Are you traveling in Mexico and planning to visit Tepic, Nayarit? Then this article is for you. Tepic is the perfect Mexican destination to experience authentic culture and learn a bit about the history of Mexico. Whether you are just passing through briefly or spending a few days getting to know the city better, this list has a few of the more popular things to do in Tepic, Nayarit.
Things to do in Tepic
Tepic is in the state of Nayarit and as the the capital, it’s a rather large city with a population of approximately 570,000 people. The city was founded in 1542 and despite all the growth, has maintained much of it’s gorgeous colonial architecture with brightly colored buildings and homes.
There are plenty of things to do in Tepic but since it’s primarily an agricultural area, Tepic is known mostly for producing sugarcane, tobacco and various citrus fruits and not for tourism.
Most of the touristy things to do in Tepic are in or near the historic center. Because of this, it makes sense to overnight there and take advantage of public transportation and shared rides to get around.
Here are seven things to do in Tepic to get to know this wonderful city.
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1. Take a Turibus Ride
One of the best ways to get to know a city is by walking around or taking a walking tour but if you’re short on time, the next best thing is a open air tour bus tour that takes you directly to the most interesting spots.
Turibus Tepic visits some of the historic sights and different neighborhoods you might not get a chance to visit on your own. Instead of listening to a pre-recorded program – like with so many other tour bus tours – Turibus Tepic has a knowledgeable, local guide on board to educate about history, share stories and even play some of the local, typical music.
Stops on the tour include parks, murals and statues arounds the city. The tour lasts approximately two hours and tips are appreciated.
- Turibus Tepic – tickets at the kiosk in front of the Cathedral
- Monday through Sunday with tours at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm
- Adults $40 pesos $30 pesos for children, seniors, and disabled
2. Plaza de Armas Tepic
Like most Mexican cities, Tepic has a plaza principal or a main plaza, in its historic center. And like in most cities, the plaza is the center of the action, serving as a social and gathering place. Tepic’s is no different and was popping the day I was there.
Full of lush trees, vibrant flowers, and fountains, it’s the ideal spot to relax and people watch or enjoy a coffee or lunch from one of the many cafes around the perimeter. If you’re fortunate, you might happen upon a live performance or music.
3. Visit Catedral de la Purísima Concepción de María
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral near the zocalo is one of the most impressive churches I’ve seen in Mexico. An classic example of Neo-Gothic style architecture, this Roman Catholic church was built in 1750 and later expanded to what it looks like now in the early nineteenth century.
The cathedral is is open to the public and is free. Since it is a functioning church with regular services, remember to be respectful and conscious of how you are dressed. Even if you don’t go in, you can still admire it from the outside.
- The Immaculate Conception Cathedral
- Av. México Nte. 246, Centro, 63000 Tepic, Nayarit
- 52 311 212 2074
4. Museo Regional de Nayarit
Located in one of the most spectacular colored buildings near the historic center, the Nayarit Regional Museum takes visitors on a journey of pre-Hispanic times. The museum features ceramics sourced from ancient burial tombs of the native Aztlán culture.
Figurines and statutes depict houses, warriors, ball-players, pregnant women and musicians. Additionally, you’ll also find burial urns from the local Mololoa culture of Tepic. The museum even has contents of a recreated burial tomb.
- Museo Regional de Nayarit
- Av. México Nte. 91, Centro, 63000 Tepic, Nayarit
5.Zitákua – One of the Best Things to do in Tepic
Spanish is the primary language spoken In Tepic but you’ll find many other indigenous groups in the area. The Huichol people are just one of those groups. To learn a bit about their culture, visit the small colonia of Zitákua, high above Tepic.
Zitákua is a little village for families of the Huichol culture dedicated to preserving their traditions, customs and everything related to ancestral life. It’s set up with a shopping area offering a range of products from native art and jewelry to dolls, clothing, sandals and even paintings with items that represent the sacred elements of their culture.
Sample some of traditional Huichol foods like the delicious blue corn tortillas and typical stews they’re known for at the restaurant onsite.
Everything the Huichol do at Zitákua is for the preservation of their community and it’s how they make their living. So, please be respectful. Any photos taken of people – and especially children – should be compensated with a tip. Bring pesos because credit cards aren’t accepted.
6. Cinco Pueblos Casa De Artesanias
If you are unable to make it to Zitákua, then one of the best things to do in Tepic downtown to learn about the other cultures is visiting the Cinco Pueblos Casa De Artesanias. This is a permanent exhibition in the historic downtown of Tepic showcasing the history of the five ethnic groups of the state with handicrafts, jewelry, art and other popular items for sale.
- Five Pueblos Art
- Av México Nte & Emiliano Zapata Ote 105, Av. México Nte., Centro
- Admission is free
7. One of the Best Things to do in Tepic – Eat Delicious Food
Since this area is an agricultural part of the state, that means food and fruit are bountiful. One of the best things to do in Tepic is to take advantage of this and taste some things you might not have a chance to try in other places.
No matter where you are downtown, you will find carts and sellers with all kinds of colorful fruit to try. Pick something you haven’t seen before and give it go.
Because I arrived late in the evening and basically only had one day, I ate at restaurants around the plaza and close to my hotel. People will tell you not to do this since the area around the main plaza is a mostly touristy area and that better food can be found elsewhere.
While I agree – somewhat – plazas in Mexico weren’t constructed for tourists. There are plenty of locals that visit the plazas for business and to socialize. Because of this, plazas always have plenty of street food and other good local options as well.
One of those places in Tepic is Cafetería Caffet Aromático de Nayarit in the western end of the plaza. I had a delicious coffee and homemade pastry in the morning while soaking up the sights.
Fresh Salads is another restaurant I tried later while I was waiting for the Turibus. The bus was in the shop for a minor repair nd they weren’t sure when it was coming back.
Since we were supposed to start the tour as soon as it returned, I wanted to be free to jump on so I picked up a sandwich from this Mexican chain of restaurants. Just as the name says, they serve freshly made salads and sandwiches and it worked out perfect.
Hamburguesas Pio is actually the only restaurant I knew about before I went to Tepic. It was recommended by a friend but unfortunately it closes at 2pm and I got there a little too late. I’ve been told that the hamburgers there are so good.
Tepic Travel Guide
How to get to Tepic by air – Tepic is serviced by Amado Nervo International Airport (TPQ). To fly from the United States, you will likely have to fly through Mexico City or Guadalajara since there aren’t many direct flight from the states. Within Mexico, Volaris, Interjet and Aeromar all fly into Tepic from other major cities.
How to get to Tepic by bus – to travel from Guadalajara (which would be the city you might fly into to get to Tepic from the U.S.) there are several bus companies that cover this route. Use Rome to Rio or Reservamos.mx – if you speak Spanish – to see bus schedules. Some bus lines travel hourly from Guadalajara and some only have a once a day schedule.
I personally traveled from the Central de Autobuses de Guadalajara (in Tlaquepaque) to the bus station in Zapopan to pick up other passengers on a TAP bus. The cost for my ticket was approximately $20 USD. When I arrived at the bus station, I took a taxi to my hotel.
Tepic is a good base or starting point for exploring Nayarit or for visiting the popular beach San Blas or Rivera Nayarit which includes the small beach towns of San Pancho, Bucerias, Punta Mita and Sayulita. Additionally, a trip to Guadalajara, Jalisco and Puerto Vallarta could be combined with a trip to Tepic.
Where to Stay in Tepic
The majority of these popular things to do in Tepic are in the historic center, it makes sense to overnight there and take public transportation and shared rides to get around. However, if you are driving – unless your hotel has parking – staying just outside the congested city center would be best since the streets in the downtown are are one ways, narrow and parking can be difficult to find.
For an affordable stay just a couple of blocks from the main plaza, Hotel los Girasoles fits the bill. The hotel is in an older typical hacienda type building so there aren’t many windows or natural light.
You’ll find this kind of layout in many small hotels in Mexico so if you are the kind of person that appreciates brightness and light – like me – you might not want to stay there long term but it was convenient and clean for a quick overnight stay.
A different option for a hotel not quite downtown but close enough is City Express – a nice chain of hotels in Mexico. I’ve stayed in a few and have always been satisfied. This location is near the main highway and has free parking. Fiesta Inn, a Mexican chain of hotels, has a Tepic location as well, not too far from downtown.
Is Tepic Safe? I traveled to Tepic solo and I felt as safe as or safer than I do in my home city of Atlanta. Of course, Tepic is a big city so all the precautions you take when you travel anywhere should be implemented in Tepic.
Don’t flash money, jewelry or phones. Pay attention and be situationally aware at all times. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know and don’t invite trouble by drinking too much or using illegal drugs. You can find more suggestions about staying safe in my 15 Travel Safety Tips article.
Officially, the U.S. State Department has Mexico rated a 3 on the level of travel advisories. This means reconsider travel. The reason is mostly because of Covid and crime. However, Nayarit does have a Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling warning due to crime. Although there aren’t any restrictions on travel for U.S government employees.
Things to do in Tepic Tips
Money – Mexico’s currency is pesos. You might be accustomed to using dollars in touristy places but that won’t work in Tepic. Also, since it’s a less touristy city, there just aren’t that many places to exchange money so make sure to have pesos, including bills, small bills and coins on hand before you arrive.
Healthcare and Travel Insurance – Mexico has excellent health care but in recent years there have been more and more reports of private hospitals practically holding travelers “hostage” until they paid for a hospital stay or surgery. One way to protect yourself is with travel insurance.
Most travel insurance companies will arrange for care and even negotiate prices and bills on your behalf. Even if you – by chance – have an excellent insurance policy that covers outside the U.S. and Canada, a travel insurance policy is important. Why?
The biggest reason is that in case of health emergencies, having a travel insurance policy can help cover the cost of being air-lifted to another hospital for treatment or even air-lifted back to the states. An air ambulance can cost thousands of dollars and most regular insurance carriers will not cover this. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan that covers evacuation in case of an emergency.
Not all travel insurance is the same so it’s important to research what policy is right for your individual needs. One of my favorite websites to compare different policies and companies is TravelInsurance.com. Simply enter a few trip details and in seconds have a list of policies to check out. There are policies with trip cancellation and interruption and with only medical coverage.
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Tepic
Outside of some of Nayarit’s popular beaches along the Riviera Nayarit, Nayarit in general, is one of the lesser known and lesser visited states but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worth visiting. Tepic is a wonderful city to experience authentic Mexico and get off the beaten path a bit. Definitely put Tepic on your Mexico travel list.