Valle de Bravo is a small and picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lake Avandaro, in the hills of central Mexico. It is one of the 132 Mexico pueblos magicos (magic towns), and I guarantee you it will conquer your heart with its charming cobblestone streets, colorful markets, colonial feel, cute faces, fine restaurants, stunning nature, and abundance of outdoor activities.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that Valle, as locals simply call it, is a popular destination for the wealthy people of Mexico City. In fact, Valle is known as the Mexico City Hamptons. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be rich to visit this gem of a town; most of the things to do in Valle de Bravo are either free or super affordable and worth every peso!
So, here’s why Valle de Bravo should be on everyone’s list of places to visit in Mexico:
Where is Valle de Bravo located?
Valle de Bravo is located on the shore of Lake Avandaro, in the State of Mexico. It is approximately 156km southwest of Mexico City and approximately 76km west of Toluca.
What is Valle de Bravo known for?
Valle de Bravo is a popular spot for paragliding, thanks to the region’s lakefront breezes. It also attracts visitors with its lake and the proximity to the nearby Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, Piedra Herrada where the Monarch butterfly’s migration can be seen. Valle de Bravo is also one of the most popular day trip and weekend getaway destinations from Mexico City.
Is Valle de Bravo lake natural or man-made?
Lake Avandaro aka Valle de Bravo reservoir is a man-made reservoir providing hydroelectric power and part of the water supply for Mexico City. In 1937, the Ixtapantongo power plant construction began and required 2,900 hectares (7,166 acres) of agricultural land in the central valley to be flooded. This is how Lake Avandaro was created.
Is Valle de Bravo safe?
Valle de Bravo is located in Mexico State, which admittedly isn’t known as one of the safest places in Mexico. However, in my experience, Valle de Bravo is super safe and I haven’t had, seen, or heard of anyone getting into trouble. Of course, if you’re looking for trouble, you’re surely gonna find it, but if you don’t do anything stupid, there’s no reason to be worried about your safety. I also think that Valle de Bravo is one of the easiest places in Mexico to travel solo as the town is very compact and easy to get around and has only one hostel but it gathers all like-minded travelers.
How to get to Valle de Bravo from Mexico City?
Getting to Valle de Bravo from Mexico City is easy. You can take a direct Zinabus from Terminal de Autobuses Poniente, which takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Valle de Bravo from Mexico City. Tickets start at 222 MXN.
How to get around Valle de Bravo?
The best way to get around and explore Valle de Bravo is on foot. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like walking, you can get a taxi, colectivo, or rent a motorbike or ATV.
What is the best time to visit Valle de Bravo?
Central Mexico is blessed with ”eternal spring” weather, so there is really no bad time to visit Valle de Bravo. The best time to visit it would depend on the things you want to do in Valle de Bravo. For example, if you want to visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, then you should plan your visit throughout the months of January and February when the butterfly migration is at its peak.
The rainy season in central Mexico is roughly from May or June through October or November, so if you want to avoid mediocre rains, the best time to visit Valle de Bravo would be from November to April. The highest average temperature in Valle de Bravo is around 26°C in April and May and the lowest is around 21°C in January.
Is Valle de Bravo worth visiting?
Yes, yes, yes – ABSOLUTELY YES!
In my view, Valle de Bravo is an absolute gem of a town and should be on anyone’s Mexico itinerary. With all the surrounding hills, the abundance of activities, and its pretty cobblestone streets, I’m sure that everyone would love it – especially nature and hiking lovers, paragliders, families, and other travelers looking for a little bit more off the beaten path destination.
How long to stay in Valle de Bravo?
You can easily cover the highlights of Valle de Bravo in two days, but if you have more time to spare, I would recommend you to stay longer. I stayed for 4 nights, but now I feel a little bit sad that I didn’t stay longer. There are so many things to do in Valle de Bravo that you can easily spend weeks here.
Things to do in Valle de Bravo, Mexico
1. The Valle de Bravo Paragliding Experience
Valle de Bravo is not just any other paragliding destination in Mexico, the town is known within the paragliding community as the Mecca for free-flying sports. If you enjoy paragliding (also hang gliding), then I can guarantee you that you will enjoy flying in Valle de Bravo, one of the best paragliding spots around the world.
What makes Valle de Bravo so attractive to professional paragliders are the perfect and consistent weather conditions, as well as, of course, the breathtaking views of the surrounding area. If you’re an amateur or just want to try the experience, there are many paragliding companies around the town that offer such services.
I paid around 1,750 MXN for my paragliding flight and it was worth every peso!
Also, Valle de Bravo is home to different paragliding competitions, including Monarca Paragliding Open, which is held each January.
2. Visit Valle de Bravo Butterfly Sanctuary (seasonal)
If you want to visit a place where millions of Monarch butterflies fly around you in a spectacular colorful dance, then visiting Valle de Bravo must be on the top of your Mexico bucket list. Every November, millions, perhaps a billion, of Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico from as far away as Canada and USA. They flee the cold weather to bask in the warmth of the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico’s central highlands and cluster in small sections of the forests.
Luckily for all of us, one of the 4 sanctuaries where you can witness this natural phenomenon is only 30km away from Valle de Bravo. Visiting Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary is not only one of the best things to do in and around Valle de Bravo but also once in a lifetime experience. For me personally, seeing the butterfly migration is one of the most amazing things that I’ve been fortunate enough to witness.
For more information on how to get there, opening times and tickets, etc., read my guide on how to visit the Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary from Valle de Bravo on your own.
3. Hike to La Torre
La Torre is a viewpoint and the paragliders launchpad south-east of the town of Valle de Bravo. The trail goes through a beautiful pine forest and is only 3km long. Depending on your fitness level, the hike from Valle de Bravo to La Torre takes 45 minutes to an hour.
When you get to the top of La Torre, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the lake, the town, and the surrounding hills, as well as watch the paragliders take off.
4. Hike to Mirador La Pena for the Best View of Valle de Bravo
For sure one of the best things to do in Valle de Bravo is hiking to La Pena Mirador – the most popular hike trail in town, and the one offering the best views. It is located very close to the center, so you can easily start the walk (I wouldn’t say that is actually a hike) from your accommodation.
The walk is a little bit steep but very short. It will take you around 40-50 minutes to reach the top of La Pena from the center of Valle de Bravo; depending on where you start and your tempo. Once you get to the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the lake and the entire mountainous region.
5. Stroll Historic Downtown
One of the absolute best things to do in Valle de Bravo is wondering its Downtown’s charming, cobblestone streets. In Plaza Principal, the heart of Valle de Bravo downtown, you’ll find two of the town’s biggest attractions – the Jardin Principal and the 17th-century San Francisco de Asis Church.
You’ll also find street food stands, a small crafts and ceramics market, and cute coffee shops where you can spend a relaxing afternoon people watching.
6. Explore Valle de Bravo Lakefront
The lakefront plaza is the central point for all water-based things to do in Valle de Bravo. There is a nice path walk around the lake itself and another one that is just above the lake and is lined with restaurants and street vendors. Next to the Valle de Bravo sign, you’ll also find a small park-like area and kids’ playground.
7. Enjoy Water Activities in the Valle de Bravo Lake
Lake Avandaro is the centerpiece and Valle de Bravo’s main attraction. The lake offers a great variety of water activities for those who want to get wet – you can explore the lake by sailboat, kayak, or paddleboard, and can also do waterskiing, fishing and swimming.
8. A Tour of Avandaro
Located 5km away from the town center, Avandaro is an affluent suburb of Valle de Bravo where you can see multimillion-dollar homes nestled within the forest. It is an area full of outdoor adventure opportunities, but what attracts people are Avandaro’s waterfalls El Salto, and Velo de Novia.
You can easily walk to El Salto from the center of Valle de Bravo while the Velo de Novia waterfall is a little bit further away, but it is still possible to walk there. Both waterfalls could be visited on the same day and you’ll still have time left to explore the rest of Avandaro.
9. Mountain Biking & More Hiking in Valle de Bravo
Well, since the town is surrounded by hills and forests, it is unsurprising that some of the best things to do in Valle de Bravo include hiking and mountain biking. I’ve already covered two hiking trails, but if you have more time to spend in Valle, I am absolutely sure that you’re gonna find much more. And if you do, please, let me know as I would love to return to Valle de Bravo for a couple of weeks to hike and bike.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do any mountain biking on this trip, but the area is ideal for that kind of activity. There are a couple of places in town from where you can rent bikes and helmets, so ask around for a recommendation. La Torre trail is great for mountain biking.
10. Mercado de Artesanias
Mercado de Artesanias is the local crafts market. Here, you can find gifts and souvenirs, of course, with a touch of Valle de Bravo to take back home.
11. Mercado Municipal
Mercado Municipal is a colorful market in the heart of Valle de Bravo. If you have read my blog before, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of markets, and Mercado Municipal didn’t disappoint. After visiting it on my first day, I kept on returning every day. It became my favorite lunch spot and place to shop for fruits and vegetables.
12. Calle de Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza
Calle de Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza is perhaps my favorite street in Valle de Bravo. It starts at the zocalo and is filled with high-end shops, cute cafes, bars, small restaurants, art galleries, and more. But when you go, don’t get distracted by all the shops and explore the little streets around it too.
13. Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza Museum
Born in Valle de Bravo, Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza was the most dignified Bishop of Veracruz and a poet of the classic school. The house where he grew up and used to live is now turned into a museum and serves as a House of Culture, Library, and Museum of permanent and temporary exhibitions. It displays paintings and sculptures from local, national, and international artists, and often houses concerts, conferences, and film and theater events.
I hope that this article gave you a good overview of the best things to do in Valle de Bravo and how to plan your perfect trip to this truly magical Mexican town. Don’t forget to also enjoy some of the fine restaurants of Valle and get a taste of its nightlife. If you have any additional questions or comments, please let me know in the comment section below, and don’t hesitate to contact me.