Big, lively and full of life: the capital of Mexico is an exciting and delicious place to visit.
Here is how to explore it without breaking the bank.
There are plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation in Mexico City and budget options abound. You can find places in hostels from about USD10 , and affordable guesthouses and hotels from around USD30. Most budget hotels and hostels will be located in the “centro histórico”, the Historical Center, around the Zocalo square. You might also find some hostels in the trendy Roma and Condesa areas. Upscale and international hotels will be mainly in neighborhoods like Polanco and Zona Rosa.
With it’s almost 22 million people, Mexico City is a mega city, and its public transport system is equally vast. The Metro, named Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, is probably the quickest and definitely the cheapest way to get around the city (a ticket anywhere in metro system costs around USD0.35). Although, being one of the largest and most used metro systems in the world, it will often be very cramped and somewhat uncomfortable.
Buses are another budget transport option with tickets starting at around USD0.15, but the routes can be complicated to figure out, and the best way to avoid getting lost is always asking the driver if the bus is going to your destination. There are two types of buses. The City government buses (RTP buses) and the privately run buses, called “Peseros”.
Finally, you can always use BICI, Mexico City’s bicycle sharing scheme. Covering more than 21km, with 276 docking stations and 4000 bicycles, it is a great way of getting around, particularly in the city center. Tourists can get a day pass for 90 Pesos, a 3 day pass for 180 pesos and a 7 day card for 300 pesos (6.5, 13, and 22 USD respectively). It is free to ride the bicycle for the first 45 minutes, but charges apply after this time limit.
The website Busca Tu Ruta (“Find Your Way”) is a great tool to use if you need to know how to get around the city.
Street food in Mexico City ticks all the boxes: ubiquitous, delicious and safe to eat, even when it comes to meat dishes.
Vegetarians might have difficulty in finding good meat-free options – quesadillas are a good bet. And so are the delicious and affordable fruits (often cut to eat on the go) and fresh juices.
There is a multitude of options, from tacos, quesadillas, tamales, and gorditas, to the different types of Pozole, a pre-colombian Mexican stew. So even if your pockets aren’t lined with pesos, you will still find places to fill your stomach. And if you are concerned about hygiene, just follow the travelers’ rule of thumb and eat where the local crowds are eating.
If you are searching for a local alcoholic treat, then look for a Pulqueria. In these establishments you can find Pulque, a traditional drink made from the fermented juice of the maguey (agave) cactus. Refreshing and affordable, this drink is nowadays more popular in its “curado” version, which is infused with fresh juices of strawberry, guava, mango, almond, or celery.
There is plenty to do in Mexico City without having to splurge: you can stroll around the massive Chapultepec Park, one of the largest city parks in the world, open daylight hours, everyday except Monday, or admire the impressive murals by artist Diego Rivera at the Palacio Nacional, or even explore the Soumaya Museum, whose collection holds over 66,000 pieces of art, all without spending a single peso.
Alternatively, you can wander through the many markets of Mexico City. The historic Mercado de la Merced, the foodie heaven of Mercado de San Juan, or Lagunilla, the paradise of antiques enthusiasts, are but a few of the many markets that you can find throughout the city.
With innumerable budget options when it comes to accommodation and food, a good transport system, and plenty to entertain you, there is no reason not to explore Mexico City and enjoy this vibrant and exciting metropolis.
This article is part of the #HipmunkCityLove series.