Imagine this… You’ve watched too many Hollywood movies, so you assume that Mexico City is a dangerous place… But you’ve heard your friends and people on Instagram rave about it so much, you decided to give it a shot. You were nervous the first day there, but as soon as the first food cart vendor smiles at you from ear to ear, your heart warms up. And as soon as you take a bite out of that true Mexican quesadilla with Oaxaca cheese, even your soul warms up. You’re hooked for life.
That was exactly my experience. And if you’re here, I do hope it’s about to become yours, too.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you click through & make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Visiting Mexico City
One of the most prominent characteristics of Mexico is its fun and cozy culture. They put importance on human connection, family, and making people feel at home. The cuisine is undoubtedly one of the richest in the world. Naturally, who wouldn’t want to visit? But there are always the questions–Is the city safe? Will I survive if I don’t know Spanish? How do I get around there? Where are the safest neighborhoods? Where should I eat?
Let’s find out about all that and more, shall we?
Best time to go
There are 2 main seasons in Mexico, the dry season from May to October, and the rainy season from November to April. I’d say aim to visit from mid-November onwards for the smallest chance of rain.
Travel Requirements & Visa
As of January 2024, only 2 things are required for visitors to enter Mexico, a passport that’s valid for another 6 months, and a visa if applicable. Check HERE to see whether you’ll need a visa for Mexico.
If you’ve been interested in Mexico for a while, you may have heard of or read about the Mexico Tourist Card (FMM). Considering how vague and confusing the information on this particular form is, I’m happy to tell you that it has been scrapped. You no longer need the FMM to enter.
Things to know about Mexico City
First things first. You WILL see local signs referring to Mexico City as CDMX. This is short for “La Ciudad de México” which is its Spanish name. The rest of this section will get you acquainted with all the basic things you need to know as a visitor.
Second, not sure why I’m telling you this… but did you know that Mexico City is built on top of a lake? Lake Texcoco was where the Aztecs first moved in and started to build their civilization. They were following a prophecy that wherever an eagle appears, eating a snake on top of a nopal cactus, that is where their people are destined to settle.
Because of the lake below, Mexico City has been sinking at a steady rate of around 20 inches per year since 1950 and is recorded as the fastest-sinking city in the world.
- Mexico is rather like New York City in my opinion. It consists of multiple boroughs and would take you about 3 hours to drive from one end of the city to the other. This means transportation is crucial.
- The city operates on the European schedule. The local vendors and restaurants will open for lunch from 2-4pm if they have break times during the day. Dinner happens… God knows when, but it’s late.
- Credit card is widely accepted in shops and restaurants. But just like any other city famous for street food, you can’t live without some small change on you.
- Be mindful of your belongings, especially if you plan to visit more crowded spots like the main square, for example. Keep your backpack or purse strapped in front of you, not back.
- Tap water is NOT drinkable! Keep repeating this mantra to yourself and never forget. Boiling it will not change anything either. Because of all the earthquakes, their underground water pipes are always cracked regardless of repairs and dirt gets in.
- When you first explore any area, keep an eye out for a green square on the ground and note where they are. These are assembly points in the case of earthquakes.
- The city is 7,349 feet (2,240 m) from sea level, and the weather is very dry. Try to pace yourself for the first week or so as your body gets acclimated.
- Bring a limited amount of shorts and focus on tights or long jeans. When you get there, you’ll notice that the locals barely show their legs unless they’re going out at night. Blend in!
Mexico City is a high desert, and you can tell from its extremely wide temperature range on a given day. In the colder months of the year from October to February, it’s anywhere from 40 to early 70° Fahrenheit (4-21° C). For the rest of the year, around early 50 to 80° Fahrenheit (10-26° C).
The best way to dress is in layers of lighter fabric, with maybe one warm jacket on top for the colder months. The days always start chilly and get hot as soon as the sun comes out. You want to be able to layer down or up as needed.
North American Central Standard Time (GMT-6)
The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). As of January 2024, 1 MXN = 0.059 USD.
I like to believe that this is the case no matter which country you visit, but DO NOT exchange your currency at exchange booths or shops. You’ll get charged a higher exchange rate. Instead, bring your debit card with you and take out some cash from a local ATM when you arrive.
The official language is Spanish, although most people can speak a sufficient amount of English. I’ll give you some basic phrases I think you might need below. Keep in mind, except for “LL” which is pronounced “Y,” Spanish words are pronounced strictly the way they’re written, unlike English or French. And when you see the accent on top of a syllable, that’s where the emphasis is.
- Good morning. = Buenos días
- Good afternoon. = Buenas tardes
- Thank you. = Gracias
- Thank you very much. = Muchas Gracias
- You’re welcome. = De nada / Con gusto (This is a very cozy way of saying it.)
- Where is the bathroom? = Dónde está el baño?
- Is there a bathroom around here? = Hay un baño por aquí?
- Is there an ATM around here? = Hay un cajero por aquí?
- How much is this? = Cuánto cuesta esto?
- One of these, please. = Uno de estos, por favor.
- How do I get to [a place]? = Cómo llego** a [name of the place]?
**Llego is pronounced “YEGO”
The country code for Mexico is +52, but of course, you won’t be needing it yourself while you’re there.
In cases of emergency, you’d dial 911 just like in the US. If you need to contact the US Embassy while you’re in Mexico City, dial 55-5080-2000. If you need to make the call while on a trip to some other city, dial 01-55-5080-2000.
Forget the hassle of visiting phone stores and putting your tiny little SIM somewhere safe in 2024. I highly recommend getting an E-SIM through AIRALO.
You download the AIRALO app, choose a package, and then install and activate a local E-SIM right onto your phone. Their packages are between $21-49 a month depending on how much data you’d like on it. If you’re only visiting for 1-2 weeks, it’s between $8-15 for the SIM.
There are two types of outlets in Mexico, Type A (two flat pins) and type B (two flat pins and one round pin).
Type A plugs from the USA and Canada will fit into type B outlets as well. So, you won’t need a travel adapter if you’re coming from the US or Canada.
Apps to download
- App CDMX: Highly recommend if you know Spanish. It’s run by the government and has EVERYTHING you’ll ever need in one app–Calling a taxi, planning metro routes, train schedules, weather reports, and even calling the police.
- Google Maps: If you don’t know Spanish, Google Maps will work just fine for transportation purposes! The bus and metro routes are accurate.
- Didi / Uber: Both taxi apps work in Mexico City, and most drivers are registered on both. Take your pick!
- Rappi: This is your Mexican Doordash. If you’re too tired to go get groceries or walk to a restaurant, order away and wait for someone to bring you food!
How to get around in Mexico City
Getting from the airport
If you’re visiting with a group of friends, booking an airport transfer is worth it. One particular vendor comes highly recommended and costs around $120 for 6 people as of January 2024.
However, if you’re alone, calling an Uber will be more economical regardless of how much the pricing fluctuates. But it usually ranges between $13-20.
I was surprised at how clean the metro stations and trains are. The only downside is there are no station announcements inside the train. You’ll have to either count the stops yourself, or look at the station signs outside, or both.
The CDMX Metro Card doesn’t just get you on the trains, but some of the bus lines as well. Metro stations and bus lines all have logos of their own for those who are more visually tuned. The back of the metro card shows you the bus logos with which it works.
Where to buy
- From the ticket window at any metro station
- From the ticket window at any light rail station
- From the machines at any Metrobús station
The card costs 15 MXN, plus however much you’d like to put on the card.
Google Maps is just as accurate at telling you which bus to take as it is with the metro. Look for a bus stop closest to you, tap on it and you’ll see which lines stop there. Tap one of the buses and the whole route would pop up with all the stations.
NOTE: The purple buses only take cash. They are older, and they look older. You’ll see what I mean.
Taxis / Rideshare Apps
Both Uber and Didi work great in the city. And because most local drivers are registered under both apps anyway, it won’t make much of a difference which one you’re on.
Things to Do
Just because 10 years probably won’t be enough to explore this massive city… The list of what to do below is “including, but not limited to…”
Zócalo & Metropolitan Cathedral
Zócalo is the common name of the city’s main square, officially known as “Plaza de la Constitución.” Back in the day, it was the main ceremonial center of the Aztec civilization. Today, it is quite the place to do some people-watching. But don’t forget to keep your backpack in front of you!
Among the buildings surrounding Zócalo, the most prominent of them would be the Metropolitan Cathedral, built by the Spaniards during the colonial period between 1573 to the 1800s in sections. If you go inside the cathedral, you will feel the unevenness of the floor. This is due to the city slowly sinking back into Lake Texcoco. A little spooky, but a fascinating thing to notice.
This place is so much more than what it looks like from the square. A dilapidated pile of rocks and stones, El Templo Mayor used to stand at 200 ft (60m) and was the holiest site of the Aztec Civilization up until 1521.
Entering, you’ll first pass their introductory museum to learn a little bit about the temple and what it used to look like. I recommend you pay very close attention to its cardboard model… because some of the details on its front yard, you will see for yourself in full size when you enter the ruins. It’s mindblowing.
After walking through the ruins outside, you’ll wrap it up by going into the main museum, which consists of 4 floors and at least 8 exhibition rooms packed with information on the Aztec’s way of life.
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00am-5:00pm
- Ticket Price: 95 MXN
The next most stunning structure around Zócalo after the cathedral is probably this. Currently serving as a government building, you can’t just walk in on your own. I thought of it too late and sadly missed my chance to do a tour of this place, but I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
You’ll have to book a tour at “Museo de la SHCP” which is an orange building north of Palacio Nacional. Unfortunately, you can’t walk from the square straight down that road. You’ll have to take the long route around Palacio Nacional itself and get onto that street from the other side. Map below.
Once you enter through the wooden doors of the orange building, the tour office will be on your right. Just ask them for an available time slot, make your booking for free, and show up on the day!
Palacio de Bellas Artes
There are two things you could do here. One is to visit the museum, packed with artworks from different eras of the country (including Diego Rivera’s duplicate of “Man at the Crossroads” that was taken down at Rockefeller Center during the Cold War).
Or two… you could watch a show in the old-time theater. Check HERE for what’s playing. If you have a chance to see the Ballet Folklorico while you’re there, BOOK THAT TICKET. Don’t even think twice. The show is magnificent and tickets are much cheaper than shows in the US.
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm
- Tickets: 75 MXN (Only for museum visitors)
Had enough of the building’s interior? Head across the street onto the 7th floor of SEARS and have a cup of Café de Olla at Finca Don Porfirio. You’ll get the best view of Palacio de Bellas Artes.
After enjoying the show (or the museum) at Bellas Artes, why not take a stroll in the park next door? The vibe here is quite nice. There are quieter parts and livelier parts with street performances. You could find a food cart and get yourself a cup of esquites.
This “Pink Zone” actually encompasses roughly 3 neighborhoods–Roma, Juárez, and Sevilla. It’s called Zona Rosa because of the gay community in the area. One of the safest areas in Mexico City, Zona Rosa is where expats tend to live and work. This means it’s got a lot of nice coffee shops and restaurants as well.
Fun fact: Mexico City’s K-Town is also here. Are you craving kimchi and bubble tea? This is your spot.
Frida Kahlo Museum
Have you seen the movie Frida from 2002? You really should. It’s amazing. But even if you haven’t, visiting Frida’s blue house is an amazing experience to have in Mexico City. She was one of the most magnificent women in history. Now that you’re in her hometown, why not?
But a lot of people seem to think that way because the tickets will sell out FAST. But I got you. Below are two options you can book for your trip, one with a guided tour and one without.
NOTE: If you’d like to take photos inside the house (the courtyard is up for grabs), you’ll need to purchase a photography permit at the window right after you enter. The permit costs 30 MXN.
Built in 1785 as a summer house for the viceroy of New Spain, the gorgeous castle also became the official residence of Emperor Maximilian I during the Second Mexican Empire. Today, it’s a museum. The residence side is maintained the way it was during Maximilian’s rule, while the rest is packed with exhibitions showcasing Mexican history.
“Chapultepec” is a Nahuatl word that means “the hill of the grasshopper.” This hill was a sacred place for the Aztec people, which was probably why the viceroy wanted to build his castle on top of it. (Apologies, I don’t shy away from honestly talking about colonization and what it entails…) If you’re sensitive to energy, you will feel a slight shift in the air around the hill as you climb up, but it’s not creepy so don’t worry!
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 9:00am-5:00pm
- Ticket: 90 MXN
Museum of Anthropology
This is arguably the best museum in Mexico City if you expect to learn EVERYTHING about Mexico’s culture before the colonial period. The unsuspecting entrance and simple exterior design make you think it’s not that big… But it took me 3 days to peruse every exhibition room from the pre-historic period to 1521. My leg felt like jelly by the end of the last day, but hey… I learned things.
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00am-5:00pm
- Ticket: 90 MXN
If you’re short on time but would like to see the museums in the most efficient way possible, below are some of the tours with great reviews. I went through all of their itineraries and they look amazing.
Okay, this one you CANNOT miss out on. A powerful civilization from 600 BC-700, the impeccable city structure and massive pyramids remain intact to showcase its glorious past.
If the pyramid of Chichén Itzá has been on your radar, you should know that Teotihuacán’s Pyramid of the Sun is twice the height and around 6 times the size of Chichén Itzá. Yes… I really think you should visit.
Below are some of the day tour options from Mexico City.
As much as I hate to burst people’s bubbles… partying on colorful gondolas is NOT what Xochimilco is about and I will die on this hill.
Just think about it… Before the Spanish came, all of Mexico City was built entirely with canals, and people made living sustainably on floating islands possible for centuries. Now that there are roads everywhere, Xochimilco is the only area of the city where this tradition remains intact. There is so much culture, history, and fascinating wisdom waiting to be shown, and all most visitors want to do is get wasted on boats. It breaks my heart.
Now that I’m done ranting, I highly recommend you take one of the sustainable tours to learn about the indigenous community and their farming wisdom. Plus, they’ll cook for you, and you’ll still get to ride in a boat. Is that a good deal?
Ruta de la Milpa
I took this tour on one of the very first days in Mexico City and it completely blew my mind. First, I got to learn how to harvest the nopal cactus, and how to clean and cook them. I then got to eat fresh, organic nopal tacos with a steaming cup of Café de Olla right there on the nopal farm. It was magical.
After the first meal, I got to learn how to make tortillas, visited a mole factory, and saw how it’s processed with my own eyes. Would you believe me if I told you these mole sauces have COOKIES in them?
For all you food lovers… below, you’ll find my recommendations for restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and some bars. I’m only listing the places I’ve been to myself, so don’t be surprised if some of the more famous ones don’t make the list.
Carmela y sal
Owned by one of Mexico’s top chefs Gaby Ruiz, this whole place is inspired by her life experiences, from the interior decorations to the dishes themselves. It’s modern and classy but still gives off the cozy vibes. The dishes are innovative, like a dish that imitates fish but was made from coconut, etc. I got to try a bunch of menus and they were all so stunning and delicious. 15/10, highly recommend!
Address: Torre Virreyes, Pedregal 24, Lomas – Virreyes, Molino del Rey, Miguel Hidalgo, 11040 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
With its theme leaning more toward food with the family, it is slightly cozier than Carmela Y sal, but equally classy and delicious dishes. The name, Sonia, is a homage to the owner’s grandmother who used to cook delicious food for the family.
Address: Oxford 23, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
La Casa De Toño
Call it the authentic Mexican fast food, if you will. But it is fast, healthier than American fast food, and it’s delicious. Sopes, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, you name it. They have it all.
And because it’s a chain, you can google the one closest to you if you’d like to try!
This is an Italian restaurant, but what’s interesting is they only source from local producers. So it’s authentic Italian dishes (delicious ones) with strictly local Mexican ingredients. I think that’s a pretty sick concept.
Address: Cda. Orizaba 42, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Churrería El Morro
Okay, but how can you be in Mexico City if you don’t buy yourself some churros ONCE? And if you plan to do so, this would be the place. It’s insanely hyped on the internet and crowded in person, for good reason. Their churros are just perfect, crispy, sweet, aromatic, yum…
There are several branches in different neighborhoods, so just google the name and pick one!
This speakeasy-style bar is underground, and you’ll be able to find it only if you know exactly what to look for. The entrance is part of an apartment building with a barred gate. You’ll have to ring the bell for someone to come let you in.
The decorations are cool and they make good drinks. The music gets a little bit too loud for my taste, but would probably be fine for a lot of people. Depends on your energy level, I guess!
Address: Copenhague 6, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Music and overall vibe-wise, I prefer this place to Xaman. But you might need to make a reservation in advance just to be safe. It’s a fan favorite.
Address: Av Chapultepec 461, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Food Carts & Market Stalls
Listen… You just can’t go wrong with food carts in Mexico City. Any random one you stop at will very likely make you delicious food, fresh and hot. But I’ll list two that stand out in my memory.
Sometimes spelled “Kathi” but NOT to be confused with Kathi Rolls in Roma Norte, this is a food cart in Sevilla. They’re ALWAYS set up on the sidewalk in front of NextSpace Mini Bodega Reforma branch on Hamburgo Street. I’ll drop the address below.
They’re well known for Tlacoyos, but they made amazing quesadillas for me, too. And they’re such sweet people. It’s impossible to go just once, especially because I was living around the corner.
Address: Hamburgo 246, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Address: Guillermo Prieto 45, Jamaica, Venustiano Carranza, 15800 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
This prominent market used to be a tax checkpoint in the old days of Mexico City. Today, it’s home to a flower market, a lush food market section, all the way to some toys and clothing. One hole-in-the-wall place stands out in particular…
Unfortunately, that is the only thing I know about it… the name. Their tacos with green chorizos were heavenly. If you walk around the market for a bit, you’ll run into the place at some point.
morning tamal carts
Nothing specific here, but if you’re out in the streets before 8:30-9:00am, chances are you’ll find multiple carts selling tamales with hot breakfast drinks.
Atole de Pinole is my favorite. It’s a milky cinnamon-y hot drink that just warms up your soul. Have it with a sweet tamal if you’re a sweet breakfast person, or tamal with salsa verde if you like spicier, more savory dishes for breakfast.
Because I love working at coffee shops (Are you more productive at coffee shops, too? Asking for a friend…), these places have tables, outlets, and wifi to aid in your fight against procrastination. They all make great coffee as well!
EL PÉNDULO ROMA
For someone who works best where there are books, this is my go-to spot. It is both a bookshop and a café, like Barnes & Noble but way better.
Address: Av. Álvaro Obregón 86, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
El PÉndulo POLANCO
Slightly claustrophobic and more crowded compared to the Roma branch, but I still had a good time working there. Coffee quality is the same, too.
Address: Alejandro Dumas 81, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11560 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
This is easily the favorite spot for expats in Mexico City. The place is always full of foreigners typing away on their iPads or laptops. I only tried their coffee once and it was good, for the rest of the time, I got hooked on their chai latte.
Address: Avenida Tamaulipas 60 , Col. Condesa C.P06140, Hipódromo, 06140 Ciudad de México, Mexico
I think of this place as the dark version of Blend Station, an industrial style with a lot of wood-colored decoration. The tables are huge with electric outlets for every seat, clearly designed for remote workers, but it’s not as packed as Blend Station.
I recommend trying their Lavender Latte. Not every café gets this menu right, but they do!
As of January 2024, they seem to be temporarily closed, so proceed with some caution and a plan B.
Address: Sinaloa 10, entre insurgentes y Monterrey, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Below are some of the best hotels in the best areas of the city, from luxury to budget.
If this Mexico City trip is your self-reward for something grand, go for this high-end option. You’ll be right Chapultepec Park as well.
The St. Regis
Another luxurious option right on Reforma, which in my opinion is the coolest street to walk on in Mexico City. You’ll have access to endless food options, and morning or evening walks. The red bus also stops right in front of your doorstep to take you to the most important sights.
Nima Local House
If you have the budget, love to spoil yourself once in a while, but hate the luxury hotel vibes, this one might just be your jam. Think luxurious, cozy country home.
A less expensive option just off Reforma, still in one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. I’d call this one “upper mid-range” with a homelier vibe than the luxury hotels.
Another upper mid-range option here. If you think Mexican and Japanese interior tastes can never blend, think again. The light colors and wooden frames seem to go surprisingly well with the Mexican pattern tiles.
El Patio 77
Here’s our first humanely-priced option. At around $80-100 per night, you get a minimalistic-style bedroom with tall windows that let just the right amount of light in. I’d book this place in a heartbeat when I go back to Mexico City.
Suites Capri Sevilla
This is the most budget option for hotel-level services. I stayed here during my month in Mexico City and I couldn’t be happier. Your room gets cleaned daily, but on top of that, you have a kitchen to cook a meal and eat in if you’d like.
One caution would be the noise. If your room is by the street, the window can’t keep the noise out. So if like me, you sleep like a rock, I highly recommend Suites Capri. If you’re a light sleeper, either go with an alternative or bring earplugs!
With its myriad of historical sites and restaurant selections, Centro Histórico is a great neighborhood to get to know Mexico City and to hang out in. But due to its popularity among tourists, I wouldn’t recommend staying in the area. The neighborhood is not sketchy, but keep your backpack in front of you and be aware of your surroundings when there. Just like in any other big city, pickpockets live in crowded places.
The expat hub, Roma is full of nice restaurant and café options. It is also one of the best neighborhoods to stay in when in Mexico City. It’s safe, green, and shaded, and quiets down significantly at night.
This neighborhood gave off a Beverly Hills vibe when I was there. Cool fashion stores and higher-end seafood and wine bars line the streets. I don’t think it would hurt to stay in the area, although it seemed a little noisier (livelier?) than Roma or Sevilla.
Right between Polanco and Roma is Sevilla, which recently became the K-Town of Mexico City. Here, you get to see some Korean minimarts, restaurants, and a handful of bubble tea joints. This was the neighborhood I stayed in. It was perfectly nice and safe, plus only a block away from Reforma, where most of the cool sights and good food are.
If you take nothing less than to be with the locals, and the locals ONLY, Coyoacán is a good option to consider. It is way too far from everything else in my opinion, but at least you’ll be very close to Frida’s house…
Neighborhoods to avoid
Although Mexico City is no longer the dangerous place it used to be 15-20 years ago, these neighborhoods below still have a bit of a sketchy air to them.
- Tepito & Merced (centro)
- Ciudad Neza
After asking a local, it seems unlikely that you’ll run into serious violent crimes in these areas, just petty ones. But even then… better safe than sorry, am I right?
Recommended trip out of the city
This doesn’t have much to do with Mexico City, but I just have to. I really do…
San Miguel de Allende
This whole town is another UNESCO World Heritage you wouldn’t want to miss. Full of colonial buildings and cobblestoned streets, it reminded me so much of my time in Bologna, Italy.
I wouldn’t recommend doing a day tour from Mexico City, because the ride would take around 4 hours each way. Buying bus tickets and booking budget accommodations for a weekend is much more economical. ETN Turistar has great VIP buses at very reasonable prices.
If you’re short on time and would really love to see San Miguel de Allende, I’ll put the tour link below. But keep in mind, it’s not something I would recommend…
It may take 10 years for you to know everything about Mexico City, but I guarantee it will take you less than a week to fall in love with its charm. Great museums, amazing food, better people… what more could you ask for? I hope this article has confirmed how badly you need to visit and given you the confidence you need to pull the trigger.
But be careful… you can’t just visit the city once. You might just have to keep going back for more!
Most locals walk long distances if time allows, thanks to the usually nice weather. For longer journeys, Uber and Didi are both widely used. The city’s Metro system is another effective and economical mode of transportation, but it’s advisable to be vigilant about personal belongings and avoid peak hours.
Tipping is a common practice in Mexico City, similar to the customs in the United States. Generally, a tip of 10-15% is appropriate in restaurants. It’s important to note that tips might be expected in cash, even if you pay for the meal with a card. When it comes to cash usage, carrying smaller denomination bills (up to 100 pesos) is practical.
Eating at popular times along with locals is a good strategy, as it often means the food is made fresh and sizzling hot. Sauces, a staple of Mexican cuisine, are usually safe, but it’s prudent to check their freshness. Street food is a highlight of the city’s gastronomy; look for stalls with high local patronage, indicating freshness and quality.
Keep in mind that wearing shorts during the day is not common among the locals if you want to blend in. Long jeans and T-shirts are the city’s anthem.
Neighborhoods such as Doctores, Tepito, Iztapalapa, and Ciudad Neza are generally considered less safe for tourists. Always be aware of your surroundings, keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded places, and stay informed about the areas you plan to visit.
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More Latin America Ideas…
Now that you’ve learned everything you wanted to know about Mexico City (and saw how amazing it is), it’s time to make that trip happen! Here are all the resources to help you plan your trip!
FLIGHTS: I use Skyscanner to find the best deals for flights, but don’t forget to rack up those credit card points and use them to your advantage, too!
ACCOMMODATION: For hotels and some guest houses, I love using Booking.com because it lets you cancel for free until the day before. Getting to change your mind is a luxury! For budget travelers and social humans, Hostelworld is a great option.
TRANSPORTATION: For finding and booking local buses and taxis, 12Go is absolute magic.
CAR RENTAL: Put in your dates and peruse the options on Discovercars.com for the best rental car deals.
INTERNET / SIM CARD: Use Airalo to get the local phone service and data at the best rates. Plus, it’s super convenient to use. Just download their app, pick a plan, and install it right on your phone.
GUIDED TOURS & DAY TRIPS: I always use GetYourGuide or Viator to find the best walking tours or day trips. Most of the time, they have the same tours listed, but some are only on one of the two platforms. Check both to find the best tours for what you need.
ATTRACTION TICKETS: If you need good deals on tickets, travel cards, and the like, Klook is your best friend!
Have fun! Don’t forget to drop a comment below if this post has helped you in any way, or drop a comment after your trip. I’d love to hear how it went!