West of Mexico City

On the mountainous fringes of the Central Valley lies Toluca, 64 km west of Mexico city, the lesser-visited provincial capital of Mexico state. Home to a sprawling Friday market that draws shoppers and boisterous merchants from afar, the city serves as a convenient jumping-off point for a range of excursions. Climbers should head for the snowcapped volcano of Nevado de Toluca, the fourth highest peak in Mexico, with awesome views and deep blue crater lakes. Nearby, the attractive colonial town of Valle de Bravo is a centre for outdoor activities; there's watersports on its man-made lake, hiking in nearby canyons and, for the more adventurous, hang-gliding from the hills. If all that sounds too exhausting, you can rest up in Ixtapan de la Sal, a spa town and resort that's popular with Mexicans and weekend capitalinos in need of a pamper. Cultural attractions are no less prominent in the hills around Toluca with network of indigenous villages, communities of potters and artisans, ancient monasteries, shrines and diminutive churches. Don't miss the pueblo mágico of Malinalco, a tranquil retreat with its colourful houses and disarming views of the dark, rolling hills.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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