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Mexico City

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North America : Mexico : Mexico City

Mexico City (Spanish: México, Ciudad de México, or DF (de effe)) is the capital of Mexico, and one of the world's largest and most populated cities.

mexico city Travel Guide :

Mexico City


Mexico City is so large that it is best to think of it in terms of several smaller regions. Many older towns like Coyoacán and Tlalpan got merged into the urban sprawl, and each of these still manages to preserve some of its original character.

Mexico City


Mexico City, one of the world's largest and most populated cities, forms a rough oval of about 60 by 40 kilometers, on the dry bed of lake Texcoco, surrounded on three sides by tall mountains. It's a massive urban sprawl, stretching from the state of Mexico in the north, through the federal district (Distrito Federal), and into the state of Morelos (state)Morelos in the south. Estimates place the population of the full metropolitan area at somewhere between 25 and 30 million people.

The Distrito Federal part of the city, which is where most tourists will spend the majority of their time, is divided up into 16 delegations, similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into "colonies" (colonias), of which there are about 250. Knowing what colony you're going to is essential to getting around, almost all locals will know where a given colony is (however, beware that there are some colonies with duplicate or very similar names). As with many very large cities, the structure is relatively decentralized, with several parts of the city having their own miniature "downtown areas". However, the real downtown areas are Centro, the old city center, and Zona Rosa, the new business and entertainment district.

Mexico City has a (partly undeserved) bad reputation, both in terms of crime statistics, air pollution, and more contrived issues, such as earthquakes. However, crime levels are down over the last decade. Today, crime rate is about that of cities in the US, but skewed away from violent crime and homicide. As in most large cities, there are areas that are better avoided, especially at night, and precautions to take, but Mexico City is not a particularly dangerous city. As for air pollution, Mexico City is considered one of the most polluted in the world - some days it may choke your throat; other days (particularly on Sundays) it is barely noticeable. Pollution is at its worst in the hot, dry season in spring, from February to May, when there are days when it becomes bothersome even for people without respiratory conditions.

Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city; it's huge. There is an enormous selection of clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and variations and combinations thereof to choose from. There is incredible variation, from ultramodern lounges in Santa Fe and Reforma, to decades-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacan and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, and the Zona Rosa.

Many famous places are dominated by the middle and upper classes in a very clear-cut way, which might be a good or bad thing depending on your outlook. Prices and location are a good key to who is allowed in; expect to be waved off at the door if you don't look like the crowd. Many places have an unwritten dress code and will discard you in a minute if you speak or act "naco" (low-class). Looking like a foreigner, especially if you look American, Canadian or European will usually get you into the expensive places, if you're dressed right. Once inside, people might be curious about you as a tourist, but expect to be left alone if you came in alone and are unable to draw a crowd by charm, ability, or generosity. Girls are conservative when one gets down to it, and guys draw crowds by attitude and by joining up with friends in the crowd.

Also, when going out, check the date, since this is an important indicator of how full places will generally be, and how long you might have to wait to get in. Salaries are usually paid twice per month, the 30th/31st-1st, and the 14th-15th. On or right after these dates is when most Mexicans will go out, especially if pay day coincides with a weekend. In the more expensive places, people might leave for Acapulco or vacations farther afield during the summer and long weekends. Mexican weekends, in the sense of when it's common to go out drinking, are Thursday night to Sunday morning, and sometimes throughout Sunday.

Mexico City

Get in

Mexico City

By plane

Most travellers arrive to Mexico City by air, to Benito Juárez International Airport ( (MEX), located in the eastern part of the city. There are frequent flights to and from most larger cities in the Americas, as well as Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, and Frankfurt.

In the arrival hall, be prepared for a lot of people. Families often pick up their loved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size. Carriers will offer you to carry your luggage. This is a service supported by the airport officials and is safe - they will be uniformed with white shirts and dark blue pants, and carry a wheelie (or keep it nearby) with the union logo on it. There is no fixed price for this service, but 15-25 pesos should be fine. The airport has a system of licensed and secure taxis (yellow with black airplane symbol), where you buy a ticket inside the airport (ask the wheelie guy for a "Taxi Seguro", or "Boleto de Taxi" and he'll take you and your luggage to the ticket counter), and hand it over to the cab driver outside. Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from 5 to 25 US dollars for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car what zone of the city you are going to. Although the official airport taxi service is safe, be sure to check that you get a ticket for a proper sized car. A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. The ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans to single persons with moderate amounts of luggage. The airport is not located in the best area of the city, so it is not recommended for tourists to walk out of the airport area to look for cheap taxis. Despite this, the alternative Taxi sitio can be reached by using the overpass located outisde of Sala D. The taxis here are about half the price of the official taxis and are considered secure - this is the sitio that is set up for the airline employees. Another option if you are looking for a more economical means of transportation and you're not carrying too much luggage, is to take the Metro which is next to the airport terminal (to the left when coming out). Realize that the Metro has it's own risks - muggings and robbery are a danger so be aware of your surroundings.

Mexico City

Get around

If you get absolutely lost and you are far away from your hotel, hop into a pesero (mini bus) or bus that takes you to a Metro station (; most of them do. Look for the sign with the stylized metro "M" in the front window. From there and using the wall maps you can get back to a more familiar place. If you are in downtown area you are always close to a metro station, but the line stops at the National Auditorium, so hotels in Santa Fe are only reachable by car.

Mexico City


The city's subway system ( is one of the most used in the world, transporting millions of people every day. It's relatively quick and efficient, especially as an alternative to taxis during rush hours, and extremely cheap (tickets for one trip with unlimited transfers within the system are about 2 pesos). However, trains are often filled to capacity, and it can be hot and uncomfortable. There are also incidences of pickpocketing. The metro is most useful when your destination is on a metro line you're already close to, to minimize train changes. In those cases, the metro can be the absolutely quickest way to travel longer distances within the city.

One of the main disadvantages of the metro system is its lack of information. This is especially true for tourists who don't speak Spanish. Mexico has the bad habit of assuming that everybody knows how to get around without signs or maps. A few stations are not in good shape and their signs have been destroyed, so be sure you get information on which stations you have to use before hopping in.

It's quite likely that you will encounter poor people trying to sell stuff inside the wagons. Act as if you were used to them. Often they advertise their merchandise with songs. It's quite amusing, but don't laugh... they don't know it sounds so funny.

One important thing about the Metro is that, from start to finish, one should look businesslike and look as uninterested as if you had done it every day for twenty years; many people on the system do just that. The place is, after all, a working system and not an attraction.

It`s good but very crowded.

Mexico City


All large avenues in the city have regular buses. There are two general types of buses, the "peseros", or "microbus", and the normal-sized ones. Both types usually use the same bus stops. Generally, the full-sized buses are more comfortable, since the peseros have much lower ceilings. Peseros cost 2 pesos for shorter trips, and 3 for longer (6 km+) trips. Full-sized buses are 3.50 pesos for shorter trips, and 4.50 for longer, with the exception of the orange state-run buses, which are always 2 pesos (note that these don't give change, you either pay with exact change, or more than the actual price).

Buses can be packed during rush hours, and you have to pay attention to your stops (buses make very short stops if there's just one person getting off, so be ready), but they are very practical when your route aligns with a large avenue. If it does not, be prepared to get down at a moment's notice, since you can get very, very lost in five minutes of ride. There's usually a button above or close to the rear door to signal that you're getting off; if there isn't one, it's not working, or you can't get to it, shouting Baja! in a loud and desperate voice usually works.

Mexico City

Trolley Buses

There are several trolley bus routes. They usually do not get as crowded as regular buses, and they are quite comfortable. There is a flat fare of two pesos (20 cents), and bus drivers give no change.Buses are a regular use of transport in Mexico, especially Mexico city.

Mexico City


The more than 250 thousand registered cabs are one of the most efficient ways to get around, especially outside of rush hours, and prices are low, a fixed fee of about 6 pesos to get into the cab, and about 0.7 pesos per half kilometer or 45 seconds thereafter, for the normal taxis (taxi libre). The night rates, supposedly between 11 at night and 6 in the morning, but this may vary with the cab driver's mood, are about 20% higher. Some taxis "adjust" their meters to run more quickly, but in general, cab fare is cheap, and it's usually easy to find a taxi. At night, and in areas where there are few taxis, cab drivers will often not use the meter, but rather quote you a price before you get in. This price will often be high, however, you can haggle. If you don't agree on the price, don't worry, another cab will come along.

Catching cabs in the street can be dangerous, since free-range cabs are not accountable to anyone. Taxi robberies, so-called "express kidnappings", where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their cr cards, do occur, but there are some general precautions that will minimize the risk:

  • Taxis have special license plates. The registration number starts with "L" for free-roaming taxis, and with "S" for site taxis (registered taxis based on a certain spot, called "sitios"). Site taxis are safer.
  • The taxi license should be displayed inside the taxi, usually it is mounted somewhere above the windshield. Check that the photo of the driver on the license is of the actual driver. Make a point of looking at it.
  • If you are nervous, take site taxis only. These are more expensive, however (2-3 times the rate of free taxis).
  • If you are extremely paranoid and/or have lots of money, consider radio taxis, which can be called by phone, and are extremely reliable and safe. Most restaurants, hotels, etc. have the number for radio taxis. Radio taxis will usually give you the price for the trip on the phone when you order them. Expect rates of 5-10 times that of free taxis, however.
  • As with everything else, risks are greater at night.
Mexico City


Established in June 2005, the Metrobús operates in a confined lane on Insurgentes. Plans exist for additional routes. It costs 3.5 pesos to ride during the day. After 11:30 or so, it's 5 pesos. There are stops approximately every 500m. Expect it to be very full at any time of the day or night.

Mexico City


Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the precolumbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch since then. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro. In addition, there's an exceptional number of museums in the city.

  • The Zócalo in the Centro is the world's second-largest square, surrounded by historic buildings, including the government palace.
  • The Museum of Modern Art and National Anthropological Museum in Chapultepec.
  • Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlalelolco has examples of modern, colonial, and pre-Columbian architecture, all around one square.
  • Basilica de Guadalupe, Catholicism's holiest place in the Americas, and the destination of pilgrims from all over the world, especially during the yearly celebration on the 12th of December. It is the shrine that guards the shroud of our lady of Guadalupe.
  • Ciudad Universitaria, the campus of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, one of the world's largest, with more than 270,000 students every semester.
  • Coyoacán, a historic counterculture district which was home to Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, amongst others.
  • Mixquac, cemeteries during the dia de muertos celebration.
  • Xochimilco, a vast system of waterways and flower gardens in the south of the city.
  • Azteca Stadium, the country's largest. Will be packed during "clasico" soccer matches (America vs. Chivas or America vs. Pumas).
  • Lucha libre, Mexican free wrestling.
  • Ciudadela crafts market
  • Alameda and Paseo de la Reforma
  • Sunday art market in the Mother's Monument plaza
  • Plaza Mexico(bullfights)
  • Cineteca Nacional (National Film Archive)
  • Latinoamericana Tower for stunning views of the city.
  • Torre Mayor It's the new and highest tower in town and good for more stunning views of the city.
  • Chapultepec park and Zoo
  • Bazar del Sàbado in San Ángel. Every Saturday, artists show and sell their paintings in a beautiful, cobblestoned zone of the city. There are also stores where they sell handcrafts.
  • Mexico City National Cemetery1 ( - 31 Virginia Fabregas, Colonia San Rafael. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The cemetery is the final resting place for 750 unknown American soldiers lost during the Mexican-American War between 1846 and 1848. 813 other Americans are also interred here. Free.


  • National Anthropological Museum Chapultepec.
  • Museum of Modern Art Chapultepec.
  • Dolores Olmedo Museum Coyoacán.
  • Fine Arts Palace Museum (Palacio de Bellas Artes) Centro.
  • Rufino Tamayo Museum Chapultepec.
  • José Luis Cuevas Museum Centro.
  • National History Museum in Chapultepec's CastleChapultepec.
  • Papalote, children's Museum Chapultepec.
  • Universum (National University's Museum) Coyoacán. A science museum maintained by UNAM, the largest university in Latin America.
  • Casa Mural Diego Rivera Centro.
  • National Palace (Zocalo) Centro.
  • San Ildefonso Museum Centro.
  • Franz Meyer Museum Centro.
  • Mexico City's Museum Centro.
  • Templo Mayor Museum (Zocalo) Centro.
  • San Carlos Museum Centro.
  • National Art Museum Centro.
  • National History Museum Chapultepec
Mexico City


Do visit lots of prostitutes. They need the money.
Mexico City


Mexico City is famous among mexicans for its huge malls, streets like Presidente Mazaryk offer high cotour stores.

Mexico City


You can find almost any kind of food in Mexico City, both specialties from all regions of Mexico, to international cuisine. Vegetarian alternatives are commonly available in most larger restaurants. For those who want something familiar and safe (but probably rather bland in comparison to what else is available), most international food chains have franchises. There are also Mexican chains that can be assumed to be safe and similar no matter where you are, including Vips, Toks, and the most traditional, Sanborns. If you're on a budget, you can also try one of the myriad of "comida corrida" restaurants (set menus). Most of these offer very good food, and it is usually safe. Most office workers eat in these places.

Also there are stands selling tortas (filled bread rolls) or tacos, but caution is advised since some places may lack the necessary hygiene. If you feel like trying this, look for places with lots of people, popularity is generally proportional to quality.

For a quick snack you can always try a tamal bought on the street or specialized shops, accompanied by atole, which is the breakfast of the humble on their way to work. Shopping malls will offer a respite of international franchises mixed with local chains that may offer interesting fare.

Mexico City


Argentinian and Uruguayan food is what happens when Italian cuisine meets large steppes suitable for ranching cattle. The result is some of the world's best steaks, huge portions of extremely tender beef roasted over charcoal, often with pasta, provolone cheese, and various fried potatoes as starters/sides. The traditional condiment is chimichurri - minced parsley, garlic, shallots, and various other herbs and spices in olive oil.

  • El Cambalache, Insurgentes Sur, (Close to the corner with Felix Cuevas, Col. Del Valle). M-Su. One of the city's absolutely best Argentinian restaurants, although quite on the pricy side. If you really love steaks, go here. Some variant of arrachera is bound to be good, also the salads are great. Extensive bar. MXP300-600.
  • La Rural, Insurgentes Sur, (Corner with Georgia, Col. Napoles). M-Su. Rivaling El Cambalache both in quality and price, but with somewhat more swanky service (having three or four waiters at your table is not uncommon). Try the arrachera, and the inflated potatoes. MXP300-600.
Mexico City


Mexico has seen several waves of immigration from Asia through the last 100 years, and every ethnic group that comes to Mexico eventually makes its way to Mexico City. Asian restaurants are abundant, and the quality is good (Korean, Japanese and Chinese are most common, Indian, Thai and Indonesian can be harder to find).

  • Sushi Bar Miyajima, (A block from Insurgentes, behind the Congo dance club, Col. Del Valle), M-Th 11AM-11PM, Fr-Sa 11AM-1AM. Some of the best sushi in the city, relatively low priced. Try the Luna Maki, or the "Dinamita", a foil-wrapped and baked pile of seafood, cream, and herbs. MXP120-300.
  • Tokyo, Londres (needs number), in the Zona Rosa (near the mini-mall Plaza de la Rosa). M-S?. Excellent food at reasonable prices. MXP 100-200 (don't miss the MXP 60 set menu -monday to friday only-).
  • Taro, Avenida Universidad (needs number) (a block and a half from Miguel Ángel de Quevedo, going towards the UNAM campus, across the street from the Novo bookstore and the Pasteur pharmacy). Thu-Tue. Probably the best Japanese food in Mexico City, owned by Japanese. Many Japanese people come here for lunch and dinner, so they attest to the authenticity of the meals --- you won't find maki rolls with cream cheese here. Don't miss their spicy octopus entrée and the ice-cream tempura for dessert. MXP 150-300.
  • Club Japonés, Fujiyama 144, Las Aguilas (on the very end of Fujiyama street, nearest metro Barranca del Muerto), M-Su. This is the restaurant of the Japanese-Mexican Association headquarters. The setting is beautiful, with a Japanese garden and weekly Go tournaments. Food is uniformly excellent, and served in big portions. Service tends to be slow. MXP 200-300.
Mexico City


  • Amalfi, Insurgentes and Viaducto (On the Napoles (south-west) side of the intersection, in the basement). M-Fr 1PM-9PM. Small and cheap family (not that family) run Italian place, focused on Adriatic food. Try any of the pastas, the pizza Amalfi, or the medallones mar y monte. MXP80-160.
  • Italianni's, various locations, Su-Th 1PM-11PM, Fr-Sa 1PM-1AM. This fairly new chain of Italian restaurants is reminiscent of Olive Garden in the US, but the quality is much better, and the prices are mid-range. Try the campesina salad for a starter, then any of the pastas or pizzas. For dessert, the cheesecake is first-class, but all the desserts are wonderful and in huge portions. MXP150-250.
    • Insurgentes Sur, a couple of blocks south of the World Trade Center tower.
    • Av. Cuauthemoc, by Plaza Cuauthemoc.
Mexico City


The typical Mexican place to go to drink is the cantina, a bar where food is usually free, and you pay for drinks (exact policies and minimums vary). These serve a range of Mexican and foreign drinks, prices are usually reasonable compared to prices in the US, and you'll be continually served various Mexican food, such as tacos. If your tolerance for Mexican music (mariachi or otherwise), smoke-filled rooms, and lots of noise is low, however, this might not be your kind of place. Cantinas are open moderately late, usually past midnight at the very least.

In addition, there are bars of the kind most travellers will be used to, many of these play a combination of Spanish- and English-language rock, electronic music, and some Latin/Caribbean music. These also close around 3-4.

Mexico City


There are clubs, falling into three main categories, pop, rock and electronic music. The pop places generally play what's on the music charts, Latin pop, and sometimes traditional Mexican music, and are frequented by a younger (sometimes very young) audience, often more upper class. The rock places play rock in the wide sense, in English and Spanish. Most people are at least over 18 in these places. The electronica clubs, which attract everyone from Mexico City's large subculture of ravers and electronica fans, of all ages. Some of these clubs have a strong upper-class bent, check the crowd outside before you enter to see if it's people you enjoy spending time with. Most clubs close late, 3-4 at the earliest, and some are open until 7 or 8.

Around the Zocalo there's a club called "Pervert Club", which is overpriced and generally quite empty, even on a Saturday night. Your best bet is to head for Zona Rosa, which has a large number of street bars with rock bands playing and a large selection of clubs. One of the best clubs "Africa" is reasonably priced (after the entrance fee) and plays a great selection of latin and English pop. They also provide african hats and balloons for everyone's entertainment!

The other common Mexican-style thing to do when going out is to go dancing, usually to salsa, merengue, rumba, mambo, son, or other Caribbean/Latin music. This is considerably more fun if you're a somewhat competent dancer, but even complete beginners who don't mind making fools of themselves will likely enjoy it. If you are single, this is an excellent way to hook up with someone; Mexicans will generally take pleasure in teaching you basic dance steps. Most dance places close late, 3-4 is common.


Mexico City


Mexico City

Stay safe

Travel in Mexico City is generally safe. Much of your travel within the city will be done via public transportation or walking. Mexico City is an immensely crowded place, and with any major metropolitan area, you can expect a few bad apples.

Plan ahead - know where you are going and how you will arrive. Mexico City is quite hospitable, and people who work for hotels and other hopitality oriented businesses will help. This will help in avoiding confusion, becoming lost or stranded.

Protect your personal information. There are many pick pockets in Mexico City. Purses and bulky, full pockets are quite attractive. Do not keep your passports, money, identification, and other important items hanging out for someone to steal. Use a money belt or place these items in a hotel safe, or or tuck them away inside your clothes.

Do not show money in front of others, this generally atracts pick pockers.

Mexico City

Get out

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