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Info Mexico City
Mexico City (Spanish: Ciudad de México) is the capital city of Mexico, and the largest city in North America.
As an "alpha" global city Mexico City is one of the most important financial centers in the Americas. It is located in the Valley of Mexico (Valle de México), a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, at an altitude of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft). The city consists of sixteen municipalities (previously called boroughs).
The 2009 estimated population for the city proper was around 8.84 million people, with a land area of 1,485 square kilometres (573 sq mi). According to the most recent definition agreed upon by the federal and state governments, the Greater Mexico City population is 21.2 million people, making it the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere, the eleventh-largest agglomeration, and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world.
Mexico City is the country's largest city as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center.
Mexico’s capital is both the oldest capital city in the Americas and one of two founded by Amerindians (Native Americans), the other being Quito. The city was originally built on an island of Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, which was almost completely destroyed in the 1521 siege of Tenochtitlan, and subsequently redesigned and rebuilt in accordance with the Spanish urban standards. In 1524, the municipality of Mexico City was established, known as México Tenochtitlán, and as of 1585 it was officially known as Ciudad de México (Mexico City). Mexico City served as the political, administrative and financial center of a major part of the Spanish colonial empire. After independence from Spain was achieved, the Federal District was created in 1824.
The greater Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the world's largest and the largest city in North America, with a 20.1 million people living in the metropolitan area as of the 2010 census. It is situated in the Valley of Mexico and shaped roughly like an oval of about 60 km by 40 km with large parts of it built on the dry bed of Lake Texcoco, and surrounded on three sides by tall mountains and volcanoes such as the Ajusco, the Popocatepetl and the Iztaccihuatl. Mexico City proper (with an estimated population of between 8 to 9 million) is since 2016 a Mexican state which also acts as its capital. Confusingly, the rest of the metropolitan area extends beyond Mexico City into the State of Mexico, which surrounds Mexico City on the West, North and East, and Hidalgo further North. Legally and practically speaking, Mexico City refers to the city proper and is the area where tourists will spend all or most of their time.
Mexico City is divided up into 16 boroughs similar to those in New York, which in turn are divided into "colonias" (neighborhoods), of which there are about 2150. Knowing what colonia you're going to is essential to getting around, and almost all locals will know where the main colonias are (but note that there are some colonias 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.
The city center is located 2230 m above mean sea level, while some areas reach up to 3000 m. Some people have breathing difficulties at high places and have experienced difficulty when breathing. The altitude is equivalent to more than 7,200 ft. This is far higher than any metropolitan area in the United States. If you live closer to sea level, you may experience difficulty breathing due to altitude and pollution. Air quality has, however, been improved in the last few years.
Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city; it is huge. There is an enormous selection of venues: 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 centuries-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacán and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, Condesa and the Zona Rosa.
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 soon after these dates is when most Mexicans will go out, especially if payday 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 is common to go out drinking, are Thursday night to Sunday morning and sometimes throughout Sunday.
|POPULATION :||City: 8,918,653 / Metro: 20.4 million|
|FOUNDED :|| March 13, 1325: Mexico-Tenochtitlan|
August 13, 1521: Ciudad de México
November 18, 1824: Distrito Federal
January 29, 2016: Ciudad de México
|TIME ZONE :||CST (UTC−6) / Summer: CDT (UTC−5)|
|LANGUAGE :||Spanish only 92.7%, Spanish and indigenous languages 5.7%, indigenous only 0.8%|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 82%, Others 18%|
|AREA :||1,485 km2 (573 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||2,250 m (7,380 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||19°26′N 99°8′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.45% |
• Female: 51.55%
|ETHNIC :||mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 60%, Amerindian or predominantly Amerindian 30%, white 9%, other 1%|
|AREA CODE :||55|
|POSTAL CODE :||00–16|
|DIALING CODE :||+52 55|
The Historic center of Mexico City (Centro Histórico) and the "floating gardens" of Xochimilco in the southern borough have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Famous landmarks in the Historic Center include the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo), the main central square with its epoch-contrasting Spanish-era Metropolitan Cathedral and National Palace, ancient Aztec temple ruins Templo Mayor ("Major Temple") and modern structures, all within a few steps of one another. (The Templo Mayor was discovered in 1978 while workers were digging to place underground electric cables).
The most recognizable icon of Mexico City is the golden Angel of Independence on the wide, elegant avenue Paseo de la Reforma, modeled by the order of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico after the Champs-Élysées in Paris. This avenue was designed over the Americas' oldest known major roadway in the 19th century to connect the National Palace (seat of government) with the Castle of Chapultepec, the imperial residence. Today, this avenue is an important financial district in which the Mexican Stock Exchange and several corporate headquarters are located. Another important avenue is the Avenida de los Insurgentes, which extends 28.8 km (17.9 mi) and is one of the longest single avenues in the world.
Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city; it is huge. There is an enormous selection of venues: 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 centuries-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacán and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, Condesa and the Zona Rosa.
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 soon after these dates is when most Mexicans will go out, especially if payday 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 is common to go out drinking, are Thursday night to Sunday morning and sometimes throughout Sunday.
Mexico City offers an immense and varied consumer retail market, ranging from basic foods to ultra high-end luxury goods. Consumers may buy in fixed indoor markets, mobile markets (tianguis), from street vendors, from downtown shops in a street dedicated to a certain type of good, in convenience stores and traditional neighborhood stores, in modern supermarkets, in warehouse and membership stores and the shopping centers that they anchor, in department stores, big-box stores and in modern shopping malls.
Having been capital of a vast pre-Hispanic empire, and also the capital of richest viceroyalty within the Spanish Empire (ruling over a vast territory in the Americas and Spanish West Indies), and, finally, the capital of the United Mexican States, Mexico City has a rich history of artistic expression. Since the mesoamerican pre-Classical period the inhabitants of the settlements around Lake Texcoco produced many works of art and complex craftsmanship, some of which are today displayed at the world-renowned National Museum of Anthropology and the Templo Mayor museum. While many pieces of pottery and stone-engraving have survived, the great majority of the Amerindian iconography was destroyed during the Conquest of Mexico.
Mexico City has numerous museums dedicated to art, including Mexican colonial, modern and contemporary art, and international art. The Museo Tamayo was opened in the mid-1980s to house the collection of international contemporary art donated by famed Mexican (born in the state of Oaxaca) painter Rufino Tamayo. The collection includes pieces by Picasso, Klee, Kandinsky, Warhol and many others, though most of the collection is stored while visiting exhibits are shown. The Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art) is a repository of Mexican artists from the 20th century, including Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros, Kahlo, Gerzso, Carrington, Tamayo, among others, and also regularly hosts temporary exhibits of international modern art. In southern Mexico City, the Museo Carrillo Gil (Carrillo Gil Museum) showcases avant-garde artists, as does the University Museum/Contemporary Art (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo – or MUAC), designed by famed Mexican architect Teodoro González de León, inaugurated in late 2008.
Parks and recreation
Chapultepec Park, the city's most iconic public park, has history back to the Aztec emperors who used the area as a retreat. It is south of Polanco district, and houses the city's zoo, several ponds, seven museums including the National Museum of Anthropology, and the oldest and most traditional amusement park, La Feria de Chapultepec Mágico, with its vintage Montaña Rusa rollercoaster.
Other iconic city parks include the Alameda Central, Mexico City historic center, a city park since colonial times and renovated in 2013; Parque México and Parque España in the hip Condesa district; Parque Hundido and Parque de los Venados in Colonia del Valle, and Parque Lincoln in Polanco. There are many smaller parks throughout the city. Most are small "squares" occupying two or three square blocks amid residential or commercial districts.
Mexico City has three zoos. Chapultepec Zoo, the San Juan de Aragon Zoo and Los Coyotes Zoo. Chapultepec Zoo is located in the first section of Chapultepec Park in the Miguel Hidalgo. It was opened in 1924. Visitors can see about 243 specimens of different species including kangaroos, giant panda, gorillas, caracal, hyena, hippos, jaguar, giraffe, lemur, lion, among others.
Music, theater and entertainment
Mexico City is home to a number of orchestras offering season programs. These include the Mexico City Philharmonic, which performs at the Sala Ollin Yoliztli; the National Symphony Orchestra, whose home base is the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of the Fine Arts), a masterpiece of art nouveau and art decó styles; the Philharmonic Orchestra of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (OFUNAM), and the Minería Symphony Orchestra, both of which perform at the Sala Nezahualcóyotl, which was the first wrap-around concert hall in the Western Hemisphere when inaugurated in 1976. There are also many smaller ensembles that enrich the city's musical scene, including the Carlos Chávez Youth Symphony, the New World Orchestra (Orquesta del Nuevo Mundo), the National Polytechnical Symphony and the Bellas Artes Chamber Orchestra (Orquesta de Cámara de Bellas Artes).
The city is also a leading center of popular culture and music. There are a multitude of venues hosting Spanish and foreign-language performers. These include the 10,000-seat National Auditorium that regularly schedules the Spanish and English-language pop and rock artists, as well as many of the world's leading performing arts ensembles, the auditorium also broadcasts Grand Opera performances from New York's Metropolitan Opera on giant, high definition screens. In 2007 National Auditorium was selected world's best venue by multiple genre media.
Mexico City offers a variety of cuisines. Restaurants specializing in the regional cuisines of Mexico's 31 states are available in the city. Also available are an array of international cuisines, including Canadian, French, Italian, Croatian, Spanish (including many regional variations), Jewish, Lebanese, Chinese (again with regional variations), Indian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese; and of course fellow Latin American cuisines such as Argentine, Brazilian, and Peruvian. Haute, fusion, kosher, vegetarian and vegan cuisines are also available, as are restaurants solely based on the concepts of local food and slow Food.
Mexico City is known for having some of the freshest fish and seafood in Mexico's interior. La Nueva Viga Market is the second largest seafood market in the world after the Tsukiji fish market in Japan.
The city also has several branches of renowned international restaurants and chefs. These include Paris' Au Pied de Cochon and Brasserie Lipp, Philippe (by Philippe Chow); Nobu, Morimoto; Pámpano, owned by Mexican-raised opera legend Plácido Domingo. There are branches of the exclusive Japanese restaurant Suntory, Rome's famed Alfredo, as well as New York steakhouses Morton's and The Palm, and Monte Carlo's BeefBar. Three of the most famous Lima-based Haute Peruvian restaurants, La Mar, Segundo Muelle and Astrid y Gastón have locations in Mexico City.
Association football is the country's most popular and most televised franchised sport. Its important venues in Mexico City include the Azteca Stadium, home to the Mexico national football team and giants América, which can seat 105,000 fans, making it the biggest stadium in Latin America. The Olympic Stadium in Ciudad Universitaria is home to the football club giants Universidad Nacional, with a seating capacity of over 63,000. The Estadio Azul, which seats 35,000 fans, is near the World Trade Center Mexico City in the Nochebuena neighborhood, and is home to the giants Cruz Azul. The three teams are based in Mexico City and play in the First Division; they are also part, with Guadalajara-based giants Club Deportivo Guadalajara, of Mexico's traditional "Big Four" (though recent years have tended to erode the teams' leading status at least in standings). The country hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1970 and 1986, and Azteca Stadium is the first stadium in World Cup history to host the final twice.
Mexico City remains the only Latin American city to host the Olympic Games, having held the Summer Olympics in 1968, winning bids against Buenos Aires, Lyon and Detroit. (This too will change thanks to Rio, 2016 Summer Games host). The city hosted the 1955 and 1975 Pan American Games, the last after Santiago and São Paulo withdrew. The ICF Flatwater Racing World Championships were hosted here in 1974 and 1994. Lucha libre is a Mexican style of wrestling, and is one of the more popular sports throughout the country. The main venues in the city are Arena México and Arena Coliseo.
The city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan was founded by the Mexica people in 1325. The old Mexica city that is now simply referred to as Tenochtitlan was built on an island in the center of the inland lake system of the Valley of Mexico, which it shared with a smaller city-state called Tlatelolco. According to legend, the Mexicas' principal god, Huitzilopochtli indicated the site where they were to build their home by presenting an eagle perched on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak.
Between 1325 and 1521, Tenochtitlan grew in size and strength, eventually dominating the other city-states around Lake Texcoco and in the Valley of Mexico. When the Spaniards arrived, the Aztec Empire had reached much of Mesoamerica, touching both the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean.
After landing in Veracruz, Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés advanced upon Tenochtitlán with the aid of many of the other native peoples, arriving there on November 8, 1519. Cortés and his men marched along the causeway leading into the city from Iztapalapa, and the city's ruler, Moctezuma II, greeted the Spaniards; they exchanged gifts, but the camaraderie did not last long. Cortés put Moctezuma under house arrest, hoping to rule through him.
Tensions increased until, on the night of June 30, 1520 – during a struggle known as "La Noche Triste" – the Azteca rose up against the Spanish intrusion and managed to capture or drive out the Europeans and their Tlaxcalan allies. Cortés regrouped at Tlaxcala. The Aztecs thought the Spaniards were permanently gone, and they elected a new king, Cuitláhuac, but he soon died; the next king was Cuauhtémoc.
Cortés began a siege of Tenochtitlán in May 1521. For three months, the city suffered from the lack of food and water as well as the spread of smallpox brought by the Europeans.Cortés and his allies landed their forces in the south of the island and slowly fought their way through the city. Cuauhtémoc surrendered in August 1521. The Spaniards practically razed Tenochtitlán during the final siege of the conquest.
Cortés first settled in Coyoacán, but decided to rebuild the Aztec site to erase all traces of the old order. He did not establish a territory under his own personal rule, but remained loyal to the Spanish crown. The first Spanish viceroy arrived in Mexico City fourteen years later. By that time, the city had again become a city-state, having power that extended far beyond its borders.
Although the Spanish preserved Tenochtitlán's basic layout, they built Catholic churches over the old Aztec temples and claimed the imperial palaces for themselves.Tenochtitlán was renamed "Mexico" because the Spanish found the word easier to pronounce.
Growth of colonial Mexico City
The city had been the capital of the Aztec empire and in the colonial era, Mexico City became the capital of New Spain. The viceroy of Mexico or vice-king lived in the viceregal palace on the main square or Zócalo. The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the Archbishopric of New Spain, was constructed on another side of the Zócalo, as was the archbishop's palace, and across from it the building housing the City Council or ayuntamiento of the city.
A famous late seventeenth-century painting of the Zócalo by Cristóbal de Villalpando depicts the main square, which had been the old Aztec ceremonial center. The existing central place of the Aztecs was effectively and permanently transformed to the ceremonial center and seat of power during the colonial period, and remains to this day in modern Mexico, the central place of the nation.
The 16th century saw a proliferation of churches, many of which can still be seen today in the historic center. Economically, Mexico City prospered as a result of trade. Unlike Brazil or Peru, Mexico had easy contact with both the Atlantic and Pacific worlds. Although the Spanish crown tried to completely regulate all commerce in the city, it had only partial success.
The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") also known as El Grito de la Independencia ("Cry of Independence"), uttered from the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810, is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico. The "Grito" was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest. Hidalgo and several criollos were involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish colonial government, and the plotters were betrayed. Fearing his arrest, Hidalgo commanded his brother Mauricio as well as Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo to go with a number of other armed men to make the sheriff release the pro-independence inmates there on the night of September 15. They managed to set eighty free. Around 6:00 am September 16, 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and gathered his congregation. Flanked by Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, encouraging them to revolt. The Battle of Guanajuato, the first major engagement of the insurgency, occurred four days later. Mexico's independence from Spain was effectively declared in the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire on September 27, 1821, after a decade of war. Unrest followed for the next several decades, as different factions fought for control of Mexico.
The Mexican Federal District was established by the new government and by the signing of their new constitution, where the concept of a federal district was adapted from The U.S. constitution. Before this designation, Mexico City had served as the seat of government for both the State of Mexico and the nation as a whole. Texcoco and then Toluca became the capital of the state of Mexico.
Porfirian era (1876–1911)
Events such as the Mexican–American War, the French Intervention and the Reform War left the city relatively untouched and it continued to grow, especially during the rule of President Porfirio Díaz. During this time, the city developed a modern infrastructure, such as roads, schools, transportation, and communication systems. However, the regime concentrated resources and wealth into the city while the rest languished in poverty.
Under the rule of Porfirio Díaz, Mexico City experienced a massive transformation. Díaz's goal was to create a city which could rival the great European cities. He and his government came to the conclusion that they would use Paris as a model, while still containing remnants of Amerindian and Hispanic elements. This style of Mexican-French fusion architecture became colloquially known as Porfirian Architecture. Porfirian architecture became very influenced in Paris' Haussmannization.
Mexican Revolution (1910–1920)
Fast modern development eventually led to the Mexican Revolution. The most significant episode of this period for the city was the La decena trágica ("The Ten Tragic Days"), a 1913 coup against President Francisco I. Madero and his vice president, José María Pino Suárez. Victoriano Huerta, chief general of the Federal Army, saw a chance to take power, forcing Madero and Pino Suarez to sign resignations. The two were murdered later while on their way to prison.
Zapatist forces, which were based in neighboring Morelos had strengths in the southern edge of the Federal District, which included Xochimilco, Tlalpan, Tláhuac and Milpa Alta to fight against the regimes of Victoriano Huerta and Venustiano Carranza. After the assassination of Carranza and a short mandate by Adolfo de la Huerta, Álvaro Obregón took power. After willing to be re-elected, he was killed by José de León Toral, a devout Catholic, in a restaurant near La Bombilla Park in San Ángel in 1928. Plutarco Elias Calles replaced Obregón and culminated the Mexican Revolution.
20th century to present
The history of the rest of the 20th century to the present focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. In 1900, the population of Mexico City was about 500,000. The city began to grow rapidly westward in the early part of the 20th century and then began to grow upwards in the 1950s, with the Torre Latinoamericana becoming the city's first skyscraper. The 1968 Olympic Games brought about the construction of large sporting facilities.
In 1969, the Metro system was inaugurated.Explosive growth in the population of the city started from the 1960s, with the population overflowing the boundaries of the Federal District into the neighboring state of Mexico, especially to the north, northwest and northeast. Between 1960 and 1980 the city's population more than doubled to nearly 9 million.
In 1980, half of all the industrial jobs in Mexico were located in Mexico City. Under relentless growth, the Mexico City government could barely keep up with services. Villagers from the countryside who continued to pour into the city to escape poverty only compounded the city's problems. With no housing available, they took over lands surrounding the city, creating huge shantytowns that extended for many miles. This caused serious air pollution in Mexico City and water pollution problems, as well as a sinking city due to overextraction of groundwater, groundwater-related subsidence. Air and water pollution has been contained and improved in several areas due to government programs, the renovation of vehicles and the modernization of public transportation.
On Thursday, September 19, 1985, at 7:19 am local time, Mexico City was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 8.1 on the Richter scale.
Mexico City has a subtropical highland climate, due to its tropical location and high elevation. The lower region of the valley receives less rainfall than the upper regions of the south; the lower boroughs of Iztapalapa, Iztacalco, Venustiano Carranza and the west portion of Gustavo A. Madero are usually drier and warmer than the upper southern boroughs of Tlalpan and Milpa Alta, a mountainous region of pine and oak trees known as the range of Ajusco.
The average annual temperature varies from 12 to 16 °C (54 to 61 °F), depending on the altitude of the borough. The temperature is rarely below 3 °C (37 °F) or above 30 °C (86 °F).
Overall precipitation is heavily concentrated in the summer months, and includes dense hail. The central valley of Mexico rarely gets precipitation in the form of snow during winter; the two last recorded instances of such an event were on March 5, 1940 and January 12, 1967.
The region of the Valley of Mexico receives anti-cyclonic systems. The weak winds of these systems do not allow for the dispersion, outside the basin, of the air pollutants which are produced by the 50,000 industries and 4 million vehicles operating in and around the metropolitan area.
The area receives about 820 millimetres (32.3 in) of annual rainfall, which is concentrated from June through September/October with little or no precipitation the remainder of the year. The area has two main seasons. The rainy season runs from June to October when winds bring in tropical moisture from the sea. The dry season runs from November to May, when the air is relatively drier. This dry season subdivides into a cold period and a warm period. The cold period spans from November to February when polar air masses push down from the north and keep the air fairly dry. The warm period extends from March to May when tropical winds again dominate but do not yet carry enough moisture for rain.
Climate data for Mexico City
|Record high °C (°F)||28.2|
|Average high °C (°F)||21.7|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||14.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||7.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||−4.1|
|Source: Colegio de Postgraduados|
Mexico City is located in the Valley of Mexico, sometimes called the Basin of Mexico. This valley is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the high plateaus of south-central Mexico. It has a minimum altitude of 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level and is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes that reach elevations of over 5,000 meters. This valley has no natural drainage outlet for the waters that flow from the mountainsides, making the city vulnerable to flooding. Drainage was engineered through the use of canals and tunnels starting in the 17th century.
Mexico city primarily rests on what was Lake Texcoco. Seismic activity is frequent here. Lake Texcoco was drained starting from the 17th century. Although none of the lake waters remain, the city rests on the lake bed's heavily saturated clay. This soft base is collapsing due to the over-extraction of groundwater, called groundwater-related subsidence. Since the beginning of the 20th century the city has sunk as much as nine meters in some areas. This sinking is causing problems with runoff and wastewater management, leading to flooding problems, especially during the rainy season. The entire lake bed is now paved over and most of the city's remaining forested areas lie in the southern boroughs of Milpa Alta, Tlalpan and Xochimilco.
Mexico City is one of the most important economic hubs in Latin America. The city proper (Federal District) produces 15.8% of the country's gross domestic product.
According to a study conducted by PwC, Mexico City had a GDP of $390 billion, ranking it as the eighth richest city in the world after the greater metropolitan areas of Tokyo, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe (and the richest in the whole of Latin America).
The economic reforms of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari had a tremendous effect on the city, as a number of businesses, including banks and airlines, were privatized. He also signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This led to decentralization and a shift in Mexico City's economic base, from manufacturing to services, as most factories moved away to either the State of Mexico, or more commonly to the northern border. By contrast, corporate office buildings set their base in the city.
The city is officially divided into 16 delegaciones (boroughs) which are in turn subdivided into colonias (neighborhoods), of which there are around 2150; however, it is better to think of the city in terms of districts to facilitate the visitor getting around. Many older towns like Coyoacán, San Angel and Tlalpan got merged into the urban sprawl, and each of these still manages to preserve some of their original and unique characteristics.
|Where it all began. Historic city center that is focused around the Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución and extends in all directions for a number of blocks with its furthest extent being west to the Alameda Central. Many historic colonial landmarks, and the famous Aztec Templo Mayor, can be found here. The Zocalo is the largest square in Latin America and the third largest in the world after Moscow’s Red Square and Beijing's Tiananmen Square. There are a few other neighborhoods comprised in the Centro area such as Colonia San Rafael and Santa Maria La Ribera, see the Centro Historico page for more details.|
Chapultepec - Lomas
|Chapultepec is one of the biggest urban parks in the world. Its name in Nahuatl means grasshopper hill. The park hosts the main city zoo, a castle (now a museum), lakes, an amusement park and many museums. Lomas de Chapultepec is the wealthiest district in the city nearby Chapultepec, and is filled with walled off mansions.|
|A wealthy residential area in Mission (colonial) style containing some of the most expensive designer boutique stores in the city. Filled with embassies, upscale restaurants, night clubs and hotels.|
|Also known to tourists as the Reforma district because it embraces Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, it is an important business and entertainment district. It is widely known to be the gay center of town.|
|A colonial town swallowed by the urban sprawl, it is now a center for counter-culture, art, students, and intellectuals. Many good museums can be found here also.|
Condesa and Roma
|Recently reborn after decades of oblivion, and brimming with the city's trendiest restaurants, bistros, clubs, pubs and shops. The neighborhoods are on opposite sides of Avenida Insurgentes, around Parque Mexico and España.|
|Trendy, gentrified area lined with cobblestone streets, upscale boutiques and many restaurants. It is a wealthy residential area as well, and known for its arts market.|
|Also known as the Mexican Venice for its extended series of Aztec irrigation canals — all that remains of the ancient Xochimilco lake. Xochimilco has kept its ancient traditions, such as the yearly feasts of its many villages, even though its proximity to Mexico City has caused the area to urbanize.|
|A modern, recently redeveloped business district at the cities western tip that consists mainly of high rise buildings, surrounding a large shopping mall.|
|High class residential, business and shopping area in the south central city.|
Tlalpan and Pedregal
|Tlalpan is home of the Ajusco, a volcanic mountain peak and National Park, the highest mountain inside Mexico City proper. The center of Tlalpan is a colonial town now surrounded by the urban sprawl. The Pedregal is a wealthy residential area built on top of (and using) the volcanic stone from the eruption of the Xitle volcano. It contains the UNAM Ciudad Universitaria campus and the San Angel ecological reserve.|
La Villa de Guadalupe
|Located in the borough of Gustavo A. Madero in the northern part of the city. Home to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, perhaps the holiest Catholic site in the Americas. Draws a large crowd of pilgrims from around the world every day.|
|Residential and shopping area north of the city.|
|Residential and shopping area at the West of the City|
|Mainly residential area in the Northwest of the City. Home to the Parque Bicentenario, built in a former oil refinery, and the Arena Ciudad de México, a modern concert and sports venue.|
|Largely impoverished borough home to the Cerro de la Estrella National Park and archeological site. Famous for its Easter procession. Also contains former towns now engulfed by the urban sprawl, such as Culhuacán with its former convent. The main wholesale market of food for Mexico City, the Central de Abastos, is in Iztapalapa.|
|Rural borough in the southeast of Mexico City. Famous for its Mole production and festival, Nopal cactus fields and the San Andrés convent in Mixquic.|
Formerly an island between the Lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco. Now famous for its production of pottery and an alternative embarkation point to see the ancient gardens and canals that used fill the Valley of Mexico.
Mexico City has good access to the internet. There are some internet cafes throughout the city, many of them in Zona Rosa, but their number is rapidly dwindling as many people now have internet access on their smartphones. Price varies from 10 to 20 pesos an hour. Look for the word 'Cyber' or 'CiberCafe' in order to find a place with internet access.
Free hot spots for wi-fi connection to the internet are available in several places around the city, particularly in public squares, along Reforma, and inside shopping malls, cafés and restaurants. Other hot spots around the city (such as at the airport and Sanborns restaurants) are not free, usually operated by the Mexican phone company Telmex through their Internet division Prodigy Móvil. In order to be able to connect in those places, the user must be subscribed to the service, or buy a prepaid card known as "Tarjeta Multifon"; visitors coming from the US can access the service using their AT&T or T-Mobile Internet accounts. Cards can be bought at the Sanborns restaurant chain, Telmex stores and many stores that offer telephony related products.
There are four main cell phone operators in Mexico.
- Telcel The largest coverage in Mexico, using 3.5G, 3G and GSM (HSPA+, HSDPA & EDGE) and 4G (LTE)
- Movistar A GSM & 3G (HSDPA) network with decent coverage in most of the country
- Iusacell (includes former Unefon network) A CDMA (EVDO) and GSM-based 3G (HSDPA) and 3.5G (HSPA+) network with an average coverage in most cities and large towns.
- Nextel (iDEN push to talk, similar to Nextel offered in the U.S. by Sprint Nextel and Boost Mobile but has different owner)
If someone is calling you the country code is +52 then the area code is 55 then the 8 digit phone number. For a mobile phone, you might need to add a 1 between the +52 and 55. If you want to make a long distance call in Mexico from a landline, you should dial the prefix 01 for national calls followed by the area code. From a mobile phone, start from the area code. If you are making an international long distance call, you must dial 00 followed by the country code, for example, if you're calling the U.S. you should dial 00+1 and the area code, if you're calling the U.K, dial 00+44 and the area code, and so on.
If you want to use your cellular phone you can get your phone unlocked before you go. When you arrive in Mexico City, you can purchase a Telcel or Movistar SIM card, locally known as a "chip". This will get you a Mexican cell phone number. Remember this is a prepaid cellular option. You get free incoming calls. People calling you from long distance will need to dial in this format: +52 1 plus the area code 8 or 7 digit phone number. Mexico city (55), Guadalajara (33) and Monterrey (81) have 8 digit numbers, and 2 digit area codes. The rest of the country has 7 digit numbers and 3 digit area codes. There are no longer long distance charges within the country.
Calling from a Mexican phone (either land or mobile) to a Mexican cell phone is called ¨El Que Llama Paga¨ meaning only the person making the call pays for the air time. From a landline, you should dial the 044 prefix before the 10 digit number composed of the area code and the mobile number to be dialled, such as 044 55 12345678. From a mobile phone, just start from the area code.
Another option is to buy a prepaid Mexican phone kit, they frequently include more air time worth than the kit actually costs, air time is called ¨Tiempo Aire¨. For Telcel these kits are called ¨Amigo Kit¨ for Movistar they are called ¨Movistar Prepago¨ and for Iusacell ¨Viva Kit¨ the you can just keep the phone as a spare for whenever you are in Mexico; there are no costs in between uses. These kits start at around 30 USD and can be purchased at the thousands of mobile phone dealerships, or at OXXO convinence stores, and even supermarkets.
Prices in Mexico City
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.10|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$8.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$22.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$30.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$44.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$4.40|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.70|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.25|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$6.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$7.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.15|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$2.75|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.40|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$45.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$35.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$68.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.28|
34 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
115 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Benito Juarez International Airport
Most travelers arrive in Mexico City by air; at Benito Juárez International Airport, located in the eastern part of the city.
The airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 with the latter mostly used for Sky Team airlines.
There are frequent flights to and from most larger cities in the world, including Amsterdam, Buenos Aires,São Paulo, Shanghai, Santiago de Chile, Lima, London, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid,Munich, New York City,Frankfurt, Chicago, Toronto, and Tokyo.
The airport has two terminals in the southwestern end of the airport grounds at opposite sides of the runways. Within each terminal (the main buildings) it is further divided into large bay like rooms or halls referred to as sala orbahia on airport maps which contain airline check in desks in the departures (salidas) zone and baggage reclaim for arrivals (llegadas). In Termainal 1 all arrivals and domestic airline check in are at lower level (Salas A-E3) while international airline check in (Salas F1-F3, G) are at upper level towards northeastern end of the building. In terminal 2 all arrivals and ground transportation are at lower level while the airline check in and departures are at the upper level . They are:
- Terminal 1:
- Sala A: National/domestic Arrivals (llegadas nacionales)
- Sala B: Interjet. Escalators up to security screening stations for domestic departures gates.
- Sala C: Sala de Exposición/Exposition Hall. Shuttle bus to Terminal 2 outside Puerta (door) 6.
- Sala D: Magni Charters, Volaris (domestic) and MetroBus Rt#4 outside Puerta 7
- Sala D1: VivaAerobús and Volaris (domestic)
- Sala E1-E3: International Arrivals
- Sala F1: Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, United and Volaris (international)
- Sala F2: Interjet (international) and LATAM (formerly LAN & TAM)
- Sala F3: American, Avianca, British Airways, Cubana, Iberia, Southwest and Volaris (international)
- Sala G: Security screening stations to access international departures gates; Elevator/lift to the Hilton Hotel Lobby and Food court (comidas rapidas).
- Terminal 2:
- Sala L1: Delta, Nh Hotel access under the adjacent food court by international arrivals. Metrobus stop outside Door #2.
- Sala L2: Aeromexico, Aeromexico Connect
- Sala L3: Aeromexico, Copa Airlines, Aeromar; Aerotren to Terminal 1 and long distance buses at lower level next to domestic arrivals.
Your airline might only let you board your flight to Mexico if you have a valid return ticket. Your carrier might not tell you this until you're just about to board. If you plan on, say, driving out of Mexico, or leaving on a cruise ship, make sure you check this out well in advance. One way around the problem is to buy a second full price refundable ticket that you don't intend to use and then get a refund as soon as you arrive (or before you leave, as long as you have the original paperwork to show at the jetway). In most major US airports, they'll sell you this 'token' ticket at the jetway. Airline staff in the boarding area help travellers with this problem every day. There are few ticket sales offices at Benito Juárez, so you might have to arrange your refund by phone. Make sure you'll have access to a phone that allows international calls. Get a refund number from the phone agent.
Benito Juárez International Airport has plenty of congestion problems, so a new airport further to the Northeast is currently under construction. In the meantime, landing delays and long taxi times are quite common. Don't schedule very tight connections at the airport.
If you arrive on an international flight, you will go through immigration, luggage retrieval and then customs. If the immigration officer gives you an immigration form, keep it until you leave the country. If you lose or misplace it during the visit, you must visit the immigration office at the airport to fill out a new one and pay a possible (but rarely enforced) fine of 440 pesos.
There is a $300-dollar duty allowance that includes new clothing, tobacco and liquors. The Mexican customs law allows passengers to bring free of duties a laptop, an MP3 player, a digital camera, a tripod, a video camera, and used clothing. Be careful with iPads, as they are sometimes considered laptops. If you have brought a laptop and an iPad, customs may consider this two laptops and refuse to allow entry with both.
After going through customs you will pick up your luggage, then pass through screening. You will press a button for a red or green light. The red means they will search you, the green means you can go. If you are taking a connecting flight to another location and the bags are already tagged for their final destination, you will drop them on a belt located to the right of the inspection tables. If tagged to Mexico City only, you will need to check in again with the airline. Foreign travellers using connecting flights from Mexico City are sometimes required to pass through customs again when they reach their final destination.
Just before passing out of the secure area into the arrivals hall, 'for your safety' your luggage will be x-rayed. At this stage, if you've exceeded the Baggage and Duty Free Allowance, the officers will charge duty on your excess possessions. For example if you have 3 expensive cameras, they'll charge duty on the 3rd camera. They're particularly zealous about electronic components they don't recognize. Be prepared for this unpleasantness. If possible have a receipt or packing list and depreciate the value shown as much as possible.
The entire process, from when the plane arrives to when you are done with customs, usually takes about an hour. After completing customs, you will go through large doors to the waiting area for international arrivals. Be prepared to see a lot of people in this area. It is a custom for families to pick up their loved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size.
In a fine bit of job creation, you can't use an airport baggage trolley to push your own luggage through the arrivals hall in Terminal 1. Your trolley will be aggressively taken from you just outside the secure area. There are carriers who will offer to carry your luggage. This is a service authorized by the airport and is safe—they will be uniformed with white shirts, navy blue tie and dark blue pants and will 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, unless you are traveling in a group or have a lot of bags.
To get to the city you have the choice of bus, metro or taxi. There is a metro station in terminal 1, and tickets are just 5 MXN but large bags are not allowed in the metro system. Taxis cost 100-300 MXN and require you to get a tickets first and then stand in line. Bus is the cheapest option, but local buses don't enter the airport. To go to other cities, go to the bus station in Terminal 1.
The airport has five companies providing licensed and secure taxis, including Porto Taxi,Sitio 300, Taxis Nueva Imagen, Taxi Excelencia, and Yellow Cab. You should buy a ticket in the marked counters inside the airport. You can compare prices to your destination at each but they are quite similar. You can ask one of the wheelie guys who will take you and your luggage to the Taxi counter for Taxi Seguro or Boleto de Taxi. Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from $100-300 MXN for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car and the zone of the city you are going to. A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. Some ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans to single persons with moderate amounts of luggage, so specify which type of car you want, otherwise you are likely to be ripped off.
Once you've picked up your taxi ticket, join the melee (especially outside Terminal 2) in the taxi staging area. Join the queue of people carrying the same color card as yourself, or ask the taxi marshals which line to join. You might notice people moving past you. They're family groups boarding vans. If you're waiting a long time because your chosen taxi company is short on cars, go back and ask for a refund. You can then buy a new ticket with a different company.
The Terminal 1 taxi boarding area is outside Door 10, to the right of all the arrivals halls. The different taxi company ranks are at different distances from the terminal but are all within a few meters of each other.
If you have a smartphone with internet access, you can request a car using Uberor Cabify. It will be significantly cheaper than the official airport taxis.
If you are looking for a more economical means of transportation and you're not carrying too much luggage, take the Metro (subway). The Terminal Aerea station is next to the Domestic Flight Arrivals hall in Terminal 1. Go to the left when coming out from Terminal 1 International Arrivals. Terminal 2 is 15 minutes walk from Pantitlán station, but the walk involves passing through a relatively run-down area.
Inside Terminal 1, there are signs pointing to the Metro station, which is a long way towards the left if you exit from any door. Keep an eye out for the orange 1970s style M designating the entrance. Large bags are officially prohibited, but a large-ish backpack should be fine as long as you're not travelling in rush hour. Note that throughout the Metro system there are plenty of stairs. Not all stations have escalators or none have wide gates for luggage.
Metro tickets cost $5 MXN each. Don't try paying with the $500 peso note you've just received at the exchange bureau. However, buying a public transport smart card and putting up to $200 pesos in it is fine. Realize that the Metro has its own risks. Violent crime is very rare but pick-pocketing is a moderate danger here so be aware of your surroundings, and keep an eye on your belongings. Especially, don't take the Metro during rush hour unless you are especially fond of the sensation a sardine has in a tin.
There are system maps in every station near the ticket booths and on the platforms, as well as neighbourhood maps close to the ticket booths. Try to avoid peak hours: remember that approximately 4 million people use this service every day. Line 5 (which is the one that passes by the airport) is relatively empty, but Lines 1, 2 and 3 can be crowded at any time of the day.
Local buses do not enter the airport, but if it's not rush hour and you're not carrying too much luggage, it's possible to walk to the Circuito Interior ring road from Terminal 1 (follow the signs towards the Metro). Regular ($2 peso) and express ($4 peso) RTP buses pass frequently and have routes around the ring road. You need to pay with exact change (or pay extra) in the coin boxes. From Terminal 2 you could walk to the Pantitlán Metro Station (which is the terminus of dozens of bus lines), but it involves passing through a relatively run-down area.
If you are going to another city by bus, the bus station in Terminal 2 is located on the far right of the arrivals floor, after coming out of customs, past the escalators, by domestic arrivals. The bus station in Terminal 1 is located by the auto ramp by the international arrivals area, between Doors 7 & 8. To get there go up the escalators to Sala 'G' by the food court (opposite side of the food court from international departures & international airline check in). Go across the bridge next to the food court (between 7 Eleven and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts) to the the bus companies' check in desks at the opposite side to buy the tickets. Follow sign to the right and down the escalators to the bus loading area. The following bus companies serve the airport:
- ADO (Autobuses Del Oriente), Aeorpuerto, TAPO, Central Norte, Taxqueña, Col. Santa Martha, Del. Iztapalapa, , toll-free: 01800-009-9090. They only go to Cordoba and Orizaba from the airport. Passengers can transfer buses in Cordoba to get to Veracruz city.
- Caminante, Aeoropuertos (Toluca & Mexico City), Mexico Poniente. Travels mainly between Mexico City and Toluca.
- Grupo Estrella Blanca (White Star), Aeoropuerto, Central del Norte, Taxquena, , toll-free: 01800-507-5500. From the airport they only go up to Pachuca and Tulacingo.
- Estrella Roja (Red Star), Aeorpuerto, TAPO, Carcel de Mujeres (Women's prison), , toll-free: 01800-712-2284. From the airport they go to CAPU (Central bus station in Puebla) and their own terminal on 4a Poniente closer in to downtown Puebla on alternating schedules. Passengers continuing to Oaxaca can catch this bus to Puebla CAPU and transfer there or they can take local transport to the nearby TAPO in Mexico City and take a direct bus to OAXACA with ADO. There are also flights from Mexico City to Oaxaca with multiple airlines too.
- Primera Plus, Aeorpuerto, Central de Norte, Obsevatorio, , toll-free: 0800 375-75-87. From the airport they only go up to Celaya and Queretaro. For those going to San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato this is the bus to take. Take the first bus up to Queretaro where you transfer to another bus going to Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende. There are also direct flights to Leon Bajio Airport (BJX), the nearest airport to Guanajuato and San Miguel Allende from various places in Mexico and the U.S.
- Grupo Flecha Roja, Aguila, Aeropuerto, Central de Poniente, Central del Norte, , toll-free: 01800 224-8452. From the airport they only go to San Juan del Rio.
- Pullman de Morelos, Aeorpuerto, Taxquena, , toll-free:0800 624-03-60. From the airport they go to Cuernavaca.
Licenciado Adolfo López Mateos International Airport
This airport (IATA: TLC) is in the City of Toluca 50 km southwest of Mexico City and recently transformed itself from a general aviation airport into an alternative for the congested Mexico City airport. Low-cost airlines Volaris and Interjet serve Mexican destinations as Monterrey, Cancún, Guadalajara and Tijuana. As of February 2016, Toluca is only served internationally by Interjet from Las Vegas. Reaching the Toluca airport from the West of Mexico City (such as Santa Fe) is easy, but it can be time-consuming to do so from the rest of Mexico City.
- Caminante offers the best transportation from and to Toluca's airport. It has the biggest fleet of taxis at the best price and it also includes deluxe Mercedes Benz vans.
- Volaris offers free airport shuttle from its Santa Fe office in Vasco de Quiroga Avenue
- Interjet offers shuttles that are property of Caminante, from several hotels around the city, including the Santa Fe Sheraton Hotel.
Depending on your overall trip, it might also be worth considering flying to nearby cities as Puebla (PBC), Querétaro (QRO) or Cuernavaca (CVJ), but reaching Mexico City from these places could be quite time-consuming and tiresome.
The main train station in Mexico City is Buenavista Station, from where a suburban commuter train (Ferrocarriles Suburbanos) takes you 27km 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.
Being the national transportation hub there are various bus lines going into and out of Mexico City in all directions, from/to around the country at varying distances. Some of the bus companies come from the surrounding states of Mexico, Hidalgo, Puebla and Guerrero while others come from all over the nation to as far as the U.S border in the north and the Guatemalan border to the south. Most foreigners coming into the country would most likely fly in but it's also possible to travel from various cities in the U.S. to the border with some companies continuing south of the border and from Panama, through the Central American isthmus to Mexico City.
The city has four major bus stations based on the compass points. They are:
- Terminal Central Autobuses del Norte (North) (Cien Metros or Mexico Norte), Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas No. 4907, Colonia Magdalena de las Salinas (Metro station stop Autobuses del Norte (Line 5, yellow)), . Most buses departing to & from bordering towns with the U.S.such as Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Tijuana, Reynosa, even Ciudad Juarez. Other destinations that buses go to from this terminal: Acapulco, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, Leon, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Hermosillo, Guanajuato, Puerto Vallarta. Overall, buses are bound to western and northern Mexico
- Terminal Central Autobuses del Poniente (West) (Observatorio or Mexico Poniente), Sur 122 y Rio Tacubaya, Del. Álvaro Obregón, Col. Real del Monte(Metro station stop - Observatorio (west end of Line 1, pink).), . also known as Terminal de Autobuses Observatorio. Usually used for destinations due west such as Colima, Manzanillo, Morelia, Puerto Vallarta, Toluca in the states of Colima, Jalisco, Michocoan and the western part of Mexico state.
- Terminal Central del Sur (South) (Taxqueña or Mexico Sur), Av. Tasqueña 1320, Colonia Campestre Churubusco (Metro Station - Taxqueña (South end of Line 2, blue)) . Buses from here go south of Mexico City such as, Acapulco, Cuernavaca, Taxco and various places in Colima, Guerrero, Morelos & southern part of Mexico state. Station is also north end (Taxqueña) of the light rail (Tren Ligero)) tram going to/from Xochimilco.
- Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente (East) (TAPO or Mexico Oriente), Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza 200, Colonia 10 de Mayo Venustiano Carranza (Metro Station - Lazaro Cardenas (Line 1, Pink; Line B, Gray); next to the national capitol Building (Camara de Diputados)), .Serving destinations in the eastern & southeastern states of Veracruz, Puebla, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tlaxcala, Tamauliapas, Campeche, Tobasco and the Guatemalan border. NOTE: Traffic in and around the TAPO area (and any other bus terminal for that matter) can get quite congested during peak/rush hours. Always give yourself an extra hour or so in travel time, including to/from, to be sure that you do not miss a bus or a connection.
There are many other smaller bus stations, which serve fewer destinations but can be very useful if you wish to avoid congestion or are travelling to/from the outer parts of Mexico City. Some of these are:
- Aeropuerto (Mexico City Airport) (AICM). There are two bus stations in terminals 1 and 2 of the Mexico City airport, serving nearby big cities such as Querétaro and Puebla. Note that buses to/from these stations are usually more expensive than those heading to the 4 main bus stations. Most buses stop at both stations.
- Cárcel de Mujeres, Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza 3097, Colonia Santa Martha Acatitla, Istapalapa. Along the main road heading East from Mexico City, it serves buses heading to Puebla and points in-between.
- Ciudad Azteca, Centro Comercial Mexipuerto, Corner of Avenida Central and De Los Guerrero, Colonia Ciudad Azteca 3ra Sección, Ecatepec de Morelos, Estado de México (Metro and Mexibús Ciudad Azteca). In the Northeast of the metropolitan area, it is used by many services to/from North and East Mexico.
- Indios Verdes, Avenida Insurgentes Norte 211, Colonia Santa Isabel Tola, Gustavo A. Madero (Metro and Metrobús Indios Verdes). Most buses to/from Pachuca stop here. Usually more convenient by public transport than the North Bus Station.
- Tepotzotlán, Autopista México-Queretaro 164, Colonia Cedros, Tepotzotlán, Estado de México. Just before the toll booth along the Mexico City-Querétaro highway, many buses heading North from Mexico City stop here.
- Caseta Chalco
- Ecatepec (Las Américas)
The below are some of the major bus companies serving Mexico City at one or several bus stations. Some offer service to/from both terminals at the airport (aeropuerto). See the addresses in the below listings as to where they go to in Mexico City:
- ADO (Autobuses Del Oriente), Aeorpuerto, TAPO, Central Norte, Taxqueña, Col. Santa Martha, Del. Iztapalapa, , toll-free: 01800-009-9090. They operate the ADO, ADO GL, AU (Autobus Unidos), OCC (Omnibus Cristobal Colon), and Platino bus lines, and the Boletotal/Ticketbus.com booking site. They are a major bus company in the eastern and southeastern part of the country towards the Guatemalan border in the states fo Guerrero, Puebla, Veracruz, Chiapas, Tamaulipas, Tabasco, and the Yucatan Peninsula (Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche). Travel to/from Guatemala via Tapachula or Tuxtla Guttierrez and to Belize through Chetumal.
- Autovias, HDP, La Linea, Mexico Norte, Mexico Poniente, toll-free: 01 800 622 2222. goes from Mexico DF to the surrounding Mexico state and beyond to Colima, Guerreo, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan and Queretaro states.
- Caminante, Aeoropuertos (Toluca & Mexico City), Mexico Poniente. Travels mainly between Mexico City and Toluca.
- Costa Line AERS, Mexico Norte, Mexico Sur (Taxquena), , toll-free: 01800-0037-635. Serves mainly in Mexico state, Morelos and Guerrero. They also operate the Turistar, Futura and AMS bus lines.
- ETN (Enlances Terrestre Nacionales), Turistar Lujo, Central de Norte, Poniente & Sur. They offer a 'deluxe' or 'executive' class seating with 2 seats on one side of the aisle and one on the opposite side with more leg room and an ability to recline into a lying position. They may cost more above first class. They go to Aguascaliente, Baja California Norte, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michocoan, Morelos, Nayrit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca (coast), Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Veracruz (Poza Rica, Tuxpan) and Zacatecas states
- Grupo Estrella Blanca (White Star), Aeoropuerto, Central del Norte, Taxquena, , toll-free: 01800-507-5500. They operate theElite, TNS (Transportes Norte de Sonora), Chihuahuanese, Pacifico, Elite, Oriente, TF (Tranporte Frontera), Estrella Blanca, Conexion, Rapidos de Cuauhtemoc, Valle de Guadiana and Autobus Americanos bus lines. As the largest bus company they serve much of the northern & northwestern part of the country such as Aguascaliente, Baja California Norte, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Mexico, Michocoan, Morelos, Nayrit, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora and Zacatecas states, up to the US border. They sell tickets for onward travel to the United States from the border on Greyhound Lines (and vice versa).
- Estrella de Oro (Gold Star), TAPO, Taxqueña, , toll-free: 01800-009-9090. operates mainly between Mexico City and various places in Guerrero, Veracruz and Hidalgo states. They are now a subsidiary of Grupo ADO but also a separate company and brand.
- Estrella Roja (Red Star), Aeorpuerto, TAPO, Carcel de Mujeres (Women's prison), , toll-free: 01800-712-2284. Travels mainly between Mexico City and Puebla.
- Primera Plus, Aeorpuerto, Central de Norte, Obsevatorio, , toll-free: 0800 375-75-87. Subsidiary of Grupo Flecha Amarilla which also include ETN, Turistar Lujo, Coordinados, TTUR and Flecha Amarilla (2nd class service) bus lines. They serve Aguascaliente, Colima, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michocoan, Nayrit, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa & Zacatecas states
- Grupo Flecha Roja, Aguila, Central de Poniente, Central del Norte, , toll-free: 01800 224-8452. operates mainly between Mexico City and various places in northern part of Mexico state into Queretaro state on the Flecha Roja brand and to the southeastern part of Mexico State into Guerrero and Morelos states as Aguila.
- FYPSA, TAPO, . operates mainly between DF, Mexico, Oaxaca and Chiapas states.
- Omnibus de Mexico, Central de Poniente, Central del Norte, , toll-free: 01800-765-66-36. They serve much of the central and northern part of the country such as Aguascaliente, Colima, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Michocoan, Nayrit, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Zacatecas states, up to the US border.
- OvniBus, Autotransportes Valle de Mezquital, Central del Norte, toll-free:01800-715-83-39. They serve Tula, Tepotzotlan, Pachuca, Actopan and other cities/towns in Hidalgo snd Mexico states.
- Grupo Senda, Central de Norte. They serve much of the north central part of the country such as Aguascaliente, Colima, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco,Michocoan, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas states, up to the US border. From the border they continue up to the southeastern and central U.S. states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. They also operate the Turimex and the Del Norte bus lines
- Autobuses de Teotihuacan SA de CV, Central de Norte, . , Independent second bus to the 'piramides' or the ruins of Teotihuacan ruins/pyramids, S Juan Teotihuacan, Texcoco, Pachuca, Tulacingo, and other places in the NE part of Mexico state towards Hidalgo, Tlaxcala and Puebla states
- Zina Bus, Excelencia, Excelencia Plus, Central de Poniente, . goes from Mexico DF to the surrounding Mexico, Guerreo and Michoacan states
Transportation - Get Around
Mexico City is a huge place, but driving is definitely not a way to see it even if tourist attractions are scattered throughout the city. A good way to plan your trip is to stop by Guia Roji to identify the location of the "Colonias" (neighborhoods) you intend to visit. You may also try Google Maps and Map24, to find addresses and even look for directions.
Mexico City has several public transport alternatives. The city government operates the Metro and Metrobús bus rapid transit system, which are cheap and reliable but can be very crowded during rush hour. It also operates a light rail line, RTP bus system and electric trolleybuses. There are also plenty of franchised private buses, minibuses and vans, known as peseros and combis, which are less reliable and safe but reach more destinations. In the metropolitan area, there is a commuter train line and the Mexibús bus rapid transit system, but most destinations are only served by private minibuses and vans.
There are also thousands of taxis, now painted in white and magenta. Official taxis have a red box in the center lower area of their license plates that reads TAXI. Only use these taxis, sitio taxis or have a hotel call you a taxi for safety reasons. If you have a smartphone and internet access, the ridesharing services Uber and Cabify can also be used, with the added advantage that you can put your destination beforehand and pay with a credit card.
Google Maps and Apple Maps can plan routes using a car or the city-operated public transport (excluding private buses). There are at least two other websites available for planning trips within the city. Buscaturuta ("Busca Tu Ruta," or "Find Your Route"), which serves all of Mexico, uses a Google Maps interface and allows you to search with incomplete addresses. It will give you options for traveling by public transit, taxi, car, or bicycle. Via DF is only for Mexico City proper and requires complete addresses, including delegacion and colonia. It's available in English, German, French and Spanish.
Some mobile apps exist to help users navigate the public transportation system.Metroplex DF is one such option (iOS only).
Officially named Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, but known simply as Metro, it is one of the largest and most patronized subway systems in the world, comprised by 12 different lines that measure more than 190 km and carry 4.4 million people every day. You'll quickly see how busy it is, particularly lines 1, 2 and 3 and during the morning (7AM-9AM) and afternoon (5PM-7PM) rush hours: trains are often filled to significantly over capacity, and sometimes it will be hot and uncomfortable. It can get loud in the trains both due to the noise of the wheels and due to conversation, vendors or people blasting their music (see below). Despite the close quarters, it's relatively quick and efficient, especially as an alternative to taxis during rush hours when the streets are essentially parking lots, and affordable by Western standards (tickets for one trip with unlimited transfers within the system cost 5 pesos). Trains run every couple of minutes, so if you just miss it, you won't have long to wait until another arrives, and the Metro can be the quickest way to travel longer distances within the city - especially if your origin and departure points align with metro stops. Stations usually have food stalls inside and outside the entrances, and many have city-sponsored exhibits and artwork on display, so it's good even for a look around. If you missed the food stalls getting on the train, people selling all kinds of things are available in the trains as well. Just don't count on them selling things you need when you need them. Operating hours are from 5AM to midnight on weekdays (starts at 6AM on Saturday and 7AM on Sunday). A last train leaves every terminal station at midnight, so you might be able to catch it a few minutes afterwards, depending on your station.
Although the Metro lacks informational signs in English, the system was originally designed with illiteracy in mind, so finding your way around should not be a problem. Lines are defined by number but also by a color, and that color runs as a thematic band across the entire station and along the entire route, so you always know what line you are on. Stations are identified by name but also by a pictorial icon that represents that area in some way. Entire maps of the Metro system are posted around ticket booths and on platforms, but not always inside trains. Neighborhood maps around every station are also available near the ticket booths.
Some lines run through more tourist-related spots than others and will become very familiar to you after a while. Line 1 (pink) runs through many tourist spots, such as the Centro Histórico (Salto del Agua, Isabel la Católica and Pino Suárez), the Chapultepec Forest (Chapultepec), Condesa and Roma neighborhoods (Insurgentes and Sevilla) and the West (Observatorio) and East (San Lázaro) Bus Stations. Line 2 (blue) runs through the Centro Histórico (Allende, Zócalo and Bellas Artes) and reaches the South Bus Station (Tasqueña). Line 3 (green) runs near Coyoacán (Coyoacán and Miguel Ángel de Quevedo) and also near the University City (Copilco and Ciudad Universitaria). If traveling to and from the airport, you'll want to use Line 5 (yellow) to connect to the Mexico City International Airport (Terminal Aérea, and not Boulevard Puerto Aéreo of line 1, which is 1 km away but is still colloquially called Aeropuerto). The North Bus station is also served by Line 5 at Autobuses del Norte. Line 6 (red) runs east-west through the north of the city and passes by the Basílica de Guadalupe (La Villa - Basílica). Line 7 (orange) runs through many touristic spots such as the Chapultepec Forest (Auditorio) and the Polanco neighborhood (Polanco). Line 8 (green) crosses the Centro Histórico north-south (Salto del Agua, San Juan de Letrán, Bellas Artes and Garibaldi). Line 9 (brown) runs near the Condesa neighborhood (Chilpancingo).
Here are a few of the commonly-used Metro signs translated into English:
- Taquilla - Ticket booth
- Entrada - Entrance
- Salida - Exit
- No Pase - Do not enter. You'll still see many people passing through in order to walk less though.
- Andenes - Train platforms
- Correspondencia - Line transfer, marked with a "C" sign with the same outline as the metro station icons.
- Dirección - Direction you are heading inside a line: one of the two terminal stations. Each platform has a large sign indicating towards which direction that train heads. For example, if you are travelling on Line 1 from Insurgentes to Pino Suárez stations, you are heading in the direction of the Pantitlán terminus ("Dirección Pantitlán"). On your return trip, you would be heading in the direction of the Observatorio terminus ("Dirección Observatorio").
As you enter a Metro station, look for the ticket booth. There might be a short queue for tickets, and to avoid having to always stand in line, many people buy a small handful of tickets at a time. A sign is posted by the ticket window that shows how much it would cost for any number of tickets. Once you approach the agent, simply drop some money into the tray and announce (in Spanish) how many tickets you would like ("uno" for MX$5, "cinco" for MX$25, "diez" for MX$50, and so on). You do not need to say anything about where you are going, since fares are the same for everywhere in the system.
Instead of buying individual tickets (and queuing), you may opt for a multi-use rechargeable smart card. At the same window you buy tickets, ask for a tarjeta. There may be a minimum amount for your initial balance. To use the card, simply hold the card next to the white card reader at any turnstile. The cost of a single fare will be deducted and the remaining balance will show on the card reader display. You can ask for a recharge (recargar) at any ticket window to supplement your card's balance. These smart cards can be used in the Metro, Metrobús and Tren Ligero. If you don't speak Spanish, it might be easier to buy a card at the machines in the Metrobús or Tren Ligero stations rather than in a Metro station ticket booth.
Once you have your ticket (boleto) or card, it is time to go through the turnstiles. The stiles are clearly marked for exit or entry but if you are confused, simply follow the crowd. Insert the ticket into the slot (it does not matter which direction is up or forward) or put your card against the card reader above. You won't get the ticket back. Some turnstiles are only for smart card holders, which are marked with "solo tarjeta". Past the turnstiles, signs that tell you where to go depending on your direction within the Line are usually clearly marked, as are signs that tell you where to transfer to a different Line. There is no standard station layout, but they are all designed to facilitate vast amounts of human traffic, so following the crowd works well, as long you double check the signs to make sure the crowd is taking you in the same direction.
On the platform, try to stand near the edge. During rush hours when it can get pretty crowded, there is sometimes a mad rush on and off the train. Although for the most part people are respectful and usually let departing passengers off first, train doors are always threatening to close and that means you need to be moderately aggressive if you don't want to get left behind. If you're traveling in a group, this could mean having to travel separately. At the ends of the platform, the train is usually less crowded, so you could wait there, but during rush hours some busier stations reserve those sections of platform exclusively for women and children for their safety. If this is so, there will be a police officer blocking the way.
While on the train, you will see a steady stream of people walking through the carriages announcing their wares for sale. Act as if you are used to them (that is, ignore them, unless they need to pass you). Most often you'll see the city's disadvantaged population make their living by begging or selling pirate music CD's, blaring their songs through amplifiers carried in a backpack. There are people who "perform" (such as singing, or repeatedly somersaulting shirtless onto a pile of broken glass) and expect a donation. There are also people who hand out pieces of paper, candy or snacks between stops, and if you eat it or keep it you are expected to pay for it; if you don't want it, they'll take it back before the next stop. It can be quite amusing, or sad at times, but don't laugh or be disrespectful... this is how they make a living. The best thing to do is observing how others around you behave, but you can usually just avoid eye contact with these merchants and they will leave you alone.
If the merchants weren't enough, the trains are usually just crowded places to be. You will usually not get seats if you are traveling through the city center during the day, and even if you do, it's considered good manners to offer your seat to the aged, pregnant or disabled, as all cars have clearly marked handicap seats. In keeping with the mad rush on and off the train, people will move toward the exits before the train stops, so let them through and feel free to do the same when you need to (a "con permiso" helps, but body language speaks the loudest here).
A few words of warning: the Metro is quite safe, but there are a few incidences of pickpocketing every day. Keep your belongings close to you; if you have bags, close them and keep them in sight. As long as you are alert and careful you won't have any problems. Passengers usually look out for each other. Women have complained of being groped on extremely crowded trains; this is not a problem on designated women's wagons, or any other time than rush hour. If theft or any other sort of harassment do occur, you can stop the train and attract the attention of the authorities by pulling on alarms near the doors, which are labeled "señal de alarma."
When exiting, follow the crowd through signs marked Salida. Many stations have multiple exits to different streets (or different sides of streets, marked with a cardinal direction) and should have posted road maps that show the immediate area with icons for banks, restaurants, parks and so forth. Use these to orient yourself and figure out where you need to go. A good tip is to remember what side of the tracks you are on, these are marked in such maps with a straight line the color of the metro line you are traveling.
There are two kinds of buses. The first are full-sized buses operated by the Mexico City Government known as RTP and Ecobús. Regular RTP routes cost $2 MXN anywhere you go, while Express RTP routes cost $4 and the Ecobús costs $5 MXN. Most buses have coin boxes, in which case you should should have the exact fare (or be willing to deposit more than your fare) and put the money in the box. If there isn't a coin box, give the money to the driver. RTP buses are orange and green, while Ecobús buses are all green.
The second kind of buses are known asmicrobuses or peseros. These buses are private-run and come in small and bigger sizes. Newer peseros look like regular buses but are painted in white and purple, while older ones are ominous looking and painted in green and grey. Smaller peseros cost $4 MXN for shorter trips, $4.50 MXN for 6–12 km trips and $5 MXN for 12+ km trips. Full-sized private buses are $5 MXN for shorter trips, and $6 MXN for longer trips.
All buses are supposed to stop at bus stops, but microbuses are usually willing to stop anywhere as long as there are no police nearby. In the inner city, bus stops are usually small bus shelters with metal seats. In other areas, they might be unmarked and you can reasonably assume that a bus will stop just before a big intersection. Routes are also very complex and flexible, so be sure to ask someone, perhaps the driver, if the bus even goes to your destination ("va a ...?"), before getting on. Also, though the locals hang off the sides and out the doors, it is generally not recommended for novices. Riding RTP buses is safer and more comfortable than the private franchised and smaller microbuses, which are more prone to robbery and often have terrible driving habits. All buses display signs on their windshields which tell major stops they make, so if you want to take a bus to a metro station, you can just wait for a bus that has a sign with an M followed by the station name.
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. 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 Bajan!(pronounced "BAH-han") in a loud and desperate voice usually works.
By Metrobús and Mexibús
The Metrobús is a BRT system that operates six routes (líneas) in dedicated lanes along Insurgentes, Eje 4 Sur, Eje 1 Poniente (Cuauhtémoc/Vallejo), Eje 3 Oriente and Eje 5 Norte Avenues. Line 1 is convenient for the Condesa/Roma area, Line 3 for Del Valle and the Centro Histórico and Line 4 has a route to/from the airport (with stops at terminals 1 and 2) that passes through the Centro Histórico. The Metrobús is safe but can be crowded.
Most routes cost 6 pesos to ride, while buses to/from the airport cost 30 pesos. In order to ride, you need a refillable smart card that must be bought in advance (16 pesos, including one fare). These cards can be used at the Metro and Tren Ligero as well. Lines 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 have enclosed stations with turnstiles where you pay. There are card vending machines at these stations. Line 4 has regular bus stops and you pay when boarding the bus. Cards are thus not sold there, but can be bought/recharged at convenience stores along the route. If you are just arriving and want to take the Metrobús from the airport, you can buy the card at the 7-Eleven shops in both terminals.
The Metrobús has stops approximately every 500m. Expect Line 1 to be crowded around the clock and other Lines to be crowded during rush hour, but it's a great way to move around very rapidly. There are branches in each route, buses that take multiple lines and buses that do not go all the way from terminal to terminal, so you must check the correct door to take the bus in your direction, as well as the bus' billboard before boarding to see which is the last stop they will visit. There are reserved boarding areas at the front of every bus (indicated on the platforms) for women, the handicapped and the elderly.
The Mexibús is a similar system covering areas of the State of Mexico (in the metropolitan area). There are 3 lines, all of which cost 6 pesos but use different smart cards. The Mexibús is reasonably safe, but pickpocketing and robbery do sometimes occur.
By trolley bus
Trolley buses are operated by the Electric Transport Services. There are 15 Trolley bus lines that spread around for more than 400 km. They usually do not get as crowded as regular buses, and they are quite comfortable and reliable. They have lower frequencies and can be a little slower than regular buses, since they are unable to change lanes as quickly. There is a flat fare of $2 MXN on most lines and $4 MXN on the Eje Central, Eje 2 Sur and Eje 7 Sur lines. You pay in a coin box and bus drivers do not give out change. For tourists, the Eje Central line (Line A) is useful to go between the North and South bus stations or between these stations and the Centro Histórico.
By light rail
The Tren Ligero (Light rail) is operated by Electric Transport Services and consists of one single line that runs to Xochimilco, south of the city, from the Tasqueña Metro Station (Line 2, blue; alternatively you may see it spelled asTaxqueña). For tourists, it is useful if you plan to visit Xochimilco, the Dolores Olmedo Museum, the Anahuacalli Museum or the Azteca Stadium. The rate for a single ride is $3 pesos. The ticketing system works very similarly to the Metro, but the tickets are not the same. Tickets are sold at most stations along the line. Where they aren't, there is always a police officer guarding the entrance, next to whom there is a coin box where you can deposit the fare in coins (exact change or pay extra). You can also use the same smart card as in the Metro and Metrobús.
There are more than 250,000 registered cabs in the city and they are one of the most efficient ways to get around. The prices are low, a fixed fee of about 8.6 pesos to get into the cab, and about 1.14 pesos per quarter kilometer or 45 seconds thereafter, for the normal taxis (taxi libre). The night rates, supposedly between 11PM at night and 6AM in the morning 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. They will tell you that their price is good because they are "safe". If you don't agree on the price, don't worry as another cab will come along.
Although safety has in recent years substantially improved, catching cabs in the street may be dangerous. Taxi robberies, so-called "express kidnappings", where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their credit cards, do sometimes occur, but there are some general precautions that will minimize the risk:
- Taxis have special license plates. The registration number starts with an "A", "B" or "M" followed by five digits. Base ("Sitio") taxis are safer. These plates are white and have a small green and red squares at the bottom corners.
- 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.
- Look for the meter. Without it, they will be more likely to rip you off. All taxis in Mexico city have meters.
- If you are nervous, take sitio taxis only. These may be a bit more expensive, but they are well worth the expense.
- If you are safety-conscious or require additional comfort, consider radio taxis, which can be called by phone, and are extremely reliable and safe, although a bit pricier than other taxis. 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. Radio taxis charge more than regular taxis, but are available all night. Hotel taxis will be significantly more expensive than site or radio taxis.
- As with absolutely everything else, risks are greater at night. At night, radio taxis are recommended.
Mexico City is so large, and many street names so common that cab drivers are highly unlikely to know where to go when you give only a name or address of your destination. Always include either the name of the colonia or the district (i.e. "Zona Rosa"), as well as any nearby landmarks or cross streets. You will probably be asked to give directions throughout or at least near the tail end of the journey; if either your Spanish or your sense of direction is poor, carry a map and be prepared to point.
The two most common recommendations for a safe cab riding experience are to make sure you take an official cab, and to notify a person you trust of the license plate number of the cab you are riding. There is a free app available for iPhone, android and Blackberry (soon) that allows you to verify if a cab is official by comparing the taxi license plate number with the government provided data and that lets you communicate through Facebook, twitter and/or email the license plate number of the cab you have taken or even communicte an emergency through these mediums. The free service is called Taxiaviso.
If you have a smartphone with internet access, you can also use the ridesharing apps Uber and Cabify, which allow you to set your destination beforehand and pay with a credit card. The app Yaxi allows you to order a safe regular taxi to your location.
By double-decker tourist bus
The Turibus is a sightseeing hop-in hop-off bus that is a good alternative to see the city if you don't have too much time. The one-day ticket costs $140 pesos Monday-Friday (around USD $8) and $165 pesos (USD $10) Saturday-Sunday. Children are half-price. Your ticket is valid for all routes. Runs 365 days a year. Its main route includes the Zona Rosa, Chapultepec Park, Polanco, Condesa, Roma and the Historic Center. There are three secondary routes running South, West and North. The South route runs from Fuente de la Cibeles in Condesa to Coyoacan and Xochimilco. The West route (Circuito Polanco) runs between Polanco and Chapultepec. The North route (Circuito Basílica) goes to Tlatelolco and the Basilica de Guadalupe.
The new Capitalbus has a similar service. It has a central route that includes the Centro Histórico, Reforma and Polanco, as well as a route west to the Santa Fe business district, and a North route to the Basílica de Guadalupe and various churches. Tickets cost $130 pesos for 6 hours, $140 pesos for 24 hours Monday-Friday, $180 pesos for 24 hours (Saturday-Sunday) and $250 pesos for 48 hours. Buses have Wi-fi.
Driving around by car is the least advised way to visit the city due to the complicated road structure, generally reckless drivers, and the 5 million vehicles moving around the city. Traffic jams are almost omnipresent on weekdays, and driving from one end of the city to the other could take you between 2 to 4 hours at peak times. The condition of pavement in freeways such as Viaducto and Periférico is good, however in avenues, streets and roads varies from fair to poor since most streets have fissures, bumps and holes. Most are paved with asphalt and only until recently some have been paved using concrete. Since the city grew without planned control, the street structure resembles a labyrinth in many areas. Also, traffic 'laws' are complex and rarely followed, so driving should be left to only the most adventurous and/or foolhardy. Driving can turn into a really challenging experience if you don't know precisely well where are you going. Guia Roji sells good paper maps, and Google Maps and Apple Maps have good maps of the city.
Street parking (Estacionamiento in Spanish) is scarce around the city and practically nonexistent in crowded areas. Where available expect to pay between $12 to $18 pesos an hour while most of hotels charge between $25 to $50 pesos an hour. Some areas of the city such as Zona Rosa, Chapultepec, Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa have parking meters on the sidewalks which are about $10 pesos an hour and are free on certain days and hours (depending on the location). It is possible to park in other streets without meters but is likely there will be a "parking vendor" (Franelero in Spanish) which are not authorized by the city, but will "take care of your car". Expect to pay between $10 to $20 pesos to these fellows, some of them will "charge" at your arrival, the best advice is to pay if you want to see your car in good shape when you come back.
Hoy No Circula (Today You Do Not Circulate) is an extremely important anti-traffic and anti-pollution program that all visitors including foreigners must take into consideration when wishing to drive through Mexico City and nearby Mexico State with their foreign-plated vehicles, as they are not immune to these restrictions. It limits vehicle circulation to certain hours during the day or certain days depending on the previous days' pollution levels, how new your car is, the last digit of your plate number (plates with all letters are automatically assigned a digit) and whether the car has passed the bi-yearly emission controls. Newer and electric vehicles (which are usually the case for rentals) have a 00 or 0 hologram sticker and are exempted from most regulations. You can check the cars that cannot circulate today here. Currently, Mexico City, but not the State of Mexico, offers a special pass good for 2 weeks, that allows someone with a foreign-plated vehicle to be exempt from these restrictions.
The visitor should take into consideration the following tips when driving: avenues have preference over streets and streets over closed streets. Continuous right turns even when traffic light red are not allowed from 2016. Seat belts are mandatory for all seats. Police generally drive with their lights on, but if you're stopped by a police car, it is likely they will try to get money out you. It is up to you if you accept to give a bribe, but never offer one directly. Fines are usually cheap and can be paid at banks, supermarkets and convenience stores.
Cycling in most parts of Mexico City is difficult. Distances are long, many roads are wide, car drivers are aggressive and traffic can be hectic. However, the city government is making a serious effort to make cycling more attractive, installing dedicated cycle lanes along several main streets, including Reforma and around Chapultepec Park. Bicycle parking is available in/around most metro stations (such as Auditorio) and the central city. Cycling along dedicated lanes and smaller streets feels safe enough.
For more recreational cycling, the government closes off Reforma every Sunday morning for strollers, cyclists and other non-motorised transport [www]. One Sunday a month, there is a much longer route. Other nice places to cycle include Chapultepec Park and the cycling path installed on the former railway line to Cuernavaca, which passes through Polanco and Lomas and reaches all the way to the Morelos state limits. Bicycles can be taken in the Metro and Tren Ligero on Sundays.
- EcoBici. EcoBici is a bike sharing program in Mexico City. It has 444 stations and over 12000 bikes in central Mexico City, including the Centro Histórico, around Reforma, Condesa and Roma, Del Valle and Polanco. Newer bike stations allow you to purchase a 1-day ($90), 3-day ($180), 7-day ($300) or 1-year ($400) subscription directly with a credit card. You can take a bicycle from any station and make as many 45-minute trips as you want during that time. Be aware that they will block $1,500 pesos from your credit card from the time you sign up and until 5 days after your subscription ends. There are reports that Ecobici are slow to release this deposit, often taking longer than 5 days.
- Free rental bikes can also be obtained at kiosks in various parts of the city, such as along Reforma, if you provide two pieces of ID.
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Mexico City is famous among Mexicans for its huge malls, streets like Presidente Mazaryk offer haute couture stores.
- Polanco. Upscale shopping and dining district centered around Presidente Masaryk and Campos Eliseos streets. It also has several shopping malls.
- Altavista. San Angel upscale shopping street.
- Condesa. Trendy district full with alternative stores and boutiques.
- Centro Historico, 20 de Noviembre St. The city's oldest shopping district, you can find almost anything here. The old department stores are clustered around
- Pino Suarez. There is a lot of youth-minded fashion going on here. Most of it is a knock-off of something else but at such low prices who can complain? There is a very large indoor market near the metro stop (Pino Saurez, on the pink line) that has a ton of clothing, shoes, and food vendors.
American-style shopping malls appeared in Mexico City by the late 1960s and are now are spread all over the metropolitan area. Here you will find some of the malls sorted by area.
- Reforma 222, Paseo de la Reforma 222, Juárez. Metro Insurgentes or Metrobús Hamburgo.
- Fórum Buenavista, Eje 1 Norte and Insurgentes, Buenavista. Metro Buenavista.
- Plaza Insurgentes, San Luis Potosí 214, Roma. Metrobús Sonora.
- Parque Delta, Cuauhtemoc 462, Narvarte. Metro Centro Médico or Metrobús Obrero Mundial.
- Metrópoli Patriotismo, Patriotismo 229, San Pedro de los Pinos. Metro San Pedro de los Pinos.
- Parque Lindavista, Riobamba 289, Lindavista. Metro Lindavista.
- Plaza Lindavista, Montevideo 363, Lindavista. Metro Lindavista.
- Plaza Satélite, Circuito Centro Comercial 2251, Ciudad Satélite.
- Mundo E, periférico Norte 1007, Santa Mónica
- La Cúspide
- Toreo Parque Central, Boulevard Manuel Ávila Camacho 5, Fraccionamiento Lomas de Sotelo, Naucalpan de Juárez. Metro Cuatro Caminos.
- Antara Polanco; Ejército Nacional 843, Polanco
- Molière dos22; Molière 222, Polanco
- Pabellón Polanco; ejército Nacional 980, Polanco
- Magnocentro 26 Fun & Fashion, Magnocentro 26, Interlomas
- Parque Duraznos, Bosque de Duraznos 39, Bosques de las Lomas
- Paseo Arcos Bosques, paseo de los Tamarindos 100, Bosques de las Lomas
- Centro Santa Fe, Vasco de Quiroga 3800, Santa Fe. The largest shopping mall in Mexico City. Reachable by Ecobús from Metro Balderas.
- Centro Coyoacán, Avenida Coyoacan 2000, Del Valle. Metro Coyoacán.
- Plaza Universidad, Avenida Universidad 1000, Del Valle. Metro Zapata. The first shopping mall in Mexico City.
- Galerías Insurgentes, Insurgentes Sur 1329, Del Valle. Metro Insurgentes Sur or Metrobús Félix Cuevas.
- Perisur, insurgentes Sur 4690, Jardines del Pedregal. Metrobús Perisur.
- Galerías Coapa, Calzada del Hueso 519, Villa Coapa.
- Plaza Cuicuilco. Metrobús Villa Olímpica.
- Plaza Loreto, Altamirano 46, San Angel. Metrobús Doctor Gálvez.
- Pabellón Altavista, Camino al Desierto de los Leones 52, San Angel. Metrobús Altavista.
- Gran Sur, Periférico Sur 5550, Pedregal de Carrasco
- Premium Outlets at Punta Norte. Northwest of Mexico City (State of Mexico) in the intersection of Periferico (Mexico Hwy #57) and the Chamapa La Venta highway, near Ciudad Satelite. You will need a taxi or a car to get there.
- Las Plazas Outlet Lerma. Mexico- Toluca highway Km. 50 in the intersection with Calzada Cholula in the City of Lerma, near Toluca. You will need a car to get there.
Arts and Crafts
- Mercado de Curiosidades. In Centro Historico.
- Mercado Insurgentes. In Zona Rosa.
The National Fund for the Development of Arts and Crafts (Fonart), Avenida Patriotismo 691, in Mixcoac, Avenida Paseo de la Reforma No. 116 in Colonia Juárez and Avenida Juarez 89 in Centro.
Flea and Antique Markets
Although street vendors can be found almost anywhere in Mexico City, the following are more "formal" flea markets selling handcrafts, furniture and antiques.
- Bazar del Sábado. In San Angel. Every Saturday, artists show and sell their paintings in a beautiful, cobblestoned zone of the city. There are also stores where they sell handcrafts.
- Mercado de Artesanias. In Coyoacan on Saturdays, featuring handicrafts from all over the country, and classes for kids.
- Plaza del Angel. In Zona Rosa, Calle Londres (metro station Insurgentes). Mostly expensive antique shops, the famous Sunday collectibles market has nearly vanished.
- Mercado de Alvaro Obregon. In Colonia Roma
- Sunday art market in the Monumento a la Madre.
- Tianguis Cultural del Chopo. The main flea market for the counterculture in Mexico City. Along Aldama Street between Sol and Luna. Metro Station Buenavista.
- Mercado de Antiguedades de Cuauhtemoc. Near Centro Historico(metro station Cuauhtemoc), every Saturday 9AM-5PM.
- La Lagunilla and Tepito. Near Centro Historico (metro stations Lagunilla and Garibaldi). La Lagunilla has some of the best antiques, and is a maze of interesting thing, although it is a high crime area with 317 reported robberies in 2006. Tepito is more for pirated CDs, stolen things, and knock-offs. This area is huge and it's very easy to get lost. Shopkeepers are mostly friendly and will point you toward the nearest Metro station. For safety, visitors to this market should dress down, go with someone else, and arrive early in the day when it's less crowded. If you don't speak Spanish it's probably better to stay away. The collectibles market takes place every Sunday from 9AM, mainly along Paseo de la Reforma at intersection with Allende.
If you're staying longer you may want to buy groceries and food at any of the hundreds of supermarkets. You can use the store locators at their websites to find one close to you. These are some of the most common:
- Comercial Mexicana. Also owned by them are the high-end City Market, small Sumesa and large Mega supermarkets. Sumesa has several locations around the Roma and Condesa. Recently bought bySoriana.
- Soriana. If you're staying in the Centro Histórico, a useful central one is inside the Forum Buenavista shopping mall, reachable by Metro Station Buenavista. From Roma and Condesa, you can easily reach the one inside the Paruqe Delta shopping mall (Metro Centro Médico).
- Wal-Mart. Also owned by them are the high-end Superama and low-end Bodega Aurrerá supermarkets. Several throughout the city, including one near the airport. Stock just about everything, much like the supercenters found in the US. An easily accessible one is right next to the Nativitas Metro station (Line 2) on the west side of the Calzada de Tlalpan. Exit the Metro on the west side (toward Calle Lago Pte.) and make a left as you exit the station. The first thing on your left, just next to the station building, is the ramp going up to the Wal-Mart entrance. Visible from the train, impossible to miss.
Ethnic Grocery Stores
For generally hard-to-find ingredients, such as vegetables and spices that are unusual in Mexico, try the Mercado de San Juan (Ernesto Pugibet street, Salto del Agua metro station). You can even find exotic meats here, such as iguana, alligator, ostrich, and foie gras. Go to the cheese stand at the center of the market, and ask for a sample— the friendly owner will give you bread, wine, and samples of dozens of different kinds of cheese.
- Supermercado Seul (Florencia Avenue and Hamburgo Street, Zona Rosa).
- Seoul Market (Hamburgo 206, Zona Rosa).
- Uri Market (Londres 234, Zona Rosa).
- Mikasa (San Luis Potosí 170, get from Insurgentes Sur Avenue, between Medellín and Monterrey). Lots of Japanese food ingredients, candy and drinks
- Kokeshi (Amores 1529, Colonia del Valle (between Parroquia street and Felix Cuevas Avenue (Eje 7)), . Mostly Japanese food stuff but they also sell other Asian foods. They also sell Japanese dinnerware.
- Super Kise (Division del Norte 2515, Del Carmen, Coyoacan). South of the city, they sell Korean, Chinese and Japanese groceries.
Many food products in Mexico including milk are kosher compliant. If you're looking for specific products, try some stores in the Polanco neighborhood. At some Superama branches you would find kosher departments, especially the ones in Polanco, Tecamachalco and Santa Fe neighborhoods.
Although it is easy to assume that Mexico City is the world capital of tacos, you can find almost any kind of food in this city. There are regional specialties from all over Mexico as well as international cuisine, including Japanese, Chinese, French, Polish, Italian, Argentinean, Belgian, Irish, you name it. The main restaurant areas are located in Polanco, Condesa, Centro, Zona Rosa, along Avenida Insurgentes from Viaducto to Copilco and more recently Santa Fe.
For superb Mexican cuisine you can try El Cardenal (Sheraton Centro Histórico), Los Girasoles (Tacuba 8), Aguila y Sol (Emilio Castelar 229),Izote (Masaryk 513) and, for something more affordable, Café Tacuba(Tacuba 28). Another great (but expensive) experience is to dine in an old converted hacienda: try Hacienda de los Morales (Vázquez de Mella 525),San Angel Inn (Diego Rivera 50) or Antigua Hacienda de Tlalpan(Calzada de Tlalpan 4619).
There are several Mexican chain family restaurants that can be assumed to be safe and similar no matter where you are, including Vips, Lyni's, Toks, and the more traditional Sanborns, all reminiscent of Denny's in the United States. They are uniformly good but never excellent. You can expect to pay between $100 to $150 per person. If you're on a budget, you can also try one of the myriad comida corrida (set menu) restaurants, frequented by many office workers. Some of these offer very good food, are usually safe, and should range between $50 to $100.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous type of food almost anywhere in Mexico city are fast food outlets, located on the ground floor of a street-facing building, orpuestos, street stands located on a sidewalk or almost anywhere there is room. Most of these serve the usual tacos or tortas (filled bread rolls similar to a sub or sandwich), and they can be very cheap ($10 to $50). Hygiene varies from good to abysmal, so eat at a place that has plenty of people. TheTaquería Aguayo in Coyoacán is a superb example.
If you want to stuff your face with lots of real Mexican food at cheap prices then head over to a market, such as La Merced (the former central market, located on the pink line of the subway at the stop "Merced"). There are several restaurants as well as stands serving up some delicious food. Huaraches, which are something like giant tortillas with different toppings/fillings, are popular here, as are alambres. Another superb market is located a stone's throw from the Salto del Agua metro stop; Mercado San Juan Arcos de Belem. It is full of food stalls offering all the Mexican favourites, but find the one opposite the small bakers, which is located by one of the rear entrances on Calle Delicias, which serves the Torta Cubana. The people running it are amazingly welcoming and the food, especially the Cubana, is excellent.
If you want something safe and boring, most American fast food chains have franchises here. You'll see McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Papa John's Pizza, Domino's Pizza, TGI Friday's, Chili's, Dairy Queen, Subway, and yes, even Starbucks. These are all fairly affordable.
El Globo, a French-style bakery, has locations throughout the city selling both French and traditional Mexican pastries, like orejas (little ears), éclairs, empanadas, and rosca during New Year's. It can't be beat for a quick snack or bagful of pastries to eat later.
Do not miss the chance to go to Panaderia Madrid (calle 5 de Febrero, one block south off the main plaza in downtown Mexico). This is a very old and typical bakery, they will usually have fresh bread twice a day, but if there are a lot of customers they will bake as many as four times a day.
Asian food restaurants are abundant, and the quality is good, and caters from cheap Chinese cafeterias to expensive and very good Japanese food. Note that Korean, Japanese and Chinese are most common cuisines in Mexico City, while Indian, Thai and Indonesian can be harder to find. Most sushi places, however, put far too much rice on their sushi rolls and not enough fish.
Vegetarian (vegetariano in Spanish) alternatives are commonly available at larger restaurants, but don't expect much from street vendors. The magic phrases, for vegetarians or vegans, are "sin pollo" (no chicken), "sin carne" (no meat), "sin huevo" (no eggs) and "sin queso" (no cheese). If you can communicate this and then gesticulate to the menu, the waiter normally will give you suggestions. In regular restaurants, they will even try to edit an existing dish for you. Just make sure you are clear. Chiles Rellenos are usually filled with meat, but different fillings are a definite standard in any vegetarian restaurant.
Tips— Tipping (propina in Spanish) is expected, with 10% the standard for decent service at all sit-down restaurants. You can tip more for very good service (15%), or tip less or not at all for poor service.
In Mexico, there is no difference in prices if you sit inside or outside, it is the same if you eat at the bar or sit at a table.
"El Jarocho" (Centro Coyoacan) is an amazing place to go for coffee. They also sell pastries and other food. This place is incomparable to Starbucks. There are several locations in Coyoacán due to its evergrowing popularity.
Don't leave without trying
- Tacos al pastor
- Tacos de tripa
- Enchiladas Suizas
- Enchiladas de mole
- Sopa de tortilla
- Huevos Rancheros
- Tacos de suadero
- Tacos de canasta
- Tacos de barbacoa
- Agua de Jamaica
For a quick breakfast you can always try a tamal (steamed corn dough with chicken or pork) bought on the street or specialized shops, accompanied by a cup of atole (hot chocolate corn starch drink), which is the breakfast of the humble on their way to work. They are often in the form of tortas de tamal.
Sights & Landmarks
Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the foundation of Tenochtitlán in 1325, 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. Mexico City has three World Heritage Sites: the Centro Histórico and Xochimilco, the house of architect Luis Barragán and the University City campus of UNAM. In addition, Mexico is one of the cities with the largest number of museums in the world.
- Plaza de la Constitución. Commonly known as Zócalo in the Centro Historico (Historic Downtown) is one of the largest squares in the world, surrounded by historic buildings, including the City Hall and the Cathedral.
- La Catedral. The biggest in the Americas. Containing many altars, its principal altar is made from solid gold.
- Angel de la Independencia (El Angel). A monument in Reforma Avenue and Florencia Street, near Zona Rosa. This monument celebrates Mexico's independence in 1810.
- Basílica 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. Located at La Villa de Guadalupe, it is the shrine that guards the poncho of Juan Diego that contains the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and is in the northernmost part of the city.
- Ciudad Universitaria. — The main campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Located on Insurgentes Sur Avenue, it is one of the world's largest universities, with more than 270,000 students every semester. In 2007 it was declared a UNESCO world heritage place.
- Coyoacán. Historic Colonial Arts district which was home to Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, among others.
- Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi. The square is surrounded by cafés and restaurants much favored by tourists, and in these and in the square itself groups of musicians play folk music. Most of these groups are "mariachis" from Jalisco, dressed in Charro costume and playing trumpets, violins, guitars and the guitarrón or bass guitar. Payment is expected for each song, but it is also possible to arrange for a longer performances. People set up lemonade stand style bars in the evening to sell you cheap cocktails while you listen. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands, but the neighborhood is a bit sketchy.
- Ciudadela crafts market. The Ciudadela is a Mexican crafts market where cultural groups from around Mexico distribute their crafts to other parts of the country and the world.
- Alameda and Paseo de la Reforma. The Alameda is the main park in the Downton area of Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma ("Reform Avenue") is a 12 km long grand avenue in Mexico City. Originally built for the Emperor Maximilian's wife in the 19th century, its name commemorates the liberal reforms of Mexican President Benito Juarez.
- Cineteca Nacional (National Film Archive). It was the first to screen art films, and is known for its forums, retrospectives and homages. It has four screening rooms, a video and a film library, as well as a cafeteria.
- Torre Latinoamericana. Observation Deck hours, 9AM- 10PM. For stunning views of the city. Its central location, height (183 m or 597 ft; 45 stories), and history make it one of Mexico City's most important landmarks.
- Mexico City US National Cemetery, Virginia Fabregas 31 (Colonia San Rafael), . Daily 08:00-17:00, closed 25 Dec and 1 Jan. The cemetery is the final resting place for 750 unknown American soldiers lost during the Mexican-American War between 1846 and 1848. Another 813 Americans are also interred here. Free.
Mexico City is full of various plazas and parks scattered through every neighborhood, but the following are some of the biggest, prettiest, most interesting, or best-known.
- Alameda Central (Metro Bellas Artes or Hidalgo). Named after the poplar trees planted there, it is the oldest urban park in Mexico City (1592) and the largest inside the Centro Histórico.
- Chapultepec Park and Zoo, Paseo de la Reforma (Metro Auditorio). A large park of 6 km² in the middle of the city which hosts many attractions, including the city zoo and several museums such as the Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, the Children's Museum (Museo del Papalote), the Technology Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum also known as Castillo de Chapultepec, the former residence of the Austrian Emperor Maximilian of Habsburg.
- Xochimilco (Tren Ligero Xochimilco). A vast system of waterways and flower gardens dating back to Aztec times in the south of the city where tourists can enjoy a trip in the "trajineras" (vividly-colored boats). Trajineras pass each other carrying Mariachi or marimba bands, and floating bars and taquerias. Xochimilco is the last remnant of how Mexico City looked when the Spanish arrived to Mexico City in 1521 and it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. A quieter alternative is to visit the Parque Ecológico Xochimilco, accessible by buses running along Periférico.
- Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi (Metro Garibaldi-Lagunilla). Surrounded by bars and restaurants that cater to Mariachi Band enthusiasts. It is where bands come to do public auditions outside, on weekend evenings, simply play for pleasure, or for whoever may pay them. A visit to Mexico is not complete until you experience the fantastic Mariachi Bands. You can also find a great "pulqueria" here (a bar that sells pulque, an interesting fermented maguey cactus drink).
- Parque Mexico and Parque España. Two adjacent parks in the Colonia Condesa. Now they are popular for an evening stroll, and sometimes house outdoor exhibitions or concerts, and are surrounded by cool cafes and bars.
- Viveros de Coyoacán (Metro Viveros). A large expanse of greenery and trails that is still used as a nursery to grow trees for the city, but also a public park popular with joggers and amblers alike.
Museums & Galleries
Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world, to name some of the most popular:
- National Museum of Anthropology. Chapultepec. One of the best museums worldwide over, it was built in late 1960’s and designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. Notice the huge, impressive fountain in the courtyard. It gathers the best collection of sculptures, jewels and handcrafts from ancient Mexican cultures, and could take many hours to see everything. They also have interesting international special exhibits.
- Plaza de las Tres Culturas. In Tlatelolco has examples of modern, colonial, and pre-Columbian architecture, all around one square.
- Museum of Modern Art. Chapultepec. Here you will find paintings from Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, as well as a sculpture garden.
- Dolores Olmedo Museum. Xochimilco. An art philanthropist left her former home, the grand Hacienda La Noria, as a museum featuring the works of her friend Diego Rivera. At least 137 of his works are displayed here, as well as 25 paintings of Frida Kahlo. The premises also feature beautiful gardens full of peacocks and a weird species of Aztec dog.
- Fine Arts Palace Museum (Palacio de Bellas Artes). Centro. A concert hall and an arts center, it houses some of Mexico's finest murals and the Art Deco interior is worth seeing alone.
- Rufino Tamayo Museum. Chapultepec. Contains the works of Mexican painter, Rufino Tamayo.
- José Luis Cuevas Museum. Centro. Opened in 1992 and is filled with about 1,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures from notorious artist, Jose Cuevas.
- National History Museum in Chapultepec's Castle. Chapultepec. The Museum's nineteen rooms contain, in addition to a collection of pre-Columbian material and reproductions of old manuscripts, a vast range of exhibits illustrating the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.
- Papalote, children's Museum. Chapultepec. If you've got kids, they'll love it! Bright, colorful, and filled with educational experiences for children of all ages.
- Universum (National University's Museum). Coyoacán. A science museum maintained by UNAM, the largest university in Latin America. Take some time to wander around the Campus.
- Casa Mural Diego Rivera. Centro. Contains murals of acclaimed artist, Diego Rivera.
- National Palace (Zocalo). Centro. You can see some impressive Diego Rivera frescoes. You'll need to carry some sort of ID in order to enter the building.
- San Idelfonso Museum. Centro. There are some of Orozco's best frescoes. The temporary exhibitions are usually very good.
- Franz Meyer Museum. Centro. Display the collections of Franz Mayer, it holds Mexico's largest decorative art collection and also hosts temporary exhibits in the fields of design and photography.
- Mexico City's Museum. Centro. Great place to learn about Mexico City's eclectic history.
- Templo Mayor Museum (Zocalo). Centro. Contains the ruins and last remnants of the Aztec empire. attached to the huge archeological site where the foundations of the temple were accidentally found in the 1970s.
- San Carlos Museum. Centro. The San Carlos Museum holds some of Mexico's best paintings and exhibit 15th and 16th century paintings.
- National Art Museum. Centro. The National Art Museum, houses a rich collection of Mexican art ranging from the 16th to the first half of the 20th centuries.
- National History Museum. Chapultepec. Displays a vast range of exhibits illustrating the history of Mexico since the Spanish conquest.
- Frida Kahlo Museum. Coyoacán Also called Casa Azul, it is the former house of the painter since she was born to her death, and full of some of her works, and many of her personal artifacts.
- Anahuacalli Museum. Coyoacán An impressive modern representation of Mayan architecture, it houses Diego Rivera’s collection of Aztec and other precolumbian cultures' sculptures.
- Leon Trotsky Museum. Coyoacán This was the house where Trotsky lived in exile during the last 1.5 years of his life, and was murdered by one of Stalin's agents. Guided tours are provided by members of the Workers/ Revolutionary Party.
Things to do
As the world's second largest city, Mexico City offers something for everyone and for every budget. Attractions in Mexico City focus less on lazing on the beach (there are no beaches in Mexico City!) and more on exploring the culture and urban culture of Mexico. The typical "must-see" sites for the foreign visitor are the sites of interest in and around Centro Historico and Chapultepec Park, a visit to the ruins of Teotihuacan in the outskirts of the City and probably a visit to Xochimilco, though there are many other things to see if you have time to really explore.
- Six Flags Mexico. Carretera Picacho al Ajusco #1500 Col. Héroes de Padierna. Southwest of Mexico City, it is the largest amusement park in Latin America and the only Six Flags park outside the U.S., The Netherlands and Canada. The park is fitted with several million-dollar attractions, including Batman the Ride and not for the faint-hearted Medusa Roller Coaster. Entrance Fees: Adults $285 pesos, Children $170 pesos.
- La Feria de Chapultepec. Circuito Bosque de Chapultepec Segunda Seccion. Features the first roller-coaster in the country, a must-ride for roller coaster fans, and many other attractions nearby, including a train, paddle boats, and a zoo. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-6PM. Entrance $79.90 pesos (access to all attractions).
- Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, . Cd. Deportiva de la Magdalena Mixiuhca. Río Piedad avenue and Río Churubusco. The race track is next to the "Palacio de los Deportes" (Sports Palace). Metro Station "Ciudad Deportiva" (Line 9 Brown). Built in 1962, it's Mexico City's F1 racing track, although the Mexican Grand Prix was discontinued after the 1992 edition and didn't return to the F1 calendar until 2015. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost won the prix on this track in the late '80s and early '90s; Nico Rosberg won the first edition of the revived race in 2015. This 4.4 km long race track also holds one NASCAR race every year and in 2007 it was one of the stops for the A1 - Grand Prix series.
If you're into sports, then Mexico City has plenty to offer. Soccer is a favorite sport and Mexicans go crazy about it. The city was host to two FIFA world cups, one in 1970 and the other in 1986. Another important sport in Mexico City is baseball, with many Mexicans playing professionally in the US. The city was the first in Latin America to host an Olympics, doing so in 1968; the majority of the city's sport facilities were built for that event.
- Estadio Azteca, Calzada de Tlalpan 3665 (Colonia Ursula Coapa: take the light rail to Xochimilco, get off at 'Estadio Azteca'). One of the biggest soccer stadiums in the world, built in 1961, now with an official capacity of 95,500 but frequently packing in several thousand more. It's the home ofEl Tri, the Mexico men's national team, and also home to one of the country's most famous soccer clubs: Club América. It also serves as venue for concerts and for the first NFL regular-season game outside the United States. Prices for soccer usually start from $200 MXN up to $600 MXN for field level seats, but will be higher for national team matches. Beware of resellers, as they will often sell fake tickets.
- Estadio Olimpico de Ciudad Universitaria, Avenida Insurgentes Sur, Ciudad Universitaria. Simply known as "Estadio de C.U." Located south of the city, this was the site of the 1968 Olympic opening ceremony. Originally built with 72,000 seats but now holding 52,000, it is home to Club Universidad Nacional, more often known as "Pumas", a soccer team operated by the National University (UNAM). The Pumas began as an amateur team of UNAM students, but have been fully professional for several decades (though still owned and operated by the university). The stadium hosts several sports, mainly soccer and American football. To reach the stadium by public transport you can use the Metro and hop off at the Universidad station (Line 3, green), and hop in one of the free shuttle buses that run around the University circuit (only in weekdays).
- Foro Sol. Intended to serve as baseball stadium, it is also a venue for many concerts.
- Palacio de los Deportes (Viaducto Piedad and Rio Churubusco. Metro station: Ciudad Deportiva (Line 9)). Built for the 1968 Olympic Games, with a full capacity of 22,000, it hosts several indoor sports, including NBA games once a year. Venue for several concerts, circus, expos.
- Estadio Azul, Calle Indiana 255. Host to the Cruz Azul soccer team.
Lucha libre (loosely translated as "free fighting") is the term for the style of professional wrestling that developed in Mexico. Due to its affordable and entertaining nature, it is a favorite pastime throughout the country. While similar to professional wrestling elsewhere in that the outcomes are predetermined, it developed quite differently from wrestling in the rest of the world. Wrestlers, known in Mexico as luchadores, tend to work much faster than those in the rest of North America, employing complex chains of moves, numerous high-flying maneuvers, and often-realistic submission holds. Also, rings in Mexico often lack the spring supports used in many other countries, which means that wrestlers typically don't take falls landing on their back as they often do elsewhere. More often than not, aerial moves involve a wrestler launching himself outside of the ring at his opponent, allowing him to break his fall by tumbling. Finally, Mexican wrestling has far more weight classes than in other countries.
Another hallmark of lucha libre is the emphasis on tag team matches, which are most often made up of three-wrestler teams instead of the pairs that are common elsewhere. The rules are also significantly different.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of lucha libre is the colorful masks worn by many performers. While the concept of the wrestling mask was borrowed from the U.S., it has become infused with the role that masks have long played in Mexican culture. Almost all luchadores will begin their careers wearing them, but most will lose their masks at some point in their careers. The biggest matches in lucha libre are luchas de apuestas ("betting fights"), in which wrestlers will bet their masks, hair, or even their careers on the outcomes.
- Arena Mexico, Avenida de las Granjas 800, San Barbara Azcapotzalco. The most famous venue for lucha libre. Doctor Lavista 189, Colonia de los Doctores. You can enter through Avenida Chapultepec. It's very close to Zona Rosa and Avenida Insurgentes.
- Arena Coliseo, República de Perú 77, Centro. Another famous venue for Lucha Libre and boxing. In the Centro Histórico.
- Arena Ciudad de México.
- Auditorio Nacional.
- Bellas Artes. Opera, traditional Mexican and classical music.
- Circo Volador. Alternative music and metal.
- Ollin Yoliztli. Home to the Mexico City Symphonic Orchestra.
- Sala Nezahualcóyotl. Home to the UNAM Symphonic Orchestra
- Teatro Metropolitan.
- Hipodromo de las Americas. Industria Militar Avenue Colonia Lomas de Sotelo. Its a thoroughbred and quarter-horse race track. There are races nearly every day, the complex has different zones for different budgets including the original club-house and grandstand, with seating for 20,000 persons and several restaurants. Betting starts as low as $10 pesos.
- Journeys Beyond the Surface. Is an alternative-travel agency offering customized day trips to help you get to know any aspect of Mexico City that interests you. They accompany you so you have a safe yet challenging day. Their specialty is to take you to places that tourists generally do not get to see, to enable you to get a glimpse of what it is like to live in this city.
Festivals and events
- Independence Day "Yell". In the evening of September 15, the President of the Country (or the City Mayor) salutes the crowds from the presidential balcony in the National Palace located in the Constitution Square (Zocalo)and shouts the famous "Viva Mexico". The Zocalo, (as well as the rest of the city) is decorated with ornaments and lights. This is an incredible expression of Mexican patriotism combined with a party mood. Expect big crowds with a big revelery. If you want smaller crowds, the squares at the center of every borough usually host similar celebrations.
- Independence Parade. In the morning of September 16, there is a military parade that runs across Paseo de la Reforma, turns right at Juarez Avenue which later becomes Madero Street and ends at the Zocalo. Some 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers of the Mexican Army, Navy and Air Force march through the streets displaying its equipment and weapons.
- Day of the Dead. November 1–2. Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates this day (Dia de los Muertos), in which people go to the cemeteries to offer tribute to their departed ones, and decorate their graves with marigolds and bright colors. But this is not a sad celebration, on the contrary, people give family and friends candy treats in the shape of skulls and bones made of sugar and chocolate, as well as delicious bread called "Pan de Muerto". Don't miss a visit to a public market to find these delicacies, and watch out for the parades to and from the local cemeteries.
- Wise Men's day. January 6. Most Mexican kids receive toys from the Three Wise Men (Reyes Magos). This is a celebration that pays homage to the aforementioned Bible story. To celebrate it the family gather to eat the "Rosca de Reyes", a sort of bundt cake filled with plastic baby Jesus figures. Traditionally, people who get a figure in their slice of cake are expected to host a feast with tamales on Candelaria Day, February 2. The surroundings of the Alameda Central park are filled with costumed Reyes Magos on the days leading to January 6.
In Mexico City you have an almost endless choice of options to party. Traveling by yourself at night in certain areas of Mexico City is not a good idea, especially in Plaza Garibaldi, where pickpocketers are ever ready to relieve you of your unguarded cash. One of the ways you can check out the night life safely is by doing a Night Club Tour. These tours will typically take you to a few clubs and include transportation. Mexicans are for the most part very friendly and enjoy socializing.
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). Cantinas serve a wide range of Mexican and foreign drinks, with prices usually reasonable compared to prices in the US, and you'll be continually served various Mexican foods, such as tacos (you should ask for 'Botana'). If your tolerance for Mexican music (mariachi or otherwise) and lots of noise is low however, this may not be your kind of place. Cantinas are open moderately late, usually past midnight at the very least. However some cantinas, like La Victoria, near the Plaza Garibaldi, are also open at midday for lunch.
A lower-end traditional option is going to a pulquería, where you can drink pulque (a gooey whitish drink). After being on a steep decline for decades, many are finding a new surge in popularity with young people. They can be found in the Centro Histórico and around Xochimilco. If you don't like pulque, they usually serve beer as well.
Many bars play a combination of Spanish and English-language rock, electronic music, and some Latin/Caribbean music. These bars tend to close around 3-4AM.
Club music mainly falls 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, and are 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. Most clubs close late, 3-4AM at the earliest, and some are open until 7AM or 8AM.
The best bet used to be the Zona Rosa, which has a large number of street bars with rock bands playing and a large selection of clubs, especially strip clubs and gay bars. South of Zona Rosa you can find the Condesa area, with many options of bars and restaurants. Another good area is Polanco, particularly a street called Mazaryk, where you'll find plenty of good clubs but it is best to make a reservation, Bollé club is one posh club on that street . Be forewarned - entrance is judged on appearance and to get a table a minimum 2 bottle service is required, unless its a slow night [min. US$80 per bottle]. Posh and upper scale night clubs can be found in the Lomas area, particularly the Hyde, Shine, Sense and Disco Lomas Clubs, but be warned some of these could be extremely expensive, where the cover charge could range from 250 pesos upwards and bottles start at 130 USD. In addition, getting in could very difficult, as these are the most exclusive in town. There are also exclusive gay friendly clubs in that area with the same characteristics Envy night club on palmas 500 and Made nightclub on chapultepec next the lake and the restaurant El Lago chapultepec.
The other common Mexican-style thing to do when going out is to go dancing, usually to salsa, meringue, 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. Most dance places close late, 3-4AM is common.
The legal drinking age is 18. It is illegal to consume alcohol in public ("open container"). This is strictly enforced and the penalty is at least 24 hours in jail.
Take an identification card such as a copy of your passport.
Things to know
Some people may consider Mexico City to have a bad reputation, in terms of crime statistics, air pollution, and on more contrived issues, such as earthquakes. However, crime and pollution levels are down over the last decade and you shouldn't face any trouble within the tourist areas. As in some large cities, there are areas that are better to be avoided, especially at night, and precautions to take, but Mexico City is not particularly dangerous.
When walking in the city you could be approached by people. Usually they are just trying to sell something or begging for a few coins, but if you aren't interested, it is not considered insulting to just ignore them. If you clearly look like a foreigner, you will likely be approached by students wanting to practice their English. Sometimes they will want to record the conversation for a school assignment. If someone of importance (such as a police officer) approaches you for a particular purpose, they will definitely let you know.
If you do get approached by a police officer, understand that there are three different types: the Policia (Police), who are usually driving around the city with their lights flashing; the Policia Auxiliar (Blue uniform)(Auxiliary Police), who are like security guards; and the Policia de Transito (Bright Yellow hat and vest) (Traffic Police) who simply direct traffic.
If you are cruising around town and don't want to look like a tourist, avoid wearing shorts. It gets hot here, but it is remarkable how few locals in the capital city wear shorts. Some churches won't even let you walk inside if you are wearing shorts.
Remember most Mexicans are very curious in regards to foreigners and are willing to help. If in need for directions, try to ask young people, who may speak a little English.
Many locals (not all of them, of course) have very aggressive driving habits as a result of the frequent traffic jams in the city. Some traffic signals are more an ornament than what they were made for, such as Stop signs, although most people respect traffic lights and pedestrian ways. When traffic is not present, particularly at night, locals tend to speed up so be careful when changing lanes. Street names and road signs may not be present everywhere so it is strongly advisable to ask for directions before driving your car. A GPS device is a big help. Sometimes potholes, fissures, and large-yet-unmarked speed-bumps ("topes") are common on the roads, so exercise some caution. Even at a small crawl, these can damage a car, especially in the backroads between towns in the Southern area. It should be advised that when driving, a fast succession of white lines cutting the road perpendicular means a 'tope' is approaching and you should slow down immediately.
When off the main roads, maneuvering in the narrow streets and alleys can be tricky. Often a paved road turns to cobblestone (in historic neighborhoods) or dirt (if this happens, you've gone way off the tourist areas). Also, some streets are blocked off behind gates and do not let drivers pass without stating their destination, converting them into small gated communities. If you are driving through small streets or a housing development, you should beware of children, as they often run on the pavement as if they were in their backyard. You should also be mindful of people on bicycles and motorcycles alike, because they tend to drive in the narrow spaces between cars. The best thing to do is to yield to them. Trolleys and the Metrobús often have exclusive lanes and the right of way when they don't. On streets with the Metrobús, left turns are not allowed.
Those who are used to having a berm or paved area to the side of the road will quickly notice that the berm is missing on many roads and freeways such as Viaducto and Periferico. If you go off the side of the road, there will be a four to six inch drop off of the pavement. Driving in Mexico City should be avoided if at all possible. It should also be noted that in high density areas such as Centro Historico, Mexico City, there is no street parking available during business hours.
Even the best of plans can go wrong when you arrive at your proposed exit at 65 mph, and there is a detour onto some other road with no markings or road signs, with everyone going as fast as they can go. At that point you may want to exit immediately and regroup before you end up miles from where you planned to exit. Maps and road signs likely will be lacking any usable information in a situation like this and your best bet may be to navigate by the seat of your pants a parallel route to the one you found closed.
In many nightclubs, bars and restaurants it is common for minors to drink without proving their age as long as they appear to be over 18. It is also permitted for minors to drink alcohol if they are in the company of an adult who is willing to take responsibility. Drinking alcoholic beverages in the street is strictly prohibited—doing so will certainly get you in trouble with the police. Drunk driving is also strictly prohibited and punished with 24-72 hours of mandatory jail time. The police have incorporated random alcohol tests on streets near bars and clubs as well as highway exits to enforce this. The system is very efficient, and you will sometimes see a stopped car or truck with a policeman interrogating the occupants.
Smoking inside enclosed areas in public buildings, restaurants and bars is strictly prohibited by law. Fines can be steep, so if you want to smoke in a restaurant it is best to ask the waiter before lighting up. Of course, going outside is always an option. Personal use of electronic cigarettes is permitted.
Small quantities of all drugs are decriminalised, but offenders could be imprisoned if found in possession of more than one personal dose. You don't want to go to jail while a judge determines if what you're carrying is a personal dose.
With a population of more than 20 million in the greater metropolitan area, you can expect to find all kinds of people in Mexico City, in terms of racial, sexual, political, cultural and wealth diversity. Citizens are mostly Mestizo (people of mixed European and Amerindian racial background) and white. Amerindian people constitute less than one percent of the city's population, but there are some who are still moving to the city in search of opportunities. There are significant minorities of descendants of immigrants from Latin America, the Middle East and East Asia, as well as smaller ones from other regions. As elsewhere in Latin America, socioeconomic status tends to be highly correlated with ethnicity in Mexico City: by and large, the upper and middle classes have more European ancestry than the poor and the lower middle classes.
The city, as the rest of the country, has a very unequal distribution of wealth that can be characterized geographically, generally speaking, as follows: the middle and upper classes tend to live in the west and south of the city (concentrated in the delegaciones of Benito Juarez, Miguel Hidalgo, Coyoacan, Tlalpan, Cuajimalpa and Alvaro Obregon). The east of the city, most notably Iztapalapa (the most populous delegacion) is much poorer. The same applies to municipalities of greater Mexico City (Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Chalco, Chimalhuacán). Although there are pockets of poverty everywhere (and often side by side with the shiny-glitzy condos of the nouveau riche, like in Santa Fe in Cuajimalpa) and pockets of wealth in the East (such as Lomas Estrella in Iztapalapa), it is easily noticeable that as one travels east the buildings begin to look more shabby and the people look increasingly browner—a testimony to Mexico's heritage of racial and socioeconomic inequality.
Since it is a big city, it is the home of large foreign communities, like Cubans, Spaniards, Americans, Japanese, Chilean, Lebanese, and more recently Argentines and Koreans. Mexico City has a number of ethnic districts with restaurants and shops that cater to groups such as Chinese and Lebanese Mexicans. It is the temporary home to many expats too, working here for the many multinational companies operating in Mexico. Foreigners of virtually any ethnic background may not get a second look if they dress conservatively and attempt to speak Spanish.
Mexico City is one of the most liberal cities in Latin America. Contrary to other Latin American capitals, it has a political orientation far to the left of the rest of the country. The centre-left PRD has governed the city continuously since its citizens were allowed to elect its mayor and representatives since 1997. It has liberal laws on abortion, prostitution, euthanasia and was the first jurisdiction in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage (in December 2009). As such, this is generally a gay friendly city, particularly in the Zona Rosa District, and is generally friendly to foreigners and immigrants.
Although Mexico City is considered an expensive city by Mexican standards, your trip budget will depend on your lifestyle and way of traveling, as you can find cheap and expensive prices for almost everything. Public transportation is very cheap and there are many affordable places to eat. On the other hand you can find world-class hotels and fancy restaurants with higher prices. A daily backpacker budget for transportation and meals should range between 150 to 300 pesos a day (8 to 16 USD), using public transport and eating at street stands, while a more comfortable budget should range between 300 to 500 pesos a day (16 to 30 USD) using private taxis (taxi de sitio) and eating at decent sit-down restaurants. For those with more expendable cash, you can find plenty of outlets for your dollars, euros, pounds, yen...etc.
The address system is fairly simple and has the street name, house number, colonia (neighborhood), borough, city, state and postal code. Many are confused by the fact that the house number comes after the street name, unlike in the US and many other countries where the number precedes the street. Sometimes addresses are instead given based on an intersection ("esquina de/con ..."), or on a street where a place is located and the two streets between which it is located ("... entre calles ... y ..."). It is good to point out that streets can frequently change names, long avenues are split into sections (such as Insurgentes into Insurgentes Norte, Centro and Sur), and street numbering is not always in order, especially in poorer neighbourhoods.
In Mexico City, streets within a neighbourhood often follow a certain theme, such as Latin American countries in the Centro Histórico, European cities in the Zona Rosa or intellectuals in Polanco. A typical address could be something like this: Colima 15, Colonia Roma Norte, Delegación Cuauhtémoc, México, Distrito Federal, 06760. Note that "México" here refers to the city and not the country. The order is pretty standard except for the position of the postal code.
For the avid photographer, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. The city is paranoid about cameras and especially about tripods. You might be asked to delete pictures, even if they were taking from a public space. You are not allowed to use a tripod in any ticketed place, such as museums, the metro stations, architectural ruins, etc. You will be politely asked to hold your camera in your hands. Apparently, it has something to do with being a professional.
Memory cards can easily be found at several locations, including at Radio Shack, Office Depot, Office Max, Best Buy or Wal-Mart. Prices tend to be on the high end, but they are still affordable. You could also try some of the places that are dedicated to selling photographic equipment, they are easily identifiable by the street signs for well known brand names. It is not unusual, however, for high-end camera retailers to offer few if any accessories.
You can print your photos at most of the major pharmacy chains around town, look for Farmacias Benavides, Farmacias Guadalajara or Farmacias del Ahorro (with a white 'A' inside a red circle). Prices differ from store to store. Also, while near the Zocalo on the street Republica de Brasil, many people standing on the side of the sidewalk will verbally advertise "imprentas." They are offering stationery printing services, not photographic printing.
For people who love to do street photography, a good place to start is in front of the Bellas Artes square, during afternoons. There is a smörgåsbord of faces cutting across the square and perching on one of the benches for an hour that will easily give you access to photography fodder. Many urchins and ethnic street dwellers have learned to ask for money before allowing you to shoot them. Sympathize and accept it as it is worth it.
Keep in mind that some museums, like the Museum of National History in the Chapultepec, charge an extra fee for those with video cameras. Also in most museums, flash photography is not permitted.
Safety in Mexico City
Despite its reputation, travel in Mexico City is generally safe and most people find it surprisingly non-threatening. Areas around the historic center and other places where tourists usually go are generally well-lit and patrolled in the early evening. Much of your travel within the city will be done via public transportation or walking. Mexico City is an immensely crowded place, and as with any major metropolitan area, it is advised to be aware of your surroundings.
Taxi robberies, so-called "express kidnappings", where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their credit cards, do occur, although safety in the city has improved in recent years. 95% of total kidnapping victims are nationals, so your odds of being taken are very slim, they are not targeting strangers, yet you should always use your common sense.
There are pickpockets in Mexico City. Purses and bulky, full back pockets are quite attractive. Do not keep your passports, money, identification, and other important items hanging out for someone to steal. Place items in a hotel safe, or tuck them away inside your clothes. A money belt might be a good option. The Metro or Subway system can get extremely crowded, which creates opportunities for pickpockets on cars that are often standing room only.
Do not show money in front of others as this generally attracts pickpockets. Protect your personal information, such as your PIN number when entering it at an ATM or bank terminal. When paying at a restaurant, it's best if you don't let your card be taken away but instead ask for the terminal to be brought to you or go where it is located.
Plan ahead, and know where you are going and how you will arrive. Most people in Mexico City are quite hospitable and some will speak English, and people who work for hotels and other hospitality-oriented businesses will always help. This will help in avoiding confusion, becoming lost or stranded. Also, you can ask a local for advice to get somewhere, though you might need basic Spanish to do this. In the Polanco, Sante Fe and Lomas districts, some police officers and many business people and younger children speak English, as it is very common to learn it in school.
The least safe places where tourists often go are around the North part of the Centro Historico, such as around Garibaldi square. Be extra vigilant if you go there at night.
Police officers in Mexico get paid a third of what New York City police officers make, and some rely on bribes and corruption to make more money (however, never offer a bribe first since not all officers will want or accept them). The historic center and other major sites often have specially trained tourist police that speak English or other foreign languages and are more helpful than ordinary transit cops.
The Mexico City Government recently opened a specialized prosecution office (Ministerio Público in Spanish) for foreigners that find themselves affected by robberies or other crime situations. It is in Victoria Street 76, Centro Historico. Multilingual staff are available.
Although the smog layer is visible nearly every day, its effects in terms of breathing and eye irritation are usually barely noticeable and it should not normally be cause for concern for visitors. That said, it makes sense for visitors to be aware of the issue.
Pollution is highest in the winter from late November to early February, especially when a greenhouse effect causes cold dirty air to be trapped under warm cleaner air. You can check the current air quality on the Atmospheric Monitoring System website, which updates every hour at several locations. This government body established an index denominated IMECA (Metropolitan Index for Air Quality) in order to make the population aware of the current air pollution situation.
When the index exceeds 150 points, an "Environmental pre-contingency" is usually issued and people are asked to refrain from performing open-air activities such as sports. In the case of an "Environmental Contingency," only vehicles with a zero or double zero emissions sticker can circulate.
Earthquakes are very common at the junction of the Pacific and North American tectonic plates, which meet close to the Mexican Pacific coast about 400 km (250 mi) away. This is far enough away from the city so that when an earthquake occurs, Mexico City has about a 30- to 90-second warning. This alarm is broadcast loudly from the speakers installed at the security cameras. It sounds like an air-raid alarm followed by a spoken recording ("Alerta Sísmica"). Should you hear this alarm or feel an earthquake, remain calm and follow some simple rules: if you are indoors, stay under the doorways, move away from objects that can fall, and/or follow exit paths ("Rutas de Evacuación") out to the streets; if you are outdoors, move away from slopes or electrical wires towards open areas or places marked "safe zones." Since large parts of the city (Center, East and North) were built on the soft clay from the dry bed of lake Texcoco, earthquakes can feel quite powerful despite the distance.