Planning a solo trip to Mexico City? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital and largest city of Mexico, with a metropolitan population of over 22 million.
- Lies 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level.
- Built on a lake called Texcoco, the city is constantly sinking – some parts of Mexico City have sunk up to 9 meters in the last century!
- Nicknames: D.F (Distrito Federal), City of Hope, City of the Palaces.
- Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN). 20 Pesos = 1 US Dollar.
- Spoken languages: Spanish.
- Best time to visit: from March to May (you will avoid the chilly winter and rainy summer).
- Arriving via airport (Benito Juarez International Airport): taxis pull up outside the airport and you can book one inside at a kiosk; expect to pay around 350 pesos to the center of the city. If you have less luggage you might like to catch on the ride on the metro, which costs just 5 pesos.
- It’s no longer legal for Uber/etc. to pick people up at the airport (however getting dropped off there is easy).
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers: Viajero CDMX Centro Hostel. Very clean and safe, with great facilities and friendly staff. Walking distance to the main historic attractions. Lots of activities organized for guests – great for meeting other travelers (but not a party hostel, so you get your peace and quiet after midnight). Lots of common areas for hanging out. Make sure to book ahead!
- For those wanting to be central in the city, stay in the Centro Historico (by Zocolo, near many places of interest and with numerous budget options).
- Zona Rosa is also a hotspot for tourists (mid-range prices), while the Polanco district features more upscale hotels.
- The Metro is probably the best way to get around the city and at only 5 pesos it is a bargain. Be prepared for a crowded journey, as the Metro can get extremely busy.
- Buses run throughout the city, and a single ride costs 6 pesos.
- Taxis are a common way of getting around, but may not be the fastest – fares depends on where in the city you are heading to.
- Instead of bothering with taxis, do as the locals and expats do – just call an Uber via the app.
MEXICO CITY NIGHTLIFE
- Drinking age is 18, last call is 4 AM.
- Zona Rosa is known for its street bars and huge selection of clubs.
- Polanco has a whole host of good clubs but be prepared to make reservations for some.
- Lomas boasts the night clubs and bars for those wanting something more upscale.
- Great bars to start your night: Hop The Beer Experience 2, Drunkendog (brewpub), Trappist, Yeccan Restaurante / Cervecería (great for going from dinner to drinks).
- Good clubs for foreigners in CDMX: Bar Oriente, Centro de salud (techno / punk), and Departamento.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Located in the Centro Historico, the Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo) is one of the largest squares in the world. It is surrounded by the Cathedral (the biggest in the Americas), City Hall, and other historic buildings.
- The Angel de la Independencia, a stunning monument of an angel near Zona Rosa celebrating Mexico gaining independence in 1810.
- Coyoacán – an area of historic Colonial Arts. Frida Kahlo once called this place home.
- Chapultepec Park boasts a zoo, several museums, a castle, and a theme park. A relaxing getaway from the bustle of the city center.
- The ruins of Teotihuacan (a Mesoamerican city established around 100 BC) are a must see. Visitors can climb the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.
- Take an official Mexico City walking tour, which will give you a good overview of the most popular areas (e.g. Zocalo and Coyoacan).
- Organized walking tours are a good idea in Mexico City, as guides will know to avoid the (many) run down areas of the city.
- The Day of the Dead takes place every year on the 1st and 2nd of November. During this holiday, locals offer tribute to their loved deceased ones and decorate their graves with bright colors (this is not meant to be a sad holiday, contrary to popular belief).
- Great restaurants to try in Mexico City: El cardenal (multiple locations – perfect for breakfast), Don Vargas Mariscos (amazing fresh seafood), La Única CDMX ($$$), Limosneros ($$$), Sonora Grill Prime ($$$ – steaks).
- Where to find good cheap food: street vendors! Street vendors offer a huge variety of different foods, ranging from the local (tacos and enchiladas) to Western (e.g. pizza). Most of it is inexpensive!
- Dangerous areas: avoid Tepito (it is easy to stumble into this neighborhood, as it is located close to the central Zocalo area). Mexico City can be a dangerous place at night – exercise caution when walking alone. It is best to blend in as much as possible, and not show any displays of wealth. Keep your valuables hidden, as pick pockets are common in many crowded areas.
Recommended trip duration: 4-5 days