Located 31 mi (50 km) northeast of Mexico City, Teotihuacan is a huge archaeological complex. A museum on the site called Museum of Teotihuacan Culture features exhibits taken from the archaeological digs in the complex, including bones and pottery. The complex itself consists of a pre-Colombian city, with the Avenue of the Dead running through it. This avenue links various other parts of the site, including the Pyramid of the Moon, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. The two pyramids offer spectacular, panoramic views over the surrounding complex and countryside. Here’s a guide to Teotihuacan and what you can expect to see on the site by scrolling below.
Things to do
The Papantla Flyers
On entering the site, you may see a group of men clad in traditional costumes around a tall pole. These are known as the Voladores de Papantla (Papantla Flyers), who climb the pole, with one sitting at the top playing the flute, while the other four men “fly” in an anti-clockwise direction down the pole. They are supported by a rope around their ankles. This spectacle happens at certain times each day and a tip is expected.
Teotihuacan is a holy city from the 1st to the 7th centuries AD. Its name translates as “The Place Where The Gods Were Created” or the “City of the Gods. The site is characterized by the sheer size of the monuments, especially the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the two pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, all of which are laid out geometrically on the Avenue of the Dead. Teotihuacan was formerly the capital of the Aztec Empire and is the most famous pre-Colombian attraction in Mexico. On a tour of the site, it is possible to explore the pyramids, see vibrant murals, and view panoramic vistas from the top. Also explore the complex residential compounds, built for multiple families.
Visit the museum on the site to see more artifacts, masks, and figures discovered during archaeological excavations of the site. There is also a dtailed 3D map of the Teotihuacan archaeological site to see how it looked in the past.
What to eat
Restaurante Techinanco is located behind the Pyramid of the Moon and a short walk from Gate 3. The restaurant serves tasty home cooking at affordable prices, including favorites such as enchiladas and homemade moles.
Restaurante La Gruta
Restaurante La Gruta is a short distance from Gate 5. The restaurant is in a spacious, cool cave and is a typical tourist spot. They serve Mexican and pre-Hispanic food which is costly but tasty. However, the “menu del dia” or menu of the day is a better option. On Saturdays at 3:30pm and on Sundays at 1:30pm, 3:30pm and 5:30pm, a 40-minute folk dance show is held.
Where to shop
Beware of the vendors hawking souvenirs at the site as they tend to try and sell you cheap and fake goods at high prices and can tend to be pushy. However, there is a gift shop at the onsite museum, which is admittedly expensive but sells various, more authentic souvenirs. Most tours will take visitors to Artesanias Premier close to the site, which sells quality items to take home, including Aztec calendars made from cloth, beautiful jewelry, and decorative ornaments.
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Warnings for visitors
The pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacán was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list on December 11, 1987 and strict rules apply to protect the site. When entering the museum, do not touch the exhibits, including paintings and sculptures. It is forbidden to use flash on your camera when photographing wall paintings. No food or drink is allowed inside the museum and no weapons can be carried in any part of the archaeological site.
The official site offers a “Family Sundays” program whereby groups of 15 people or less can enjoy a guided tour for approximately one hour, free of charge.
Photography and video
If you wish to use a tripod to take photographs at Teotihuacan, a permit is required. There is also a small fee for using hand-held video equipment.
Ideal clothing and footwear
With the steps up the pyramids, comfortable walking shoes are required with a non-slip sole. Due to the exposure, wear light clothing and keep hydrated. There are a number of vendors selling ice-cold bottled water on the site.
Get to Teotihuacan early
Due to the popularity of the site, especially at weekends, it is better to arrive as early as possible to avoid queues on the single-lane road to the site. If possible, arrive by 8am as the doors open. Not only will the crowds be less, but the temperatures will also be cooler.
It is recommended that visitors have adequate travel insurance including medical insurance when traveling to Mexico and particularly when visiting archaeological sites like Teotihuacan.
How to get there
Mexico City Airport is the closest to Teotihuacan.
To drive to the archaeological complex, take Highway 85D in a northwest direction out of Mexico City. Follow the signs to San Juan Teotihuacan. The distance is approximately 31 miles (50 km) from Mexico City to Teotihuacan by road.
Buses run to Teotihuacan from the north bus terminal in Mexico City approximately every 30 to 60 minutes.
San Juan Teotihuacan
Address: Teotihuacan, State of Mexico, Mexico
Official website: San Juan Teotihuacan
Department of tourism: Guide to Teotihuacan
Opening hours: 8am – 5pm (daily)
There is no facility to buy tickets online. You can either follow the link to purchase “skip the line” tickets, giving you easy access to the Teotihuacan complex without the bother of queuing. Alternatively, you can drive to Teotihuacan and buy a ticket on entry to the site. Learn more by checking out the official website.
Duration: 6.0 hour
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