Cuernavaca is often overlooked by international tourists but is a popular destination among Mexicans especially the ones living in Mexico City. Cuernavaca offers the perfect blend of city attractions and natural wonders. Since the earthquake in 2017, many places are still being renovated but there is still a lot of things to do in Cuernavaca. The city is also a good base camp to explore Morelos, a couple of Pueblos Magicos and the surrounding nature.
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Things to do in Cuernavaca
Morelense Folk Art Museum
This museum is dedicated to preserving and showcasing the different types of artifacts representative of the culture and traditions of Morelos State. It’s a good place to learn more about the local way of life and the different tribes living in the area.
The Morelense Folk Art Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. The entrance is free.
Robert Brady Museum
Robert Brady was an American artist and collector, he bought this house, part of an old convent, and restored it. His house is now open to visitors and showcases more than 1,300 art pieces, some by Frida Kahlo, Diego Riviera, or Milton Avery, among others. The house in itself is also worth a look, it has been left as it was since Brady’s death in 1986.
The Robert Brady Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. The entrance fee is 50 pesos. You can check out the official website (in Spanish) for more info.
Indigenous Contemporary Art Museum
This museum is only a couple of years old and is part of the State University. This private collection showcases handicrafts and art pieces from over 12 ethnicities from all over Mexico.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM. The entrance fee is 10 pesos
Palace of Hernan Cortez
Severely hit by the 2017 earthquake, the Hernan Cartez Palace is still being renovated. A small portion has been completed and can now be visited but not all the time. You’ll have to check when you get there.
The palace was built in 1526 after the Aztec Palace that stood there was destroyed. The part you can see today is just a small part of the original building, meant to serve as a fortress to protect the city. It was turned into a museum in the 70s exhibiting local artifacts and explaining the region’s history. Inside, if you can enter, you’ll find a mural painted by Diego Riviera.
One of the best things to do in Cuernavaca, a visit to the Borda Garden is a must. This peaceful garden, surrounded by the city, is the perfect place to go for a stroll and relax for a while. Bring a book and some snacks and you’re ready to spend the afternoon there.
There’s also a museum, exhibits change regularly, and they often organize concerts and cultural events.
José de la Borda, a rich mine owner from Taxco, built this summer house and garden in the 18th century. At his death, it was turned into a hotel and botanical garden until 1865, when the Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Carlota Amalia decided to make it their summer house. The place is rich in history and there you’ll learn everything about the tragic history surrounding Maximilian and Carlota.
The Borda Garden is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. The entrance fee is 30 pesos.
Built as a church and monastery, with the purpose of evangelizing the indigenous tribes of the region, in the early 16th century, Cuernavaca Cathedral represents an important part of the city’s history. Surrounded by other religious buildings, it’s one of the rare main Cathedral in Mexico that’s not located on the main plaza.
Proyecto Siqueiros la Tallera
La Tallera used to be David Alfaro Siquieros’ workshop, it was recently turned into a contemporary art museum. There’s a permanent exhibit featuring Siquiero’s murals, and temporary exhibits and workshops. You can check out their website for a list of current exhibits.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 6 PM. The entrance fee is 30 pesos.
Things to do around Cuernavaca
Tepoztlan is a stunning Pueblo Magico, or magical town, not far from Cuernavaca, perched ontop high mountains. The view is breathtaking and the town charming. Tepoztlan is a famous weekend getaway destination for people living in Mexico City, so it can get pretty crowded.
The village is also known for its shamans and Temazcal (traditional herbal steam bath). At every corner, you’ll see shops offering to align your chakras and such. You can visit Tepoztlan as a day trip from Cuernavaca or Mexico City or you can spend a few days, relaxing and taking in the laid back atmosphere.
Here is what you can do in Tepoztlan:
- Stroll the local market for handicraft, local herbs and products, and food;
- There are two main typical dishes in Tepoztlan: Itacates, a type of triangular gordita (stuffed taco), and tlatequeadas, hashbrown-like made of different vegetables. Some people would also recommend trying chapulines (a type of grasshopper) in tacos.
- Visit the Ex-convent
- Visit the Museum Carlos Pellicer showcasing a few artifacts found in the region
- Climb up to the Tepozteco archaeological ruins, from there you can enjoy the view and visit the ruins of a small Aztec temple from the 13th century. The trail is less than a kilometer (0.6 miles) but it takes around an hour to reach up as it’s really steep. It also depends on your physical condition, the path is mostly staircases and not always well-maintained.
Archaeological Site of Xochicalco
Xochicalco, meaning The House of the Flowers in Nahua, is the ruin of an important prehispanic city founded in 650 AD. It has been well preserved and the site is pretty big, with several buildings and carvings still visible. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the best things to do in Cuernavaca.
The site might be hard to reach without a car, you can probably find a bus (check the Pullman de Morelos) or a colectivo to take you to the intersection but you’ll have to walk or hitchhike the last 4 kilometers (2.5 miles). The site is open every day from 9 AM to 6 PM. The museum closes at 5 PM. The entrance fee is 75 pesos.
Las Estacas Natural Park
This protected area is a great place if you like outdoor and camping. I’ll advise going with friends or family, as it can get lonely if you’re solo traveling. There you can go trekking, kayaking or swim in the crystal clear water. They also have a zipline. Check out their website for more information.
How to get to Cuernavaca
From Mexico City, there are frequent buses leaving from the Taxqueña bus station. Be careful, there are a lot of bus terminals in Cuernavaca so check where the bus you’re taking is leaving you.
From Taxco, there are buses leaving every hour from the main bus station. You’ll arrive near the city center, in Cuernavaca.
Where to stay in Cuernavaca
Cuernavaca is pretty big, so make sure to choose a hotel in the city center. Here are a few options:
- Hostal La China Poblana (budget) – Cheap and basic hotel offering dorms and family rooms, great location, restaurant.
- Hotel Casa Frida (mid-range) – Small, modern hotel, well decorated, with a nice terrace.
- Las Mañanitas (high-end) – Colonial-style hotel, large rooms with views over the garden, great restaurant, and even greater wine selection, breakfast included, outdoor pool.
Where to eat/have a drink in Cuernavaca
Around the main square, you can find a lot of street food, especially in the evenings. During the day, you can check out the Adolfo López Mateos market downtown. If you’re looking for typical food from Cuernavaca and Morelos try tacos Acorazado, zucchini-flower quesadillas (quesadilla de flor de calabaza), and Pipián de Pollo (chicken).
As for nightlife, if you want to try Mezcal check out Pachucho Rey Mezcalería, they have a nice patio and it’s a good place to chill. For beer, head to the BeerHouse, they also have an open-air area and often have live music.
Related articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico:
- Taxco Travel Guide – Discover one of Mexico’s most beautiful Pueblo Magico
- Mexico’s best destinations
- 4-day itinerary for Mexico City
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