Toluca is the capital city of the state of Mexico, Mexico. Toluca is Mexico’s (the nation) highest city at 8,844 feet (2,680 km) above sea level with average temperatures of 64º F (18º C). It’s a rapidly growing area located 39 miles (63 km) west by southwest of Mexico City.
Toluca’s nickname of La Bella, which means “The Beautiful One”, is due to the lovely architecture of the original town, which was done in the French neoclassical design. In Toluca, visitors will experience “what used to be” surrounded by “the here and now”. In the confines of the main historical town, visitors will find features typical of an ancient Mexican village, including cobblestone streets, white houses and red tile roofs. The confluence of indigenous tribes in the Matlazinco Valley, of which Toluca is a part, such as the Matlazincoes, Toltecs, Mexicas and Otomies, resulted in the vibrant and diverse style of the town. Outside of this piece of history, the town is surrounded by urban sprawl and large well-established industrial businesses.
Visitors to the area are often business professionals here for meetings and conferences. However, anyone spending any time in Toluca will find a variety of interesting attractions, particularly if they love museums, the activities found in National Parks, volcanic sites, or studying ancient architectural designs.
Attractions and Things to Do in Toluca
Museums – of the country’s cities, Toluca offers the second largest number of museums.
The Museo de Antropología e História – a most significant museum presenting exhibits on the state's history from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Offers a good collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts and cultural influence up to modern times, including tools, textiles, and religion. Exhibit labels are only in Spanish.
Centro Cultural Mexiquense – a large cultural center covering 170 hectare (420 acres), located 4.5 km west of the city, is home to 3 important museums - the Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology and History and the Museum of Popular Culture – exhibits range from local archaeology to local art and handmade crafts to modern art.
Museo de Bellas Artes – displays include paintings and sculptures from the colonial period to early 20th century. Located in the 18th century Templo del Carmen building.
Museo de la Estampa – features engravings made by well-known artists such as Jose Luis Cuevas, Pedro Coronel, Leonora Carrington and Gunther Gerzo.
Museo Felipe S. Gutierrez - features the work of one of the state’s most revered realism artists, Felipe S. Gutierrez.
Museo Jose Maria Velasco – features the work of Mexico’s revered landscape artist Jose Maria Velasco.
The Cosmovitral – an amazing early 20th century construction, remodeled in the 1970’s, has 65 stained-glass windows made from 1500 pieces of European glass. The stained-glass windows are the work of Toluca’s renowned artist, Leopoldo Flores Valdes. This spectacular structure is home to the magnificent Jardín Botánico (botanical garden), as well as one of the greatest artwork exhibits in the whole Mexican nation. A definite must see for visitors to the area.
Catedral - built atop of the remains of a 17th-century Franciscan convent, the cathedral features three naves adorned with baroque-style altarpieces.
Portales – the building’s 19th century arches are an important city symbol.
Parque Nacional Insurgente Miguel Hidalgo (aka La Marquesa) – here is an example of the area’s four national parks, where visitors can engage in a variety of recreational activities from hiking to extreme sports. In this park is located the Nevado de Toluca, (Volcano Toluca) the nation’s 4th highest volcano. This volcanic crater is the only one, worldwide, that tourists can reach by car. However, the road to the top of the volcano is sometimes closed to prevent damage to the area.
Visit Nearby Valle de Bravo – a beautiful 16th century village set on the shores of Lake Avándaro and surrounded by blue green mountains. It’s a National Heritage village, meaning that all new construction must conform to the colonial style of the original village. Valle is also a “Pueblo Mágico” city - an initiative led by Mexico's Secretary of Tourism in conjunction with other government agencies to promote Mexican towns that offer visitors a "magical" experience through their natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance
Zacango Zoo – visitors who love animals will enjoy viewing this zoo’s 100 acres of greater than 200 animal species indigenous to the area and housed in environs similar to their natural habitat. The zoo is located 12 kilometers south of Toluca.