We just got back from an amazing trip to the capital of Mexico; Mexico City. We took my dad on a surprise trip for his 60th birthday. My parents were born and raised in Chihuahua Mexico and had never paid the capital a visit so we wanted to make sure we shared that experience with them. Mexico City is BEAUTIFUL and we highly recommend it if you are seeking historic sights, delicious food, drinks and lots of culture!
Below we share our itinerary with you along with helpful tips to ensure you have a safe trip to “El D.F”. Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram if our guides are helpful. We spend a lot of time putting our guides together, all that we ask if that you let us know when you use them.
A very special thank you to our friends Norma, Guillermo and Memo for showing us around their beautiful hometown and helping us make this trip extra special! // Muchas gracias a nuestros amigos Norma, Guillermo y Memo por enseñarnos su bella ciudad y por ayudarnos hacer este viaje super especial.
Time of the year we visited: Early October, 2018
Airlines Flown: Interjet. Average costs for flights out of LAX and out of JFK: $250 R/T. The seats are pretty spacious. There is no WiFi on board or personal entertainment as they have shared screens above your seat. They had very basic sandwhiches on board so we highly suggest bringing your own food. They do offer snacks and free beverages (including alcohol).
To visit Mexico, U.S residents must have a valid U.S passport with at least one blank page. If you are visiting for more than 180 days you will need a tourist visa, otherwise a visa isn’t required. For more information on entry requirements click HERE. It is a quick trip from the West Coast and a pretty easy flight from the East coast.
Upon landing, you can arrange ahead of time, for a shuttle to take you to your hotel from the airport, through websites such as Viator (for your first time booking on Viator get $10 off with this link.) Make sure you look for the company you set up transportation with. When you exit the airport you will see a bar, grab a drink while you wait but beware of airport prices!
Weather During our Trip: Beautiful sunny weather averaging 75 degrees during the day with a nice cool breeze. We did experience occasional rain in the afternoons for about an hour.
Must Bring Items: a light jacket, comfortable shoes, a portable battery pack and sun screen!
-If you need a good portable battery pack option you can find one here.
-We suggest this face moisturizer with SPF, it is a fave!
-If you are looking for theft proof bags/backpacks we have these 3 great options here, here and here!
We typically always travel with just a carry-on bag and this trip was no different. Susi uses Away’s “Bigger Carry-on” while Gaby uses the “Regular Carry-on”. They are both approved to travel in the overhead bin of most, if not all, airplanes. We have not had an issue on any airline yet. To get $20 off your first order, click here and create an account.
Tip: Mobile Passport Control is a great app to use when entering back into the U.S and going through customs. It will save you time. There’s no need to fill out the blue customs form anymore when going through participating airports. If you DON’t have Global Entry, we highly recommend downloading it. Thank us later.
Where to Stay
For this trip we rented this Airbnb Apartment located in La Reforma by the Momumento a La Revolucion. The apartment has 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms along with basic amenities. The building has a pool, jacuzzi and offers beautiful views of the city. It also has 24/7 security on site so it feels very safe. If you are new to Airbnb use this referral link to get up to $40 off your first booking.
Let’s Talk Money
When you get to Mexico City exchange your U.S dollars into Mexican Pesos in one of the local exchange houses. There are plenty of options all varying in price. The peso at the start of our visit was at 19 for every $1 USD and by the end of our visit it had dropped to 18.90. Always know what the peso is valued at when you travel and try to get as close to that as possible. Remember the XE APP helps you keep track of ongoing rates and helps you with the math in trying to figure out how much something in pesos translates into USD. You can also exchange money ahead of time through your bank (i know Chase and Bank of America both offer this service). Be sure to check their rate, if it is too low don’t do it through them.
DON’T exchange your money at the U.S airports since they under pay you! The Mexico City airport is so big, they have tons of exchange booths so walk around and see if you can spot one that pays better than the rest. For example, if the peso is at 18.50-18.90 and you come across a booth that has it at 17.90 do it there, the difference isn’t huge so you aren’t losing much. However, if they are paying it at 17.15, for example, avoid that booth.
Can you use USD in Mexico City?
Some places in the center accept U.S dollars but i highly advise you from using dollars. Not only will you stand out as a foreigner but places can take the dollar at the rate that they wish so you might end up getting 16 pesos per USD or lower!
What about Credit Cards?
Some places in the center do accept credit cards but not every place does so do not rely on just cards. Also make sure the cards you plan to use do not charge you a foreign transaction fee.
Another good option would be to withdrawal cash at one of the ATMs upon landing or once you are in town. Doing this will convert the money at the current rate, just make sure you are aware of the fee your bank will charge you. For example, Bank of America charges at $5 usage fee for each withdrawal as well as the ATM operator access fee. However, Scotia bank in Mexico, is part of their International partners so you can use their ATM and avoid the $5 usage fee and just pay the 3% international transaction fee of 3% of the converted US dollar amount.
Uber works in Mexico City and it’s pretty inexpensive. The times we used Uber our rides were between $4-$8. You can also ride the metro around town for approximately 26 cents. The bus around town is also an option, we did not get on it as most of the buses were jammed packed. It is not uncommon to see buses with the doors open, with people hanging from the side. If you want to rent a car just keep in mind driving around Mexico can be pretty hectic and confusing, even if you are from a big city like New York. We suggest you avoid renting a car during your first visit. However, you are the boss apple sauce, so if you decide to rent a car make sure you get an international drivers license before you travel.
*City Taxis are also an option (they are pink and white). However, we recommend you go with one of the previously mentioned options as they are much safer.
Tip: keep your windows up while in the car
What To Do
Tip: Do not wear flashy jewelry such as watches and big chains. Keep your purse/wallets in front you of (men avoid your back pockets). Also don’t walk around with your phones loosely in your hands. Walk with confidence like you belong there. These are all just precautionary tips. If someone asks if you’d like something firmly say “no thank you” and keep on moving.You might experience people come up to you with different stories that might seem really sad, but again, just keep moving and avoid giving them money.
P.S Mexico City has over 150 museums! Make sure you visit those that interest you if museums are your thing.
•Masaryk (the most expensive zone in Latino America with high end shops. You will see a clear division of wealth in these areas, especially when you turn the corner and the streets and buildings go back to not being well care for by the government)
•Monumento a la Revolución (pictured at the start of our article)
•The Chapultepec Park (the largest park in Mexico and America. Yup, it is larger than Central Park)
(picture via tripsavvy)
•Santa Fe (area where the richer population in Mexico City lives.)
•Pirámide del Sol (in Teotihuacan. Opened from 8am-5pm. Price approx $4) We visited at 10am on a Friday and did not experience large crowds or lines. We traveled here with our local friends but you can look into a group tour/transportation via Expedia or Viator (link gives first time users $10 off)
Tip: when climbing the pyramids, go up sideways to make it easier on your knees.
•Museo De Frida Kahlo “The Blue House” (approximately $14 for foreigners to gain access, buy your tickets ONLINE and in advance to avoid the longer lines the day of. Once there, you will have to pay $1.50 to be able to take pictures inside, no videos allowed)
•Floating Gardens of Xochimilco (we suggest coming here before 4pm as it is always safer to arrive earlier. If you drive in and show up later you will also have to pay for parking. For a 1.5hr ride along the canals we paid roughly $40 total. The Trajineras can fit multiple people. You can rent your own like we did, or share with others. You can also bring your own food and drinks on board or purchase some before getting on. We suggest you bring a portable speaker!)
•Los Pinos (where the president lives. They surprisingly let you get up to the gate)
•Acuario Inbursa (the largest in Mexico)
•El Zoologico de Chapultepec (You need at least half a day here. 1 full day is recommended because it is so big. We didn’t get to visit)
Where To Eat/Drink
Mexico City is filled with delicious food options ranging from high-end restaurants to little street carts. Try a little bit of everything! Below we share some of the options we tried this time around.
By the way, we tried “Escamoles” which are the eggs of black ants and are considered the “Mexican caviar”. You would never know what they are unless someone told you, they are tasty (similar in taste to really soft corn in our opinion). Try them!
•Niuyorkina (a small bar that plays music, a good place to checkout for drinks)
•Chillakillers for Breakfast or lunch. A MUST for Chilaquiles lovers.
•El Pescadito for seafood tacos. Their shrimp tacos are delicious!
•Pata Negra (a night time bar with music to checkout)
•Contramar is a favorite! They have really good seafood options.
•Comedor Jacinta- their food & Mezcal drinks are a must for us
•Entremar (for their pulpo tostadas)
•La clandestina- one of our fave cocktail bars
•Licoreria Limantour- Another great cocktail bar
•Bellini (holds a guinness world records as the largest rotating restaurant on the 45th floor of Mexico’s World Trade Center). We came here for a late night dinner, the food was good but not extraordinary. I expected more. It is definitely on the more expensive side. We recommend coming here for appetizers or drinks to catch a great view of the city only.
•Churrería de Coyoacan- if you like Churros, you need to come here!
•Churrería El Moro (another must try if you like churros!)
•La cabaña (restaurant by the pyramids. Try the Pulque: an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant. Many places have flavored versions of the drink ). The taste reminded me of Kombucha.
•El Turix (Yucatan style tacos)
•La cervecería (another good local place for drinks)