A Solo Traveler’s Guide to Mexico City

Mexico City street | © iivangm/Flickr
Mexico City street | © iivangm/Flickr
Photo of Lauren Cocking
Northern England Writer22 March 2018

The Mexican capital in all its madness and sprawling enormity can be incredibly overwhelming for any visitor, whether it’s their first time visiting or their thirtieth. However, add to that the fact you’re travelling alone, and it has the potential to be even more daunting than if you had a trusty companion coming along with you. Not to worry though, because here’s our guide for the solo traveller in Mexico 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 and speak the language. Therefore, for the solo traveller it’s essential to brush up on your Mexican Spanish with basic phrases and common vocabulary that varies from peninsular Spanish.

Spanish | © ryanmotoNSB/Flickr

Hit up the top tourist attractions

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 a lot of knowledgeable guides to help you out. In the Mexican capital the top tourist attractions undoubtedly include the zocalo, Chapultepec Park and La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s former home. However, there’s literally no end of popular spots to choose from for the solo traveler in this metropolis.

Stay in areas with tons of foot traffic

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

Mexico City market | © Giulian Frisoni/Flickr

Take care with your valuables

However, always watch out for your valuables. It may sound like 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, such as never carrying your passport or large amounts of cash, plus keeping your bag zipped up and near you at all times and making sure you don’t carry your phone and wallet in your pockets where they can be easily grabbed, will help you stay safe.

Stay in one of the city’s top hostels

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

Hostel Regina | © LWYang/Flickr

Try out the Turibus

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, double decker will transport you around the top highlights of the city for a reasonable price and so you can be sure you’ve got your fill of attractions and culture.

Taste test all the street food (carefully)

Mexico City is renowned for having exquisite street food and delicious corn, cheese and meat combos on every corner. Definitely dare to try the spicy salsas and greasy tacos, but do be careful because when you’re travelling alone, there’s nothing worse than being ill. To stay safe, head to stalls that seem to have a ton of people eating at them – there’s nothing more ominous than an empty street food stand!

Mexican street food | © CarlosVanVegas/Flickr

Steer clear of areas like Tepito

Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. As with any capital city (or city in general) there are some very dodgy areas of Mexico City that you should be aware of, and as a result, 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. The chances are you will not be received kindly as an outsider, and you may well be pickpocketed.

Don’t use the metro late at night

While the metro runs until at least 12am 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, it can be incredibly disorientating in the dark.

Mexico City street | © iivangm/Flickr

Download Uber

The most practical thing the solo traveler in Mexico City could do is download the Uber app. This offers a fantastic and simple solution to safety worries and possible problems when travelling around the capital. As many taxis are not to be trusted, and the metro isn’t a great option at night (or after a night out for that matter!) this app will be your savior on more than one occasion.

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