Mexico City also called DF or just Mexico, is the capital of Mexico and is a huge metropolitan area with around 20 million people living within its boundaries, being one of the largest urban agglomerations in the world. Unfortunately, because of the fact that it is totally surrounded by mountains, it is one of the most polluted ones as well. It is located in the central mountainous parts of the country at a height of over 2,200 metres and this area is prone to some serious earthquakes, most recently in 2006. People have been living here since the early 14th century, when the Aztecs settled on an island in a lake that no longer exists. This has had the added benefit of making the city sink, similar to Venice.
That being said, Mexico City is an amazing place to visit and stay. It is truly the heart and centre of Mexico and a trip to Mexico is not complete without a few days here. The city is home to amazing museums, parks, music, art, bars, restaurants, old buildings and Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling). Today, many travellers start their trips here to the country. Although a bit overwhelming at first, Mexico City can seem very small even after a few days.
Mexico city is truly massive! This one of the largest cities in the world and after looking at a map it is easy to see why. Luckily most of the areas tourists are interested in are located in a few neighbourhoods that are easy to reach by the convenient metro system. Some neighbourhoods are littered with famous sites while some are just worth going to for a quick stop. Here is a list of the most popular neighbourhoods with tourists in Mexico City:
© All Rights Reserved Lavafalls
The Historico Centro is also known as the Zocalo Area and is the original colonial city built on top of the destroyed Aztec Capital. This area of the city is home to many of the best buildings and shops. At night time it can get a bit shady. It is also the best place in Mexico City to see the effects of its sinking nature with many of the older buildings sagging deep into the ground.
© All Rights Reserved Lavafalls
Located off the Green Line (Line 3) stop of Viveros, Coyoacán is home to many famous houses and the art scene of Mexico City.
© All Rights Reserved Lavafalls
Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.
Mexico City has fairly pleasant conditions all year round regarding temperatures, although June to September is rather wet. Temperatures average between 20 and 25 °C during the day, with the highest temperatures from March to June and the lowest from November to February. Nights are between 6 °C from December to February and 13 °C in June. March and April are good months for a visit, avoiding rain and cold nights.
1. Mexico City International Airport (IATA: MEX, ICAO: MMMX) offers an extensive network of flights to many destinations in North America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia for example with the national carrier AeroMéxico. Other carriers include Interjet and Volaris. But also European carriers like KLM, Iberia, Air France and Lufthansa fly here.
To/from the airport
The airport is served by the Terminal Aérea Metro station, located just outside the national terminal. There is also a bus terminal, which is served by various bus lines with routes to Cuernavaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Toluca, Pachuca, and Córdoba and many others. On the website you can find more about the bus services.
2. Lic. Adolfo López Mateos International Airport (TLC) is a smaller airport located in Toluca, just 30 minutes/40 kilometres from the financial district of Mexico City. It's gaining importance as it has the longest runway of all Mexican airports and has a growing number of flights with budget airlines, especially with Interjet, Volaris and TAR. There are international flights to/from Houston and Fort Lauderdale with Spirit.
To/from the airport
Caminante Aeropuerto offers taxis and shuttle vans between the airport and downtown in just over half an hour if traffic is not at its heaviest.
The main train station in Mexico City is Buenavista Station, from where a suburban commuter train (Ferrocarriles Suburbanos) takes you 27 kilometres north to Cuautitlán. While not particularly useful for most tourists, it can be used to see the sights in or close to the northern part of the metropolitan area, such as the old convent at Cuautitlán (walking distance) or the Museo Nacional del Virreinato and fine church in Tepotzotlán (bus ride from Cuautitlán).
Intercity passenger train services to various parts of the country have ceased operations since 1997. A new rail line from Observatorio to Toluca and Zinacantepec is currently under construction.
Driving yourself into and out of the city is total madness, but of course it can be done with steel nerves if you like.
Remember to check what bus station your bus is leaving from before going there because the two stations are pretty far from each other. Also at both bus stations you can buy tickets for the other bus station. For example after arriving from Oaxaca at Terminal Taop you go to the ticket seller and buy a ticket for Monterrey. That ticket might be for the Terminal Norte even though it was purchased at Terminal Tapo. Estrella Blanca and Autotransportes Tufesa offer extensive services throughout the country from Mexico City.
© All Rights Reserved evelynez
The city government offers free color maps of Mexico City for all tourists. Go to one of the tourist kiosks located near a major sight and ask for a map. All they will want to know is what country you are from and how many people you are travelling with. The maps have all the major sites, hotels and youth hostels on them for all the neighborhoods that tourists visit. There is even a complete color subway map located on it. There is one kiosk located on the southeast corner of the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Driving in Mexico City seems insane. The traffic is intense, the streets are narrow and the drivers are insane. That being said one should think twice before renting a car and driving in Mexico City. Also many areas of the city are a maze of one-way streets that confuse even veteran taxi drivers.
Taxi kidnappings still happen in Mexico City although with less frequency. It is best to use an authorized taxi when arriving at the airport, bus station or train station. Just follow the signs to the authorized taxi kiosk, tell the person at the kiosk where you are going and pay them and they will hand you a slip of paper. Go to the taxi line and give the slip of paper to the driver and tell the driver where you want to go. During the night, to insure safety, it is best to have the hotel, hostel, restaurant or bar call a taxi for you. Remember to bargain a price up front because there are no meters in any taxis.
Mexico City is home to one of the best subway systems in the world. With 12 lines it makes it possible to get anywhere in the city on the subway for only 2.5 pesos! There are also buses that are pretty good and they cost 2 pesos.
During rush hour there are special carriages for women because there used to be a lot of complaints from women about men touching them especially during rush hour.
Mexico City is massive and sprawls on for what seems infinity. With that being said, many of the areas that tourists are interested in are pretty easy to get around by walking. With a combination of public transport and walking, most tourists can see everything they want within the city.
Traffic in Mexico City is insane and biking in that traffic might be considered a death wish. There are a few bike trails in Chapultepec Park. It is easy to rent a bike there and bike around.
Mexico City also has a bike sharing program known as EcoBici. There are outposts with available bikes and parking slots throughout the city. Before, this option only used to be available to residents with a long waiting list and application process. Now the program offers 1 day to 1 week passes to tourists as well. All you need is a passport and a major credit card to get a hold of a pass.
The main road, Paseo de la Reforma, runs through Mexico City and is also closed to cars on a Sunday. This is a great opportunity to get a hold of a bicycle and ride through the city without any fear of being run down by the commonplace manic driving.
A good way to sample the delights of Mexican food produce is to visit a market. A good one to go to is the San Juan market downtown. This is a renowned food market with the reputation from having the most exotic meats, seafood and vegetables. Here you can find some fruits which you may never have seen before, and that are also very rare. Many of the fruits, such as the feijoa, were believed to be cherished by the ancient civilizations of Aztec and Mayan cultures. As a tourist, you also get the luxury of being bombarded with free samples as traders vie for your custom.
Mezcal is the drink of choice for most Mexicans in the city on a night out. Mezcal is similar to Tequila, but exceptional for the quality of sugar it uses, coming from the maguey plant which is a type of agave. Haunts known as Mezcalerias can be found all over the city and specialize in Mezcal. Many Mexicans believe it is better to drink the young clear of silver mezcals because the drink hits you with all its fiery character. There are also rested (reposada) and aged (añejo) mezcals and price tends to go up with age, as does the smoothness of the drink. Traditionally, mescal is drunk with a slice of orange sprinkled with salt on it.
The most traditional drink of Mexico might be Pulque. This is an alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant as well. It has a milky colour and consistency and is very potent. It is often the choice to go to a pulquería, specializing in the drink, when the main intention is to celebrate and inebriate. Pulques also come in a variety of flavours.
Although drink usually suggests alcohol, Mexico City has a great enthusiasm for freshly squeezed juices. Juice stands are very popular, almost as much so as tacos, and it is likely you will find a stall within a couple of blocks. It is a great way to get your daily intake of fruit, plus you have the freedom to make up your own concoctions, and all at a very reasonable price.
You could find a hotel in downtown Mexico City although there are many nice neighbourhoods to stay in such as Zona Rosa, Roma or Condesa. For people spending more then a few days in Mexico City it is best to spend a few days in the Zocolo area then branch out into some of the other neighbourhoods.
If staying for a month or more, there are many opportunities to rent or share an apartment for very reasonable prices in great areas such as Condesa, Roma, Coyoacan and Polanco. A good place to search is compartodepa.com.mx where you can find flat shares from one month upwards. It is quite common to find international or English speaking roommates too.
More budget options in the entire Mexico City area include:
|Bed and Breakfast Mexico Hostel||Durango 145 at corner Tonala st. colonia roma norte||HOSTEL||-|
|Casa Comtesse||Benjamin Franklin 197 Colonia Hipodromo Condesa||Guesthouse||-|
|Casa Gonzalez||Rio Sena 69||Guesthouse||83|
|Chillout Flat||Bolivar 8.apt102 Centro Historico, Mexico City||Guesthouse||-|
|Condesa Haus||Cuernavaca 142||Guesthouse||84|
|Del Prado Hotel||Marina Nacional 399 Colonia Veronica Anzures||Hotel||-|
|Hostal Casa Vieja||Cerrada de Londres # 7 Colonia Juarez (Between Sevilla Ave. & Toledo St.)||HOSTEL||-|
|Hostal Condesa||Av. Tamaulipas 197 Col. Hipodromo Condesa||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal Cuija Coyoacan||Berlin 268; Col. del Carmen Coyoacan||Hostel||85|
|Hostal Montejo||Bahia de Montejo 79, col. Vero||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostel Cathedral||Republica de Guatemala No 4 Colonia Centro,||Hostel||82|
|Hostel Condesa Chapultepec||Cozumel Street #53-A Col. Roma Norte||Hostel||80|
|Hostel Home||Tabasco 303 Col. Roma , C.P. 06700 México||Hostel||86|
|Hostel Amigo Zocalo||Moneda 8, Centro DF||HOSTEL||82|
|Hostel333||Colima #333 Colonia Roma, Del. Cuauhtemoc||Hostel||80|
|Hostel Inn Zona Rosa||Hamburgo #153 building 3 Col Juarez||HOSTEL||81|
|Jade||Eligio Ancona 242 Santa Maria de la Ribeira||Guesthouse||-|
|Mexico City Hostel||Brasil No. 8 Col. Centro||Hostel||88|
|Versalles 104 Guesthouse||Versalles 104||Guesthouse||-|
|YWCA Centro Historico||Humboldt 62 Col.||Hostel||83|
|Hostel Amigo||Isabel la Catolica #61 col. centro Z.C||Hostel||75|
|Hostal Victoria DF||Cerrada de Varsovia 11 Colonia Juarez||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Dakota B&B||Dakota 55 Colonia Napoles||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|El Patio 77||Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta 77 Colonia San Rafael||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Anys Hostal||Puebla 263 Col. Roma Norte||Guesthouse||88|
|Hostel Airport Mexico DF||Aguascalientes 33 Peñon de los Baños||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|El Cenote Azul||Calle Alfonso Pruneda #24 Colonia Copilco El Alto delegacion Coyoacan||Hostel||-|
|Condesa Amatlan||Amatlan #84 Col. Condesa||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostel Centro Historico Regina||5 de Febrero No. 53 & Regina Col. Centro Historico||HOSTEL||82|
|Hostel Condesa Chapultepec Privanza||Calle Etla 20 Col. Hipodromo Condesa||Hostel||82|
|Hostel Amigo Suites Downtown||Luis Gonzalez Obregon 14 Downtown||Hostel||85|
|Suites DF Hostel||Jesus Teran 38 Colonia Tabacalera||HOSTEL||90|
|Hotel Señorial||Callejón de la Esperanza No. 8 Col. Centro Histórico entre Bolivar y San Jerónimo||Hotel||-|
|Hostal Boutique La Tercia||Genova #75 & #79||HOSTEL||-|
|Hotel El Ejecutivo||Viena #8 Col. Juarez||HOTEL||-|
|Casa Roa||Fernando Gonzalez Roa 8 Cd. Satelite||HOSTEL||86|
|Massiosare El Hostel||Revillagigedo # 47, Corner with Victoria Street Colonia Centro||HOSTEL||85|
|MARIA DEL ALMA||Paris near Av. Mexico Del Carmen, Coyoacan||Guesthouse||-|
|Hostal La Buena Vida||Mazatlan 190 Col. Condesa Mexico D.F.||HOSTEL||-|
|Alba Deluxe Flat||Division del Norte No.120 - 12 Col. Del Valle Del. Benito Juarez||APARTMENT||-|
|Hotel La Riviera||Aldama No.9 Col. Guerrero||HOTEL||-|
|B&B Distrito Condesa||Cholula 62||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Downtown beds||Isabel La Catolica 30 Colonia Centro||HOSTEL||89|
|Hostal Condechi||Atlixco 100 - 7 Colonia Condesa||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Stayinn Barefoot Condesa||Juan escutia 125 corner zamora Col Condesa||HOSTEL||83|
|Hostel Amigo Zócalo||Moneda 8||Hostel||-|
|B&B Mexico||Avenida Oaxaca 21 Colonia Roma Norte||GUESTHOUSE||-|
Mexico has very strict immigration laws. In order to work you should obtain a permit known as FM2 or FM3 which is very hard to get unless you're marrying a Mexican citizen or you are an expat working for a multinational company. Most foreigners working without a permit perform jobs such as language teachers, waiters or salesmen. Others own a restaurant or shop. If you're working without a permit and an immigration officer finds out, it could mean a fine, deportation or spending some time in a detention facility of the National Immigration Institute.
Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.
See also International Telephone Calls
Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.
The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.
Ask margaretm a question about Mexico City
I have been living here for almost two years and have done quite a bit of visiting and researching.
Ask Ramonlv a question about Mexico City
I have been living in Mexico City since 2012 and have my own website on the place (mexicocityvibes.com)... I have some experience and knowledge to share!
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License