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Ixtlan del Rio, Nayarit: Visitors Guide 2023

  • Joel CZ 
  • 5 min read
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Ixtlan del Rio is a charming little town whose name means “place where obsidian abounds.”

It is a very important enclave from an archaeological standpoint due to its closeness to the archaeological zone of Los Toriles, one of the most important in the region.

Ixtlan del Rio offers all the services of a city and the traditions and customs of a small town.

Touring Ixtlan del Rio on foot is the best way to enjoy all its corners and ancient buildings, such as the Temple of San Juan Apostle and the Museum of Regional Anthropology, located inside the Municipal Presidency, considered a historic building.

Where is Ixtlan del Rio, Nayarit?

Ixtlan del Rio sits in the southeast of the state of Nayarit. It is just over an hour from Tepic, the state’s capital.

Guadalajara is less than two hours away, and Puerto Vallarta is 3.5 hours.

Top attractions in Ixtlan del Rio, Nayarit

ixtlan del rio nayarit
Los Toriles site – Source: Guilgeopat / flickr.com

Los Toriles archaeological site

The only pre-Hispanic archaeological zone in Nayarit reflects the tradition of the shaft tombs and perhaps a vital contact between south and north America.

The archaeological zone of Los Toriles is located 9 km away from Ixtlan del Rio.

This significant indigenous settlement was discovered in the XVI century and constituted one of the leading exponents of the architecture and societies of the Postclassic period.

It currently has 93 mounds, of which the circular building stands out, symbolic of the zone and traditionally called “Ehécatl-Quetzalcóatl.”

You can also visit the petroglyphs of El Terreno, Sayulapa, and El Veladero.

Visit La Casa de Cultura Museum

ixtlan del rio
Some of the archaeological items at the museum – Source: Diana Sanchez / flickr.com

This interesting museum is housed inside the old colonial building of the Municipal Presidency in the historic center.

With six exhibition rooms in the museum, you will find an archeological collection, paintings, and photographs about the history of Ixtlan del Rio.

The hours are Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 19:00, on Av. Miguel Hidalgo 45 in the Historic Center.

Cerrito de Cristo Rey (Hill of Christ the King)

ixtlan del rio nayarit

It is one of the most visited tourist attractions by many parishioners.

During the last week of October, they tour the top to celebrate the feast of Christ the King (the last Sunday of October).

Also, from the scenic viewpoint, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Ixtlan de Rio.

The parish priest Justo Barajas requested the architect Guadalupe Vázquez construct this monument in 1947, whose work was finished in 1949.

It comprises a stairway that leads to the top of the enclosure with 544 steps and 15 landings with a cross on each one.

Relax at the nearby water parks

Thanks to its warm climate, Ixtlan del Rio is an ideal destination for outdoor activities.

It has several water parks to enjoy a day of relaxation and fun:

  • La Sidra Park has large pools, one with sulfurous waters with curative properties, green areas, and a restaurant.
  • El Suspiro and El Anhelo offer water slides and sports courts.
  • La Alberca de Piedra allows you to enjoy nature, refresh with its spring waters, and walk among its gardens.

Explore the El Salto Waterfall

To get to this waterfall from Ixtlan, you have to look for a guide who will accompany you through a path of lush tropical vegetation.

This tour is done on horseback for two hours or walking through rocky areas, passing through two old railroad tunnels, making the adventure to this beautiful waterfall enjoyable.

You may want to read: 15 Best Hot Springs in Mexico: Ultimate Guide

Along the way, the vegetation becomes so thick that the light becomes shaded, and you will have to cross some streams of crystal-clear water.

Before reaching the main waterfall, you will see three smaller waterfalls with approximate heights of 3, 5, and 8 meters.

The main waterfall is approximately 30 m high and falls down a cliff of basaltic rock, forming an almost circular pool below where you can cool off.

Try the local food in Ixtlan del Rio

Ixtlan del Rio’s typical dishes include birria de chivo (goat stew), chicken a la plaza, and fried chicken a la Picha (a type of shredded fried chicken).

In front of the main square, there are some taquerias that offer delicious snacks.

There is a tradition of having ice cream in town, but you can also enjoy the typical sweets sold in front of the main square every afternoon in a cart, which have been made for 70 years by the same family.

You can also refresh yourself with a delicious tejuino.

Get some souvenirs

Ixtlan is a significant town in the production of handicrafts.

You can find blown glass crafts, pottery, colonial furniture, palm weaving, wood carving, colonial ironwork, and huaraches.

Of course, you will also find the typical Huichol handicrafts with their original and colorful designs in jewelry and decorative items.

In addition, you can buy good quality coffee and craft beers.

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