Valle de Bravo has quickly become my new favorite weekend escape from Mexico City.
After spending some time in this little Pueblo Magico for a recent conference, I am certain I’ll be returning again.
Valle de Bravo is a short 2-hour drive (or bus journey) from downtown Mexico City and is a nature-lovers dream.
You could easily spend a week sailing, kayaking, hiking in the nearby hills, horseback riding, mountain biking, and paragliding in Valle de Bravo and you would still have plenty of landscape to explore on a return trip.
How to Get to Valle de Bravo Mexico
Getting to Valle de Bravo is very simple from Mexico City. The most affordable way is to take yourself to the bus station at Poniente (next to Observatorio Metro Station). You can read all about Mexico City’s different bus terminals here.
From here you can take the bus with several different companies at different times of the day. The main bus company is called Zina bus.
The tickets cost roughly 180 pesos each way (about $8.50 USD) for the budget bus and 245 pesos (about $12 USD) for the premium bus. Both take about 2.5 hours from Poniente.
You can take the exact same bus company back to Mexico City from the central station in Valle de Bravo. If you only have small bags, it’s easily walkable to and from the downtown area of Valle de Bravo.
Another great way to get around Mexico is using the app BlaBlaCar. It’s like a carpooling app (much like Uber), where you can see if anyone is heading to Valle de Bravo (or anywhere else in Mexico that you want to go) and you can hop in and pay a small amount for gas money.
Valle de Bravo Mexico Hotels
There are tons of beautiful boutique hotels and spas around Valle de Bravo. Whether you have a huge budget for a gorgeous lake-view room or you want something cozy, cute and affordable in the centro historico, there are plenty of hotels for every budget in town.
It’s worth noting that if you rent a car (or have your own) that you are driving to Valle de Bravo, most of the hotels located in the downtown area do not have parking.
There are private parking places where you can pay by the day (usually between 150 and 200 pesos per day). It’s best to check beforehand on Booking.com if you want to make sure there’s free parking.
1. El Santuario Resort and Spa $$$
This is without a doubt the most beautiful and relaxing hotel in Valle de Bravo. It’s located about 20 minutes outside of the town center, but easily accessible by taxi if you don’t have a car. It costs about 100 pesos ($5USD) each way to go between the hotel and the downtown area.
The hotel has a very zen-like vibe. There is a spa, large Jacuzzi tubs in each room, and stunning views over the lake. The beds are incredibly plush and comfortable and the sound of running water greets you at every turn.
If you’re looking for a place to get out of the big city and totally relax and unwind, it doesn’t get much better than El Santuario.
Rooms start at $180 USD. Book a stay at El Santuario Resort and Spa here.
2. La Batucada $$
I went to this hotel simply to have lunch, but the restaurant is amazing and I got the chance to peek into some of the rooms while I was there, too. It is located right on the edge of town, only a few blocks from the main square and less than 10 minutes to the lakefront.
The hotel is really affordable and often even cheaper if you plan to go during the shoulder season or summer months when it tends to rain a little bit each day. The rooms are thoughtfully decorated, full of natural light, and it’s very quiet at night despite it’s quite central location.
Rooms start at $100 USD. Book a stay at La Batucada here.
3. Hotel Valle Bonito $
For the price, you truly can’t beat this. I stayed a few nights at Valle Bonito for its central location. It is one block from the main square and there are tons of great restaurants within walking distance. It’s less than 10 minutes to the waterfront and the staff are very friendly.
The only thing I would recommend is that you choose a room that does not face the street. I opted for a balcony room (which is actually more expensive) and it faced the street. It was just a bit too noisy very early in the morning as the city woke up (and I wasn’t ready to!).
Rooms start at $30 USD. Book a stay at Hotel Valle Bonito here.
4. Araucaria Hotel Boutique $$$
This beautiful hotel has the best of everything. It’s close enough to walk into the downtown area, it’s far enough away to give you complete and total silence in the evenings and early mornings. There is an outdoor pool for the warmer months and the views out over the lake are stunning.
Your stay includes a continental breakfast buffet in the dining room that overlooks the lake and on sunny mornings you can have your coffee al fresco on the outdoor terrace.
Rooms start at $150 USD. Book a stay at Araucaria Hotel Boutique here.
Things to Do in Valle de Bravo
There are endless activities to keep you busy in Valle de Bravo. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing and romantic weekend away or you want to pack your days with adventure, there are so many things to do in Valle de Bravo.
1. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding in the hills surrounding the lake was perhaps one of the best things I did in Valle de Bravo. I went with a company called Ecoturismo Valle. While you’ll notice that the website is in Spanish, the owner, Jorge, is completely fluent in English, so just reach out via email to book a tour with him.
The tour started outside of El Santuario where Jorge picked up my friend and I. We then headed to his ranch up in the hills, about a 10-minute drive away. He has 12 horses and there are tons of different trails to take depending on how comfortable you feel in the horse.
He actually specializes in working with children and first-time riders, so if you are feeling nervous, but still want to try it out, I highly recommend taking a ride with this tour company. The views from up in the hills were seriously stunning.
The best way to see Valle de Bravo is out on the water. While there are plenty of ways to enjoy the lake, those that want to try something new or practice their sailing skills should definitely check this out.
Rio Valle are a great company if you want to get out on the water in a sailboat (they also offer other boating options). This is one of the more affordable companies out there for this activity with options starting at about $50 USD per person.
Again the website is only in Spanish (you can translate on Chrome if that helps), but several of the staff speak English.
There are so many hikes to do in Valle de Bravo. It’s one of the main draws to this region and one of the cheapest options if you’re happy to just hop in a rental car and head out on the trails.
The website Map My Hike is super helpful if you want to go it alone. There are details maps with elevation, difficulty level, and distance all mapped out for you.
If you would prefer to go with a guide and a group, there are plenty of options in the area worth checking out. One of my favorite companies for hiking (and other adventure activities in general) in Valle de Bravo is Very Muy Epico.
They have one and two-day hikes through the valley and if you contact them you can likely just grab a guide to take you out on a new trail.
4. Mountain Biking
Pretty much every hiking trail in Valle de Bravo also doubles as a mountain biking trail. There are endless parks, hills, and well, mountains, for those that want to test the limit. If you have your own car and bikes, you can use this map to find different trails.
If you want either a guide or a guide and bikes, I highly recommend the following companies:
Another way to enjoy the lake is to go kayaking. You can rent kayaks from a few different places along the shoreline or head out on a tour. Most companies offer both options.
Rio Valle once again is a great option for kayaking tours. If you opt for a few tours with them and book them all at the same time, you may be able to negotiate a small discount on one or more of the tours. It never hurts to ask!
6. Leisure Boat Cruise
This is one of the cheapest and most popular ways to enjoy the lake in Valle de Bravo. If you simply want to let someone else do the work while you sit back and sip a few chelas, head down to the lake right in front of Alameda Bicentennario and cross the street to the water-side of the street.
As soon as you do, several different people with pamphlets will come up to you and ask if you want to go on a boat trip. Have a look at the different ones and see which you like best. The price is definitely negotiable, especially if you are buying several tickets.
The Yate Fiesta Valle boat is roughly 75 Pesos per person and 40 pesos for children. That should help give you an idea of how much the boat ride should cost per person.
These leisure boats stroll around the lake for about an hour and usually have snacks and drinks on-board for an extra cost.
There is so much great shopping in Valle de Bravo. Around every corner, I found a cute boutique with locally made clothing, shoes, and home goods. It’s a miracle I didn’t need another suitcase to bring everything back to Mexico City (I had to have some serious self-control!).
These are just a few of the gorgeous stores that I found on my most recent trip to Valle. I’ll definitely be updating the list as I revisit. Click the links to see their location on Google Maps.
- La Artesana Gourmet: You’ll pass this little shop as you drive into town and if you don’t have a car, it’s well worth the walk or taxi ride out here to see their extensive artisanal food, wine, and beer selection. It’s a must-visit for foodies who want to try some locally made foods.
- Mercado de Artesanías: Right in the middle of town is this perfect souvenir market. If you haven’t been to an artisan market in Mexico before, you’re in for a treat at this place. They have everything from clothing and shoes to carpets, table runners, pottery, and hats. Much of what you find here is made by local artisans, so it’s slightly more expensive than similar markets in Mexico City.
- La Casa de Alpargata: Locally made shoes! Shoes that line the walls. Shoes in different colors and shapes and sizes and I wanted to buy one of each. This shop is beautiful.
- Muebles Bellegno: Although furniture is in the name, there is so much more in this beautiful boutique. In fact, there is a whole row of shops along this street whose names I’ve not forgotten that are worth checking out. Be sure to stop in and check them ALL out!
8. Spa Hopping
One of the biggest draws of Valle de Bravo for Mexico City dwellers is the relaxing atmosphere. Many come to this nature-haven to relax, unwind, and soak in a spa tub.
There are several very nice spas around Valle de Bravo, with my favorite being the one at El Santuario. Even if you don’t get the chance to stay a night or two at this oasis hotel, it’s well worth taking a taxi out here for some of their spa treatments.
They offer the usual spa treatments like massages and mud baths as well as spiritual treatments which include hot temazcales to cleanse mind and body.
9. Watching the Migration of the Monarch Butterflies
Monarch butterflies are like the mascot of this town. You’ll see images of them everywhere.
These amazing creatures migrate all the way from Canada to this region of Mexico in order to reproduce. The butterflies are around from November to February, with the best time to see them being January.
If you have your own car, you can self-drive to the Piedra Herrada Sanctuary. It’s roughly 45 minutes from the downtown area of Valle de Bravo.
If you don’t have a car, the best way to ensure that you see these beautiful creatures is by taking a tour guide with you who knows the area well. There are several different options that I recommend.
You can take a tour with Journeys Beyond the Surface directly from Mexico City.
They will pick you up, drive you to one of the main biospheres where you can see the monarchs, it will include lunch and any other stops you’d like, and then they will drive you back to your hotel in Mexico City. The guides at this company are some of the best I’ve ever encountered.
If you are already in Valle de Bravo and want to take a tour from there, I highly recommend contacting Adventure Travelling VIP.
The guys that work in this region of the country are incredibly helpful and will take very good care of you.
10. Paragliding or Parasailing
I went parasailing with Alas del Hombre when I was in Valle de Bravo and it was such a fun way to see the town and surrounding natural beauty.
The initial takeoff is a rush of adrenaline, but then once you’re in the air, it’s actually really relaxing and peaceful.
While you float through the air, it’s almost completely silent. I got some amazing photos from above and once back down I got to watch some of the silly GoPro videos that the instructor took.
Alas del Hombre is an incredibly professional company and I felt safe and in good hands the entire time. If you don’t speak much Spanish, be sure to ask for the safety instructions in English. Some of the instructors speak English, but not all of them.
If you want to go Paragliding instead, check out the tours offered by Very Muy Epico. They also have guides and instructors who speak English.
Best Restaurants in Valle de Bravo
There are several really great restaurants in Valle de Bravo. I barely scratched the surface of all of the amazing restaurants in Valle de Bravo, but these were my favorites! Click the links to see their location on Google and the check opening times.
- Town Center: For affordable and delicious Mexican food, head to the row of vendors to the right of the cathedral. In the mornings you can get tamales and fresh juice and by mid-afternoon, you’ll find taco and tortas well into the night.
- Marina 33: I loved this spot for fresh ceviche lunches and a few late-night drinks. If you are looking for a good bar, this is perhaps the best in town. The terrace is lit up and night and during the day you get stunning views of the lake.
- Da Ciro: If you want to have some really good pizza (by far the best pizza in Valle de Bravo) or just some Italian comfort food, this is a great option. It’s also one of the few restaurants in town open later.
- Chile Mole Pozole: This is the perfect place to head for traditional Mexican food. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I highly recommend sampling each one. It’s well worth it and incredibly affordable, too.
- La Batucada: I mentioned this hotel above, but the restaurant in the downstairs area of the hotel is also worth checking out. I came for a few drinks with friends and we had some of their sopes with cochinita pibil on them and it was utterly delectable.
- Alma Edith Restaurante Bar: This was my go-to spot for breakfast when I was staying in the town center. There’s outdoor seating so you can people-watch in the main square and there’s plenty of indoor seating, too. I loved their breakfast options including the simple eggs with tortillas and their spicy salsa as well as their chilaquiles. The fresh juices are delicious and the coffee is strong.
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