Ciudad de México (CDMX) is one of the world’s largest cities with around 9 million inhabitants in the centre and around 20 million in the metropolitan region. Here you can find my top Mexico City tips to make your stay in CDMX as pleasant as possible. Like every big city, this megacity has its own rules, laws and stumbling blocks. With a little planning, you can have a really good time in Mexico’s capital.
11 Mexico City Tips for everyday life
My tips for Mexico City include advice on behavior, transportation and everyday life. So they give you an insight into the complex world of CDMX and help you have a good time in the megacity.
Have a drink, gum or the like with you
Air pollution is quite high, especially on weekdays around core working hours. This becomes quickly noticeable in form of a dry throat. You can prevent this by having something to drink, sweets or chewing gum with you at all times. Of course you can also buy such things at the numerous small stands all over the city. You will need it!
Look at the floor
This is no joke! Look at the ground as you walk through the streets. Because there are many holes, bumps or stones on the sidewalks, which you can stumble over at any time. This is mainly due to earthquake activity in Mexico, the partly improvised streets and the omnipresent chaos. I personally consider this a very simple and at the same time one of the most important Mexico City tips.
Do not cross the road when the traffic light is red
What in Germany or Europe will only be punished with a small fine, can end much more drastically in Mexico City. Because here a very fast car, bus or motorcycle can “fly” around the corner at any time and knock you down. Even if the inhabitants of the city regularly cross the street at red traffic lights, even with their children, you should not do that. Running will not help you either, if a car, truck or motorbike knocks you down.
Try a Taco al Pastor
The Taco al Pastor in CDMX is said to be the best in the country. The preparation is reminiscent of a turkish kebab. But it is pork marinated in chili, often served with pineapple, onions and coriander. There is also always a selection of salsas to go with the tacos. But be careful with the salsas: even if they look harmless, they are usually very spicy 😉
Avoid isolated parks and squares
Although there is a lot to see and experience in CDMX, you should avoid lonely places and parks – especially when it is dark. Because even in the best neighborhood, someone with a keen interest in your valuables can appear out of nowhere. I’m not a fan of scare tactics, but especially in Mexico City, it is better to be safe than sorry!
Have change in your pocket
This Mexico City tip is somehow related to the previous one. Because often beggars or sellers of sweets or other goods appear out of nowhere. Some of these people are quite pushy, so you can get rid of them quickly with some change.
If you have a few pesos in your pocket, you can quickly buy a piece of candy or chewing gum without taking out your wallet. Always be polite, but assertive. I don’t think I need to mention at this point that you should take good care of your wallet in general – A belly bag* or shoulder bag* is highly recommended!
Don’t plan too much in one day
Even though many places on Google Maps may seem close: CDMX is huge, unpredictable and often you move more slowly than you plan or are used to. It can happen that roads are closed due to an accident or the like, or detours cause more traffic. If there is one thing you learn in Mexico, it is patience.
The routes in the Mexican capital are sometimes very long and therefore you should not do too much in one day. In addition, the high air pollution in the center and the high altitude (about 1800m above sea level) makes everything a bit more exhausting than you are used to at home.
Are you more of a village person? You might want to check out the magical silver village Taxco
Use Uber, instead of taxis
Uber is a good, safe and, compared to Europe, cheap way to move around in CDMX. Because the drivers are carefully checked and have to submit many documents before they are allowed to drive for Uber in Mexico. Furthermore, you already know how expensive the trip will be before booking it. This is not the case with taxis. Like everywhere else, Mexican taxi drivers are interested in maximizing their profits…
Also, Uber drivers are a good source for Mexico City tips, especially regarding local restaurants in the neighborhood or less touristy places of interest. Many of them also speak English and have some funny stories to tell.
Tip: I give you 21 Pesos discount on your first 3 rides with Uber.
Just use the code “i9nglc” when you register here. Have a good trip!
PS: Yes, I will also get a little discount on my next trips as well – so we both get something out of it & you motivate me to share more Mexico City tips like special places or exciting events 🙂
Move in Metrobús
The Metrobús is a long bus that has its own lane, similar to a metro or train. It runs very regularly, every day and is comfortable. It is also monitored by camera and the front section is reserved for women, the elderly and people with disabilities. However, you need a chip card with credit to use it. This costs 20 pesos and a one-way drive costs around 6 pesos.
You should definitely avoid the Metro (subway). It is full of strange people, usually very crowded and considered relatively unsafe. I have used it myself 2-3 times and I can tell you that you really don’t feel comfortable there.
Move at quiet times
CDMX is a mega-metropolis and accordingly thousands of people move around the city every day. Crowded buses, trains, sidewalks and streets are part of the cityscape. Move early in the morning (before 7am), in the morning between 10am and 12am or after 8pm on weekdays. Because at these times the city, the Metrobús, the buses and also the streets are not as crowded as during core working hours.
Also on weekends the city center is emptier, because many Mexicans are then in the countless shopping malls or at home. But on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturday evenings between 15-18 o’clock you should already be where you want to go. If you’ve ever driven across town on a Friday afternoon in a Metrobús like a sardine in a can, you will definitely take this Mexico city tip to heart.
Use sunscreen (even when it’s cloudy)
Since the UV radiation in Mexico City is very high, you should not do without sun protection even on cloudy days. Personally, I have already burned my neck on very cloudy days and therefore would like to give this non-intuitive advice to you 😉 If you have light skin like me, you should definitely use sunscreen with factor 50*!
PS: If you liked my Mexico City tips, you will love my Cancun travel tips.