Pueblo Magico: Malinalco
Why should I go to Malinalco?
Malinalco is a great weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. At approximately two hours by car, you’ll journey through the sparsely populated and hilly region to the south of CDMX.
It’s an education about what life is like for most Mexicans living outside the urban areas, but once you arrive in Malinalco, you’ll quickly come to understand it’s appeal.
Malinalco has always been considered a place of magical powers, going back long before it was designated a Pueblo Magico by Mexico’s tourism board.
It was a place of spiritual and ritualistic significance during Aztec times, as evidenced by its truly unique Aztec temple, Cuauhtinchan.
Where should I stay in Malinalco?
There are only a few hotels of good repute in Malinalco proper, but Airbnb’s supplement the options available.
During my trip to Malinalco, I was fortunate enough to select a stay at Diego’s Airbnb called Casita de Campo. His parents own a small compound walking distance to the city center. The compound contains several freestanding buildings that they rent on Airbnb.
My Airbnb on their property included not just a bedroom and bathroom, but also a beautifully put together little kitchen and dining area. In addition, there is a pool and grassy grounds and Allan (Diego’s father) is always nearby to help out and give recommendations for your stay.
What activities should I do in Malinalco?
The main attraction of Malinalco is the monolithic Aztec temple that sits in the hillsides above the town. Admission was about $3 per person and you can also hire a local guide, though signage at the site is quite good and in most case, bilingual.
Walk through the town towards the mountain and you can’t miss the signs to the site, but be prepared to walk up a winding, uphill pathway for about 20 minutes to reach it. Vendors will happily sell you ice cream, micheladas, and whatever else you might need to fortify you for the journey up!
In addition to the Temple of Cuauhtinchan, Malinalco is just a charming little town. I was impressed by the handicrafts on sale throughout the streets, which seemed not to be the mass-produced factory-type items I have seen in more visited tourist destinations throughout Mexico.
There are also a number of attractive bars and restaurants from which to enjoy the pleasant weather.
Where should I go to eat and drink in Malinalco?
The city center of Malinalco, like nearly all Latin American cities, is located around a main plaza. Within two to three blocks of Plaza Central is where you’ll find most of the places to eat and drink in town. Here are a few of the best:
La Casa de Valentina
While I didn’t get to eat at this place (just pop in for a quick peek), it was recommended to me by my Airbnb host, who was dead-on with his other recommendations.
Hipsters and art fans will dig the design and the food looked quite good, too. When I was there, they were offering live music options on the weekends, too!
Hit this spot for patio dining with views of the mountains. The garden-like setting is super attractive and the quality of the food justifies the Mexico City prices.
This place is the spot if you want to extend your night later into the evening just about any day of the week.
My travel companion ordered a flaming mezcal-based cocktail and it was artfully crafted in front of us by the manager, who along with the rest of the staff, was having an awesome time providing great service.
It’s always warm in Malinalco, which means mandatory ice cream stops. This place is absolutely delicious!
What is the weather like in Malinalco?
Malinalco is warm year-round, despite being at over 5,000 feet elevation. The first few months of the year are characterized by highs reaching into the low-90’s fahrenheit, with the rest of the year averaging low-80’s temperatures.
Nights are comfortable all year long and perfect for strolling around the city-center.
While it doesn’t rain all that much in Malinalco, this Mexican Magic Town does get the typical summer monsoon weather in July and August.
Malinalco would be an excellent snowbird destination, with October through February offering dry/warm weather, although in the months of February through April the hillsides can get very dry and therefore, just a little less magical.
How much will I spend in Malinalco?
Because Malinalco is within a two-hour drive of Mexico City, expect prices basically inline with CDMX at nicer places, while accommodations and basic necessities will be cheaper. Malinalco provides a great value for those traveling on the USD or Euro.
How do I get to Malinalco?
The drive from Mexico City to Malinalco is fairly straightforward once you leave the capital, assuming you understand the Mexican toll road system.
When I drove with a friend, although Google Maps told us the trip would take about 1.5hrs, with toll stops and passing through some small towns, it took a little more than 2hrs.
It’s also possible to use a mix of public transportation. At last check, Aguila Bus goes directly several times per day between Malinalco and Mexico City.
Another option would be to combine a bus ride to Cuernavaca or Lerma de Villada with a taxi ride.
What else should I know about Malinalco?
Malinalco is a great destination by itself, but it can also be visited as part of a wider tour of Pueblos de Magicos. When I went to Malinalco, I then continued on to Valle de Bravo for some lakeside lounging!
Tepoztlan and Taxco are two more Magic Towns within 1.5hrs drive, with the latter being a good way to break up a longer drive to Acapulco or Zihuatanejo on the coast.