The ultimate Mexico City transportation guide

As the country’s capital, Mexico City offers several transportation methods for people lucky enough to visit. However, the choices can sometimes feel too overwhelming. Is taking the metro quicker than a taxi? How do I know which bus terminal to use? Are taking taxis safe?

I had these questions when planning my Mexico City trip, too, and will let you in on my tried-and-true travel tips for how to get around in Mexico City.

The battle of crowds

According to the 2020 consensus, Mexico City has a population of over 9.2 million people. Not only does that make it the most populous city in the country, but it has a higher population than world-renown cities like New York.

While such a high population in Mexico City gives you plenty of opportunities to mingle with friendly locals, it can make for a headache trying to get around. Luckily, you have many transportation options to choose from. 

Get places faster on the metro

The Mexico City metro is one of the best ways for people on a budget to travel. It has twelve lines, and you can get to just about anywhere in the city, including tourist destinations like the Teotihuacán ruins and Xochimilco canals. 

©Malcolm K./Flickr

If you’re a solo female traveler or are traveling with a group of women, look for a section labeled “Mujeres” when you’re waiting for the metro; every metro has one car exclusively for women. 

Walk less with buses

There’s no shortage of buses in Mexico City—you can take the more formal metrobuses and trolleybuses or opt for smaller vehicles like micros and colectivos. Personally, I prefer taking the metro since stations are clearly marked and they cover a wide area of the city. 

©Design for Health/Flickr

However, buses are an excellent option for connecting destinations that would take too long to walk to from a metro stop.

Hop on a tour bus 

If you’re short on time and want to see as much as possible, you can hop on a tourist bus in Mexico City. These double-decker buses offer recorded tours in several languages, and you might not mind the traffic as much since you’ll have more time to snap photos.

Grab a taxi

If riding elbow-to-elbow with strangers in packed public transportation doesn’t sound appealing, you can always hail a taxi. And by “hail,” I mean contact a taxi company—you should never take a taxi off the street in Mexico City. While most locals are kind souls, some bad apple pirata taxis unfortunately lurk around.

You might be wondering—is there Uber in Mexico City? Yes, there is! Uber was my go-to taxi choice when getting around the city at night. Companies like Cabify and Beat have apps where you can request a ride, too. 

As a word of warning, though, if you’re traveling around rush hour on a weekday, the metro is often a faster (although very crowded) option.

Getting to Mexico City

With so much talk about transportation in Mexico City, you might still need to get there. Whether you’re willing to bite the bullet and hop on a 27+ hour-long bus ride from Cancun to Mexico City or want to take a relatively shorter bus trip from Guadalajara to Mexico City, below are some of your options. I’ve included flights as well in case the bus durations make you spit out your Mexican coffee. 

RouteTravel time by busTravel time by flight
Oaxaca to Mexico City7 hours1 hour, 30 minutes
San Miguel de Allende to Mexico City4 hours, 15 minutes55 minutes
Puebla to Mexico City2 hours, 15 minutesN/A*
Guadalajara to Mexico City9 hours1 hour, 30 minutes
Tijuana to Mexico City19 hours3 hours, 40 minutes
Veracruz to Mexico City7 hours, 10 minutes1 hour
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca to Mexico City19 hours, 40 minutes1 hour, 30 minutes

*This would require a layover, making your total travel time longer than driving.

Understanding Mexico City’s bus terminals

Consider this your warning—Mexico City has four bus terminals for long-distance travel, none of which are in downtown and all of which are far from one another. Therefore, if you book a bus departing from Mexico City, it’s important to know which terminal it’s leaving from. 

Below are the terminals that serve Mexico City and the name of the nearest metro stop, should you choose to travel there by subway.

Terminal de Autobuses del Sur: Located in the south part of the city. The closest metro stop is Taxqueña.

Terminal de Autobuses del Norte: The north bus station. The nearest metro stop is named 100 Metros. Don’t worry—you won’t have to walk 100 meters; it’s right next to the terminal.

Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros Oriente (TAPO): Located on the east side of the city. San Lazaro is the metro stop you’ll want to get off at.

Terminal de Autobuses del Poniente: You guessed it—this is the western terminal. Hop off the metro at the Observatorio station. 

What about the Mexico City Airport?

Getting to the Mexico City Airport is easiest by taxi, although you can certainly hop on a metro or bus. I chose to take the metro, which involved some extra walking, but I was glad to do it since I had a long trip home.

©Waywuwei/Flickr

Whereas a taxi can drop you off directly by the check-in counters, you’ll need to get off at the Terminal Aérea metro stop if you’re departing from Terminal 1 and the Pantitlán stop if you’re departing from Terminal 2, both of which involve some walking (especially for Terminal 2). Most buses also stop at the Pantitlán station. 

Ready to explore Mexico City?

Although taking transportation in Mexico City can feel overwhelming at first, it’s better to have too many options than not enough. I recommend trying to get around the city outside of rush hour—it’ll give you more wiggle room on public transportation and more time to explore beautiful Mexico City!

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