty of tour operators charging a premium to get you there. But it’s actually quite easy to get there by yourself once you know how. Here’s how you can visit Teotihuacan from Mexico City without a tour group for about $10 a person–including admission to Teotihuacan.
There is of course more than one way to get to Teotihuacan. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could rent a car, or even ask your concierge to help book a private car to take you. Teotihuacan tours departing from Mexico City start at around $50–though there are definitely some cool options like hot air balloon rides.
We’ll be focusing on the cheapest option from Mexico City to Teotihuacan: public buses that run regularly throughout the day.
How to Get from Mexico City to Teotihuacan
1. Catch the bus to Teotihuacan at the Autobuses Del Norte bus station in Northern Mexico City. Buses leave about every 20 minutes, so just show up and you won’t have to wait long.
We recommend leaving by 9am (or earlier!) to beat the crowds, especially if going on a weekend. (Admission to Teotihuacan is free to Mexican nationals on Sundays, so it will generally be the most crowded day and one to avoid if you can).
– On the metro, get off at the Terminal Central del Norte / Autobuses del Norte metro station on Line 5. From the metro stop, follow signs for Autobuses del Norte. You’ll exit the metro and cross the street to the bus terminal pictured above (it’s hard to miss!).
– If you’d rather take an Uber to the station, it’s still fairly cheap. Just know that the station may not appear under the Spanish name when you’re setting your destination, instead showing up as “Northern Bus Terminal”.
2. Go to Gate 8, to the “Autobuses Teotihuacan” window.
Ask for round trip tickets to “Los Piramides” or “Zona Arqueologico.” Some of the clerks do speak English, but it’s an easy transaction regardless. As of early 2018, a round trip ticket was 104 pesos, or about $5 USD.
The station does have a variety of fast food available, as well as pay bathrooms. If you need to, make sure you use the bathrooms in the station or grab food before you head back to the bus bays. There is no bathroom on the bus.
Your ticket to the Teotihuacan stop will be good only for the specific departure time printed on the ticket, however the return ticket can be used at any time that day.
The Teotihuacan site closes at 5pm, though buses sometimes run as late as 9pm. If you plan to stay in the area longer (for dinner at La Gruta, for instance), be sure to take note of the last return bus for the day.
3. Go through Gate 8 (unless they tell you otherwise at the ticket window), and wait at the numbered bay for your bus. The number won’t be printed on your ticket, but they will tell you the bay number when you purchase the ticket, and if you’re not sure, you can always ask a driver or another passenger. During our trip, about half the other riders were foreign tourists as well.
Your ticket does have assigned seat numbers; look for the number that appears after “Asiento” (the “a” is cut off on our tickets, but you get the idea).
Depending on traffic, the drive to Teotihuacan is about an hour.
4. The bus will drop you at Puerta 1, and from there you can enter and begin exploring Teotihuacan!
Some tips on exploring:
– There is street food available outside of Puerta (Gate) 2, and some snack and beverage vending machines near the musuem. However, you can always pack a backpack with food and drinks if you’d prefer.
– It’s not widely advertised, but you can leave and re-enter the site on the same day, so make sure to keep your ticket if you leave for lunch.
Getting Back to Mexico City from Teotihuacan
To return to Mexico City, exit via Puerta 2, cross the street and turn right. You’ll see the bus stop sign pictured below:
Other buses may stop here as well, so just hold up your ticket and ask the driver if you’re unsure. We also found that the souvenir vendors on the road leading out of Teotihuacan were very nice, and happy to point us in the direction of the bus stop, so don’t feel shy about asking for help. But it really is a easy process, and you’ll be back in Mexico City in no time!
FAQs about Visiting Teotihuacan
We found that while the condition of the buses varied somewhat (the bus to Teotihuacan was older and shabbier, while the bus back was actually pretty nice), the buses seemed perfectly safe and roadworthy. Many of the other passengers on the route were also foreign tourists, and everyone was quiet and well behaved. The route is all city streets and straight highway–no scary winding cliffside roads!
Do be aware that the police may board the bus at stops and record everyone’s faces with a video camera. It confused us the first time because the man wasn’t in uniform, but don’t worry, they’re unlikely to bother you.
Some people who go with a tour group are disappointed to find that they’re herded around to various souvenir shops, and don’t spend as much time at Teotihuacan as they’d like. But not all tour groups are bad! Just do your research and be picky about which tour provider you choose.
Viator offers a wide selection of highly rated day trips to Teotihuacan that fit a range of budgets.
I recommend bringing sunscreen, a bottle of water, a light jacket, and comfortable shoes with good support. The terrain is uneven, and doubly so if you’re climbing the pyramids. I wore a pair of comfy, stretchy sneakers, but found myself wishing I’d opted for hiking boots when I almost twisted an ankle climbing the Pyramid of the Sun.
You will want water, but if you forget to bring a bottle with you, water and snacks can be purchased from vending machines near the museum. There’s also street food, as well as the famous La Gruta restaurant not far outside the gates. Just remember to hold on to your ticket to re-enter the site!
The street food options are good for those on a budget, so it’s really not necessary to pack a lunch unless you have dietary restrictions.