Wondering how best to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo? In this article, I will walk you through my top tips.
But first, picture this: you wake up in your tent in the middle of the mountains, get outside, and breathe fresh air. The first thing you witness is turquoise-blue water flowing through the Tolantongo river and plants and trees that are as green as it gets.
Then you set yourself to start your morning enjoying the warmth of a hot spring while you stare into a landscape worthy of a postcard. I bet you love the sound of this, don’t you?
Among the many extraordinary places that make us Mexicans proud of our diverse and beloved land from south to north, I cannot help but mention one of the most enjoyable and beautiful destinations in the country: the Tolantongo Hot Springs, officially known as Grutas de Tolantongo.
Okay, but what exactly is “Las Grutas de Tolantongo”?
Las Grutas de Tolantongo consists of a system of caves and grottoes. The water from the main grotto flows into the Tolantongo river, running through hot springs that operate as natural swimming pools for the travelers’ delight.
A grotto, for starters, is a kind of cave that is formed underground following a process of thousands of years where rainwater seeps through the calcareous rocks and dissolves them.
The result? A natural aquatic paradise that may offer rivers, hot springs, and waterfalls. This is the case of Tolantongo.
- Where is Tolantongo?
- How to Visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo
- Grutas de Tolantongo Tours
- Driving from Mexico City to Las Grutas de Tolantongo
- Taking the Bus to Tolantongo from Mexico City
- Tickets and Pricing for Mexico’s Tolantongo Hot Springs
- Where to Stay in Las Grutas Tolantongo
- Approximate Costs to Visit La Grutas Tolantongo
- Things to Do in Las Grutas Tolantongo
- Tips for Visiting Las Grutas Tolantongo
- What to Bring to Las Grutas Tolantongo
- FAQ on Grutas Tolantongo
Where is Tolantongo?
If you want to experience the wonders of this place, you can visit departing from several parts of Mexico. They are located in the municipality of Cardonal, in the state of Hidalgo, very close to the heart of the country – it’s a not-so-hidden gem.
This tourist destination is part of the stunning Sierra Madre Oriental, a mountain range (approximately 1,300 kilometers long!) that runs through Mexican territory from northwest to southeast.
How to Visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo
As mentioned, you can visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo from different parts of Mexico.
This means, you also have a variety of options on how to get there which I will discuss below.
Let me explain in detail about each of your alternatives so that you can decide which one suits you best according to your travel plans.
Grutas de Tolantongo Tours
The reason why I consider tours to be the best way to enjoy Tolantongo is simply because it is the easiest. You don’t have to worry about organizing the trip, getting lost, or missing any activities, because someone else who already knows all the amenities will do it for you. This way, all you have to do is enjoy yourself.
I’ve put together a list of a few really great tours that you can check out if you’re interested in this approach. All the tour guides below speak both English and Spanish, so they’re perfect for travelers visiting from abroad!
Most of these tour start from Mexico City, making it super convenient as you don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting to the Tolantongo caves. From Mexico City, Tolantongo caves are around a 4 hour trip.
- Skip the waiting line to enjoy the incredible hot springs and natural beauty of Tolantongo for on a trip from Mexico City.
- Hot Springs and Subterranean Cave– This highly rated tour takes you on a fun road trip until you reach the beautiful natural wonders of Las Grutas Tolantongo caves alongside a local guide.
- Exploring the Waters of Tolantongo with an expert guide with this incredibly highly rated Airbnb Experience! In addition to the Tolantongo entry fee and transportation, this organized tour includes breakfast, snacks, drinks, and everything you might need for an incredible day.
- Discover all the secret spots of Tolantongo on a 1- or 2-day excursion with an outstanding host who will pick you up wherever you want in Mexico City. In addition to transportation and your tickets, this tour includes a traditional breakfast from the state of Hidalgo and Mexican lunch.
- Enjoy this customizable tour to Grutas de Tolantongo from Mexico City that fits your travel plans! The entire tour lasts around 14 hours and is highly rated.
- Experience a full-day organized tour to Tolantongo After leaving Mexico City, start the day with a cup of coffee for early birds followed by a typical meal from the state of Hidalgo in the charming town of Ixmiquilpan before heading to the stunning Tolantongo Grutas.
If you are interested in more tours read our full guide to Grutas de Tolantongo tours.
Driving from Mexico City to Las Grutas de Tolantongo
If you want to visit Tolantongo from Mexico City, fasten your seat belt and take the exit to the Mexico-Pachuca highway. Before reaching Pachuca, pay attention and take the left exit to Actopan.
Follow the Pachuca-Ixmiquilpan highway and, arriving in the city of Ixmiquilpan, you will find an exit to the right on the highway to Cardonal. If you continue straight, just follow the signs to Grutas Tolantongo, and that’s it!
The drive will take about 4 hours, but this can vary widely depending on many factors – mainly Mexico City world-(in)famous traffic.
The cost of the toll booths is nearly $280 MXN ($14) for a round trip. Don’t forget that you will spend on gas for your car – it’s approximately 200 kilometers of highway.
Another longer route is on the way to Tepoztlán, passing through Tula de Allende and on to Ixmiquilpan, from where you will follow the same directions as in the previous option. This road could be ideal for you if you are not in a hurry and want to make a stop in the (also wonderful) Pueblo Magico (which translates as “Magic Town”) of Tepoztlán.
The downside is that you have less time left to enjoy Tolantongo, especially if you plan to do a day trip. In addition, you may have to pass more toll booths and the trip will result in higher expenses.
To this must be added the cost of the car rental, which, depending on your age, the model of the vehicle, and the number of days you are going to drive it, could vary a lot. If you want to compare rental car prices, click the link below to get a price comparison across multiple companies.
Taking the Bus to Tolantongo from Mexico City
Another less practical option, which involves a slightly slower travel time and several stops, is to take a bus. There are private and public transportation options and the price can range widely from $270 to around $1,000 MXN ($14-$50).
In Mexico City, go to the bus station “Central del Norte” and find the OVNIBUS or Flecha Roja line. Once you’re there, at platform 7 or 8, take a bus to the city of Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. Arriving in this second city, take a shuttle service to Mercado Morelos in Ixmiquilpan.
You’re there already? Perfect! Now look for the San Antonio parking lot. You will find the direct bus base to the Grutas de Tolantongo.
At the parking lot, which is 8 kilometers from the park, buses arrive directly to and from the park. Be aware though, since you have to buy tickets both to and from the park.
It’s a pretty tricky option, but still an option for those who are on a tight budget.
Tickets and Pricing for Mexico’s Tolantongo Hot Springs
Admission to the Las Grutas Tolantongo tourist attraction is fairly inexpensive considering all it has to offer. When you get to the actual park, you will be overwhelmed by the number of things to see and do.
From the number of natural pools scattered, to the River Tolantongo, plus the spectacular waterfalls in the park.
With that being said, some things are not included with the ticket, so keep that in mind.
Let me tell you in more detail what you might spend on when visiting Tolantongo:
General Admission for Tolantongo Hot Springs
The price per day and person is $150 MXN ($8) for each ticket. This fee includes access to the Tolantongo caves, grotto, tunnel, river, natural pools, hot springs, suspended bridge, swimming pools, spectacular waterfalls, basic medical and security services, bathrooms, dressing rooms, and showers.
You can also hike around and enjoy the beauty of the area at no extra cost. Kids under 5 years old enter for free.
Parking in Las Grutas Totalango
If you arrive by car, for a parking ticket of only $30 MXN ($2) daily per vehicle, you can leave your ride in the designated zone. From here, you can take a shuttle service which can take you to different parts of the park.
Zip line in Las Grutas
For an additional $200 MXN ($10) you can enjoy this extreme experience. The payment is per event, so you will have to pay for each time you want to do it.
Camping in Las Grutas Totalango
You are not charged for camping, but you have to pay for general access for each day you spend there.
In case your initial plan was a one-day trip and the wonders of the place led you to change your mind and stay longer, you can rent camping equipment for rates starting at $150 MXN ($8) per tent which can fit 4 people.
They also rent grills, chairs, and tables. You can buy firewood, ice, blankets, and charcoal, among other useful items for fixed rental fees which is great for travelers as this means you don’t have to bring a ton of things with you.
There are designated camping sites for Grutas Tolantongo which makes everything a lot more organized.
Bus Service (Shuttle Service)
If you decide to get there by bus, it probably means you are adventurous and up for a challenge. It also means you’ll pay a $25 MXN ($2) fee for each trip between Tolantongo caves and the Molanguito parking lot, and $60 MXN ($3) for each ticket between the San Antonio parking lot and Tolantongo.
These shuttle services are pretty reliable and run consistently.
There are also internal transportation costs for the rides between the different Grutas Tolantongo zones. These prices range from $10 to $80 MXN ($0.50-$4) each way. For more information on prices, you can check out the section on approximate costs.
Hotels in Tolantongo
If you want to rest in the comfort of a mattress, the Tolantongo Resort rooms costs vary depending on the number of beds, the location of the room, the number of guests, and the availability of a balcony, ranging from $650 to $1,800 MXN ($32-$90) per night.
As mentioned, there are various Las Grutas Hotels that you can choose from, based on availability! If you’re only heading there as a day trip, there is no need to get a hotel room as most tours come with round trip transportation.
Many things could get lost, get wet or broken in this place due to the fact that there is water everywhere. It is a good idea to keep your personal belongings safe by renting a locker for $150 MXN ($8) per day.
Other services available at an extra cost are the restaurant, grocery, and souvenir stores.
You should also consider the opening hours of each of the facilities, as although the park’s regular hours start from 7 AM to 8 PM, the availability schedule of each service varies.
- The Tolantongo caves, natural pools, grotto, tunnel, waterfalls, pools, and zip line are available from 8 AM to 5 PM.
- Some thermal pools and the river also open at 8 AM but close until 9 PM.
- The grocery store and restaurant allow you to grab a bite starting at 8 AM and close until 10 PM.
- The ticket counter and camping area operate 24 hours a day.
- No noise is allowed after 11 PM.
This place opens 365 days a year and is suitable for the entire family, as well as adventurers of all levels of experience.
Unfortunately, Tolantongo is not adapted for wheelchair access and circulation, with many stairs and uneven surfaces that hinder some people from accessing the activities.
Where to Stay in Las Grutas Tolantongo
Las Grutas de Tolantongo Resorts
This hotel is a good choice of accommodation for travelers who are looking for relaxation over adventure, and at the Grutas Tolantongo Resort they thought of everything. There are a variety of room types that you can rent depending on the number of travelers that come with you and the features you want to have access to.
There are single, double, triple, and cabin-style rooms. Some have a balcony, and these come with a slightly higher cost.
Unlike traditional hotels, all room rentals are made upon arrival at the park, so you cannot reserve your room online or by phone. A basic hotel room ranges from $750-1050 MXN ($38-$50)
Keep in mind that the costs of access to the park and the hotel are separate, and one each does not include the other. Also, remember that you can only pay in cash – yes, even at the hotel!
For accommodations, there are different areas within the Tolantongo Resorts. Your options are as follows:
- Hotel La Gruta Section
- Hotel Paraiso Escondido Tolantongo section: A room at paraiso escondido start at $850 MXN ($43) per night
- La Huerta section (A room at hotel la Huerta starts at $800 MXN ($39)
- Molanguito section
A great reason to stay in the park is it gives to access to La Grutas before the day trippers get there if you wake up early enough.
Camping in Grutas Tolantongo
This is the best option for those like me who think the most luxurious resort is nature itself. It’s honestly the best way to experience the soul of Tolantongo.
Camping here isn’t too messy, since the park provides several facilities that make it easy to camp here. You can either take your own camping gear, like a tent and chairs or rent whatever you need right there.
That being said, camping can be restricted (or simply a really bad idea) when it’s raining. And although rain can be unpredictable, a good way to prevent this is to visit Tolantongo in the months of January to May or September to December, when it is not the rainy season.
Not only would you get wet but you could put yourself at risk, so it’s best to save yourself the hassle and put your safety first.
Approximate Costs to Visit La Grutas Tolantongo
Please note that these are only price approximates. For up to date prices, click here to visit the official website. Please note that these prices can change at any point.
Things to Do in Las Grutas Tolantongo
The main attraction, of course, is the grottoes. But there is much more to Tolantongo than just these impressive geological formations.
It is simply impossible to get bored in this place with so many fun things to do: there are magnificent waterfalls worthy of a picture, ancient caves, a long suspended suspension bridge of several meters, and pools with thermal waters with a captivating turquoise blue color and a million-dollar view of the mountains.
The Tolantongo waterfall entrance is very pretty and is worth seeing for sure.
There is also a 40-meter long steam tunnel, which is practically a sauna of nature; a river where you can rejuvenate your skin with exfoliating mud, and an 1890-meter zip line to overcome your fear of heights and get the adrenaline pumping.
The sunsets here are breathtaking, with the rays peeking through the canyon walls up to 500 meters high. There is a lookout point with excellent views of the river.
The setting of this magical place is semi-desert, but there is also plenty of mind-blowing lush vegetation with tropical plants and brightly colored flowers. Even on the way back on the road, you will enjoy incredible views that will make you miss the place immediately and want to return as soon as possible.
Before we get into more detail, it is important to mention that Grutas Tolantongo Park is divided into two main zones: Paraiso Escondido and La Gruta. Knowing this will be useful for you to know where you are and to better organize your day. Now, here’s what you can do to have an unforgettable time here:
1. Tolantongo Hot Springs
In the Paraiso Escondido zone, you can find the hot springs that attract countless tourists every week of the year.
Hot springs pools hold the hearts of travelers. Several of them create this infinity pool effect by being built in a staggered fashion along the mountain wall. They are really beautiful and a great way to relax the muscles and the mind.
2. Tolantongo Cave
The Tolantongo Cave is located in La Gruta zone and it is downright intimidating – in the best possible way.
The grotto’s formations resemble a gothic architectural creation, and the waterfalls you encounter upon entering are an exciting part of the experience. In addition, there is a 40-meter long tunnel that is basically a steam bath, courtesy of nature.
3. Zipline in Paraiso Escondido
The zip line is in the Paraíso Escondido zone and consists of 4 launches: the first of 320 meters, the second and shortest of 280 meters, the third and longest of 690 meters, and the last of 600 meters. They round up a total length of 1,890 meters of pure adrenaline. It’s available only for people older than 10 years and with a maximum weight of 93 kilograms.
Remember that the cost for each time you decide to venture to the zip line is $200 MXN ($10), which is not included in the entrance fee.
4. Chill in the Tolantongo River
The Tolantongo River emerges in the Sierra de Juarez and flows into the Amajac River, so although it may seem like a whimsical creation, it is not just some sort of man-made river intended for a tourist park, by any means.
But then, why is the water that color? Not magic, but the power of nature. It gets that color because the rock in the area is dissolved in small particles that produce that unmistakable turquoise-blue shade.
The Tolantongo river is a great idea for people of all ages to have a nice time, as it does not require as much physical effort as other activities offered in the area. Most campers prefer to set up their tents along the river, which is the hottest spot.
5. Hiking in Tolantongo
Get up close to the animals and plants of this place, look closely at the millenary rock formations and enjoy the movie-like landscapes that Tolantongo has to offer. The area is also home to wildlife such as coatis or badgers, roadrunners, raccoons, and lots of birds that you may be able to spot.
And as you go for a stroll, you will probably come across the terrifying yet thrilling suspension bridge located in the Paraíso Escondido area.
It is, along with the zip line, another experience that tests the mettle and courage of those who decide to overcome their fear of heights. Crossing the bridge is, by itself, a great experience that leads to huge satisfaction and a sense of self-fulfillment.
6. Eat Some Barbacoa Tacos
If you feel like tasting something unique to this place, Sundays are all about barbacoa at Grutas Tolantongo. In my opinion, no Tolantongo trip is complete without trying some Barbacoa tacos.
With two cooking options called El Paraje and El Paraíso, the menu opens at 7 AM and offers one of the best barbacoa tacos in the state of Hidalgo.
Tolantongo is famous among garnacha lovers for this dish and it is highly recommended that you don’t miss the opportunity to try it if it comes your way.
If you want to learn more about the best Mexican food, check out our full article.
Tips for Visiting Las Grutas Tolantongo
To make your entire experience a lot more enjoyable and hassle free, I’ve got a few tips for you. You see, Grutas Tolantongo is a popular spot. This means, it can get crowded! Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a great time.
First of all, if you plan on renting a room in the hotel or camping equipment, I highly suggest that you do this as soon as you arrive. This way you guarantee your spot and you don’t have to worry about it later on. Weekends and holidays (Semana Santa, Christimas etc.) tend to get BUSY so make sure you arrive early.
Leave Food and Beverages on the Campsite
Avoid taking food or beverages anywhere on the Tolantongo Grutas site outside the camping area. If you are hungry, leave your snacks in your locker or car to avoid dumping them.
Allowed items include camping equipment, food and beverages (as long as they are in plastic or aluminum containers), grills, and charcoal.
According to the rules of the campsite, you also can’t bring your pet with you. If your furry friend is your traveling companion, you will have to find a place to leave them during your stay in Tolantongo.
Other things that are prohibited in the area are sharp objects, firearms, gas tanks, alcohol, firewood, or glass containers.
Plan When to Visit
Lastly, and the best advice I can give you is to avoid going on vacations, weekends, and high season in general. It is difficult to find the hot springs empty and all to yourself, but it is more likely to happen if you plan your trip during the week and on a less crowded date.
Aim to get to the park by 8am or earlier to avoid long lines.
What to Bring to Las Grutas Tolantongo
The most important thing is to bring cash to be able to pay for the services of the place, from the entrance ticket to the rest of the additional amenities you want to benefit from.
If you plan to explore the grotto and the tunnel area, definitely wear a swimsuit. It is also highly recommended to wear water shoes to avoid slipping and to protect your devices with waterproof cases to keep them safe
As for the rest of your trip, bring comfortable clothes for traveling and hiking, A swimsuit and water shoes for water activities and, preferably, another change of clothes just in case.
Sunglasses never go amiss, and be sure to bring a biodegradable sunscreen that won’t pollute the water.
A bath towel is practically indispensable to keep you dry and, if you are camping, try to bring your own tent, sleeping bag, tables, and chairs, among other things – unless you prefer to travel light and rent the equipment there.
FAQ on Grutas Tolantongo
Although the direct distance between Mexico City and the Grutas de Tolantongo is about 137 kilometers, all road options to get from one point to the other are approximately 200 to 220 kilometers.
Considering how big Mexico is, the two points are not that far apart. It’s close enough for a day expedition but far away enough to take a break from the hectic big city.
Specifically, it is in the municipality of Cardonal, within the state of Hidalgo. It is part of the imposing Sierra Madre Oriental and is located very close to the heart of central Mexico.
The water in the hot spring pools usually ranges from 34°C to 38°C. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy bathing in waters that seem to come straight from the depths of the earth and, judging by the affluence of the place, I’m not the only one.
If you go only one day by car, a tight budget would be around $1,800 MXN ($90). This should cover transport, tolls, as well as your tickets for the day trip.
By bus, a single day could be enough for $1,000 MXN ($50) or less, but the hassle increases considerably.
A group tour could cost between $2,300 and $3,000 MXN ($100-150)but would make the trip easier and hassle free. I recommend budgeting around $100-150 per person for a trip to Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
The ideal situation is to avoid the rainy season months (June, July, and August) so that you don’t have to deal with the potential overflowing of the river.
Also, in the rainy season, the river water might take on a more brownish color instead of turquoise blue, because it washes dirt and such down from the mountains. Don’t panic, it’s not dirty – but it’s definitely less picturesque.
It is also recommended to avoid the winter season (November to March) due to the inconvenience of the weather, as it is a semi-desert area and temperatures may be too low to enjoy.
Because of this, the months of March, April, May, September, October, and early November are the best months to go due to the weather. Just remember to avoid holidays as there may be large crowds.
You can make the trip in one day, leaving early in the morning and returning before midnight.
I do think it’s more convenient to stay two days. This way you can enjoy everything at your own pace and make the most of every penny you spend on this experience.
Absolutely yes. It is an oasis of nature that has no equal in Mexico, and there are very few places in the world that offer anything like the Grutas de Tolantongo
It is not very expensive considering all that it offers, it allows you to spend moments of both high physical activity and relaxation, and you can eat delicious food right there.
Consider this adventure as an investment in yourself!
A must is taking a swimming suit for water activities as well as water shoes. Consider bringing comfy tennis shoes if you plan to hike and a spare outfit in case your original clothes get wet.
The closest one to Tolantongo is Mexico City International Airport (AICM) – not to be confused with the newest AIFA airport, which is much farther away. From Mexico City’s airport, it takes around 3:50 to get to the Las Grutas de Tolantongo via a vehicle. If you’re using public transport, this will take a little bit longer.
Grutas Tolantongo has both natural and man made sections. The man-made semi-circle pools built into the side of a cliff overlooking the canyon area were specially created but despite this, the waters in those pools are all natural.
It’s pretty amazing how a single place can offer such a variety of things to do and natural wonders to marvel at, suitable for different types of travelers and people of all ages.
Because of its proximity to a variety of major cities, its affordable prices, and its unparalleled diversity, Tolantongo Grutas is a treasure of Mexican culture and a destination that you absolutely have to cross off your bucket list next time you visit Mexico.
Hopefully, this article has inspired you to visit Grutas de Tolantongo during your trip to Mexico.Hope you enjoyed this article and have a blast visiting my home country!