Peña De Bernal – Hike One Of Mexico’s Natural Wonders

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Bernal is a pretty little Pueblo Magico in Mexico that is located just 40 minutes from the state capital of Querétaro. The star attraction of this magical town is the huge rock monolith called Peña de Bernal.

Peña de Bernal is with 433 meters (1,421 feet) one of the tallest monoliths in the world and is the exposed core of an extinct volcano. The monolith has been named one of the 13 Natural Wonders of Mexico and is an impressive sight.

An awesome hike will take you up the side of Peña de Bernal. You can also go rock climbing there with a guide if you like.

In the town of Bernal, there are also a few bars and cafes with amazing views of Peña de Bernal. So keeping reading to find out everything Peña de Bernal and this unique Pueblo Magico has to offer!

Katharina standing in the middle of a colorful street in Bernal Querétaro with the monolith Peña de Bernal in the background
Enjoying the morning sun on the colorful streets of Bernal with Peña de Bernal in the background

What is Peña De Bernal in English?

Peña de Bernal translates to Bernal Boulder or Bernal Peak in English.

What is the Monolith in Peña De Bernal?

Peña de Bernal is the tallest monolith in the world. A monolith is a large structure of a single massive stone or rock. The word derives from the Greek words monos meaning ‘single’ and lithos meaning ‘stone’.

Bernal's monolith from the side
Peña de Bernal is a freestanding mountain

What type of rock is Peña De Bernal?

Peña de Bernal is the exposed core of an extinct volcano. While the volcano eroded over millions of years, the mass of magma which was inside and became solid still remains as the monolith we see today

How high is Peña de Bernal?

Peña de Bernal is 433 meters (1,421 feet) high and therefore makes it on the list of the tallest monoliths in the world.

Rock climbers climbing up on a steep side of Bernal
Only rock climbers can go to the very top

Can you climb Peña de Bernal?

Yes, you can climb Peña de Bernal. Most people choose hiking up to the highest possible viewpoint. If you would like to reach the top you would need to book a tour for mountain climbing.

Peña de Bernal on the Map

Peña de Bernal is located in the state of Querétaro in the city of San Sebastián Bernal. The closest big city nearby is the state’s capital Santiago de Querétaro.

Map showing the location of Peña de Bernal and Santiago de Querétaro
Peña de Bernal’s location circled in red

How to get to Peña de Bernal from Querétaro

Bernal is a small town so I recommend visiting it on a one-day trip from Querétaro. You can easily reach Bernal from Querétaro by car, taxi or bus.

Taxi Querétaro to Bernal

🚖 To get to Bernal from Querétaro you can take a taxi which should cost around 600 pesos (30 USD) each way.

Or you can take a bus which is the cheapest option and how we got there.

Bus Querétaro to Bernal

🚍 To catch the bus to Bernal you will need to go to the Querétaro Bus Station and head to terminal B. To find terminal B just look for a building with a large red B on the outside.

Inside the terminal, you will need to find the Flecha Amarilla ticket counter. Tickets from Querétaro to Bernal cost 73 pesos (3.50 USD) each way. You can purchase your return ticket when you get on the bus in Bernal.

Flecha Amarilla ticket counter for the bus Querétaro to Bernal
The Flecha Amarilla counter where you buy tickets for the bus Querétaro to Bernal
Flecha Amarilla bus standing outside the bus station with its doors open
One of the Flecha Amarilla buses will take you to Bernal

The bus to Bernal takes around 1.5 hours and will drop you on the main road just outside the town center. From there it’s only a 5-minute walk and you will be at the main square of Bernal.

To return to Querétaro simply wait at the side of the road where the bus dropped you off next to Taqueria La Flamita. You may want to ask a local what time the bus returns so you know when to come back.

When we were there we got told that the bus goes back every hour 20 minutes past the full hour. But better to double-check when you are there as the bus schedule may vary by day or season.

Rental Car Querétaro to Bernal

Renting a car is also a great option to give you the freedom to arrive or leave when you want. You can rent a car for as little as 30 USD per day so it is a super cheap option if you are in a group.

🚗 Search for rental cars in Mexico here

How to get to Peña de Bernal from Mexico City

While I recommend going to Bernal as a day trip from Querétaro it’s also possible to take a bus from Mexico City Central Norte bus station to Ezequiel Montes. From there you can take a taxi directly to Bernal.

The bus from Mexico City to Ezequiel Montes takes almost 3 hours and the taxi takes about 20 minutes.

Hiking Peña de Bernal

Many people may prefer to view Peña de Bernal from below but hiking up was by far my favorite part of visiting Bernal. The path going up is quite steep so is a bit of exercise. But the views from up the top are awesome and well worth the trip up.

Allan overlooking the view from the top
This is where you want to be!

Peña de Bernal Hike Starting Point

Getting to the start of the hike is about a 20-minute walk from the town square. The road out of town is quite steep but you will get entertained on the way by many shops selling gorditas, drinks, and souvenirs. So if you feel like fueling up before the hike there are plenty of options.

Alternatively, there are motorcycle taxis (tuk-tuks) that will take you to the start of the hike for about 50 pesos per ride.

To find your way to the start of the Peña de Bernal hike, look for signs pointing to “La Peña”. It is easy to find as lots of people will be heading up there.

Allan standing next to a sign pointing to the start of the Peña de Bernal hike
One of the signs pointing to La Peña, the start of the hike

Peña de Bernal Tickets

🎟️ Once you get to the start of the hike you will have to pay for a ticket to enter. Tickets cost 60 pesos (3 USD) so are well worth the money.

Peña de Bernal Opening Hours

🕐 The trail is open from 8 am to 5 pm but the last entrance is at 3 pm so make sure you enter before then.

How long does it take to climb Peña de Bernal?

⏱️ You should plan at least 2 hours for the whole hike including spending some time on the top enjoying the views.

Peña de Bernal Hike Directions

The hike starts off with lots of stairs that make their way up the hill between dry shrubs covering the lower slopes of the hill.

Katharina walking up stairs to hike Peña de Bernal
Walking up the stairs at the start

The path through the scrubs continues for 20 – 30 minutes depending on your walking speed. Once the stairs end you will come to a section where there is a rope to help you get across. This is where the views start to get really good!

Katharina using a rope to make her way along a rock face on Peña de Bernal
Use the ropes to make your way across
Allan standing in front of Bernal's top
Half-way!

Reaching the top of Peña de Bernal

Once you have made your way along the ropes there will be a very steep section where you have to do a bit of scrambling over rocks. If you are very scared of heights you may have a bit of a problem with this part. We did not find it scary at all but we saw one girl who was terrified.

After this steep section, you have made it to the top of the hike, congrats! The views up here are awesome and it is a good place to relax on the rocks and take in the scenery on all sides.

Katharina sitting on a rock enjoying the view at the top of Peña de Bernal
Enjoying the view from the top
View from the top of Peña de Bernal
View of the surrounding countryside from the top

Going down is fairly easy and took us around 30 minutes. It took us around 2 hours to hike up to the top from the city center and back down.

Things to do in Bernal (Besides Hiking Peña de Bernal)

The cool thing about the Pueblo Magico Bernal is that it has more to offer than ‘only’ hiking Peña de Bernal. So keep reading to find out what to do in Bernal!

1. Grab a Coffee with a View of Peña de Bernal

If you arrive in Bernal early in the morning then I recommend grabbing a coffee on a rooftop before doing the hike. You will get rewarded with an awesome view of Peña de Bernal.

We had a coffee at Restaurante Bendito Sabor Peña de Bernal along with some granola and fruits for breakfast and really enjoyed it. Although one thing to note was that the music was really loud. We had to ask them to turn it down as did some other guests.

We have been to Bernal twice and for some reason, all the rooftops blast music really loud even if it is only 10 am. A bit strange for such a tiny sleepy town.

Allan overlooking the main square of Bernal with a coffee in his hands and Peña de Bernal in the background
Enjoying coffee with a view over the main square of Bernal

The cafe next door called Mas Cafe Bernal has an awesome view too (and no blasting music) so it is a good alternative too.

2. Eat a Gordita

The gorditas in Querétaro state are one of our favorite street foods to eat in Mexico. Gorditas are made by creating a kind of thick corn tortilla, then splitting it in half and filling the middle with fillings of your choice. Delicious!

There is usually a selection of meats but also vegetarian and vegan options such as eggs, peppers, mushrooms, guacamole and more. So you can mix it up as you like.

The gorditas in Querétaro are not fried in oil as they are in other states of Mexico. So relative to other street foods they can be quite healthy and nutritious.

🥑 How to eat healthily while traveling

Two blue corn gorditas on a white plate on a table
Two blue corn gorditas from Gorditas Dona José

There are a lot of gordita restaurants in town so you won’t have any trouble finding them. We can recommend Gorditas El Negrito and Gorditas Dona Jose. Just pick whichever one looks good to you!

3. Go Rock Climbing on Peña de Bernal

This activity will only be for the adventurous traveler but it is possible to go rock climbing on Peña de Bernal with a guide. While we were hiking up we saw some people rock climbing and it looked like it would be amazing!

Rock climbers climbing up Peña de Bernal on a steep wall
Rock climbers making their way up

You can book a rock climbing tour through Viator that will take you all the way to the top of Peña de Bernal. They offer climbs for beginners and more experienced people. So as long as you are reasonably fit you should be able to take part in a tour.

🎟️ Tours start at 80 USD and take 5 hours. Book your rock climbing tour here.

Read here: How to exercise for free while traveling

4. Take a Photo at the Bernal Letters

Every Pueblo Magico in Mexico usually has some colorful letters with the name of the town on them. But Bernal’s ones are a little harder to find as they are not on the main square.

The letters in Bernal are close to the main road where the bus drops you off. They do however have an awesome view of Peña de Bernal behind it. So make sure you snap a photo before you hop back onto the bus!

📍 Pin the location on your map

Katharina sitting on the Bernal Querétaro sign with Peña de Bernal in the background
We were there in January so the Bernal letters got a Christmas dress

5. Visit a Roof Top Bar or Restaurant

There are many rooftop bars and restaurants with amazing views of Peña de Bernal. You may have a problem with them blasting music but if you find a spot where it is not too loud it really is an awesome place to have a drink after your hike.

We stopped and had a drink at Tierra Cielo after our hike enjoying. the view and some tortilla chips that came with the drinks. Cheers! 🍻

A rooftop bar in Bernal with Peña de Bernal in the background
The view from the rooftop of Terra Cielo

6. Have a Nun Fart

Pedos de Monja are chocolate pralines that are traditional to Querétaro. In English, Pedos de Monja means Nuns Fart but despite the unusual name, they taste great.

The chocolate is kind of like a truffle so if you are feeling like something sweet and fancy they are a good local treat but not cheap.

A sign advertising Pedos de Monja for sale
Pedos de Monja are traditional chocolates from Querétaro

💩 If you want to try them in Querétaro check out our list of top things to do in Querétaro with more food tips.

7. Try Pan de Queso

Pan de Queso is a locally baked bread made with cheese from the region. Querétaro is known for being a wine and cheese region so this doesn’t come as a big surprise.

Pan de Queso comes in a range of flavors such as blackberry, strawberry, and plain. I recommend trying Blackberry. This is for sure not a healthy snack but a nice local treat to grab before the bus if you want to try something new and sweet.

A sign for some pan de queso a traditional food in Bernal Mexico
A bakery advertising Pan de Queso with blackberry

How long to stay in Bernal

I recommend coming to Bernal as a day trip from Querétaro if you like staying in cities or if you are short on time. However, if you’d like to experience a very quiet laid-back town then Bernal is for you!

Bernal gets quite busy on the weekends but only during the day. In the mornings and evenings, as well as during the week, it’s very peaceful and tranquil. So if you prefer hiking with fewer people a weekday is recommended.

Some cafes, restaurants, and shops are only open on the weekend, so if you’d like to stay a night or two that’s the better option.

Flowers and yellow buildings at the main square in Bernal
Bernal’s main square

Where to stay in Bernal

Since we didn’t stay overnight I can’t recommend any specific hotels in Bernal. However, there are definitely many options fitting different budgets. You can have a look at them on Booking.com.

You can also check out this unique Airbnb in Bernal which allows you to sleep in an old VW beetle with an amazing view of Peña de Bernal!

There are no hostels in Bernal we know of so for single backpackers traveling on a budget Querétaro might be the better option.

Is Bernal worth a visit?

Absolutely yes! We visited the Pueblo Magico Bernal twice and also hiked Peña de Bernal twice. It’s an easy day trip from Querétaro and for sure worth a visit at least once.

There are many unique things to do in Bernal and who wouldn’t want to say that they have hiked one of the tallest monoliths in the world? 😉

Yellow church with monolith in the back
Bernal’s main church

Now you know all about visiting Peña De Bernal

Bernal is an awesome little Pueblo Magico in Querétaro and one of our favorites in Mexico. It’s easy and comfortable to reach and there are lots of things to see and do.

Hiking Peña de Bernal one of the tallest monoliths in the world is only one of them and absolutely worth it.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any more questions and if you are ready to explore Bernal!

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. Co-founder of Happy Healthy Nomads and always on a hunt for good food.

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