Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world and the largest metropolitan area in the West. On my way to Cuba, I had to spend a layover in Mexico City and instead of staying inside the airport, we decided to go outside and explore the city a little bit. I recommend you do the same. I guarantee a layover experience can be much more than sitting on a chair for a few hours or exploring the duty-free shops.
Of course, it depends on the time you have. We had 12 hours. What did we visit? How did we get there? Was everything alright or did we have some not-so-nice experiences ourselves? Read more below and you’ll find it all out about our layover in Mexico City!
A layover in Mexico City – from the airport to the city center
Well, this is the one thing that I really wanted to tell you about. When traveling from the airport to the city center, do not take the subway. I repeat. Do not take the subway. Unfortunately, we did. And it wasn’t a pleasant experience. You can take Metrobus 4, which can take you there in 30 minutes and it costs $2. You can take an Uber which is $4-$5 or an authorized taxi. However, when we arrived, the bus stop didn’t have a clear sign for when the next bus would come and we didn’t think about an Uber.
So, we walked 10-15 mins to the metro station (I like adventures!) and when we got there… they separated us. In 2017! Women and men in Mexico are traveling in separate wagons and I do not know the exact reason. But it was really scary. Crowded, dirty, with little to no chance to get off at the right station without yelling your heart out that you are getting off at the next one. The women were really mean to each other and as I understood, the men in the other wagon weren’t that nice, either. I am sorry, I always promised to be honest when writing about my experiences, so here it is. I am absolutely sure not all Mexicans are the same and I know there are beautiful parts of this city. The subway is not one of them.
Visit Zocaló (Plaza de la Constitución)
This is magnificent. It really is one of the biggest public squares in the world and the buildings that surround it are impressive. Here you can find Palacio Nacional (home to the president’s office), the Metropolitan Cathedral and some federal buildings. You cannot miss it and it would be a good start for a layover in Mexico City. In 1987 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enter the Catedral Metropolitana
Pinky swear – this is one of the most detailed architecture I have seen until now. I have no words to describe it. We were lucky to find it completely empty because we arrived around 8 A.M, but I am sure it is splendid even on a crowded day. If you have a layover in Mexico City or if you are spending more days here, please, please, please do not miss this cathedral. It is spectacular!
Explore Templo Mayor
This is the main Aztec temples and it was the religious center for the Aztecs. What is truly interesting is that you can explore the actual ruins of the Aztec Empire and see pyramids, ceremonial platforms and the main temples dedicated to the gods of war and rain. You can immerse in the Mexican culture by visiting this museum which is right next to Zocaló. Personally, I found it really helpful because I haven’t studied the Aztecs that much and this was an interesting experience.
Watch the city from above – Torre Latinoamericana
I will not say much because the photos are suggestive. The view is breathtaking and the tower is located right at the end of the pedestrian-friendly Ave. Francisco I. Madero. This is one of the avenues that you need to take a walk on. While you’re here, be sure you try the tacos, fajitas and Pan de Muerto (baked sweet roll) from Bisquets Obregon. I guarantee a traditional Mexican feast.
Admire Palació de Bellas Artes
This building is the principal opera house in Mexico and an architectural masterpiece. There are also 2 museums inside and large murals; however, it might be a bit too much for a layover in Mexico City. So I suggest you admire it from outside and even go in the hallway to admire its Art Deco and Art Noveau architecture. It’s fabulous and definitely worth it.
This was our final stop in Mexico City. We then walked on Paseo de la Reforma, a very important boulevard filled with high buildings and street food vans and got a cab back to the airport which was around $15. Be careful with the taxis, as there was another taxi driver who wanted to charge us almost triple the sum. Try to take one from the outside of a random hotel.
The city is beautiful and if you have a layover in Mexico City, I strongly encourage you to visit it. Take a cab/Uber to and from the city center and you’ll be fine. Immerse in their culture, talk with strangers, kiss on the big boulevards and eat some delicious tacos. The city is worth it and it will be a lovely experience!