By Expedia, on February 7, 2020

What to Know for Visiting Mexico City for the First Time

Mexico City is a kinetic metropolis that’s a popular travel destination for travelers looking for history, culture, and a vibrant culinary scene. Mexico City is a big, bustling city, so it can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. If you’re planning a trip, find travel tips for traveling in Mexico City and some helpful advice to make the most of your first-time visit.

People visiting the Angel of Independence Monument
Angel of Independence Monument

When to go

If you’re thinking Mexico City is hot all year round, you’ll wish you knew that it can be cooler in winter. During the winter months, temperatures can drop down to 50 °F, and even the hottest summer days are around 80 °F. If you’re looking for warm, sunny weather, summer is the best time to book your trip. If you prefer fewer crowds, you could book your trip in winter to see the top attractions and take advantage of the cooler temperatures.

How to get around

Mexico City is well-traveled with many public transportation options, including an extensive subway system and taxis. Overall, these modes of transportation are safe, but you can also rent a car to get around at your own pace. Rideshare is available in Mexico City, so you can easily book an inexpensive ride to get to your destination. Much of the city is also pedestrianized, so you may find you can walk to many of the attractions and restaurants and save on transportation.

What to eat and drink

There’s a diverse culinary scene in Mexico City that goes far beyond Mexican favorites like tacos and burritos. During your trip, be sure to visit authentic restaurants to try new things like mole or roasted grasshopper. You can also find plenty of sweets shops throughout the city where you can sample everything from candied fruits to buñuelos, a type of deep-fried thin dough with caramelized sugar topping. For drinks, visit one of the city’s many rooftop bars to get great views as you enjoy the balmy weather and rich cocktails like pulque.

Purchase a SIM card

If you’re using online maps or planning to book Uber rides, you’ll need data. As soon as you arrive, visit an Oxxo, which is a convenience store like a 7-11, to pick up a card. You could also get a local SIM card at the airport in the Telcel office. SIM cards are inexpensive and usually come with credit, but you can also choose between a basic Amigo Sin Limite plan, which has 7 days of unlimited messages and calling in addition to 300 MB of data, or an Internet Amigos plan, which gives you 1 GB of data.

Carry cash

Mexico City residents typically use more cash than credit, so plan to either carry it with you or to make some ATM visits. Before you go, use a bank or credit card with low or no fees to exchange as much currency as you feel comfortable carrying. Once you’re in Mexico City, you can use an ATM to withdraw money, but be sure to take out a lot at a time to keep your foreign withdrawal fees low.

Consider traveling during Dias de Los Muertos

One of Mexico’s most vibrant and fascinating traditions is Dias de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead festival, which honors those who have passed. The festival typically takes place on November 1 or 2 and involves unique traditions and performances like the creation of altars to remember loved ones, traditional foods, parades, and more. If you want to attend the festival, be sure to book your travel and accommodation in advance, since this is typically a busy time for travel. Also, keep in mind that travel rates and attractions might be a little more expensive during this time.

People in costume in Downtown Mexico City parade

Get travel insurance

Mexico City has a top-notch healthcare system where you can be treated for illness or injuries, but what to know is that it’s not cheap. Paying out of pocket for medical care can be incredibly expensive, especially in a hospital, so it’s best to have travel insurance before you go and hope you don’t need to use it. In addition, travel insurance helps you cover the costs of regular medications you need to take at the pharmacy if you run out, such as birth control or antibiotics.

Buy a device to repel mosquitos

A fact you’ll wish you knew before going to Mexico City is that it’s filled with mosquitos. Though it’s not as bad as a rainforest or swamp, there are enough mosquitos to make you miserable if you’re not prepared. In this case, it’s best to know before you go and pick up a plug-in mosquito repellent device to put by your bed at night. If you can purchase one in advance, feel free, but they’re cheap and easy to come by in Mexico City.

Bring back some souvenir mezcal

If you want an authentic souvenir, nothing beats some local mezcal or tequila. Most people buy their alcohol in the airport duty-free, but if you do that, you’ll be paying more to get the same alcohol brands you could find back home. Before you leave, shop around town to find some unique and local brands to bring home with you or as a gift for your friends. If you anticipate bringing bottles of alcohol home, remember to pack bubble wrap or some other protective packaging to keep it safe during your flight back.

Cocktails with fruit in Mexico City

Ready to plan your trip?

Now that you have all this essential information before visiting Mexico City, you’re ready to plan your trip with friends or family. Take a look at other travel tips for Mexico City and find great deals on Mexico City vacations on Expedia to save on your travel and accommodation.