Visiting The Pyramids of Teotihuacan with Kids in Mexico City

Visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacan with kids is an adventure that blends history, culture, and a bit of physical activity into one easy day trip from Mexico City. This ancient city is just an hour’s drive from the center of Mexico City (depending on the time of day), and is home to some of the most iconic (and massive) pyramids in the world.

Exploring Teotihuacan without a guided tour is totally doable. You’ll have the freedom to wander around at your own pace, making it a perfect family day trip if you’re in Mexico City for more than 2 days. Once you walk into the site, it’s like taking a step back in time, and the drive out there is a mini-tour of suburban Mexico City and its northern farms and hills. A visit to Teotihuacan is a perfect 1/2 day trip if you have 3 or 4 days in Mexico City.

Tour the Teotihuacan pyramids outside Mexico City with kids

Why Visit Teotihuacan With Kids?

Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city just outside Mexico City. It’s a marvel of architecture and a great place for a family adventure. This UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its massive pyramids and intricate murals, and archeologists still don’t know exactly who built the city. The pyramids and many of the buildings and walls have been meticulously reconstructed and preserved by the Mexican government. The pyramids are awe-inspiring because of their size and because of the stories they silently tell about a civilization that once thrived there.

The history of the people that built Teotihuacan still remains a mystery to historians and archaeologists. The city reached its peak between 100 and 650 AD far before the rise of the Mayan civilization, but this city had already been a significant cultural and economic center for centuries before that. While the identity of its founders is unclear, it’s believed that Teotihuacan was established by a diverse mix of peoples, possibly including the Totonac, Nahua, and Otomi. These groups contributed to its development, creating a vibrant, multicultural metropolis that became one of the most influential cities in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

Architecture and decoration at the Teotihuacan pyramids is incredible

How to Visit Teotihuacan Without a Guided Tour

Yes, you can visit without booking a guided tour! It might seem daunting, but it’s super easy. Often tours that you book online or through travel agents are expensive and much longer than they need to be. They often rope you into stops that you don’t need to make (hello tequila tasting factory!)  But, skipping a full-service guided tour doesn’t mean missing out on the full experience. In fact, exploring Teotihuacan independently allows you to move at your own pace and tailor the visit to your interests. Here’s how to do it:

  • Plan Ahead: Before you go, do a bit of research. There are plenty of resources online about the history and significance of Teotihuacan. Knowing a bit about what you’re seeing can make the experience more enriching for everyone.
  • Arrive Early: Beat the crowds and the heat by arriving as soon as the site opens. The cooler morning temperatures make it more comfortable to walk around the pyramids and explore the huge site.
  • Bring Your Own Essentials: Pack hats, sunscreen, water, and snacks. There are vendors around, but prices can be high, and availability can be unpredictable.
  • Map It Out: Grab a map at the entrance. It’s easy to navigate and the map will help you make sure you see all the key sights.
  • Wear Comfy Shoes: You’ll be walking a lot and it’s very dusty. Be sure to wear comfy shoes – closed tow shoes are preferable. The site is huge, and the last thing you need is dust rubbing between your open toes if you’re wearing flipflops.

Outdide the citadel. Visiting the Teotihuacan pyramids - a great family trip.

Finding A Guide at the Teotihuacan Pyramids

If at the last minute you decide you do want a guide, there are plenty that speak multiple languages right at the entrance, where you buy your tickets. They will approach you and ask if you’d like their services for 2 or 3 hours. I’m sure this is a fabulous experience if you really want to learn about the area and the buildings, but we chose to visit at our own pace.

What to See At The Teotihuacan Ruins with Kids

The Pyramid of the Sun

The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest structure in Teotihuacan and the third largest pyramid in the world. Unfortunately climbing since they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visitors are now banned from climbing on them in an effort to help preserve them. However, viewing the pyramids from the ground is still amazing!

The pyramid of the sun at Teotihuacan with kids

The Pyramid of the Moon

Slightly smaller than the Pyramid of the Sun but no less impressive, the Pyramid of the Moon offers a different perspective of the city. Located at the northern end of the Avenue of the Dead, it’s less crowded. Climbing The Pyramid of the Moon is no longer allowed, however you can close to the steps and it’s still a fantastic view down the main avenue, showcasing the scale and layout of Teotihuacan.

The pyramid of the moon at Teotihuacan pyramids - mexico

Quetzal Palace

The Quetzal Palace, also known as the Palace of Quetzalpapalotl, is famous for its intricate carvings and vibrant murals. The palace gives a glimpse into the lives of the elite residents of Teotihuacan. The kids will be fascinated by the vivid imagery and the stories behind the artwork. It’s a great spot to take a break and enjoy some shade.

Quetzal Palace at the pyramids in Mexico City

The Citadel

The Citadel, a large square courtyard surrounded by temples, was once a central part of the city. It’s an excellent place for kids to run around and burn off some energy. The Citadel gives a sense of the central role it played in Teotihuacan’s daily life.

Temple of the Feathered Serpent

The Temple of the Feathered Serpent, or Temple of Quetzalcoatl, is s located in the center of the Citadel and it’s interesting for the impressive stone carvings of serpents. We loved this temple because it has detailed stone decorations on its facade – serpents, jaguars and demons – that are incredible works of art in their own right. It’s believed to have been used for significant ceremonial purposes. The intricate carvings are a hit with kids who enjoy spotting the different shapes and figures.

The Avenue of the Dead

The Avenue of the Dead is the main road running through the city of Teotihuacan, stretching approximately 4 km (2.5 miles. It’s flanked by the city’s most significant structures, including the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and various other temples and residential complexes. It’s easy to imagine that this was a very impressive avenue while the city was occupied. The name “Avenue of the Dead” comes from the rows of ceremonial platforms and structures along the side, which the Aztecs believed were tombs. Now archeologists believe that they were more likely to be used for ceremonial purposes and housing the city’s elite. Walking along this avenue takes a while and is filled with steps! Walking from end to end really helps you understand how big this city actually is.

The avenue of the dead is the main road at Teotihuacan that links the main sights together

How to Get to Teotihuacan – With Kids

Travel by Uber

This is the easiest option and the one that we chose. We just called an Uber from our hotel in Roma – it was projected to cost $1,200 MXN or about $75 USD each way. Our driver arrived in 3 minutes and knew exactly what we needed when he saw our destination. He asked if we could pay him in cash (we don’t speak fluent Spanish, so Google Translate came in handy!) He offered to wait at Teotihuacan then drive us back for a little more than double the one-way fare. Perfect!

Important to note – the UberX cars are very, very small in Mexico City and will barely fit 4 people. We chose an Uber Comfort which was large enough for 4 of us. But none of the Uber Comfort cars we took in Mexico City had air conditioning. For that, you apparently need to choose a larger Uber or Uber Black. It wasn’t too hot (at 85 Fahrenheit) so we just rolled the windows down. The drive to the site was about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Roma, and only about one hour back in the middle of the day.

art deco architecture in mexico city - condesa district

Drive Yourself By Car

Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace. The drive from Mexico City to Teotihuacan takes about an hour so if you’re comfortable driving in Mexico City, this is a good option. Parking is available onsite for $55 MXN.

Take a Public Bus

Buses run regularly from Mexico City’s Autobuses del Norte station. The ride takes about an hour and a half. It’s an economical and straightforward option. Once you arrive at the Teotihuacan bus station, it’s a short walk to the entrance. I wouldn’t recommend this option with kids however –  the crowded buses and unpredictable times for me just feels like a recipe for disaster.

Book a Private or Group Tour Shuttle

Many companies offer private shuttles as part of their tour package. If you’re going fully catered, taking a van will be more comfortable and convenient, especially with young children. We felt completely comfortable doing this without a tour, so we suggest saving your time and money and doing it on your own. But, everyone is different.

Travel Tip: Find a tour that includes pickup and drop-off at your hotel.

Why Teotuhacan Isn’t A ‘Wonder of the World’

Having visited The Great Pyramids of Giza, Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, I would have to say they are all completely different experiences. Teotihuacan is a truly massive city site built around 200 BCE by a mysterious civilization. The Pyramid of the Sun is the 2nd tallest pyramid in the world and it towers at 65 meters (213 feet). It’s second to only the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, which was 146 meters (481 feet) tall when it was built. The whole Teotuhacan city area spans a 20 square kilometers! Just walking down the Avenue of the Dead took about 30 minutes at a good pace, it’s over a mile long.

Pyramids of giza in cairo - the tallest pyramid in the world

Egyptian Pyramids are Taller

The Great Pyramids of Giza are incredible monuments that showcase Egypt’s architectural brilliance. Seeing their huge size and perfect construction in person is unbelievable. These pyramids were built as royal tombs over 4,500 years ago, with each stone carefully placed. The Great Pyramid of Khufu, the biggest of the three, was over 480 feet tall and is still one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Their impressive size and the mysteries about how they were built continue to amaze and excite visitors.

Il Castillo, Chichen Itza is one of the most impressive and well-preserved Mayan ruins in Mexico, and is as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Chichen Itza is Much More Than a Pyramid

Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula was built by the Mayas between 600 and 1200 CE. To us, this felt more compact but more impressive, plus there was more greenery in the grounds. El Castillo, or the Temple of Kukulkan, stands at 30 meters high (98 feet). It’s smaller than Teotihuacan’s pyramids, and is actually designed as a massive calendar, not a tomb. It has 365 steps and casts a serpent shadow during the equinox. The architectural site is about 10 square kilometers and is densely packed with other architectural wonders like the Great Ball Court and the Temple of the Warriors.

Chichen Itza’s status as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World may not be obvious because Teotihuacan is so much bigger in every sense. But the architectural brilliance, like the serpent effect on El Castillo, and its cultural significance as a major Maya hub make it notable for more than just the pyramid. Teotihuacan’s size and mystery are impressive, but The Pyramids of Giza and Chichen Itza’s blend of science, art, and history are the reason they are named a Wonder of the World.

Teotihuacan With Kids: Hidden Gems and Insider Secrets

Is visiting Teotihuacan with kids worth the trip from Mexico City?

Absolutely. Visiting Teotihuacan with kids is a perfect day outing from Mexico City. It provides a break from the hustle and bustle of the city center and it was a chance to experience something truly unique. If you’re looking to just chill out, this isn’t the trip for you. But, we enjoyed it and the site was impressive and traveling without a guide gave us the freedom to explore at your own pace.

how to visit Teotihuacan With Kids

How much does entry to Teotihuacan cost?

The entry fee was $95 MXN, the same as the other museums we visited, including the Modern Art Museum and the Anthropology Museum. This is about $6 USD, definitely affordable. There are no student discounts here, unless you’re an exchange student with a student ID from a Mexican school.

What other things should we explore with kids at Teotihuacan?

Teotihuacan Museum

We didn’t visit the museum because we visited the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, which was really incredible. The on-site museum has exhibits about the city’s history and artifacts found during excavations. If you miss the Anthropology Musem in Bosque de Chapultepec, this museum is a great way to add context to what you see at the site.

Smaller Avenues

If you want to see more than just main attractions, wander along the smaller paths and avenues. You’ll find lesser-known temples and residential areas that offer a glimpse into everyday life in ancient Teotihuacan.

wandering around Teotihuacan pyramids

Picnic Spots

There are not that many shaded areas, but there are a few that are perfect for a picnic lunch, which you can carry in yourself in a backpack. Bringing your own lunch allows for a leisurely break and a chance to relax in the ruins.

Teotihuacan Evening Light and Sound Show

If your schedule allows, you can try to catch the light and sound show in the evening. It’s a good way to see the pyramids in a different light (literally) and learn more about the city with a bit of a light show.

Can You Use a Stroller At Teotihuacan?

No, I would NOT recommend bringing a stroller, even an off-road model. Teotihuacan is not really baby- friendly. Just walking up or down the main Avenue of the Dead will be a challenge with a stroller (or a wheelchair) and it’s very dusty. There are stairs every 100 yards or so, and it’s a dirt and rock-strewn path most of the way. You’ll be carrying the stroller the entire time, so don’t even try. If you must see the ruins, and your kids can’t walk on their own for 2 miles, then wear a Baby Bjorn with a mask and cap to protect your baby from the dust. Or, put this trip off until your kids are a bit older.

Visiting The Pyramids of Teotihuacan

Visiting Teotihuacan with kids, without booking a guided tour, can be a rewarding experience if you want to take in a bit of Mexican history. This massive ancient city offers a mix of education, adventure, and family bonding. By planning ahead and exploring at your own pace you can create lasting memories that go beyond the usual tourist experience. I hope you enjoy a day of exploring these ancient pyramids and uncovering the mysteries of Teotihuacan like we did . The trip from Mexico City is worth it—it’s an adventure your kids will love.

how to visit Teotihuacan With Kids without a tour

More On Mexico City

If you’re looking for great places to stay in Mexico City with kids, check out the Viadora boutique stays in Roma and Condesa. Staying in a family-sized suite will make your stay really enjoyable.

3 Days in Mexico City – The Perfect Itinerary

Why The Amsterdam by Viadora is Condesa’s Best-Kept Secret

Why XOMA by Viadora is a Perfect Base in Roma, Mexico City

Have you explored Teotihuacan with kids?

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Tom Kuhr

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