Tepic is the capital of Nayarit in western Mexico. Nestled between hills, it’s ideal for travelers who love culture and nature.
In the center of the city, you will find the main square surrounded by trees and dominated by the neo-gothic cathedral of Tepic.
A short distance away is the Casa Museo Juan Escutia, which tells the story of this young national hero who died fighting against U.S. forces in 1847.
Getting to Tepic
Again, Tepic is situated in the central-western part of the country, approximately 200 km northwest of Guadalajara, and about 750 km west of Mexico City.
There are several ways to get to Tepic, depending on your starting point. If you are traveling from within Mexico, you can take a bus or rent a car.
Several coach companies offer service to Tepic from major cities such as Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico City.
If you are flying into Mexico, the closest international airport to Tepic is Puerto Vallarta, which is approximately 160 km away.
Another option is to fly to the Tepic International Airport. However, this airport has limited international connections, and most flights are domestic.
12 Best things to do and see in Tepic Nayarit
1. Visit the historic Downtown
The first thing to do in Tepic is to visit the downtown area.
Here you will find several of its most important attractions, such as the Tepic Cathedral, the beautiful Government Palace -which houses colorful murals by artist José Luis Soto-, the Juan Escutia Park, and of course, the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), with a charming hemicycle.
2. Regional Museum of Nayarit
This is one of the most important museums in the city, and it is located in a beautiful historic adobe building.
It is dedicated to archaeology, specifically pre-Hispanic Nayarit, and has seven exhibition halls, which house both a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions.
3. Emilia Ortiz Contemporary Art Center
Located inside the Casa Aguirre, a beautiful adobe building from the late 19th century, this museum is dedicated to the art and plastic arts of the state.
It has six exhibition halls and hosts workshops, conferences, and speeches.
4. Church and Ex Convent of the “Grass Cross”
Undoubtedly one of the most interesting and unique sites in the city, this temple and ex-convent founded in 1540 is known for its legendary natural grass-shaped cross.
The grass cross is a mysteriously shaped shrub that appeared in the 17th century, which grows and remains evergreen, without anyone watering it.
Locals believe it is miraculous, so there are prayers and petitions from people asking for a miracle around it.
5. Visit Santa Maria del Oro near Tepic
Just over 50 km from Tepic, the Santa Maria del Oro Lagoon, also known as “Samao,” is a true wonder.
It is a beautiful lagoon whose color changes depending on the year’s season, located in a vast crater in the Sierra Madre Occidental.
Here you can practice kayaking or boating, eat at the restaurants on its shore or explore its surroundings by bicycle or on foot. There is also a viewpoint on the road!
6. Hike to the Cerro de la Cruz in Tepic Nayarit
Cerro de la Cruz is one of the most recommended tourist sites in Tepic to enjoy the city’s beauty.
Crowned by an esplanade with three crosses and a Christ, it offers incredible views and the opportunity to practice all kinds of activities, such as mountain biking and hiking.
As a curious fact, there are 14 crosses representing the Stations of the Cross on the path to reach the summit.
7. The “Five Towns” museum
The gateway to the area’s indigenous cultural diversity, this museum located in the Ex-Hotel Palacio is dedicated to popular cultures.
Its attractive exhibits explore different themes, such as the gastronomy, customs, art, and clothing of the five cultural groups of Nayarit.
It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00; admission is free.
8. Don’t miss the Ruins of Jauja
An unmissable visit to do in Tepic Nayarit for those who enjoy history and architecture is the ruins of an old textile factory of the British company Barron & Forbes.
This important factory operated for about 90 years until it burned down in 1947.
9. Potrero de La Palmita, a Huichol Community
Located on the banks of the Aguamilpa Dam, Potrero de La Palmita is a Huichol community known for its culture, traditions, and natural beauty.
Here you will have the opportunity to learn more about the Huicholes and their rituals, taste its gastronomy, fish in the dam and explore the surroundings on horseback or foot.
You have to take a boat, a journey of only ten minutes to get there. If you want to stay a few days, there are some cabins with all services.
10. Matanchén Bay and pier, near Tepic
Less than 40 minutes from Tepic, Matanchén Bay is one of the most beautiful and least-known beaches in the Riviera Nayarit.
Here, you can enjoy beaches with unforgettable sunsets, water sports, and rich local cuisine- seafood and typical dishes.
Tip: another nearby beach town is the beautiful San Blas, a port with great history and many attractions.
11. Get your caffeine fix at Cafe Luna in Tepic Nayarit
If you visit the Tepic downtown area, you must stop at this beautiful establishment; they have the best coffee in the region.
With 19 years of experience as coffee roasters, their main philosophy is to offer the highest quality roasted and ground Nayarit coffee.
The truth is that it is worth having a delicious coffee there; besides, they are not only dedicated to selling coffee, but they also offer training, sale, and maintenance of coffee machines, coffee tours, and online sales.
So if you are a coffee lover like me, you must go to this coffee shop to taste the best coffee from Tepic Nayarit.
12. Ride the “Tepibus”
This two-story custom bus is part of the public transportation system and runs through the center of Tepic.
It’s an excellent way to tour the city, with schedules at 11:30 am, 5:30 pm, and 6:45 pm and the most requested at 8:00 pm (which visits the cemetery).
It has a duration of 60 minutes; you can decide the type of tour you like the most, whether it is music, legends, or gastronomy.
Where to eat in Tepic?
There is a great variety of typical food restaurants at excellent prices, some of the best ones are:
- La Ola Restaurant: located in Ciudad Valle, 5 minutes from downtown Tepic
- El Farallon Restaurant: located in downtown Tepic
- Restaurant Emiliano Comida y Vino: located in Emiliano Zapata Ote. 91, Centro, 63000 Tepic
Other important tourist destinations in Nayarit
What is the climate like in Tepic?
About 90% of the state has a warm sub-humid climate, 8% is humid in the mountains, and 2% is dry and semi-dry towards the south and southeast of the state.
Please note, from June-October, it’s the rain and hurricane season. So if you visit during the summer months, expect occasional downpours.
With this in mind, you can come in loose and comfortable clothes, don’t forget sunscreen, shades, and a hat.
Also, I strongly recommend renting a car. Tepic has an excellent geographic location which makes it perfect for driving to multiple important towns nearby.
A few examples:
- Guadalajara is less than 3 hours away
- Sayulita is about an hour and a half
- Puerto Vallarta is two hours
- Mazatlan is 3.5 hours away
As you drive to any of these destinations, you will come across many other towns and artisan shops you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
So if you don’t have a problem driving in Mexico, get some wheels!