Mexico City Travel Guide
Mexico City is a must, at least, once in a lifetime. It is one of the most populated cities in the world, chaotic for some, colorful and diverse for others. Find inspiration and ideas for the best things to do if you would like to travel to Mexico City.
Mexico City is such an underrated city. The climate is perfect, not too cold, not too hot; it’s a multicultural country, with 63 indigenous languages; its cultural, natural and historical heritage is classified among the sites of UNESCO; and the food is delicious.
View our guide to Mexico City and get tips for sightseeing tours, places to visit, where to stay, places to eat and how to save money and visit on a budget.
How to Get to Mexico City
There are daily flights from international destinations to Juarez International airport in Mexico City.
Airlines which fly direct to Mexico City from the United Kingdom include:
- Aeromexico & British Airways
Other airlines flying to Mexico City from international destinations include:
- KLM, Air Canada, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, American Airlines, Avianca, China Southern, Delta, Iberia, LATAM, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Hainan Airlines and WestJet.
For the cheapest flights use Skyscanner to compare and book in advance.
From other destinations in Mexico there are various ways to get to Mexico city including public bus which is the cheapest method although not the safetst. If you would like to visit multiple destinations you might want to check out Mexico tours.
Mexico City does have a reputation but most international tourists have no issues as long as are careful. Be sure to buy travel insurance in advance.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
There are very nice hotels and hostels all around the city. We suggest staying near the historical center which is a good base to move around the city. The following hostels are very cheap and recommended:
1. Downtown Beds
Downtown Beds is a hostel in the heart of the Historical Center and it is the best alternative if you are staying a few days or even a long term. It is from the chain of Grupo Habitat Hotels (one of the best alternative 5 star hotels in Mexico). The price for a bed per night in an eight people bedroom with a shared bathroom goes from 200 MXN (14 US Dollars/12 Euros) to 550 MXN for a private room. It also has a dinning room, pool, terrace, laundry and a bar.
2. Hostel Regina
Hostel Regina is also in the Historical Center, a bit far away from the Cathedral, but it is still a good place. It has 100 beds, each bed per night is 190 MNX, and there are also private bedrooms. The good thing about this place is that all the prices are breakfast included. It has a kitchen, a TV room, Wifi and Internet, laundry and a bar.
Getting Around Mexico City
Mexico City is secure in general, but you have to be careful like in any big city in the world. The best way to get anywhere is in the subway or Metrobus (a bus that has many lines). The price for a one-way ticket for either of these services is 6 MXP (33 cents of US Dollars/35 cents of Euro).
We strongly suggest not taking taxis from the streets, as they are not very safe. There are some “taxis de sitio” which means they belong to a business site and are safe taxis; they might me more expensive, but you will get to your destination with no problems. Ask in the desk of your hostel/hotel, they will have a couple of phone numbers of these sites and they can call for you.
Best Places to Visit in Mexico City
If you want to see all the main sights of the city center then I recommend walking to be the best way of getting around because you’ll find some nice and unexpected places along the way. Check out some essential places you must visit in Mexico City below...
- Cathedral: It was built in sections from 1573 to 1813.
- Templo mayor: It was the center dedicated to make religious ceremonies in the time of the Aztecs. There are guided tours. It is to the right of the Cathedral.
- Palacio Nacional: They give guided tours, so make sure you make a reservation. In 1522 it was the residence of Hernan Cortes. Later on it was the home for several presidents. Nowadays, it houses various government offices. It also has some Murals by the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
- Madero Street: It is a street where the cars are not allowed to go through. It is a very crowded and beautiful street with shops, food courts and have some small stores which sell fresh fruit, in case you want a snack.
- Torre Latinoamericana: It was the highest building built between 1933 and 1960 (today it is the sixth highest) and the only skyscraper built in a seismic zone. It has a 360° observation point and a restaurant on the top of the tower. The view is impressive. They say it seems like Mexico City has no end.
- Palacio de Bellas Artes: Built by President Porfirio Diaz at the beginning of the twentieth century, the inauguration was in 1934. It is a magnificent building not only outside, but also inside. They give tours and an explanation of the building, and if you’re lucky you can go inside and see the amazing glass curtain on the stage made out of Tiffany glass. You can also buy tickets to see the different regional dances of each state, called Ballet Folklorico de México. It is really worth seeing this majestic monument and the performance (which even the men like).
- Post Office Palace (Palacio Postal): Known as “Correos de México”. It was built in early XIX. It was the first building where you could send letters. The building inside is one of my favorites; you can imagine the people in that time and how they sent letters to their families. The building still serves as a postal service office.
- Angel de la Independencia: It is on Reforma Street. Nowadays, it is the symbol of National Independence and the place where any soccer championship is celebrated or any national rallies.
- Museo de Antrolopología: It is the best museum in Mexico City. In it you can explore the pre-Hispanic history of the Mayans of Yucatan, the Aztecs of central Mexico, the Zapotecas of Oaxaca etc., seeing their monuments of stone and murals and get an idea of what Mexico city has become over the years. It is a must!
- Voladores de Papantla: After visiting the emblematic Museo de Antropologia, ask for the show of the Papantla Flyers, (in the garden outside, by the entrance to the Museum) which is something extraordinary and impressive. Papantla is a town in the State of Veracruz, home of the Totonaco Indians. You will see something unique. It is a religious ceremony to make a tribute to fertility. It is a dance with five men: they climb up a 37 meters (90 feet) pole. At the top, on a very small platform one starts playing a drum and a flute and dances. The other four tie their ankles with a rope and they throw themselves into the sky, extending their arms as if they were birds flying. They give 13 turns in the air multiplied by 4, signifies 52, which mean the years of one century that lasted in the pre-Hispanic calendar.
- Mercado de Artesanías: This is a craft market located in the neighborhood of La Zona Rosa. All the products are 100% Mexican. The prices are good and fair, the sellers might want to make you a discount, but I suggest you buy it for the price, as most of the income they get from the market is their only one, and besides you won’t find anything like that anywhere else on earth!
Castillo de Chapultepec: It is the only castle in Mexico and was the home of Emperor Maximiliano I Hapsburg and his wife Carlota, who ruled during the 1860’s, supported by the invading French army. Nowadays, it is the National Museum of History.
- Xochimilco: It is a very long canal with “trajineras” (which are a type of big canoas driven by a man) with playful and colorful decorations. They usually have names of women. People go with friends and families to enjoy a nice and quite place in Mexico city.
- UNAM: It is the first national public university in Mexico.
- Museo de Frida Kahlo: It is the house converted in museum of the famous painter, Frida Kahlo.
- Museo Sumaya: It is a modern building in the neighborhood of Polanco. Its collections are European paintings from XV to XVIII centuries.
Best Places to Eat in Mexico City
In Mexico City every corner has a stand of quesadillas and other street dishes, which are usually very cheap and delicious. There are this little stores called Oxxo where you can find the best potatoes chips and other candies, breads and chocolates made in Mexico. The trendy and hipster neighborhoods are Condesa and Roma.
There you will find many coffee shops, organic restaurants, Mexican and international food, bars, shops here are some places to check out:
- Azul Condesa/La Tecla: Mexican fusion food. Condesa neighborhood
- Puro Corazón/La Casa de las Sirenas: Mexican food. The first is cheap, the second might be a bit expensive but it is worth it.
- Beso huasteco: A very beautiful old house made a Mexican restaurant. It is a very good price and the plates are big enough. Roma neighborhood.
- Mi gusto es/Fishers/La Ostra: They are a seafood restaurant and offer very tasty options.
These are some suggestions, but there are plenty good, cheap and nice restaurants in these neighborhoods. It is difficult to stay updated as they open one almost each month.
Our Mexico City destination guide was written by Isabel Estanda Tanck with photographs from Francisco Herrera Muñoz. If you have ever been to visit Mexico City and would like to share your experience or recommendations leave feedback in the comments section below.