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Complete Guide to Las Grutas de Tolantongo, Mexico Hot Springs

Have you seen the stunningly beautiful photos of Grutas de Tolantongo Mexico on social media? Have you wondered if these Mexican hot springs are really that beautiful? We wondered the same thing, so we went to check it out for ourselves. Does Tolantongo live up to the hype? Yes, it does! In fact, it exceeded our expectations.

We fell in love with Mexico 12 years ago and have been exploring this diverse country for 3-6 months at a time ever since. Each time we visit we make a point of seeing at least two places that are new to us. On our most recent trip to Mexico, Grutas de Tolantongo Hidalgo was one of those places.


Grutas de Tolantongo is one of those places in Mexico that you might not know about as it isn’t high on the international tourist radar. At least not yet. However, the people of Mexico know about it and it’s a favorite spot for Mexican Nationals as a weekend getaway from Mexico City.

Tolantongo is in Hidalgo, in the mountains of central Mexico. It’s a system of hot springs and a river that flow through a canyon scattered with caves and waterfalls. Basically, it’s a paradise for anyone who loves relaxing in a beautiful natural setting.

Imagine a place where you can laze in idyllic blue hot spring pools, explore natural caves, stand under gorgeous waterfalls and swim in a warm river that looks surreal. That’s what you get here.

Tucked away in the Mezquital Valley, Tolantongo is the perfect mix of adventure and tranquility.

Grutas Tolantongo is not the easiest place to get to but it’s well worth the effort. Plus, its remoteness helps to keep it from being completely overrun.

The closest airport is Queretaro, just over 3 hour’s drive time to Grutas de Tolantongo. However, most people will go from Mexico City as a long day trip or 2–3-day getaway. It takes about 4 hours to drive from Mexico City to Tolantongo.

Grutas de Tolantongo Incredible views of the canyon
Grutas de Tolantongo is so worth the effort it takes to get there

By Car: The 4-hour drive to Grutas de Tolantongo from Mexico City is straightforward using the toll roads. The roads are in good condition, and the route is scenic, especially as you get closer to the park. Just be ready for the last 20 minutes which has some gnarly switchbacks that slow you down. Follow the signs to Ixmiquilpan and from there to Grutas de Tolantongo. Have cash on hand for the tolls which will be about $300 MXN each way.

By Bus: If you’re on a tight budget you can take public transit to Grutas de Tolantongo, although it’s a bit convoluted and can take well over 6 hours. First, catch a bus to Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo from the North Bus Terminal in Mexico City. Ovnibus, Frontera and Estrella all run daily and take about 2.5 hours and cost an average of $350 MXN.

Once in Ixmiquilpan, you’ll need to get to Mercado Morelos (a 15-minute walk) where you can take a collective (shared van) to Grutas de Tolantongo for about $50 MXN. Another option is to take a taxi from Ixmiquilpan which should be $700-800 pesos.

By Tour: If you’re not comfortable renting a car and driving to Grutas de Tolantongo and don’t want the hassle of public transit there are some great tours from Mexico City. Here are some that we recommend:

By Car: If you are visiting San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato an excursion to Las Grutas de Tolantongo is a great addition. We rented a car in Guanajuato and drove about 5 hours on the toll roads. The route is pretty, with lots of countryside and small towns along the way.

You’ll be heading towards Querétaro, then to San Juan del Río, and from there towards Ixmiquilpan. Once at Ixmiquilpan, follow the signs to the Grutas de Tolantongo. Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace and make stops whenever you like.

Tips for the Drive to Tolantongo

If you’re driving, make sure to have cash for tolls as they don’t accept credit cards.

There are about 15 switchbacks on the final stretch of road into the park so take it slow.

Plan your drive during daylight hours as you will be passing through some small towns with topes (speed bumps that can be hard to see).

No matter how you get there, the trip is part of the adventure. Each route offers its own unique sights and experiences, making the journey to Grutas de Tolantongo an exciting start to your adventure.

Standing under a waterfall
Taking it all in

We drove to Tolantongo ourselves, but if you’d rather not drive then a tour is a great option. It saves you the stress of driving if you’re not used to Mexican roads, it’s cheaper if you’re traveling solo, and you don’t have to worry about getting a hotel room on arrival.

We’ve done some research, checked reviews and talked to people who have taken tours and these are the top recommendations for Grutas de Tolantongo tours:

If don’t want to stay overnight, Viator offers a long day tour (14-16 hours) that gives you seven full hours to explore Grutas de Tolantongo.

But our recommended option is the 1 night/2 day tour to Tolantongo because it allows you time to relax and enjoy everything this magical place has to offer which is hard to do in 1 day.

The drive there and back is broken up with stops for breakfast and evening snacks which are included. Along with entrance to the park, this tour includes air-conditioned transportation, backpacks with a water bottle, sport towel, headlamp, cell phone water protector, toilet paper, wet wipes and a wet clothes bag. They also provide sunscreen, tables and chairs for lunch, cooler for lunch, soap, shampoo, bath towel and a blanket during the drive. Note that lunch is not included but restaurant prices are very reasonable.

Deciding when to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo is key to making the most of your trip. Based on our research and personal experience here’s what you need to know:

Weather in Grutas Tolantongo

The weather at Grutas de Tolantongo is pleasant most of the year with spring-like temperatures. However, the rainy season is from June to September, so you probably want to avoid the summer months. Evenings can be chilly October to January and March to May are the warmest and driest months. We went in early March, and the weather was ideal.

The natural beauty of Grutas de Tolantongo doesn’t change much throughout the year, but the experience can be slightly different depending on the season. Rainy season can lead to cooler waters in the river and springs but it also makes the lush landscape even greener. However, heavy rains can sometimes limit access to certain areas for safety reasons.

Busiest Times in Tolantongo

Grutas de Tolantongos river
We went to Grutas Tolantongo mid-week in early March and it was not very crowded

Grutas de Tolantongo can get busy, especially on weekends and public holidays. If you prefer a less crowded experience, plan your visit during the week. We visited in early March, from Wednesday to Friday, and while it was moderately busy, it wasn’t overwhelming. If you’re planning to stay overnight, then weekdays are best for getting a hotel room as weekends book up very early in the day.

In addition to avoiding weekends and public holidays, if possible, we would recommend avoiding mid-December to mid-January as well as the week of Semana Santa (Easter). The Christmas and Easter seasons are peak travel times for Mexican nationals and their families. We feel it’s better for everyone if international tourists stay clear of the popular local vacation spots during those times.

In summary, although this is a year-round destination, early March through May is a great time to visit for good weather and manageable crowd sizes. Visiting during the week can further enhance your experience by avoiding the biggest crowds. But no matter when you go, Grutas de Tolantongo is worth the trip.

Grutas de Tolantongo Hotel Paraiso
The new Tolantongo Hotel Paraiso where we stayed

Although a day trip to Grutas de Tolantongo from Mexico City is doable, we highly recommend staying overnight. We stayed two nights and found it to be a perfect amount of time to relax and really explore all the beauty of the expansive Tolantongo Resort

At the time of our visit, there were five Tolantongo hotels within the park, however two of them are only open for weekends and holidays. The unique twist to be aware of is that you can’t book any of the Tolantongo hotels in advance unless you go through a tour company.

This means that the first thing you should do on arrival is get a hotel room as they are first-come first-served. From our research, rarely will you not get a room during the week as long as you arrive by the afternoon. However, on the weekends or holidays you will need to arrive in the morning as early as possible. This is another reason to avoid visiting at those times.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the cheaper rooms will always be booked up first so if you arrive later in the day you will have to go with the more expensive options. Speaking of cost, due to the limited options, hotel rooms are a bit pricey for what you get. Rooms are basic but clean and comfortable and most of them don’t have WiFi, TV or AC.

Tolantongo hotel rooms range in price from $1,000-1500 MXN for 2 people (1 bed) and $1300-2500 MXN for a room that sleeps up to 4 people (2 beds).

Basic hotel room descriptions and prices can be found at the official Grutas Tolantongo website.

Pro Tip: As you will see on the main website, the resort and the hotels are divided into sections: La Gruta, Paraiso, El Rancho and La Huerta. It’s a good idea to decide which section is your preference before arrival because the Paraiso section has a different entrance. You will need to drive or take the shuttle between the Paraiso section and the other areas.

Here’s the lowdown on what to expect for on-site Tolantongo hotels:

Paraiso Section

This section is where you will find the iconic hot springs pools you’ve seen in every social media photo. There are two hotels in this section.

Paraiso Escondido (open every day)

Pathways between Paraiso Escondido cabanas
Pathways between Paraiso Escondido cabanas

This is the largest on-site hotel and is closest to the photogenic pools. It offers a wide variety of room types that can sleep from 1 to 6 people. The cabanas are especially popular and are a great choice for families or friends who don’t mind sharing a room (it is one large room, with no separate bedrooms). The rooms with balconies are more expensive but worth it for the views. This hotel sells out first.

Paraiso (open every day)

This is the newest hotel near to the pools. It is more expensive than the Paraiso Escondido so you will likely be staying here if you arrive later in the day. This Tolantongo hotel offers WiFi, TVs and air conditioning. Again, opt for a balcony room for a little extra.

La Gruta Section Hotel (open every day)

This section is where you will find the river and caves. Grutas Tolantongo hotel rooms are spread out among several buildings and offer basic accommodation for 1-4 people. This is where you will find the least expensive rooms on a weekday.

El Rancho Section Hotel (open every day)

The hotel here is also newer and therefore a little higher priced. The location is not as popular as it’s between the pools and the river. However, that fact makes it a bit less busy, and it does have a small set of pools on their own. Rooms here sleep 1 to 6 people.

La Huerta Section Hotel (only open weekends)

This hotel is on the river. It offers a large variety of rooms at a lower price point but it’s only open on weekends, holidays and high local vacation times like Christmas and Easter weeks).

Grutas de Tolantongo Camping along the river
Camping along the river

For the more adventurous and/or budget minded, camping is another option. The park has designated areas where you can set up your tent near the river. It’s a budget-friendly choice and lets you experience the natural beauty of Tolantongo up close.

If you don’t have your own camping gear everything you need can be rented on site. You can even rent chairs, tables and BBQ grills.

Accommodation Close to Las Grutas de Tolantongo

If the on-site hotels are full or you prefer something a bit different, there are several hotels and guesthouses a short drive away from the park. Staying outside the park means you’ll have to travel a bit to get to the hot springs and other attractions each day, but it also gives you the chance to explore the local area more.

Pro Tips for Staying at Grutas de Tolantongo: If your schedule allows opt to visit during the week and avoid national holidays. Not only are you more likely to find accommodation inside the park, but you’ll also avoid the biggest crowds. If you must visit on a weekend or are set on having everything booked before you arrive, look into tour companies that offer packages including accommodation. This can take some of the uncertainty out of the process and ensure you have a place to stay.

Despite all the gorgeous photos on social media we kept our expectations at bay as we’ve been disappointed in the past with highly doctored images online. However, we were completely blown away by the beauty of Tolantongo. In fact, although the pools are gorgeous in real life, they weren’t even our favorite thing about the hot springs resort.

Grutas de Tolantongo is not just a destination; it’s an experience packed with natural wonders that cater to all types of travelers. Whether you’re here to relax in the thermal waters, explore the mesmerizing caves, or soak in the beauty of the river, there’s something magical about this place.

Here’s our take on the main attractions and some personal tips to make the most of your visit.

Grutas de Tolantongo hot springs pools at sunrise
Grutas de Tolantongo hot springs pools at sunrise

The hot springs pools are the star attraction, with their warm, blue waters offering a natural spa experience. Floating in these pools, with the canyon walls towering above you, is surreal. The best time to hit the pools is early in the morning when the mist rises off the water, and there are very few people. The sign says the pools open at 8 am but in typical Mexico fashion they seemed to open at random times when we were there. One morning, we went down at 7 am to find the gates already open.

Pro Tip for Getting Great Photos: If you want to get that Instagram shot you’ve been seeing of the pools you’ll need to get there early. We went down at sunrise, and it was a peaceful and magical experience having the pools almost all to ourselves. Keep in mind that you’re in a valley so the sun must rise above the canyon walls. In other words, much to my pleasure, sunrise at Tolantongo is not as early as you may think. Even before the gates open to the main pools you can get photos of them empty from some points.

Having fun in the Tolantongo Cave
Having fun in the Tolantongo Cave

The caves were an unexpected highlight for us. You walk under the cool falling water, through the narrow entrance, and you’re greeted by steamy air and the sound of rushing water. Inside, the cave opens up to a warm river that flows through, lit by holes in the ceiling. It’s an otherworldly place where you can swim or just wade in the warm waters.

Pro Tip for Hidden Cave: Once inside, go to the right of the entrance and you’ll find a corridor with rushing water. Grab the ropes on the side rock walls and pull your way through to small, secret cave.

Tolantongo Tunel entrance
Tolantongo Tunel entrance

The tunnel is up some stairs to the left of the cave. You will join the line of people entering the tunnel through a small waterfall. Inside it is hot, humid and dark so having a headlamp or flashlight is very useful. The tunnel is essentially a narrow cave with knee-deep water and you just walk through to the end and then return the same way but on the other side. There are ropes along the way to help guide you.

Pro Tip: When visiting the caves and tunnel you will want to be completely waterproof so wear your swimsuit and only carry items that can get wet. There are lockers for rent nearby where you can place your things safely for the day.

Beautiful river
Grutas de Tolantongo Beautiful river

The surreal blue river that winds through the park is tiered with rock damns creating thermal pools where you can relax and enjoy the view. If you choose to camp rather than stay in a hotel you can set up your tent along the river edge and be lulled to sleep by the running water. Then in the morning take a warm dip. We loved the river with its incredible blue, warm waters and spent at least a couple of hours here.

Zip-lining: For a dose of adventure, the zip-lining experience within the park provides an exhilarating way to see the canyon from above. It’s a fun break from the water activities and gives you a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking landscape. There is an additional cost for the zipline.

Hiking: There are trails around the park that offer the chance to explore the surrounding nature on foot. Hiking in the area gives you a different perspective of Tolantongo’s beauty and allows you to discover secluded spots away from the main attractions.

Crossing the suspension Bridge
Crossing the suspension Bridge

You won’t need to worry about bringing food or going hungry at Tolantongo Resort. There are several restaurants, snack bars and convenience stores on site throughout the park. The food is decent and reasonably priced considering it’s a remote resort but don’t expect gourmet dining.

You will find mainly local Mexican food like tacos, fajitas, quesadillas etc but there are also some snack bars with Western food like burgers and fries.

Natural and secluded hot springs pools at La Gloria
Natural and secluded hot springs pools at La Gloria

If you’re looking for something a bit quieter and more immersed in nature, head over the bridge to La Gloria Tolantongo. It’s an additional cost, but the tranquility and natural beauty are worth it. We spent hours just lounging in the less crowded pools, surrounded by lush vegetation and the sounds of nature.

You can access La Gloria from Grutas but there is an additional fee of 150 pesos. There are hot springs pools here as well, but they are much more natural and therefore not as Instagram worthy.

Enjoying the secluded hot springs pools at La Gloria
Enjoying the secluded hot springs pools at La Gloria

We really loved the fact that La Gloria has been left in a more rustic and natural state (at least for now). There aren’t as many pools here, but they are much more private as they are hidden away in the trees and you don’t see them until you’re right on top of them.

La Gloria also has other natural beauties with fun names like “Horsetail Waterfall”, “The Heart of Glory” and “Bachelor’s Bath and Mini Grotto”.

If you want to escape potential crowds and find somewhere more tranquil then La Gloria is the place. There is also a simple hotel and a restaurant at La Gloria if you want to stay overnight.

Four of us rented a car, drove from Gunajauto and spent two nights at Grutas de Tolantongo resort. In total, we spent about $4750 MXN per person for 2 nights and 3 days. It wasn’t a super cheap getaway, but it was so worth it. Of course, there are ways to do it cheaper (don’t stay overnight, just stay 1 night, camp, take a day tour etc)

The following is a breakdown of our costs:

Car rental for 4 days plus gas (to and from Guanajuato): $5000 MXN (split between 4)

Tolls and from Guanajuato (Mexico City will be similar cost): $600 MXN ($300 each way split between 4)

Park Admission: $600 MXN per person (entrance fee is $200 MXN from 7 am to 8 pm so if you stay overnight you have to pay for two days)

Parking: $90 MXN for 3 days (we split 4 ways)

Accommodation: $3100 MXN for 2 nights/2 people (We stayed at the new Paraiso and opted for a balcony)

Food: $1000 MXN per person (Including drinks and 2 meals per day)

You won’t need much as you’ll be spending most of your time in the water but there are some necessities and “nice to have” items aside from a swimsuit, towel and sunglasses.

  • Cash is an absolute necessity since it is the only way to pay for anything. There are no cards accepted and no ATMs at Grutas de Tolantongo.
  • Water shoes are a necessity in my opinion. Some areas are paved but there are also lots of areas left natural or covered with small stones. Plus, some spots get slippery.
  • Waterproof case for your smartphone so you can take lots of those Instagram photos in the gorgeous pools and river.
  • Biodegradable sunscreen and hat to protect you from the sun. There is not much in the way of umbrellas set up for shade so it’s mainly just from the trees.
  • Backpack or beach bag to carry your towels, cash, sunscreen etc. There are lockers on site but some things you may want to keep with you.
  • A GoPro or other waterproof camera will definitely come in handy.
  • A dry bag will also be an asset to keep your phone, wallet etc from getting wet.
Selfie in the pool
Selfie time
  • Closest Airport to Grutas Tolantongo: Queretero is the closest airport at about 162 km away. Most people come from Mexico City which is about 200 km away.
  • Best Way to Visit Tolantongo: Driving is our preferred way to go to Grutas Tolantongo. However, many people like to take a day tour or overnight tour.
  • Bring Plenty of Cash: There are no ATMs in Tolantongo and no cards are accepted for payment. Everything here must be paid in cash.
  • Tolantongo Ticket Prices: Entrance tickets are $200 MXN pesos per day and can only be bought at the entrance with cash. They are good from 7 am to 8 pm. If you plan to stay overnight you will need to buy 2 days entrance.
  • Tolantongo Hotels: There are several hotels on site and they can only be booked in person so try to arrive as early as possible, especially on weekends. Prices range from $1000-2500 MXN pesos per night. You can also choose to camp at Tolantongo and can rent everything you need.
Grutas de Tolantongo
Grutas de Tolantongo Resort is very well-maintained
  • Is Tolantongo Hot Springs Clean? Another thing that exceeded our expectations was how well-maintained the site was. The grounds and facilities were impeccably clean and there were staff everywhere tending to the beautiful landscaping, pathways and amenities. We saw the pools emptied in the evening to be cleaned as well as the restaurants being completely scrubbed down every night. It was impressive.
  • Is the Park Accessible?: Sadly, no. The park is large and spread out and you will be doing a fair bit of walking and climbing up and down stairs.
  • Early Morning Bliss: For both the hot springs and the caves, getting there early not only beats the crowds but also lets you see these places in a different light – quite literally, with the morning sun casting a magical glow.
Watching the sun rise above the mountain from the hot springs pools
Watching the sun rise above the mountain from the hot springs pools
  • Best Times to Visit Grutas Tolantongo: The park can get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. For a more tranquil experience, aim to visit on a weekday and avoid national holidays, especially over Christmas and Semana Santa (Easter).
  • How Hot are the Tolantongo Hot Springs?: The water temperature in the pools and the river ranges between 34C to 38C.
  • Getting Around Grutas de Tolantongo: The site is spread out with the pools at the top and the river and caves lower down. It’s too far to walk between the two areas so they have a shuttle running back and forth all day. If you come with your own car you can also drive between the two places.

Grutas de Tolantongo is a place of natural wonder, offering a unique blend of relaxation and adventure. Each attraction, from the iconic hot springs to the secluded pools of La Gloria, contributes to the unforgettable experience. Our visit was filled with moments of wonder and appreciation and we hope these tips help you find your own moments of magic at Tolantongo hot springs.

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