Mexico City Travel Guide

Mexico is always a good idea!

Where is Mexico City?

Mexico City is located in Central Mexico — in (about) the dead center of the country!

What state is Mexico City in?

Mexico City is actually its own state — one of the 32 states in Mexico. However, this was a somewhat recent change, and before it became its own state, it was a part of Estado de Mexico (Mexico State).

Mexico City map

Best neighborhoods in Mexico City:

parque mexico in la condesa | mexico city travel guide

Roma & Condesa

From beautiful architecture, pretty parks, walkability, cute cafes, street art, street tacos, and a chill vibe, Roma and Condesa are two of the best Mexico City neighborhoods. These sister neighborhoods are located next to one another. 

Colonia Roma (Rome Colony) consists of Roma Norte (North Rome) and Roma Sur (South Rome); many prefer Roma Norte, though both are nice. You’ll sometimes see Condesa referred to by its technical name, La Condesa.

golden angel statue on reforma avenue | mexico city travel guide, angel de la independancia

Polanco & Reforma

While Roma and Condesa have a hip feel, Polanco and Reforma are all about luxury. In fact, Polanco is known as the most posh area in Mexico City, and its main street, Avenida Presidente Masaryk, is called the Rodeo Drive of Mexico City.

Reforma is the name of one of Mexico’s main streets, Avenida Reforma, but also the neighborhood’s name. In Reforma, you’re right next to Chapultepec Park, and surrounded by skyscrapers, upscale hotels, cool street art and more.

Best things to do in Mexico City:

Besides all the mouth-watering Mexico City tacos 🌮 you’re going to want to devour, there are also a good amount of Mexico City day trips just outside of the city to see the beautiful nature, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, colorful colonial cities, pueblos magicos (magic towns), and much more. Discover some of the Mexico City highlights below ⤵

Best Mexico City Tours:

Mexico City Travel Blogs

Mexico City Travel FAQ

Is Mexico City safe for tourists?

Despite its reputation, experts say travelers are statistically safe while visiting Mexico, including Mexico City. However, keep in mind that this is a very big city — and as with all big cities, it has good and bad areas. If you stick to these best neighborhoods in Mexico City (listed above ⤴), and avoid ones like Tepito and Doctores, you should be very safe in Mexico City.

As with traveling anywhere, you’ll need to follow general travel safety measures, like not walking home alone at night and staying aware of yourself and surroundings. For an added safety measure, pack these travel safety items, dress in a way so your Mexico outfits blend in with the locals, and buy a Mexico SIM card.

How many days do I need in Mexico City?

Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world — and the largest city in both Mexico, and all of North America. Realistically, you could spend a whole year there, and never run out of incredible things to do in Mexico City!

As with all big cities, you’ll want to have a great itinerary in place to make the most of your trip. This 4 Day Mexico City Itinerary takes you neighborhood by neighborhood, so you don’t miss any of the best things to see in Mexico City.

The best time for Mexico City travel is during the dry season, from about October to March.

Weather-wise, Mexico City has what is known as the Eternal Spring climate, meaning it’s never super hot or super cold — so you really can visit year-round. However, during the Mexico City rainy season from about April to September, it will rain quite a bit.

✈️ additional mexico city travel dates

  • The prettiest time of year in CDMX is from (about) mid-February to the end of March, when the bright purple jacaranda trees are in bloom!
  • This also coincides with the Mexico butterfly migration at the Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, located in the nearby town of Valle de Bravo. From about November to March, millions (maybe even billions) of monarchs travel to Mexico from Canada.
  • The city hosts the annual Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade and festivities during the last week in October.

🧳 Download your FREE Mexico Packing Checklist!

Check out this ULTIMATE Packing List for Mexico — so you know what to pack and what NOT to pack for Mexico! This article offers advice on packing for Mexico City (and all cities), and packing for a Mexico beach vacation.

Beyond what Mexico outfits and clothing you’ll want to bring, here are a few extra things to consider:

• Filterable Water Bottle: Mexico is close to the Equator, so you’ll need to stay extra hydrated.

A filterable, refillable water bottle not only keeps you hydrated, but also filters your water so you don’t get sick in Mexico.

The LifeStraw Refillable Water Bottle and Britta Filtered Water Bottle are both great options.

• Mexico SIM Card: Want to be able to use your phone in Mexico?! Of course you do! Pick up a TELCEL Mexico SIM card before your trip, and swap it out on the plane while you’re waiting to exit, so you have phone and data service the second you arrive in Mexico!

• Anti-Hangover Meds: Planning to party hardy?! Make sure you’re not wasting any of your precious travel time with a hangover. Liquid I.V. has about 70,000 reviews on Amazon, and is considered the best defense against a hangover.

• Sun Hat: No matter if you’re headed to the beach or a city, you’ll want to wear a hat to shield yourself from the strong Mexican sun. This cute sun hat is the perfect stylish and practical accessory for your Mexico vacation.

 Sunscreen: As you’ll want to reapply a few times throughout the day, a light, Mineral-Based Sunscreen is ideal.

You’ll want to fly into Mexico City International Airport (code: MEX), located about 45 minutes from Centro Historico (Historic Downtown Mexico City). From there, you can arrange for a private airport transfer, catch a taxi or Uber, or take the Metro, bus or other public transportation.

🚙💨 Note: If you’re planning to take Uber, make sure you have a Mexico SIM Card so you can call one. Trust me on this, the free Mexico City Airport WiFi is always spotty, so you’ll need data to call your Uber.

You’ll often see Mexico City abbreviated as CDMX, which stands for Ciudad de Mexico, or Mexico City en español.

You may also see it or hear it called “DF,” which is short for distrito federal, or federal district. Note: DF is pronounced day-effay, not dee-eff.

Mexico City DF is about the equivalent of the “DC” in Washington DC. However, Mexico City is both a state and a district in Mexico, unlike Washington, DC, which is only a U.S. district.

CDMX is the fifth largest city on Earth, and North America’s biggest (and coolest) city! From hip neighborhoods and Aztec history, to Xochimilco‘s colorful boats, the amazing Teotihuacan UNESCO World Heritage Site, and of course, delicious tacos, there’s nowhere on Earth quite like Mexico City DF.

📍 Best Mexico City Travel Sites

Chapultepec Park, Zocalo and Centro Historico, Teotihuacan Ruins, Mexico Anthropology Museum

📍 Mexico City Off the Beaten Path

Xochimilco Boat Cruise, Coyoacan, Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul), Lucha Libre Wrestling Match

🗣 Mexico Language

Mexico Fun Fact: There’s actually no official language of Mexico!

Spanish is the most widely-spoken, so some mistakenly say Spanish is the official language of Mexico. However, the government actually recognizes 68 national languages, including the Nahuatl Aztec language, and the Maya language.

💰 Mexico Currency

Mexican Peso — Exchange rates vary, but have hovered around $18-21 pesos to $1USD for about the last decade. You will find some places that take U.S. dollars, but usually at an unfavorable rate, so stick to using pesos in Mexico.

☀️ Mexico Weather

Mexico is a big country — the 7th largest on Earth, in fact! It’s hard to generalize the weather in Mexico, because it will vary greatly by where you’re traveling.

In general, temperatures are mostly mild everywhere all year long, though summers on the coast are hot and humid, and winters in Central and Northern Mexico are on the colder side. Throughout the whole country, the rainy season runs from (about) April through September.

✈️ Mexico Busy Season & Slow Season

• Mexico Busy Season: The busy season in Mexico runs October to March, as this is the dry season and you’ll get the best weather. December is the busiest month for tourism in Mexico.

Mexico Slow Season: If you don’t mind some rain, you’ll often find the best travel deal during the Mexico slow season of April to September. Do keep in mind that June 1-November 1 is Hurricane Season, and Mexico beaches are all susceptible.

Mexico Shoulder Season: The shoulder season is that magical time when prices are still low and the weather is good. The Mexico shoulder season is from about mid-October to November and January to early-April.

As this question doesn’t have a yes/no answer (I wish it did!), I do my best to answer it in depth in this article, Is Mexico Safe for Women: 20 Mexico Solo Travel Tips You Need. However, for the most part, Mexico is actually statistically quite safe for all travelers — including solo travelers!

On a personal note, I lived in Mexico City for about one year and felt quite safe. Now, this wasn’t magic; I made it a priority to stay safe by not walking home alone at night, never drinking too much, etc. Check out my Mexico City Solo Travel Guide for more info on Mexico travel safety for solo female travelers.

Mexico solo travel guides

Mexico is a big country, and it has plenty of amazing solo female travel destinations besides Mexico City — like the ones featured in this article, Mexico Solo Travel: 20 SAFE Destinations for Female Travelers. In it, you’ll get recommendations of places to visit in Mexico, from solo travelers who have actually been to them.

Check my Solo Female Mexico Travel page for more info.

🎧 solo travel podcasts

• Ep. 52 | Safe solo female travel in Mexico City
• Ep. 40 | Tips for safe solo travel in Mexico
• Ep. 34 | Planning your first Mexico solo trip
• Ep. 25 | Leigh talks traveling solo to Mexico City

While I consider Mexico City generally quite safe — I recommend it to solo female travelers, and I even lived there solo for about one year — I also recommend visitors avoid the Tepito and Doctores neighborhoods!

Tepito is considered one of the least safe parts of the city, and even locals don’t go there. Besides being unsafe, there’s nothing you’d want to see there that’s worth risking your safety for.

The Doctores neighborhood is where all the big Lucha Libre (masked Mexican wrestling) matches take place; but if you aren’t headed to Lucha, you should avoid Doctores.

I did go to a Lucha Libre match here once, and felt safe with my group of friends. However, this is a good place to go with a local or friends — especially if your Spanish isn’t so great.

🦹 Don’t know a local? No worries! Book one of these Lucha Libre group tours

· Luchas & Masks Trip – Mask, Tacos, Beer & More
· Lucha Libre/Street Taco Tour

Lucha Libre masked Mexican wrestler

No — U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico. For non-U.S. citizens, head here to see if you need a Mexico travel visa.

When you go through Immigration and enter the country, you’ll receive your Forma Migratoria Multiple, or FMM Tourist Card. If you’re coming by plane or cruise ship, there is no charge; for those driving across the border, the FMM costs about $30USD. In most circumstances, all visitors get a 180-day (six month) visa — so you can legally stay up to six months!

🚨 Have your FMM on you at all times

Keep in mind that though it’s called an FMM card, it’s actually just a small piece of paper. Keep your FMM on you at all times in your wallet, as this proves your legal status in Mexico. It’s rare, but if an officer stops you, they can ask to see your FMM.

🎫 Don’t lose your FMM!

Be sure to keep track of your FMM, as you’ll have to give it back to an Immigration officer at the airport, cruise port, or land crossing when you’re leaving the country.

If you lose your FMM, there is a $600 peso ($30USD) cost to replace it, and some paperwork you’ll need to fill out before you can leave the country. If you’re flying home, plan to arrive at the airport about one hour earlier than you normally would to do the paperwork and pay the fine.

To answer the question, Is it safe to drive in Mexico?YES, it’s considered safe to rent a car and drive in Mexico. As the country is quite large, road trips are a great way to see a lot in a little time, and especially popular in the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja California Peninsula.

The one caveat to Mexico driving safety is that you’ll be in a foreign country, unfamiliar with their laws and customs. Head here for a complete guide to Renting A Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know, where you’ll also get 10 useful Mexico driving tips!

🚙💨 Looking for the best Mexico car rental company? Discover Cars works with both local Mexican companies and international companies to get you the best rates. Not only do I recommend them — I also use them!

As a general rule, you’ll want to know at least a few words of Spanish when visiting anywhere in Mexico. This is both a sign of respect, and will also help you have a better, smoother trip.

If you stick to the more touristic places in Mexico, you should be fine with basic Spanish. For those planning to venture off the beaten path, be advised most people in pueblos (small towns) speak little to no English.

Here are some options:

  • Brush up on your Spanish: Use a language-learning program like Rocket Spanish, so you’re confident, and conversational, before your trip.
  • Download the Google Translate App: For this to work at all times, you’ll need a Mexico SIM card with data — as the app won’t work when you’re off-WiFi.
  • Travel with a Mexico phrasebook: This Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook is an Amazon best seller, and a great non-digital language assistant!
  • Save the infographic below as an image on your phone. This way, you have access to these common words, phrases and questions even when you’re off-WiFi.
List of useful spanish words and phrases