22 Best Day Trips From Mexico City to Take in 2024: Local’s Guide

Mexico City is one of the world’s most exciting and beautiful cities. From sprawling parks, ancient ruins, stunning cathedrals, rich culture, and a globally praised food scene, it’s easy to see why so many people visit it or call it home.  

However, like any place, sometimes you just want to get out and explore. And let’s face it. Mexico City is busy, congested, and hectic. Although its non-stop energy makes it one of the world’s most exciting places to live and visit, you’re still going to want a break once in a while.

Fortunately, there are plenty of amazing day trips from Mexico City that you can take in order to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and get away to phenomenal Aztec ruins, natural wonders, and charming pueblos. 

The yellow painted Convento de San Gabriel Arcángel in Cholula
Cholula

Best Day Trips from Mexico City to Take in 2024

The best day trips from Mexico City offer a little something for everyone, whatever your interests or travel style. CDMX makes an excellent base for a wider exploration of Mexico and you could easily spend a month or two here, taking trips out to different gorgeous and culturally-rich places every couple of days. 

Public transport in the area is pretty good and comfortable, affordable air-conditioned buses run from various bus stations in the city center and out to different cities and tourist sites. Similarly, if you have the confidence to do so, renting a car in Mexico City gives you the freedom to hit the open road and explore this wonderful part of the country.

Thankfully, driving in Mexico is straightforward and relatively easy. Once you get out of Mexico City’s traffic, you’ll enter an open landscape just waiting to be experienced. 

Below are the best day trip destinations from the busy Mexican capital city. There are plenty of world-class destinations all within a few hours or less by car.

You can choose between magical towns full of culture, rich natural areas, and historic sites filled with adventure and wonder. Continue reading to learn about the best day trips from Mexico City. 

A quaint coffee shop in leafy Coyoacán, Frida Kahlos old neighborhood
A quaint coffee shop in leafy Coyoacán, Frida Kahlos old neighborhood

Coyoacán

30 minutes south

Just a short drive south of the capital is the town of Coyoacán. Here, you can visit the former house of Frida Kahlo, one of Mexico’s most celebrated artists and cultural figures.

Her house’s blue exterior and long line of visitors are hard to miss. Fans of the Mexican artist’s work will love the museum inside the house, which features some of her paint brushes, furniture, and other items from her life. 

The city offers way more than just a Frida museum. Amongst the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture are beautiful parks like Fuente de los Coyotes and markets like Coyoacán Market are teaming with cultural items, amazing food, and street performers.

There’s also a convenient tour bus that starts in the central Plaza Jardín Hidalgo and takes you around the city’s landmarks. Coyoacán feels like you’re in a small city far away from the hustle and bustle of the capital, yet you’re less than 12 kilometers away. 

Day trips from Mexico City: Xochimilco and the Island of the Dolls
Day trips from Mexico City: Xochimilco and the Island of the Dolls

Xochimilco Canals

50 minutes south

Few day trips are as popular for Mexico City locals or visitors as the canals of Xochimilco. When the Valley of Mexico was a large lake, Xochimilco was a series of important canals. Today, the canals attract thousands of visitors every week. You can rent a colorful gondola and take a ride through the artificial islands while listening to live mariachi music. 

The community around the canals is full of colorful shops, restaurants, street food, and beautiful gardens. You can spot rare birds and other wildlife along the banks of the canals. If you want to get away and unwind on the waterfront or enjoy a romantic day in nature, then Xochimilco will be the perfect day trip. 

Getting to Xochimilco from Mexico City

You can take an Uber from downtown Mexico City to Xochimilco for around 300 pesos (circa $15 USD) which is more than reasonable if there is a group of you. If you want to take public transport, you can take the metro line 2 to Tasqueña station and then take the Tren Ligero to its final stop: Xochimilco.

The Embarcadero Nuevo Nativitas is the main spot where the gondolas depart from. There will be plenty of gondola operators standing around offering boat rides but do be prepared to haggle. 

You can typically expect to pay around 500-600 pesos for an hour for an entire boat. (That price is per boat, not per person).

(Boats also depart from Embarcadero Cuemanco which is quieter but there are fewer boats). 

Recommended Xochimilco tours 

If you want to know that everything is organized in advance, you might want to reserve a spot on an Xochimilco tour. Some tour options that come highly recommended are detailed below.

Get them while they’re hot!

La Isla de Las Muñecas

50 minutes south

If you are into all things spooky and macabre and are open to doing something a little different during your visit to Xochimilco, you can also request that your gondola driver take you out to the eerie island of the dolls (La Isla de las Muñecas). This small island in the heart of Xochimilco is filled with creepy dolls that hang from the trees and have been positioned around the woodlands.

There is a sad and haunting tale about how the island came to be too. Legend has it that the caretaker of the island, a man by the name of Don Julian Santana Barrera found the body of a little girl that mysteriously drowned.

After the encounter, he said he was ¨haunted¨ by her spirit and started purchasing dolls to appease her. Years later, he was found dead, face down in the water in the same place where the little girl died.

Visitors have reported seeing the dolls blink and move their arms and legs. Stop by, if you dare… 

[Do note that most standard Xochimilco tours do not go to La Isla de Las Muñecas. You have to specifically request the stop.]

Visiting the Cholula pyramid on a day trip from Mexico City
Visiting the Cholula pyramid on a day trip from Mexico City

Cholula

2 hours southeast

Just a short drive southeast of Mexico City is Cholula. The town is famous for its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and rich history and culture that make it a Pueblo Magico, or magic town. 

Magic towns are designated and protected by the Mexican government for their cultural and historical qualities. Cholula’s history dates well before the mighty Aztec Empire.

At its center was the giant Great Pyramid of Cholula, which is still the largest pyramid in the world (by volume). You can hike to the top of the pyramid where the 16th-century Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios stands.

From here, you can experience breathtaking views of the volcanos Popocatépetl and Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest peak. 

Like nearby Puebla de Zaragoza, Cholula is famous for its food and art. When you’re there, make sure to check out the Mercado Municipal San Pedro Cholula.

Here, you can shop for souvenirs and clothes, and of course, try some of the delicious food from the diverse food stands. If you’re still hungry, take a stroll down the Plaza de la Concordia and visit one of the city’s popular restaurants. 

Artist Quarter (Barrio del Artista) in Puebla de Zaragoza
Artist Quarter (Barrio del Artista) in Puebla de Zaragoza

Puebla de Zaragoza

2 hours 15 minutes southeast

Puebla de Zaragoza, the capital of Puebla state, is one of the foodie capitals of Mexico. It’s also its fourth largest city.

With beautiful colonial architecture, world-famous cuisine, and stunning cathedrals, you’ll love wandering around this iconic city. Puebla is just over two hours from Mexico City yet feels like it’s a world away.

You can walk around its cobblestone streets, enjoying its famous street food or hop into one of its incredible museums. 

Puebla is the birthplace of Mexico’s national dish, Mole Poblano. There are several restaurants that specialize in this iconic dish.

However, the city is rich in food history. Nothing beats a walk through the Calle de los Dulces, or candy street, to sample local treats like the town’s sweet potato candies known as camotes. 

Other famous Puebla dishes include tacos arabes, cemitas, chalupas, and molotes. Puebla also has a thriving bar scene, including the quirky La Pasita, which is famous for its shots of raisin liquor with goat cheese.

If you want to try pulque, Mexico’s indigenous alcoholic drink, there are plenty of pulquerias to choose from too. Puebla is safe, provided that you take the same common sense precautions as you would when traveling to any large city. 

Getting to Puebla from Mexico City

It is easy to get from Mexico City to Puebla by bus and the journey takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes. Buses depart from various stations around CDMX including the main airport (MEX).

That being said, if you are short on time, and you want to see Puebla as a day trip, returning the same evening, it might be preferable for you to participate in a tour. A handful of excellent Puebla tour options are summarized below.

Many Puebla tours combine a Puebla de Zaragoza city tour with a trip to the Cholula pyramid. Book your place online in advance to avoid disappointment!

Teotihuacan

50 minutes north

Before the Aztec Empire, the city of Teotihuacan stood as a bustling capital and one of the largest cities in the ancient world. With its pyramids and avenues, the city was a center of commerce, art, food, and science. 

Today, its ruins offer plenty of history and beauty to experience. You can easily get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City. Once you’re there, you can walk along the Avenue of the Dead and gaze up at the towering Pyramid of the Moon. 

If you love history and ancient wonders, then Teotihuacan can’t be beaten. The town also hosts hot-air balloon excursions that take you high above the ancient ruins for a view that’s out of this world. 

When you go to Teotihuacan, bring plenty of water and sunblock. The UV rays are really strong and the grounds are largely out in the open. Take your time exploring the area. There are plenty of lesser-known sites within the grounds of Teotihuacan, so take your time to roam around. 

Recommended Teotihuacan tours 

Visiting Teotihuacan is an extremely popular Mexico City day trip. Many reputable local companies offer a day tour of the site, including pick-up and drop-off from your hotel.

You can take the public bus from CDMX North Bus Station (Terminal del Norde) but it can be a bit awkward to get to the site using public transport depending on where you are staying in Mexico City as you will likely have to trek across the city first. Uber in Mexico City is affordable, but nothing beats exploring Teotihuacan with a knowledgeable local guide.

A selection of reputable Teotihuacan tours is detailed below for your consideration. Book your place online, in advance to avoid disappointment!

Tepotzotlán 

1 hour north

Just an hour north of Mexico City is the Pueblo Mágico Tepotzotlán. Here, you can really feel you’ve escaped into history. 

In the town’s center is the beautiful Plaza Hidalgo. Surrounding this spacious plaza is the National Viceroyalty Museum and the 17th-century church Templo San Francisco Javier. Encompassing the plaza are tons of restaurants, bars, and gift shops. 

If you love architecture, you’ll love the nearby Tepotzotlán Aqueduct. This 18th-century aqueduct is over 400 meters long and was built to carry water from the nearby mountains to the town and its former Jesuit mission. In the area, you can enjoy all kinds of fun outdoor activities like zip lining and hiking. 

Exploring the area with a local guide can help you gain more history and context to the various sites that you see. You can also do a private tour that combines a trip to Tepotzotlán with visiting Tula and Teotihuacan. 

Tepoztlán

1 hour 30 minutes south

If you love ruins, arts & crafts, micheladas, and ice cream, then Tepoztlán is the perfect day trip from Mexico City. Known for the small temple ruins known as Tepozteco, the town has become synonymous with beautiful hikes and history. 

The Aztecs dedicated the town’s temple to the god of pulque Tepoztēcatl. Today, visitors can hike up the steep gorge and visit the small ruins overlooking the town and its surroundings. 

Pulque is the traditional alcoholic drink of Central Mexico and is made from the gooey fermented sap of the maguey plant. If you want to try it or are already a big fan, Tepoztlán is the perfect place to grab a cup or two. 

The Mexican food scene in Tepoztlán is incredible. Pre-hispanic dishes like roasted wild boar and roasted nopales (cactus) can be smelled all over the town.

The weekend market is another amazing foodie destination worth visiting. However, the number one draw to the town for food lovers is the ice cream. Tepoztlán’s ice cream stands known as Tepoznieves serve dozens of exotic flavors of ice cream that are often said to be the best in Mexico. 

Cuernavaca 

1 hour 30 minutes south

The beautiful capital of Morales State is one of the most charming places to visit on a day trip from Mexico City. Cuernavaca, known as the ¨City of Eternal Spring¨ is famous for its architecture, food, and beautiful cityscape.

The city originated several centuries before the Aztec Empire and has since become one of Mexico’s most important historical places. You can get lost in history by visiting ruins like the Zona Arqueológica Teopanzolco or the UNESCO-listed cathedral.

If you love museums, visit the Museo Regional Cuauhnáhuac to see plenty of beautiful pre-Hispanic art, and then head over to the Museo Regional de los Pueblos de Morelos. 

In the famous Palace of Cortes, you can see spectacular vibrant murals by the esteemed Mexican artist Diego Rivera (the husband of Frida Kahlo). 

Many visitors love strolling through the green parks and avenues surrounding the Plaza de Armas. Here, you can take advantage of the city’s food scene and enjoy lively music and treats while taking in the fresh air.

Cuernavaca’s climate is much warmer and wetter than Mexico City’s. Gardens and greenspaces are everywhere in the city. Some of the most famous include Borda Garden and Parque Ecológico San Miguel Acapantzingo. 

Cuernavaca is surely one of Mexico’s art hubs. For centuries, artists have come here seeking an escape from Mexico City. Today, it houses several famous art museums plus endless art stores and artisanal specialty shops. You can spend hours just exploring the wonderful art of this special city. 

Valle de Bravo, Estado de México

2 hours west

Heading west from the Mexican capital, you’ll pass stunning scenery that looks like it’s out of a storybook. Once you get to the Pueblo Magico of Valle de Bravo, you’ll see a beautiful lake surrounded by colorful buildings and towering trees.

You can really live it up in this wonderful town. Whether you want to take a boat ride along the lakeshore or sample food at one of the town’s famous restaurants, you will have the best experience in this magical Mexico State town. 

For nature lovers, you can easily hike the Mirador la Peña trail or visit Velo de Novia Nature Reserve. Another wonderful outdoor location is the Reserva Estatal Monte Alto. Here, you can choose between several well-marked trails and explore the wonderful nature that surrounds the town. 

Taxco

2 hours 30 minutes south

Few Pueblos Magicos are as beautiful as the hillside town of Taxco. Here, you can wander around the colonial architecture and the labyrinth-like network of winding narrow streets and passageways and gaze at the beautiful Santa Prisca de Taxco church. 

Simply taking the time to get lost and wander around on foot is one of the best things to do here. You can easily lose yourself for hours in the wonderful shops and silver stores, flower-covered buildings, and centuries-old architecture.

Taxco is also a foodie’s paradise where you can enjoy all kinds of local food like the queso criollo cheese and stink bugs known as jumiles. 

The town was founded in the 16th century as a mining town. Today, it’s often called Mexico’s silver capital.

You can still find plenty of shops that sell silver goods and jewelry. Make sure to visit the Museo de la Plateria. This popular museum is dedicated to the town’s mining past and offers a glimpse into what it was like living in Taxco during this time. 

Another major draw for tourists who visit Taxco is the holy week known as Semana Santa (Aka Mexican Easter). During this time in late March/early April, crowds gather to watch religious spectacles and processions throughout the town. 

Mexican street vendors set up their tianguis (stalls) on every corner and there are plenty of music and festivities to experience. 

Nevado de Toluca National Park

2 hours 40 minutes west

If you want to truly see nature in its raw beauty, then hit the road west from Mexico City to the beautiful volcano Nevado de Toluca. Mexico’s fourth-highest peak is a hiker’s paradise.

You can enter the chilly alpine air and summit the tall volcano. You’ll be surrounded by nature and likely other hikers as you climb through one of Mexico’s most popular outdoor attractions. 

The well-marked trails take you around the crater of the extinct volcano. Along the way, you’ll see breathtaking views of central Mexico and the surrounding mountain ranges. At the summit, you can stare down into the massive crater and see the clear waters of the Laguna del Sol. 

Nevado de Toluca is cold, very cold! Pack enough warm clothes and hiking essentials for your trek to the top. Make sure to stock up on snacks, as there are no stores.

This is adventure hiking at its finest, so be prepared for all-day trekking and some serious slopes. 

Bernal, Querétaro

3 hours north

Just over three hours north of the capital is Bernal, Querétaro. This town is a popular Pueblo Magico that draws tens of thousands of visitors a week. Once you visit Bernal, you’ll know why it made the list.

It’s most famous for its 1400-foot rock monolith that stands high above the town. This towering natural structure is perfect for a long hike from the center of town. After your hike, make your way into the beautiful tree-lined streets surrounding the central plaza. 

Bernal is filled with food vendors, restaurants, and charming arts and crafts dealers. The town’s signature dish is the gordita, a thick corn tortilla stuffed with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

Bernal’s gorditas are usually made out of blue corn and cooked on a hot stone or comal. Besides its delicious gorditas, try the stuffed nopales. These grilled cactus pads are stuffed with vegetables, herbs, spices, and sometimes cheese. 

Santiago de Querétaro

3 hours northwest

The capital of Querétaro State is full of wonderful places to explore and things to experience. The city surrounds the Zenea Garden, where Spanish colonial architecture and historic buildings run along cobblestone streets.

Buildings like San Francisco Church, Santa Rosa de Viterbo Church, and the 16th-century aqueduct, remind you of the incredible history of the city. Because of its architecture, culture, and history, the city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. 

Other places you should visit include the Querétaro Regional Museum, where you can see pre-Hispanic art and enjoy its beautiful architecture. Make sure to spend time walking around the city, visiting the wonderful boutique stores and cafes. If you love theater, check out a show at the historic Theater of the Republic. 

Many people don’t know that Santiago de Querétaro was once the temporary capital of Mexico after US troops invaded Mexico City during the Mexican-American War. It’s also where the famous Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed.

This treaty gave a sizable chunk of Northern Mexico to the United States after the Mexican-American War. 

Tolantongo 

3 hours 30 minutes north

The springs, or Grutas de Tolantongo, are some of the most beautiful natural pools in Mexico. You can come here for a day and experience the wonderful natural surroundings and of course, the thermal hot springs. You can relax in dozens of hot spring pools, check out the thermal river, and explore a water-filled cave.

There are also tons of hiking opportunities and striking waterfalls to explore nearby. Once you’ve had your fill of the natural thermal water, you can relax and eat at one of the many restaurants and cocktail bars along the water’s edge. 

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

3 hours 40 minutes northwest

Few places in the world are as stunning as San Miguel de Allende. The drive is just under four hours and takes you through the beautiful rolling hills and farmland of Central Mexico. Once you reach the city, colonial architecture and the famous pink neo-Gothic church, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, will surround you. 

The city is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Pueblo Magico. It’s easy to see why once you enter the city.

Its cobblestone streets are filled with festivities and excitement. Cultural landmarks like the main plaza and Jardín Allende are filled with musicians, street food vendors, and arts & crafts.

You can walk to almost every attraction in the city. Make sure to check out the Instituto Allende and the incredible Biblioteca Publica. You can find the best shopping at the Mercado de Artesanias, an open-air market filled with artisanal crafts and art. 

What makes San Miguel de Allende so popular, next to its architecture and culture, are its restaurants. The city’s specialties include salsa verde enchiladas, enmoladas, pozole, and much more. High-end dining is also very popular here.

There are hundreds of restaurants and many chefs and food critics consider them to be some of the best in Mexico. San Miguel de Allende is also very, very safe and it is for this reason that so many international expats from across the world have decided to make the city their new home. 

Morelia, Michoacán

4 hours west

Morelia is the perfect long drive from Mexico’s capital. If you start early, you can still make this a day trip. On the way, you’ll drive through beautiful rural farmland, small towns, and photo-worthy natural areas like Cerro San Andrés.

The area around Morelia is one of the world’s largest avocado-producing zones so stop along the way to grab some avocados from the small stands and markets on the way.  

Once you arrive, you’ll notice the city’s quaint vibe, stone fountains, and European colonial architecture. The city is perfect for walking around and visiting the 17th and 18th-century buildings with their pink stone exteriors. 

At the center of the city is the Plaza de Armas and the famous Morelia Cathedral. The charming streets are lined with restaurants and mom-and-pop shops selling local artisanal crafts and clothes that make excellent Mexican souvenirs.

Make sure to grab a bite to eat from the small street food stands or check out one of the center’s charming cafes like Café del Teatro or La Guarecita Tostadores de Café y Cacao. 

Morelia is famous for its cuisine, and there are plenty of reasons why. When you can, try famous regional dishes like Michoacan Enchiladas, tamales, uchepos, and the most famous of all local specialties, carnitas. 

The city is also one of the best places in Mexico to experience the festivities of Dia de los Muertos. You’ll experience the entire city center filled with people in costumes, face paint, and elaborate floats.

Marigold flowers and beautiful decorations cover the entire city center. If you’re visiting during this festive time, make sure to book your accommodation in advance.  

Hike Iztaccihuatl 

3 hours south

Iztaccíhuatl is a 5,230 m dormant volcanic mountain that sits on the border between Puebla state and the state of Mexico, some 121 km southeast of Mexico City. The volcano, which lies within the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park is the third-highest peak in Mexico and it makes for a rewarding hiking experience for those into nature and the great outdoors.

Iztaccíhuatl means ¨white woman¨ in the Nahatual language because its snow-capped peaks are believed to resemble the outline of a pale woman sleeping. Local legend has it that Iztaccihuatl was a beautiful woman that fell in love with a warrior named Popocatepetl but died of grief when he was killed in battle.

After that, the gods turned the two of them into volcanoes. You can now see the smoky peak of Popocatepetl from Iztaccíhuatl as it spews ash and lava.

Locals like to joke that the two love birds continue to watch over each other to this day. Hiking the Iztaccihuatl volcano is not an easy feat but it is certainly a rewarding one.

The time needed to get to the peak can vary depending on your physical fitness level, the weather, and the specific route you take. Normally, people ascend to the peak and back in 2 days, dividing each day into a couple of hours of climbing. 

However, if you are visiting on a day trip from Mexico City, you can of course just hike a partial trail at the base to say that you have experienced walking at Iztaccíhuatl.

Before you start the trek, you need to register at the Iztaccihuatl-Popocatepetl National Park ranger station. The route takes you through luscious green pine forests, past glaciers, and alpine meadows. For safety, you might want to consider hiring a professional guide. 

Visit the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve 

A beautiful and unique phenomenon to witness on one of your day trips from Mexico City is the UNESCO-protected Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. If you happen to be traveling to Mexico between October and March each year, you can stop by to bear witness to the eight different colonies of gorgeous migratory butterflies that make the journey from the Rocky Mountains down to the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests ecoregion every winter.

These pretty insects have been making this journey from Canada to Mexico for thousands of years. They travel in colonies of around 20 million insects (!) and break up their journey over several days, traveling several hundreds of miles at a time.

Most adult monarch butterflies can only live for 3-4 weeks but a very special generation of this butterfly known as the ¨‘Methuselah¨ generation can live as long as 9 months. It is this species that store up fuel from the nectar they take from flowers and uses it to travel south for the winter.  

The protected area covers over 16,100 hectares and is just 50 pesos (circa $2.50 USD) to enter. As you walk among the flower and trees, you will see thousands upon thousands of orange and black monarch butterflies fluttering in the air. 

[Do keep in mind that this is a protected area. So, you should not touch the monarch butterflies or disturb them in any way, but observe and admire them from a respectable distance.] 

Hike up Cerro Ajusco 

One hour’s drive south

Cerro Ajusco (¨Ajusco Hill¨) is a 3,930 m lava volcano located just south of CDMX, in the city’s Tlalpan district. It is the highest point in the city and a great place to hike up in order to enjoy spectacular vistas and sunset views over the Mexican capital.

There are numerous trails that you can choose from here, of varying lengths and intensities. One of the most popular options is a loop that starts and ends at the Albergue Alpino Ajusco hostel at the foot of the volcano. 

It takes you past the peaks of Pico de Águila (3880m) and Cruz del Marqués (3,936m) and takes approximately 5 hours to complete. You will see the Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, and Nevado de Toluca volcanoes in the distance, as well as the glittering Mexico City skyline.

The Cerro San Miguel Trail is a shorter and less crowded option. It starts from the same place but leads you in the opposite direction and takes you up to the peak of Cerro San Miguel (3,785m).

Last but not least, the Cerro Pelado Trail is perhaps the best choice if you are looking for an easy hike. It starts from the Rancho Magico theme park and leads you through ethereal-looking volcanic landscapes and gorgeous valleys as you make a gradual ascent to the top of Cerro Pelado (3,584m).

The Cumbres del Ajusco National Park, where the Cerro Ajusco is located is a treat in itself. Besides hiking, you can enjoy horseback rides through the park, or just enjoy a simple picnic among the fir trees and mountain views with your travel companions. 

Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo State 

2 hours north 

Huasca de Ocampo in the state of Hidalgo is a charming town that awaits just two hours north of Mexico City. Traveling here feels almost like being transported back in time.

Huasca de Ocampo is characterized by cobbled streets, colorful buildings painted in every color of the rainbow, and lively squares that act as rendezvous points for local residents to catch up and play cards with their friends. The town was the very first settlement in Mexico to be recognized as a pueblo magico back in 2001.

I am willing to bet that even if you visit dozens of little towns and villages during your time in the country, Huasca de Ocampo will remain a firm favorite. Surrounded by the Sierra de Pachuca mountains, the nature outside of Huasca de Ocampo is as much of a highlight of visiting as the town itself.

Just outside of the town, you can observe the breathtaking basaltic prisms. These tall columnar joints of basalt rock are a rare natural phenomenon that is only seen in a couple of other places around the globe – including the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and the Devil’s Postpile in California.

A breathtaking waterfall cascades down the column which range in height from 75 to 150 feet.  They have been recognized as a natural wonder of Mexico (one of 13!) and were formed millions of years ago by the slow cooling of volcanic lava.

You can also check out the Museo de Los Duendes (Museum of the Goblins) and learn a fascinating local legend about how Hidalgo residents believe that naked goblins play in and run through the forests surrounding the town. 

Full day tours of Huasca de Ocampo

The Fireflies Sanctuary of Tlaxcala 

2 hours drive east

The city of Tlaxcala de Xicohténcatl awaits two hours to the east of Mexico City and can be a spectacular place to visit on a day trip from CDMX, particularly if you are traveling between June and August. These months mark the annual mating season for fireflies, who can be found in their millions in the forests around Nanacamilpa.

Exploring the forest of the Santuario de las Luciernagas in the evening, when the skies are illuminated with the golden shimmer of millions of fireflies is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Mexico. Of course, you can also combine a visit to the firefly sanctuary with experiencing some of the other highlights of Tlaxcala. 

Head to the idyllic village of Val’Quirico, a Tuscan-styled village built to offer travelers a taste of Europe in the heart of Mexico. There is a fountain here called ¨La teta de abundantia¨ which is said to offer you wealth and abundance if you touch it, as well as excellent restaurants serving Italian, Mediterranean, and global-inspired cuisine. 

Tlaxcala is also home to La Malinche National Park (aka “Matlalcuéyatl¨). Surrounded by trees, wildflowers, and rolling green hills, it is a perfect spot for a walk or a picnic. 

Inside the park, you will find the extinct volcano La Malinche which is one of the oldest in Mexico. 

Final thoughts on the best day trips to take from Mexico City

Visiting the Cholula pyramid on a day trip from Mexico City
Visiting the Cholula pyramid on a day trip from Mexico City

You certainly won’t be short of things to do during your Mexico City itinerary but if you want to escape the chaos of the largest city in North America, plenty of exciting adventures await.  

Do you still have any questions or concerns about planning a trip to Mexico or embarking on these day trips from Mexico City? You might find these travel tips useful. 

Safe travels and enjoy Mexico! Xo 


Matthew Dursum

Matt Dursum is an American writer and journalist based in Latin America. Matt enjoys writing about food, wine, and travel and has published his work in dozens of magazines worldwide including Condé Nast Traveler, Matador Network and Traverse Magazine. For more of Matt's work, check out his website at wayfarersoliloquy.com.

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