Pena de Bernal is one of the best day trips from Mexico City.
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11 Best Day Trips from Mexico City

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Depending on how adventurous you want to get, there are a lot of day trips from Mexico City you could try. Once you get free of the traffic of CDMX, the road network is actually pretty good, making it easy to reach neighbouring cities or rural nature without too much hassle.

We’ll tell you up front that our fav escape was an ambitious driving excursion that took in both Queretaro and Pena de Bernal, delivering non-stop eye candy! In fact, the best trips we’ve undertaken were mostly ones where we rented a car and hit the open road – we just love the independence that provides. 

Don’t worry, though. Not many day trips outside Mexico City absolutely require you to hire a vehicle, and you can just as easily manage with the bus or on a tour. 

In this post, we’ve put together a highlight reel of our all-time favourite getaways, from stunning colonial towns to secluded nature getaways.

⚠️ 10 Survival Tips For Your Trip To Mexico City. We live here and know both the amazing and the ugly sides of the city. ➡️ ➡️ Get your FREE Guide here.

TOP 3 Best Day Trips From Mexico City

Since you probably won’t be able to take all of the day trips we took during our time living in CDMX, here are our top three recommendations.

🌟TOP NATURE PICK🌟
Blogger Mal in Tolantongo on a day trip from Mexico City.

Grutas De Tolantongo

Best day trip for nature lovers! We loved the stunning views, cascading pools and natural cave saunas!

🌟TOP HISTORY PICK🌟
Teotihuacan day trip Mexico City

Teotihuacan

One of the most impressive pyramids we’ve ever seen. If you’re interested in history and pre-hispanic civilisations, it’s a must-visit place!

🌟TOP FOODIE PICK🌟
Day trip to Puebla from Mexico City

Puebla

Puebla is a gorgeous town packed with charming architecture and delicious Mexican food options! We love it because it is an easy day trip from CDMX!

#1 Teotihuacan Pyramids – Best Day Trip From Mexico City For History Buffs.

One of the most famous open air museums in Mexico City
Teotihuacan is the best day trip from Mexico City if you like history

Distance & Travel Time: 50km, about 1 hour by car.

Recommended Travel Option: Choose one of the day tours from Mexico City that include a guide so that you get some context and history about this incredible place. 

Why Visit: Teotihuacan is a site of enormous historical importance. Although archaeologists are still debating which pre-Hispanic civilization inhabited the city, what is beyond doubt is that it contains some of the most impressive ancient pyramids in the world. 

Of all the things we’ve seen in Mexico, the Pyramid of the Sun remains near the top of our list of must-see monuments. At around 65m in height, it’s the third-tallest pyramid in the world. 

You can no longer scale its giddy heights, but you can clamber up one of the smaller pyramidal platforms lining the Avenue of the Dead, walking in the footsteps of people who have been gone for almost 2,000 years.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Hot Air Balloon Flight Over Teotihuacan

There are a lot of Mexico City day tours to Teotihuacan, but this is our favourite. If you’re ever going to experience a hot air balloon, these Mesoamerican ruins are the place to do it. From up in the sky, you can get a bird’s-eye view of the layout of the city, before exploring it up close on foot.

#2 Xochimilco – Best For Boat Parties.

Xochimilco day trip from Mexico City
day trips Mexico City

Distance & Travel Time: 35km, about 50 minutes by car.

Recommended Travel Option: Go with a tour to avoid the hassle of haggling for a berth on a trajinera (flat-bottomed boat).

Why Visit: Xochimilco is one of the most culturally unique day trips from Mexico City. 

Technically, the area’s claim to fame is that it’s a network of precolonial canals, dotted with chinampas (artificial islands). Thanks to this significance, it’s one of the 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mexico.

The real reason people come here on day trips from Mexico City, however, is to party! 

Originally developed for farming purposes, Xochimilco’s water gardens are used today by locals for celebrating. People float along the waterways on what we can best describe as traditional party boats, aka trajineras.

These are interspersed with smaller vessels that drift by selling micheladas, beers, and Mexican eats to keep the fiesta going. Wandering mariachi minstrels sell their services, serenading tourists and chilangos alike.

While Xochimilco wasn’t one of our top 5 day trips around Mexico City, we still found the buzzy atmosphere entertaining. Just make sure you go with a group of friends or on a tour, so you can enjoy the social vibe that is such a core part of the experience.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Xochimilco, Coyoacán & Frida Kahlo Museum

One of the best day trips out of Mexico City centre if you want to combine several must-visit areas, this tour takes you not just to Xochimilco but also to Frida Kahlo’s childhood home and the neighbourhood where she grew up. It’s a perfect itinerary for fans of the artist (like Mal!), as well as people who want to experience one of CDMX’s most charming districts.

#3 Puebla – One Of The Best Day Tours From Mexico City For Foodies.

Puebla is one of the best day trips from Mexico City for city lovers

Distance & Travel Time: 135km, about 2.5 hours’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: Catching the bus is cheap and convenient. It means you can spend as long as you like exploring the city without being accompanied by a guide.

Why Visit: Puebla is among the best short trips from Mexico City for people who like a mixture of history, architecture, and, above all, eating! 

Unlike many modern metropolises in Mexico, including CDMX itself, Puebla was built entirely from scratch. No Mesoamerican habitation existed on the site before the Spaniards turned up in the area, allowing them to build a prototype for their ideal colonial cosmopolis.

The result is a well-preserved mishmash of European architecture through the ages. One of the highlights for us was hanging out around the Zocalo, where you can people-watch in between exploring the cathedral and the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Latin America’s oldest library.

We highly recommend taking a food tour while you’re in town. Puebla is famous for its cuisine, with dishes like mole Poblano, chiles en nogada, and chalupas all originating in the city. 

During certain times of year, there are even festivals to these delicacies, which have become part of the fabric of Mexican culture.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Puebla, Cholula & Tonantzintla Day Trip

For people who want to explore all the Puebla highlights, this is one of the most comprehensive road trips from Mexico City. It includes a visit to Cholula, where there are several remarkable 16th-century churches, as well as guided looks at the cathedral and the dazzling Capilla del Rosario.

#4 Queretaro – Best For Walking Down Picturesque Pedestrian Streets.

Blogger Robin in Queretaro
Blogger Mal in Queretaro

Distance & Travel Time: 210km, about 3 hours’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: Hop in the car and drive, it’s a fairly easy journey aside from the unavoidable traffic that engulfs CDMX.

Why Visit: One of the best day trips Mexico City has to offer for lovers of beauty, Queretaro is super picturesque. 

The downtown area boasts several lively parks and plazas linked by ‘andadores.’ These pedestrian-only streets are lined with houses painted in warm colours that made the whole place feel cheerful to us.

If you’re in a lazy mood, hop on the tranvia. This tourist trolley has two separate routes that take in most of the city’s most famous attractions, including the Templo de San Francisco, the striking 18th-century aqueduct, and the Hill of the Bells, where Emperor Maximilian was executed.

Queretaro is one of the best day trips from Mexico City for people who want to get off the main tourist trail. That’s not to say it’s an undiscovered gem, but you’ll definitely find fewer people visiting compared to Puebla or San Miguel de Allende.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Private Tour To Tula And Queretaro

Combine your excursion to Queretaro with a stop-off at the Toltec ruins of Tula with its unique basalt columns carved into the shape of warriors. This is one of the best trips from Mexico City for people who want to explore the country’s Mesoamerican and Hispanic history in one action-packed day.

#5 San Miguel de Allende – One Of The Best Mexico City Day Tours For Old-World Charm.

Blogger Robin walking the streets of San Miguel de Allende.
Blogger Mal eating ice cream in the park in San Miguel de Allende.
San Miguel de Allende

Distance & Travel Time: 260km, which can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, depending on traffic.

Recommended Travel Option: San Miguel de Allende is one of the longest day trips from Mexico City, so we’d suggest going on a tour if you want to squeeze it into less than 24 hours.

Why Visit: SMdA is friendly and chill – the perfect place to go for a relaxing getaway if you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the bustle of CDMX. 

It’s got tons of lovely colonial architecture, quality museums, and an excellent artisanal market where you can pick up high-quality, locally made souvenirs for a decent price.

SMdA is home to one of our favourite buildings in Mexico, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. This pink edifice might look like a princess’ palace or a tiered wedding cake, but it’s actually a parish church that dates back to the 17th century. 

Admittedly, we’re pushing the limits, including SMdA on our list of day trips near Mexico City. To tell the truth, we visited SMdA over a weekend rather than on a single day, getting in and out of town using the bus. If you go with a tour, however, it is doable in less than 24 hours.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ San Miguel de Allende Tour From Mexico City

The best way to see San Miguel de Allende in a day, this tour takes you first to a ‘mirador’ (viewpoint) above the city, before descending into its pretty streets. The guide dishes out the essential deets to start with, before giving you a few hours to explore on your own.

#6 Pena de Bernal – Best For Photographers.

Distance & Travel Time: 230km, about 3.5 hours’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: We visited Bernal as part of a combined trip to see Queretaro, and it was one of the best Mexico City day trips we’ve taken so far.

Why Visit: An intimate town of gorgeous little streets and cute houses, Bernal is magical.

Overshadowed by one of the world’s largest monoliths, it’s a place where stunning vistas await around every corner. The Mexican government even designated it a ‘Pueblo Magico’ (‘Magical Town’), in recognition of its beauty.

We’re photographers, so for us, visiting Bernal took us to another plane of pleasure. There isn’t really anything to do here exactly, just wander about and enjoy, stopping off for the occasional street-food snack. We’re partial to the black gorditas that are something of a social media sensation. 

If you’re feeling fit and feisty, you can hike to the top of the Pena de Bernal monolith. Just be warned that it will take a few hours and is probably not feasible if you’re on a tight daytrip schedule.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ There aren’t any good tours to Pena de Bernal. Any day trips from Mexico City will have to be your own initiative!

#7 Grutas de Tolantongo – Best Mexico City Day Trips For Nature Lovers.

Cost of day trips from Mexico City

Distance & Travel Time: 200km, about 3.5 hours’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: Sign up for a day tour from Mexico City. Even though the drive isn’t much longer than to Queretaro, the place itself involves a lot of activities that will leave you tired.

Why Visit: Picture natural thermal springs that flow into a lustrous turquoise river. For us, that’s what made Tolantongo such a memorable one-day trip from Mexico City.

There are also several caves to explore with concealed bathing pools. It’s kind of surreal to find yourself floating about inside of a mountain as warm water jets out of the rock face.

In addition to the natural wonders, a series of ‘pocitas’ (man-made terraced pools) cascade down the side of a hill. Plop yourself into one of these babies and relax with serene views.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Full-Day Tour To Tolantongo

This is one of the most well-organised day trips from Mexico City that we’ve been on. As part of the tour, everyone got a backpack with a water bottle, a headlight for the caves, a towel to dab away the sweat, and a second towel to use for a shower at the end.

#8 Nevado de Toluca – Best For Adventurers. 

Nevado de Toluca is the best day trip from Mexico City for hikers

Distance & Travel Time: 110km, about 2 hours and 45 minutes’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: Going on a tour ensures you have a professional on hand to help you navigate the volcano.

Why Visit: One of Mexico’s many volcanoes, Nevado de Toluca, is an incredible place to go for a vigorous hike. 

Before you ask if it’s safe to visit, Nevado de Toluca has been extinct for some time now. Standing on the lip of the crater, looking down at the lakes where lava once bubbled, took our breath away.

One-day trips from Mexico City don’t get much more hardcore than this. Aside from the physicality of clambering about the volcano, it’s more than 4,000 metres above sea level, which brings a whole other level of challenge for the body. Luckily, we didn’t get altitude sickness, but the guide told us it’s not uncommon.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Hike At Nevado De Toluca Volcano

This is easily one of the best day tours from Mexico City for people who like adventure. It takes around 12 hours and includes 8km of hiking across rough terrain, though trekking poles are provided to make things a bit easier. Plus, they provide a lunch for you to refuel as part of the package.

#9 Tepotzotlan – Best For A Toltec Temple Pilgrimage.

Distance & Travel Time: 90km, about 90 minutes’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: There’s a convenient non-stop ADO bus from Central del Sur bus station.

Why Visit: There’s one big reason to add Tepotzotlan to your list of day trips from CDMX: the nearby archaeological zone of Tula.

Tula showcases the grandeur of the ancient Toltec civilization. At the heart of Tula are the iconic Atlantes- massive stone statues of Toltec warriors that stand proudly atop Pyramid B. These towering figures, intricately carved with detailed armour and weaponry, offer a glimpse into the Toltecs’ artistic prowess and their militaristic society.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Tula and Tepotzotlan Day Trip

#10 Taxco + Cuernavaca – Best For Colonial Curiosities. 

Taxco
Cuernavaca is a great place to visit from Mexico City with a rental car

Distance & Travel Time: 95km to Cuernavaca, followed by 90km to Taxco, totalling 3 hours’ drive time.

Recommended Travel Option: Rent a car and set your own pace.

Why Visit: The combo of Cuernavaca and Taxco was one of the most unexpectedly interesting day trips from Mexico City that we’ve undertaken. Both have a shared history as retreats for the country’s wealthy.

Cuernavaca’s old centre is filled with colonial-era treasures, including the formidable Palace of Cortes, built by one of history’s most infamous conquistadors. Today, the stone walls house a museum that covers the history of the Morelos region as well as one of Diego Rivera’s fabulous murals.

Taxco makes a for a good companion piece to Cuernavaca. A hillside town composed of meandering cobblestones streets, it grew to prominence thanks to the copious silver found in the area, which led to the erection of grand buildings.

We were fascinated to discover that the elaborately constructed Church of Santa Prisca was once upon a time the tallest building in all of Mexico – and all thanks to the wealth that poured out of the silver mines!

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Taxco, Cuernavaca & Prehispanic Mine

This is the tour we did. It packs a lot into 11 hours. While we didn’t get as much time in Cuernavaca as we would have liked, the Taxco portion was very informative, and the whole journey was extremely convenient. 

#11 Valle de Bravo – Best For Outdoor Activities.

Distance & Travel Time: 135km, about 2 hours’ drive.

Recommended Travel Option: Drive, drive, drive!

Why Visit: Valle de Bravo is where locals go when they are looking for Mexico City day trips that involve a bit of fresh air and some healthy outdoor pursuits.

We spent most of our time out on the lake, where you can enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding, and even paragliding. The surrounding woodland, meanwhile, offers up archery, zip lining, and rock climbing, as well as plenty of hikes. 

This is easily one of the best day tours from Mexico City for those who want to get active in nature, but there’s also a historical side to the town too.

Like several of the day trip hotspots on this list, Valle de Bravo is a Pueblo Magico. Its rather lovely old town is complemented by a superb market, where we ate some super authentic street food.

🎟️ Best Tour Option: ➡️ ➡️ Magic Town Valle De Bravo From Mexico City

Best Day Trips From Mexico City: The Wrap-Up

Unless you plan to follow in our footsteps and stay in CDMX for months on end, you probably won’t have time for all the day trips from Mexico City that we’ve included in this post. 

Our recommendation? Try and squeeze in a least one colonial-era town and one nature-focused trip, so you get a taste for both the man-made and natural splendour that the region has to offer.

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