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Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico with well over half a million inhabitants in the city itself and around 850,000 in the metropolitan area. It's located in the central parts of the state along the Rio Grande. It was actually a pretty sleepy town until after World War II when the city sprang to life in the middle of the desert. It is a strong mix of traditional native cultures, hispanic culture and white culture
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Albuquerque has a semi-arid climate. Albuquerque is in the northern tip of the Chihuahuan Desert, near the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The average annual precipitation is less than half of evaporation, and no month averages below freezing.
Albuquerque's climate is usually sunny and dry, with an average of 3,415 sunshine hours per year. Brilliant sunshine defines the region, averaging 278 days a year; periods of variably mid and high-level cloudiness temper the sun at other times. Extended cloudiness is rare. The city has four distinct seasons, but the heat and cold are mild compared to the extremes that occur more commonly in other parts of the country.
Winters are rather brief, with December, the coolest month, averaging 2.4 °C, although low temperatures bottom out in January, and the coldest temperature of the year is typically around -12 °C. There are 2.8 days where the high is at or below freezing.
Spring is windy, sometimes unsettled with some rain, though spring is usually the driest part of the year in Albuquerque. March and April tend to see many days with the wind blowing at 20 to 30 mph (32 to 48 km/h), and afternoon gusts can produce periods of blowing sand and dust. In May, the winds tend to subside.
The summer heat is relatively tolerable for most because of low humidity, except for some days during the North American Monsoon. There are 2.7 days of 38 °C+ highs annually, mostly in June and July and rarely in August due in part to the monsoon; an average 60 days see 32 °C+ highs.
Fall sees less rain than summer, though the weather can be more unsettled closer to winter.
Albuquerque averages around 9 inches of snow per winter, and experiences several accumulating snow events each season. Locations in the Northeast Heights and Eastern Foothills tend to receive more snowfall due to each region's higher elevation and proximity to the mountains.
The mountains and highlands beyond the city create a rain shadow effect, due to the drying of air ascending the mountains; the city usually receives very little rain or snow, averaging 8–9 inches (216 mm) of precipitation per year. Most rain occurs during the summer monsoon season (also called a chubasco in Mexico), typically starting in early July and ending in mid-September.
|Avg Max||8.2 °C||11.9 °C||16.3 °C||21.6 °C||26.5 °C||32.2 °C||33.6 °C||31.7 °C||27.7 °C||21.7 °C||14.1 °C||8.6 °C|
|Avg Min||-5.7 °C||-3.1 °C||0.1 °C||4.2 °C||9.2 °C||14.6 °C||18 °C||17 °C||12.9 °C||6.1 °C||-0.4 °C||-4.9 °C|
|Rainfall||11.2 mm||11.7 mm||13.7 mm||13.2 mm||12.7 mm||15 mm||34.8 mm||41.7 mm||25.4 mm||22.6 mm||10.9 mm||12.7 mm|
Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) is the main gateway. Southwest Airlines offers most flights, including to/from Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, St. Louis, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle and Tucson.
Several other airlines serve San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Denver, Cleveland, Atlanta, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and (the only international flight) Chihuahua in Mexico.
The Southwest Chief, operated by Amtrak, travels between Chicago and Los Angeles, stopping in Albuquerque, among other places.
Albuquerque is at the crossroads of the north-south Interstate 25 from Colorado towards the border with Mexico and the east-west Interstate 40 between Amarillo, Texas and Flagstaff, Arizona. The last one roughly lies on the location of the historic Route 66, parts of which run through downtown Albuquerque.
Check the Greyhound website for information about getting to/from Albuquerque by bus.
Albuquerque is a heavily planned city. In much of the city, the major roads are lined primarily with businesses with residential mazes on the insides. The city is divided into four quadrants, with street addresses taking the form "12345 Main Steet (NE/NW/SE/SW)" in which the NE/NW/SE/SW suffix denotes the quadrant of the city containing the address. The railroad tracks, which run parallel to I-25, are the east–west dividing line, and Central Avenue is the north–south dividing line. Thus, the street address 3600 Menaul NE would be north of Central and east of the railroad tracks. This nomenclature, while useful in helping you with maps and directions, has the drawback that you can't tell whether a street runs north–south or east–west simply by looking at the address.
By and large it's difficult to get truly lost in Albuquerque, thanks in large part to the looming presence of the Sandia Mountains to the east. If you can also remember that I-25 runs north–south, I-40 runs east–west, and the Rio Grande runs along the bottom of the valley in the western part of the city, you should be able to make your way around the city without too many problems.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
ABQ RIDE, +1 505 243-RIDE, is Albuquerque's public transit system. Despite some recent strides in the development of its public transit system, Albuquerque is still primarily a driving city, so with the exception of Central Avenue public transit is still for the most part very underdeveloped. Most of ABQ Ride's routes spur out of the Alvarado Transportation Center in Downtown at Central Avenue & First Street, which also serves as Albuquerque's Amtrak station and Greyhound depot as well as a Rail Runner station. Bus service is reduced during the weekend.
The Rapid Ride is an express bus service operated by ABQ Ride which runs frequently, utilizing bright red articulated buses. There are three Rapid Ride routes: the #766 (Red Line) and #777 (Green Line) each run very frequently and almost entirely on Central Avenue, serving attractions such as the BioPark, Old Town, Downtown, UNM, Nob Hill, the fairgrounds, and Uptown; the #766 runs between Uptown and Unser/Central on the Westside, while the #777 runs between Downtown and Tramway/Central on the eastern edge of the city. Additionally, the #790 (Blue Line) connects UNM to the Cottonwood Mall area on the Westside, but runs less frequently than the Central Avenue lines and is geared more towards commuters. Local routes that are useful for visitors include the #50, which runs Monday-Saturday between the airport and Downtown; and #40 (the "D-Ride"), a free shuttle which circulates around Downtown on the weekdays.
Standard fares for ABQ Ride routes are $1 per ride, with discounts for seniors and children available (cash only; exact change required). A day pass costs $2. A day pass is included in the price of a Rail Runner Express day pass, so visitors who ride the Rail Runner train to Albuquerque can also ride the bus for free using their train ticket.
Albuquerque is fairly bikeable, but it's a sprawling Western city and things are spread out. It's hillier than it looks; Old Town and Downtown attractions are several hundred feet lower than things in the heights on the eastern side of the city; plan accordingly. Getting around by bike can be a mixed bag in Albuquerque: street cycling can be risky as drivers may not always be aware and most major streets lack bicycle lanes (and even those that do have lanes may require uncomfortably close proximity to fast traffic). On the other hand, Albuquerque has a very proactive cycling community and a splendid paved trail network which is undergoing an expansion phase.
The crown jewel in this network is the Paseo del Bosque Trail, which runs along the east side of the Rio Grande and offers lovely riverside scenery. Another backbone to the trail network is the North Diversion Channel Trail which runs from UNM north to Balloon Fiesta Park, and while not nearly as scenic as the Bosque trail (it runs along a concrete drainage channel and past some industry) it offers the occasional grand vista of the city. Another fun ride is the paved trail along Tramway Boulevard on the eastern edge of the city, which offers excellent views of the city and access to the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. You can find a complete bike map of all the trails, lanes, and recommended routes on the city's bicycling website.
Dining out in Albuquerque tends to be relatively inexpensive and very casual. Many places offer outdoor seating.
New Mexican cuisine is unique. Be ready for the question "Red or green?" or in Spanish "¿Rojo o verde?" which refers to the chile based sauce included in or used to smother various menu items. There are constant arguments as to which is hotter, the ripe and often dried red chile, or the immature green chile; however, spiciness depends much more on the strain of pepper and how the chile is prepared rather than the color, and varies greatly by restaurant, so inquire and experiment. Many meals will include sopaipillas, the characteristic New Mexican fry bread, as a side. The characteristic desserts are flan, a type of custard, or Natillas, closer in texture to pudding.
If you want a nicer - and pricier - hotel, then head east on I-40 to "uptown" (in the northeast side of the city, which is at higher elevation than "downtown" close to the river) or north on I-25. If you don't mind less free stuff, Central Avenue (old Route 66) is cheaper. However, there are some real dives along Central Avenue, many with unsavory reputations and occasional police raids. Hotels around the airport are generally vanilla-flavored, business-traveler places, but at least are somewhat less expensive than airport hotels in many cities. There are a few nice highrise hotels in the Downtown/Old Town area. Lodging Per Diem is $75.
Albuquerque is experiencing a massive wave of hotel building, mainly in the "Mid-range" class. This apparently is driven in part by the infamous lodging shortages during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in October. The result is that during other parts of the year, affordable hotels shouldn't be too hard to find. Even with the growth in the hotel market, lodging can be tight for the Fiesta, so if you're coming then, reserve well in advance - months rather than days.
|Red Roof Inn and Suites||I-25 at Comanche Road, Exit #2||Hotel||-|
|Route 66 Hostel||1012 Central Ave SW Suite||Hostel||81|
|Ramada Hotel & Conference Center||10300 Hotel Avenue NE||Hotel||-|
|Motel 6 Albuquerque South - Airport||1000 Avenida Cesar Chavez Southeast Albuquerque||Hotel||-|
|Best Western InnSuites Hotel & Suites Albuquerque||2400 Yale Blvd SE Albuquerque||HOTEL||-|
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
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