Last Updated on November 3, 2021
The Tolantongo Caves and Hot Springs (Grutas de Tolantongo) are famous all over Mexico, you’ll often see pictures of its white natural pools on Instagram promoting this stunning destination. However, don’t trust these photos, I was there during low season, a weekday, and it was packed, I have no idea how influencers managed to get shots without anyone on it. Even with herds of kids running around, Tolantongo is still worth visiting, and it’s so big that you can manage to find a quiet spot.
Even packed it’s an incredible place, between the natural pools, the blue river, and the caves, there’s a lot to be amazed at. When I first heard about it, I thought they were caves, and well yes and no. It’s a place for water activities, a hot spring resort, you’ll need a swimsuit to enter the caves. Most people spend a few days there, you can camp or book a room in one of the hotels. The area is privately owned, it’s basically a huge resort, don’t expect something wild.
A day-trip from Pachuca is enough to enjoy it and discover all the areas, but if you’re a group of friends it can be nice to spend at least one night.
Travel tip: before any international trip, make sure you get good travel insurance.
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How to get to Tolantongo Caves
To get to Tolantongo Hot Springs without a car, take a bus to Ixmiquilpan, you’ll need to tell the driver to drop you off where you can get another bus to go to the collectivo terminal. It’s not on the map, so just ask around for direction. From there, there’s a bus going every two hours to the cave (every hour on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays), but don’t trust the schedule, because the bus won’t leave until almost full, the one after will only leave two hours after, so it offsets completely the schedule.
The first shuttle leaves at 9:30 AM and the last one at 6:30 PM. To come back from Tolantongo Caves, the first bus leaves at 7:30 AM and the last one at 5:30 PM.
If you have a car, you can also come from Mexico City, it’s a 3-hour drive, so even a day trip is an option. Otherwise, coming from Pachuca is the easiest, and there are tons of nice things to do near Pachuca.
What to expect
Once there, there are two areas, a bit far from each other, there’s a trail or you can take the resort shuttle. There are several locker rooms, changing rooms, and shower rooms. You’ll need to leave your things in a locker or inside the car. Once in the caves and in the pools area, you won’t be able to keep an eye on your stuff. There are also several cheap restaurants serving local dishes and drinks.
The thermal pools area
The pools are on one side, there are tons of them, if you go down, towards the river, you’ll find a couple with no one there. Towards the main zone, you can go through the tunnel going inside the rocks. This area is beautiful but it’s super crowded with kids running and screaming everywhere.
The caves area
The second area (where the bus drops you off), is where the caves are. There you’ll find a tall waterfall, underneath it is a huge pool, the first cave. The water from the fall is cold, but inside the cave, in its middle, there’s another fall, this one with hot water. The temperature is perfect, it’s warm, but not too warm, so you can spend your day in the water with no problems.
The second cave is on one side of the waterfall, it’s deep, dark and tiny, and really steamy. It’s like being in a sauna, if you have a waterproof flashlight, you can go deeper in and explore more of it.
The river area
In between the pools and the caves area, you’ll find the river, and there, it’s easy to find a quiet spot. The water temperature is just perfect and the color is spectacular, from far, it almost looks like blue paint.
Tolantongo Caves – Practical tips
What I advise so you don’t have to change lockers between the two areas and if you don’t want to be walking around in your swimsuit, is to wear water clothes. You won’t see many Mexican in a swimsuit, they all wear water clothes and this way you can take the shuttle, go to the restaurants… without having to go back to the locker all the time.
You can also get a waterproof case for your phone and put some cash in there. This way you don’t have to go back and forth to the locker and you’re set for the day. I also recommend getting water shoes, or at least flip flop. The lockers and changing rooms are not close to the caves or river, you’ll need to walk a bit, and some parts of the caves are rocky, so it’s good to have water shoes. You can buy them there or in Ixmiquilpan.
You cannot book a room or rent a tent in advance, you just have to show up and hope there’s availability. It should be fine as there’s a lot of hotels and space for camping.
Camping in Tolantongo Hot Springs
If you want to camp, choose your spot wisely, some designated areas are on gravel and in the middle of the way, some might get flooded during the rainy season (end of July to August). Winter nights can be pretty cold, so bring blankets. You cant rent everything at the park office or bring your own equipment. You’re allowed to bring your own food and set a bonfire.
If you bring your own tent you just have to pay the entrance fee. It’s a daily ticket, so you’ll need to buy two if you spend the night.
Tolantongo Caves – Fees and opening time
Tolontongo Hot Springs is open every day, year-round. The ticket office is open from 6 AM to 10 PM. You can access the caves until 5 PM and the river and thermal pools until 9 PM.
The shuttle from Ixquimilpa costs 50 pesos one way, the shuttle from the caves to the pools is 10 pesos. Parking is 20 pesos per day. The entrance fee is 150 pesos per day.
The cheapest hotel room is 650 pesos for two people. Camping is free if you bring your own tent.