Cuernavaca is located in South-Central Mexico, less than an hour south of Mexico City on the Autopista del Sol, or Highway of the Sun. The same highway also connects Cuernavaca to the beach resort of Acapulco on the Pacific just 3 hours away. A short two-hour drive past snow-capped volcanoes will take you to the Colonial City of Puebla and about an hour and a half to the south is the silver-mining town of Taxco --with its many world-renown silver smiths and artisans- and about half an hour to the east is the magical town of Tepoztlán.
Since the times of the Aztecs, Cuernavaca attracted the powerful Aztec elites. In modern times, the rich and famous have always come to enjoy its wonderful weather and green surroundings with many streams crisscrossing the city. Many first class restaurants, wonderful spas, museums and other leisure facilities are also on offer to enjoy right here in the city.
Cuernavaca is also a popular destination for Spanish language immersion programs. It has more than 30 Spanish schools that are active year-round and give the city a very dynamic and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Cuernavaca Historic District, Palacio de Cortés
A year round benign spring-like weather, charming narrow and curving streets, colonial historic buildings, grand homes and estates with superb tropical gardens and pools, and old-style plazas full of trees and birds make Cuernavaca well deserving of this, its other name, The City of Eternal Spring. The city’s voluptuous geography also holds an enchanting surprise: many ravines crisscrossing the city, most with creeks at their bottoms that afford Cuernavaca an unparalleled whimsical character.
With the generous combination of mild and pleasant climate and its abundance of water, it would actually be no surprise for Cuernavaca to be second only to Beverly Hills in the number of pools in private homes, as local lore maintains.
Cuernavaca is blessed with much more than wonderful weather and natural surroundings or a rich history. Some of its attractions include its proximity to Mexico City and Taxco, the beach resort of Acapulco, the magical town of Tepoztlán, and ancient Aztec archaeological sites like Xochicalco. Cuernavaca also enjoys all the conveniences of a modern and cosmopolitan city, including excellent and well equipped and staffed hospitals, several state and private universities and other educational institutions.
No wonder Cuernavaca has always been one of the rich and famous’ favorite destinations to relax or even to retire by buying real estate in the city. Surely one of the reasons why the city hosts a lively expatriate community that, nonetheless, is not as overwhelmingly visible as it is in some other parts of the world. Some of its famous residents over the years include Erich Fromm, Diego Rivera, Carlos Fuentes, Helen Hayes, Malcolm Lowry, Ivan Illich, Gabriel Garcia Marques, Barbara Hutton, Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros, to name a few.
Cuernavaca enjoys leisure facilities that are both well developed and stable with a long history in most cases. The quality of some of its restaurants, for instance, rivals that of any in the world, and its many fabulous spas are truly something you have to experience.
Yet, in spite of all this, Cuernavaca somehow manages to retain some of its small town charm and, therefore, it is an ideal place to experience Mexico’s culture.
Living in Cuernavaca is unlike anything else. Its location in the south-central part of Mexico makes it an ideal place to enjoy wonderful Mexican settings and culture.
Cuernavaca’s location affords it unparalleled benefits that not many other places in Mexico --or the world, for that matter-- can offer. When you want to experience other places or attend excellent events, travelling from the city to other venues is a breeze. Mexico City, Acapulco, Tepoztlán and Xochicalco are all close enough for day-trips or weekend getaways to be possible.
Plus, to travel the world over, the Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez, Mexico City’s International Airport, is directly accessible from Cuernavaca via a first-class bus ride from Casino de La Selva Bus Station, only 10 minutes away from the downtown area, that is also the historic district. From Mexico City’s airport you can fly virtually anywhere in the world so you know that Cuernavaca offers all of the conveniences of modern-day living, without all the stress, hustle and bustle, and you have the whole world within easy reach.
Cuernavaca is located on an area of Mexico that is marked by the transition between the high mountains that surround the southern end of Mexico City and the terrain’s gradual descent towards the low areas before another chain of smaller mountains on the way to the Pacific Coast.
Visitors could describe its weather as a type of cool and mild “highland tropical”. If such a description formally exists, is a different topic but what is definitely true is that even the rainy season here, from July to August, is really benign since it mostly rains after sunset and is again clear by dawn. It gets hotter in late spring, around May, and cooler after the rainy season, around the beginning of October.
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Due to its location between two mountainous areas, the city has differences in altitude that create at least three markedly distinct microclimate zones on different areas of the city. To the north and especially the northwest, the weather is cool and rainy. The center of town has a very moderate and cool tropical weather while the south and south-east is warm and dryer than the rest of the city.
Whatever your interests, you’ll have plenty to see and to do in Cuernavaca. In the downtown area you can visit Colonial buildings and places starting with the impressive Cathedral that was finished in 1560 or the Palacio de Cortés, yes, you guessed right, it was the residence of Hernán Cortés, Mexico’s Conquistador himself. Other attractions in the downtown area include the Robert Brady Museum that was once the home of Robert Brady and now houses his art collection, or you can relax in the Borda Gardens, built in the 18th century and chosen by Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and Empress Carlota to be their summer residence.
Very close to the downtown area but on opposite sides of the city are both the Salto de San Antón, a 90-foot waterfall in a ravine, at the San Antón neighborhood, and just steps away from El Calvario Chapel --a beautiful 16th century church on the Morelos Avenue- is the Barranca de Amanalco (Amanalco Ravine) that also has a creek running through it. Amanalco is truly one of Cuernavaca’s wonders since it’s really surprising to find this jungle-like setting mostly hidden from view in this utterly urban area of the city.
Not to miss is a visit to the Ethnobotanical Garden and Herbolary Museum in the historic Acapantzingo neighborhood. If you fancy ancient ruins, right in the city you can visit Teopanzolco, an archaeological site built around 900 AD by the Tlahuica indigenous people that were related to the Aztecs and shared with them the Nahuatl language.
Golf is another activity with several courses to choose from in the city. Club de Golf Tabachines, Club de Golf Cuernavaca, San Gaspar, Hacienda de Cocoyoc, Santa Fe and the new Paraiso Country Club are some of the Golf Clubs around town.
Horse riding and equitation are also another great option in the city. Two well established choices are the Club Hípico Real Montecassino in the near foothills with large green areas and fabulous installations and Centro Hípico Morelos in the exclusive Los Limoneros neighborhood in the north part of the city.
Shopping in Cuernavaca can be adventurous, at the Tianguis de Artesanías or open-air crafts market on the side of the Palacio de Cortés, or hip and trendy at the Galerías Cuernavaca, a modern mall just off the Autopista del Sol in the eastern part of the city.
Cuernavaca itself is full of things to do and places to visit and enjoy. Still, if you ever run out of choices within the city, Cuernavaca is right in the middle of a host of fabulous places to visit that ensure that you’ll never be bored. Places just outside Cuernavaca include the Lagoons of Zempoala, a National Park with beautiful pine forest landscapes and cool and quiet trails. If you enjoy waterparks, to the south and southeast of the city there are plenty of them: Las Estacas, Oaxtepec, Las Termas, Apotla and Temixco are just a few of them. Plus, for a refreshing and relaxing stay, some lakeside fun or sports such as water skiing, try Tequesquitengo, a lake on the southern part of the state, just 25 minutes away.
Located about 30 minutes south of Cuernavaca there is a magnificent archaeological site. Not to miss when you visit Xochicalco are the sculptured reliefs on the sides of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the Ball Courts and the Astronomical Observatory that was built inside a natural cave in the site.
Due to its abundance of water and its balmy weather, since ancient times Cuernavaca has enjoyed numerous wonderful spas to choose from. Nowadays, most of them are part of large hotels, like the Misión del Sol Resort and Spa that offers many great treatments. There are also some natural hot spring spas like Las Termas de Atotonilco south of Cuernavaca, Agua Hedionda in Cuautla, to the southeast of Cuernavaca, and Los Manantiales near Jojutla, to the south.
Monastery Gate Detail, Tepoztlán
Visit this Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town), a scenic mountain town, about 30 minutes northeast of Cuernavaca. Climb up the Tepozteco Hill to the Pyramid, where you’ll have a fabulous view of the whole Tepoztlán Valley. Then visit the Carlos Pellicer Prehispanic Art Museum and walk the town’s charming stone-paved streets to the beautiful 16th and 17th century churches of each Tepoztlán Barrio (or neighborhoods). Don’t leave Tepoztlán without visiting the Dominican Monastery and Cathedral with its gate decorated with an intriguing mural made entirely of beans and seeds.
Tepozteco Pyramid, Tepoztlán
Mexico City View from Chapultepec
Mexico City is Mexico’s national capital city and, as it is true of most national capitals in the world, here is where much of the country’s political, economic and cultural life is concentrated. One of the most vibrant mega-cities in the world, Greater Mexico City is also one of the largest, comparable in size only to other large metropolitan areas like Tokyo, New York, or Sao Paolo.
The Aztecs originally founded Mexico City in 1321 to be their capital. This historic legacy along with that of the Spanish colonial times are part of the city’s cultural heritage, and one that is very much alive in modern Mexican culture in the form of an interesting hybrid to be enjoyed by visitors.
The myriad of theatres and world-class productions, its beautiful historic buildings and tourist attractions, movie theaters and sports facilities and events are but an example of what you can find in Mexico City, whose historic district is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also considered a beta Global City along with Sao Paolo –the only two in Latin America.
All these characteristics combined make Mexico’s capital city an exciting place to experience, to enjoy.
Driving on the modern Autopista del Sol or Highway of the Sun, Mexico City is less than an hour north of Cuernavaca so you’ll have all of this and more close enough to enjoy for a weekend or even a day-trip for a special event.
Cathedral of Puebla, Begun in 1575
One of the reasons the historic district of Puebla was chosen by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987 is "due to the historic and cultural value of its architecture", according to Wikipedia. Some of its historic buildings are truly among Mexico’s Colonial Jewels, as would be expected, for the city is considered the birthplace of Mexican Baroque. Its majestic cathedral, begun in 1575 under orders of Philip II of Spain, for instance, has the tallest towers of any cathedral in Mexico.
The Biblioteca Palafoxiana (Palafoxiana Library) was the first library in the Americas and the only one from that era to survive to the present day. Its exquisite baroque style and impressive collection with manuscripts dating back to 1473 is one of Puebla’s marvels.
Other historical buildings and cultural attractions include the Casa del Deán, the oldest noble house in the city of Puebla, finished in 1580; Fort Loreto and Guadalupe, instrumental in the Battle of Puebla, 5 May 1862, when the Mexican Army defeated the invading French troops, then considered the most powerful army in the world; and the Chapel Del Rosario, located in the Church of Santo Domingo, built between 1650 and 1690; and even The Great Pyramid of Cholula, built in the second-century and actually one-third larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza, among many others.
Puebla de Los Ángeles, or "Angelópolis" as it’s also commonly known, is the fourth largest city in Mexico, after Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. Besides its many architectural jewels, many consider it Mexico’s Gastronomic Capital. Accordingly, there are excellent culinary packages on offer in the city that include lodging and English-language cooking classes.
Since Puebla, past snow-capped volcanoes, is just a 2-hour drive from Cuernavaca on a modern highway, weekend getaways or even one-day short trips from Cuernavaca are possible.
Acapulco Cliff Diver at Pie de la Cuesta
This famous beach resort town is 3 hours south of Cuernavaca on the Autopista del Sol. Of course you can get there by Luxury bus also and there are several lines that serve Acapulco from Cuernavaca.
Acapulco offers not only golden beaches but everything you need for a fun and relaxing vacation or a sophisticated weekend getaway. Water sports such as water skiing, para-sailing, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, sailing and snorkeling excursions are all available here. Plus, nightlife in Acapulco is truly never-ending. Some of the best clubs in town are El Alebrije (a chain that also has one in Cuernavaca), Palladium and Baby-O.
When you visit Acapulco, remember to enjoy the La Quebrada Cliff Diver’s show while having a wonderful meal at La Perla restaurant in the Mirador Hotel.
Other places to visit in Acapulco or very nearby include its Cathedral and Town Square that tend to be visited mainly by locals, the Fort of San Diego Museum, La Roqueta Island, Puerto Marques and Pie de la Cuesta.