Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuácan, Mexico

Teotihuacan, Mexico

© Damien Bouhours

Mexico City has a lot of offer, but most of the interesting archeological sites are situated at the outskirts. Teotihuácan, about 50 km from the capital, is probably the most famous of them all. The pre-Columbian complex was dated as far back as 100 BC. Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas and its remains nowadays are still covering 83 square kilometers This UNESCO world heritage site (since 1987) is the most visited archeological site in Mexico.

© Damien Bouhours

© Damien Bouhours

The largest pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun, was completed by 100 AD, and is the most impressive sightseeing. The walk up will probably kill your legs if they weren’t already exhausted by the tour around the different pyramids and buildings but the breath-taking view on top will reward your efforts. Just imagine how the Zapotec, Mixtec and Maya peoples used to live on those grounds. Mayan may have freaked you out making you believe the world would end in 2012, but please don’t hold a grudge.

© Damien Bouhours

© Damien Bouhours

How to go there?

By car (or taxi) – it takes about 45 minutes from the Mexico City, city center if you use the toll highway. It takes much longer, but more interesting, if you use the old free road. There is a small fee for parking at the site. A taxi may be prohibitively expensive, though sometimes “tours” with a car and driver/guide can be arranged for a reasonable fee if you want the convenience.

By bus – Buses to Teotihuacán leave from Mexico City every 20 minutes from Terminal Autobuses del Norte (outside Autobuses del Norte Metro station (metro tickets are MXN3 anywhere On the network), Line 5, walk all the way to the left once you enter the terminal, gate 8). The buses may also stop outside the Potrero Metro station. A one-way ticket will cost MX$40 (1 April 2013). Check that your bus goes to the site entrance of Teotihuacán ruinas and not just to the town of San Juan Teotihuacán nearby. From Potrero, exit the station and look for white buses that go to Piramides — they mean the pyramids of Teotihuacán. The trip will take around an hour, and the buses run until about 6pm — check the last departure before you leave. You will be dropped off and picked up at Puerta 2 (Closest to the Pyramid of the Sun), or by the front gate (gate 1). From there it’s a 1/8th of a mile down the main road entering the complex, you will be picked up there as well (consider getting to the bus stop before the appointed time as buses can fill up).

By tour bus – most travel agencies offer half or full day tours to the site, often combined with the Plaza de las Tres Culturas and the Basilica of Guadalupe, both of which are outside the city center. It’s a convenient way to combine the three, but note our comments above about getting to the site early. The price is around us$38. As with guided tours everywhere in the world, these tours will waste much of your time by promoting gift shops, but they are still a convenient way to get here for Mexico City-based tourists.

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