Download GPX file for this article
20.1-99.833Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Cascadas la Concepcion, waterfalls in Aculco

Aculco (sometimes referred to as Aculco De Espinoza, or more commonly as San Jeronimo Aculco) is a small city of about 40,000 souls in rural Mexico State. It is a historic town with a lot of colonial era charm and a mountain setting with scenic waterfalls. It is one of the designated sites along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Aculco has also been designated as one of Mexico's Pueblos Magicos by the federal tourism department (SECTUR).

Aculco is a popular weekend destination for couples from Mexico City. They come for the romance of the colonial town, with its gleaming white small cobblestone streets (callejons) and its reputation as an artist colony. Aculco is also known for its cheese.

Understand[edit]

Aculco is the center of one of Central Mexico's pockets of Otomi indigenous people. The town was originally founded by the Otomi in 1110 AD. The Otomi are related to the Aztec and their language is a dialect of Nahuatl. The state of Tlaxcala is the traditional homeland of the Otomi, but population pockets are scattered among the states of Central Mexico. Aculco has a rich local history. It was conquered by the Aztecs in the early 14th century and became a vassal state, paying tribute to the Aztec empire under Moctezuma. Aculco was also a site of one of the earliest battles for independence from the Spanish crown in 1810 (spoiler alert: Father Hidalgo's independence force lost the battle at Aculco, though they went on to win the war.)

Aculco has a mild climate, with cool mountain temperatures and moderate rainfalls. The city has an average temperature of 14º C. Temperatures vary by season but are rarely too cold or too hot.

Get in[edit]

Aculco is off the beaten path so it will take some effort to get there. The best way is by bus to Acambay, then take a taxi the last 10 miles or so into Aculco. It's also possible to just hire a taxi (or even an Uber) in Mexico City to take you all the way to Aculco. It's about a 60 mile trip, will take an hour and a half, and cost about M$1000 (US$50).

To get there by bus from Mexico City, start at the Observatorio bus terminal and buy a ticket at the Flecha Roja counter. Flecha Roja has several buses per day going to Acambay (about every 3 hours). The trip takes 2 hours, 20 minutes and costs M$180-220, depending on the time of day and bus class.

Get around[edit]

Aculco is a small town. Walking is the best way to explore, or use a local taxi for longer distances.

See[edit]

Plaza Constitución
  • Church of San Jeronimo Aculco - established by Franciscan padres in 1540, the colonial-era church was renovated and expanded in the early 19th century
  • Waterfalls: there are two waterfalls not to be missed in Aculco, the largest is Cascadas de la Concepcion, and the other is Cascadas de Tixhiñu. Cascadas de la Concepcion has a broad downspout that drops 15 meters as it sprays the impressive basalt stone columns that rise up alongside a peaceful green basin. Tixhinu is a somewhat smaller waterfall but also displays impressive basalt columns. Mountain sports (climbing and rappeling) are allowed around both waterfalls.
  • Bullfight arena Garrido Varela - bullfights are usually held in the fall, October-November timeframe
  • Plaza Constitucion is the main zocalo area in el centro, it's full of towering shade trees and sculpted topiary and is a pleasant place to sit and feed the pigeons or walk hand-in-hand on a warm summer evening

Do[edit]

  • Cheese tasting expedition - Aculco is famous for its artesanal cheeses and a curious epicure can explore a variety of cheeses at the various cheese shops in the city center. No need for a formal guide, just walk down the street, stop at a few shops and buy a sampler of different cheeses in each.
  • Festival of San Jeronimo - On September 30 each year, the town pays tribute to its patron saint, Saint Jerome. A fair is set up with carnival rides and games, dances take place, and vendors show off their wares.

Buy[edit]

Otomi woman selling embroidered dolls in Aculco

Several artesania shops in town specialize in locally handmade Otomi embroidery and weaving. This is something you won't find just anywhere. Bring home a colorfully decorated hand-stitched tablecloth and you've got a souvenir of genuine cultural signicance.

  • 1 Mercado Aculco, Avenida Hidalgo. 09:00 - 19:00. The traditional central marketplace, vendors sell an amazing variety of fresh produce, poultry, meats, household goods, etc. Food vendors sell everything from tacos to hot bowls of soup.

Eat[edit]

Cheese is the local specialty. Look for dishes that exemplify regional and Otomi dishes.

  • 1 Restaurante la Orquidea, Av. Miguel Hidalgo (located in the Hotel Hidalgo), +5 27181240861. 09ː00 - 19ː00. Historic atmosphere, reasonable prices, good food. Traditional cooking with plenty of local cheesesː Enchiladas, arrachera, rabbit. M$100 per person.
  • 2 El Capricho, Insurgetes s/n, +52 7181240829. 8ː30 - 20ː30. Comfortable modern restaurant with affordable prices. Outdoor dining area with umbrellas and occasional live music.
  • 3 El Rincon del Viejo, Plaza Constitucion, +527181240889. 13ː00 - 21ː00. Sidewalk cafe with upstairs dining room. Excellent people watching opportunities. Full menu with soups, chicken, arracherra, and pasta. Reasonable prices.

Drink[edit]

One drink worth keeping an eye open for is curado de pulque (cured pulque), which is peculierly local to the area. To make it, blend natural pulque with evaporated milk, condensed milk, and chopped pecans. Or look for it in Aculco.

Sleep[edit]

There are a wide range of small, locally owned posadas in town (basically, bed and breakfasts). These cater to weekend visitors from Mexico City and are usually cozy rooms with charm and very reasonable prices.

  • 1 Hotel Jardin, Plaza Constitucion 15 (on the town square), +52 7181241335. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Moderately priced, clean, colonial style hotel in the heart of the city. Cold showers only (no hot water). Excellent restaurant, "Frida", on the ground floor.
  • 2 Hotel Hidalgo, Calle Miguel Hidalgo s/n (50 meters from Plaza Constitucion), +5 27181240131. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Spacious rooms in a colonial era courtyard hotel a half-block off the main plaza. Good service and comfortable rooms done in a modern-rustic style. M$600 (single).
  • 3 Xani Mui Hotel, +52 7121673412. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Charming garden hotel with upscale restaurant onsite. Limited amenities but clean, comfortable, rustic style rooms.
  • 4 Hotel la Esperanza, +527181112124. Check-in: 15ː00, check-out: 12ː00. Modern boutique hotel on the edge of town. Gardens with walking paths. On-site restaurant.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Aculco is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.