Mexico City Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- You're high in the sky The city is more than 7,000 feet above sea level, so you can expect a tougher time breathing, and maybe sleeping, for the first few days. Try not to exert yourself in the thin air and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Also drink plenty of water.
- And speaking of water You've probably heard it before, but let us reiterate, you should never drink from the tap in Mexico. Most hotels have lots of bottled water on hand.
- You're not at the beach Many people associate Mexico with the balmy temperatures of the coast -- but Mexico City has a temperate climate. Pack some long sleeves and anticipate chilly evenings, even in summer.
Mexico's capital is one of the liveliest and largest cities in the world, with a renowned arts-and-culture scene (an entire district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and some of the best cuisine in the Western Hemisphere. Even better, Mexico City is affordable -- and safer than you might expect. Sprawling across 59 municipalities, el Ciudad de México promises its visitors an unforgettable -- and exhausting -- stay, perfect for the frugal, culture-loving traveler who feels at home in a large, crowded place. If you want the full experience, some say you should spend at least a week in the Federal District, so that you'll see most of the historic and popular sites. Even after a week, you'll find plenty more to explore. In short, it's best to plan extensively before diving in.
Founded in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, the city was colonized by the Spanish in 1521 and later dubbed "Mexico." Its pre-colonial history is alive throughout much of the modern-day capital; there are many opportunities to study the rich and conflicted past. But it's also one of the most populous cities in the world; and although it does grapple with common urban problems like crime and violence, many neighborhoods -- including Condesa and Polanco -- are as safe as any city in the United States or Europe.
How To Save Money in Mexico City
- Take public transportation We really can't stress enough that driving would be a mistake. Plus, riding the bus or the metro costs less than $1 USD.
- Stay in the city center Also known as the Centro Histórico, this part of town is really close to the key sites (so you'll spend even less on transportation), and it has the lowest hotel rates.
- Try comida corrida Or the three- or four-course lunches that many restaurants serve at a fixed price.
Mexico City Culture & Customs
Spanish is the official language of Mexico and is universally spoken in Mexico City and throughout the country. But Mexico has a still-vibrant indigenous tradition, and more than 100 Native American languages remain alive in the country. One of the most popular indigenous languages in Mexico is Nahuatl, which is spoken by about 1.5 million people in Mexico.
Typically in Mexico, women greet each other with a pat on the arm or shoulder, while men shake hands. Late arrivals are customary -- and even considered polite -- at most gatherings.
Mexico City Dining
Mexico City boasts some of the richest cuisine in the Western Hemisphere, with dishes inspired from indigenous recipes, colonial Spanish imports, and North American as well as northern European flavors. One of the best neighborhoods for dining is Condesa, which offers both popular restaurants and booming nightlife.