While living in Mexico City, we specialized in weekend escapes from the city. Although the metropolis has a lot to offer, soaking it in daily can be exhausting. These 15 weekend trips promise a break from the chaos – if you make it out of Mexico City traffic in one piece.
Less than 4 hours
#1- Tepoztlán, Morelos
Tepoztlán is a welcome oasis south of Mexico City. The town lives up to its Pueblo Mágico status, with colorful streets and a stunning mountain backdrop. After eating your way through town, relax in one of the many spa hotels that Tepoztlán is known for.
We started off the new year well-rested and wrinkly, after a relaxing weekend in La Buena Vibra Retreat and Spa. The heated outdoor pools and gardens come with spectacular mountain views.
The driving time from Mexico City is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Enter the second story highway before getting caught in the traffic chaos below. The roads are curvy but very scenic.
#2- Las Estacas, Morelos
Las Estacas is a stunning natural park that makes you forget about the city in seconds. The crystal clear river that runs through the park is the center stage for all kinds of water activities. Add several pools and delicious cocktails to the mix and Las Estacas makes up the perfect weekend getaway.
We had our favorite glamping experience up to date at Las Estacas. The glamping area is divided into secluded natural boots, with a glamping tent and private outdoor shower.
The driving time from Mexico City is 2 hours. The road via Tepoztlán is slightly longer but less busy.
#3- Bernal, Queretaro
The Pueblo Magíco of Bernal is located at the foot of pico de Bernal, one of the largest monoliths in the world. We arrived at sunset and were in awe of this little town with its colorful cathedral and scenic backdrop. The cozy streets are scattered with restaurants, rooftop bars and cheese shops. Bernal is the perfect base town to explore the wineries of Querétaro – more on that below.
We had dinner on the rooftop of boutique hotel Casa Mateo. Behind the stone walls of the hotel are a stunning courtyard with swimming pool.
The driving time from Mexico City is 3 hours and 30 minutes. Bernal is on Querétaro’s Art, Cheese and Wine Route.
#4- Ruta del Vino, Queretaro
The state of Queretaro is Mexico’s second largest wine producer, after Baja California. To put its wines on the map, the state came up with an Art, Cheese and Wine Route. We skipped the art and visited four of the 18 wineries on the route. While the quality of the wines differs greatly, all wineries had beautiful grounds and expansive views in common. For a detailed itinerary, visit my guide to the Querétaro wine route.
Queretaro’s wine region is scenically located between two Pueblos Mágicos, Tequisquiapan and Bernal. We stayed one night in each town and visited the wineries in between.
The driving time from Mexico City to Tequisquiapan is 3 hours, which is the starting point of the wine route.
#5- Parque Nacional Izta-Popo, Estado de Mexico
Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl are two snow-capped volcanoes that can be seen from Mexico City on a clear day. Popo is often spouting smoke, but Izta is dormant and can be climbed on a well-prepared excursion. We sticked to a leisurely hike from the parking area to the Izta base camp. By the time we got back, temperatures had dropped from 15°C to below zero.
Hacienda Panoaya is located 20 minutes outside of the national park. All rooms have spectacular views of Izta and Popo.
The driving time from Mexico City is 2 hours and 30 minutes. Getting cornered at a toll-boot close to the park tops our list of nerve-wracking moments in Mexico traffic.
#6- Puebla & Cholula, Puebla
Puebla is a beautiful colonial city, praised for its traditional food. We visited in August, at the start of chile en nogada season. This delicious plate represents the Mexican flag and is sourced with ingredients from the Puebla region. Walk off Puebla’s delicious dishes on a free walking tour by Estación Mexico.
Cholula is located just a short drive from Puebla. The town houses a total of 40 churches, with the most famous one built right on top of Mexico’s biggest pyramid – courtesy of Hernán Cortés. The climb to La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios is rewarded with spectacular views of Izta and Popo.
The driving time from Mexico City is 2 hours. Federal Highway 150D runs all the way from Mexico City to Puebla. The road winds through the Puebla mountains.
#7- Huasca de Ocampo, Hidalgo
Huasca de Ocampo serves as a base town for exploring the nearby National Park El Chico, but has an impressive attraction of its own. Huasca’s Basaltic Prisms made it to Mexico’s 13 Natural Wonders list. El Chico National Park offers hiking trails, scenic viewpoints and a lake with entertainment. We hiked to the Mirador Peña del Cuervo and spent Sunday afternoon the Mexican way: out and about with a giant michelada.
This region is perfect for a stay in the woods. Our cabin-experience was not exactly what we hoped for, falling asleep (and waking back up) to the sound of passing trucks.
The driving time from Mexico City is 2 hours. Once passed hectic Pachuca, the road becomes curvy and scenic.
#8- Taxco, Guerrero
The mountain town of Taxco is known for two things: silver production and VW Beetles. Although the silver mines were depleted a long time ago, Taxco remains a silver shopping destination. The picturesque town houses many artisans creating inexpensive silver jewelry. The only cars that can handle Taxco’s narrow, steep and cobblestoned streets are Volkswagen Beetles. The last Bugs were produced in 2012, but are still ever popular in Mexico’s mountain towns.
Taxco counts many boutique hotels. Boutique Pueblo Lindo serves breakfast at the beautiful rooftop terrace of restaurant Rosa Amaranto.
The driving time from Mexico City is 3 hours. We made a detour to Posas Azules de Atzala before heading back. This stunning park with waterfalls ended up as the highlight of our weekend.
#9- Honey, Puebla
The municipality of Honey is home to Cascadas Paraíso, a series of 10 waterfalls tucked away in a scenic mountain range. The Centro Ecoturistico is managed by the local community as is often the case in Mexico. A hiking trail connects all ten waterfalls and takes about two hours to complete.
The park has a campground with spectacular views over the Puebla mountains. At night, locals sell tamales and set up your campfire.
The driving time from Mexico City is 3 hours. The state of Puebla is known for its rich agriculture. When we visited in October, prickly pears or tuna were sold at fruit stands along the road.
#10- San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
San Miguel de Allende is often considered as the most enchanting city in Mexico. Colorful streets are lined with boutique restaurants and rooftop bars. The Mercado de Artesanías is a great market to stock up on beautiful and inexpensive handicrafts. The city attracts many expats and retirees, which make up about 10 percent of the population.
We stayed in Hotel Tierra de Sol y Luna, a charming B&B with rooftop terrace. The B&B is located in the historic city center, but far enough from the action to have a quiet night.
The driving time from Mexico City is 3 hours. A complete guide weekend guide to San Miguel de Allende can be found here.
4 hours or more
#11- Grutas de Tolantongo, Hidalgo
Grutas Tolantongo is an impressive natural spa, housing a series of hot spring pools carved into the mountainside. These pozitas have different temperatures based on their position and size, ranging from warm to steaming hot. Although the pools are man-made, the water is naturally heated by hot springs originating from volcanic activity in the region. The steaming turquoise river that cascades through the valley offers more relaxing.
There are four economic hotels and a large campground by the river. The key is to arrive early, as none of the hotels can be reserved in advance. The campground is a good alternative for the very basic hotel rooms.
The driving time from Mexico City is 4 hours. For more details on this unique spa, check out my full guide to Grutas de Tolantongo.
#12- Acapulco, Guerrero
Acapulco is the number one beach escape for Mexico City residents. Many families own a second house in Acapulco and head out every holiday weekend. Although the beaches are not the best by Mexican standards, the inexpensive seafood stalls make for a fun day out. Less crowded beaches such as Playa La Bonfil are found south of Acapulco, near the international airport.
The highlight of Acapulco was our stay in Hotel Las Brisas. This iconic hotel was built in the 1950’s, during the glory days of Acapulco as a beach destination. It was renovated in 2007 but still maintains that luxury retro vibe. The 261 bungalows perched on a hill all have private swimming pools and fantastic views of the Acapulco bay. Transport within the complex is by pink and white Jeeps only.
The driving time from Mexico City is 5 hours. On holiday weekends, the exodus to Acapulco can double the driving time. Make sure to leave early or even better, fly. We didn’t find out until after our trip that the road to Acapulco isn’t considered the safest.
#13- Tequila, Jalisco
Mexico’s signature drink can only be produced in Jalisco and part of its neighboring states. Tequila is one of 18 denominaciones de origen in Mexico, an authenticity mark protecting unique regional products. The spirit is strictly made of blue Weber agave, which thrives in the soils and climate of Jalisco. The charming town of Tequila is the epicenter of tequila production, surrounded by blue agave fields and tequila distilleries.
We embarked on the Jose Cuervo Express for the full tequila experience. The itinerary includes an agave harvesting demo, a tour of the Jose Cuervo Distillery, a traditional dance show, a tequila tasting and an epic train ride through the agave fields. Tequila flows non-stop throughout the day, mixed up in delicious cocktails. Board the Jose Cuervo Express for an unforgettable day in the cradle of Tequila.
The driving time from Mexico City to Guadalajara, starting point of the Jose Cuervo Express, is 6 hours. We skipped the driving and flew in on Friday night for this trip, as the Tequila train only departs Saturdays at 9 AM.
#14- Oaxaca de Juaréz, Oaxaca
Oaxaca de Juaréz is the capital of the namesake state. Oaxaca is the most ethnically diverse of all 31 states in Mexico, with over half of its population still speaking an indigenous language. Many indigenous communities still live from their unique traditions and art work. The Ruta Mágica de Artesanías passes through six towns, each one known for a local handicraft. Oaxaca is also recognized as the mecca of Mezcal, Mexico’s other signature spirit. As Mezcal can be produced from any type of agave and Oaxaca counts over 40 species, it’s a match made in heaven. Mezcal distilleries or palenques can be visited in the town of Santiago Matatlán.
We stayed in Hotel Casa de la Tía Tere, a charming boutique hotel in the center of Oaxaca. The beautiful garden with pool offers a welcome break from Oaxaca’s hot and humid weather. In the morning, a delicious breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace.
The driving time from Mexico City is 6 hours. The 135D road leading up to Oaxaca is in good condition but two-lane only. The worst part starts when entering Oaxaca, with potholes and traffic chaos everywhere. Given the longer drive, we picked Independence Day weekend for our trip.
#15- Huasteca Potosina, San Luis Potosi
The Huasteca Potosina is a region in the state of San Luis Potosi, home to a series of stunning waterfalls. The calcium in the surrounding rocks gives the water a surreal, turquoise color. We started our trip at Las Pozas, a surrealistic art garden by Edward James worth a visit. We then made our way up to Cascada de Tamul, Puente de Dios, Tamasopo and Cascadas de Micos, with the best saved for last. Cascada de Minas Viejas is nothing short of spectacular. The area is popular with local tourists, but receives little to no international visitors due to its remote location in Central Mexico.
We had Cascada de Minas Viejas practically to ourselves for one night. With no doubt, it tops our list of most beautiful camping backdrops. We did hesitate for a moment when we saw the remoteness of the falls, but having another group of campers there convinced us. Being able to camp right next to this natural wonder was a unique experience, only possible in remote areas like the Huasteca Potosina.
The driving time from Mexico City to Las Pozas is 7 hours, passing the scenic Sierra Gorda mountain range in Querétaro. Given the distance to and between the falls, reserve at least 3 to 4 days for this trip.