Just three and a half hours north of Mexico City nestled in the mountains sits a natural thermal hot springs. Not a lot of people know about this place but you may have seen photos of it on Instagram or Pinterest. Trust me, if you’ve seen the photos you’ve surely told yourself you want to see it in person. It’s a little off the beaten path but with stunning turquoise waters a visit to the famous hot springs is a must. Everything you need to know about this spectacular place in How to visit Grutas Tolantongo Mexico.
Where is Grutas Tolantongo
Grutas Tolantongo is a three and a half hour drive north of Mexico City in the state of Hidalgo. It sits about 4200 feet above sea level in Mezquital Canyon. While the drive takes you through a few small towns, the majority of the drive is through rural countryside and mountains.
About Grutas Tolantongo
Grutas de Tolantongo, or Grottos of Tolantongo (grotto means cave), is located in a box canyon, a narrow canyon with vertical walls and a flat bottom. At the bottom of the canyon is a river. The canyon is surrounded by hot springs and underwater thermal pools which heat all the waters throughout Las Grutas de Tolantongo. Yes, even the river at the bottom of the canyon is heated. All this heated water comes from volcanic activity.
Along with the heated river at the bottom of the canyon, there are man-made pools that capture this water. Besides soaking in the water, there’s also waterfalls, caves, hiking, a zipline, and a hotel. If you’re wondering how the water can be so blue, it’s mineral salts in the water that give it a turquoise color. The temperature of the water is about 35° Celcius or 95° Fahrenheit. It’s a real natural paradise! Read more about how to get there in this Guide to Grutas Tolantongo Mexico.
How To Visit Grutas Tolantongo Mexico
There are several ways to get to Grutas Tolantongo and it all depends on what you’re comfortable with and your budget. Keep in mind that no matter which way you chose, the drive will be long but totally worth it!
Rent a car
You can rent a car starting at about $25 a day plus insurance and of course gas. If you decide to rent a vehicle I would recommend staying the night at the resort. It’s inexpensive (more about that below) and you won’t feel rushed. Spending 7-8 hours in the car plus your time up there will make for a long day.
Take a bus
Taking a bus will take a little more time and is a little more complicated but if you’re up for the adventure then you will save yourself some money. I would still recommend staying the night because you won’t have much time there if you don’t. The first bus leaves the North Bus Station in Mexico City at 8:30am and it will cost $10 and take about 3 hours. This bus will drop you off at the Ixmiquilpan bus station. From there you’ll have to get a 10 minute taxi ride to the Morelos Market. Walk a little north of there and find the Shuttle Bus in the San Antonio Parking.
The shuttle bus will take you to Grutas Tolantongo. It takes another hour on the shuttle bus. See…complicated! However, taking a bus gives you an option of staying the night and taking a bus back the next day or you can still take a bus back to Mexico City on the same day.
Take a tour
If you’ve decided you don’t want to spend the night then taking a tour is your best option. It’s also your most expensive. Prices start at $110 a person with several travel companies like Viator or Get Your Guide. The price includes the drive and admission to Grutas Tolantongo. But, you don’t have to worry about anything but enjoying your time!
Best Time to Visit
Given that Grutas Tolantongo is in the mountains, it’s climate is mild. It’s cooler at night, warmer during the day. Temperatures range from lows of 44°F to highs of 85°F. January is the coldest month and April is the hottest. July and August is the rainy season so keep that in mind. You’ll also want to try and avoid going on the weekend because that is when it’s the most crowded. There will be families and kids everywhere. You’ll also want to avoid going during holidays. The week of Easter might be especially busy!
We went in early February and it was nice until we got in the water. Actually, the water was nice. It was when we got out of the water that we were freezing! It was also windy so that didn’t help.
Hours of Operation
Grutas Tolantongo is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The cave, tunnel, waterfall, zipline, suspension bridge and swimming pools are open from 8:00am to 5:00pm
The thermal pools and river are open from 8:00am to 9:00pm.
Restaurant is open from 8:00am to 9:00pm.
If you want to have the place (almost) to yourself then you should show up at 8:00am or plan on spending the night so you can get up and get out there at 8:00am.
Costs at Grutas Tolantongo
A general entrance ticket costs 180 pesos, or about $10 and gives you access to all activites (except the zipline) including the pools, river, caves, hiking, waterfalls, and the suspension bridge. The ticket is good for the day from 7am to 8pm.
If you drive you’ll have to pay to park. Parking is only 30 pesos a day which is less than $2. If you decided to take a bus from Mexico City and then the shuttle bus to Tolantongo, the shuttle bus is 60 pesos or $3.30.
If you’d like to try out ziplining, that will cost 250 pesos per person or about $14.
You can rent camping equipment including a tent, blanket, and more. Renting a tent will cost 150 pesos or about $8.
There’s a variety of hotel rooms to rent and they start at 900 pesos, or $50, for two people.
What to bring
The number one thing to remember is to bring cash. Pesos to be exact. Everything you have to pay for will have to be paid in cash. Even your payment for a room will be in cash.
- Waterproof Phone Case
- Water shoes or flip flops
- Something warm to wear if it’s cold
- Waterproof dry bag
Other Useful Tips in our How To Visit Grutas Tolantongo Mexico
- There are several restaurants on site but you can bring your own food, drinks, and snacks.
- You cannot bring alcohol but there is a bar that you can purchase drinks from
- Be very careful when walking around the stairs from pool to pool. It’s slippery.
- Bring something to keep your valuables in. There are lockers that you can rent.
- The higer the pool, the warmer the water. The lower pools didn’t seem to be as warm as the upper ones but they were still warm enough.
- Cell phone service is spotty so don’t expect to have any.
- There are restrooms and showers that are free to use.