Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Best weekend getaways from Mexico City by bus: Part 1

One of the things I love most about living in Mexico City is its connectivity by bus. In five hours or less, it’s possible to access a vastly different landscape, culture, cuisine, and temperature – all you need to do is look at the bus schedule.

That sounds pretty easy, right? It’s not. 

Because there isn’t a central internet hub that aggregates the bus schedule in its entirety, it’s often more effective to look directly at the site of the bus line you plan to take. 

But, what if you don’t know which bus line to take?

Not to fret, because I’ve done my utmost to compile a list of 10 destinations that can be reached by bus in 5 hours or less from CDMX, and the most comfortable bus lines to take you there. 

The bus lines

There are dozens of bus lines that depart from any of Mexico City’s four main terminals. The most luxe of them, ranked as such due to seating arrangements, access to onboard entertainment, and amenities like air conditioning, bathrooms, and snacks, are the following:

  • ADO, the largest of Mexico’s bus lines, offers five classes of service, including OCC which is included on this list. The ADO hub is at the TAPO terminal, though you can take it from Norte and Sur as well. More on that to come.
  • ETN is considered quite luxurious, and many riders have compared it to first-class flying. Unless you’re referring to first class on Spirit Airlines this might be a bit of a stretch, but the reclined seats and personal movie screens make it worth the higher price per ticket. Turistar is also part of ETN, which offers the same level of service but different destinations.
  • Estrella Blanca owns both Futura and Chihuahuenses. While not quite as fancy as ETN, both have comfortable buses with reclining seats, air conditioning, and onboard bathrooms. 
  • CostaLine is comparable to Estrella Blanca with the same amenities.
  • Primera Plus, while claiming to be the “gold standard” of Mexican bus travel, locks in at a solid bronze. Expect the basic amenities like reclining seats, bathrooms and arrival at your intended destination.
  • E-Bus is the anomaly of this list as it only runs between CDMX and Paseo Destino, Puebla’s fancy bus terminal that serves as an alternative to CAPU. The line is a step below ETN and departs from the following locations in Mexico City: 
    • El Ángel;
    • Miyana-Polanco; 
    • Santa Fe; 
    • World Trade Center.

The terminals

The four main terminals in CDMX are oriented to the cardinal points:

  • TAPO (Oriente), the eastern bus station, located near Mexico City International Airport
  • Central del Norte, which boasts its own metro station, Autobuses del Norte on the yellow line 5.
  • Terminal Poniente (Observatorio), in the west
  • Central de Autobuses del Sur (Tasqueña), in Coyoacán

Tickets can be bought online or directly at kiosks in the bus terminal. Wifi is offered onboard, though in my extensive riding experience, that has never been the case (I keep trying). Don’t rely on it. 

The destinations

Now, let’s move on to where to go! Here is a list of the first 4 of 10 destinations that can be reached within 5 hours of CDMX.

Puebla 

Best for: Foodies

Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios, San Pedro Cholula, Puebla. (Unsplash)

The highlights: Puebla Cathedral, Parisian, Calle de los Sapos, Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Museo Amparo, Cholula

What to eat: mole poblano, cemitas, sopas

Why you should go: Even though Puebla is the fifth largest city in Mexico, it doesn’t feel that way when you’re coming from CDMX. Its historic downtown is colorful and walkable, peppered with cocktail bars, museums, sophisticated restaurants, and lots of ornate churches. It’s a great place to spend a weekend.

How to get to Puebla from Mexico City:

From TAPO: The ADO line runs up to 20 departures per day. The journey lasts 2 – 2.5 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 188 pesos.

From NORTE: The ADO line runs up to 18 departures per day. The journey lasts 2 – 2.5 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 268 pesos.

From SUR: The ADO line runs up to 9 departures per day. The journey lasts 2 – 2.5 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 218 pesos.

From El Angel; Miyana-Polanco; Santa Fe; World Trade Center: The E-bus line runs up to 21 departures per day. The journey lasts 2.5 – 3 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 210 pesos.

Cuernavaca 

Best for: Weather

Morelos, Cuernavaca, Mor., México. (Unsplash)

The highlights: Palacio de Cortés, Jardín Borda, Museo Robert Brady, Cathedral of Cuernavaca, La Casona Spencer

What to eat: Chiles rellenos de flor de calabaza, tacos de cecina

Why you should go: Cuernavaca has a pretty and compact city center with cafes, churches, and lovely gardens. It’s surrounded by lush countryside where you can find sprawling villas with pools for lounging. The city of “eternal spring” is a great escape from the chilly winter temperatures of Mexico City.

How to get to Cuernavaca from Mexico City:

From NORTE: The ETN and TuriStar lines run up to 7 departures per day. The journey lasts 2 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 150 pesos.

From SUR: The Futura line runs up to 21 departures per day. The journey lasts 1.5 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 95 pesos.

The ETN, TuriStar, and CostaLine lines run up to 30 departures per day. The journey lasts 1.5 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 190 pesos.

From PONIENTE: The ETN line runs up to 5 departures per day. The journey lasts 2 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 189 pesos.

Querétaro 

Best for: Wine 

Querétaro, México. (Unsplash)

The highlights: Querétaro Cathedral, Cerro de las Campanas, Museo Fundación Santiago Carbonell, Casa de la Marquesa, El Cerrito archaeological zone

What to eat: mole Queretano, enchiladas Queretanas, vegan tacos

Why you should go: Because the city is dripping with flowers. History buffs will appreciate both the museums and the colonial architecture. It’s also conveniently situated adjacent to a wide array of wineries, Freixenet being the most popular. 

How to get to Querétaro from Mexico City:

From NORTE: The Chihuahuenses Select line runs up to 15 departures per day. The journey lasts 3 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 380 pesos.

The Elite Select line runs up to 8 departures per day. The journey lasts 3 hours. The cost per ticket starts at

The ETN and TuriStar lines run up to 18 departures per day. The journey lasts 3 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 477 pesos.

From SUR: The Futura line runs up to 23 departures per day. The journey lasts 3 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 359 pesos.

The ETN line runs up to 5 departures per day. The journey lasts 3.5 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 440 pesos.

Taxco 

Best for: Jewelry (notably silver)

The highlights: Church of Santa Prisca, Museo Casa de las Lagrimas, pre-Columbian mines at Posada de la Misión, a ride in a punch-buggy taxi, the Taxco tianguis

Taxco, Mexico. (Unsplash)

What to eat: pozole, mole rosa, iguana meat

Why you should go: Taxco looks like Italy but feels like Mexico. It’s a wildly beautiful town of white-washed buildings with red roofs perched on undulating hills. Its central market is so sprawling you could easily spend a full afternoon without seeing it all. The museums are fun and quirky and so, it seems to me, are the people.

How to get to Taxco from Mexico City:

From SUR

The Estrella de Oro line runs up to 2 departures per day. The journey lasts 3 hours. The cost per ticket starts at 318 pesos. 

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will cover the remaining 6 destinations!

Bethany Platanella is a travel planner and lifestyle writer based in Mexico City. She lives for the dopamine hit that comes directly after booking a plane ticket, exploring local markets, practicing yoga and munching on fresh tortillas. Sign up to receive her Sunday Love Letters to your inbox, peruse her blog, or follow her on Instagram.

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