About 90 minutes away from Mexico City, you’ll find one of the cutest towns in the world. Tucked away in a valley surrounded by mountains long deemed sacred by the natives, Tepoztlan truly feels like a powerful place. There is beauty and magic in every direction. I came to Tepoztlan on a whim and ended up falling in love with the little village. Between the stunning mountain views, colorful streets and alleyways, and delicious Pre-Hispanic food, it won me over pretty easily.
Is Tepoztlan worth visiting? Well, it’s been named as one of Mexico’s pueblos magicos, or magic towns. These are places that have been deemed culturally, historically, or touristically significant. There are 132 pueblos magicos in Mexico, but I reckon of the ones that I’ve been to, Tepoztlan definitely ranks as one of the best. There’s just something special about Tepoztlan. It’s worth going off the well worn international tourist trail to check out.
How To Get To Tepoztlan
Tepoztlan is a small pueblo magico located in the small state of Morelos. It is about an hour and a half from Mexico City, depending on what part of the city you’re in. That makes it a popular weekend destination for the residents of Mexico City. That being said, it is very easy to get to Tepoztlan from Mexico City.
To get to Tepoztlan, you’ll first need to get to Mexico City and either catch a direct bus there, or a bus to Cuernavaca. From the Mexico City Airport, I immediately caught a bus to Cuernavaca and then took a taxi to Tepoztlan for about 200 pesos ($10). It’s a 30-40 minute ride, so I didn’t think it was a bad price, and it had been a long travel day so I took the easy way out.
If you’re willing to wait around for a bus, though, it only costs 30 pesos to get to Tepoztlan from Cuernavaca. You’ll have to walk or take a taxi close to the city center where the buses leave from, though. For simplicity’s sake, the taxi wasn’t a bad price, especially if you’re splitting it with other people.
Of course, there are direct buses to Tepoztlan as well. Your best bet will be to go to the Terminal Taxquena, also known as Mexico City’s Terminal Sur. There are buses that leave very frequently from there for $140 pesos. I just looked online and they leave almost every half hour.
Oh, and before you go, make sure to have good travel insurance handy whenever you’re out adventuring. I use SafetyWing to keep me covered throughout my travels.
Where To Stay in Tepoztlan
When I went to Tepoztlan, only one hostel showed up online. For simplicity’s sake, I decided to book it. Luckily, it was absolutely amazing. The view from the garden of Ekko Hostel is unbelievable. A bed in a shared dorm is 250 pesos a night. It’s slightly pricier than average in Mexico, but the view makes it worth it alone. As I settled into one of the hammocks at golden hour, it felt like I had entered Jurassic Park.
I recommend staying at Ekko Hostel if you don’t mind being a bit further from the action. It’s about a 20-minute walk to town, and you have to climb up an annoying hill on the way there. You can also wait around and catch a colectivo for 8 pesos ($.40 USD) to the city center. Taxis are usually around 60 pesos, and there’s a taxi stop at the cemetery next to the hostel.
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Things To Do in Tepoztlan
Tepoztlan is a place that truly lives up to its pueblo magico title. There is magic in every corner and alleyway of the city. For a small city with an official population of just 14,000 people, Tepoztlan often feels a lot livelier. There is a palpable energy to the town. No matter how you spend your time here, you’ll inevitably love it.
Hike up to Tepozteco Pyramid
The one thing you have to do in Tepoztlan is hike to the ruins at the top of the mountain. The pyramid of Tepozteco is a 45-minute hike from downtown Tepoztlan. However, it is a steep, nonstop climb for every single one of those 45 minutes. Don’t worry. It’ll be worth it. The reward is a stunning view of Tepoztlan and the breathtaking landscapes that surround it.
My favorite part about this pyramid is that it was built to honor an Aztec god of alcohol. Pulque is a pre-Hispanic alcoholic drink that you absolutely have to try in Mexico. Tepoztecatl was the god of pulque, drunkenness, and fertility. Hey, if you’ve had pulque, you could probably understand why the natives were willing to climb this steep mountain to build a stone pyramid dedicated to it. That’s the kind of god I can get behind.
Take a day trip to Amatlan de Quetzalcoatl
Known as the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, Amatlan is as sacred as it gets. Hiking through the forests, I could definitely feel the energy in those hallowed woods. Amatlan is a tiny, peaceful town. It is far quieter than Tepoztlan, which makes it an excellent place to zen out and enjoy nature. The Dalai Lama once visited Amatlan and designated it as an international place of peace. It’s only an 8 peso colectivo ride from Tepoztlan, so go see what it’s all about.
Feast on Pre-Hispanic Food at the Market
Honestly, this was 90% of what I did in Tepoztlan. My first meal, I was roaming through the market when a weird veggie burger looking thing caught my eye. It turns out it wasn’t a veggie burger, but a tlaltequeada. This was one of many things I ate in Tepoztlan that changed my life. In my first 24 hours in the city, I ate at the market four times and had eight tlaltequeades. They drench it in mole amaranto and serve them with a side of rice and beans, as well as tortillas. For 80 pesos, they filled me up and were absolutely delicious.
The stall I went to for nearly every meal was called Tlecuil. I usually had the tlaltequeadas, but occasionally swapped them out for an itacate. And one time I broke from being vegetarian to try an armadillo taco. It was quite oily, so I didn’t really enjoy it, but they have armadillo and some other unique meats there. Jabali (wild boar), venado (deer), and conejo (rabbit), are a few of their other offerings. Sometimes, food is the best way to experience a place, and I loved every meal I had in Tepoztlan.
Check out all the street art
For how small of a town Tepoztlan is, it surely doesn’t lack in street art. You could be walking the most random, out-of-the-way side roads and still encounter colorful murals. It felt like a treasure hunt that always kept me inspired to keep exploring. I walked a lot in Tepoztlan, and most of it was because my aimless wanders kept bringing me to gorgeous street art.
Shop at the Weekend Market
Every weekend, the main street of Tepoztlan gets blocked off to motor vehicles and sprawls out into an artisanal market. Whatever your heart desires, you can buy it here. If you don’t have a chance to adventure further south to states like Oaxaca and Chiapas, Tepoztlan is an excellent place to buy handcrafted goods and souvenirs.
Visit the Former Convent of the Nativity
Next to the Tepozteco pyramid, the old Convent of the Nativity might be Tepoztlan’s biggest attraction. It’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is impossible to miss. Mostly because it’s a huge building nestled up on a hill. Every time I’d walk into town from my hostel, seeing the convent was a harsh reminder that I still had to walk up a big ass hill to get to the city center.
Have an ice cream at Tepoznieves
I cannot stress enough just how much I love Tepoznieves. There are so many flavors and all of them are so good. My favorites were the ones with mangoes and queso in it. A weird combination, but trust me on this one. It’ll change your life. There has to be close to 100 different flavors at Tepoznieves, so find a combo that suits you. Seriously, this might be my favorite part of Tepoztlan.
Embrace Your Spirituality
To put it bluntly, Tepoztlan is a very hippie town. Long considered sacred by the Aztecs for being the birthplace of the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl, it maintains that spiritual energy today. Not since living in a hippie commune in Tulum had I felt as much spiritual energy as I did in Tepoztlan. Between the mountains, sacred forests, and living history of the town, it’s easy to see why the spiritual type are attracted to Tepoztlan. I mean, the freakin’ Dalai Lama was here.
In short, what I’m saying is don’t feel too stressed to do too much in Tepoztlan. Zen out, embrace your alone time, and vibe with the stunning nature that the magic village has to offer. And hey, if you need some self-care, look no further than Tepoztlan. I passed by so many spas offering both traditional and alternative healing treatments, from ancient massage techniques to Reiki. Treat yourself.
Where To Go After Tepoztlan
Tepoztlan is a perfect destination because it is so centrally located. It’s only an hour and a half from one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. You can truly get to anywhere in the world from Tepoztlan for minimal effort. But for now, let’s stick to some cool spots in Mexico that you can visit after Tepoztlan.
Although most travelers just view Cuernavaca as the gateway to Tepoztlan, I actually quite liked the city. It has a reputation for being more dangerous, although I didn’t feel that way. I stuck mostly to the city center and bustling markets, and enjoyed the city’s beautiful architecture, delicious food, and relative lack of tourists.
Taxco de Alarcon, Guerrero
About two hours from Tepoztlan, you’ll find one of my favorite hidden gems in Mexico. The city of Taxco is built into a mountain, with gorgeous Mediterranean-style buildings stacked upon one another. The city is a labyrinth of narrow alleyways and hidden staircases and shortcuts. With Volkswagen Beetles as the main form of transportation, this city could literally not be cuter.
Of course, one can never get tired of Mexico’s bustling capital city. This sprawling metropolis is one of my favorite cities in the world, especially because it doesn’t feel like one singular city. Mexico City feels like a conglomerate of dozens and dozens of unique smaller towns. One could spend forever exploring the various barrios. It’s never a bad choice to head back to Mexico City.
And hey, if you don’t know where to go, it’s always a good idea to check out the list of pueblos magicos. It’s been a good way for me to get ideas, and many of them are still relatively unknown internationally. Generally, if I want to go off the beaten path but still be sure that a place is safe to visit or has decent tourist infrastructure, I’ll check if a place is on Mexico’s pueblos magicos list.
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Also, be sure to check out my complete backpacking itinerary for magical Mexico, a jam-packed 68-page guide covering 30 of my favorite destinations in Mexico.
My Complete Mexico Backpacking Itinerary
By popular demand… Here is the complete itinerary for one of my favorite countries in the world, Mexico. In this 68-page guidebook, I cover 30 of my favorite Mexican destinations, including how to get to each city, where to stay, and the best things to do in each city. I also include tidbits of useful information like things to know before going to Mexico, as well as my favorite party destina…