How European is Mexico City

Mexico City

Mexico City (Spanish Ciudad de México, CDMX, is the capital of Mexico and since January 29, 2016 a federal state like all other federal states. (Before that it was a federal district called Distrito Federal, or D.F. for short) The city has about 8.7 million inhabitants, the entire metropolitan region over 22 million and is one of the largest agglomerations in the world.

Districts [edit]

Pedestrian area east of the cathedral on Calle Moneda
Only 500 m east of the Zócalo (at the end of this street) begins an area that is only partially suitable for tourists

The city consists of 16 boroughs, the so-called delegaciones: Álvaro Obregón, Azcapotzalco, Benito Juárez, Coyoacán, Cuajimalpa, Cuauhtémoc, Gustavo A. Madero, Iztacalco, Iztapalapa, Magdalena Contreras, Miguel Hidalgo, Milpa Alta, Tláhuac, Tlalpan, Venustiano Carranza and Xochimilco. These in turn are divided into the districts, the so-called Colonias such as: Condesa and Roma. A complete address always includes the Delegación and the Colonia, as street names sometimes appear several times in the capital.

District article:

  • Centro Histórico - Where it all began. The historic center around the Zócalo or the Plaza de la Constitución and stretches a few blocks in all directions. Many historical sights from colonial times and the famous Aztec Templo Mayor can be found here. The Zocalo is the largest square in Latin America and the third largest in the world after Red Square in Moscow and Tian'anmen Square in Beijing.
  • Coyoacán - A colonial city that is now an artists' quarter with historical alternative culture, art, students and intellectuals. There are also many good museums here.
  • Condesa and Roma - Recently resurrected after decades of decay, this is where the city's trendiest restaurants, bistros, clubs, pubs and shops can be found. The neighborhood on both sides of Avenida Insurgentes surrounds the Mexico and España parks.
  • Zona Rosa - Also known to tourists as Reforma District, as it surrounds Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, this new district center is a major business and entertainment district. It is also known as the city's gay hub.
  • Tlalpan - Largest district and location of the Ajusco, a volcanic cone and national park, one of the highest mountains in Mexico City.
  • Chapultepec - is one of the largest city parks in the world. Its name means "grasshopper mountain" in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. In the park there is the main zoo, a castle (now a museum), an amusement park and many museums. Lomas de Chapultepec is the richest area of ​​the city with walled country houses.
  • Xochimilco - Also known as the Venice of Mexico for its extensive Aztec irrigation canals - the remnants of the ancient Lake Xochimilco. Xochimilco has kept its traditions, even if its proximity to Mexico City causes urbanization.
  • Tlatelolco - location of Aztec pyramids.
  • Polanco - the cosmopolitan and trendy shopping mile.
  • Santa Fe - the most affluent area in the city.

Background [edit]

Arrival [edit]

By plane

  • . The international airport of Mexico City and the most important in Latin America. From the international terminal, one should take one of the licensed taxis into town, which costs around $ 180. Walking to the metro leads past some "strange" areas, that shouldn't be done. Last change: no information

To get to the city from Mexico City Airport, one must take an officially licensed airport taxi. Tickets must be purchased beforehand directly at one of the many stands in the arrivals hall or in the public area of ​​the airport. The fare depends on the zone in which the destination is located. So you should be able to give the complete address next to the hotel name. The prices are cheap, but significantly higher than for the same route from the city to the airport. It is not surprising if the driver does not find the destination straight away, he will then ask his way through.

The porters at the airport, who run around with hand trucks, are "free" and helpful, and they are also familiar with the area. Expect a tip, 20-50 pesos is reasonable. They are also accepted by locals. If you are unsure, you should contact one of these service providers. It is advisable to use these porters for entry and exit. You know the reputable and cheaper taxis on arrival, on departure the waiting procedure can be shortened considerably if you ask the responsible people in the departure area about the correct queue. Even with good Spanish you can't do it as well as a foreigner as these people who do it every day. The airport is huge and if you want to save the 1-3 euros, it can mean that you wander around for 1-2 hours.

By train

By bus

Buses take over long-distance land transport in Mexico. Mexico City has several bus stations. The greatest is that

  • 19.4793-99.13961. Bus connections to the north, including border crossings to the USA. The bus station is connected to metro line 5 (station Autobuses del Nortelast change: not specified

Other bus stations are:

  • 19.3967-99.19982. Buses going west. Near metro station Observatorio, Terminus of line 1, last change: not specified
  • 19.3424-99.13873. Buses going south. The bus station is close to the metro station Tasquena, Terminus of line 2, last change: not specified
  • 19.4301-99.11224. Buses going east. Near metro station San Lazaro.Last change: not specified

On the street [edit]

With the ship [edit]

nothing works in the highlands, 2000 m above sea level.

Mobility [edit]


Sometimes it gets extremely tight on the sidewalks. Pickpockets are happy about this, but not necessarily pleasant. You walk up and across the street when there is space. Traffic lights are sometimes observed, but the presence of numerous police officers at an intersection is no guarantee of this. Unlike in Europe, handcarts are a normal means of transport.

Taxi [edit]

Mexico City taxis are often in poor condition

Beetles as taxis have become rare, but some still exist. You mostly meet old Nissan or newer Chevrolet, either in wine red and gold or white and pink. The condition of the taxis takes getting used to by European standards, they often have several 100,000 km under their belt. Taxis are not advised to hail on the side of the road because tourists have been robbed. This is even confirmed by the taxi drivers concerned. You have to decide for yourself. Most likely, trips from the city to the airfield are affected when the tourist has no more time and just wants to catch his flight. But this cannot be generalized. With a two-week stay in the city and repeated use of taxis every day and always stopping on the street, no attempt was made to cheat. The negotiated price was adhered to even if the taximeter was "not working". That probably always works if you speak some Spanish.

If you sit back, the driver is more reserved and usually doesn't talk. If you take a seat in the front passenger seat, it is usually very different, you chat about all kinds of things all the time. When I left for the airport, I asked the driver about the rip-off problem. He was very upset about the few criminals. Open the window and call the police to help. If such drivers are caught, there is a risk of license revocation and imprisonment.

If the driver uses the taximeter, the journeys are very cheap, but without a verbal agreement and taximeter it can be expensive. However, the taxis are still cheaper than in Europe, even at completely inflated prices. To and from the airport you have to expect significantly higher prices. At the airport, it is cheaper to go to one of the taxi companies' stalls and pay a ticket for $ 180 than to stop a taxi if you cannot speak and trade in Spanish.

The large and expensive hotels offer something like their own taxi service. These are new and large vehicles with a driver with a tie, drinks in the door, etc. This is significantly more expensive (factor 10) than conventional taxis, but it can be classified as really safe. At least on the last trip to the airport in Mexico City, such a "taxi" is recommended in order to arrive safely at the airport. If you let yourself be driven from one of the expensive hotels to private accommodation just a few kilometers from the center, the driver may not want to drive into the area because "you don't live there".

A cheap and also very secure method that is also used by many locals are apps such as Uber.

Metrobus [edit]

Metrobus at Mina station

Many areas of the capital are served by the so-called Metrobús. These buses drive in the middle of the street on their own lanes and regularly stop at special stops. These middle stops are designed to be barrier-free. The vehicles are high-floor buses, the doors open on the left-hand side, regardless of the height, to the platforms. You cannot get on the bus at normal street stops because the doors are on the wrong side and much too high.

A ride costs $ 3.50 regardless of the distance traveled. The journeys are paid for with a chip card, which can be withdrawn from machines at each stop for $ 11.50. IMPORTANT: Immediately after purchasing the card, it must be activated at the machine. This will add a credit of $ 3.50. The cards work on the prepaid principle and can be topped up with cash at the same machines. Machines do not give change.

The metro buses are more expensive than other public transport in Mexico. B. in the metro at work. Often, however, they are hopelessly overcrowded, it can be worthwhile to drive a few stations in the opposite direction to then fit into the bus that goes back. Please always carry your backpacks in front, there are also pickpockets on the Metrobus in Mexico.


typical minibus 2015 in the city center

The green minibuses can be found everywhere in the city. Their route is rather difficult to discover for the visitor, even locals sometimes prefer to ask where they are going when they get in. Often they drive with the doors open, which replaces the non-existent air conditioning. It happens that a passenger calls out: "But I wanted to turn here ..." or something like that - then the bus drives in a loop. Without knowledge of the Spanish language, these minibuses are actually unusable. It can even happen that the bus driver only speaks Nahuatl and only understands broken Spanish. In an emergency, it can work to show where you want to go on a city map. If the driver nods, you can go along. If you then sit in front of him in his field of vision, he will let you know when you have reached your destination. Paying is evidently something like bazaar trading. You pull out a few coins and when the driver thinks he has got enough, you are waved through. A 60-minute drive across the city costs the equivalent of around 50 euro cents, from the north bus station to the center around a third, i.e. around 15 cents. In the outskirts of the city, buses are considerably cheaper.

Trolleybus [edit]

Trolleybuses wait at the "Estacion del Norte", the central bus station

The city has an extensive network of trolleybuses, the buses are very cheap (4 pesos per trip, about 24 euro cents). The buses are often overcrowded, don't run according to schedule, and don't have air conditioning. The direction of travel is written in chalk on the right windshield. You should only use the old buses if you know where you are going and which tour they are going. The price is unbeatable, but you can quickly get to areas where you shouldn't get out. The buses run very closely, it is common to ask the driver where he is going.

Metro [edit]

This is not rush hour traffic but quite normal

In Mexico City you should use the very good public transport and, due to the chaotic traffic conditions on the road, you should do without the car altogether. At times of rush hour traffic, there is a special feature here: men and women have to use different wagons in the subway, this is marked by special boarding zones. Unlike in Europe, the metro in Mexico City no longer runs after midnight and taxis increase prices accordingly.

The Mexico metro is without a doubt the fastest, but not always the most comfortable means of transport. Even outside of rush hour it can happen that you don't get a seat, and you shouldn't dawdle when boarding, otherwise the metro might continue without you. Before you get out, you should be at the door (if possible one or two stops beforehand), otherwise you might not be able to get through the crowd. You should keep an eye on your luggage if possible, as pickpocketing is a common occurrence. Women and children are allowed to use the first two wagons, it's a bit more civilized. This is monitored by the private security guard on the track. However, the sequence of trains is also extremely tight, so that you usually don't have to wait long. But it can happen that you only get on a train after several attempts because the first ones were simply too full. The route network maps, which are clearly visible at every stop and on every train, were developed at the time (also) for illiterate people, and so every stop has a pictogram that mostly logically refers to the location. Of course, this also helps a lot with orientation for people without knowledge of Spanish. Unfortunately, the metro doesn't run at all after midnight and before five in the morning and the very last or very first metro is not necessarily something for the faint of heart, so if you plan to go away longer in the evening, plan well, how you come home again.

On the street [edit]

It is really not advisable to use a car. Traffic is huge on a regular basis, and traffic jams are the order of the day. Speed ​​limits are habitually ignored, which has resulted in braking hills everywhere on the roads. They can sometimes be extremely high, so caution is advised here. In addition to the brake bumps, potholes are the second major problem. While the major avenues and expressways have a comparatively good road surface, the smaller roads can have extremely deep potholes. (This applies to a large part of the entire country)

If you still really want to drive yourself, you have to be prepared for the fact that bumpers are also used for pushing, that you have to jostle and that you are very likely to return the rental car with new bumps.

By bike [edit]

Bicycle parade on Sundays in the city center
Cargo bikes can be found everywhere

The city is a traffic disaster if you apply European standards. But traffic works differently in Mexico D.F. There are a lot of bicycles on the move in the narrow jungle of the many cars, buses and pick-ups. You can see more cargo bikes than z. B. in the Netherlands, in Mexico they are really intended for transport and also transport very large loads.

Every Sunday the city center is closed to car traffic and released for bicycles. These car-free Sundays are regularly accepted and often used by whole families to relax and cycle through the whole city center. Every few hundred meters there are stations where you can have minor repairs carried out free of charge.

Bicycle lanes are still rare, but are being expanded. There are few rental stations for bicycles and you should speak Spanish at these, otherwise it will hardly work.

Sights [edit]

one of the few tourist buses for city tours

Activities [edit]

Shopping [edit]

In the less touristy areas there are street markets, hawkers, etc. You should be able to speak some Spanish, as the dealers usually cannot speak English and certainly not German. Department stores, as in European cities, are rare, as are supermarkets, drugstores, etc. Shops are usually housed in one or two-story buildings, and the sidewalk becomes a market. Department stores ("Centro Comercial") are rare and are not immediately recognized as such by Europeans.

Most of it happens on the street. When a fully loaded cargo bike drives by, you can tell the driver that you want something from your bike, which is more normal than the exception. Bargaining is not necessarily common, but you can try. Book shops look like in Europe, you lock your luggage at the entrance and the shop is flanked by security guards.

Kitchen [edit]

Nightlife [edit]

Accommodation [edit]

Even if the taxi driver of the posh inner city hotel remarked "You don't live here", quarters via Airbnb are a nice alternative. However, you should already see where the accommodation is located. Anyone who speaks at least some Spanish can actually settle down anywhere. You just have to make it clear that you are not a "gringo". In the outskirts, the population is at most a bit irritated when you walk around as obviously not local. However, after a few sentences in Spanish, it goes away very quickly.

Learning [edit]

Work [edit]

Security [edit]