A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Mexico City

Going solo is a liberating experience in Mexico City
Going solo is a liberating experience in Mexico City | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer2 September 2021

The Mexican capital, in all its madness and sprawling enormity, can be overwhelming for any visitor, whether it’s their first time visiting or their 30th. However, add to that the fact you’re traveling alone, and it has the potential to be even more daunting than if you had a companion with you. Not to worry though, because here’s our guide for the solo traveler in Mexico City.

Unsure about traveling solo? Book to join Culture Trip’s exclusive five-day Mexico City tour where our local insider will help you navigate this busy city.

Learn some basic (Mexican!) Spanish

While many people in the capital will speak some level of English, particularly those working in tourist-oriented places such as hotels and bars, a good chunk won’t have a clue what you’re saying. And everyone knows it sounds ignorant to not even try to speak the language. As a solo traveler, it’s essential to brush up on your Mexican Spanish with basic phrases and common vocabulary.

Hit up the top tourist attractions

Frida Kahlo’s former home, La Casa Azul, is now a museum dedicated to her work and life | © R.M. Nunes / Alamy Stock Photo

The obvious options for the solo traveler are the biggest and best attractions that Mexico City has to offer, because in these areas you’ll find tons of people and knowledgeable guides to help you out. In the Mexican capital the top tourist attractions undoubtedly include the Zocalo, Chapultepec Park and Frida Kahlo’s former home, La Casa Azul. However, there’s no end of popular spots for the solo traveler in this metropolis.

Stay in areas with tons of foot traffic

The streets around the Zocalo in the historic center are nearly always busy | © dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo

This kind of goes hand in hand with the previous point, but if you stay in places frequented at all hours by both locals and tourists, you’ll feel (and be) much safer. It also means there’s always someone around to help you in case of emergency.

Take care with your valuables

When you’re traveling in the capital, always watch out for your valuables. It’s common sense but numerous travelers are pickpocketed and mugged even in the most popular parts of Mexico City on a daily basis. Some basic precautions will help you stay safe: never carry your passport or large amounts of cash; keep your bag zipped up and near you at all times; and don’t keep your cell phone and wallet where they can be easily grabbed.

Stay in one of the top hostels in the city

Mexico City is home to some excellent hotels, such as Casa Pancha | Courtesy of Casa Pancha / Booking.com

As is to be expected from one of the top traveler destinations in the world, and one of the largest capital cities in the Americas, there are a number of excellent hostels in Mexico City. Plus, the benefits of staying in a hostel as a solo traveler are that you’ll be surrounded by likeminded people looking to have similar experiences to yourself – or, alternatively, you’ll have your mind opened to things you hadn’t even considered.

Try out the Turibus

Hop on the Turibus to see the top attractions in Mexico City, such as the Palacio de las Bellas Artes | © Melvyn Longhurst / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re not confident enough to traipse the streets of Mexico City alone, then why not hop on the super convenient Turibus? This open topped, doubledecker will transport you around the top highlights of the city for a reasonable price, so you can be sure you’ve got your fill of attractions and culture.

Taste test all the street food (carefully)

Exploring the street food scene is a must when you’re in Mexico City | © dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo

Mexico City is renowned for having exquisite street food and delicious corn, cheese and meat combos on every corner. Try the spicy salsas and heart-warming tacos, but be careful because when you’re traveling alone, there’s nothing worse than being ill. To stay safe, head to busy stalls – there’s nothing more ominous than an empty street food stand.

Steer clear of areas such as Tepito

Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. As with any capital city (or city in general) there are some very sketchy areas in Mexico City that you should steer well clear of. The most notable example that travelers often want to check out (due to its fascinating reputation and almost legendary status) is Tepito. However, it’s garnered a dicey rep for a reason. Don’t take any risks.

Don’t use the metro late at night

The Metro is a convenient way of getting around the city, just avoid it at night | © Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo

While the metro runs until at least midnight every day, it’s not recommended to use it alone and late at night. This is because, while the rush hour often lasts until 9pm in heavily populated areas, it can become eerily empty very fast. Plus, many stations have several exits and if you come out of the wrong one, you might be disoriented in the dark.

Download Uber

The most practical thing the solo traveler in Mexico City could do is download the Uber app. It’s a simple solution to getting around the city without diving into taxis or taking the metro.

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