Since I first clapped eyes on a picture of someone relaxing in the pools at Las Grutas de Tolantongo, I knew I NEEDED to visit! I couldn’t quite believe that Grutas de Tolantongo 1. Existed, 2. Was in Mexico, and 3. So close to Mexico City.
If there is one thing 2020 made me grateful and appreciative of, it’s just how incredible Mexico is. I’m constantly blown away by the sheer beauty and diversity of this country. I am happy to report that visiting the waters of Tolantongo Grutas did not disappoint since it is one of the best waterfalls in Mexico.
Why Visit Las Grutas De Tolantongo Mexico
Yes, I know, I’m a big cliche. I went to Las Grutas de Tolantongo Mexico for Instagram-worthy Tolantongo photos, but having visited there, I’m happy to report there are many more reasons to go to Grutas Tolantongo hot springs than just taking hundreds of Tolantongo photos. It’s a great way to spend the day relaxing in the Tolantongo hot springs.
Grutas Tolantongo is this magical, natural paradise tucked away in the mountains of Hidalgo. The turquoise blue water is not just eye candy; it’s incredibly soothing. Have you ever stood under a warm waterfall? Because you can do that at Grutas Tolantongo. Spending a day at Grutas de Tolantongo is like a natural spa day provided by Mother Earth herself.
And if you tire of all the relaxation and are into hiking, you’re in luck. There are trails that take you deeper into the scenic beauty of the area. Sadly I didn’t have time to explore the area surrounding Las Grutas de Tolantongo much. It’s hard on a day trip. But totally possible if you decide to spend a few days camping or at the Grutal Tolantongo resort.
A quick note on Mexico City hot springs: Although Grutas Tolantongo is a few hours away from Mexico City. You may hear it referred to as the Mexico City hot springs or the hot springs Mexico City. I’m unsure if I’d classify Grutas de Tolantongo as the “Mexico City hot springs,” as it’s not even in the same state! But as it’s the closest hot springs near Mexico City, if you hear someone saying they are going to the Mexico City hot springs, it’s probably actually the Hidalgo Mexico hot springs they are referring to!
What is Grutas Tolantongo Hidalgo Mexico
Firstly, you may be wondering what Grutas Tolantongo even is. Well, the word ‘grutas’ is a Spanish word for cave. So it translates into Tolantongo caves in English. As well as some super cool caves to explore (don’t forget your flashlight), what Las Grutas de Tolantongo Mexico is really famous for is the Tolantongo hot springs.
The Tolantongo hot springs have always been there, but the actual sight was developed for tourism in the 1970’s. These days, Grutas de Tolantongo is the main source of income for the local people in San Cristobal and a very popular tourist destination with people from Mexico City and its neighboring state. What you will notice when you visit the Tolantongo caves is just how many families there are vacationing there. It was actually really nice to see.
Currently, Tolantongo Hidalgo Mexico isn’t so well known outside of the area it’s in. I only saw one other group of foreign tourists there, and half of my Mexican friends had even heard of it. So if you want to visit and snap epic Tolantongo photos, go to Las Grutas de Tolantongo before it gets too popular! If you’re into yoga, you could also find a couple of relaxing yoga retreats in Grutas Tolantongo Mexico.
Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?
The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing
Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $45.08. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.
Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies.
Things To Do Grutas Tolantongo
Wondering what there is to do at Grutas Tolantongo? There is actually more to do than just exploring the Tolantongo caves!
Explore the Tunnel
This was the first place my Las Grutas de Tolantongo tour guide took us. If I’m honest, I would have preferred to go directly to the pools as I got so wet here (not good for the Tolantongo photos, haha), and I was completely unprepared! I didn’t realize I was going to be going into a dark, wet tunnel with large pools of water. I didn’t have a waterproof case for my phone, my GoPro, or a waterproof flashlight. So I only went into the first part and then headed back out.
So, don’t be like me. Go prepared. When you go to the tunnel area, they tell you to rent a locker and lock away your stuff. Lock everything away, put your phone in a waterproof case, and be dressed only in your swimwear. If you have your phone, you can take Grutas de Tolantongo photos and use the flashlight.
Sorry, no photos because I’m a dumb dumb who didn’t have her phone in a cover…
Enter the Cave
Once you are done exploring the tunnel, head back down the steps and into the cave. It was way cooler than I thought it would be. There is a pretty powerful waterfall right in the center of the cave making it hard to swim from one side to the other. But do swim in a bit to avoid the crowds at the entrance.
If you swim over to the right-hand side there is another tunnel there. It will take a bit of strength to get to the side. But once you get there, the current eases up.
Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress.
Best Las Grutas de Tolantongo Tours: Click here to check out the top Las Grutas de Tolantongo tours
Best Las Grutas de Tolantongo Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Las Grutas de Tolantongo
Best Las Grutas de Tolantongo Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Las Grutas de Tolantongo
Relax in the pools (and get your Instagram shot)
Here are a few of my favorite Las Grutas de Tolantongo photos.
To get from the main entrance to the Hidalgo Mexico hot springs, it’s an uphill hike. Or you can take the bus for $10 pesos… obviously I opted for the bus. Walk right through past the camping and restaurants and you can either walk over the suspension bridge or go down through the tunnel.
The pools can get very busy, especially on weekends. So, if you want Grutas de Tolantongo photos for Instagram, you must be here as soon as it opens and work fast. Or just do what I did and photoshop the people out… haha.
Even though when we got there, there were a lot of people around, it wasn’t hard to find empty hot spring pools, so we had plenty of time to take some las Grutas de Tolantongo photos and then relax in the pools for a bit. What I really loved about visiting the pools was because of its position on the side of a cliff, it feels very private, especially if you go to one of the lower ones. It’s the perfect spot for couples wanting some quality time.
Chill In the River
We actually opted to walk back to the main Las Grutas de Tolantongo area rather than taking the bus. It was a really nice downhill walk through the jungle and it took around 15-20 minutes. I did it with a guide—I’m not sure I would have trusted my navigational skills to find my way back alone!
The hot spring river can get very busy, so we had to find an emptier spot to go to. You will find people camping right along the river bank. If you are going to stay a while, it’s worth renting a table and chairs in the shade so you can cool off, as both the pools and the river are totally exposed to the sun.
Need a bit more action and adventure in your day? Then they have a Grutas de Tolantongo zipline that looks pretty cool and only costs $200 pesos (around $10 USD). I didn’t do this as I’d just returned from four days in Ciudad Valles, which had been non-stop ziplining, waterfall jumping, and rappelling!
Eat Some Barbacoa
If you are a meat eater and haven’t tried barbacoa yet, you are in for a treat! We actually stopped at a taco place on the way from Mexico City to Las Grutas de Tolantongo for breakfast barbacoa tacos. It’s what this region of Mexico is famous for.
Barbacoa comes from the word barbeque, and it refers to the way the meat is prepared. Basically, they take a lamb and then cook it in a hole in the ground covered with maguey leaves. You can find it everywhere here, and you can even see where they prepare it in the restaurant within the park.
Where Is Las Grutas de Tolantongo Mexico?
Grutas Tolantongo is located in San Cristobal in the state of Hidalgo. Most tourists who visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo here are coming from Mexico City, which is 3 hours south of Tolantongo. Or from Ciudad Valles in San Luis Potosi, which is a little further away.
The zip code is 42370, in case you need it, and you can easily see the location using the map of Grutas Tolantongo Mexico below.
How To Get To Las Grutas Tolantongo Mexico
There are a few different ways to get to the hot springs in Tolantongo Hidalgo Mexico, and different Tolantongo vacation packages you can find, depending on a few factors, including your budget, comfort level, and available time.
Because I only had a day and I didn’t want to take a public bus or do a Tolantongo tour right now (C*V*D and all), I opted to take a private tour to Grutas Tolantongo I was picked up at 6:00 a.m. from my accommodation in Mexico City, driven to Tolantongo, shown around the entire park and delivered back to my apartment by 7 pm the same day. Honestly, it was an amazing experience. I didn’t have to worry about buses, renting a car, or finding the best places to eat. Everything was done for me… yes, I know, I’m not a backpacker anymore, haha. But I also love getting shown around somewhere by someone who knows the place so I can give you all the best information.
If you want my opinion, doing a private tour with Vibe Adventures is the way forward if you are a couple or can get a small group together to reduce costs. I was with my partner, and our guide gave us plenty of time and space to relax and enjoy the experience. We never felt rushed at all. It really was the perfect day. If you are a solo traveler, this probably isn’t an option as it would be a bit too expensive.
Here are the different options for visiting Tolantongo:
Do A Private Tour of Las Grutas de Tolantongo
I highly recommend doing the private tour of Grutas Tolantongo with Vibe Adventures. Our guide spoke perfect English, and I love that they are a small company operating many direct day and multi-day tours in Mexico. If you are interested in booking a tour with them, you can use the form below to contact them directly for a quote.
Do A Group Tour
For solo travelers, this will be your easiest and cheapest way of getting to Grutas solo if you just want to go there and back in a day from Mexico City. Group tours are very affordable and run regularly. The only downside is most of the tours are in Spanish, so you will either need to take some Spanish classes or find an English-speaking tour.
Take The Public Bus
It’s possible to take public transportation here from Mexico City. If you don’t speak any Spanish at all, this isn’t going to be the easiest option for you as there are a few changes. Just make sure you have these instructions screenshotted on your phone!
The bus from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo takes about 3.5-4 hours. You will need to make your way to the Mexico North bus terminal. From there, you need to take a bus to Ixmiquilpan Hidalgo City. OVNIBUS or FLECHA ROJA line are the ones to book with. When you arrive at Ixmiquilpan Hidalgo, you are going to need to take a colectivo (small public minivan) from the bus station in Ixmiquilpan to Ixmiquilpan Central. You are going to need to get off the colectivo at Morelos Market. Tell the driver as you are getting on so he can let you know when to get off.
Once you have arrived at Morelos Market, you will need to walk through the market to find the microbus station located in the San Antonio parking lot (see map). From this bus station, you can take a microbus to Grutas Tolantongo. The last bus leaves at 5:30 p.m., so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.
I would honestly only do this option if you are planning to stay for a few days.
Rent a Car
And finally, the last option is to rent a car and drive yourself. The roads are actually pretty good, so I would feel confident driving there. The only part that was a bit sketchy was when you were coming down the mountain to get to Tolantongo. There were a few too many hairpin turns for my liking! But I’m also not sure I’d want to be on a bus doing those turns, either, haha.
Here is a map of the route from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo.
Map of Grutas Tolantongo Mexico
Here is a map of Grutas Tolantongo. You can also get the most up-to-date information about visiting from the official website here.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo?
For Grutas Tolantongo, the best time to visit would be during the shoulder months—so think late October through early December or mid-February through April.
During these times, you’ll likely experience mild temperatures and less rainfall, making it ideal for all the outdoor activities the area offers.
Now, if you visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo during Mexico’s peak travel season, which is December through January, you’ll probably find it’s a bit crowded. Everyone’s trying to escape the cold and what better place than a natural hot spring, eh? But if you’re like me and prefer a little more peace and quiet to connect with nature, those shoulder months are your best bet.
Summertime, from June to September, is the rainy season. While the area is still open, the constant rain might damper some activities. However, the landscape is absolutely lush and vibrant during these months. So, if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person who doesn’t mind getting a bit wet, it’s worth considering.
Remember, the place does get busy during weekends and public holidays, so if you can swing it, aim for weekdays for a more intimate experience. The only times I would really avoid visiting Grutas Tolantongo are during public holidays (especially Semana Santa) and, if possible, weekends. It’s open all year round, and the water is always hot.
I visited in May and it was a little bit chilly getting out of the water, but still nice. Although I would probably advise you to skip visiting during the rainy season (July – August) or if you don’t mind a little rain, just book a hotel room over camping maybe!
Staying At The Tolantongo Hotel
Ok, I will need all your type-A pre-planners to not freak out. You actually can’t pre-book the Tolantongo hotel rooms here. Everything is cash only, and the only way to get a room is to turn up early and book and pay for it there and then. So if you do want to spend a night or two here, then you are going to need to plan to arrive early. Especially if you want to book one of the cheaper options, as these will sell out first.
But honestly, so long as you don’t plan your visit to Las Grutas de Tolantongo during the weekend or on a public holiday like Christmas or Semana Santa, you will be fine. The rooms are basic but nice, and there are lots of them! You can see all of the rooms and prices here on their webpage.
Map of Accommodation in The Tolantongo Area
Camping at Tolantongo Grutas
Want to get a bit rustic? Then camping at Grutas is a great idea! It will save you money, and it’s super easy as you can rent everything you need here, and the staff even set it all up for you. They even have BBQs to rent! You can find all of the prices of the tents on this page here. It’s a great budget-friendly option if you need to keep costs down.
But just remember you are in Mexico, and people are here on vacation and like to make noise. When I was there, I spotted a lot of huge speakers, haha. So be prepared for some evening musical entertainment, Mexico-style!
Watch My Grutas Tolantongo Travel Vlog
Budget for Grutas Tolantongo
The entry fee for Grutas Tolantongo is currently $180 pesos, and parking is $30 pesos per day (price checked September 2023). Grutas Tolantongo is a cash-only destination. Your plastic is no good here, and it will not be easy to find an ATM, so you will need to bring enough cash with you.
If you book a private tour, everything is included, and prices start at $56 USD.
Group tours start at around $30 USD – just check what’s included, as often with the cheaper ones, you don’t get any meals included.
If you decide to rent a car and drive to Las Grutas de Tolantongo, don’t forget to budget money for gas and tolls.
What To Pack For Las Grutas Tolantongo
For a full Mexico packing list, click here. But if you just want to know what you should pack to take to Grutas, I’ve added some essentials below!
I love these ones from Newchic! I actually took 3 with me so I could change for my Tolantongo photos, haha.
Quick Dry Towel
I’m pretty obsessed with my quick-dry shoes. They are great for hiking and for water. They take 5 minutes to dry in the sun! If you prefer to go into the caves and tunnels with shoes on, then make sure you pack some good water shoes.
I never go on an adventure without my daypack now. It’s super lightweight and water-resistant, and it folds away into a bag when you no longer need it.
Las Grutas Tolantongo Travel Guide Planning
🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Mexico?
🚗 Where can I book a bus or private transportation while I’m in Mexico?
I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major Mexican tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses—they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.
🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Mexico?
First and foremost check out all the amazing Mexico tours Where Sidewalks End has. They are a small local company, and they have some really special experiences.
If you travel to Cancun, you can use GoCity and save up to 55% of the initial cost of entrance tickets to various museums, tours, and attractions!
If you are traveling to Playa del Carmen, I recommend booking through my friend Vanessa at Turismo Channel. You can check out their tours by clicking here and using the following discount codes for the best prices clairecaroff (car rental), claire10off (for 10% off group tours), claireprivate (for a discount on private tours). You can also send her a WhatsApp message quoting the above codes to receive the discount.
👩⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?
I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here
✈️ Any flight recommendations?
📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?
I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices, and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical SIM card or use their local carrier.
Regarding my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than swapping out my regular SIM card, I can download the app and buy a virtual SIM card. I recommend using either Airhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.
🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?
🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?