I’ve been lucky enough to have lived in Mexico for about a year now in total. There have been highs like the thrills of experiencing dias de los muertos ( day of the dead ) to the lows of having a phone stolen but it’s an incredible country with some incredible locations. The Teotihuacan pyramids are no exception, being one of the most visited tourist locations at any time of the year.

First off and fair warning regardless of where you are from. It’s really, really hot. It was about 23-30 degrees when we were there which doesn’t sound crazy but it’s unbelievably dry heat so chilling in the shade for 10 minutes every hour will make the experience a bit more bearable.

The heat is generally much more manageable later in the afternoon

If you’re going – you will need

  • Water – 3 bottles at least
  • Sunscreen
  • Something for lunch – (there is a cafe)
  • Good walking shoes, if you go everywhere it will take a full day (5 hours or so)
  • Some Pesos for entry & haggling with the locals. Fair warning for good goods on sale, most if not all of the ‘obsidian‘ is onyx or another similar material and the silver is not usually silver. The craftsmanship is generally worth paying for however so worth the 1-10 dollars most of it costs as a souvenir. Generally, the best time to buy your souvenirs if you want to save money is at the end of the day with a bit of haggling as the traders are more willing to negotiate the price as the day goes on
  • Bring an extra 500 pesos at least if you’re planning on heading to a restaurant after
  • optional but recommended – sunglasses & a hat.

This was my 2nd time traveling to the Teotihuacan pyramids and despite the slight heat exhaustion, I loved it both times. The 1st time we were there we only explored the sun & moon pyramid and a small section of the avenue of the dead.

teotihuacan pyramid of the sun
The teotihuacan pyramid of the sun is the main tourist draw to the area

The sun pyramid is obviously the main draw being the biggest pyramid that’s fully climbable The crowds were quieter the 2nd time around – the 1st time we visited the queue to climb the pyramid went halfway around the pyramid, so being able to head straight up was something I appreciated more.

Crowds at teotihuacan sun pyramid
Crowds climbing the sun pyramid

We also made the smart decision this time around to head up the sun pyramid first. When you’re full of energy with a full stomach it’s an easy trek, if you’ve been walking around for hours in the heat, it definitely wears on you a bit more.

The sun pyramid itself is about 200 feet tall and was one of the largest and most impressive structures created before Christopher Columbus stumbled into America. It was completed around 200 AD so not quite as old as the pyramids to the east.

View of the moon pyramid from the top

The climb itself up the sun pyramid is worth the effort as the view is fantastic. You’ll have a great view of the slightly smaller moon pyramid and the avenue of the dead.

Once you’re done taking in the view it’s time to climb back down and it’s much easier than the way up. In general the main concern is some loose steps or slippery steps so a bit of care is needed.

Crowds, ruins and a sky view of the avenue of the dead

We headed down the avenue of the dead, past the river for quite some time in the heat, though, we stopped for rest in the shade a few times which definitely helped. We also got lunch which cured a bit of the h’anger.

Ruins along the avenue of the dead

The avenue of the dead was named so by the Aztecs as the mounds on either side looked like tombs. Despite what most people think, the Aztecs didn’t actually build the Teotihuacan pyramids. They pretty much just moved in as did the Maya, Mixtec, and Zapotec.

The actual origins of who built the Teotihuacan pyramids is a mystery though, the history behind them is fascinating and you can learn more and see some replicas at the national museum of anthropology at Mexico City which is well worth a visit.

Avenue of the dead

One of the more interesting facts about the Mexican pyramids is they are layered like an onion for important time periods. As instead of destroying and rebuilding pyramids from past political periods they simply rebuild the new pyramid over the top.

This time having explored the area past the river, it was a nice surprise to find another stepped pyramid known as the temple of the feathered serpent and another entire plaza like area called ‘la citadiel‘.

View of ‘la citadiel’ with the feathered serpent temple towards the back
View from ‘la citadiel’ with the sun pyramid in the background
Temple of the feathered serpent

The temple itself is in mixed shape, having being exposed to the elements for its lifetime the paint that once decorated it is almost all but faded away and a lot of the exterior is mostly rubble. Of the sections that aren’t in poor disrepair however look great with the various statues and designs.

After exploring the new area we headed back towards the moon pyramid – located at the top of the avenue of the dead. The moon pyramid is a bit smaller than the sun pyramid and you can’t climb the full way up but it offers some seriously impressive views of the main plaza and the avenue of the dead.

View from the top of the moon pyramid

After the moon pyramid is was well and truely time to call it a day as we were famished so headed to one of my favourite restaurants ( in the world) called ‘La Gruta‘. It’s an interesting location as the restaurant itself is built into a cave. The foods well priced, tastes great and there is an hours entertainment from around 5pm of traditional dances by performers.

Interesting facts about the Teotihuacán pyramids

The name Teotihuacán, in the Nahuatl language, translates to “The City of the Gods” or “Where Men Become Gods.” It’s believed the Aztecs gave it this name when they discovered it.

It was the first true urban center in the Western Hemisphere