The Teotihuacan Ruins are the remains of an ancient city 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Mexico City. Teotihuacan is believed to have been built around 100 B.C. and grew to be a powerful city with more than 100,000 inhabitants. It was abandoned a few hundred years later but you can still climb the large pyramids and walk amongst the temples and murals. Spend several hours wandering this 8,357-acre (3,382-hectare) archaeological site and learn about the life and culture of the city’s people.
The main attractions of the ruins are the three largest structures: the Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramid of the Moon. The Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid in the world, and sits on the east side of the site. The people of Teotihuacan believed it marked the spot from which the earth was created. Climb the 248 steps for a panoramic view over and beyond the city. The trek can be difficult but there are numerous places to stop and rest along the way.
The Avenue of the Dead is the city’s main thoroughfare. Walk the 2 miles (3 kilometers) from end to end to get a sense for the size of the city. See the colorful depiction of a jaguar on the avenue wall; this mural would originally have been painted all along the length of the avenue.
Visit the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at the southern end of the avenue, and stroll amongst the evocative stone buildings. Huge feathered serpents carved into the rock make for a good photo. The Pyramid of the Moon sits at the north end of the avenue. Climb to the top for a prime view down the Avenue of the Dead.
The on-site Teotihuacan Museum includes more recent archaeological finds from the site plus elaborate necklaces, tombs and other sculptures.
Buses to the ruins run every half hour from Mexico City’s Termino Central de Autobuses del Norte. Head to the museum restaurant for a sit-down lunch. Otherwise, bring a picnic and eat amongst the ruins. There is little shade on the site, so be sure to bring sun protection.