The Mexican capital, in all its sprawling enormity, can be overwhelming for any visitor – whether it’s your first time here or your 30th. But with a little insider knowledge, you’ll soon fall in love with this engaging, energetic city. Here are the top tips for traveling solo in Mexico City, from impressing with some local lingo to knowing the right places to stay.
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While many people in the capital know some English, particularly those working in the tourism industry, a good chunk won’t have a clue what you’re saying. So brush up on a few basic phrases before you land at Mexico City International Airport. A gracias or por favor goes a long way, but if you can master some key phrases – disculpe, ¿dónde está el baño? (excuse me, where is the bathroom?) – you’ll soon start to mix with the locals.
If you’re a solo traveler in Mexico City, don’t swerve the big-name attractions. Yes, the most popular landmarks have a heavy footfall, but they’re popular for a reason. Among the must-visits are the Zócalo, around which you’ll find the grand Catedral Metropolitana and the Aztec ruins of the Templo Mayor; Chapultepec Park, the biggest green space in the city; and La Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s home and now a museum dedicated to her life and works. It’s the mix of essential landmarks and little-known hip hangouts that makes this city one of the best places in Mexico for solo travel.
If you’re going it alone in the capital, stay in a busy area. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to meet fellow travelers and you’ll probably feel more comfortable with others around. If you want easy access to the big-name landmarks, book a room near the Zocalo. But to mix with the cool kids, base yourself in the trendy neighborhoods of Roma or Condesa.
When you’re traveling alone in Mexico City, always watch out for your valuables – as you would in any major city. Basic precautions should protect your essential items: 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.
It’s one of the top traveler destinations in the world, and one of the largest capital cities in the Americas, so unsurprisingly there are several excellent hostels in Mexico City. The benefits? You’ll be surrounded by like-minded people looking to have similar experiences to yourself. You might even have your mind opened to things you hadn’t considered.
If you’re not confident to traipse the streets of Mexico City alone, then why not hop on the super-convenient Turibus? This open-top doubledecker will transport you around the city highlights for a reasonable price, so you can be sure you’ve got your fill of attractions and culture.
Mexico City is renowned for having exquisite street food – you’ll find delicious corn, cheese and meat combos on practically every corner. But if you’re traveling alone, how do you make sure you pick the right street-food stall? If there’s no-one to ask, your safest bet is heading to the busiest vendor. Their quick turnover means your food will be freshly cooked, while the large crowds are a sure sign your meal will be good.
Is Mexico City safe for solo travelers? Absolutely. But don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. As with any city, there are some areas to avoid. The most notable example is Tepito – a neighborhood with a dicey rep.
While the metro runs until at least midnight every day, you shouldn’t use it alone late at night. The rush hour often lasts until 9pm in heavily populated areas, after which the carriages become eerily empty. Plus, many stations have several exits – come out the wrong one and you might be disoriented in the dark.
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.