Mexico City is a vibrant city that serves as the capital of Mexico. The greater metropolitan area is huge – there are an estimated 26 million people living in the region. It is also home to largest number of US expats in the world. As such, one should look into how to budget travel Mexico City.
The high number of expats and tourists speaks to the fact that Mexico City is a cheap place to visit and live, while also offering safety and a comfortable lifestyle.
While one can certainly dish out their money – it is also easy to be budget travelers while in Mexico City. With a little planning, it’s not hard to enjoy the city and take advantage of much of what it has to offer.
Mexico City is officially divided into 16 different “Delegaciones”, each of which is further subdivided into Colonias. Each delegacion offers its own activities, charm, and character to the city. While it’s not necessary – or probable – to visit every area, you are likely to visit many of them. Some of the more notable of these regions are:
Bosques de la Loma is the highest-end colonia in Mexico City. It is primarily a residential neighborhood, consisting of gated communities and luxury apartments. There is also a large Jewish community.
Public transportation here is virtually non-existent, with most people relying on cars. However, with few attractions here, you are unlikely to visit. Most budget travelers will not venture here due to pricing being above average US housing costs.
For those who are willing to spend the money, it does offer high-quality amenities and a safe and quiet neighborhood.
Centro Historico is the central delegacion in Mexico City. Tourists and locals alike will spend time here. Cheap activities abound and is easily navigable. It is the heart of the city, containing a large number of attractions:
As a whole, we thoroughly enjoyed Centro Historico. It is easy to walk through, and offers a lot to do. Backpackers, budget travelers, families, and high-end tourists can keep entertained and well fed. This is a must-see, must-do neighborhood in Mexico City.
The Condesa district and neighboring Roma, is the chic region of Mexico City. Once falling into disrepair, it is now a vibrant neighborhood filled with parks, boutiques, and cafes. While on the higher end of prices for a budget traveler, we were still able to grab some churros for less than a dollar.
Condesa and Roma are great areas to:
While geared towards a younger more affluent crowd, there is still much to offer for everyone. We particularly enjoyed wandering through Avenida Amsterdam.
*The September 19, 2017 earthquake did extensive damage to this region in particular. The neighborhood is still in recovery, so some businesses may operate different hours or locations.
Coyoacan is a rather large delegacion in the southwest region of Mexico City. Considered the counter-culture center, there is a lot to offer. The biggest attractions speak to the counter-culture environment:
Outside of museums, Coyoacan also contains many quiet residential neighborhoods. We didn’t make it there on our visit so it’ll be at the top of the list for the next time.
Another must-see delegacion, Chapultepec is Mexico City’s largest park. It is huge, and warrants multiple visits. For those on time constraints, it still deserves at least a day visit. There are numerous activities including:
While pressed for time, we only got one day here. However, we intend to explore more of the park on future visits. There is so much to see and do here aside from what is mentioned above.
Important neighborhoods in Mexico city, these delegaciones offer middle-class residential accommodation. Atop that, numerous shopping centers and restaurants abound. For tourists, there are many historical sites and churches such as:
While prices in these areas are higher than budget travel, you can still experience them without breaking the bank.
The only place in Mexico City that never truly sleeps, you can always find something to do here. Juarez and Rosa offers excellent examples of architecture as well as a vibrant food scene for all budgets.
Those looking for cultural fusions can find it here. There is a large Korean population as well as many expats. It is also the meeting place for the gay community in Mexico City.
Comprised of three boroughs south of Mexico City, Tlalpan rarely registers for tourists and travelers. It is not accessed via public transportation, so you have to make a point to get there. However, it’s untouched nature provides for a very intimate and authentic experience of Mexico City. Prices are also lower here, which can be great for slow travelers or budget travelers.
Considered the Venice of Mexico, Xochimilco is dominated by Aztec canals. The main attraction is the embarcadero, which is a large floating market. Hire a boat and wander through the canals. You can purchase everything from food to souvenirs here.
While technically outside of Mexico City, Teotihuacan is a city northeast of Mexico City. It is home to the pyramids of Teotihuacan and is an absolute must-see while in Mexico City. Teotihuacan was a highlight of our visit.
It is accessible via public transportation, but can also be easily reached by taxi or Uber.
Despite it’s immense size, Mexico City is actually quite easy to get around. While we go into how to navigate the city here, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Mexico City is a culinary delight. Check out what we ate while we visited. However, there’s plenty to keep in mind.
As budget travelers, we can’t highly recommend Airbnb. We cover everything you need to know about the service here. However, we understand that sometimes, it just isn’t the right fit – you want a different experience, or your needs just aren’t met.
We spent our time in an Airbnb in Centro Historico and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. However, below you’ll find just a few of the top rated accommodations, in a variety of price ranges to suit your needs.
For those unfamiliar with Mexico outside of the beach, Mexico City offers very different weather. At 7,200 feet above sea level, the climate remains consistent throughout much of the year. The temperature will range between the 50s and upper 70s throughout the year depending upon cloud cover.
Rain occurs most heavily in the summer months, but can occur year-round. The rain usually brings a sudden drop in temperature. However, the temperatures can shoot back up when the sun emerges.
Because Mexico City is at higher altitude, be sure to wear sunscreen. Even on cooler days, the sun can give you a nasty sunburn. Remember you are still in the tropics.
Of course, traveling through Mexico City – Cuidad de Mexico – warrants some tips and tricks. We have a few handy for you to make your travels just a bit easier: