Las Grutas de Tolantongo are the most spectacular Mexican hot springs and a favorite spot for dreamy Instagram pictures. I have finally made it there and in this post, I am going to tell you all about how to visit La Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo, how to get there, and other practical tips, but also I will explain why I was quite disappointed.
I have been wanting to visit this place for so long and I finally made it. On my way back from Guatemala to Mexico City, I took the bus directly from the airport to Las Grutas de Tolantongo and made it my priority on this trip.
Despite some negative aspects, which I will talk about later on, in this post, I still believe it’s one of the best places to visit in Mexico that you really need to include in your Mexican bucket list.
Las Grutas de Tolantongo is located in the Mexican state of Hidalgo in the Tolantongo Canyon and at about 4 hours drive from Mexico City.
They made it very easy to reach by public transportations although I think it’s much better to go by car.
The park is huge and includes waterfalls, natural pools, and a river.
The water is of surreal light turquoise color and it’s warm. If you like to have a bath with other hundreds of people you will enjoy it.
I didn’t and preferred to stay out and capture the spectacular views.
Top-rated tours from Mexico City to Las Grutas de Tolangongo
👉 Tolantongo Hot Springs Full-Day Tour with Typical Lunch Book here
👉 One day tour to the Tolantongo Caves – Book Here
👉 Incredible Tolantongo Caves from Cdmx – Book Here
Top-rated tours from Queretaro to Las Grutas de Tolangongo
👉 Tour to the Tolantongo Caves in English, leaving Querétaro – Book Here
- Top-rated tours from Mexico City to Las Grutas de Tolangongo
- Top-rated tours from Queretaro to Las Grutas de Tolangongo
- Getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo by car
- Getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo by bus
- From Ixmiquilpan to Las Grutas de Tolantongo bus schedule
- Here below I am sharing the top-rated tours available.
- How much does a hotel room cost in the Grutas de Tolantongo?
- Camping in Las Grutas de Tolantongo
- Hot spring pools
- Gruta (cave), waterfalls, tunnel
- The Tolantongo River
- Zip Line
- La Gloria Tolatongo
Las Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo practical tips
I thought I should start by listing some important practical tips that you should know before getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo so that you will be prepared.
- It cannot be a one-day trip, you need at least two days (one night), because the journey only would take 4 hours of your time (one way). If you could stay two full nights it would be ideal so that you can have 1 full day on the site and don’t have to worry about the checkout and where to leave your stuff.
- You will need shoes that can go in the water because the river and the cave bottom can be rough. You won’t need them for the pools, though. If you don’t have the special shoes, you can buy them in the local shops for 100 MXN.
- Take cash with you. They don’t accept credit cards so make sure you calculate an approximate of what you will be spending and take MXN pesos with you.
- Book Paraìso Escondido Tolantongo Resort if you want to stay close to the pools.
- Avoid weekends – the place is already crowded enough during the week, weekends must unbearable.
- The park is huge so to go from one attraction to another there are nice trails to walk. They are all well marked so there is no chance to get lost. If you cannot walk you can ask for a shuttle from La Gruta Hotel to Paraíso Hotel ( which is where the pools are)
- Vegans will have a hard time. If you are one, take some food with you.
- Cameras and drones are allowed
- There are lockers where you can leave your personal belongings (at a cost).
- THERE IS NO WIFI!! But there is phone coverage if you have Telcel. So if you want to keep connected with the world make sure you have a local sim card.
- The only hotel that offers WIFI is Hotel Molanguito but it’s not inside the park, at about 15 minutes drive. Not convenient at all.
- They don’t accept reservations. I guess because they don’t accept credit card payments. So first come first served.
- Pets are not allowed
How to get to Las Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo
Getting to las Grutas de Tolantongo is very easy whether you chose to rent a car or local transportation. Let’s see here below the different options.
👉 Don’t want to go on your own? Book your day trip to Las Grutas de Tolantongo from Mexico City through this top-rated company!
Getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo by car
Getting to Tolantongo by car is very easy from Mexico city. You just need to follow the direction to Pachuca and then to Ixmiquilpan and from there you will see the signs to Grutas de Tolantongo.
Once you get to the entrance you pay for your ticket (150 MXN) for one day and you continue to drive to your Grutas Tolantongo Resort, hotel, or camping sites.
Keep in mind that if you want to stay at Paradiso Escondido in Tolatongo, you must turn right after the ticket office, otherwise, if you keep driving on the main road, you will get to the Hotel La Gruta.
There are parking spots everywhere, even close to the river.
If you don’t like or can’t walk too much, getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo by car it will make it much easier because you can easily move from one attraction to the other by car.
Keep in mind that the place is really huge, very good for those who love to exercise or walk in nature.
Getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo by bus
Getting to the Grutas of Tolatongo by bus is also easy but it takes a little longer.
Mexico city Terminal de autobuses Central Norte to Tolantongo
From Mexico city Terminal de bus Central Norte, you will get directly to Ixmiquilpan (OVNIBUS bus line).
From Ixmiquilpan terminal station you will get a taxi or public transportation (combi) to the parking close to the San Antonio Church and wait for the bus to the Grutas of Tolantongo.
They have benches tent on the right side of the parking. You can’t miss it as there is a big advertising sign for Tolantongo.
From Mexico Airport to the Grutas of Tolantongo
If you are coming from the airport you could go from there to Pachuca (Frontera Busses) and from Pachuca to Ixmiquilpan (Ovnibus). That´s what I did but it wasn’t very convenient. It was much longer than coming directly from Mexico City.
So it would be much more convenient to get an Uber from the airport and get to the Terminal de autobuses Central Norte. And from there take the bus directly to Ixmiquilpan.
I challenge you to remember this name. I needed to write this article to be able to memorize it. 🙂
From Queretaro to the Grutas of Tolantongo
If you are staying in Queretaro for a few days you can consider a trip to Las Grutas de Tolantongo for a change. It will take about 4 hours if you drive, a little more by bus, but totally worth it.
Do not forget the Sierra Gorda though, which is closer and in my opinion will take you closer to nature, as it’s more secluded and authentic.
From Queretaro Bus Terminal the bus line CONEXIÓN will take you directly to Ixmiqiulpan.
From the bus station, you take a “Colectivo” or a taxi to the parking lot by the San Antonio church where a bus will take you to the Grutas de Tolantongo (See below)
From Tepoztlan to the Grutas of Tolantongo
From Tepotzotlán bus terminal you will need to get to Tula de Hidalgo by LUSA or OVNIBUS
From there you can get a bus to Ixmiquilpan (LUSA bus line).
From Ixmiquilpan to Las Grutas de Tolantongo bus schedule
From Ixmiquilpan to Tolantongo
Monday through Thursday
09:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 13:30 p.m. 15:30 p.m. 17:30 p.m. 18:30 p.m.
Friday through Sunday
From 09:30 a.m. through 18:30 p.m. Almost every hour or when the bus is full.
From Tolantongo to Ixmiquilpan
Monday through Thursday
07:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 13:30 p.m. 15:30 p.m. 17:30 p.m.
Friday through Sunday
07:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 13:30 p.m. 15:30 p.m. 17:30 p.m.
Note that from Tolantongo the bus to Ixmiquilpan leaves from the reception of the hotel La Gruta.
Getting to Las Grutas de Tolantongo by day tour from Mexico City.
Among all the amazing things to do in Mexico City, there are incredible day trips to the nearby beautiful Mexican Natural wonders and Las Grutas de Tolantongo is one of them.
If you don’t want to be bothered renting a car or spending a few days, you can always join an organized tour and enjoy the site in one day.
Here below I am sharing the top-rated tours available.
How long do you need to visit Tolantongo?
This is very personal. Let’s say that if you are working online and you can’t stay away from your activity too long, 2 nights will be enough. There is no wifi there. Unless you use your phone as a hotspot.
There is good cellphone reception.
To my taste, one full day (2 nights) is enough to see everything and more. If you enjoy a crowded place in the middle of nature, then you will enjoy more days.
I don’t, so for me, one day was enough to see the place do some hiking, and take pictures. Since I don’t enjoy very much kids screaming and people shouting, loud musing, and littering, I was happy to leave.
Besides I stupidly dropped my camera so I was eager to take it to the shop to get it fixed as soon as possible.
I really have a different concept of being immersed in nature. But I will talk about it later.
It is indeed a place worth visiting, though, but with that in mind. Many people stayed there even for a week. It’s really up to you. For sure it’s not a day trip.
Where to stay at Las Grutas de Tolantongo
You have different options. There are camping sites all over the place. And you can either rent a tent or take your own. Remember nights can be cold in winter.
Otherwise, if you want to be more comfortable you can stay in one of the hotels in the park. It cannot be reserved because they don’t accept credit cards so you will need to see what is available when you get there.
If you have a specific one in mind you should make sure to get there very early.
When I went it was pandemic time so occupation was much lower than usual and I could choose.
I stayed at La Gruta Hotel which is the closest one to the cave, the waterfall, and the river, but now that I know the place I suggest you go to Hotel Paraiso Escondido Tolantongo because it’s the one located right by the pools.
The bus from Ixmiquilpan will get by the reception of La Grutas hotel. So if you want to get to a different hotel you can ask for a microbus to take you for a small fee.
That’s very convenient if you have all your bags with you.
How much does a hotel room cost in the Grutas de Tolantongo?
- Hotel La Gruta – from 750 MXN per night per room
- Hotel Paraiso Escondido – from 800 per night per room
- Hotel La Huerta – from 800 per night per room
Camping in Las Grutas de Tolantongo
If you decide to camp and you have your own tent, you don’t need to pay anything other than your entrance fee.
However, if you don’t have your camping gear, you can rent or buy absolutely everything on site. Rental fee of the tent start from 120 MXN per night ( for the smallest tent).
You can camp pretty much everywhere. If you rent a tent you just chose your spot and the local staff will install your tent.
Internal transportation costs and schedule
As I mentioned before if you can’t or don’t want to walk you can use the local microbuses for a small fee. Here below are the prices.
Internal transportation (special trips)
Base La Gruta – Base Paraíso (Max 5 pax) $60.00 MXN
Base La Cadena – Base Paraíso (Máx 6 pax) $70.00 MXN
Base La Huerta – Base Paraíso (Máx 7 pax $80.00 MXN
Base La Gruta – Base Rancho (Máx 5 pax) $60.00 MXN
Cost is per trip – Service available from 7 am to 8 pm
Internal transportation regular trip
Base La Gruta – Base Paraíso (From 6 pax) $10.00 MXN
Base La Cadena – Base Paraíso (From 7 pax) $10.00 MXN
Base La Huerta – Base Paraíso (From 8 pax) $10.00 MXN
Base La Gruta – Base Rancho (From 6 pax) $10.00 MXN
Price per person. Service available from 7 am to 8 pm
Internal Mototaxi service $80.00 MXN
It’s a private service and can be arranged inside the park with anyone of the staff.
Max 3 pax.
Things to do at Las Grutas de Tolantongo
Tolantongo is a huge canyon crossed by the Tolantongo river with its warm waters, waterfalls, and natural pools scattered around the hill.
The natural beauties have been a little corrupted by man-made constructions with the purpose to create an entertaining place for local and international tourism.
So here is what you will find within the Grutas of Tolatongo:
Hot spring pools
This is the main attraction and what the site is mainly known for. Originally there were a few natural pools created by the waterfalls. However there has been a lot of construction on site to create more and more pools using the same rock in order to recreate the original natural effect. You can enjoy the pools and its warm water while admiring the spectacular views over the canyon.
Within the pool area you can also walk in a tunnel with running hot water and steam.
The pools are located by the Hotel Paraiso Escondido, which is for me the best location.
Opening hours – 08:00 am a 09:00 pm
Gruta (cave), waterfalls, tunnel
Located on the opposite side of the Pools are the spectacular cave and stunning waterfalls flowing into the Tolantongo river.
Below the cave, there is a sort of tunnel with hot steam coming out of the rocks.
To access the cave site you need to leave your clothes and bags behind (there are lockers at the entrance that you can use for 80 MXN)
It’s also advisable to use those rubber shoes suitable to walk in the water because the bottom can be slippery and/or rocky.
You can bring your camera and tripod but not the case, as they don’t allow any bags, including camera bags.
I got inside just to take pictures and I wasn’t tempted to get in the cave because it’s very small and there were too many people too close to one another. Social distancing at its best. Not my thing, really!
The views are incredible though.
Opening hours – 8:00 am a 5:00 pm
The Tolantongo River
The river is first of all a stunning view from above with its incredibly bright light blue color and the small pool formations where you can sit and enjoy the warm water.
It runs all along the property marking the length of the canyon and you can take a nice walk all along the banks.
You can also camp by the river. You can actually camp anywhere.
You can access the Zipline from the Hotel Paraíso Escondido. You will fly above the entire canyon for stunning views.
It includes 4 lines:
- First-line – 320 m
- Second-line – 280 mt
- Third line – 690
- Forth line – 600
Grutas de Tolantongo Zip line cost:
- Complete tour – $200.00 MXN
- First 2 lines only – $150.00 MXN
Access to the zip line is only permitted to individuals that are older than 10 ys and have a max weight of 95 kg (209 Pounds) and are without any kind of heart condition.
You will need to sign a waiver before starting the activity.
La Gloria Tolatongo
This is actually another property that you can access from a swing bridge located just below the Tolatongo waterfall entrance.
It requires an extra cost, that you will pay once you cross the bridge, but it’s only 100 pesos and totally worth it.
After a nice 20 minutes, steep hike through lush vegetation and other man-made pools, you will get to a spectacular waterfall and natural pools.
You will also be welcomed by famish mosquitos but that’s irrelevant. 🙂
That’s exactly where I have dropped my camera, luckily it was my last stop and I managed to take awesome pictures for the entire day.
I found this side of the Tolantongo site much more natural and secluded.
Why the water is blue?
The flow of the water on the limestone rocks captures small particles of magnesium salts and other chlorides contained in the rocks and melts in the water causing this surreal light blue color.
Why I didn’t like Las Grutas de Tolantongo hot springs
Tolantongo is definitely a spectacular place with natural waterfall and rivers.
The color of the river is incredibly blue it seems unreal, the Tolantongo hot springs are definitely natural and the entire complex is a beautiful work of nature that humans have used to build around it and become an amusement park. And that’s my concern.
The majority of the pools, where the water comes out naturally are man-made, and more and more are being built as I am writing this. When I visited, it was pandemic time so the number of visitors was limited but I still found it crowded. I don’t even want to picture this place in normal times.
The cave was completely packed. Not sure how you can enjoy such a beautiful place with screaming people almost on top of you.
But what takes away the magic of the place is the camping site where people are allowed to cook and set up their fire pit, turn the music loud, while kids are running and screaming everywhere, and, the worse thing, they litter like they don’t care.
There are a lot of trash bins everywhere and signs that say please don’t litter, and yet… As I was walking one morning by the river, I found a carpet of empty cans and all sorts of trash everywhere on the ground!
I cannot believe how people can be disrespectful of their own country.
I spoke to the staff about it and they confirmed that they are doing their best to keep the place clean and tell customers to pick up their trash but with little results. They are very frustrated themselves.
I suggested they should establish expensive fines for those who litter, let’s see if it keeps them motivated to be more mindful and respectful of the environment!
All in all, despite the natural beauty, I felt like I was in an amusement park instead of in the middle of nature. It was hard to feel the magic.
The worst thing is they are in the process of building more hotels and more pools. (facepalm)
Anyway, by all means, go and see it yourself and let me know what you think.
Las Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo general prices
General entrance fee – $150.00 MXN – the ticket is valid for one day from 7 am to 8 pm, no matter at what time you enter. If you are staying more than one day in one of the hotels or camping you still have to pay the entrance fee of 150 MXN for each day of your stay.
Car Parking $20.00 MXN – the fee is per vehicle per day.
Bus from Ixmiquilpan-Tolantongo $50.00 MXN
Bus from Molanguito to Tolantongo $20.00 MXN
Tent rentals: from 120 MXN for a tent for 2 pax.
Hotel – from 750 MXN
How to be a responsible traveler in the Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo
I am sure you agree with me that it is possible to travel while respecting the environment and the other travelers. It’s actually effortless and doesn’t take much time. I will help you with some simple rules:
- Do not use soap in any area of the river, caves, or pools
- Do not take food and drinks inside the attractions. !important
- Don’t litter! There are so many trash bins all over the place to help you keep the site clean. Please use them!
- Pets are not allowed. Sorry 🙂
I hope this post will be useful to plan your next trip to Las Grutas of Tolantongo. Let me know if you have any questions. I will be happy to answer if I can.
For further reading
- The 13 best boutique hotels in San Miguel the Allende
- Where to stay in Guanajuato: the best hotels and homes for every budget
- Top 14 things to do in Guanajuato Mexico and surroundings
- Queretaro Airbnb – a guide to the 9 best vacation rentals in Queretaro
- The top 13 Queretaro Hotels for any budget and style
Mexico Travel Planning Guide
Do I need travel insurance to travel to Mexico?
I would do it if I were you. You never know what can happen and know that no matter what, you will be covered with any expenses will give you peace of mind, and make your travel worry-free. You can check out World Nomads or SafetyWing which I have used alternatively depending on my needs of the moment.
Can I drink tap water in Mexico?
No, you can’t! Maybe in some areas or in some homes where they have installed water filters but to be on the safe side, I would say, never drink tap water in Mexico. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up where you find available potable water sources. Most of the hotels have those.
Is it safe to drive in Mexico?
The short answer is: depending on where you are. Although in general if you stick to the main roads and don’t drive at night you should probably be safe. In lesser tourist areas you should probably check the local news to stay up to date. Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula is easy everywhere, even at night, although I would still avoid it. I usually use Discover Cars because the site offers the options to compare prices among different car rentals and you can add their own full coverage.
Read more on my guide on Renting a car in Mexico.
Will my phone work in Mexico?
It will probably work, especially if you have a European or US phone, but your roaming rates may be to the stars (check with your SIM provider). Even if have an affordable international rate, you will be much better off by buying a Mexican SIM Card. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and it will keep you connected with your friends, family, and, more important, google Maps so you will never get lost!
Is it safe to travel to Mexico right now?
The short answer is, yes it is. However, there are parts of Mexico that are indeed troubled and you should avoid for now, and others that are super safe and easy to travel around. Regardless of where you are you should always use some common sense rules such as, never flaunt expensive clothing, accessories, electronics, or money and keep a low profile. Read more on my detailed guide on safety in Mexico. If you are traveling to a specific destination I have got you covered as well:
Do I need any vaccine to travel to Mexico?
No, there is no vaccine requirement (of any kind) to travel to Mexico
Do I need a visa to travel to Mexico?
If you are coming from the US or Europe you don’t need a VISA to enter Mexico. Once you get in you need to fill out a form which you need to keep with you until you leave. If you don’t have it you will pay a fine. Although the tourist visa for US and European travelers used to be 6 months long which you could easily renew by leaving the country for a couple of days and going back, nowadays they have been stricter. You may be asked how you would sustain your living and other similar questions. Sometimes they even ask you to show your credit cards. It seems odd but they can do that. If you intend to stay longer than a usual couple of weeks’ vacation time, just be honest and explain your plans. If you are not from the US, check this site to see if you need a visa