The city is officially divided into 16 delegaciones (boroughs) which are in turn subdivided into colonias (neighborhoods), of which there are around 250; 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.
- Centro Historico - 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 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.
- Polanco - One of the wealthiest residential areas with some of the most expensive designer boutique stores in the city. Filled with embassies, upscale restaurants, night clubs and hotels.
- Zona Rosa - Also known to tourists as 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.
- Coyoacán - 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.
- San Angel - 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.
- Xochimilco - 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, even though its proximity to Mexico City has influenced that area to urbanize.
- Santa Fe - A modern, recently redeveloped business district at the cities western tip that consists mainly of high rise buildings, surrounding a large shopping mall.
- Del Valle - High class residential, business and shopping area in south central city.
- Tlalpan and Pedregal - Largest of the boroughs and Tlalpan is home of Ajusco, a volcanic mountain peak and National Park, one of the highest mountains near Mexico City.
The outer area of Mexico City includes:
- 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 holiest Catholic site in the Americas. Draws pilgrims from around the world every day.
- Ciudad Satelite - Residential and shopping area north of the city.
- Interlomas Residential and shopping area at the West of the City
The greater Mexico City metropolitan area is one of the world's largest and the largest city in North America, with an estimated 20 million people living in the region. It is shaped roughly like an oval of about 60 km by 40 km, 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 Ixtaccihuatl. Mexico City proper (with an estimated population of between 8 to 9 million) is in the Federal District (Spanish: Distrito Federal or D.F.), a federally-administered area (that is, not part of any Mexican state) which acts as the capital of Mexico. The rest of the metropolitan area extends beyond it into Mexico State, which surrounds D.F. on three sides. Legally and practically speaking, Mexico City is the same as the Federal District, much in the same way the city of Washington is the same as the District of Columbia in the United States' capital city. The Federal District is where most tourists will spend the majority of their time when visiting the city.
Mexico City is divided up into 16 delegaciones, similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into "colonias" (neighborhoods), of which there are about 250. Knowing what colonia you're going to is essential to getting around, and almost all locals will know where a given colonia is (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 is located 2200 m above mean sea level. 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.
The origins of Mexico City date back to 1325, when the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan was founded and later destroyed in 1521 by Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes. The city served as the capital of the Vice-royalty of New Spain until the outbreak of the Independence War in 1810. The city became the capital of the Mexican Empire in 1821 and of the Mexican Republic in 1823 after the abdication of Agustin de Iturbide. During the Mexico-US war in 1847, the city was invaded by the American army. In 1864 the French invaded Mexico and the emperor Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg ruled the country from the Castillo de Chapultepec and ordered to build Avenue of the Empress (today's Paseo de la Reforma promenade).
Porfirio Díaz assumed power in 1876 and left an outstanding mark in the city with many European styled buildings such as the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Palacio Postal. Diaz was overthrown in 1910 with the Mexican Revolution and this marked a radical change in the city's architecture. The 20th century saw the uncontrolled growth of the City beyond the Centro Historico with the influx of thousands of immigrants from the rest of the country. In 1968, the city was host to the Olympic Games, which saw the construction of the Azteca Stadium, the Palacio de los Deportes, the Olympic Stadium and other sports facilities. In 1985 the city suffered an 8.1 Magnitude earthquake. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people were killed. 412 buildings collapsed and another 3,124 buildings were seriously damaged in the city.
Mexico City ranks 8th in terms of GDP size among 30 world cities. More than a third of the total Mexican economy is concentrated here. The size of its economy is US $315 billion, that's compared to $1.1 trillion for New York City and $575 billion for Chicago. Mexico City is the wealthiest city in all of Latin America, with a GDP per capita of $25,258. Mexico City's poverty rate is also the lowest in all of Mexico, however, it should be noted that Mexico itself is only about the 65th richest country in the world out of 184 countries. Mexico City's Human Development Index (2009-MHDI) is the highest in Mexico at 0.9327. It is home to the Mexican Stock Exchange. Most of the large local and multinational corporations are headquartered here, mainly in the Polanco and Santa Fe districts.
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Mexico City weather is divided in two seasons, dry season, from November to April, and the rainy season from May to October. Spring months are warm, while the summer months can vary from light to heavy rains especially in the late afternoon. Dawn in the Fall and winter get really cold, but with an amazingly clear sky. Temperatures range from 0°C in late October, November, December and January mornings, to 32°C in March, April and May during mid-day highs.
The city sits in a valley surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, which results in poor air circulation and a tendency for air pollutants to stagnate over the city. Due to the extremely rapid pace of urbanization in the twentieth century little consideration was given to environmental planning. By 1987, air quality had deteriorated so much that one day thousands of birds appeared dead on the sidewalks of the city. Environmentalists attributed this to air pollution. This shocking event encouraged authorities to implement measures to improve air quality. Most heavy industries (glass, car and steel factories) and oil refineries were relocated outside of the city and unleaded vehicle fuels were introduced.
Today, the air quality is in much better. Ozone and carbon dioxide levels are falling. Although the smog layer is visible nearly every day, its effects in terms of breathing and eye irritation are barely noticeable and it should not be cause for concern for visitors. Pollution is in maximum effect in the hot, dry season of spring, from late February to early May and there is a greenhouse effect that appears during winter from late November to early February. You can check the current air quality on the Atmospheric Monitoring System website . 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 170 points, an "Environmental pre-contingency" is 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.
The catastrophic earthquake of 8.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, that took place in the morning of September 19, 1985, killing 9,000 to 30,000 people, remains fresh in the memory of the majority of Mexico City's inhabitants. Since the city was established in the dry bed of lake Texcoco and several geological faults that originate in the Pacific coast reach the city, earthquakes are a common phenomenon. Right after the 1985 earthquake, many constructions were reinforced and new buildings are designed to meet structural criteria by law and no major building collapse has happened since, even after several strong earthquakes. You can check the latest earthquake activity at the National Earthquake Center an institute of the National University (UNAM). Should you happen to be in the middle of 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 marked "safe zones."
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. 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 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), 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, and was the first jurisdiction in the region to legalize same-sex marriage (in December 2009). As such, this is generally a gay friendly city, particularly in the Zona Rosa District. Abortion on demand is also legal, as well as euthanasia and prostitution (the latter allowed only in designated districts).
Although Mexico City is considered an expensive city, 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 100 to 200 pesos a day (10 to 20 USD), using public transport and eating at street stands, while a more comfortable budget should range between 200 to 500 pesos a day (20 to 50 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 addressing system is fairly simple has the street name, house number, colonia (neighborhood), 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.
In Mexico City the street and neighborhoods have been named after an important person or a specific place like Porfirio Díaz Street and Santa Martha de Axtlahuacan Colonia. A typical address could be something like this: Colima 15, Colonia Roma Norte, Mexico, Distrito Federal, 06760. However, the numbering tends to not be in the right order.
For the avid photographer, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. The city is paranoid about tripods. 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.
Although some compact flash cards can be found at several different locations, don't expect to find exactly what you are looking for. Look for stores such as 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.
Benito Juarez International Airport
- Main article: Benito Juárez International Airport
Most travelers arrive to Mexico City by air, to Benito Juárez International Airport, located in the eastern part of the city.
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 the hub of several domestic low-cost carriers such as Interjet and Volaris which serve destinations as Monterrey, Cancún, Guadalajara, Tijuana, and many other Mexican cities. As of September 2009, Toluca is served internationally by Volaris from Los Angeles and Oakland. Reaching the Toluca airport is not easy, You will need to drive your own car or hire a taxi, which can be expensive.
- 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 Cuernavaca (CVJ) and Puebla (PBC), but reaching Mexico City from these places could be quite tiresome and expensive.
Although most of foreign travelers will reach Mexico City by air, it is also possible to arrive by bus. Greyhound offers several connecting routes from the United States and it is possible to buy one single ticket from many major cities in the U.S. to Mexico. Traveling by bus in Mexico is comfortable compared to other countries, since many Mexicans used to travel by bus until the recent introduction of several low-cost airlines.
The city has 4 major bus stations:
- Terminal Autobuses del Norte, Av. 100 Metros 4907, Colonia Magdalena de las Salinas, tel 5587 1552. Metro station stop "Autobuses del Norte" (Line 5, yellow). Most buses departing to and arriving from bordering towns with the U.S. operate from this terminal such as Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Reynosa, even Ciudad Juarez. Other destinations that depart from this terminal: Acapulco, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, Leon, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, Hermosillo, Tijuana. Overall, buses are bound to northern Mexico.
- Terminal de Autobuses del Poniente, Av. Sur 122, Colonia Real del Monte. Metro station "Observatorio" (Line 1, pink). Also known as Terminal de Autobuses Observatorio. Usually used for destinations in the western part of Mexico such as Collima, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Toluca.
- Terminal de Autobuses del Sur "Taxqueña", Av. Taxqueña 1320, Colonia Campestre Churubusco, Metro station "Taxqueña"(Line 2, blue). This station is used for destinations in southern Mexico such as: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Oaxaca, Tepoztlan, Puebla.
- Terminal de Autobuses del Oriente "TAPO", Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza 200, Colonia 10 de Mayo. Metro Station "San Lazaro" (Line 1, pink). Serving also destinations in the south and the gulf of Mexico such as: Campeche, Cancun, Mérida, Puebla, Villahermosa, Veracruz, Xalapa.
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.
Some of the most common bus lines in Mexico:
- ADO. Offers 'primier', first and second class buses primarily west to the Chiapas and the Yucatan.
- Estrella Roja.
- Omnibus de México.
- ETN Real first class buses.
- Grupo Senda. US border
- Primera Plus. Queretaro, Guadalajara, Guanajuato
Passenger train services unfortunately ceased operating in Mexico some ten years ago, and only freight trains ride to and around Mexico City. Nowadays only one train route is operating. This is the Chihuahua Pacífico route between Chihuahua and Los Mochis, crossing the Sierra.
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. Metro is reliable and runs underground, the city government operates the RTP bus system and Electric Trolley buses. There are also plenty of franchised private buses which are less reliable and safe because of their driving habits. And finally thousands of taxis, many of them old Volkswagen bugs formerly painted in their famous green paint scheme and called verditos, or little green ones. Now, these are simply vocho taxis in the maroon and gold colors now required of all taxis. 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.
There are at least two 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.
Officially named Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, but known simply as Metro, it is one of the largest and most used 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 during the day: trains are often filled to significantly over capacity, and sometimes it will be hot and uncomfortable. 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 (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. 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. Operating hours are from 5AM to midnight on weekdays (starts at 6AM on Saturday and 7AM on Sunday), so if your plans will keep you out beyond midnight, be sure to have alternate means of transport.
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. However, even with this user-friendly approach, entire maps of the Metro system are not posted everywhere that you'd like. They're usually only near ticket booths; there are no maps on the trains and only one or two are posted per platform, so work out your route before going through the turnstiles, and have a Metro map on you. Trains and platforms do have a line diagram with icons and transfer points for easy reference.
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 Centro Historico (Salto del Agua and Isabel la Catolica stations), the Chapultepec Forest (Chapultepec Station), Condesa and Roma neighborhoods (Insurgentes and Sevilla stations) and the Northwest Bus Station (Observatorio station). Line 2 (blue) runs through the Centro Historico (Allende, Zocalo and Bellas Artes stations) and reaches the South Bus Station (Tasqueña). Line 7 (orange) runs through many touristic spots such as the Chapultepec Forest (Auditorio Station) and the Polanco neighborhood (Polanco Station). Line 9 (brown) runs near the Condesa neighborhood (Chilpancingo). Line 3 (green) runs near Coyoacan (Coyoacan and Miguel Angel de Quevedo stations) and also near the City University (Copilco and Ciudad Universitaria stations). If traveling to and from the airport, you'll use Line 5 (yellow) to connect to the Mexico City International Airport (Terminal Aerea station, not Hangares nor Boulevard Puerto Areo of line 1). Line 6 (red) runs east-west to the north of the city and runs next to the Basílica de Guadalupe.
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
- Andenes - Train platforms
- Correspondencia - Line transfer
- Dirección - Direction you are heading inside a line: one of the two terminal stations. Each platform has a large sign indicating 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.
Once you have your ticket (boleto) it is time to go through the turnstiles (but make sure to confirm your route on a map first!). 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) and a small display will flash, indicating you may proceed. You won't get the ticket back. A few frequent Metro users use keycards instead of tickets, so if you see any turnstiles marked with "solo tarjeta" that means the ticket reader is broken; just move to another turnstile.
Instead of buying individual tickets, 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.
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.
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 blind population make their living by 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 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: there have been incidences of pickpocketing. 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. 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 City Government known as RTP and cost $2 anywhere you go. Make sure to pay with exact change as they don't give change back. The second kind of buses are known as "Microbuses" or "Peseros". These buses are private-run and come in small and bigger sizes, all rather ominous looking. Peseros cost 4 pesos for shorter trips, 4.50 pesos for 6–12 km trips and 5 pesos for 12+ km trips. Full-sized private buses are 5 pesos for shorter trips, and 6 pesos for longer trips.
Both type of buses usually stop at the same places, which are totally random and unmarked stops just before intersections. Routes are also very complex and flexible, so be sure to ask someone, perhaps the driver, if the bus even goes to your destination, 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 probably a safer and more comfortable way than the private franchised and smaller microbuses who are known to 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.
Established in June 2005, the Metrobús is a BRT system that operates four routes (líneas) in dedicated lanes along Insurgentes, Vallejo, Cuauhtémoc and Eje 4 Sur Avenues. A fifth route is being constructed as of 2013. It costs 6 pesos to ride, but a refillable fare card must be bought in advance (16 pesos, including one fare) at vending machines. There are stops approximately every 500m. Expect it to be crowded around the clock, but its a great way to get up and down these major thoroughfares very rapidly. Since there are branches in each route, you must check the bus' billboard before boarding to see which is the last stop they will visit, for some don't go from end to end of the line. There are reserved boarding areas (indicated on the platforms) for women, the handicapped and the elderly.
By trolley bus
"Trolebuses"  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 can be a little slower than regular buses, since they are unable to change lanes as quickly. There is a flat fare of 4 pesos, and bus drivers do not give out change.
By light rail
The Tren Ligero is operated by Electric Transport Services and consists of one single line that runs south of the city, connecting with Metro station Tasqueña (Line 2, blue; alternatively you may see it spelled as Taxqueña). For tourists, it is useful if you plan to visit Xochimilco or the Azteca stadium. The rate for a single ride is 3 pesos, and while the ticketing system works very similarly to the Metro, the tickets are not the same. You must purchase light rail tickets separately; they are sold at most stations along the line.
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 6 pesos to get into the cab, and about 0.7 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 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 .
The Turibus is a sightseeing double-decker 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 (around USD $12) and its route includes the Zona Rosa, Chapultepec Park, Polanco, Condesa, Roma and the Historic Center. There is a secondary route which runs from Fuente de la Cibeles in Condesa to Coyoacan and Xochimilco. Your ticket is valid for both routes. Runs 365 days a year
If you get lost
If you get absolutely lost and you are far away from your hotel, hop into a pesero (mini bus) or bus that takes you to a Metro station ; most of them do. Look for the sign with the stylized metro "M" in the front window. From there and using the wall maps you can get back to a more familiar place.
Driving around by car is the least advised way to visit the city due to the complicated road structure, generally reckless drivers, and the 3.5 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 Periferico 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. There is only one company that has been able to map the entire city, Guia Roji. Shortcuts are complicated and often involve about six to eight turns.
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 weekends. 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 restricted hours during the day depending on the last digit of your plate number (plates with all letters are automatically assigned a digit). 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 turn even when traffic light red is allowed. Seat belts are mandatory for both front 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 from you. It is up to you if you accept to do so, the latest government sponsored trend is to refuse giving them anything.
- EcoBici. EcoBici is a bike sharing program in Mexico City. Purchase an RFID card to unlock the bicycles; trips are free for the first 45 minutes. Registration at one of the in-person offices is required (addresses here), and requires a credit card and passport.
Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the pre-Columbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch since then. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro. In addition, Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world (without taking into account art galleries), with New York #2, London #3 and Toronto #4.
- 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, it's principle altar is made from solid gold.
- Angel de la Independencia or simply known as "El Angel" is 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— Paseo de la Reforma ("Reform Avenue") is a 12 km long grand avenue and park in Mexico City. The 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.
- Torre Mayor— It's the new and highest tower in town, and highest skyscraper in Latin America, and good for more impressive views of the city.
- Mexico City US National Cemetery. 31 Virginia Fabregas, Colonia San Rafael. Open on weekdays except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM to 5PM. 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.
- Chapultepec Park and Zoo Paseo de la Reforma. Is 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. Nearby Metro station: "Auditorio" (Line 7, Orange).
- 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.
- Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi, in Mexico City is 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 are two adjacent parks in the Colonia Condesa, which used to be part of a race track. 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 are a large expanse of greenery and trails that used to be divided into privately owned gardens and farm plots, but is now a public park popular with people joggers and amblers alike.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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 prizes.
- 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, ☎ 55983316. 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 was Mexico City's F1 racing track until 1992 when the Mexico Grand Prix was cancelled. Ayrton Sena and Alain Prost won the prix in this track in the late 80's and early 90's. This 4.4 km long race track still holds the NASCAR race every year and in 2007 it was one of the stops for the A1 - Grand Prix racing
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 has been the only Latin American host to an Olympiade in 1968, when the majority of the city's sport facilities were built.
- Estadio Azteca. Calzada de Tlalpan 3465, Colonia Ursula Coapa. The biggest soccer stadium in the world, built in 1966 for the 1968 Olympic Games with a full capacity of 129,300 seats. It's the home of one of the most famous soccer clubs in Mexico: Club America. It also serves as venue for concerts and for the first NFL regular-season game outside the United States. To reach the Estadio Azteca, you can use the light rail train line that runs to Xochimilco and hop off at the "Estadio Azteca" station. Prices for soccer usually start from 200 pesos up to 600 for field level seats. Beware of resellers, as they will often sell fake tickets.
- Estadio Olimpico de Ciudad Universitaria Insurgentes Sur Avenue, Ciudad Universitaria. Simply known as "Estadio de C.U." Located south of the city, this was where the opening ceremony of the 1968 Olympic Games took place with a full capacity of 72,000 seats. It is home for the "Pumas" soccer team of the National University (UNAM). Today it is host to several sport games, 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— Host to the Cruz Azul soccer team.
- Arena Mexico. Is home to Mexican free wrestling, which is a favorite pastime of Mexicans due to its affordable and entertaining nature. It is mostly a show rather than a sport, but it has been very popular among foreigners lately. Doctor Lavista 189, Colonia de los Doctores. You can enter through Avenida Chapultepec. It's very close to Zona Rosa and Avenida Insurgentes.
- 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.
Like many other things in the country, Mexico City has the largest concentration of universities and colleges, starting with the UNAM, one of the finest in Latin America and the second oldest university in the American continent, founded in 1551.
Some of the most renowned universities in the city include:
- Instituto Politecnico Nacional Public university dedicated mainly to engineering and research.
- Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Commonly known as UNAM, located in the south of the City mainly in Ciudad Universitaria, is a public university with a student population of more than 300,000.
- Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey simply known as "Tec" is a branch of the famous private institute in Monterrey, having 3 campuses in the Greater Mexico City Area: one to the south in Tlalpan, one in the western financial district of Santa Fe and one to the north in the industrial corridor of Atizapán de Zaragoza-Tlalnepantla de Baz-Cuautitlán Izcalli.
- El Colegio de Mexico, or Colmex is an exclusive graduate and teaching institution in the social sciences and humanities with a student to faculty ratio of roughly one to one. It contains a library with over 600,000 volumes and Large-scale inter-library exchange agreements are maintained with domestic as well as foreign universities. More than 60% of library users are external to El Colegio. About twenty percent of full-time students come from countries other than Mexico, and the majority of its graduates continue to do their PhD's at institutions like Harvard, Stanford, or Oxford 
- Universidad Panamericana Private catholic university that holds one of the best business schools in the world: IPADE located in the seventeenth century Hacienda de San Antonio Clavería.
- Universidad Anahuac Recognized Private catholic university, aims on humanism and leadership.
- Universidad Intercontinental Private catholic university of Guadalupe affiliation.
- Universidad Iberoamericana Private university of Jesuit origin.
- Instituto Tecnológico Autonomo de Mexico Private university.
- Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Commonly known as UAM, a public university with four campuses citywide.
- Universidad Tecnológica de Mexico Private university.
- Universidad del Valle de Mexico Private, a branch of Laureate International Universities.
- Universidad de Las Américas The first private university in México
- Universidad La Salle Private catholic university.
You can learn Spanish in Mexico City as there are various schools offering courses for foreigners, for example:
- Centro de Enseñanza de Lenguas Extranjeras Known as CELE, is a faculty of the National University (UNAM) and is probably the most renowned, located south of the city in Ciudad Universitaria. 
- Center for International Education, La Salle (CIEL)
- Academia Hispano México, S.A. de C.V.
- CIB Centro de Idiomas Bravo
Mexico has very strict immigration laws. In order to work you should obtain a permit known as FM2 or FM3 which is very hard to get unless you're marrying a Mexican citizen or you are an expat working for a multinational company. Most foreigners working without a permit perform jobs such as language teachers, waiters or salesmen. Others own a restaurant or shop. If you're working without a permit and an immigration officer finds out, it could mean a fine, deportation or spending some time in a detention facility of the National Immigration Institute.
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— The city's oldest shopping district, you can find almost anything here. The old department stores are clustered around 20 de Noviembre street.
- 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 surpassing even the largest malls of the United States. Here you will find most of the fashion malls sorted by area. Central
- Reforma 222, Paseo de la Reforma 222, Juárez
- Plaza Insurgentes, San Luis Potosí 214, Roma
- Plaza Galerías
- Parque Delta, Cuauhtemoc 462, Narvarte
- Metrópoli Patriotismo, Patriotismo 229, San pedro de los Pinos
- Parque Lindavista, Riobamba 289, Lindavista
- Plaza Lindavista, Montevideo 363, Lindavista
- Plaza Satélite, Circuito Centro Comercial 2251, Ciudad satélite
- Mundo E, periférico Norte 1007, Santa Mónica
- La Cúspide
- 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
- Centro Coyoacan, Avenida Coyoacan 2000, Del Valle
- Plaza Universidad, Avenida Universidad 1000, Del Valle
- Galerías Insurgentes, Insurgentes Sur 1329, Del Valle
- Perisur, insurgentes Sur 4690, Jardines del Pedregal
- Galerías Coapa, Calzada del Hueso 519, Coapa
- Plaza Cuicuilco
- Plaza Loreto, Altamirano 46, San Angel
- Pabellón Altavista, Camino al Desierto de los Leones 52, San Angel
- 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
- 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. These are some of the most common:
- Comercial Mexicana
- Gigante. Recently bought, now "Soriana"
- Superama High end supermarket
- City Market High end supermarket
- Wal-Mart. Several throughout the city, including one near the airport. Stock just about everything, much like the supercenters found in the US. The most 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.
- Al Mayak Cuauhtemoc Avenue and Guanajuato, Colonia Roma. Owned by Lebanese businessmen, they sell ingredients and foodstuff. They also sell sweets and dry fruit. As of 2010, this store closed its doors.
- 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, ☎ 55347131. 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 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 Mexican chain restaurants that can be assumed to be safe and similar no matter where you are, including Vips, Toks, and the more traditional Sanborns, all reminiscent of Denny's in the United States. 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. Most of these offer very good food, are usually safe, and should range between $35 to $60.
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, or puestas, street stands located on a sidewalk or almost anywhere there is room. These serve the usual tacos, burritos or tortas (filled bread rolls similar to a sub or sandwich), and they can be very cheap ($10 to $50). The Taquería 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 La Merced (the 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, Domino's Pizza, TGI Friday's, Chili's, Dairy Queen, Subway, and yes, even Starbucks. These are all fairly affordable to Europeans/Americans and people from other richer countries but generally cost more than they do in the US, and aren't delicious.
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. Chile Rellenos are a definite standard in any restaurant for the vegetarian.
Tips— Tipping (propina in Spanish) is expected, with 10% the standard for all restaurants. You can tip less or not tip 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 Coyoacan 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 snack 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.
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 food, such as tacos (you should ask for 'Botana'). If your tolerance for Mexican music (mariachi or otherwise), smoke-filled rooms, 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.
In Mexico City you have an almost endless choice of options to party. Traveling by yourself at night in 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.
In addition, there are bars that 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.
The city has literally hundreds of hotels in all price ranges, though the district you want to stay in will be a good indicator of price and quality. Zona Rosa is a tourist haven with a strong mid-range selection; the Polanco district is where high-end hotels thrive, and the Centro Histórico is home to plenty of budget hotels and backpacker hostels. A wide variety of hotels can also be found along Paseo de la Reforma.
- Hotel Rioja, 45 Cinco de Mayo, Centro, Mexico City, Mexico, ☎ . Check-in: 7:00. Unpretentious & inexpensive. Very clean & very close to the Zocalo. Wifi in Lobby & your room if you are lucky. Spanish helpful but not required. $270+ mex/cash only (7/2011).
- Hostel Mexico City, República de Brasil #8 (northwest corner of Catedral Metropolitana, metro Allende or Zócalo, line #2 blue), ☎ (01-55) 5512-3666/5512-7731, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Centrally located close to the Zócalo in the Historic Center. Breakfast included, Internet, laundry, lockers, tours and tourist information. Dorm from 140 pesos, private from 250 pesos.
- Hostal Virreyes, Calle José María Izazaga #8 (corner with Eje Central Lázaro Cardenas, metro Salto del Agua, line #1 pink and line #8 green), ☎ 55 21 41 80. Offers excellent private rooms and adequate dorms. Is also a stone's throw from a good market, Mercado San Juan Arcos de Belem. It has decent, well-priced internet access, free Wi-Fi, breakfast and a cinema club. The staff are really helpful and a security guard is present 24 hours. Monthly rates from $3000MX and up. Dorm 150 pesos, double 370 pesos.
- Hotel Habana, Rep De Cuba No. 77, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, CP. 06010, ☎ 55 55 18 15 91. The Hotel Habana in the Calle República de Cuba has well-appointed rooms for a good price.
- Hotel Rio de Janeiro, Rep De Brasil, near Zocalo, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, CP. 06010, ☎ 5555181591. Decent rooms with TVs with local channels. You can get a room for 70 pesos(!!!) if you are by yourself and don't mind sharing a bathroom. The price for two people is only 90 pesos (less than $9 USD) with a shared bathroom. The rooms with attached bedrooms are also cheap. Basic, but clean and with personal TVs.
If you are on a low-budget, you can find hotels as low as $7 USD if you take a room with a shared bathroom. Most are centred in the Centro Historico and are very decent.
Hostels are more expensive than getting your own private room with full facilities like a TV and restroom, but the cheap hotels are not listed on the internet and many foreigners jump into the hostels for a much worse value. The hostels are a good place to meet people but you should only stay there if you don't mind noise and sharing a restroom. There are plenty of other places to meet people besides hostels so be sure to look around before deciding to stay at one just because it has a sign in English.
- El patio 77 B&B, García Icazbalceta #77, Col San Rafael Mexico DF (3 blocks from SAN COSME metro station (Blue Line)), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. El patio 77 is the first Eco-friendly B&B in Mexico City. This only 8 rooms' boutique Guest House is a huge French style mansion from the 19th Century located in the heart of the big City. Starting at US$70+tax.
- Dos Casas B&B, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz 142, Santa Maria la Ribera Mexico DF (2 blocks from SAN COSME metro station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: individual, check-out: individual. Excellent location just few blocks from Centro Historico, elegant 4 rooms Guest house with terrace and garden, free wifi provided. starting at US$50.
- Casa Conde B&B, Gob Garcia Conde #31, Col San Miguel Chapultepec 11850 Mexico DF (3 blocks away from JUANACATLAN metro station (Pink Line)), e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. This is a modern concept with amazing contemporary Mexican design, super central only blocks away from Condesa, super nice hosts, Garden, Washing machine, free WIfi,super nice beds and linen. Starting at US$65.
- Holiday Inn Zocalo, Av Cinco De Mayo 61 Col Centro Colonia Centro Mexico City 06000. Modern three star hotel that has an amazing rooftop balcony restaurant overlooking Zocalo Square. The rooms are small but comfortable, well furnished although the internet access in the lobby can be inconsistent. $102.
- Hotel Majestic, Av Madero 73, Centro Histórico, Mexico City 06000. While boasting an impressive tezontle stone façade, this two star hotel is let down by small rooms and staff that seem ambivalent. However, it is an unbeatable location and the terrace restaurant gives stunning panoramic views of the Zócalo. Starting at US$86.
- NH Centro Histórico, Palma 42, Centro Histórico, Mexico City 06000, ☎ . The NH Centro Histórico is in the heart of the city of Mexico, only a few steps away from the historic 'Plaza de la Constitución' better known as “Zócalo”, and the magnificent historical 'Metropolitan Cathedral', the 'National Library' and 'Mexico City Museum'. The NH Centro Histórico offers the ideal starting point to visit the most important symbolic buildings and monuments. There are 2 other NH Hotels in Mexico City. Starting at US$83.
- Meliã México Reforma, Paseo de la Reforma, 1, ☎ (52) 555 1285000, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Meliã México Reforma is on the recently renovated Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, near the financial, cultural and historic districts of Mexico City. Starting at US$152.
- Camino Real Aeropuerto, Puerto México 80, Col. Peñón de los Baños (Connected to Int'l Airport (MEX) Terminal 1), ☎ . Though a fairly standard hotel as far as rooms and facilities go, its ideal feature is a walkway directly connecting it to Terminal 1 of Mexico City-Benito Juárez International Airport. Check-out is usually quick, and you can be in the terminal in less than one minute. For travellers flying in/out of Terminal 2, the "Tren Aéreo" (Air Train) that connects T1 to T2 is steps away. Restaurant and bar, plus 24-hour room service. Rooms are clean and comfortable, though somewhat small. Wi-fi in lobby and wired Internet access in the rooms (for a fee). Starting at US$107.
- Four Seasons Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma 500 Colonia Juárez Mexico City 06600. Historic setting, built in a square around a large open-air courtyard containing restful tropical gardens with a fountain, sculptures, a cafe, and a restaurant. All rooms are fitted and finished to a high standard and great service from the staff, especially the concierge. Starting at US$293.
- JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City, Andres Bello 29 Mexico City 11560 Mexico. Situated in the trendy Polanco district, with great shopping and restaurants within walking distance, the JW Marriott delivers all expectations. The rooms are luxurious and comfortable, with exceptional detailing, and the staff goes out of their way to ensure that every request is catered to. Starting at US$229.
- Nikko Hotel, Campos Eliseos 204 Col. Polanco Mexico City 11560. Hosts some of the best Japanese restaurants in town and some art galleries worth visiting. Perfect location for restaurants and major museums. Starting at US$195.
- Presidente Intercontinental Mexico City, Campos Eliseos 218 Mexico City, Distrito Federal 11560 Mexico. It's hard to miss this hotel which towers 42 stories high in a sleek, ultra modern design. All rooms featuring a view of the city or Chapultepec Park and feature a daily maid service, air conditioning, kitchenettes and cable television. The hotel itself has a car rental desk, health club and business center. Starting at US$249.
- W Hotel Mexico City, Campos Eliseos 252 Mexico City 11560. The W Hotel displays its signature sexiness in Mexico city, with sleek designs, cherry red walls in the rooms and the traditional all white beds. Great for young professionals, families and mature customers may not appreciate the thumping techno music that accompanies them throughout the hotel. Starting at US$309.
- The St. Regis Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma 439 Mexico City 06500. The St. Regis Mexico City is ensconced in the sleek, 31-story Torre Libertad. It overlooks the Paseo de la Reforma in the heart of one of the city's most exciting zones. Starting at US$394.
- Hotel Camino Real Polanco México, Mariano Escobedo 700 Mexico City 11590. Strategically located in the exclusive financial and commercial zone of Polanco close to sites of interest such as: El Bosque de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Park), the Museum of Anthropology and History and the Rufino Tamayo Museum. Starting at US$230.
- Hotel Habita, Presidente Masaryk 201 Mexico City 11560. Habita is Mexico City's most comtemporary luxury hotel. Uniquely located in the upscale area of Polanco, the hotel appears as a floating glass box. Inside, serene and elegant spaces combine modern design with personalized service. Starting at US$245.
- CONDESA df, Veracruz 102 Mexico City 06700. This design hotel is the star in the Condesa neighborhood. Artsy, cool, stylish and fun, CONDESA df truly exemplifies its neighborhood — fashionable and trendy, yet respectful and traditional. Starting at US$200.
To stay in contact while traveling in México City.
If someone is calling you the country code is +52 then the area code is 55 then the 8 digit phone number. If you want to make a long distance call out of Mexico, you should dial the prefix 01 for national calls followed by 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 Télcel 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 from inside the city, but the roaming charges can easily build up if you travel to other cities. People calling you from long distance will need to dial in this format: +52 (55) plus 8 or 7 digit phone number. Mexico city, Guadalajara and Monterrey have 8 digit numbers, and 2 digit area codes. The rest of the country has 7 digit numbers and 3 digit area codes.
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, and thus requires to dial the 044 prefix before the 10 digit number composed of the area code and the mobile number to be dialed: land or mobile to Mexico City registered mobile would be 044 55 12345678. If you are calling to a mobile with a different area code, i.e. Acapulco area code 744 then you use the prefix 045, then the three digit area code, the seven digit mobile i.e. 045 744 1234567. This might seem confusing at first but you get easily accustomed to it.
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.
There are four main cell phone operators in Mexico.
- Telcel The largest coverage in Mexico, now using 3.5G, 3G and GSM (HSPA+, HSDPA & EDGE) Will Have 4G (LTE) by 2012
- 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)
Mexico City has amazing access to the internet considering the availability in the rest of Latin America. There are several internet cafes throughout the city, many of them in Zona Rosa. 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.
Hot spots for wi fi connection to the internet are available in several places around the city, particularly in malls, coffee stores and restaurants. Most (if not all) of them are operated by the Mexican phone company Telmex through their Internet division Prodigy Movil. 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.
Unfortunately there are no full-time English spoken radio stations in Mexico, however these are a few options to listen:
- Imagen 90.5 FM Features a twice-a-day English news program at 5:30AM and 11PM with a summary of the most important news around the globe.
- Ibero 90.9 FM University radio station that plays mainly indie-rock but also has cultural programs.
- Alfa 91.3 FM Broadcasts English language hit pop music.
- Beat 100.9 FM Electronic music station.
- Mix 106.5 FM Hits in English from the 80s, 90s, and nowadays pop/rock music.
- Universal 92.1 FM Old hits in English (70s, 80s).
With the exception of "The News", you won't find newspapers in English or other foreign languages in regular newsstands, however, you can find many at any Sanborns store. Many U.S. newspapers have subscriptions available in Mexico, including the Wall Street Journal, Today, the New York Times and the Miami Herald.
Some of the most read local newspapers include:
- The News English-language daily published in Mexico City.
- El Universal The online version includes a good English section.
- La Jornada Renowned as politically left oriented.
Travel in Mexico City is generally safe. Areas around the historic center 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 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.
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 communicate an emergency through these mediums. The free service is called Taxiaviso
Protect your personal information. There are pickpockets in Mexico City. Purses and bulky, full pockets are quite attractive. Do not keep your passports, money, identification, and other important items hanging out for someone to steal. Place items in a hotel safe, or tuck them away inside your clothes. 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.
Do not leave anything of value inside your car, always use the trunk, even things that could be considered to hold something of value (for example, an empty gift box) will attract unwanted attention to your car and might prompt a broken window.
Plan ahead, and know where you are going and how you will arrive. Mexico City is quite hospitable, and people who work for hotels and other hospitality-oriented businesses will help. This will help in avoiding confusion, becoming lost or stranded. Also, you can ask a local for advice to get somewhere, though you should speak good 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.
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 usually an officer will at least go through the formality of assessing a fine). The historic center and other major sites often have specially trained tourist police that 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.
In case of emergency
Dial 066, the number for all emergencies, (fire, police and medical).
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 any large city, 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. Also, if someone of importance (such as a police officer) approaches you, 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. Sometimes potholes, fissures, and large-yet-unanticipated 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 avised 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, especially in the colonias, maneuvering in the narrow streets and alleys can be tricky. Often a paved road turns to cobblestone (in high-end neighborhoods) or dirt (if this happens, you've gone way off the tourist areas). Also, some colonia streets are blocked off behind gates.
If you are driving through 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 have the right of way on their assigned lane, since they cannot switch lanes as easily.
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 prohibited—doing so can get you in trouble with the police. Drunk driving is also strictly prohibited and strongly punished, though it seems highly common in any case. The police have incorporated random alcohol tests on streets near bars and clubs, and if you test positive, you could be arrested and spend 36 hours in jail. The system is very efficient, and you will sometimes see a stopped car or truck with a policeman interrogating the occupants.
Smoking inside public and private buildings is strictly prohibited by law. Restaurants used to have smoking and non-smoking sections, but recent laws have banned smoking in any public enclosed space. 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. Smoking light drugs, such as marijuana, is prohibited and offenders could be imprisoned if found in possession of more than one personal dose.
Mexico City is home to a large number of embassies.
- Canada, Schiller 529, Col. Bosque de Chapultepec (Polanco)Del. Miguel Hidalgo, ☎ , fax: +52 55 5724 7980, e-mail: email@example.com.
- China, Av. Río de la Magdalena 172, Colonia Tizapán – San Ángel, Delegación Álvaro Obregón, ☎ , e-mail: , , Consularchinaenmexico88@yahoo.com. M-F 9AM-1PM, phone service 4PM-7PM.
- Finland, Monte Pelvoux 111, 4. piso, Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec, Delegación Miguel Hidalgo, 11000 México D.F., ☎ , fax: +52-55-5540 0114, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 9AM-1PM.
- Greece, Sierra Gorda 505, Lomas de Chapultepec, ☎ , , (Emergencies)fax: +52 55 5202 8753, e-mail: email@example.com.
- Iran, Paseo De La Reforma 2350 Col. Lomas Altas, ☎ , fax: +52-5-251 0731. Might be worth visiting, the Iranian Embassy and the extension of the US Embassy are neighbors in Mexico City.
- Japan, Paseo de la Reforma No.395 Col. Cuauhtémoc, ☎ , fax: +52 55 5207 7743.
- United States, Paseo de la Reforma 305 Col. Cuauhtemoc, ☎ , fax: +52 55 5080 2005.
- Oaxtepec— Oaxtepec is a short distance away from Mexico City and is a great place to get out of the hectic city and do some swimming. The climate is constantly warm and sunny and there is a very affordable and very fun waterpark (only half is open on weekdays...on the weekends the rest of the park is open). There are plenty of lodging options and most include access to a club house with a sauna and an olympic pool and diving pool. A bus leaves every 10 minutes from the Taxqueña bus station and costs 81 pesos through OCC.
- Cuernavaca— Cuernavaca is the capital city of the state of Morelos. Its only 45 minutes away from Mexico City and is known world-wide as "The City of Eternal Spring" due to its excellent temperate climate with an annual average of 20°C.
- Taxco— Famous for its beautiful colonial architecture and narrow cobbled streets.
- Teotihuacan— The ancient city of giant pre-Columbian pyramids.
- Puebla— UNESCO world heritage place for its colonial architecture and site of the battle with the French army in the mid-1800s. The city is known throughout Mexico for its cuisine; it’s worthwhile to take a one day trip from Mexico City to do some sight-seeing and sample some of the food. Many good restaurants are conveniently located near the main square.
- Valle de Bravo— A beautiful town next to a lake and in the middle of the forest, great place for all kinds of sports (e.g. mountain biking, sailing, water skiing and paragliding). Consider driving up Nevado de Toluca and into the crater that holds a lake. Nevado de Toluca is a dormant volcano on your way to Valle de Bravo. Also, late winter/early spring is the best time to see the monarch butterflies on your way to VdB.
- Pachuca "The Beautiful Windy"— A cozy little miners city.
- Desert of the Lions National Park— 20 minutes away from the city you can find yourself surrounded by trees in the middle of the forest. Take a hike from "La Venta" to "El Convento" or up to "Cruz Blanca" and eat some great quesadillas for lunch, you can't miss them since it the only structure on "Cruz Blanca". If you can find a mountain bike, it's one of the best places to ride.
- Tepoztlan— A cool new age city south of Mexico City which has an interesting pyramid on top of a mountain. The journey up to see the pyramid takes approximately an hour and is well worth it once you see the view on top. Tepoztlan is also known for its frequent UFO activity. Believe it or not if you want, but a large percentage of the town residents claim to have seen the "ovni."
- Bernal— About a 2.5 hour drive outside of Mexico City (north towards Querétaro), has the famous La Peña de Bernal. Popular on summer soltice. Very small town but lively.
|Routes through Mexico City|
|Toluca ← Ocoyoacac ←||W E||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Tres Marias → Cuernavaca|