Ever wanted to experience an extinct volcano up close? All you need to do is take a day trip from Mexico City, to Nevado de Toluca. Although the volcano is no longer active (which makes it safe to visit), it does offer exceptional views of several turquoise crater lakes. You might even see snow.

Nevado de Toluca is the fourth highest peak in Mexico, just outside the city of Toluca. It’s about a three hour drive from Mexico City. If you’re staying in Mexico City, a hike on Nevado de Toluca might be just what you need from fresh hair and a break from the chaos of city life.

It might be counterintuitive if you’re in Mexico, but if you plan to visit Nevado de Toluca, you need to pack a few layers. It gets cold up on the mountain, so bring a warm jacket, a hat, and perhaps even a scarf and gloves. The peak of the mountain is sometimes even dusted with a light layer of snow – an uncommon site in Mexico.

How to get to Nevado de Toluca

If you have a car, the journey is easy – simply hop in your car and drive from Mexico City, until you get to Toluca, then follow the signs to the volcano. Public transportation makes it easy to get there too though: You can take the Flecha Roja buses from either the Observatorio or the Central del Norte bus station in Mexico City, headed toward Toluca. From there, you can either take a taxi or a bus to the basecamp.

From basecamp, the camp is a four hour walk, so you’re committing to a grueling hike if you take that route. If you have a car, you drive all the way to the car park near the top of the volcano (or ask the taxi to drop you there) – saving you the longer hike – but it shuts down when it snows. Basecamp is also where you’ll have to pay the entry fee into the volcano.

Whether you’re driving or hiking to the peak, keep in mind that the air thins out as you gradually enter higher elevation, which causes some people to feel nauseous and dizzy.

The car park is located near the Nevado de Toluca’s famous crater turquoise crater lakes. From the car park, there’s a short hike to the peak which overlooks the lakes. Because of the elevation, you’ll want to take this hike slowly – even though it shouldn’t be too taxing for people who are in good shape. From there, there are rocky (not well maintained paths) that lead down to the shores of the lakes if you want to take a closer look at the water.

One travel blogger who has been there before recommends bringing along change for the toilets located near the car park, as well as your own lunch and water, because there is only one small stall near the peak selling snacks.