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Grutas de Tolantongo – your complete guide

Las Grutas de Tolantongo is one of the most beautiful outdoor attractions near Mexico City, a real paraíso escondido as locals call it.

It attracts an impressive number of tourists worldwide, most arriving in Mexico City for leisure.

What made this place so famous and popular are the cotton-candy blue waters which are the signature of this attraction.

From the natural pool from Grutas de Tolantongo to the man-made layered pools and the mysterious caves, the place is the perfect destination for a day trip.

The place is about 4 hours drive from Mexico City, and it becomes really crowded during weekends and public holidays, so make sure you get a spot at this beautiful attraction.

You can choose to rent a car, go by public transport or join a full day tour; all these ways of getting to Tolantongo cave are safe and secure.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about this off-the-beaten-path gem, how safe it is to visit it, where you stay if you plan to stay overnight, and what to pack for a day trip.

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How do you pronounce Tolantongo?

Spanish has a pleasant sound, but some words are challenging for some of us to pronounce.

And Tolantongo is not an exception.

Actually, the word “tolantongo” comes from the Aztec word “Tonaltonko” which means “where it feels warm”.

As the name suggests, the water from Tolantongo is always warm and perfect for a bath.

The correct pronunciation of the word is TOE-LON-TAWN-GO.

Now that you know how to pronounce it, it’s time to discover the beauty of this place and plan at least one day in the area.

Tolantongo view from the park
Tolantongo view from the park

What is Las Grutas Tolantongo Hot Springs?

This is certainly one of Mexico’s most beautiful and unique attractions, and I highly recommend you to explore it.

It is one of the best hot springs in Mexico, way more beautiful than many other hot springs from the United States.

The springs are located about 4 hours drive from Mexico City and are the best place to go if you are looking for amazing Instagram photos.

The springs are also called “hot springs near Mexico City”, but without any doubt, this spectacular place definitely worth the 4 hours drive from the capital city.

Where is Grutas de Tolantongo

Tolantongo Grutas is located in the state of Hidalgo, which is the place with the highest Nahuatl population in Mexico.

It is located about 4 hour’s drive from Mexico City and 4.5 hours drive from Guanajuato.

This stunning canyon runs along the Mezquital Valley, inside beautiful mountains more than 4.200 feet (1.280 m) above sea level.

It is not easy to get here, as you must pass steep mountain roads with lots of turns, but once you get there, you will be fascinated by what you find.

Tolantongo River
Tolantongo River

Why is Grutas Tolantongo so special?

Tolangonto is like an oasis in the middle of the desert, just that here we don’t have desert, but we have steep mountains and semi-desert zones.

The water is always warm enough for you to bathe,e and the view is simply breathtaking.

The color of the water is unique due to the mineral salts, and it comes from the Tolantongo River. The more you enter the canyon, the more beautiful the landscape will be.

It is a beautiful natural oasis, quite isolated from any other point of interest, but its beauty attracts more and more visitors from one year to another.

Besides these rivers and natural pools, there is also a zip line, the highest in Hidalgo, and many stores, restaurants, and campsites.

Unfortunately, due to its increased popularity, more and more buildings appear close to the area, which affects the beauty and wilderness of these geothermal pools.

Things to see at Grutas Tolantongo

Gruta in Spanish means cave, and in the area around the hot spring, there is even a cave.

Actually, the area is so big that it had to be split into 4 main sections:

  • The pools
  • The river
  • The tunnel
  • The cave

The area also has a zip line, a few swimming pools, a suspension bridge, a campsite, hotels, restaurants, medical facilities, stores, and lockers.

How to get to Tolantongo Hidalco

There are three ways to get to Tolantongo hot springs:

  • With a rented car
  • By bus
  • Join a guided tour
Tolantongo pools Hidalgo Mexico
Tolantongo pools Hidalgo Mexico

Getting to Grutas de Tolantongo with a rented car

This is probably the most expensive way to get to Las Grutas Tolantongo, but it is definitely the fastest and most comfortable one.

Driving in Mexico is quite safe, and with a rented car, you have the freedom and mobility to move wherever you want, whenever you wish, and you don’t have to stick to a strict schedule. 

Get the best price for your car rental today

On your way to Tolantongo, you can stop whenever you see something interesting, so driving is the best way to discover this magnificent country.

Under normal traffic conditions, the drive time will be around 4 hours, and the distance is 125 miles (200 km).

Download an offline map from Google Maps, as your signal might go in and out during the road trip.

You will mostly drive on Mexico 35 or Mexico to the Pachuca highway, so it is not complicated to get to the Grutas.

Make sure you have some pesos with you as you will need them to pay the tolls ( around 300 pesos, equivalent to 15 USD).

Tip: read the contract carefully before renting the car, and don’t get excited when you see a small price. Sometimes, this small price might come with some minuses. Also, make sure you take photos and videos of each inch of your car to prove anytime if the scratch was there or if you did it.

Besides the rental cost, you will also need to pay for fuel and tools.

The drive from Mexico City CDMX to the Grutas will take you about 4 hours, and make sure that you don’t drive during nighttime.

Taking the bus

Taking the bus from Mexico City to Tolantongo Grutas is definitely the cheapest way to move around.

But cheaper is not always better, and getting to the Grutas by bus is quite complicated and time-consuming.

You will definitely need to spend the night near Grutas de Tolantongo to have enough time to explore the area and avoid traveling after dark.

So, to get to the geothermal pools from Mexico City, follow these steps:

  • Get to Mexico Terminal TAPO bus station
  • Take the ADO bus from TAPO bus station to Pachuca. The journey will last for about 2 hours, and the bus comes every 3 hours, so make sure you know the bus schedule to minimize the time spent in the bus station.
  • Get off the bus in Pachuca and take another bus that goes to Ixmiquilpan. Again, the journey will last about 2 hours, but this bus leaves only five times daily.
  • Once you reach Ixmiquilpan, you will have to walk for about 15 minutes and take another bus that goes to Tolantongo. The bus ride lasts for about 15 minutes, and the bus runs every 4 hours.
Tolantongo hot springs
Tolantongo hot springs

After a simple calculation, it might take you a whole day to get from Mexico City to Tolantongo by bus.

The journey will last at least 6 hours, with no waiting time, and the cost is somewhere between 15 to 25 USD, depending on what time you are leaving.

I don’t recommend this method because it is time-consuming, and you need to plan everything very well in advance to minimize the time spent in bus stations.

Joining a tour to explore Grutas de Tolantongo

Another way to get to Las Grutas de Tolantongo is by joining a guided tour organized by a local travel agency.

If you don’t want to rent a car or waste a day on the bus, then a guided tour might be your best option.

There are plenty of options when speaking about guided tours; again, cheaper is not necessarily better.

From Mexico City: Tolantongo Caves Guided Tour is one of the best options on the market. The tour last for about 14 hours.

You will leave Mexico City early in the morning, and the journey will last for about 4.5 hours.

Once you get to the Tolantongo Grutas you can swim in the thermal water, explore the caves, enjoy the landscape, and relax in one of the 40 pools in the area.

Is there an airport near Tolantonga?

Unfortunately, there is no airport near Tolantonga. The closest airport is the one near Mexico City CDMX, the Queretaro International Airport (QRO).

There are plenty of rental car options at the airport, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Most of the visitors from Grutas Tolontango arrive at Mexico City airport and, from there, use one of the methods presented above to get to the geothermal pools.

Tolantongo geothermal river
Tolantongo geothermal river

Is Las Grutas de Tolantongo natural?

Most of Grutas de Tolantongo is natural, except for the pools, which are the site’s main attraction.

The waters at Tolantonga are natural, but the local municipality makes the pools themselves.

Is there parking at Tolantongo?

There is a parking lot at Tolantongo, and the parking place for one day 30 pesos or 1.5 USD.

The parking place is located right near the main road, so it is quite simple to find it.

What to bring to Tolantongo Grutas

There are a few things that you should bring when visiting Tolantongo, Mexico, of which the most important are listed below.

1.  Cash 

Tolantongo is cash only, so ensure you have some pesos.

You will need cash to pay the entrance fee, your drinks, and food consumed during the day, a campsite or hotel if you plan to spend the night in the area and your parking place.

Depending on your budget and how much you are willing to spend, consider taking with you between 75 to 150 USD ( 1.500 to 3.000 pesos).

There are no ATMs in the area, and the closes ATM is one hour drive to Tolantongo.

2. Water shoes

These items are not optional if you plan to go into the water at Grutas de Tolantongo. You will hurt yourself badly as the bottom of the water is really rocky and unpaved unless you wear water shoes.

3. Bathing suite

4. Insect repellent

5. Change of clothes

6. Waterproof sun hat

7. Sun cream

8. Water bottle

9. Phone holder

10. Waterproof dry bag

Tolantongo caves waterfall
Tolantongo caves waterfall

What’s the best time to visit Tolantongo Grutas?

Las Grutas de Tolantongo is open all year round, so you can visit them whenever you visit Mexico.

Tolantongo caves are located in Central Mexico, an area known for its mild climate, also called the “eternal spring”.

Because of its temperate climate, you will feel comfortable visiting Tolantongo Hidalgo all year round.

If you plan to camp near the site, consider that between November and April, the night temperatures might drop to 10 degrees Celsius ( 50°F) during nighttime. 

You should also consider the rainy season and dry seasons when exploring the area and opt for camping.

July and August are the rainiest months of the year, so don’t forget to pack a raincoat with you and consider staying at a hotel instead of camping.

Tolantongo Hidalgo Mexic admission prices

The general access ticket to the park Grutas de Tolantongo cost 150 MXN or 7.5 USD per person. 

The parking ticket is valid all day during the park’s regular hours, from 7 am to 8 PM, and costs 1.5 USD (30 MXN).

If you plan to spend the night at the campsite, you must pay an admission fee for two days, as long as you have your camping gear.

Renting camping gear comes with an additional fee of 150 MXN (7.5 USD) which should be paid per night.

If you want some adrenaline and want to test the zipline, you must pay 200 MXN (10 USD).

Opening hours

Grutas de Torantongo is open all year round, including holidays.

  • The caves, waterfall, tunnel, swimming pools, and zipline are open from 8 am till 5 pm.
  • The thermal pools and the river from 8 am to 9 pm
  • The restaurants and the grocery store in the area from 8 am to 9 pm
  • The ticket office from the entrance of the park is open from 6 am to 10 pm
Thermal pools Tolantongo
Thermal pools Tolantongo

Accessibility

The park is not accessible for people with mobility issues, unfortunately.

The Tolantongo hot springs are quite small and crowded, while the main pools are accessible after a short hike. The alley might be slippery.

The Tolantongo falls entrance also requires climbing some steps, and there is no designated path for people with wheelchairs.

Things to do at Tolantongo caves

1.Tolantongo cave and tunnel

The cave and tunnel from Tolantongo are located one next to the other and is a very popular park area.

This is the place where most of the hot water comes from and feeds the whole park,

The current here is quite strong, so be careful when visiting the cave and the tunnel.

Generally, there is a line to enter this part of the park, but the queue moves really fast.

To get inside, you need to pass a waterfall; inside the tunnel, the cave is completely dark.

Make sure you have a headlamp, or you can use a flashlight to explore this part of the park.

Grutas de Tolantongo aerial view
Grutas de Tolantongo aerial view

2. Tolantongo pools

This is the most Instagramable place in the whole park, the place where each visitor wants to take a photo.

If you want to get the best shot, with few people around, ensure you arrive here within 30 minutes of opening.

During the day, the place is extremely crowded, as it is one of the most popular places in the park.

There is even a shuttle bus that goes to the pools, as they are located in the extreme upper part of the park.

The climb to the pools is quite rocky and steep, so we advise you to take the shuttle bus for your own safety.

The price of the shuttle bus is 10 MXN (0.5 USD) per person, and you can take it from the parking lot.
It runs from 7 am to 8 pm without a fixed schedule; the driver waits until the van is filled and then goes to the destination.

3. The suspension bridge

The suspension bridge is located right near the pools, so make sure you visit it when going to the pools.

The bridge’s view is breathtaking; the way you will see the canyon below from here is unique.

Near the pools and the bridge, there is another tunnel with the warmest water of Tolantongo Grutas (75 to 95°F  or 24-35°C).

Suspended bridge Tolantongo
Suspended bridge Tolantongo

4. Tolantongo river

Tolantongo pools are definitely the most Instagramable places in the area, but my favorite spot is the river.

It flows down in sections, and at each of these sections, you can sit under the water and get the best hydro-massage of your life.

5. Tolantongo Zipline

Located in La Gloria Tolantongo, a completely distinct park section, the Tolantongo zipline is another must-see attraction.

You will have to pay around 7.5 USD to enter La Gloria Park but worth every dollar.

To get here, you must walk across the bridge near the staircase below the Tolantongo Tunnel and Cave.

The zipline was about 800 m (2.630 feet) long and took you over several park areas.

Even if you don’t like zip lines, Gloria Park is worth a visit because it is less crowded and equally beautiful.

6. Tolantongo hiking trails

In the valley around Tolantongo there are some really beautiful hiking trails with spectacular views of the surrounding areas.

Most of them are quite easy, but you need proper hiking boots for them.

Grutas de Tolantongo
Grutas de Tolantongo

How much time to visit Tolantongo Mexic?

Most people choose a day tour from Mexico City to explore this area, but in my opinion, it is not enough.

The area is way too beautiful, and there are so many things to do around, that you should consider spending at least 2 nights in Tolantongo.

Somewhere between 2 and 3 nights are ideal for exploring the whole area and having a little time to relax. 

You can also consider combining a visit to Grutas Tolantongo with Guanajuato (4.5 hours drive from here) or Allende (3.5 hours drive from here).

Staying overnight at Las Grutas de Tolantongo hotels

The area has plenty of hotels, so you should consider spending the night here instead of driving after dark.

There are on-site and off-site hotels, but the ones off-site are cheaper, and you get really good quality for money.

The prices for most Las Grutas de Tolantongo hotels are between 35 to 150 USD, and for this money, you will receive a private bathroom, a room with a TV, and maybe some internet.

Most of these hotels accept only cash so ensure you have enough money.

Our choice for this place was Ecoturismo Cabañas La Florida, a beautiful country house with all the needed amenities.

Ecoturismo Cabanas La Florida Tolantongo hotel
Ecoturismo Cabanas La Florida Tolantongo hotel

The property is located about 20 km away from Tolantongo caves, and each room has a private bathroom with free toiletries and a shower.

The room was basic but clean and we woke up to birds’ amazing songs.

Las Grutas de Tolantongo camping

You can also choose to spend your night inside the park and stay in the campsite, at a cost equivalent to the entrance fee for two days.

If you don’t have camping equipment, you can rent from there at a cost equal to the entrance fee for a day.

They can offer you tents, blankets, inflatable mattresses, and a grill to cook your meal.

Conclusion: Is Las Grutas Tolantongo worth visiting?

As you can see in this article, there are plenty of things to do and see in and around Tolantogo Caves.

This spot is definitely a must-see place, especially for nature lovers, for those looking to go off the beaten path and wanting to discover the real beauty of Mexico.

FAQ

Is Las Grutas de Tolantongo all inclusive?

Grutas de Tolantongo is not all-inclusive, but plenty of stores and restaurants are on-site.

They all offer a wide range of beverages and food, so you don’t have to worry about this.

What is the best time to visit Grutas de Tolantongo?

The best time to visit Tolantongo caves is during the dry season, which lasts from November to April.

You will have the best experience at the pools as the water is clear and you can spend the whole day exploring the area.

When is Grutas Tolantongo open?

The park is open all year round, including public holidays between 8 am to 10 pm.

However, due to weather conditions and maintenance, it might get closed for a short period of time, so we advise you to check the opening hours before heading to the site.

What is the best way to visit Grutas Tolantongo?

One of the best ways to explore Las Grutas de Tolantongo is with a guided tour. These tours generally are conducted in small groups and the guide provides you with a lot of useful information about the place. You can have a better look at all the attractions in the area.

If you have a rented car, you can also consider driving yourself to the site and spending at least one night here.

How much money is needed to go to the Tolantongo Caves?

If you are not planning to spend the night in the area, then around 100 USD would be enough for a day on site.

In this money, we have included the entrance fee and access to the most important attractions from the site.

What happened to the Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo?

Grutas de Tolantongo were formed millions of years ago due to volcanic rock and limestone erosion.

The caves are still open to tourists and adventurers, and you can visit them before heading to the pool area.

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.

Viola

Wednesday 6th of September 2023

Hi. I like this article very much. That helped me a lot. Do you know what options there are to get to the hot springs from Ecoturismo Cabañias other than by renting a car. 😘

Alex Hash

Thursday 7th of September 2023

Hi Viola! I'm glad you found the article helpful. For transportation options from Ecoturismo Cabañias to the hot springs other than renting a car:

Local Recommendations: Always consider asking locals or the staff at Ecoturismo Cabañias for their advice. They might be aware of specific services or shortcuts that aren't widely known. Rideshare Services: Platforms like Uber (Lyft is not yet widely available in Mexico) might be available in the area. You can check their apps for availability and book a ride directly to your destination. Public Buses: Local buses operate between various cities and towns in Mexico. Check the local bus stations or online platforms for schedules that might take you close to the hot springs. Private Shuttle Services: Some travel agencies might offer shuttle services to popular destinations like the hot springs. It's worth inquiring with local agencies or hotels about any available services. Taxis: Hiring a taxi can be a direct way to reach the hot springs. It's advisable to negotiate the fare in advance or ensure the taxi uses a working meter. Thank you for your kind words and the 😘! 😊 Safe travels!