Metepec is one of those places that truly makes you feel that you are in Mexico. It is uncommon for foreigners to visit it and hence, perfect for those who wish to get off the beaten track in Mexico. Located only an hour drive away from the country’s capital city, Metepec’s center lies at the foot of a hill and has been inhabited since the Otomi era. The city center is gorgeous due to the colours of the facades of the houses, which range from bright pink to bright green, blue, orange and more – it is hard not to fall in love with it while walking around!
Two big churches decorate the center, the first is known by locals as “El Calvario” and to reach it, you must walk up several flights of stairs up the hill. Once at the top, you’ll be able to see the whole city as well as its neighbour, Toluca from a birds-eye view. The second one is painted in bright yellow and is also hard to miss, the Parroquia San Juan Bautista, located on the first street as the former church mentioned. Next to the church lies the ex convent of San Juan Bautista, which you can enter and admire. Although not much of it is left, it is still a great place to visit and you can still discern where the old paintings used to be. Sometimes (although not always, you have to be lucky!), the library, kitchen and other rooms are open to visitors. The garden outside is quite gorgeous and the convent’s walls are painted in light pink.
A few blocks away from the churches lies the main square, with a kiosk, a fountain and benches to relax in. Around the main square lies the city hall as well as many family owned restaurants, cafés and bars, all which serve typical Mexican food for very cheap prices (think a complete breakfast with coffee or orange juice for 2 or three USD!).
Another thing for which Metepec is known for are its pottery items, which are mostly sold right here in the center (except on Sundays, when most shops are closed). The main craft produces by artisans here is the Tree of life, which represents the tree that Adam and Eve ate and often shows different scenes – however, if you are not Catholic, you do not need to worry as many artisans play with it and create scenes of their own, many with animals and other objects. They are extremely intricate that no matter how carefully you look at it, you will always find something new on it the next time you see. I spoke to one of the artisans and I was told it takes about 11 months to create one. There are a myriad of artisan shops located around the city center and you will find one, although a personal recommendation from me (a local), is Casa Ortega (Avenida Estado de México 155).
There is no bus station in Metepec and you must get to Toluca first. From Mexico City, all major bus stations go to Toluca. Once in Toluca's bus station ("Tollocan"), you can either hire a taxi which should charge you around $45 pesos to Metepec or take a bus that says "Metepec" on it ($8 pesos).