toluca mexico

Toluca Mexico: Ultimate Travel and Adventure Guide

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Toluca Mexico has a long history and remarkable cultural heritage. Many of its buildings, parks, and natural areas reflect the richness of the capital of the State of Mexico.

Besides its streets being full of stories, magic, and legends, the past of “Toluca la Bella” is as huge as its beauty.

Toluca is the capital of the State of Mexico and has a high cultural level, boasting a modern industrial city and natural landscapes that allow living great outdoor adventures.

With many cultural and historical sites, churches, and volcanoes, Toluca (less than an hour’s drive from Mexico City) has everything for an incredible vacation.

Where is Toluca?

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Toluca is about 60 km (37 mi) west-southwest of Mexico City. The easiest way to get there is by car or bus.

You can also fly into the nearby Toluca International Airport and take a taxi or bus to the city center.

To get there by car, you can take the México-Toluca Highway from Mexico City, which takes about 1 hour.

If you prefer to take public transportation, there are several bus companies that operate regular service from Mexico City to Toluca, with a journey time of about 1.5 hours.

The Toluca International Airport (TLC) is located just outside the city and offers flights to several destinations within Mexico and some cities in the United States.

14 TOP things to do and see in Toluca Mexico

toluca mexico
Toluca’s cathedral – Source: Jesusito2008 / flickr.com

1. Toluca Cathedral

The first place to visit in Toluca is the majestic Toluca Cathedral, an impressive neoclassical construction south of the Plaza de Los Mártires.

It was once the site of a Franciscan convent that had to be demolished due to its deterioration.

Although the construction of the new cathedral began in 1867, it wasn’t completed until the second half of the 20th century.

To make contact with the religious experiences and traditions of the city, you must include this religious temple in the list of places to visit in Toluca.

2. Cosmovitral Botanical Garden

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Source: electrocucaracha / flickr.com

This facility on the corner of Lerdo de Tejada Street was built at the beginning of the 20th century to operate the “16 de Septiembre” market.

During the 1970’s it underwent a remodeling that included an Art Nouveau installation composed of 65 stained glass windows made with more than 1500 pieces of colored glass from Europe.

Leopoldo Flores Valdez, a native of Toluca, was responsible for the work.

This spectacular place is home to the Cosmovitral Botanical Garden, with more than 1000 plants from Mexico and other countries in America, Asia, and Africa.

It is an unforgettable visit and experience to see the plants in the middle of over 3,000 square meters of crystals of 28 different colors, which cast unique light flashes.

3. Admire the iconic Nemesio Diez Stadium “La Bombonera”

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Source: JavyeCR7 / flickr.com

The Nemesio Diez Stadium is home to the professional soccer team Deportivo Toluca, a sports complex with a capacity for 28 thousand spectators.

The inauguration of “La Bombonera,” as it is popularly known, was in 1954.

Since then, fans and followers of the Diablos Rojos (red devils) de Toluca have gathered there to cheer their team.

4. Los Portales market

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Los Portales – Source: Cwyntella / flickr.com

Los Portales is located on the corner of Hidalgo and Bravo streets, a space for stores selling typical products such as chorizos (Toluca is known for the best chorizos in Mexico) and Mexican candies.

Los Portales is one of the most striking and representative tourist attractions in Toluca Mexico.

Every year the Alfeñique Fair is held on the Day of the Dead, where you can observe a construction composed of 120 arches.

5. Mexiquense Cultural Center

The Mexiquense Cultural Center is a must-see on any tour of Toluca.

It is located in the former site of the Hacienda de San José de la Pila, dedicated to the history, culture, and art.

You can visit the Museum of Anthropology and History and Modern Art, the Central Library, and the Historical Archive belonging to the State of Mexico.

It also hosts exhibitions, workshops, and festivals.

6. Museum of Fine Arts of Toluca Mexico

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Source: Ric brainWash / flickr.com

Important sample of the architectural heritage of Mexico in the ex-convent of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns (built circa1697).

After undergoing renovations, it has been reopened to the public.

Exhibitions as important as Tutankhamun and the Impossible Exhibition have been presented in their halls.

It has also had exhibitions of Mexican artists such as the painter Leopoldo Flores, creator of the stained glass windows of Cosmovitral.

You can also see galleries of sacred art and works from the XVI to XIX centuries. There are objects in honor of the Divine Face and representations of saints.

Selecting the Museum of Fine Arts among the places to visit in Toluca will be a great cultural and religious success.

7. Watercolor Museum

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Source: benilder / flickr.com

This unique museum is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Toluca with significant national and international prestige, which made it cataloged Historical Patrimony of the State of Mexico, declared by the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The purpose of its eight rooms is to house, disseminate and exhibit art that uses the watercolor technique as a means of expression.

Each room is named after a renowned watercolor artist in the country.

The museum offers complementary activities such as book presentations, lectures, games, vacation courses, and drawing workshops; you can also opt for a guided tour.

8. Calixtlahuaca (archaeological site)

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Source: Valeria Andrea Scipioni / flickr.com

Impressive center for ceremonies of the Matlatzinca Indians, consisting of the ceremonial center of Calixtlahuaca, an archaeological zone 10 kilometers northwest of Toluca Mexico.

In the area, the buildings of Quetzalcóatl and Tláloc are noticeable, which is indicative that, by the characteristics of the constructions, the Teotihuacan and Toltec cultures were settled there.

9. Metepec

metepec
Source: Angelica Portales / flickr.com

Metepec is a city close to Toluca that is part of the metropolitan zone of the so-called Toluca Valley. Some people consider Metepec as an extension of Toluca.

The place has had an important economic rebound, with constructions and financial investments representing the country’s progress.

You will find refined residential subdivisions and elegant and attractive shopping centers.

This modernization has not detracted from Metepec’s traditions and cultural activities, such as the work of Metepec’s clay and pottery artisans, especially the crafts of the so-called Tree of Life, one of the most famous, widespread, and representative of the State of Mexico inside and outside the country.

10. Teotenango (archaeological site)

Important pre-Hispanic city to the south of the Toluca Valley, 25 km from the city of Toluca, on top of a large hill known as Tetépetl.

Its foundation dates back to the last periods of the Teotihuacan civilization by a group of indigenous people known as Teotenancas.

With the arrival of the Matlatzincas, it became an important religious and military center.

The Román Piña Chan Archaeological Museum was established in the area, where all the archaeological pieces found and rescued at the site can be observed.

11. Ixtapan de la Sal

ixtapan de la sal

Ixtapan de la Sal is a place of thermal waters rich in minerals, with a pleasant climate and an unbeatable environment to rest, a little more than an hour’s drive from Toluca.

It is a small town with roads populated with jacaranda trees that offer a beautiful spectacle when they bloom.

It has a central square, cobblestone streets, houses with red tile roofs, and a very picturesque architectural aspect.

If, in addition to taking a hot springs bath, you want a few days of rest, include Ixtapan de la Sal in your list of places to visit in Toluca Mexico.

12. Valle de Bravo, Mexico

toluca mexico
Beautiful panoramic view of Valle de Bravo – Source: Jeffrey Ross / flickr.com

Valle de Bravo is a trendy vacation spot due to its climate and proximity to Toluca and Mexico City (150 km apart).

Forests surround the lake, so horseback riding and outdoor sports became very popular.

Water sports are also available.

Valle de Bravo has beautiful places like the Plaza de Los Tres Árboles, the Mirador de la Capilla, and the Embarcadero, where you can rent boats.

The streets are covered with cobblestones and surrounded by well-preserved colonial buildings.

In the center of the Plaza de la Independencia is the 17th-century Church of San Francisco de Asis.

In the valley is also the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, home to millions of migratory butterflies.

13. El Oro, Mexico

el oro
Source: Suil Torres / flickr.com

This Magical Town lies in an important mining zone an hour and a half north of Toluca, whose French-style constructions are testimonies to the ample wealth of the area.

Its attractions go beyond the buildings and the presence of gold, which also gives the city its name.

It also has the Brockman Dam, surrounded by forests of cedar and pine trees, ideal for spending days in the countryside and going for walks, as well as practicing sport fishing in its waters.

14. Bicentennial Towers Museum

The museum is inside a modern construction known as Bicentennial Towers, pillars erected in 2010 to commemorate the bicentennial of the Independence and the centennial of the Revolution.

The towers are located in the old Tollotzin Gate, on Paseo Tollocan. A work of 30 meters at its base and 6 meters in diameter, and 65 meters tall by the architect Guillermo Maya Lopez.

When seen from a distance, it gives the sensation of intertwining in a contemporary design with clean and simple elements in all its forms.

The silhouette of both towers suggests the path, the projection, and the direction toward the nation’s future.

The museum exhibits the history and evolution of Mexico from its beginnings as a colony to the present day.

11 TOP outdoor attractions in Toluca Mexico

1. Nevado de Toluca

Let’s start with the geographical icon of the city: the Nevado de Toluca.

One of the favorite places of visitors because it offers beautiful landscapes in summer and winter.

Its oak and coniferous forests show all their greenness during the sunny season, while the snow covers this Mexican volcano in white in the winter.

The Nevado de Toluca is 22 km from the city, with a protected area of flora and fauna of almost 47 thousand hectares.

It is the fourth tallest Mexican summit, with its peak at 4690 mts above sea level.

El Nevado de Toluca is a compound volcano that registers seismic activity and is classified as active.

Although the journey to Xinantécatl (indigenous name meaning “naked man”) can be made by car, it is more rewarding to walk along its trails, forests, and rocky areas, admiring its flora, fauna, and lagoons in the highest part.

2. Insurgente Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla National Park

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Source: Jose Miguel S / flickr.com

Better known as “La Marquesa,” its 4790 hectares are shared by Mexico City and the State of Mexico, between the valleys of Mexico and Toluca; it is a common place for weekend recreation.

The park borders another natural attraction, such as the Desierto de Los Leones National Park, and is easily accessible by Highway 55 and Highway 15.

Its main attractions are the coniferous forests and the fauna seen in the most remote areas.

It is frequented for camping, hiking, biking, mountaineering, horseback riding, and ATV rides on closed circuits.

It has a fishing station in a building belonging to the old colonial hacienda La Marquesa.

3. Matlazincas Park

toluca mexico
Source: MOISES SANCHEZ / flickr.com

Matlazincas Park is one of Toluca’s most visited natural attractions for taking panoramic photos, exercising, and enjoying a picnic.

Other places of interest are the Museum of Natural Sciences of the State of Mexico, with its exhibits on the Universe and the Solar System, Geology, Biodiversity of the State of Mexico, Lepidoptera (butterflies), Insects and Ecology, and the chapel of El Calvario.

4. Las Torres Linear Park

This recreational space was recovered by rehabilitating 100 thousand m2 of green areas between Paseo Cristóbal Colón and Calle General Venustiano Carranza.

The project concluded in 2019 contemplated the placement of 280 m3 of organic soil, the planting of 200 trees, including ten magueys, and the sowing of grass and ornamental plants such as lavender.

The project is part of the campaign “Together for a Green Capital,” undertaken by the city government to reforest and beautify Toluca.

5. Monte Alto State Park

monte alto park

Monte Alto was opened in 2013 by the state government and is 74 km southwest of Toluca in the municipality of Valle de Bravo.

The ancient Matlatzincas called it the “hill of water” because the streams created a murmur as they flowed beneath the thick vegetation.

The park’s flora includes pines, oaks, and orchids in the wetlands, while hawks, sparrows, vultures, owls, rabbits, and squirrels represent the fauna.

The park is made up of three volcanoes whose erosion formed steep slopes on three of the four sides (north, south, and west), while on the east, the topography softens and extends towards the Acatitlán Valley.

These volcanoes expelled large masses of basaltic rocks during their activity in the Mesozoic Era, creating formations such as Cerro Pelón.

6. Nanchititla Sierra Park

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Waterfall stream in Nanchititla – Source: joseph gall / flickr.com

The park in the Cañadas de Nanchititla, in the jurisdiction of the municipalities of Tejupilco and Luvianos, is around 150 km southwest of Toluca.

This vast area comprises 68 thousand hectares and beautiful waterfalls like Las Pilas and El Salto de Nanchititla.

The Nahua word “Nanchititla” means “place of the route of the Nanche,” an edible sweet fruit with a strong aroma.

The park also has mountains over 2,000 meters above sea level covered with pine and oak groves.

Several viewpoints (Filo, La Cascada, Potrero, Candelaria, and Barriales) have spectacular landscape views in these foothills.

The main activities are camping, hiking, mountain biking, zip-lining, horseback riding, rappelling, paragliding, and sport fishing.

7. Zacango Ecological Park & Zoo, near Toluca Mexico

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Source: Jordy Rossell / flickr.com

The park’s main attraction in the municipality of Calimaya, 12 km south of Toluca Mexico, is a zoo with specimens of 136 species from all over the world.

It is located in a protected area of 159 hectares that belonged to the Counts of Santiago and Calimaya and that before had been part of the old Franciscan Hacienda of the XVI century.

Tours are on foot or aboard a little train.

The park has an aviary and areas for carnivores, herbivores, primates, reptiles (one of the country’s most important collections), African animals, a farm, and a conservation education center.

It is one of the few sites in the country that gathers the Gabon viper, the Albino python, and the green mamba.

8. The mummy of Almoloya de Juárez

Believe it or not, a famous mummy is also a natural attraction in Toluca, mainly because its mummification occurred naturally.

I’m talking about Don José Remigio Estrada, a man from the town of Almoloya de Juárez whose body was found in 1890 in the town’s municipal cemetery in an excellent state of mummification.

It is the only known mummy in the State of Mexico.

The bodies of Mr. Estrada’s wife and three grandchildren of the couple were also mummified, but not as well as him.

The people requested that same year that the mummy be preserved as part of the local cultural heritage. It is currently on display in a showcase in the municipal presidency of Almoloya de Juarez.

The village is located in the Toluca Valley, 18 km northwest of the state capital.

9. Waterfalls and flowers of Villa Guerrero

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Villa Guerrero is a municipality bordering Toluca to the north, formerly known as Tecualoya, a community founded in the seventh century by the Otomi people.

The tremendous natural attractions of Villa Guerrero are its flowers and waterfalls, the main ones being Salto Grande del Texcaltenco, La Atlaquizca, Salto del Río San Gaspar, and Salto de la Neblina.

The El Salitre hot springs and streams flowing down from the Nevado de Toluca are also attractive sites.

The town is known as the “flower capital of the state of Mexico,” and the municipality is the first in the country in flower production.

There are more than 2,700 hectares of nurseries and flower plantations where there are large quantities of chrysanthemums, carnations, roses, hydrangeas, sunflowers, and other species that cover the Mexican soil with color and beauty.

10. Estrella Bio Park

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This fabulous Ecological park in the municipality of Ixtlahuaca, 87 km north of Toluca, is the country’s largest themed space and safari, covering 300 hectares with animals that roam freely.

There are more than 500 specimens of species, such as giraffes, elephants, zebras, tigers, lions, hippos, camels, and primates.

Other attractions are Jurassic River, a boat adventure where you can see impressive replicas of dinosaurs, and Subterranium, a mysterious underground ride in an electric vehicle.

There are also hiking trails, a zip-line, and a climbing wall.

Bio Parque Estrella is at km 38.5, Jilotepec, El Puerto, Ixtlahuaca de Rayón.

11. Mazahua Ceremonial Center

Ceremonial place of the Mazahua culture that combines a contemporary building built to pay homage to this ethnic group with an impressive natural beauty.

The center was built in 1980 in Santa Ana Nichi, 57 km northwest of Toluca.

It shows the history of the Mazahua culture and the handicrafts made by the indigenous people of this town, the most numerous in the states of Mexico and Michoacán.

A beautiful forest of pines and oaks surrounds the place.

Among the groves are trails and a diverse fauna comprising rabbits, squirrels, coyotes, white-tailed deer, gophers, sheep, snakes, and several species of birds.

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