If you seek to be adventurous in 2016, excitedly planning trips for South and Central America you might want to consider taking up the offer of a 10hrs+ layover to explore Mexico City for 1 day.
You will realize that most of the cheaper flights heading down and over to the Americas have some sort of layover in Mexico City (MEX) with long haul hours. Instead of considering a different flight option, jump to this opportunity and roam the City of Mexico for a day.
First thing first. Getting from the Airport (MEX) to the city center from (terminal 2).
So far, there are 3 ways in which you can safely get to the City Center with the MetroBus option being the easiest and cheapest way.
- Taxi companies are available. However, there are some taxis’ that operate independently and thus are not authorised, so pay close attention to the words “Taxi Autorizado“, as that would be the option you would want to go with. Please make sure to specify which service you would like. A shared option or exclusive. The prices are posted on the booth of each taxi service.
- The MetroBus is the easiest and cheapest option. Once you exit the airport you can you can look for the “MetroBus” sign or ask one of the authorised personnel (i.e security) for the bus stop. Literally speaking the Bus Stop is no more than 30 feet from the entrance of the airport. However, taking the bus can be sometimes slow since traffic in Mexico City is horrid. It should cost about 30 Mexican pesos to get to the city center “Zocálo”.
- Trying to escape the traffic you can quickly, go for the railway option. However, from terminal 2 the metro is quite a distance away, it then requires you to first take a shuttle bus to the the metro and then from there you can hop onto the metro for downtown.
Mexico City is huge and of course 1 day is not enough but however sufficient but however sufficient to experience the Historic Center, get a good look of the city from above and explore El Paseo del Reforma.
For the most part when one thinks of Mexico, our first thought is ‘security’. Before I go any further let me extend a little help where that is concerned. You will feel okay. There are patrolling cops everywhere; on the MetroBus through the city center, bus stops, literally speaking on every other block. I take this as sense of security measures and reassurance that strolling around Mexico City can be safe.
Upon arriving in downtown your best bet would be to get off the bus and start roaming in “Zocálo”. Here you will find that it is the main historic square of Mexico City filled with Cathedrals, locals markets, cultural events and an information booth. Adjacent to the squarefind the busiest streets, and many local restaurants offering options to get a quick bite of a local Mexican dish. (Consider having lunch here if authenticity is one of your goals.)
P.S If you are thinking of doing a city tour via an open decker tour bus the main pick-up spot is from Zocálo square.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Walk along Calle 5 de Mayo or Av. Francisco I. Madero to get a good glimpse of the city and also to arrive at El Palacio de Bella Artes located on Av. Juarez.
Gorgeous looking Architecture Museum which showcases local fine art. Give it a go! The entrance is free of charge with opening hours from 11hrs – 19hrs on Mondays and 10hrs- 19hrs on Tuesdays-Sundays.
Castillo de Chapultepec
This was probably my favorite place to see while being on a 13hr layover. You can head to here right after exploring El Palacio de Bellas Artes. Continue walking along El Paseo de la Reforma if you would like for more glimpses and then take one of the city buses heading to “Auditorio” and just look out for the entrance to Castillo de Chapultepec or ask the Driver to give you a cue when you are there. This is a very cheap option, 6 Mexican pesos which is less than a dollar (35 cents) to be exact. The ride should take about 20 minutes depending on traffic.
There is a park area located at the bottom of the entrance to the castle with small local food stands and souvenir shops. Please note that if you would like to grab a quick drink or snack it is prohibited to enter the trail way towards the castle with food.
From the moment you get off the bus/taxi/tour bus it will take you about 15minutes walk to first bless your eyes on the beautiful Castillo de Chapultepec.
There is a quick trally train that you can take to get to the top for a small fee. I however, strongly recommend the walk. It is beautiful, green and can be soothing and tranquil if you go before mid-day.
To gain entrance to the Castle you will need to pay 80 Mexican pesos (5 dollars). It has rich history, a mirador to overlook the city, unique architecture, a beautiful garden.. and let’s face it, how many times have you gotten the chance to explore the insides of a castle? My point exactly.
With a 10+ layover these location will give you a good preview of the city. Definitely not enough but however gives you the opportunity to see the city a little and to try something new; if this will be your first time in Mexico as it is was for me.
Once again, start off at Zocálo and then head towards El Palacio de Bellas Artes walking along side Calle 5 de Mayo or Av. Fernando I Madero. Once you are finish here, walk a little and see what El Paseo de la Reforma main street has to offer. There are bus stops along the way, when you are ready catch the city bus heading towards “Auditorio” and get off at the base of Chapeltec de Castillo. When you feel like you are ready to head back, the bus stops are right outside of the base entrance. Take the bus back to downtown heading to “Zocálo”. You are right back to where you started. Have lunch/dinner here and then catch the airport bus from República De Argentina (2 blocks over). Also, take a hat and maybe a pair of glasses. The sun rays will get into your eyes when you try selfies.