My trip to CDMX began with a search on Google Flights one weekend when I was avoiding other tasks. I was wondering if there was anywhere cheap to fly to during spring break. It was really just a dream since flights are always more expensive then. The neat thing about Google Flights is that you can type in some dates and just browse the map to see the cost of flying anywhere in the world. I was surprised to see that Mexico City had a flight from JFK for just $210 round trip. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided I should book it. I had no idea what I would do there, but had heard it was a great tourist city (rated #1 destination in the world by the New York Times in 2016) and that they had good coffee. I decided I just wanted to sit in cafes, eat good food, and take pictures.
If you’ve read my posts, you know I ended up doing even more than I expected to. Mexico City has so much more to offer besides great food, strong coffee, and colorful buildings. Here are six important things I learned about the city during my short time there.
Mexico City is safe
I walked around day and night, rode a bike through the city, took public transportation, and stayed with locals. Never once did I feel unsafe. People were friendly and welcoming. There was a heavy police presence, including riot gear, in the most crowded and touristy areas. This was not intimidating. The police were friendly and helpful in giving directions. One even swiped his metrocard for me so I could re-enter a station in order to exit on the other side of a busy road.
Most of the recent headlines about violence in Mexico referred to incidents in resort towns and in areas closer to the US border.
Mexico City is very affordable (for some of us)
- Roundtrip flight from New York to Mexico City on Volaris: $210
- One week of accommodation: $64
- One week of food, cafes, snacks: $169
- Sightseeing (museum admissions, bike rental), local transportation, sim card, etc: $103
- Total: $546
Getting around Mexico City is easy
Uber, taxi, bus and the metro are available throughout the city. The metro will get you anywhere for just 5 pesos. It’s crowded during rush hour, but better than sitting in traffic.
Art and history are everywhere in Mexico City
Ancient ruins in the center of the city, giant pyramids an hour away, murals depicting history, modern art, distinct architecture, colorful facades, shady plazas with beautiful fountains everywhere, music in the streets, museums (not ads) in metro stations, cultural centers with dance classes and free concerts, and so much more. Mexicans are proud of their history and take time to appreciate art as a family (museums are free on Sundays). And it’s not just about the Aztecs and Mayans, there are so many other civilizations that have lived here over time, each with its own incredible history. I saw just the tip of the iceberg during my week there.
The climate in CDMX is Perfect (for me)
I know there is a rainy season from June-September, but during my time there, the climate was great. There is no oppressive humidity (like I experienced in Southeast Asia) due to the high altitude. The nights were cool, mornings started out with a light sweatshirt, and by lunchtime, it was in the 80s. It was comfortable enough for pants (no humidity) or shorts (not as common among the locals).
Air conditioning is rare and not really needed. It felt good to have fresh air even when inside. Windows could be left open all day and night and you would still be comfortable.
We are quick to judge our neighbors
It’s hard not to associate Mexico with danger. We rarely hear positive news stories or comments from politicians when it comes to Mexico. The truth is, Mexico is like everywhere else. There are dangerous parts and people who do bad things, but the majority of Mexico is filled with peaceful people and amazing culture. I did not meet a single person who asked me about “the wall” or Donald Trump. None of the Mexicans I met expressed an interest in moving to the US. There are plenty of people who live in desperate situations and are seeking a better life across the border, but the country is also filled with people who are quite happy and safe where they are. And in many cases, the quality of life is much better than what we experience in the US.