At a Glance
When to Go
The easiest way to navigate to your hotel upon arrival at the Mexico City airport is to take an authorized taxi to your hotel: just purchase a ticket from one of the authorized booths inside the airport. The price will be preset depending on where in the city you are going. There is also a Terminal Aérea metro station about 200 yards from Terminal 1—but unless you’re really pinching pennies, it’s easiest to take a cab into town and then explore the metro system once you're situated. Other airports across the country may offer authorized taxis, airport shuttles, and vans to town centers and hotel zones.
Mexico has a comfortable, efficient, and inexpensive intercity bus system—worlds away from the U.S. Greyhound experience. An extensive network of in-country flights connects major cities. If you rent a car, be sure to drive only on the nation’s toll (cuota) highway system, which offers the safest conditions for travel. If you’re in a resort area and want to explore nearby attractions, ask whether your hotel has its own transportation service.
Food and Drink
An art lover’s dream: World-class museums and famous murals in a country that has been home to some of the most famous artists in modern history. Ancient civilizations: Southern Mexico was the cultural epicenter of the classic Maya period, and the temples and cities left behind are awe-inspiring. Artisan crafts and folk art: From delicate silver jewelry to colorful alebrijes (sculpted fantasy creatures) to puffy-cheeked angel masks, it’s all wonderful. Colonial architecture: Mexico is home to no fewer than 10 UNESCO World Heritage cities—Campeche, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Morelia, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, Tlacotalpan, and Zacatecas. And there are even more UNESCO-designated Pueblos Mágicos, towns with cobblestone streets, charming architecture, and peaceful plazas that will charm and delight you. Mexico has a vibrant cinema dating from the Golden Age in the ’50s to today’s edgy directors, an extensive literary tradition, and a musical scene that’s both the birthplace of mariachi and the most important hub in Latin America for rock en español.
Semana Santa: The week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday sees solemn processions in small towns and certain Mexico City neighborhoods, and large crowds leaving the big cities for a relaxing weeklong vacation.
Día de la Independencia: September 16 marks the anniversary of Father Miguel Hidalgo’s 1810 call to revolution against Spain. There is nothing quite like standing in the middle of a sea of people in the Mexico City zócalo on the night of September 15, with all of them shouting “¡Viva México!”
Festival Internacional Cervantino: Guanajuato’s two-week arts festival in October is one of Latin America’s biggest and best cultural events. Book early and expect crowds.
Dia de los Muertos: On November 2, the dead commune with the living among altars and cemeteries full of candy calaveras (skulls), candles, pan de muerto (traditional bread for the occasion), beer, photos of dead loved ones, and mounds of cempasúchitl (marigolds). Pátzcuaro and Oaxaca have especially vibrant celebrations.
What the Locals Know
Catherine Craddock-Carrillo has always been a Mexicophile, which led her to move to Mexico City in her 20s to work as an arts & entertainment reporter and business magazine editor. During that time, she traveled around the country, met and married a charming chilango, covered the historic 2000 presidential elections, and lived, breathed, and ate all things Mexico. After moving back to the US, she worked for several years as Lonely Planet's commissioning editor for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Nowadays, she's a college textbook editor living in the San Francisco East Bay with her husband and son. They make it to Mexico at least once a year in order to visit family and friends and eat proper tacos al pastor.