How to Visit Teotihuacan Without a Tour

The ancient city and pyramids of Teotihuacan is the most popular day trip from Mexico City.  Visiting on your own is easy, saves you money, allows you to choose your own schedule, and customize it to your interests.  By skipping Teotihuacan tours, we avoided crowds and skipped over souvenir stops.

Hint: at the bottom of this post, you can get step-by-step directions emailed to you on a 1-page PDF to take with you!

How to Get to Teotihuacan by Public Transportation

The bus to Teotihuacan is comfortable, fast, and easy!  To start, you’ll need to take the Mexico City metro to the Autobuses del Norte station (line 5).  From the Autobuses del Norte metro stop, follow the signs out of the metro station and across the street to the actual bus station.

how to get from mexico city to teotihuacan by bus
Buses from Mexico City to Teotihuacan depart from Autobuses del Norte station.

Inside the station, head all the way toward the left, to Puerta 8.  Here, you’ll find a window selling tickets to “Pyramides” or “Zona Arqueologico”.

how to get from mexico city to teotihuacan by bus
Inside the bus station at Mexico City. Look for the big green numbers. Teotihuacan tickets are by #8.
how to get from mexico city to teotihuacan by public transportation (teotihuacan tours)
Buy tickets from Autobuses Teotihuacan and go to the bus bays under the sign “Sala Gate 8”. Look for a sign in the front window of the bus for which bus is yours!

The first bus to Teotihuacan departs at 6am, but there’s no need to leave until 7:30 or 8am because the site itself doesn’t open until 9am.  If you’re not an early bird, don’t worry: buses continue to run about every 20 minutes throughout the day.  Depending on traffic, the ride is about 1 hour each way.  Your outbound ticket will be for a specific, timed departure so don’t miss your bus.

The round-trip ticket costs 104 pesos per person, or about $5.00 as of May 2018.  Bathrooms are available in the station for 6 pesos and there is fast food and luggage storage (30 pesos/bag) also.

Do you need a hotel in Mexico City?

I don’t recommend staying by Teotihuacan — there’s nothing there, except the site itself.  Instead, check out my Mexico City neighborhood guide and hotel recommendations (opens in a new window).

Have more time?  Check out some of the other activities I liked in Mexico City to plan the rest of your trip.

Entering Teotihuacan

Buses will drop you off at Puerta 1 at Teotihuacan, where you can buy entrance tickets.  As of January 2019, the entrance fee was 75 pesos and includes entry into the museum.  There is an additional charge if you wish to record videos.

If you want to hire a guide (optional), there are several licensed guides near the entrance.  Private guides cost about 850 pesos for a 1.5 hour tour of Sun & Moon Pyramids or 1500 pesos for a 2.5 hour tour that includes more.  Expect to haggle based on length of tour, language, size of group, and the guide’s knowledge.  For a free option, you can read through the Wikipedia guide before you go.

How to Visit Teotihuacan Without a Guide

To avoid crowds, I recommend taking a 9am bus or earlier.  That will give you some breathing room before hoards of Teotihuacan tours arrive.

Temple of the Sun

Make your first stop the Temple of the Sun so you can climb all 248 steep steps before it gets too hot out.  I won’t spoil the view from the top, but I will tell you it’s absolutely worth the pain.

At the base of Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan
At the base of Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan

Pyramid of the Moon

The Pyramid of the Moon was my favorite part of Teotihuacan.  Although it’s shorter than the Pyramid of the Sun and you can only climb halfway up, you have the added bonus of seeing the entire site.  The steps seemed steeper (or maybe I was just more tired), but it’s worth the climb.

how to visit teotihuacan mexico city
The main street of Teotihuacan (Avenue of the Dead) is lined with many temples

Palace of Quetzalpapalotl

The Palace of Quetzlpapalotl doesn’t look like anywhere else in the city. It has ornately carved pillars, obsidian inlays, beautiful murals, and a gorgeous courtyard.  Many of the colors have been preserved; others re-touched.

Palace of Quetzlpalapotl in Teotihuacan Mexico
Palace of Quetzlpalapotl

Where to Eat Lunch Near Teotihuacan

The fact that you can leave the site for lunch and re-enter with your ticket isn’t widely advertised.  There are some street food options outside Gate 2 (across from Pyramid of the Sun) and one really unique restaurant outside Gate 5 (behind Pyramid of the Sun, follow signs to museum).

La Gruta is a restaurant inside a cave, providing an atmosphere different from anywhere I’ve eaten before!  The food is average, but the setting is unbeatable.

If you speak Spanish, you can check out the menu ahead of time.  It’s not cheap — expect “American” entree prices of ~$12 — but it’s not outrageously priced either.

Inside La Gruta cave restaurant near teotihuacan
Inside La Gruta

To get there, exit Puerta 5 and take a left.  Shortly thereafter, take a right onto a side street and you’ll see black signs pointing you down the long driveway to the restaurant.

Returning to Mexico City

We spent about five hours at Teotihuacan, including lunch.  You may spend longer, especially if you’re history buffs.

When you’re done exploring, exit the ruins at Puerta/Gate 2 and walk through the parking lot to the main road (pickup is also available at Gate 3).  The bus will pick you up at that main intersection, on the far side of the road.  You shouldn’t have to wait more than 20 minutes.  If you didn’t originally buy a round-trip ticket, you can pay when you board.

teotihuacan bus stop

The site closes at 5pm but buses will continue running until 6pm or later.  The ride back takes slightly longer due to the routing, but it’s still easy.  The final stop is back at the bus station where you started, or you can get off at Indios Verdes and take the metro from there.  Indios Verdes is a busy bus station and can be overwhelming if you’re not used to Latin American buses and navigating your way around, so skip it if you’re not prepared for an adventure!

Sound like too much work?  The Best Teotihuacan Tours

There’s no doubt a guide and group make things easier and give you more historical context during your visit.

The best Teotihuacan tours include this early-morning visit with an archaeologist to beat the crowds.   If you’re not an early bird, try Hidden Teotihuacan, a small group outing that includes dinner in a local home (use code FKFRIEND504917 for $10 off).

A Few Last Tips for Visiting

There’s almost no shade at Teotihuacan, so it can get hot quickly.  Pack sunscreen and bottled water; you’ll want it.

There are lots of hawkers selling souvenirs like jewelry and small toys throughout the site.  Since everyone has basically the same products, don’t be afraid to walk away until you get a price you’re happy with.  If you can bargain in Spanish, you’re likely to get a better price.

Don’t go on Sunday if you can avoid it; it’s free admission for Mexican residents and extra crowded.

Teotihuacan is an awesome day trip from Mexico City so if you have time, be sure to visit!

More Info to Plan Your Trip

Have extra time in Mexico City? I really enjoyed my evening watching Lucha Libre wrestling and wish I had joined a food tour because everything is delicious!

Need a hotel recommendation in Mexico City? Book a room at Chaya B&B or Casa Decu.

Going anywhere else in Mexico? Check out all my articles like more about an epic volcano hike from Mexico City or an easy day trip to Puebla.

167 thoughts on “How to Visit Teotihuacan Without a Tour”

  1. Thank you, awesome instructions!

    Note at the entrance to park it says open from 7am everyday. A few TripAdvisor posts have also Commented on this. We only arrived after 9am though so can’t verify.

    Please note you can get bus back to Bus Norte from Gate 1.

    As some suggested, we got off at Deportivo 18 de Mars to change to metro / save back tracking from Bus Norte.

    Our tour was 850 for Sun & Moon pyramid (1,5hrs) or 1500 for additional temple (2.5hrs)

  2. We were a little intimidated to visit the pyramids from Mexico City on our own. So we followed your article to a tee on our day trip to the pyramids. It was so simple, straightforward, and approachable. Thank you THANK YOU for this piece! We also loved the Pyramid of the Moon (and its view) best.

  3. Thank you so much this was gold! We spent our entire day and would have liked to stay even longer.
    For future visitors: Really do put sunscreen, I got burned badly… Also, bring water and snacks.

  4. Hi Becky,

    Just want to say THANK YOU !!!
    Your information was extremely helpful. If I may add, my wife and I found a shuttle service to Teotihuacan close to our hotel in Reforma avenue called BlueBus.
    25 bucks per person, and they do have different departure times. So that’s another way to get there.
    Hope to read your notes about other sites in other countries !

    Alex

  5. Thank you so much for this information! My mum and I went to Teotihuacan today and followed your directions for the bus. We took an Uber to and from the bus station, and the whole thing was SO EASY (and cheap, and fast…). Knowing that other tourists had done it recently made us feel more confident.

    We found that the bus can drop you at gates 1, 2, or 3; as well as pick ups from the same. For those planning a trip – Gate 1 is good if you want to go to the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, and Gate 2 takes you straight to the Pyramid of the Sun. We did a lot of unnecessary walking (good exercise, though!) that we could have avoided if we had planned a bit better 🙂

  6. Helpful article, thank you! I would add that for folks coming to the bus station via Uber:
    *walk-in entrence and go left to the Teotihuacan bus counter at the northen most ticket counter, yes #8, but the numbers are blue.

    *There are at least 3 (that we found) baggage holding locations. Cheap. 30pesos for a carry on size bag.

    *There is not a bathroom on the bus I am currently sitting on. Bus has no air-conditioning and while not bad, is not nice. I would be careful about the heat on a bus like this in summer / hot weather. We are here in mid Feb and it is over 80°f.

    USE THE BATHROOM BEFORE GOING THRU THE SECURITY AREA

  7. Thanks a lot Becky for your detailed description. We found everything right at place as you’ve described in your article. We’ve visited the Pyramid of the Sun today and thanks to you, the trip went smoothly.

  8. This is super helpful, and now I am confident I can get there via this method.

    Since an early start is recommended, how long does it take to get to the bus station in rush hour, especially if taking an Uber?

    1. @Kayla, Mexico City is HUGE so it will depend on your precise starting location. You can use Google Maps to estimate drive time but from my favorite neighborhood of Condesa it’s 15-20 minutes.

  9. Hi Becky, thanks for very helpful guideline. I did this trip yesterday (Saturday) based on your article and ablosutely no problem. I didn’t manage to leave early and only took 10:30am bus. By around 12 I was on the spot. There was only a bit “people jam” on the stairs up to the Temple of the Sun, otherwise ok.

  10. Is there a way to buy an entrance ticket to the site in advance? I was looking online and couldn’t find anything.

    1. @Adyul, Not that I know of (other than buying a group tour where the guide takes care of it for you). There shouldn’t be much of a line if you’re there in the morning.

  11. We did this last week and it was seamless! We took a 10am-ish bus there. When we got to the site, they didn’t make us pay for a photo permit, so I am not sure if we got lucky or they did away with this.

    The last bus to leave the site is at 6pm if anyone else tries this (at least that’s what the driver said).

    Thanks so much!! The photos really helped!

  12. This blog was wonderful and EXACTLY what we needed to know! I hope to read more by you while here in CDMX.

  13. My daughter and her group of Girl Scouts will be in Mexico City at the end of June. They are 14 and 15 years old, and there will be about 9 of them with 3 adults. Is it safe to travel on the metro/subway? I’ve read conflicting things about it. Thank you!

    1. @Heidi, It’s safe in that I certainly wouldn’t expect any violent crime. However, groups in general are often targets for pickpockets because everyone’s distracted talking to each other, etc. Make sure they keep an eye on their things.

      (With a group that large, I might look into the cost of chartering a 12-passenger van/minibus. It might be more affordable per person than you think and then it would run directly from the hotel on whatever schedule they like).

  14. Blanca Hernandez

    Can anyone help me understand why the need for bag lockers? Am i not allowed to carry a bag on site? For water, snacks, etc.

    1. @Blanca, Yes, you can bring a day bag with water, sunscreen, etc. Some people OPTIONALLY choose to use bag lockers, for example if they are visiting on their way to/from the airport

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