Teotihuacan by Wheelchair: The Accessible Guide
The pre-hispanic city of Teotihuacan is a popular day trip from Mexico City. Although not fully accessible, Teotihuacan offers modified access in some areas for wheelchair users. This post will cover everything you need to know about visiting Teotihuacan with a wheelchair.
Teotihuacan: Historical Overview
Before we discuss how wheelchair accessible Teotihuacan is, let’s touch on its history.
Identifying the creators of the stunning Teotihuacan pyramids are up for debate among scholars, but one thing is certain- the Aztec encountered the abandoned pyramids and made them their home.
Teotihuacan comes from the Aztec language, meaning the “Place of Gods.” As such, the pyramids were a site of religious sacrifice…and storing. Archeologists have found a variety of decapitated animal and human bodies inside the ruins.
At its peak, Teotihuacan expanded over an area of eight miles. This area included the religious pyramids (the Sun and Moon pyramids being the primary religious sites) as well as housing which sprawled away from the religious area. When you visit, you’ll only cover a small section of the former civilization.
The collapse of the Teotihuacan civilization is as much of a mystery as who built it. As of 1987, Teotihuacan was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now a common place for day-trippers to visit from Mexico City.
How to get to Teotihuacan by wheelchair
Teotihuacan is located about 50 kilometers northeast of Mexico City. You’ve got a few options to get there, depending on your abilities and comfort level of traveling independently.
Psst: Visiting Mexico City? Check out our post on 16 Wheelchair Accessible Things to do in Mexico City.
Large, comfy public buses serve Teotihuacan from the Terminal Central del Norte station. While the bus station itself is wheelchair accessible, including accessible restrooms, the buses require going up about three stairs.
Furthermore, upon your arrival to Teotihuacan by bus, you’ll be dropped off in an area that only has an accessible viewing platform. Therefore, driving or hiring private transportation is the best option for most wheelchair users.
Unexpectedly, wheelchair accessible vehicles are few and far between in Mexico. However, the taxi app Cabify offers a number of wheelchair accessible vans, through a program called “Cabify Access”, in and around Mexico City.
Before you get too excited, keep in mind the following:
- This is a Spanish only app, so you’ll need someone to help you if your high school Spanish skills aren’t up to par.
- Because vans are limited, you should make a reservation as soon as you know the date you’ll be needing the transfer.
If you hire a driver, we recommend having them wait for you while you visit Teotihuacan. We’ll get into how long you’ll likely spend there shortly.
If you travel to Teotihuacan by car rental or another mode of private transportation, there are two wheelchair accessible parking spaces.
The parking spaces straddle the entrance to the ruins. So, by parking there you’ll be a stone’s throw away from starting your sightseeing.
Travel Tip: Avoid visiting Teotihuacan on Sundays. This is the day that Mexican residents can enter the ruins for free, so it’s typically extra crowded.
Wheelchair Accessible Entrance at Teotihuacan
Gate 5 is the only gate at Teotihuacan with accessible parking. This gate is ideally located behind the pyramid of the sun and near a museum and an accessible restroom.
If you stay for the light show, which we’ll talk about soon, a nice entrance option is to enter at Gate 2. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to create your own accessible parking space in the unmarked dirt parking lot.
Hours of operation
Teotihuacan is open 365 days of the year, from 9:00am – 5:00pm.
The price as of October 2019 is 75 pesos/person, which is under $4 USD.
Wheelchair Accessible Things to do at Teotihuacan
You’ve made it to Teotihuacan! Now you must be wondering what you can do there as a wheelchair user.
Teotihuacan is located on a flat, expansive main road called Avenue of the Dead. The path leading from the entrance of Gate 5 will take you to this road.
From Avenue of the Dead, you’ll be able to roll up to the start of the steps to the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and a variety of other smaller pyramids and ruins.
Terrain at Teotihuacan
The downside to Teotihuacan is that although the Avenue of the Dead is accessible, it’s not ideal terrain for wheelchair users.
The surface of Avenue of the Dead and the paths jutting from it are a combination of dirt, shallow gravel, and extremely old pavement. In many cases, any given area is a mixture of two or more of these materials. However, above all else, the shallow gravel is predominant.
For this reason, if you’re traveling with both a manual and power chair and are debating about which to use for Teotihuacan, we recommend taking your power chair.
Nonetheless, if you have a manual wheelchair, we don’t want to discourage you- Teotihuacan is beautiful and very much worth the visit!
While you’ll come across some bumps along the way, particularly between various materials in the path, you don’t have to worry about encountering large dips or potholes.
Visiting the pyramids
None of the pyramids at Teotihuacan are wheelchair accessible.
If you’re traveling with able-bodied people and they want to climb to the top of the pyramids, you can expect it to take them around 30 minutes round trip for the Pyramid of the Sun and around 20 minutes round trip for the Pyramid of the Moon.
How long to spend at Teotihuacan
Getting to Teotihuacan from Mexico City will take you around an hour on the weekends and over an hour on weekdays, due to traffic.
Once at Teotihuacan, you’ll likely find yourself spending around 45 – 60 minutes at the ruins. That being said, if you’ll be traveling with able-bodied people who want to climb the pyramids, you could easily spend 2 – 3 hours in the area.
How to prepare for Teotihuacan
There is no shade at Teotihuacan.
It can get sweltering hot, especially during the summer. Keep in mind that Teotihuacan oftentimes has different weather from Mexico City. Therefore, make sure to check the weather before traveling.
Teotihuacan also receives lots of rain during the rainy season. There’s no shelter to escape the rain once you’re inside the ruins, so plan accordingly.
Below is a list of items we recommend you pack for your trip to Teotihuacan:
- Water- lots of it!
- Umbrella (if the forecast calls for rain, otherwise it’s great to block the sun)
- Snacks (food can be purchased outside the ruins, but it has a high markup)
Fun Fact: Grasshoppers were everywhere along the grass-lined paths the day we visited Teotihuacan. Don’t be surprised if you accidentally roll over a handful! Perhaps unsurprisingly, grasshoppers were part of the local diet years ago and you can still find them on some restaurant menus around Teotihuacan.
Light show at Teotihuacan
Aside from rolling around the ruins, another fun activity to do at Teotihuacan is visit at night for the light show.
Much more than just a light show, the history of Teotihuacan is depicted through the show, using the Pyramid of the Sun as a screen.
If you decide to visit the light show, we recommend parking at Gate 5 first if you want to explore the ruins. Then, you can drive to Gate 2 where a (somewhat crumbling) cement ramp will lead you to an elevated viewing area with direct views of the Pyramid of the Sun.
Just keep in mind that Gate 2 requires going down some steep stairs in order to get to the ruins, so this is only a good gate if you plan on watching the light show or want a panoramic view of Teotihuacan without rolling through the ruins.
We hope this guide helps you with your Teotihuacan trip planning. Beautiful, relatively wheelchair accessible, and an easy day trip from Mexico City makes this a perfect stop to add to your Mexico holiday.
P.S.- If you’re looking to take another day trip from Mexico City, make sure to check out our post on Xochimilco for Wheelchair Users: A Complete Guide.
P.P.S.- Don’t miss our guide on Wheelchair Accessibility at Chichén Itzá if you’re planning on visiting this New Seven Wonders of the World while in Mexico.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.