Are you traveling in Mexico and visiting Tepic, Nayarit? Then this article is for you. Whether you are just passing through briefly or spending a few days to get to know this busy city better, this list has a few of the more popular things to do in Tepic, Nayarit and its historic center.
Table of Contents Show
- Things to do in Tepic
- FAQ About Things to do in Tepic
- More Tips on Things to do in Tepic
- Final Thoughts on Things to do in Tepic
Things to do in Tepic
Tepic is the capital of the Mexican pacific coast state of Nayarit. It’s a rather large city with a population of 570,000 people. The city was founded in 1542 and despite all the growth, has maintained much of it’s colonial architecture with brightly colored buildings and homes. Tepic is the perfect Mexican destination to experience authentic culture and food.
There are plenty of things to do in Tepic but since it’s also a hard working, agricultural area that produces sugarcane, tobacco and various citrus fruits, the focus isn’t particularly on tourism. Most of the touristy things to do in Tepic are in or near the downtown historic center. Because of this, it makes sense to overnight in that area and take advantage of public transportation and shared rides to get around.
Here’s the best things to do in Tepic as an introduction to this wonderful city.
This post contains affiliate links. That means I may earn a commission if you book or buy something from a link I provide. This keeps Southerner Says online and on the road. Thank you for your support.
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 live, knowledgeable, local guide with information about the history of Tepic and all the places the tour goes.
More than just a boring, run of the mill tour, the guide shared stories, antidotes and even plays 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
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 sit and relax and people watch. Or pick up 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.
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
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
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. There’s a little shopping area where they offer a range of art and handicrafts that can be purchased. Among other things, there’s jewelry, dolls, clothing and sandals and even paintings made up of items that represent the sacred elements of their culture.
You can also sample some of traditional food of the Huichol like the delicious blue corn tortillas they are known for and typical stews with freshly made tortillas at the restaurant on-site.
Everything the Huichol do at Zitákua is for the preservation of the community. This is how they make their living. So please be respectful. After getting permission, any photos of people – and especially children – should be compensated with a tip. Also, bring pesos because credit cards aren’t accepted.
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
One of the Best Things to do in Tepic – Eat Delicious Food
Since this area is agricultural in nature, that means food, and especially fruit, is 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.
Since I arrived late and basically only had one day, I ate at restaurants around the plaza and close to my hotel. A lot of people will tell you not to do this because it’s a touristy area and you can find better food elsewhere. While I agree somewhat, the plazas in Mexico weren’t constructed for tourists. There are plenty of locals that use the plaza for business and just to enjoy their city. Plus, there’s always plenty of street food around and you can’t get more affordable than that.
Cafetería Caffet Aromático de Nayarit is 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 while I was waiting for the Turibus. The bus had gone to an automotive shop and 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 fresh- made salads and sandwiches. It worked in a pinch.
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 too late. I’ve been told that the hamburgers there are so good. So, put it on your Tepic list.
FAQ About Things to do in Tepic
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.
Southerner Says: 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.
What is there to do near Tepic? – Tepic is a good starting point for a Nayarit trip to San Blas, a popular beach destination and 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 should I 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.
More Tips on Things to do in Tepic
Money – One of the things you want to do when visiting Tepic is have pesos. If you’ve traveled to Mexico before, you might be accustomed to using dollars in touristy places but that won’t work in Tepic. For one, since it is a less touristy city, there just aren’t that many places to exchange money. Have pesos – bills, small bills and coins on hand.
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 the more popular Riviera Nayarit, Nayarit maybe one of the lesser known and less visited states. That doesn’t mean it’s any less of a place worth visiting. Nayarit is a wonderful destination to experience authentic Mexico and get off the beaten path a bit. Put Tepic on your travel list.
Related: 101 Best Places to Visit in Mexico Bucketlist
- For flight info and tickets for Tepic, shop prices on Skyscanner.com.
- To book a package with a flight and a car all at once use Expedia.com.
- My absolute favorite website for hotels, hostels and even some long term stays is Booking.com.
- To check out home stays and long term places try VRBO.com.
- For cars and vehicle rentals – Rentalcars.com.
- See real reviews and what other travelers are saying at Tripadvisor.com.
- For local tours & experiences use the helpful Viator.com
- And finally, one of the most important items in your travel plans is travel insurance. Browse a variety of coverage options at TravelInsurance.com.