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Orizaba, Mexico is a designated Pueblo Magico (magical town) nestled deep in the mountains of Veracruz.
Although it has the same name as Pico de Orizaba (the tallest mountain in Mexico) they’re actually not super close to each other, and it wasn’t visible when we were in town.
The town of Orizaba is worth a visit in its own right, though. It sits is between the cities of Puebla and Veracruz and is about two hours from each. We visited from on a day trip from Puebla and enjoyed the fresh air and greenery.
The city has a great tourism board that’s made all the highlights of Orizaba easily accessible. It’s also clean, calm, and just a really nice weekend escape. I’m so glad we went, and this guide covers everything you need to know so you can go too!
Panoramic view of Orizaba from Cerro del Borrego Ecopark
How to get to Orizaba, Mexico
We went to Orizaba on a day trip from Puebla, the largest city in the state of the same name and our home base for five weeks.
To get from Puebla to Orizaba, you can take one of the many buses that leave from the main CAPU station every day.
Both the ADO line and the AU lines run to Orizaba, but AU buses run much more often so this is probably the company you’ll end up going with. Click here to see the bus schedule from Puebla to Orizaba on your dates.
Tickets are not cheap, and we paid 260 mxn / 14 usd each for the one way trip. So, our round trip transport for two ended up costing 1040 mxn / 55 usd.
The ride took two hours exactly and had amazing views: first of Malinche Volcano, then Pico de Orizaba, and finally or rolling mountains and deep valleys. You may not enjoy it if you get car sick or are afraid of heights, because there were some precarious turns!
One of many picture-perfect spots on the Orizaba river walk
We arrived in two hours and were dropped off at the AU station near the center of town.
ADO has a separate station – that’s also in the town center – so it’s important to remember if you go out with one company and back with another, you’ll have to use two different bus stations in Orizaba.
When you’re ready to head back to Puebla, check the same website above for the return schedule, walk to the correct station, buy your ticket, and go.
We went to Orizaba on a Sunday and there was a lot of traffic and an accident on our way back to Puebla in the evening. Our return trip ended up taking four hours to get back instead of two, and I’m not sure if that was bad luck or if Sunday evenings are always bad, with everyone coming back from a break in the mountains at the same time.
I recommend going on a weekday instead of a weekend if possible.
Natural staircase in the Cerro del Borrego Ecopark
5 Best Things to Do in Orizaba, Mexico
Orizaba has two different personalities: an artsy / historical one, and an outdoorsy one. So, you can have two totally different experiences in Orizaba depending on what you’re into.
I went to Orizaba for the hiking and mountains, so this article will tend in that direction, but I’ll list some of the other most popular things to do in Orizaba as well.
Riding the Orizaba cable car into the clouds
1. Take the Cable Car to Ecoparque Cerro del Borrego
The cable car is located in the center of town alongside the picturesque Orizaba River. Tickets cost 70 mxn / 3.70 usd for the round trip on weekends and 50 mxn / 2.50 usd during the week.
The ride up is about 10 minutes and super pretty. Once you step off in Cerro del Borrego, it’s like a whole new world – quiet and fresh.
There’s a tiny chapel, small museum, trail loop, viewpoint, shelter, picnic tables, snack shack, and a zip line that costs 100 mxn / 5 usd for the ride. It’s a nice place to eat a packed lunch if you brought one, photograph the city, and enjoy nature.
I was hoping for some actual hiking trails up here, but there’s only a small loop around the park and it, unfortunately, doesn’t connect into the nearby Parque Nacional Canon Rio del Blanco.
There is, however, a trail that leads up and down the mountain from town if you’d rather hike up to the Cerro del Borrego instead of taking the cable car.
Want more of the outdoors? Join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to discover new hiking destinations and take part in quarterly virtual trail clean ups!
Another lovely moment on the Orizaba river walk
2. Follow the River Walk
The Orizaba River Walk was the highlight of our visit and the best thing to do in Orizaba.
The tourism board built a well-marked path along the river that winds through town with murals, an animal sanctuary, a botanical garden, and more. It’s quiet, uncrowded, and a super peaceful place to stretch your legs.
It starts where you get on and off the cable car, so it’s a perfect activity to do after you visit Cello del Borrego!
Los Sifones is also a super cold swimming pool if you have the guts to jump in
3. Visit the 500 Escalones and Hike to Los Sifones Lake
The 500 Escalones are weird but cool. Wave down a taxi to take you here when you’re done with the river walk (should cost about 50 mxn / 2.50 usd for the ride) and you’ll get dropped off at the top of a gorge.
Follow the sign down 500 stairs to the yellow dam, where you can walk across it and up onto a small trail. The short 30-minute hike runs along the dam for a unique experience in its own right, but is made even better because it finishes at Los Sifones lake.
This super peaceful lake is overgrown with Spanish moss, has huge boulders to sit on under the sun, and even has a rope swing for the very brave (the water is freezing!).
From Los Sifones you can retrace your steps back to the 500 stairs, or you can ask the vendors at the small food stand to call a taxi for you. The drive came to the lake to pick us up and took us back to Orizaba for 100 mxn / 5 usd. So easy!
Orizaba Municipal Palace, conveniently located just a few steps away from the cable car
4. Enjoy the Churches, Museums, and Interesting Architecture
Now for what I didn’t do but wished I had the time for. When you buy your cable car tickets the ticket lady will also give you a promotional brochure for the city with more of the top things to do, like:
- The colorful Palacio de Hierro – built by Gustav Eiffel (the architect of the Eiffel tower) and home to six free museums
- The central Alamada city park – an oasis of greenery in the city
- The imposing Municipal Palace – pictured above
And more! Everything is within walking distance from the center so it’s super easy and budget-friendly to wander between them at your own pace.
Hut with a view in the Cerro del Borrego Ecopark
Extra Tips for Visiting Orizaba
Below are a couple of questions I was wondering about before I went to Orizaba. Now that I know the answers, I’m sharing them here with you 🙂
Where to hike in Orizaba
I touched on this above but I’ll go into it a little more in depth for you nature fanatics out there.
It’s essential to understand that Orizaba is not the starting point for the trek to the Pico de Orizaba and Orizaba National Park. They are actually hours away from each other.
Orizaba does have some hiking of its own though. You can hike up to and down from the Cerro del Borrego Ecoparque from Orizaba and hike to the Los Sifones lake, where I spent most of my day trip.
Orizaba is also very close to the Parque Nacional Rinon del Rio Blanco (I didn’t go, but I think it would be easy to get a taxi there for the day).
Another shot of Los Sifones. It is really so peaceful.
How much time to spend in Orizaba
But if you’re taking a day trip to Orizaba from Puebla, the Cerro del Borrego EcoPark, River Walk, and Los Sifones hike will probably be enough to fill your day.
If you want to visit more of the historical landmarks and museums to your Orizaba itinerary and add a hike at the Parque Nacional Rinon del Rio Blanco, an overnight would also be great. There are lots of cute and affordable Airbnbs in town for less than $20 per night.
Other than that, it’s a pretty small town and you don’t necessarily need to spend more than one or two days there to see the major sights.
Yes, the water really is that blue
How much does it cost to visit Orizaba?
Unfortunately, even taking the bus to Orizaba doesn’t make it a budget trip. Dan and I packed lunch for our hike and still spent a somewhat hefty chunk of money. To visit Orizaba from Puebla, our day trip cost:
- 1040 mxn / 55 usd for round trip bus tickets from Puebla
- 100 mxn / 5 usd various snacks and street food
- 50 mxn / 2.50 usd taxi from downtown Orizaba to 500 Escalones + Los Sifones Lake
- 16 mxn / 1 usd entrance for two into Los Sifones
- 100 mxn / 5 usd taxi from Los Sifones to Orizoba center
- 150 mxn / 8 usd Ubers between our apartment in Puebla and the Puebla bus station
In total, our day trip to Orizaba cost 1406 mxn / 75 usd. So, not the cheapest excursion in Mexico but not the most expensive either.
View of the mountains and dam in the distance as we descended the 500 Escalones (500 stairs)
Should You Visit Orizaba, Mexico?
I’ve been in Mexico for about a year now and I like getting off the beaten path.
I thought Orizaba was a nice day trip from Puebla – and especially enjoyed the peaceful river walk – but the bus ride to and from town was both long and expensive.
If you’re traveling slowly through Mexico, then yes, I recommend a day trip to Orizaba.
If you’re on a quick trip through Puebla, though, there are better places to spend your day like Cholula (to wander the tunnels under the largest pyramid in the world) and the difficult but insanely beautiful climb up Malinche Volcano.
So, will you add this special Pueblo Magico to your Mexico itinerary?
Ready to go?
This article is part of the Hiking in Puebla series. Read the rest below:
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