Visiting Xilitla, Mexico – exotic landscape, gardens and waterfalls (updated 2023)
Located in the dense jungle of the Huasteca Potosina in Mexico, Xilitla is a small city in the south of the region. It’s also one of the best for staying in to explore the area. Visiting Xilitla, Mexico is truly on the most unique and exotic parts of Mexico to explore with this fantastic garden and artistical jungle area.
It’s most famously known for the very close-by Las Pozas surrealist gardens, which is one of the most popular destinations to visit in all of the San Luis Potosí state.
If you are looking for the more rural, exotic and unusual places to visit in Mexico that is slightly off the beaten track then consider visiting Xilitla, Mexico now.
In this guide, we’ll explore Xilitla, how to get there, what to see, and the best time to visit. We’ll also give our own recommendations on a trip here based on our very own experience.
How to get to Xilitla, Mexico
Xilitla is a relatively small city, and as such has no airport. You’ll need to either drive or take the buses to get to this gem. The easiest way is to fly into the coastal city of Tampico in Tamaulipas, and then make the 3.5-hour journey by public transportation. One other possibility is by renting a car and driving there and exploring many of the fascinating attractions and other off the beaten sites in this region.
You can also fly into San Luis Potosí and drive, which will take a little longer at around 5 hours. For the budget traveler who likes to keep things cheap, the best way is to fly into Mexico City, head to the north bus terminal, and then take the overnight bus to Xilitla.
If you are backpacking Mexico you’ll find Xilitla makes a great strategic location to base yourself in, as it’s close to many of the best sights and gems in La Huasteca Potosina.
You could also stay in nearby Ciudad Valles, which is a lot bigger, however, we felt it lacked charm and recommend much more this pretty town.
Best things to See and Do in Xilitla, Mexico
Here we’ll now explore all the best things to do and see around Xilitla in this quick guide of the area
Las Pozas – the exotic gardens and sculptures of Edward James
These incredible surrealist gardens were designed by Edward James, an Englishman who had these gardens built in the late 20th century. Having traveled all over the world, Edward added many sculptures in these gardens which have influenced a wide range of global destinations, such as the Taj Mahal and the Alhambra.
The gardens of Xilitla or Las Pozas
The gardens at Xilitla, officially known as “Las Pozas,” are a mesmerizing and otherworldly creation nestled in the Mexican jungle near the town of Xilitla. These gardens are the brainchild of British surrealist artist Edward James. Here’s a description:
Surreal Oasis: Las Pozas is a surreal oasis of art and nature, where the boundaries between the natural world and human imagination blur. The gardens are a whimsical dreamscape that defies conventional aesthetics.
Architectural Marvels: Throughout the gardens, you’ll encounter a series of fantastical, concrete sculptures and structures, some resembling ancient ruins, others like something out of a fairy tale. Staircases lead to nowhere, while towering columns support open-air rooms with no walls.
Water Features: “Las Pozas” means “the pools” in Spanish, and true to its name, the gardens are dotted with natural pools and cascading waterfalls. The juxtaposition of the concrete structures with the lush greenery and water elements creates a surreal and enchanting atmosphere.
Botanical Diversity: The gardens are not only an artistic marvel but also a haven for tropical plants and exotic flora. Orchids, bromeliads, and ferns thrive amidst the sculptures, adding to the garden’s ethereal beauty.
Hidden Surprises: Exploring Las Pozas feels like an adventure. As you wander through the maze-like pathways, you’ll stumble upon hidden nooks, unexpected sculptures, and secret gardens, each with its own unique charm.
Surrealist Inspiration: Edward James envisioned Las Pozas as a haven for surrealist expression. The unusual and sometimes perplexing sculptures invite visitors to interpret their meaning and symbolism, making the experience a journey into the subconscious.
Legacy of Creativity: Today, Las Pozas stands as a testament to Edward James’s creative vision and love for the surreal. It continues to inspire artists, dreamers, and nature enthusiasts from around the world, offering a glimpse into a world where art and nature coexist in harmony.
Visiting the gardens at Xilitla is like stepping into a fantastical realm where reality and imagination merge, making it a must-see destination for those seeking a truly unique and surreal experience.
Here’s a video experience to Xilitla and Las Pozas below
Visit Sótano de las Golondrinas
Known as one of the largest open caverns in the world, Golondrinas’ has a dizzying height of over 1215ft. Situated in the dense jungle, this massive hole (which really seems to pop up out of nowhere) has two different vantage points, where you’ll be able to peak in and also see lots of colorful birds such as parrots fly freely around the cavern.
However, this gem is most famous for its thousands upon thousands of swallows that live here (Golondrinas is the Spanish word for swallows after all). And every morning around 6 am, you can witness them all flying up and out of the cave in huge numbers as they go about their day. At around 5 pm they’ll also begin to return as the sun starts to set.
To get here you’ll need to first head to the small town of Aquismón which is an hour north of Xilitla. From here, you then either drive or take a taxi to the entrance.
Here’s a look at the cave of Swallows and some crazy jumping into the caverns
The Huasteca Potosina is home to a huge abundance of beautiful waterfalls. However, Tamul (which is the largest in Mexico) quite clearly takes our top pick.
Aside from its trophy-winning height, these thundering waterfalls are one of the most beautiful gems to witness in central Mexico, with its bright blue hues contrasting perfectly with the assortment of greens from the surrounding jungle.
The best time to visit these waterfalls for their bright blue hues is between October until May. The rest of the year experiences a lot of rain, which can mix rivers and add sediment, leading to a more brown appearance (unless if that’s what you want then head this time of year of course).
Getting to these stunning waterfalls is relatively easy nowadays with a newly paved road making it a lot less bumpy. Again you’ll want to head first to Aquismón, and then veer off north-west towards the small town of Ojo de Agua. Here you’ll then row upstream to the waterfall, which takes between 40 minutes to an hour.
Here’s a fun river rafting experience to Tamul waterfall
Best time to visit Xilitla
In our opinion, the best time to visit Xilitla is in March and April. Average temperatures range from 72-75°F, with toasty highs of 90°F (making a dip in the waterfalls a perfect way of cooling down during the day). Lows hit around a quite comfortable 60-63°F, and also the heavy rains of the summer have not yet arrived, so your trip will be mostly rain-free.
Our Recommendations to visiting Xilitla
With its fantastic location and proximity to many top destinations, it’s no wonder that many choose to base themselves in Xilitla for a few days minimum to enjoy the entire regional area.
Where to stay and eat in Xilitla
We recommend staying in the Sukha Hostel, which is located centrally with lots of restaurants nearby. Speaking of where to eat, Querreque is hands down the best place to eat authentic Mexican food. It’s also got a nice balcony where you can enjoy brilliant views over the jungle’s canopy. Or check out all these other well rated places to stay in Xilitla here for great reviews to accommodations.
Lastly, we recommend a minimum stay of 3 days in Xilitla. As well as seeing Las Pozas and the biggest sites, it’s also enough time to wind down and enjoy the small-town vibes of Xilitla.
Check out this fun market tour experience in Xititla, Mexico
Check out this video clip on visiting Las Pozas – the surreal garden of Edward James
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Conclusion to Visiting Xilitla, Mexico
And that’s all for our guide to travel to Xilitla!
As you’ve seen, this gem is a great town to base yourself when exploring the Huasteca Potosina region. Even more so with the incredible Las Pozas gardens located within touching distance.
In this guide we’ve explored everything Xilitla, including when best to go, the best things to see and do nearby, how to get there as well as our top recommendations. Thanks for Visiting Xilitla, Mexico, today, hope you enjoyed the tour.