Mexico City Travel Guide
Tenochtitlan, el Distrito Federal, now la Ciudad de México – Mexico City has been known by many names in its centuries-long history. The capital of Mexico, this sprawling metropolitan area is home to more than 21 million residents.
Head downtown and admire the murals adorning the Palacio de Bellas Artes or grab an elote from a street vendor along the Zócalo, Mexico City's main square. Museum-hop through town, stopping at the Museo Frida Kahlo, the Castillo de Chapultepec, and the Museo Soumaya.After you work up an appetite, sample foods from all over at a Latin American food hall in La Roma, get tacos al pastor from a taquería just around the corner or sit down for a meal in one of the city's oldest restaurants.
Run your fingers along the spines of the books littering stores downtown or in La Condesa, where you can stroll through Parque México with a churro and hot chocolate in hand after.
Mexico City is packed with things to do, even if you're in town for one day or one week. Museums, experiences, and attractions can be found around every corner, whether you're looking for them or not. And even if you can't see everything you want to in one trip, Mexico City will always be waiting when you come back.
Mexico City is in the Central time zone. Mexico's Daylight Savings calendar is a bit off from the United States', so there are a few weeks a year the two zones are an hour apart. If it's spring or fall, check ahead.
Best Time to Go
Mexico City is always bustling, no matter what time of the year you decide to go. You may be drawn in during late October for Day of the Dead, where orange and pink marigolds pop up all over town, adorning altars to the city's departed. Or check in before September 15, when Mexico's president yells out el grito in front of thousands in the city square to mark the country's independence from Spain. If you're looking for something more lowkey, wait until spring and catch the purple jacarandas blooming all over town while strolling through the city's open streets.
Things to Know
Mexico City is a little bit like New York in that it's made up of alcaldías, which are similar to boroughs. There are 16 total, but during your stay you'll most likely only stop through three or four. Each alcaldía is made up of colonias, or neighborhoods.
You most likely won't need a car to get around in Mexico City, though it can be more convenient if you're making a day trip to a neighboring town. Mexico City's web of public transportation is robust, from the Metro, Metrobús, Trolebús, and more, and you're sure to see plenty of the city's ubiquitous pink-and-white taxis all across town. If you prefer ridesharing apps, Uber, Beat, and Cabify are all popular options, while bikes can be rented from the city's Ecobici program or apps like Dezba.
Mexico City moves fast, and can get crowded at times. Even if you're a travel pro, remember to step aside to look down at your phone for directions, and keep your belongings close.
Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN)
(Check the current exchange rate)
I don't speak Spanish: No hablo español.
I'm lost: Estoy perdido/a
I would like…: Me gustaría...
Calling Code: +52
Capital City: Mexico City
How to Get Around
Trains: Mexico City's metro is one of the most expansive (and cheapest) in the world. You'll have to buy a reloadable card to get around (for 15 pesos, or about 75 cents) – this card will work across the city's transit system, and you can load it up in the metro's ticket booths or the machines outside metrobús stations. Each ride costs five pesos, or 20 cents. Heads up: both the metro and metrobús have women-only cars, which usually have a separate boarding zone.
Buses: In Mexico City's central neighborhoods, wherever the metro doesn't go, the metrobús does. They have their own lane of traffic, so they can be faster than taking a car or taxi, and a ride is just six pesos. The city's trolebús functions similarly, while the RTP buses (for Red de Transporte de Pasajeros, or Passenger Transport Network) cost between two and seven pesos. At the same bus stops, you may see non-city buses or vans taking passengers – If you're curious where these go, they'll have their stops scrawled on the windshield.
Taxis: It won't be hard to flag down a pink-and-white taxi in most parts of town, and you can order one by downloading the city's official "App CDMX," available on iPhone and Android. You can use the app to pay with a debit or credit card, but most drivers will still prefer cash.
Ride service: Uber, Beat and Cabify are just a few of the rideshare apps in town. If Uber's surge rate seems pricey during rush hour, check Beat or Cabify to compare – you may just find a deal.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
El Centro Histórico: Mexico City's downtown is always bustling, and where many of the city's residents head to during the weekend. You might see protesters in the main square, vendors hawking their wares through the streets and visitors brunching among the surrounding terraces.
La Roma: Filled with fin de siècle mansions, art deco dwellings and art nouveau-style storefronts, any architecture lover needs to stroll through this colonia. Originally a middle-class residential neighborhood, then left destroyed after a massive earthquake that rocked Mexico City in 1985, La Roma has found new life as a hotspot for artists, twentysomethings, and tourists from all over.
La Condesa: La Roma's fancier cousin next door, La Condesa is a tree-lined paradise built for walking. Parque México and Parque España are popular places for residents to relax, and cafés, bookstores, and restaurants abound in this neighborhood.
Coyoacán: The neighborhood artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera called home, Coyoacán has built a reputation for itself as a bohemian haven. Don't miss the performers around the main square's kiosco and the Parroquia San Juan Bautista Coyoacán next door – which has a cafe in the back if you're looking to stop and catch your breath – along with the Mercado de Artesanias and the Mercado de Coyoacán, each selling snacks, artisan goods and more.
Polanco: A trip to Mexico City isn't complete for any shopping lover without a visit to Polanco's Avenida Presidente Masaryk. If that's not your style, a number of Michelin-worthy restaurants like Pujol and Quintonil are just down the road, and the neighborhood's brick-lined streets are just a few blocks from the Bosque de Chapultepec.
Mexico City has a rather temperate climate, with temperatures not getting too hot or too cold. Due to the city's location in the Valle de México, a 7,000-foot-high basin surrounded by mountains, pollution can hang in the air for days – unless it's rainy season (from around mid-May to mid-October), when storms rain down on the valley almost daily. The rains tend to come in the afternoons, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, so plan accordingly.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January: 43°F to 72°F
February: 48°F to 73°F
March: 50°F to 79°F
April: 54°F to 81°F
May: 55°F to 81°F
June: 57°F to 77°F
July: 55°F to 75°F
August: 55°F to 75°F
September: 55°F to 73°F
October: 52°F to 73°F
November: 50°F to 73°F
December: 46°F to 72°F
Apps to Download
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