EXPLORE

The Travel Guide to Mexico City

Good to Know
Safety:
B
Budget:
$$
When to go:
Mar–May, Sep–Nov
Average Costs
Basic
Baller
Dinners
$5
$50+
Drinks
$3
$10+
Hotel
$30
$200+

Welcome to Mexico City

Too often, Mexico City is overlooked for the country’s beach resorts or charming small towns, but the bustling capital deserves more than a stopover. It’s the oldest city in the Americas and the most populous city in North America, with more than 21 million residents. Its jumble of neighborhoods is home to more than 150 museums, acres upon acres of gorgeous parks, and more restaurants than you could try in a lifetime. 

Romantic, exciting, sometimes a little gritty, it’s on the cutting edge of design and art but still in no hurry to ditch its roots in tradition. It’s the perfect snapshot of modern Mexico, and one that’ll have you coming back again and again. 

Before you go, learn more about the history and culture of Mexico City.

Who’ll Love Mexico City

City lovers that prefer excitement over serenity, foodies with insatiable appetites, unforgettable group trips, romantic weekends with your better half

How to Budget for a Trip to Mexico City

For anyone accustomed to US or European price tags, Mexico City will delight with its relatively modest cost of living. (It comes as no surprise that it’s far more expensive than most of Mexico, however.) An average meal ranges from under $5 for an inexpensive lunch to $25 or $30 for a stylish dinner. Hotels are budget-friendly, too; you can find a room for as little as $20, and $150/night will add a healthy dose of luxury to your stay.

Safety Considerations

Statistically, Mexico City does not have the best track record when it comes to safety, but while it’s important to be mindful of your whereabouts, the majority of crime doesn’t befall tourists. Hip neighborhoods like Roma and Condesa are dynamic and welcoming, and there’s plenty to see and do within these districts. No matter where you are, it’s unlikely that you’ll face any major threats, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that same-sex couples and females, particularly those traveling alone, may receive unwanted attention. (Also, it’s a good idea no matter where you roam to not flash money on the street or appear boastful about wealth.)

Weather in Mexico City

The hottest time of year in Mexico City is actually the spring, from March to May, when temperatures average 79-81°F during the day. Summer temps are cooled slightly by the near-daily rain. By October, the rain is gone and temperatures begin to drop, though if you’re coming from the north of the US you might be pleasantly surprised. Even in December and January, the average daily high is 71-72° with nighttime lows dipping into the 40s. 

When to Go to Mexico City

March to May is the most popular time to go, but of course that tends to mean more crowds to deal with and slightly higher prices. Summer, despite the rainy weather, is also bust. For lovely weather without a lot of people, look at October and November outside of the dates of Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) when crowds swell and prices go up. 

Money Saving Tips

Eat street food. You’ll find an abundance of vendors selling food on almost every corner, from tamales to tacos to tlayudas and you can fill up for just a few bucks. 

Travel on two wheels. Sign up for an EcoBici account and use the bikeshare service to ride your way around time. Mexico City is very bike-friendly and you’ll spend less time in traffic. 

DIY your visit to Teotihuacan. You don’t have to pay for a guided tour to the famous pyramid site near the city. You can hop on a local bus for under $5 each way, or uber for about $20 each way. 

What to See, Do, and Eat in Mexico City

The Top 10 Things to Do in Mexico City

Xochimilco canal boats
  1. Catch a performance at the Palacio de Bellas Artes
  2. Visit the Palacio Nacional to see the incredible onsite mural by Diego Rivera
  3. Hop aboard a colorful trajinera boat to float along the canals of Xochimilco; explore the Mercado de Xochimilco to buy produce from local farmers or eat delicious tacos and other Mexican staples
  4. Spend a few hours at the Museo Soumaya
  5. Admire the architecture and design of the Luis Barragán House and Studio
  6. Watch a lucha libre wrestling match at the Arena Coliseo
  7. Stroll the Ángel de la Independencia on a Sunday morning, when it’s closed to traffic and locals overtake the street to bike, skate, and run
  8. Check out the Cultura UNAM for contemporary art, live performances, and frequent free shows
  9. Head 25 miles outside of the city to Teotihuacán to see the pyramids at the ancient Mesoamerican city
  10. See the Plaza de la Republica’s Revolution Monument, an iconic structure in Mexico City and the site of many an art exhibition or music performance

The Local Picks for Top Attractions and Activities in Mexico City

Mexico City Zocalo
  1. Spend a weekend morning in Roma’s Parque Rio de Janeiro, a city square with great people watching, architecture, cafes, and a replica of Michaelangelo’s David
  2. Browse the shelves at Casa Bosques, an independent bookstore that focuses on design, architecture, and art
  3. Visit the Alameda del Kiosco Morisco, a sublime structure that’s a must-see
  4. See the Museo del Objeto del Objeto, a small, quirky museum that houses a collection of graphic and industrial-arts objects that come from daily life
  5. Stop by MisMezcales, a shop where you can learn about the art of mezcal from the knowledgeable, friendly owner, who can help you buy the perfect bottle
  6. Explore the many vinyl shops that call Roma Norte home
  7. Check out the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo House Studio Museum, where the artists both lived until their deaths; it’s a striking, unique, brightly-painted set of homes
  8. Head to Zocalo to pick up chicharrones—a fried pork skin topped with ingredients like avocado and chili—being sold by lots of street vendors
  9. Stroll through Roma and Condesa to admire Art Deco architecture, have a picnic in Parque Mexico, and try a variety of light bites being sold along the sidewalk
  10. Spend the day at Chapultepec Park, 1700 acres full of trails, lakes, botanical gardens, and even a castle

What to Eat & Drink in Mexico City

tacos from a street vendor in Mexico City.

Where to begin? The flavors of Mexico City are wholly intoxicating, a feast for the senses and a true joy to explore. There’s a thriving array of cuisine from all over—Mexico is quickly mastering the art of Japanese cooking, for instance—but of course, the city is full of incredible Mexican food. Go old school with some al pastor tacos from a food truck or try a taste of upscale fusion cuisine instead. You’ll be spoilt for choice (and we haven’t even mentioned the tequila yet).

  • Lalo is a bright, playful spot to get breakfast or brunch; expect a menu that skews more New American than it does Mexican
  • Tacos Orinoco is a stylish yet no-frills place to find incredible street-style tacos; the chicharron is insanely delicious
  • Rafaella is where you can get breakfast and fresh-baked bread before heading to the Frida Kahlo Museum
  • El Caguamo is a decades-old sidewalk establishment where you must order the blue crab ceviche
  • Expendio de Maiz Sin Nombre (“corn shop with no name”) is a unique restaurant where you’ll tell the staff about any food restrictions and they’ll return with dishes made with ingredients from the southern state of Guerrero
  • Cocina Lucio is a perfect example of modern Mexican cuisine
  • La Rifa Chocolatería is where you’ll find award-winning chocolate bars and cacao-based drinks made with ingredients sourced from small producers in Chiapas
  • Almanegra is a trailblazer in Mexico City’s third-wave coffee scene, with meticulously crafted drinks at four locations around the city
  • Frëims is a beautiful spot to enjoy a cup of coffee (or a cocktail, or a casual meal)
  • Amaya is the go-to for a glass or two of natural Mexican wine, including Chef Jair Tellez’s own label, Bichi
  • Pujol isn’t cheap but it’s the restaurant that put Mexico on the fine-dining map; spring for the multi-course tasting menu and prepare to swoon over Chef Olivera’s heavenly mole 

Where to Stay in Mexico City

A city as large as this one has a laundry list of neighborhoods, all with unique personalities, and there are some seriously charming enclaves at the far reaches of the city limits. But for ease of transit, enhanced safety, and approachability for first-time visitors, areas near the urban core of Mexico City are obvious choices. 

Check out hotels and Airbnbs in Roma and La Condesa for a young and stylish ambience, Polanco for a slightly more well-heeled crowd, and Zona Rosa if you want to stay close to the art. A solid hotel can be found for around $100 or less, while Airbnbs are often under $60 per night. 

Top Mexico City Neighborhoods for Visitors

Roma and Condesa

The city’s two coolest neighborhoods are located right next to one another and in parts blend into each other. Roma is slightly younger, hipper, and full of art deco buildings while La Condesa feels a little bit more low-key, with lots of tree-lined streets and big parks. 

Polanco

One of the safest and most upscale neighborhoods, Polanco is the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. It’s home to some great restaurants, big green spaces, high end shops, fancy cocktail bars, and many of the international embassies (whose security presence helps make it feel even safer). 

Coyoacan 

Set five miles south of the city center, Coyoacan is a residential suburb with beautiful old Colonial-era architecture, a lively square filled with families on weekends, and several great markets and street food stands. It’s also the home of the Frida Kahlo Museum. 

Recommended Hotels in Mexico City

  • Izta 54 (~$56/night); art deco apartments and hostel rooms in La Condesa 
  • AR 218 (~$148/night): mid-century suites with kitchenettes 
  • Casa Goliana (~$215/night): cozy eight-room b&b in Roma 
  • Ignacia Guest House (~$216/night): five ultra-luxe suites with richly textured design 

Getting Around in Mexico City

Public Transportation Options in Mexico City

Transit in Mexico City is both simple and complicated. It’s advanced and it’s in need of repair. Here’s what we mean: The city’s subway system—12 lines and 120 miles of track—is more or less dependable and one of the most-used metros in the world, but it lacks accessibility for folks with impaired mobility and can also be uncomfortable and/or unsafe; you shouldn’t opt for the metro come nightfall. The bus system is in better shape and safer, but traffic here is of a colossal magnitude and should be avoided at all costs during rush hour. 

If the roads are clear and you want a more reliable ride, opt for an Uber instead of hailing a cab. Women using public transit can take advantage of female-only cars, and everybody who’s wary of the whole process can hop on a readily available Ecobici, the public bike-share program in CDMX.

Mexico City Airports

Mexico City is served by Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX), most commonly called Mexico City International Airport, which is not only the busiest airport in the country, it's the busiest in all of Latin America. It’s the primary hub for Aeroméxico and a hub for Volaris and Aeromar. It’s just over three miles from the city center.

Only have a short time in the city between flights? Check out our layover guide to Mexico City.

How to Get to Mexico City from Mexico City International Airport (MEX)

Mexico City International Airport connects to downtown Mexico City via the city’s subway and a Metrobús line. The closest Metro station to the airport is Terminal Aérea on the number 5 subway line, and a ticket costs 5 MX. Metrobús line 4 runs between the airport and the Buenavista train station. A ticket costs 30 MX and the trip takes about 30 minutes. Official taxis have fixed rates, but they depend on what zone of Mexico City you’re going to (for instance, the flat fee for the historic center starts at around 250 MX). Rideshare options are Cabify, Uber, and Bolt, and fares to downtown start around 90 MX.

Where Else to Go from Mexico City 

beach in Tulum, Mexico

Day Trips from Mexico City

Take a bus from the Terminal de Autobuses del Sur to Tepoztlan, a destination just over an hour away from CDMX; it’s where you’ll find El Tepozteco, the pyramid, and have the chance to partake in New Age-y pastimes like yoga, sweat lodges, and a hike on a mountain that’s said to have mystical properties.

Venture out to Cholula (a two-hour bus ride from Terminal Oriente, plus another 20-minute express bus), home to the Great Pyramid, the largest pyramid in the world with a dramatic background of mountainous terrain.

Take a 2-hour bus ride from the Terminal Oriente to Tlaxcala, a vibrant city with good food and Colonial architecture, also a great starting point for exploring the ancient pyramids of Xochitecatl and the ruins of Cacaxtla.

Enjoy a beautiful drive (3 hours by bus from the Terminal de Autobuses del Sur) to Taxco, a beautiful mining town famous for its pozole, resplendent cathedral (Santa Prisca), and array of silver trinkets available for purchase.

Escape the heat with a quick bus ride via the Terminal de Autobuses del Sur to Cuernavaca, known as “the city of eternal spring” because of its mild climate and lush landscape. Be sure to catch the Palace of Cortes, where you’ll find a collection of Diego Rivera murals.

Where Else to Visit from Mexico City

Hop on a 1.5-hour flight to Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco for a beach getaway with great food and the nearby surf town of Sayulita.

Take a 2-hour flight to the gorgeous waters of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula, a Mayan port city full of well-preserved ruins and picture-perfect cenotes for diving and snorkeling.

Take a quick (~1-hour) flight to the cultural oasis of Oaxaca, full of fantastic interior Mexican cuisine (don’t knock the fried grasshoppers until you’ve tried them), colorful city streets, and cool outdoors attractions like the nearby Hierve El Agua.

Fly 2.25 hours to La Paz on Baja California Sur. It’s often unfairly overlooked for the sake of Los Cabos, but La Paz is a vibrant destination with crystal-clear waters, a beautiful city center, and the chance to swim with enormous, majestic whale sharks.

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