Mexico City is the capital of Mexico as well as the largest city, population wise, in all of North America. This teeming metropolis is enormous, and it is divided into more than 1,700 different neighborhoods. The historic downtown is packed with historic landmarks, and there is no shortage of world-class museums to choose from. While you could spend days exploring Mexico City without getting bored, don’t miss out on the chance to discover the region. Day trips from Mexico City can allow you to see ancient ruins, remarkable scenery and plenty of culture, so be sure to include some of these destinations in your travel plans.
Drive two hours southwest of Mexico City, and you’ll approach Malinalco. This destination is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, and during the week the colonial town can be very quiet. The main reason to visit is the dramatic landscapes, the beautiful cliffs and the ancient Aztec ruins. You can still tour the ruins of Malinalco, which are set into a mountain overlooking the small town. Thanks to a handful of international restaurants and a few quirky boutique shops, it is easy to make a full day of this charming destination.
Tlaxcala is both a state and a city, and it should definitely be one of your top choices for a Mexico City day trip. The city of Tlaxcala is home to the breathtaking Palacio de Gobierno de Tlaxcala as well as a range of colonial buildings that have been carefully restored, such as the Basilica of Ocotlán. With a large student population, good restaurants and bars and a handful of excellent museums, the city has a surprisingly vibrant cultural life. Outside of the city, you can see bright and colorful Mayan frescoes that are part of the Cacaxtla archeological ruins, or you could head to the ruins of Xochitecatl, which are home to ancient pyramids.
South of Mexico City is Taxco, a stunning colonial city built into a hillside. Known for its mining industry, Taxco is the ultimate place to shop for silver souvenirs. There is even a silver museum in the Casa Borda where you can admire a dazzling collection of silver artifacts from the past two centuries. You can’t miss the Santa Prisca Cathedral, a beautiful baroque building from the late 18th century. As you stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, look for vendors selling the local dish called Pozole. White Pozole is served daily, but Thursdays are special days where the traditional red and green Pozole is offered.
Head just an hour north of Mexico City to find Tepoztlan, a new age destination with a unique vibe and some fantastic ruins. A short hike of under an hour will take you to the top of a mountain known for its positive energy, which is where you’ll also find the ancient pyramid of El Tepozteco. Back in the town, be sure to check out the beautifully restored convent known as Dominico de la Navidad. While in Tepotzlan, try out some of the progressive holistic rituals and pastimes like Temazcal, a kind of ancient sweat lodge, or yoga.
Puebla is west of Mexico City, and it is a city known for its history, cuisine and landscape. Puebla is situated within a valley, and it is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. In the 19th century, The city was the site of battles with the French, and two remaining forts from that time period are major attractions and points of pride for local residents. After sightseeing and touring the Zocalo plaza, the 16th century Puebla Cathedral and the art district of Los Sapos, dig into some of the traditional cuisine. A few local specialties include fresh fried potato chips with lime juice, cemitas and chorizo filled quesadillas.
Just outside of Puebla is another destination you won’t want to miss: Cholula. This small city is home to the world’s largest monument, which also happens to the largest pyramid in the world. The enormous earthen pyramid called Pirámide Tepanapa was built by the Tlachihualtepetl people. In the 16th century, a Catholic cathedral was built at the top of the pyramid, and it still stands. You can tour the cathedral, which is decorated with 24-carat gold. The overgrown pyramid itself has been badly neglected over the centuries and is virtually unrecognizable as a human-made structure but you can access some of the tunnels underneath the pyramid. You’ll also want to check out the small museum nearby, which is home to a number fascinating artifacts and exhibits about what life in Cholula was like in centuries past.
Only an hour south of Mexico City is Cuernavaca, also known as The City of Eternal Spring. It gets that nickname thanks to the mild climate, which makes it the ideal place to visit and explore outdoors no matter what the season. Cuernavaca boasts plenty of gorgeous gardens and public parks as well as natural thermal springs and rivers. The Teopanzolco Archaeological Site is an Aztec influenced site that is likely 700 years old, and it is a must-see landmark in the city. Other important attractions include the 17th century Cathedral and the 16th century Palace of Cortes, which is now home to murals painted by Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
If you’re interested in Mexican history, then there are few day trips more suitable than one to Teotihuacan. This ancient city northeast of Mexico City is home to pyramids that predate Columbian times. Known as the City of the Gods, Teotihuacan is where the gods gathered to create man, according to ancient legend. The four major landmarks include the Temple of the Moon, the enormous Temple of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, which is decorated with stone serpent heads, and the Museo Teotihuacán. The museum is home to a complete miniature replica of Teotihuacán, which can help you understand the scale and layout of this incredible destination.