If you’re wondering how to visit Grutas Tolantongo on a day trip from Mexico City, you’ve come to the right place! Las Grutas de Tolantongo is one of Mexico’s most unique destinations, as well as one of the country’s most Instagram worth locations. Actually, chances are that you’ve found out about this place while scrolling your Insta feed.
But there’s much more to that cool place than the springs that you see in the photos. In this article, I’m going to share with you all my tips, recommendations and answer the most frequently asked questions about visiting Grutas Tolantongo.
Table of Contents
What is Grutas Tolantongo?
Grutas Tolantongo is a thermal water park and resort. The place is mostly known for its hot spring pools located on a steep cliff that has walls as much as 500 meters high. The water park also features a river, waterfall, caves, a tunnel, suspension bridge, zip line, hotels and campsites, restaurants, and my favorite – spectacular canyon views.
Is Grutas Tolantongo natural or man-made?
The hot pools (known as Chapoteaderos) which Grutas Tolantongo is most famous for are man-made. The pools are filled with naturally mineral-infused warm water that’s heated by the surrounding volcanic mountains.
Why is the water in Grutas Tolnatongo blue?
There are small particles of magnesium salts and other chlorides contained in the rocks. They are captured by the water flow and melt in the water resulting in this surreal light blue color.
Where is Grutas Tolantongo located?
Grutas Tolantongo is located near the town of Ixmiquilpan, in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Hidalgo is situated north of Mexico City, about a 3 to 4 hours drive away. The relatively close proximity to the capital city makes Grutas Tolantongo a great day trip destination from Mexico City.
What is the best time to visit Grutas Tolantongo?
If possible, I would avoid visiting on weekends or public holidays. Grutas Tolantongo is open all year round and the water is always warm. That means that even though it can get cold in Central Mexico in winter, Grutas Tolantongo is always a great place to visit. Just keep in mind that the rainy season falls during July and August and that you can expect little rain if you decide to visit during these months.
I visited Grutas Tolantongo on a day trip from Mexico City at the end of December 2021. The water was warm, but to be fully honest, I did get chilly after soaking in the pools for a while. There’s not much space in them to swim, so you basically don’t have many options to move around. Also, I visited around the Christmas Holidays and the place was packed with local tourists, but I didn’t notice many other foreigners. It was a weekday.
How to get to Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City?
You have 4 options to get to Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City – sign up for a private or a group tour, rent a car or take the bus. I opted for the private tour option with Vibe Adventures and that was really the best decision for me as a solo traveler.
Taking the bus is a little bit of a hassle, especially if you don’t speak Spanish. Unfortunately, there is no direct bus from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo, so you have to change a few times and plan your time wisely in order to make it. I would opt for the bus only if I am planning to stay in Grutas Tolantongo overnight or for a couple of days.
Renting a car was also not an option for me and I didn’t want to go on a group tour where I would have had to comply with the other tourists. Silvia and Jorge, my Vibe Adventures guides scheduled the entire day according to what I wanted.
What to pack for Grutas Tolantongo?
You don’t need to take much with you when visiting Grutas Tolantongo, this is all you need:
- Swimsuit (duh!) – obvious, I know; take a couple of pairs if you want to change for photos.
- Towel – a quick-dry one if you have.
- Water shoes – for going into the caves and the tunnel; it’s slippery and flip flops are not the best idea.
- Waterproof phone case – because you’ll definitely want to take a lot of photos, but the water in the caves and in the tunnel is splashing from everywhere.
- Sunscreen – there are a lot of shady spots, but it’s still good to have sunscreen with you just in case. The sun can be very strong and you might get sunburned just walking from the car to the entrance.
- Money – cash is king at Grutas Tolantongo, so make sure you have enough with you.
*I didn’t have any water shoes or waterproof phone case in advance, so Silvia and Jorge made a quick stop for me on the way so I can buy those.
**I kept my money in my phone case, so I don’t walk around with my wallet.
***I left all of my things in the car and only took my towel and waterproof phone case with me to the caves and the pools. If you opt for the private or group tour, or for the renting car option, you can do the same.
Practical information & tips for visiting Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City
Grutas Tolantongo opening hours:
The park is open every day of the year, including Holidays.
Caves, tunnel, waterfalls, and swimming pools can be accessed from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Thermal pools and river can be accessed from 8:00 am to 09:00 pm.
Grutas Tolantongo tickets:
The entry ticket for Grutas Tolantongo is 150 MXN. Free for children under 5 years.
The ticket includes the entry to the thermal pools, caves, river, bridge, and tunnel, as well as to bathroom facilities and basic medical services.
Grutas Tolantongo ticket office opening hours:
From 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Parking in Grutas Tolantongo:
Parking is 30 MXN per car, per day.
Additional info and tips for Grutas Tolantongo:
- In Grutas Tolantongo cash is king. Credit cards are not accepted and the nearest ATM is in Ixmiquilpan.
- Pets are not allowed in the park.
- Phone coverage is only limited to Telcel.
- You can use the lockers to store your belongings. The cost is around 80 MXN.
- Reservations for the hotels are not accepted. They work on a ”first come first serve” basis.
- Vegetarians are limited to breakfast egg dishes. If you’re a vegan, make sure to bring your own food.
About Vibe Adventures
Vibe Adventures is a small-group adventure tour company focusing on helping young people by age and spirit to discover Mexico and the Americas in the most interactive, authentic & socially responsible way. The company organizes 1-day and multi-day tours that combine visits in nature with cultural experiences and entertainment.
About my day trip to Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City with Vibe Adventures
As it takes 3 to 4 hours to get to Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City, this tour starts early in the morning. I was picked by Silvia and Jorge from my hostel at 6 AM. We introduced each other, talk for a bit and then they let me try and take a nap.
On the way, we made two small stops – the first one for coffee and snacks, and then a second one for me to buy the water shoes and phone case – and around 10, 10:30 AM, we arrived at Grutas Tolantongo. Just before we got to the entrance, we stopped to admire the beautiful mountainous view on the way. I’ll be completely honest and admit that I didn’t know anything about the area and I definitely didn’t expect to see that. What a pleasant surprise!
We started off the Grutas Tolantongo tour by checking out the river while Silvia was giving me tons of information about the place and the area. Afterward, we went to the cave. The cave is really nice to just soak in and relax, but is nothing exciting, in my opinion. The tunnel, however, is more exciting and perhaps my favorite part of the Grutas Tolantongo trip.
The tunnel, which is another cave, is slippery, dark, and narrow. Yeah, I know that to some people it might not sound the most exciting and fun thing to do, but I think it’s well worth the short visit. It literally won’t take you more than 10 minutes to go to the end of the tunnel and back. I like it also because it was the most adventurous part of the Grutas Tolantongo tour. As you go deeper into it, you need to use the ropes to cross the small pools of water, and climb a little.
The tunnel is super cool. Let me warn you tho, you have to be prepared to climb some ropes in order to cross the small pools of water and I’m sure that not everyone will enjoy that. So if you don’t like narrow, dark, and slippery places, then you better skip it. If you don’t mind such places, then you should definitely give it a visit – it is the most adventurous thing to do in Grutas Tolantongo.
After we walked out of the tunnel, we headed to the thermal pools where we spend the rest of the day relaxing. While chilling in the pools, I received more information about Mexican traditions and culture and also share some about Bulgaria. Silvia and Jorge were very curious to learn about my home country as apparently, I was their first tourist from Bulgaria.
Before departing back for Mexico City, we went to one of the restaurants onsite to get a delicious and traditional Mexican lunch.
On the way back, we played Mexican and Bulgarian music, sang, and stopped to get some traditional Mexican treats for a snack. It was nice and fun, Silvia and Jorge really gave their best so I can have a great time on my day trip to Grutas Tolantongo. Gracias amigos!
Final thoughts: Is Grutas Tolantongo worth visiting?
Now that you have all the information for a day trip to Grutas Tolantongo from Mexico City, let me share my honest opinion of is the place worth visiting.
The short answer is yes.
However, there were certain things that I didn’t like that much. The main of which was that the entire place feels more like an amusement park than a natural site. They have built too much around it and it’s likely that they would continue building more hotels and other facilities to make it more ”appealing”.
I also didn’t like how packed the place was; people were literally on top of one another. The pools, which are the main attraction of Grutas Tolantongo, couldn’t simply accommodate everyone.
But as I mentioned earlier, I visited Grutas Tolantongo around the Christmas Holidays and a lot of Mexican families were there on a vacation. If you visit Grutas Tolantongo during a weekday, away from any holidays, then probably you’re going to have the entire park to yourself and you wouldn’t have to worry about that.
To conclude, Grutas Tolantongo is definitely worth the visit, but just don’t expect it to be exactly like you see it on Instagram. If you have any additional questions about visiting Grutas Tolantongo, let me know in the comments, and don’t hesitate to contact me.
Disclosure: I want to thank Vibe Adventures for the fantastic tour. I went on the tour complimentary to review, but as always, opinions are my own and haven’t been influenced by that fact. I would never advertise a product or a service in which I don’t believe in, or that I wouldn’t recommend. For a reference, you can check my Privacy & Disclaimer Policy page.