Cortés & The Spanish Conquest of México Tour
A “Journey into History” Tour to Retrace the Route of Hernán Cortés & his Men from the Gulf Coast of Veracruz to the Mighty Aztec Capital City
10 Day México History Tour
(includes day of arrival & departure)
from $2995 /adult • $2695 /child (12-17) + air
Single Supplement +$520
Come along with us on this 10 day Journey into History to follow the 250 mile route of conquistador, Hernán Cortés, his mistress and interpreter, La Malinche, along with his several hundred soldiers of fortune as they began their ruthless march to conquer the fierce Aztecs, take their land, force them to accept their religion, steal their wealth, and end up changing the face of México and the Americas forever.
Retrace the Route of Hernán Cortés & his men from the gulf shores to the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlán , now the location of México City. Along the way, we’ll learn about the hardships, the battles, the treaties, and eventually, the meeting between two totally different worlds; Cortés from Europe and Moctezuma II, the great leader of the Aztecs empire.
Just as Cortés and his men did, we'll travel through some of México’s most beautiful scenery – from tropical lowlands to high misty cloud forests, arid plateaus, over an 11,000 foot mountain pass, and into México's central valley where México City is now located. However, unlike most of the Spanish invaders who walked this entire route, you will be riding in a nice comfortable air conditioned vehicle.
Note: This Educational Tour was created for high school history teachers, college professors of Latin American studies, student groups & history buffs.
Join us as we follow the route of this historical military march where our travels will take us to all these towns & cities:
Villa Rica - Veracruz
The site where the Spaniards first landed to start their trek inland.
Quiahuiztlan - Veracruz
The ancient city where they met with the Totonac leaders
Cempoala - Veracruz
It was the Totonac capital city where the Europeans met the Totonac cacique (local leader).
La Antigua - Veracruz
The first permanent Spanish coastal settlement
Coatepec & Xico - Veracruz
Two pre-Hispanic towns the invaders passed through.
Now they both are designated Pueblo Mágicos.
Tzompantepec - Tlaxcala
The location where the major battle with the Tlaxcaltecas
City of Tlaxcala - Tlaxcala
Where the alliance of the Tlaxcaltecas and Spanish took place.
Cholula - Puebla
The 2nd largest Aztec city – site of a brutal massacre by Cortés, his men, and his indigenous allies.
Calpan - Puebla
A town at the foot of two mountains where the Spaniards passed through.
México City / Tenochtitlán
The Aztec capital city where we will visit the important sites related to the conquest story. We will also visit some nearby cities that were not on the route the Spaniards traveled.
City of Puebla - Puebla
This was the first major city built by the Spanish after the conquest because of its strategic location of being the halfway point between the Gulf of México and México City.
Cuernavaca - Morelos
After the defeat of the Aztecs, Cortés built a large home here which is now a historical museum with exhibits from this region.
• Veracruz Landing Site of Cortés
• Tlaxcala Battle Site
• Cholula Battle Site
• Travel over the Cortés Mountain Pass
• Hacienda de Cortés, Cuernavaca
• Burial Site of Cortés Remains
• Templo Mayor, México City
• National Anthropology Museum
*2023 Tour Dates
May 3-May 12 (We-Fr)
July 5-July 14 (We-Fr)
Aug 23-Sep 1 (We-Fr)
Sep 20-Sep 29 (We-Fr)
$2995 per adult - double
$2695 per child (12-17 yrs)
Attn: Educators, History Buffs & Travel Organizers Put together a private group of 10-16 people and your tour package is free! (airfare not included). We can provide you with advertising materials for promotional use.
If you have alternative dates in mind for your group other than those advertised, contact us and we can check availability.
* Includes day of arrival & departure.
** Prices in USD. Air not included in tour price.
DAY 1: Welcome to Veracruz
After arriving to the Veracruz Airport, catch one of the airport taxis to the hotel in downtown Veracruz City. We'll sleep here for 2 nights.
DAY 2: Orientation / Villa Rica / Quiahuiztlan / Cempoala (B,L)
On our first morning in Veracruz, we'll meet up with our historian guide and have breakfast at one of the oldest traditional restaurants in the city, the Gran Café del Portal. During breakfast, our tour leader will give us an overview of the coming days.
Afterwards, we'll travel up the gulf coast to where our small group will board a motor boat to take us on a short ride further north up the coast to the beach adjacent to the small village of Villa Rica where Cortés and his men came ashore. In this way, we will get to experience the same view of the tropical coastline as the Spaniards did in 1519 as they were rowing to shore. This then is the starting point for what we now know as The Spanish Conquest of Mesoamerica.
Continuing inland, we'll explore the nearby ruins of Quiahuiztlan (Key-ah-weezt-lan) which sits on a high bluff overlooking the bay of Villa Rica. On a clear day, this vantage point will give us a superb wide-angle view of the Gulf of México. It was here that Cortés first made contact with the native people, the Totonacs. This archaeological site now mainly contains many small burial tombs and a small ball court.
After a box lunch back on Villa Rica’s beach, we will continue traveling this historical route of Hernán Cortés by visiting the archaeological site of the city of Cempoala. This was one of the most important Totonac settlements. Here Cortés met their main leader, Xicomecóatl (El Cacique Gordo) and formed an alliance to go up against the Aztecs.
Later, we'll return back to the city of Veracruz and see some of the main sites there. The evening is free to have dinner and enjoy the warm tropical ambiance in this port city.
DAY 3: San Juan de Ulúa / La Antigua / Coatepec / Xico (B,L)
After breakfast, it will be time to check out and go to explore the massive harbor fortress called, San Juan de Ulúa. The Spaniards started construction to build this island fortress about a decade after Cortéz arrived.
Today, a manmade causeway (road) has been added so visitors can drive to this fortress. Back in 1519, it was on this island that Cortés encountered the first two emissaries sent by Moctezuma II to greet these foreigners.
Next, we'll travel north to the riverside town of La Antigua. This is actually the site where Cortés decided to create their first permanent base of operations on the gulf coast. Remnants of the customs house built by the Spaniards can still be viewed as well as one of the first Catholic chapels constructed in New Spain.
Continuing our historical journey,we will travel inland (as the Conquistadors did) to the higher and milder climate near to what is now the capital city of Veracruz state; Xalapa.
Just south of the city, we'll stop at the Ex-Hacienda Zimpizuahua for lunch. This ex-hacienda was built in the mid 1500’s by Antonio Reinoso, a soldier who fought with Cortéz. The grounds are a mixture of old buildings and lush tropical vegetation. Interestingly, there is a huge ancient aqueduct with a big water wheel which is still operational to this day.
Later, just a short ride down the road, we'll briefly explore the pre-Hispanic Pueblo Mágico towns of Coatepec and Xico. According to historical records, the Spanish invaders did pass through these towns. At around 3,000 feet in altitude, this area is what’s considered a fog forest. It is also one of the best places in México to grow coffee; compliments of Spanish influence. We will sleep 1 night in Xico.
DAY 4: Tlaxcala / Tzompantepec (B,L)
This morning we'll check out and travel west through the state of Puebla and into the eastern corner of the smallest state in México; Tlaxcala. Keep your camera ready as there will be some great scenic views to enjoy out your window on this two hour ride.
A multi-day pivotal battle between the Spaniards and the fierce Tlaxcallan warriors took place on a hill near the small pueblo of Tzompantepec. Our historian guide will paint the picture of the battle from the viewpoints of Cortés as well as from the Tlaxcaltecas. Our group will also be invited into the municipal government building in Tzompantepec to view the colorful murals painted on the conference room walls depicting historical scenes of this battle.
The capital city of the state of Tlaxcala is also called, Tlaxcala. It is here that Cortés and the leaders of the Tlaxcaltecas eventually forged a very important alliance which proved to be a huge benefit to the outcome of this conquest story.
We'll stay 1 night in the city of Tlaxcala.
DAY 5: Cholula / Puebla City (B,L)
Today we'll check out and travel about an hour south to the city of Cholula. Cuauhtemoc (Temo) will continue the conquest story by taking us to the plaza where thousands of Cholulans (nobility & townsfolk) were ruthlessly slaughtered by Cortés, his men, and native allies.
Adjacent to the site of this horrific massacre is the largest pre-Hispanic structure in the world in terms of volume. It is an enormous pyramid which is still mostly unexcavated. A beautiful Catholic church was later built on top to dramatically symbolize the religious conquest of this new land. Interestingly, Cortés and his men never saw this massive pyramid structure because at that time, it had already been covered over in dirt, grass, and trees. To the Spaniards, it just looked like a big hill. However, this hidden pyramid proved to be four times the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.
At the time of the Conquest, the city of Cholula was the second most important city after the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán.
The present day capital of the state of Puebla is the nearby city by the same name which was not there when the Spaniards arrived. In the evening, our group will temporarily divert from the Conquest story to have dinner in this beautiful colonial city and later, take a short walking tour of the downtown area.
Afterwards, we'll return to our hotel in Cholula and stay for 1 night.
DAY 6: Calpan / Horse Trail Ride / Cortéz Pass / Cuernavaca (B,L)
Today will be more of an adventure day for our group. Traveling west about 45 minutes, we will reach the small town of Calpan. Cortés, his men from Spain, and many Tlaxcalan warriors trekked through this town on their way to the Aztec capital city. In Calpan, we'll take a quick peek at the old 16th century Franciscan Ex-Convent and then get ready for a 2 hour trail ride on horses. A local rancher will provide the horses and also lead us.
The scenery is dominated by two tall mountains; Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. During this horse trail ride we'll get to experience (as Cortés did on horseback) the rugged terrain on the east side of these two majestic volcanic mountains.
After lunch at a small local restaurant in Calpan, it will be time for our scenic journey up and over what is now called, Paso de Cortés. We may need to dress warm for this ascent through the pass as we will reach an altitude of 11,150 feet/3400 m. At the highest point, everyone we'll stop to view the now worn plaque dedicated to Hernán Cortés and his men to commemorate this route in which he traveled over to reach the valley of México and the Aztec capital city.
On the western descent, our trip will take another divergence from the Conquistador’s original route into what is now México City. There are two reasons for this change. The biggest reason is that our group will hit massive amounts of traffic on the road since we would be arriving into the city during the afternoon rush hour when everyone is heading home after work. Rather than subjecting the group to long waits with stop and go traffic, instead we will head southwest and skirt the city by going into the state of Morelos and to its capital city, Cuernavaca. The second reason for going there is that we can then visit the Palace of Cortés, one of his many homes which has now been converted into a museum. Also, our accommodations for this evening will be at another beautiful home built by Cortés. It was a sugar mill hacienda built in 1530 and has now been converted into the Hotel & Spa Hacienda de Cortés. We will sleep here for 2 nights.
DAY 7: Palace of Cortés / Tour of Cuernavaca (B,L)
At the conclusion of a relaxing breakfast, we'll travel to the city center of Cuernavaca to explore the Palace of Cortés. Today it is officially called the Museo Regional Cuauhnáhuac. This museum has artifacts dating back from prehistoric times to pre-Hispanic and all the way into the early 1900’s. There are also items related to Cortés and murals painted by Diego Rivera. Interestingly, this building is the oldest preserved colonial era civil structure in México.
Other places we will explore include the Cathedral of Cuernavaca, the first Catholic chapel built in Mesoamerica, and the Borda Gardens, an estate built by a wealthy family who earned their fortune from mining silver. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
Later, we'll return to the Hotel & Spa Hacienda de Cortés to relax and enjoy its tranquil beauty. A short tour of the grounds and explanation of the history of this ex-hacienda will be given.
DAY 8: Tenochititlán / Hospital de Jesus / Templo Mayor / National Palace (B,L)
This morning after check-out, we'll travel north to continue the story of the Spaniard’s trek as they finally reached and entered the Aztec capital, Tenochititlán (México City). Our historian guide will “set the stage” regarding the events which occurred upon meeting the great Aztec leader, Moctezuma. Our first stop will be the actual meeting place (now a hospital) where Montezuma and Hernán Cortés first met. It is also the place where the bones of Cortés are buried.
We will then continue on to the Aztec temple; Templo Mayor which is located adjacent to the main México City plaza. Remains of this structure can still be viewed along with an impressive modern museum containing many artifacts relating to this ancient history. Later, we'll visit the National Palace with its famous murals of Diego Rivera and also we can marvel at the huge Metropolitan Cathedral.
We will sleep in México City for 2 nights.
DAY 9: Site of Noche Triste / National Anthropology Museum / Chapultepec Castle / Farewell Dinner (B,L,D)
What a great way to conclude our journey to México City! This morning we'll travel down the main boulevard called, Paseo de la Reforma. It is a wide avenue modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Our first stop will be to see the spot where legend has it that Cortés wept for his men because … as you may already know from studying this history story, the Aztec warriors gave Cortés and his men a whipping as they tried to sneak out of the city in the middle of the night. Half of the Spaniards were killed along with hundreds of their allies.
The National Anthropology Museum is cavernous with thousands upon thousands of artifacts housed in several buildings. It is definitely a must-explore place when in México City, especially if you are a history, anthropology, and/or archaeology enthusiast. Our historian guide will lead us on a private tour of the sections of the museum most tied to the Spanish conquest story.
After lunch at a local restaurant, since this next location is right next to the museum, we decided to continue our history lesson about México by exploring the castle on the hill in Chapultepec Park. Over the many years, this impressive mansion was home to a military academy, used as a residence for several Mexican presidents, and was also the location of the final battle in the Mexican-American War in September, 1847. This castle now houses México’s National Museum of History.
In the evening, we'll all meet one last time for a farewell dinner to enjoy our final night of Mexican hospitality and to share memories of our last 9 days of travel and historical exploration.
DAY 10: Travel Day Home (B)
Our tour ends after breakfast. At the appropriate time, a taxi/Uber can be secured for the ride to the México City International Airport.
Itinerary schedule is subject to change.
Tour Price Includes:
• 10 day / 9 night guided tour (includes day of arrival & departure)
• Small group tour size of up to 16 travelers
• All ground transportation during guided tour days
• All activities as listed in the itinerary
• All entrance fees
• 9 nights of hotel lodgings
• 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 1 dinner
• All tips for all your guides & driver
Additional activities & meals not listed above
Trip interruption insurance
Group activities listed are subject to change.
Activity Level: Easy - Moderate
Maximum Group Size: 8-16
Suggested Minimum Age: 12 years
Arrival & Departure Cities: Veracruz (VER) / México City (MEX)
Deposit: $350 USD per person
A Reminder -
There is no need to fret over how much to tip and of having the right amount of Mexican Pesos at the end of your tour.
We take care of the tips for all specialty guides as well as your main host guide and driver.
If you would like to stay a few more days either before or after your tour with us and would like some assistance in making those plans, Contact Us.
We can design an independent travel experience based on what you would like to see and do. We can help you to arrange for local transportation, accommodations, and set you up with a local guide.