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Mexico City: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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Mexico’s dynamic capital city is fast becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.

This captivating city is one that travelers return to again and again, in part because there is so much to see and do but also because it tends to lure you back for more.

Mexico City’s rich historical sites, trendy neighborhoods, lively culture, and one of the best food scenes in the world attract visitors from around the world.

Palacio Bellas Artes Mexico City at sunset

But before setting off to Mexico City, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Mexico City, including:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette
  • What are the top attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the WiFi?
  • How long can you stay?

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Mexico City:

aerial view of mexico city

Did you know… Mexico City is not only the largest city in Mexico, but it is also the most populated city in all of North America. With a population of over 21 million in the greater Mexico City area, CDMX is the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world and is the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the world.

1) Mexico City Affordability

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The currency in Mexico City is the Mexican Peso or MXN. The current exchange rate is MXN$100 = $5.55 USD and $100 USD = MXN$1,800.

Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:

Accommodation

  • Average hotel price: One night at a 3-star hotel typically costs around $70, or $120 for a 4-star hotel.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: You can find luxury 5-star hotels for around $ 275 a night in Mexico City. However, there are more expensive options if you want to indulge – like the sophisticated St. Regis Mexico City where rooms start at around $1200 and come with Butler service.  
  • If you're on a budget: Mexico City has so many affordable hostels to choose from. A bed in a well-rated hostel in a central area will cost around $15-$25 per night, while private ensuite rooms range anywhere from $40 – $70 per night.

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Patrons eat at a busy restaurant in Mexico City

Food

  • A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $45
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around $8.
  • A beer costs between $2-$4, while a cappuccino is about $2.75.

Transportation

  • Getting around Mexico City on public transportation is a great option. While the subway can be crowded, it is cheap and efficient. Public buses cost $0.30 per ride, while the subway is just $0.27.
  • If you want to cycle around Mexico City, there is a bike-share program called EcoBici that offers 45 minutes of free use and $1.30 per hour after. Alternatively, you can rent the bike for the entire day for $6.30.
  • Taxi fares start at $1.34 and cost an additional $0.87 per mile. Uber is available in Mexico City and is generally a cheaper option.
Mexico city, CDMX Mexico7-28-18 People riding bicycles in front of the Palace of Fine Arts by the Alameda during the Sunday Promenade organized by the Ministry of Environment of Mexico city every week

2) Culture And Etiquette In Mexico City

Mexicans are known for their hospitality, and tourists will encounter friendly faces even in the bustling city of Mexico City.  

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Mexico City.

  • DO try the street food: you’ll find some of the nation’s best food being served up at street stalls. Just be smart about which vendors you buy from and make sure food is properly prepared.
  • DON’T forget to leave a tip: 10% is customary at restaurants and cafes. Tipping a taxi driver is not expected.  
mexico city

3) Top Attractions in Mexico City

Mexico City is full of incredible places to explore. Here are a few of the top things to see and do while visiting the city:

  • Museo Nacional de Antropologia – The National Museum of Anthropology has 23 permanent exhibits that display the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art as well as archaeology and ethnographic exhibits.
  • Frida Kahlo Museum  – The lifelong home turned museum of Mexico’s most famous artist. Be sure to purchase tickets online well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Chapultepec Park – A massive 1,700-acre park that is home to nine museums, two lakes, a castle, and a zoo, best explored on a bike.
The exterior of the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City

4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Despite recent warnings that Mexico is unsafe, the majority of tourists do not encounter problems. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind to stay safe during their visit:

  • Don’t hail taxis on the street: find taxis that are parked outside hotels or restaurants rather than hailing them from the street. Alternatively, use Uber to call for a ride.
  • Don’t use ATMs on the street: fake and compromised ATMs are a real problem in Mexico City. If you need to take out cash, use an ATM inside a bank.
  • Avoid tap water: Stick to bottled water unless you want to get friendly with your toilet.
  • Beware of thieves: pickpocketing is very common in Mexico City, especially at markets, on public transportation, and in tourist areas. Keep your valuables in your hotel or conceal them while out.
  • Don’t do drugs: Much of the violence and crime in Mexico is related to the drug trade. So it is best to avoid doing illegal drugs so as not to support this underground industry and also to stay safe.
  • Research your neighborhood: some neighborhoods outside the tourist areas have a higher rate of crime. In particular, Tepito and Iztapalpa can be unsafe.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Mexico City trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
Boaters boat in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City

5) Local Eats And Drinks

One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine, and Mexico City is a fantastic place to try new foods. Don't let yourself leave without trying at least one of the following:

Food

Mexico City is a melting pot for Mexican cuisine – in the city; you’ll find dishes originating from all of Mexico’s different culinary regions.

  • Chilaquiles – corn tortilla chips simmered in a flavorful sauce until soft, and topped with avocado, cheese, or meat
  • Tacos Al Pastor – tacos made with juicy, slow-roasted pork
  • Esquites – a popular street food dish – a seasoned corn salad that can be topped with crushed takis, jalapenos, or Cheetos
  • Tortas – Flavorful Mexican sandwiches often made with meat, vegetables, cheese, and beans

Drinks

  • Atole – a warm, sweet drink made from corn flour, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla
  • Mezcal – a smoky liquor made from the agave plant, it can be sipped by itself or used to mix up some delicious cocktails
  • Pulque – a slimy, slightly alcoholic fermented agave juice – you’ll either love it or hate it
  • Aguas Frescas – non-alcoholic flavored drinks – try flavors like hibiscus or tamarind
Two women cook street food in Mexico City

6) How's the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Mexico City for February 2023 were 28.36mbps download and 11.75mbps upload.

Group Of Students Working At A Laptop Outdoors In Mexico City, Mexico

7) How Long Can I Stay?

Americans traveling to Mexico can stay for up to 180 days on a tourist visa. Visitors should be aware that the length of validity stamped on their passports is at the discretion of the immigration officer. It is wise to have handy proof of a ticket to exit Mexico, as many immigration officers will ask to see it.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


100 Country Trek

Thursday 30th of March 2023

We really enjoyed our time there..such historic sites. Thanks Anita