Teotihuacan was once considered the most powerful city in Mesoamerica by 400 A.D. and is the most visited site in Mexico. It is just 30 miles northeast of Mexico City approximately one hour away. Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America, that extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica.
Known as the largest Pre-Aztec city, Teotihuacan was found in the 1400s by the Aztec people who named it Teotihuacan (meaning “the place where the gods were created”). This ancient Mesoamerica city was designated by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heritage Site in 1987. UNESCO is known for preserving and protecting the most valuable heritage places in the world.
Know Before You Go
Pronunciation: Tei·uh·tee·waa·kaan (Teotihuacán)
Cost: Getting into the pyramids will cost 80 MXN Pesos equivalent to $4 USD
Address: There’s no official address to actually get the the pryamids and you won’t want to just search for “Teotihuacan“, because it will navigate you to the town, not the pyramid. To get to the right spot you’ll want to enter Zona Arqueológica de Teotihuacan Estacionamiento Puerta 2.
Another option is to search for Autopista Ecatepec 22,600 Km, 55850 San Juan Teotihuacan de Arista, Méx., Mexico, which will take you to Museo de la Cultura Teotihuacana. There are five gates, each with a ticket office to pay for entry. Each gate has a parking lot, that you can park safely at for a fee.
Hours: Currently the operating hours are from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The official information for Teotihuacán can be found on Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH). 3:00 PM is the latest/ last time that you can enter the site. Be prepared to spend 3-5 Hours exploring the site.
Transportation: Buses and Uber are both an option for getting you to the pyramids, but I personally suggest booking a guided tour from a local agency for ease of getting around.
Altitude: Teotihuacan stands at 7500 feet altitude, so it’s important to keep that in mind when climbing up the steps (that are open). If you go too fast you may feel a bit winded and out of breath.
Is everything in Spanish?: Most of the signs at Teotihuacan are in Spanish, so if you’d like to get a little background before you go, I would suggest watching this video.
Pro Tip: Arrive as early as possible to avoid the heat and the crowds, and avoid visiting on a Sunday. The admission is free for Mexican residents, and it can get packed.
The Nifty Guide – What Was My Itinerary?
Despite Teotihuacán being a popular day trip, there’s so much more history to be discovered during your visit, which is why I mentioned booking a tour. I booked the Discover Teotihuacán and its pyramids Tour with German through Airbnb. It’s $33 per person and includes the following:
- Transportation from the meeting point, and between all destinations. They can drop you off directly at your hotel or Airbnb upon request
- Ticket/ Tour of Teotihuacán (Pyramid of the Sun and Moon)
- Square of the Three Cultures (Plaza de las Tres Culturas) *Temporarily Closed*
- Restaurant inside a natural cave La Caverna *Food and drinks not included in the tour* (the alternative restaurant is “El Jaguar”)
- Artesanias Finas for a liqueur tasting
- Basilica of Guadalupe *This place may be excluded*
The only caveat to this tour is that it’s hosted in Spanish. German does have other staff members that speak English who can translate for an extra fee.
The Avenue of the Dead
A lot of Teotihuacan’s history is still a mystery. The city had been abandoned for centuries, making Teotihuacan’s origins, a mystery. If you choose to take the tour, pick up is at 8:30 AM with a 20 min late grace period. If everyone arrives at the pick-up spot on time, you’ll arrive at the pyramids between 9:30 AM and 10:00 AM, which is good because you’ll want to start exploring as early as possible.
The Avenue of the Dead is a long continuous pathway that runs directly through the ancient city. It’s called The Avenue of the Dead because the mounds on the sides looked like tombs. The Avenue ran north and south, and shortly after 200 AD, the city developed another main road running east-west dividing the city in four quarters.
What to wear?
Right off the back, the site is huge! You will be covering a lot of ground during your visit, so you’ll need to be prepared to wear comfortable walking shoes. There’s no real shade on the site so make sure to take sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and any other sun protection accessories.
The sun hits different here so make sure your outfit is breathable and light, and wear colors that reflect the sun instead of attracting the sun. I’ve put together a shop-able list below.
A backpack is perfect for this day trip to keep your hands free and lets you stash a few snacks and water to stay hydrated. Don’t forget to bring your camera, because this is a moment that you’ll want to capture.
The Pyramid of the Sun & Moon
Teotihuacan is home to two massive pyramids, the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. These pyramids are laid out on geometric and symbolic systems.
The Pyramid of the Sun, better known as Pirámide del Sol, pictured above, is the largest structure in the ancient city of Teotihuacan, Mexico. It measures 225m by 222m at its base and 75m high, making it one of the largest and most impressive pyramids on the planet. There’s a natural cave inside that was so important to the Teotihuacanos that they built a pyramid over it. The cave served as a ritual site long before the construction of the pyramid and runs 20 feet below the pyramid.
Caves were important to the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples as the places where new worlds emerged, where sun and moon were created. It is believed that the mountain serves as an anchor to the earth. Currently, you aren’t able to climb it like you were allowed to in the past.
The 151-foot high Pyramid of the Moon is not just one pyramid; it’s actually composed of seven pyramids built one on top of the other. It was revealed that man-made tunnels were created beneath the pyramid.
You will hear the sounds of wolves, jaguars, and feathered serpents once you arrive but don’t fear, it’s only the vendors, blowing on a whistle that resembles wild animals, not the wild animals themself. These vendors will follow you like a hawk trying to sell you souvenirs. The items they sell tend to be fake and expensive made in China souvenirs. If you want to purchase souvenirs, there are souvenir shops located in town.
Teotihuacan is one of the greatest pyramids that I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in person, and no matter what you do it is not to be missed when visiting Mexico City.
Did you enjoy this post? Let me know if this information was helpful, and if you have been to Teotihuacan before in the comments below. I look forward to reading your additional thoughts and experiences, as well as answering any questions you may have!
Until next time,