Tepoztlán: a Beautiful Small Town Brimming with Culture
January 1, 1970
by The Travel Ana Log
Tepoztlán is a lovely picturesque small town located to the south of Mexico City. Going there is a great easy way to take some time out of the big city and practice outdoors activities, visit a traditional handcraft and food market or try some of the delicious local ice cream and sorbets.
Tepoztlán has gained a lot of popularity because it is so close to Mexico City which allows the visitors of the capital to take a break from the city, and get to experience and see the very different atmosphere of a Mexican small town including the incredible landscapes.
How to get to Tepoztlán
To get there, if you are driving, you have to go to the south of the city and take the highway to Cuernavaca and then take the detour to Tepoztlán. However, if you would rather take a bus to get there (which is actually incredibly easy), you have to go to the South bus station, Taxqueña (located next to the metro station Taxqueña). Buses are very regular and it just takes slightly more than an hour to get to Tepoztlán.
It really depends on what your plans are, but I do recommend that you try to get to Tepoztlán somewhat early, let’s say around 10:00 am. This will give you enough time to climb up the Tepozteco mountain. Don’t worry, there’s a safe path with some steps and even kids dare to do it. It is true that it might take a couple of hours to go all the way to the top, but believe me, once you get there you will be convinced that it was worth it.
But what’s the big deal about climbing this mountain instead of staying down the village enjoying some refreshing drinks in the main square? Basically, on the top, there is a prehispanic temple built between the XIIth or XIIIth century. That means that the top of the Tepozteco mountain was considered as a sacred place, and in many ways it still is. Yet, once you set eyes on the breath-taking view of the Tepoztlán town and the valley, you will agree it is not so surprising that it remains a place that pilgrims from all around Mexico and tourist from all over the world visit every year. In addition to that, if you are lucky you might get to see coatis playing around with their offspring or being curious about the tourists’ food.
Eating in Tepoztlán
Once you make it down the mountain, you might be incredibly hungry (or at least I was). There are numerous restaurants on the road that connects the mountain to the main square or around the main square. Many of them offer Mexican food and have a relaxed ambiance where you can eat something delicious and take a rest, like “Los Colorines” (easy to recognize because it is a big pink house) where you can find a very wide menu of the best Mexican dishes. However, if you are feeling adventurous I strongly recommend that you go to eat at the market (that is on the main square) to try some of the great food that the locals prepare and eat. You will even find here a small yet famous place where they prepare authentic prehispanic food. It is called “El Tlecuil” and it offers the experience of trying some prehispanic food, the recipes of which are part of a tradition transmitted from one generation to another, prepared with local products from Tepoztlán. Also, I must add that this is a great place for vegetarians and vegans since prehispanic cooks didn’t use any dairy and it was much less common to eat animals (except insects, of course). Believe me, you have to try this experience full of new flavors.
Another thing you have to try in Tepoztlán is the delightful artisanal ice creams and sorbets from the “Tepoznieves” parlor (it is easy to find, there are many branches all around Tepoztlán). They have numerous flavors that include ones made with tequila, mezcal, powdered chili with fruit, some local fruits and their original combinations that mix several different ingredients. Choosing which flavor to have is not necessarily easy, due to the large variety of classical, new, and exotic flavors.
If ice cream is not enough for you, one thing you have to try in Tepoztlán is pulque. I know you can also find it in Mexico City however, everybody knows that outside of the city it is even better. This prehispanic alcoholic drink can be drunk on its traditional plain form or combined with some fruit flavors. On the other hand, a Michelada –beer with tomato juice, lime, and hot sauce– is a modern drink that is very refreshing, especially if it is a very hot day (which it usually is in Tepoztlán). As you might know by now if you have been in Mexico for some days, drinking in the street is illegal here. Nevertheless, this rule doesn’t apply for small towns, where you can actually buy pulque or micheladas in small stands on the road or in the market.
Spend some time in the traditional market
Next to the main square, you will find the Nativity ex-convent, a beautiful construction from the XVIth century that was declared by the UNESCO a World Heritage Site. You can visit the place and admire on its corridors the original paintings that are still in a good condition even after five centuries.
To sum up, Tepoztlán is a great place to go because of the outdoor activities, culinary offerings, and the lovely atmosphere of a Mexican small town. It is easy and cheap to get there and it is only one hour away from the city. That is why many people from the city go during the weekend. Spending more than a day there is a good choice because this will give you the chance discover the place at a more tranquil pace, or to enjoy a hot, steamy temazcal (prehispanic sauna). Be sure you have booked a place because even if finding accommodation in Tepoztlán is usually very easy, it gets quite full especially during weekends or high season. However, if you decide to stay just during one day, you will perfectly have enough time to do the activities that I have described before without the need of a rush and then you can catch a bus back to the city at night (don’t forget to ask when the last bus leaves). In one day, you will have discovered a very different side of Mexico.