After six weeks of settling in, and exploring CDMX, David and I went on our first excursion to see what else this amazing country has to offer. Based on reading suggestions for day-trips on Culture Trip, compiling my own list from my trusted Lonely Planet guide, and following recommendations from our new friends, we landed on Tepoztlán; one of the Pueblos Mágicos in the State of Morelos. We had a packed day of hiking (more like stair climbing), eating, and shopping. Keep reading for my best tips and recommendations for your next visit to the magical mountains of Tepoztlán.
1. Go on a Sunday, but go early.
I am sure that Tepoztlán is equally as magical during the week, and for those of you wanting a less crowded experience, then perhaps you should avoid a Sunday, BUT, one of the best parts about the town is it's expanded Sunday food and crafts market. In fact, the market essentially takes up the entire town as many stores set up stalls along the road for the occasion. We spent 2-3 hours simply wandering through the streets, taking in all of the colors, sights, sounds, and smells.
If you do go on a Sunday, however, go early. Tepoztlán is a very popular destination for families from nearby towns and CDMX to spend the day together. The town itself only has about 14,000 residents, but we estimated there were easily 45,000-50,000 others exploring with us.
Which brings me to my next tip...
2. If you want to climb Tepozteco Mountain start before 10:30, and wear gym clothes!
Why? Because the trek up the mountain is narrow, and you really don't want to be doing it with a few thousand of your closest friends. AND because while this is a totally worthwhile activity, it is difficult. You will sweat, and your legs will not thank you. Now, I am not a hiker, but I am in good shape, and I would classify Tepozteco less of a hike, and more of a few hours on a stair master (see pictures below). It took us just under an hour to climb up, and about 40 minutes to get back down, and that was with only a few short water breaks.
You will see all sorts of people climbing along with you; families with young children, families with grandparents, women in heels (just don't), people in jeans (also, just don't), people with dogs, and everything in between. So the earlier the better, especially if you want the freedom of moving at your own pace.
3. Bring water!
This is a general rule when traveling in Mexico, but especially here. Yes, there are plenty of places to buy bottled water in town, but if you are making the hike up Tepozteco, you will need it. There are a few very smart vendors along the path selling bottled water, candy, and popsicles to exhausted tourists, but you don't want to get stuck. There is also a small stand at the top, but save your money and just bring your own. I promise you will want your pesos for later.
4. Make sure to have lots of small change with you, and cash in general.
Unlike CDMX, Tepoztlán does not have a shortage of public restrooms (although some are much cleaner than others), but each trip you take will cost you 5 pesos. Please be kind to the people working at each location, and don't make them break a large bill. On a related note, I would recommend bringing hand sanitizer, or hand sanitizer wipes with you. You just never know what the condition of each restroom will be.
Also, while bigger cities in Mexico are moving away from cash only economies, many of the small towns are not. I was actually surprised at the number of stores that accepted credit cards, but if you want to do any shopping at the stands lining the streets, or buy lunch in the market, you will need cash. For an estimate of how much you can expect to spend during your day, you can scroll to the bottom.
5. Don't be afraid of the bus, it's the best way to get to Tepoztlán from CDMX.
Mexico has a well organized, and easy to use bus system that connects travelers, and locals to the best destinations in the country. Mexico City has four bus terminals (north, south, east, and west) with routes that will cheaply, and comfortably take you anywhere. Expect to pay about $25-$30 round trip/person to Tepoztlán on Pullman de Morelos. If you are looking for more specifics on the bus system in general, I found this article very helpful.
To get to Tepoztlán:
1. Take the Metro Linea 2 (blue) all the way to Tasqueña, the southern most stop.
2. Follow signs for the Tasqueña bus terminal, which is the southern bus terminal. You will exit the metro station and walk through a small market, but don't worry, just follow the crowd.
3. Walk all the way to the end of the bus terminal to find the Pullman de Morelos kiosk.
4. Stand in the separate line for the Tepoztlán bus. Buses leave about every 40 minutes. Your ticket will provide you with your gate, and seat number on the bus. Only buy a one-way ticket, the last returning bus is at 9:30.
5. The trip will take anywhere from 1 - 2 hours depending on traffic. This is also another great reason to go early.
6. Once you arrive, the bus will drop off at a small Pullman de Morelos office just outside of town. There is a gas station, and a nice cafe right there.
7. There are taxis available to take you into town, but I would recommend the roughly 20 minute walk if you are up to it.
8. When you are ready to return to CMDX, simply head back to the bus station and buy a ticket for the next available seat. You may have to wait 30-60 minutes if the first bus is full.
As a reference, it took us just over 2 hours to get to Tepoztlán starting from the time we left our apartment, which included taking a Metrobús to the Metro, taking the Metro bus terminal, and finally taking the bus to the town. This trip was a little longer on the way home due to traffic.
6. Go with an appetite!
The atmosphere in Tepoztlán on a Sunday is a little like a gigantic block party. Not only are there clothing, art, and jewelry vendors lining the streets, but there are also food stands, snack carts, restaurants, and michelada vendors everywhere. While everything we passed looked and smelled amazing, I arrived in Tepoztlán with one eating goal in mind; comida prehispanica, which seems to be a speciality of the town. Pre-hispanic food is centered around "meatballs" made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, beans, and rice. Essentially, the items native to Mexico BEFORE the Spanish infused things like cheese and meat into the culture. There are a number of great options if you want to try these foods, but we found a delicious lunch at Nonatzin, which has both a stand inside the market, and a small eatery along the main road.
I promise you will not be disappointed!
7. Final cost (USD)
Roundtrip bus for 2 people = $29.51
Breakfast = $5.90
Lunch = $9.27
Snack (cookies) = $1.86
Drinks = $2.39
Restrooms = $2.13
Souvenirs = $4.53
Total = $55.59
Not bad for a full day!
Walking enthusiast, and kitchen experimenter currently living out my dream in Mexico City, Mexico.
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