The Best Natural Attractions to Visit From Mexico City

Pena de Bernal is the third largest monolith on the planet
Pena de Bernal is the third largest monolith on the planet | © dave stamboulis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer2 September 2021

It might seem that Mexico City is all about that cosmopolitan lifestyle, with hip bars and world-class museums. However, if you venture outside the city limits you’ll find a veritable wealth of exquisite natural attractions and activities to keep you occupied and give you some respite from the often overwhelming capital. Here are the best natural attractions to visit from Mexico City.

Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, Guerrero

Perhaps the natural attraction on our list that is most removed from Mexico City – it’s around a four-hour drive away, to be precise – the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa are in the state of Guerrero. Forming a key part of a gorgeous national park, this system of underground caves takes about two hours to see in its entirety. Look out for the cave drawings that adorn many of the walls of this majestic tourist attraction.

Nevado de Toluca, State of Mexico

Panoramic view of the mountains known as "Nevado de Toluca" in Mexico
© Alfredo Hernandez Rios / Alamy Stock Photo
For breathtaking views and brisk walks, check out the Nevado de Toluca, also known as Xinantécatl, which sits in a national park. Located in the State of Mexico, this volcano makes for an amazing visit from central Mexico City. Winter is as good a time as any to visit this natural marvel, because you can admire the snow-topped peaks – make sure to wrap up warm against the biting cold.

Prismas Basálticos, Hidalgo

Natural Feature
© Manuel Vazquez Lopez / Alamy Stock Photo
A slightly more far-flung sight is the Prismas Basáticos in Hidalgo state, which were written about by the German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt more than 100 years ago. The geometric basalt columns that form this beautiful scene are naturally occurring, made from the slow dripping of water, with some of the tallest measuring around 40m (131ft). A long-time local favorite, they are one of the 13 natural wonders of Mexico.

Grutas de Tolantongo, Hidalgo

Natural Feature
Another Hidalgo-based option is the Grutas of Tolantongo resort. Explore the cave formations with a local guide, just don’t wear your best clothes because it can get hot and sweaty in there. Afterwards, either take advantage of the pleasantly warm man-made pools which have views over the landscape, or check out the naturally occurring La Gloria pools.

Amacuzac, Morelos

Natural Feature
Water fans will love this natural attraction in the state of Morelos. In the small town of Amacuzac, runs a river of the some name, on which you can try your hand at white-water rafting. Float down the river and enjoy the flora and fauna that surrounds you, but don’t forget to stay alert as the currents are fearsome from mid-June to December. Over the course of a two-hour journey, River Amacuzac crosses around 10 rapids, which all have suitably terrifying names such as ‘the black hole’.

Canals of Xochimilco, Mexico City

Canals of Xochimilco, World Heritage Site, Mexico City
© Margaret Metcalfe / Alamy Stock Photo
The chinampas (floating islands) of Xochimilco may well be man-made, but these canals are a must-visit for any traveler in Mexico City. Take a boat trip in one of the colouful trajinerasthat run daily up and down the interconnected canal system of Xochimilco, while you enjoy some drinks, soak up the atmosphere and perhaps even forget you’re still in Mexico City.

Peña de Bernal, Querétaro

Natural Feature
Known in English as Bernal Rock, Peña de Bernal is situated in the Gorda Sierra of Querétaro state. Bernal’s Rock is certainly impressive: it’s the third biggest monolith in the world, measuring in at 433m (1,420ft) tall and only coming runner-up to Gibraltar Rock in Gibraltar and Sugar Loaf in Brazil. While this rock can be climbed, it looks far easier to do than it is, so you’ll need some practice before you can even think about reaching the top. Either way it’s well worth a visit.

Interested in visiting? Book your place on Culture Trip’s five-day Mexico City tour, where our local insider will help guide you through this loud and busy city.

These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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