Ever since I started blogging about living in and traveling to Mexico City, I’ve been receiving lots of questions. I love talking about this city. I think the fact that there are over 50 posts about Mexico City alone on this blog speak to that.
I love answering people’s questions and helping people plan a trip or a move to this bustling, and admittedly overwhelming place.
I wanted to create this frequently asked questions post because I know, for all the people that email me, there are tons more of you who have questions, but don’t email me. I also wanted to create a list of answers to people’s questions so I could refer them to a comprehensive post where I’ve made sure I haven’t missed anything important (I almost always forget to mention something in emails!).
Frequently Asked Questions About Mexico City
What’s the Weather Like in Mexico City?
It depends heavily on what time of year you plan to visit. Summers are wet and rainy and winters are mild and sunny. My favorite time of year is early November when the rainy season has finally ended and the sun is back out. The temperatures hover around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 C) and there isn’t an ounce of humidity.
Rainy season starts around the end of June and can last until mid-October, but usually starts to lighten up around the end of September. I find these months to actually be the coldest because it can be cloudy all day and hover around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 C). There are still plenty of sunny days scattered throughout the rainy season and it usually only rains in the afternoons, but when it rains, it pours.
Spring is the hottest time of year in Mexico City. During April and May, the temperatures can reach up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C) and it’s relatively humid, although nothing like you’d feel in Cancun or Tulum. This is also when the pollution arrives in Mexico City. It sits like a grey cloud over the city isn’t great for seeing the mountains or getting views over the city.
How is the Wheelchair Access in Mexico City?
It’s hit or miss. Many of the buildings in the historic center are old and were never designed with handicap access in mind. Some places like the cathedral and the museums surrounding the area have makeshift ramps that have been installed. Older hotels often don’t have elevators, but big chains like the Hilton on Reforma, the Sheraton, or the Marriott Reforma are all handicap accessible and can offer tons of guidance about places around the city.
Another place that is not very wheelchair friendly is the metro. Some stations do have elevators, but there have been many times I’ve seen people in wheelchairs have to ask for assistance getting up and down the stairs in different stations. It’s best to stick to taxis and Uber to get around.
Where are the Best Places to Eat in Mexico City?
Everywhere! Okay, not entirely true, but there are literally so many places delicious to eat, it’ll be impossible to try them all.
If you want to go out for a fancy meal, book a table at Pujol (at least 2 months in advance). It’s a five star restaurant that has totally changed fine dining in Mexico City. It’s consistently ranked as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world and the degustation menu is a mere $80 per head, which is kind of a bargain if you compare to it similar restaurants in other major cities.
Other restaurants I love for Mexican food:
- Fonda Fina
- El Huequito
- El Cardinal
- Casa de Toño (several locations around the city)
- El Pescadito (several locations around the city)
Non-Mexican restaurants that I love:
- Nonsolo and Cancino for the pizza
- Burger Bar Joint, Buns, and Mataleon for burgers
- MIT for steak
- Mercado Roma for Mexican fusion foods
- Don Asado for Uruguayan barbecue
If you want to know where to drink craft beer, check out my post about the best craft beer bars in Mexico City here.
Are There Free Things to Do in Mexico City?
Mexico City is packed with free activities. There are so many museums and parks, galleries and colorful laneways that you can explore that cost you absolutely nothing. I’ve written extensively on the different things there are to see and do as a visitor to the city.
Can I Use US Dollars in Mexico City?
While I know the dollar is regularly accepted in places like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, almost no one in Mexico City will accept US dollars. If someone does accept dollars in the city, you’ll likely pay double or triple what you would if you paid in Pesos because they’ll give you such a bad exchange rate. The Peso is easy to get from any ATM in the city, or an exchange center or bank back home. Cash is king in most places still – especially markets, food stalls, and independent shops. Of course, you can pay with credit or debit card at almost every restaurant, chain shop, or hotel, but it’s important to have Pesos for day-to-day stuff.
Is Mexico City Safe?
I’m so surprised that people still ask me this question, but it’s one I receive almost daily. Mexico City is as safe as any other major city. You need to keep an eye on your stuff in case of pick-pockets and of course there are some neighborhoods you’ll want to avoid at night (Tepito comes to mind, but even that neighborhood is beginning to turn its reputation around), but as a tourist with your wits about you, you will be perfectly fine. It’s no more dangerous than London or New York or Paris. I never feel unsafe and I often travel around the city by myself.
Watch this video about Safety in Mexico City (and feel free to read some of the comments from past visitors)
What’s the Best Transportation to Use in Mexico City?
I use the metro most days when I’m trying to get around the city. It’s the quickest and the cheapest. It’s certainly not the cleanest, but I think the same thing every time I hop on the New York City subway and that’s 10 times more expensive. It only costs 5 Pesos and there are always women-only carriages if you’re traveling solo as a woman.
The second best option, in my opinion, is Uber. Uber is super easy to use in Mexico City and is often cheaper than taking a regular taxi. A trip from Roma to Condesa should only cost about 40 Pesos (about $2) and if you’re heading from Condesa into the Centro Historico, you’ll pay about 60 Pesos (roughly $3).
If you want to read more about all of the public transportation options in the city, read this post:
What are the Best Hotels in Mexico City?
There are SO many great places to stay in Mexico City. I often recommend that people check Airbnb first. These are my favorite Airbnb places in Mexico City. That being said, there are so many wonderful boutique hotels around the city that will make your stay even better. These are my favorites:
What are the Best Neighborhoods in Mexico City?
Mexico City is a city full of cities. Every neighborhood offers something completely different. Hipsters flock to Roma, while yuppies live in Condesa. The Upper East Side of Mexico City is in Polanco and the Centro Historico has all of the best museums and culture. Claveria is full of old people and great restaurants while Coyoacan is great for shopping and eating antojitos.
If you want to know what neighborhoods to stay in, these are the best neighborhoods in Mexico City in my opinion.
I recommend visiting, exploring, wandering, and figuring out which are your favorites.
What are the Best Markets in Mexico City?
Mexico City is all about the markets. Whether it’s a weekly Tianguis which is like a farmer’s market, or a covered market like San Juan or Mercado Merced, whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Mexico City.
These are my absolute favorite markets in Mexico City:
- La Lagunilla on a Sunday – It’s one of the biggest antique markets in the entire country.
- Merced – Head to Mercado Merced to buy kitchen goods and eat. The food stalls in this market are so delicious.
- Mercado Coyoacan – This market has a little bit of everything, but the main reason to go here is for tostadas. Just look for all of the yellow.
- Mercado de Antojitos – Also located in Coayacan, this market is a small place down one of the side streets near the main square in Coyoacan and it serves up the best fried quesadillas in the entire city.
- Condesa Tuesday Tianguis – If you want to see a good Tianguis, I recommend heading to Condesa on a Tuesday morning (it’s usually on from 7am-2pm). You can find fruits and vegetables you’ve never heard of or sit at one of the food stalls and enjoy some of the best tacos, flautas, or gorditas.
- La Ciudadela – If you want to find souvenirs head to La Ciudadela. You’ll find silver from Taxco, pottery, blankets, jewelry, and so many little trinkets. I’ve never gone to Ciudadela and left empty-handed.
- Mercado de San Juan – This is one of the most famous food markets in the city. You can get absolutely everything here and you’ll likely leave absolutely stuffed. You’ll find everything from raw ingredients like fruits, veggies, meats, fish, and spices, to cooked up meals of delectable pozoles and chicken soups. It’s also where you’ll find all of the imported foods like fancy cheeses, French pates, and exotic spices.
What Souvenirs Should I Get in Mexico City?
Mexico City, like many capital cities, is a melting pot of Mexican culture. You’ll find everything from Oaxacan black clay to cheeses from Chiapas, Mayan replicas to Aztec art imprinted on jewelry.
A few of my favorite things are the colorful leather shoes, the alebrijes (Mexican folk carvings), the beautifully painted ceramic skulls, and all of the jewelry.
Is the Pollution Really Bad in Mexico City?
The pollution is only noticeable during April and May. For the rest of the year, the city has pollution levels around the same as other large cities in North America. During April and May, the pollution can be quite bad, with an Air Quality Index of roughly 150. It’s not exactly nice and it’s often recommended that young children stay inside during these days, but it’s not this high every day and when I lived in Korea, it was normal to have days well over 300 on the AQI.
If pollution is a concern of yours, simply avoid visiting the city in late spring.
Where Can I Find Out What Local Events Are Happening?
If you’re coming to the city and want to know what festivals, events, concerts, or random things are happening while you’re visiting, I recommend checking out Time Out. You can sort by the current week or month and then narrow down whether you want arts and culture or sports. If you don’t speak Spanish, I recommend using Chrome to look at the website and Google will ask if you want the site translated into English.
If you want to see a sporting event, check Ticketmaster. That’s where you’ll get tickets to all of the major like soccer games at the Azteca. They always tell you what new events are coming up on the main page as well. You should be able to switch it into English on the right side of the menu bar.
I also recently discovered Donde Ir, which is great for restaurant recommendations and upcoming festivals around Mexico City as well as the rest of the country. You’ll need Google Chrome to help you translate the website if you don’t speak Spanish.
Do I Need to Avoid the Water in Mexico City?
It’s not recommended that you drink tap water in Mexico City. While the water is treated and for the most part, safe for consumption, it’s the pipes that ruin it. They are incredibly old and end up sort of ruining the water. You can totally boil it, use it for tea or coffee, use it to cook with, to brush your teeth. That’s all completely fine. All restaurants in the city use spring or treated water, yes, even for their ice cubes.
If you are staying for a while, I recommend buying a large 20-liter bottle. It only costs about 40 pesos ($2) and you’ll have about a week’s worth of water. You can then recycle the bottle by bringing it back to a shop that sells them and doing a swap for a full one. It means you can also refill a reusable bottle and use less plastic. A 1-liter bottle of water from Oxxo or 7-11 costs about 10 Pesos (50¢), which of course is very cheap, but you will use a lot more plastic.
Will My Phone Work in Mexico?
It depends on what company you use and what country you’re from. Almost all American and Canadian phone contracts offer free use of your phone internationally. I have a Sprint phone and I easily use data without being charged anything extra. If I make a phone call, it costs 20¢ a minute. A friend of mine has Verizon and she used her phone normally while she was in Mexico and didn’t receive any other charges. Check with your service provider about whether or not it will work in Mexico.
If you want to buy a Mexican SIM card in Mexico City to use in your current phone, you will have to make sure it is unlocked for international use. In the US, phone companies are not legally obligated to unlock your phone, especially if you are still paying it off through your contract. However, if you tell them it is not for use within the US and that it is for international use, they should unlock it for you without a problem. My boyfriend uses his American iPhone, which has a Sprint contract, with a Mexican SIM card in it and has never had a problem.
What are the Hospitals Like in Mexico City?
Medical care is very inexpensive here (compared the US at least, my British boyfriend is usually in shock that he has to pay anything at all). The hospitals around the city vary. While there is a public healthcare system in place, many who can afford it opt for private doctors and hospitals. Most of the private hospitals that I’ve seen are on par with or even better than hospitals I’ve been to in the US.
For the quality of care that you get at a top-notch private hospital in Mexico City, you pay relatively little. A woman I know recently gave birth on one of the best hospitals for women’s care in the city and she paid out of pocket for the entire thing. For all of the prenatal care, the scans, the doctors, the birth, and the after-care, she paid just over $3,000.
Many of these private hospitals take American health insurance, but it’s always good to check with your insurance company before traveling abroad. I always recommend that people get at least emergency travel coverage. My go-to travel insurance company is World Nomads. I’ve been using it for seven years and have had nothing but good things to say about their customer service and their coverage. Their prices are pretty great, too.
If you get a bit of a cold or feel under the weather while you’re visiting Mexico City, the best thing to do is pop into a pharmacy. Pharmacists here can prescribe much more than they can in the US and you can get everything from birth control to antibiotics without needing to overpay for a doctor’s visit first.
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