Mexico City is high altitude and high energy but if you need to relax there are many equally compelling small towns nearby that will leave you just as captivated. We have picked five small towns near Mexico City that offer excellent cultural attractions, astounding architecture and a perhaps a more tranquil vacation. They are also nestled in scenically beautiful natural surroundings.
1. Valle de Bravo
This upscale weekend getaway town is situated on Lake Avándaro in mountains and pine forests. The lake is popular for watersports and the boardwalk is alive with bars and restaurants. The colonial-era town features cobbled streets and 17th-century churches. Surrounded by mountains, there are many outdoor activities in the surrounding landscape and waterfalls such as the Velo de Novia. You can reach this mountain paradise with a drive of about two hours from Mexico City, 83 miles to the west.
This pink, neoclassical spa town is another popular retreat from Mexico City among the locals. The thermal springs attract many visitors, but it is also a great place to pick up crafts; the market is known for its hand-woven baskets. La Pila Park is a picturesque green space in the center of the city that also hosts popular wine and cheese events. Tequisquiapan is 110 miles northwest of Mexico City and you can reach the town in about 2 hours on the Mexico 57N highway.
Chignahuapan is another beautiful spa town surrounded by stunning natural beauty. The forests surrounding the town feature many hiking trails. It’s highly recommended to take the short drive slightly north to visit both the Cascada de Quetzalapan and Cascades Tuliman, large waterfalls in stunning settings. To reach Chignahuapan from Mexico City take the Mexico 136 highway east for just over 100 miles.
The drive to Cholula, east of Mexico City, is incredibly scenic, passing mountains and forests. Cholula is the oldest inhabited city in the Americas and features an ancient pyramid as well as the Church of Our Lady of Remedies. The site is also in the shadow of the Iztaccíhuatl y Popocatépetl volcanoes, offering spectacular views. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest pyramid in the world and much of the structure is visible thanks to archeological work on the site.
Bernal is an incredibly beautiful town in the Mexican state of Querétaro around 2.5 hours’ drive from Mexico City. The town is dominated by the tallest monolith in the world: the Peña de Bernal. There are hiking trails around the rock with some visitors making pilgrimages to the small chapel located on the summit. The town itself is one of Mexico’s magical towns and was founded in 1642. We also recommend a trip to the Casa Museo del Dulce to learn about the history of the town and stock up on traditional candy.