Valle de Bravo Mexico is one of my favorite areas because of its wide range of outdoor activities and beautiful attractions that can be found here.
From cobblestone roads to cute cafes, from colorful markets to delicious restaurants, Valle de Bravo State of Mexico Mexico has everything you could wish for.
The area has plenty of hiking trails, mountain biking trails, and the list of outdoor activities is quite long.
Valle de Bravo is a colonial town located near Avandaro Lake, about 2 hours drive from Mexico City and 1.5 hour’s drive from Toluca Airport.
The town was proclaimed Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) in 2005. It is a top-rated getaway destination for upper-class living in Mexico City, foreigners, and movie stars.
In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about this area, when to go, what to do, and where to stay for a memorable experience.
What is Valle de Bravo famous for
Valle de Bravo is popular not only among Mexicans but it is a famous international destination.
In 2009, the town hosted the Paragliding World Championship, where more than 40 countries sent here about 150 competitors.
The place gained its fame because of its location and beautiful surroundings.
Lake Avandaro is the centerpiece of the area, a relatively new lake that offers a wide range of outdoor activities.
Before 1955 the place where it is the lake today was a fertile agricultural valley that provided to the indigenous Mazahuan population food.
Today the lake is the meeting point for more than 40 boating and sailing clubs that participate in regattas on the lake annually event.
In 1960, Valle de Bravo hosted the Avandaro Circuit car event, and ten years later, in 1971, the Avandaro Rock and Wheels Festival brought the city again to the international stage.
In 2005 the city gained the status of Pueblo Magico, and today it is a popular destination worldwide.
Where is Valle de Bravo Mexico
Valle the Bravo is located in the state of Mexico, about 146 km (90 miles) west of Mexico City.
From Mexico City by car, you have 2.5 hours, and from Queretaro, about 3.5 hours.
As of 2020, the city has a total population of 63,000 inhabitants.
How to get to Valle de Bravo Mexico
From Mexico City International airport
The closest airport to Valle de Bravo is Mexico City International Airport.
Once you reach Mexico City, you have four options to get to this magnificent town:
- By bus
- By shuttle bus
- By car
Traveling by bus is the cheapest way to get to Valle de Bravo. Take the bus from the airport to Reforma, then walk to the nearest subway station, which is about 1.5 km away. Then take the train to the Observatorio Station.
Get head to the bus station, Mexico Poniente, and take the bus directly to Valle Bravo. There are four buses per day.
2. Shuttle bus
The shuttle bus is the most expensive option but transfers you directly to the town from the airport.
A rented car cost is somewhere between the bus cost and the shuttle.
The main advantage is that you can move freely and explore the area around Valle de Bravo.
Driving in Mexico is very similar to driving in the US, so you don’t have to worry about this.
For renting your car, you can check both local Mexican companies and international companies and pick the best deal.
Read carefully about renting conditions and what you have covered, and don’t let yourself foul by the smallest price.
Get the best price for your car rental today
Tour operators that offer tours from the Mexico City region may include in your package the transfer from the airport to the beautiful city located near Avandaro Lake.
Customized tours are available from Mexico City for day trips to Valle de Bravo or for those who want to spend a few days there.
From Queretaro Intercontinental Airport
Queretaro Intercontinental Airport is 160 km (100 miles) from Valle de Bravo.
The bus is the cheapest way to get from Queretaro airport to the city.
There are no direct buses, and the ride lasts about 6 hours.
The fastest option for traveling from Queretaro to the town is with a rented car or by taxi, but both options are more expensive than the bus.
You can get to Valle de Bravo if you fly to the smaller airport of Toluca or Morelia.
Toluca airport is 61 km (38 miles) away, while Morelia is 118 km (72 miles) away.
From Toluca you can take the bus to Valle Bravo, but you have to change it in Mexico Poniente, and the ride last for about 4 hours.
The bus from Morelia airport goes through Toluca, but the ride lasts more than 5 hours.
So, the quickest and simplest way to travel from these smaller airports to the city is by renting a car or taxi.
From Mexico City to Valle de Bravo
If you choose to travel with public transport, direct buses go from Mexico City to Valle de Bravo.
But if you plan to visit the surrounding area, then you should consider renting a car from Mexico city as there are no rental companies in Valle Bravo.
How to move around Valle de Bravo
This pretty town is easy to explore on foot because the most important attractions are located close to each other.
The buildings, the colonial vibe, everything about this city is magnificent, and a walk around the city is the best way to explore and feel it.
But if you want to explore also the nearby attractions and places, you should consider renting a car or getting a taxi.
Taxi from Valle de Bravo
There are two types of taxis available in the city:
- Taxi colectivo
- Private taxi
Taxi colectivo has a fixed rate, but generally, they tend to charge extra foreigners, so ask a local first how much it suppose to cost your trip so that you know to negotiate with the driver.
Not all taxi drivers are willing to negotiate, and some of them won’t take you if you don’t pay the amount of money they asked.
Private taxi are more comfortable, and they don’t have a fixed rate. Here you will have to negotiate for your ride.
There are no car rental companies in Valle de Bravo, so if you plan to rent a car do it directly from the airport.
You won’t pay any money for transfer and you have the mobility and freedom to move around as you wish.
Have a unique experience by exploring the area in your own rented car
Whether you prefer day trips from your hotel or a tour around the country, car rental is the best way for creating your own experience and live your dream vacation
Is Valle de Bravo safe for travelers?
Valle de Bravo is a touristic place, a popular vacation destination town considered safe for travelers.
The local authorities and the Mexican Government invest a lot of time, resources and money to keep the tourist towns safe so that visitors continue to come.
We still recommend you to follow some general rules available everywhere in the world when you travel as a tourist:
- Don’t drive during nighttime
- Don’t get drunk
- Don’t walk alone at night
- Avoid people and situations that feel unsafe
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended.
What’s the best time to visit Valle de Bravo?
Valle de Bravo is located in central Mexico, an area known for its ”eternal spring” weather, so you can visit the area all year round.
The temperatures are mild all year round, between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter and Fall
Winters are colder, with temperatures dropping during the night to 8°C 40°Fs).
The coldest month is January.
November to April is the dry season, with sunny days, perfect for outdoor activities and hikes to the nearby waterfalls.
Spring and Summer
The rainy season lasts from June to September, and it quite rains a lot, so consider packing a raincoat with you.
April and May are generally the hottest months, but thanks to Avandaro Lake a cool breeze keeps Valle de Bravo cooler even during this period.
15 things to do in Valle de Bravo
1.Explore the historical part of Valle de Bravo
One of the top things to do when in this town is to explore its beautiful cobblestone streets and the Town Square (Plaza Municipal).
On your walk, admire the beautiful buildings, take in the Gazebo (Kiosko) in the plaza and take some beautiful shots of the terracotta tile roofs and white walls.
In Plaza Principal, you will find San Francisco de Asis Church, the Jardin Principal (Main Garden), plenty of street food stands, Mercado shopping, and many more.
You must try two things here: the ice cream from al Michoacana and the esquites de camaron, which is grilled corn served with diced shrimp, lime, crema, and chile.
For shopping, good restaurants and bars, and instagramable photos, go down the main street of Calle 5 de Mayo and Calle Joaquin Arcadio Pagaza.
2. Lake Avandaro (Lago Avandaro)
This stunning lake is the centerpiece of Valle de Bravo and the main attraction for tourists and locals.
You will have stunning views of the surrounding area from the lake, and a boat trip on the lake is mandatory while in the area.
Lake Avandaro is an artificial lake created as a water reservoir for the area.
You can venture onto the lake and enjoy many aquatic activities like stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, boating, kayaking, waterskiing, and fishing.
A good way to admire the shores is with a boat tour that can be taken from the Embarcadero Municipal Valle de Bravo.
Swimming in the lake is allowed, but the water is quite cold. However, stand-up paddling is the most popular way to go out on the water.
3. Mirador La Peña hike
La Pena is the most popular hike from the area, and it offers stunning views of Valle de Bravo.
Take a taxi or your rented car to the trailhead, and from there, go by food.
The hike is a bit steep, but it’s a short climb with many stairs. The trail is safe for the most part, but there are certain places where extra caution is needed.
You must climb some boulders to get up to the top of the mirador.
But once you are on the top, you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of Lake Avandaro.
Another beautiful hike is Monte Alto, considered as a moderate challenging route that takes on average 2 hours.
4. Templo de Santa María Ahuacatlán
Templo de Santa Maria Ahuacatlan is the oldest church in the area, dating back to the 17th century, during prehispanic times.
It is the most important religious building located in the historic center.
Inside the church, you can find Cristo Negro or Black Christ, one of the very few items that survived the Colonial era fire that destroyed the church.
5. Mirador Cruz de Mission
There is no other more romantic place to see the sunset with your beloved one than Mirador Cruz de Mission.
It is located just a short walk from the plaza; take the road Calle del Deposito from the Main Plaz, then turn to Cruz de Mission.
After just 10 minutes walk, you will reach this beautiful viewpoint.
The street is safe, and there will probably be other tourists around, so you don’t have to worry about anything.
6. Go paragliding Valle de Bravo
There is no other better place in Mexico to try paragliding than Valle de Bravo.
You don’t have to be an expert to try it, as you will fly with an instructor if you choose to do so.
Three different paragliding schools in town offer this incredible experience, so don’t hesitate and book this tour while in the area.
7. Visit cultural center Joaquín Arcadio Pagaza
This cultural center is located in an 18th-century building that once belonged to the bishop and poet of the same name.
Joaquin Arcadio Pagala lived between 1839 to 1918.
Here you can admire an impressive collection of almost 100 pieces of 18th-century religious ornaments and furniture that belongs to the poet.
On the spot, there is also a temporary art gallery exposition that changes every 2 or 3 months.
8. Visit Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
This stunning sanctuary is open only during certain months, generally between December and mid-March.
These gentle creatures migrate from Canada to the Mexican forests during the cold months of winter.
The sanctuary is located about 11 miles from Valle de Bravo and has no public transportation from the city to here.
You need to take a taxi or come with your rented car as parking places are at the sanctuary’s entrance.
9. Artisan Market (Mercado de Artisanias)
If you are a fan of the arts and crafts market, then this is the place where you should go. Artisan Market is the best place to shop in town, especially if you are looking for souvenirs made by artisans from the area.
Among my favorite items to buy are Otumba pottery, Mazahua fabrics, and Ocoxal baskets, all made from local materials by locals from the Valle de Bravo area.
10. Cascada Refugio del Salto Waterfall
While in the area, book a few hours to explore this magnificent place.
Cascada Refugio del Salto is accessible by taxi or rented car and is extremely beautiful and accessible.
From the parking lot, you have to walk for about 25 minutes through the woods.
The trail is well maintained and very clearly defined, following the river.
If you don’t want to walk, take a taxi or drive to Mision Grand Valle de Bravo hotel.
This hotel is one of the best places to have lunch in Valle de Bravo, as the restaurant is located right near the waterfall.
11. Take a kayaking tour on Lake Avandaro
Among the most popular activities on Lake Avandaro are kayaking and paddleboarding.
Both these activities are perfect for enjoying the lake while doing some physical exercises.
You can join a kayak tour or simply rent a kayak and explore the lake on your own rhythm.
12. Cascada Velo de Novia Waterfall
Located close to the town of Avandoro, in an affluent suburb of Valle de Bravo, Cascada Velo de Novia is another popular attraction in Valle de Bravo State of Mexico Mexico.
It has a total height of 35 m, and its name translates into English “Bridal Veil falls.”
You can get to the falls by taxi or a rented car, as there is no public transport.
There is a short walk to the waterfall from the park’s entrance.
On weekends the streets of the beautiful town of Avandoro come alive, as many wealthy people from Mexico City have houses here, while others come for a weekend getaway and stay at the hotels.
Avandaro is also famous for its golf courses and private cabanas hidden in the forest.
Cabanas Salamandras del Lago and the renowned El Santuario Resort & Spa are my favorites.
13. Take a mezcal tour
Mezcal or sometimes spelled mescal, is a distilled alcoholic drink made from agave originally from this part of Mexico.
So it is a pity to be in the area and not join a mezcal tour to taste this incredible beverage and learn new things about its history and recipe.
14. Eat a “Crepa”
Believe it or not, French crepes are quite common in this area.
My favorite place to eat these delicious sweets is Bretana La Ville Crepe, where you can find a wide variety of sweet and salted crepes.
15. San Francisco de Asis Church
San Francisco de Asis Church was built in the 17th century and is located in the center of the Plaza Principal or Town Plaza.
This emblematic building is considered to be the tallest church in the entire state of Mexico, and it is definitely a place not to miss.
Its interior, the quietness from inside, and its positive energy will fascinate you.
Take some time to admire the beautiful sculptures, paintings, and murals.
You can even take photos of the interior as long as there is no service going on and you are showing respect to monuments like this.
Mexico Monarch Butterfly migration
Although season, Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Reserve is the area’s main attraction point.
The best time to see these beautiful creatures in Mexico is from December to March.
Millions of migratory butterflies fly here from the cold Canadian winter.
The sanctuary is part of the larger UNESCO World Heritage site, Property Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
The safest way to visit this sanctuary is with a guided tour that will provide you with a lot of interesting and new information.
The hike to the sanctuary is quite difficult because it is a steep climb, an hour’s hike through the forest.
Up to a point, you can also go for a horseback riding tour, but this translates into more money, and the horse doesn’t go up the final 45 meters which are very steep and rocky.
Once you reach the top, you will be surrounded by millions of Monarch butterflies, some of them landing on you.
Monarch butterflies start in April, an 8-month migration that takes them up to Canada and back. Along this way, four successive generations are born and die.
Nobody knows how they manage to find their way back to this winter retreat near Valle de Bravo.
Best hotels en valle de Bravo
Most Valle de Bravo hotels are about luxury, but some mid-range and budget options exist.
I drop below a list with the best hotels to stay in Valle de Bravo, one for each type of budget.
La Casa Rodavento
Undoubtedly, La Casa Rodavento is one of the best resorts in Valle de Bravo.
You can find here a hidden retreat with amazing amenities and top-notch facilities.
The hotel has a beautiful pool, a jacuzzi, a spa, clean and spacious rooms, a bar, and a restaurant.
The restaurant is called Nuestro restaurant and serves a fancy dinner.
Make sure you reserve your table in advance to get a spot.
This is where to return after a long day of hiking, kayaking, or shopping.
If you go for Suite 2, you will get a private rooftop deck with stunning views of the Valle de Bravo and San Francisco de Asis Cathedral.
Cinco Rodavento Valle de Bravo
Cinco Rodavento is a more mid-range budget hotel than La Casa Rodavento, but it is equally beautiful.
You will be delighted by its nice amenities and eco-chic decor.
It has a beautiful vibe, and it is perfect for couples looking to relax and have fun.
I was impressed by the amazing rooftop bar called Ruf where there is live music each night and a wide variety of cocktails.
Capital O Hotel Rincon Sonado
Capital O Hotel Rincon Sonado is a budget-friendly hotel in the city center near Mercado de Artesanias and the Plaza Principal.
Remember that this town is extremely popular and visited, so if you plan to visit it during weekends, consider booking your room in advance.
Best restaurants in Valle de Bravo Mexico
El Callejon del Hambre
If you are looking for the best tacos in the area, head to El Callejon del Hambre or Hunger Alley.
This is the place where locals go if they want to eat a delicious taco.
The food is cheap and extremely delicious, and there are plenty of dishes to choose from.
My favorite restaurant from Valle de Bravo is, without any doubt, Nuestro, located inside La Casa Rodavento.
It is considered the best restaurant in the area and if you want to get a table, you must book in advance.
The food preparation is made under the attentive surveillance of Chef Alberto Colin, who once worked with the famous French Chef Jean- Georges Vongerichten.
Here you can try Mexican cuisine with a special twist.
Best bars in Valle de Bravo
Rüf pronounced Roof, at Cinco Rodavento has the best cocktails I have ever drunk, not to mention the fabulous views.
You definitely have to try mezcal cocktails, as these are unique.
Is Valle de Bravo worth visiting?
Valle de Bravo is the perfect place to relax, rest, and find peace. Many compare this place with Lake Cuomo, Italy or Hamptons in New York.
If you are in the area around the Day of the Dead event, then The Festival of the Souls should not be missed.
Valle the Bravo is popular for yoga and wellness retreats and it is one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets.
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.