The largest city in the Americas doesn’t require a large budget to explore. Mexico City might be the country’s capital but it doesn’t carry capital costs. From its thriving culinary scene to its idyllic public squares, the city showcases a layered experience for travelers. With its ancient ruins, Spanish colonial churches, and its contemporary touches, you can easily explore Mexico City with just $50 a day in your pocket! Here’s how:
If you’re looking to spend just $50 a day, you can set up base in one of the city’s hostels. With mostly dorm-like set ups, hostels make up the city’s cheapest accommodation options at just a few dollars a night. At the same time, you can also stay in one of the city’s budget hotels without breaking the bank. A private room and bathroom can run for just $10 to $15 per night on the low end and up to $70 per night for more luxury digs.
The cheapest way to get around is the Metro. Offered at one of the lowest fares in the world, it includes 12 lines that cover the city with 195 stations. One ticket costs just 5 pesos, roughly $0.30.
Travelers can also get around on the cheap by Sitios. These radio-dispatched taxis, usually with licensed English-speaking guides, will often wait for you at your destination and take you back to your hotel when you are ready for around $14 per hour, and are much safer than just hailing a cab on the street.
Mexico City also has an affordable bus system (Metrobus) that you can take advantage of. Running in their own lanes and making stops at metro-style stations, it costs just 10 pesos for a reloadable card and 6 pesos per trip, totaling about $0.91. You can also hop aboard the Tourist Bus, a red double decker bus that has hop-on and hop-off service at many of the major tourist attractions for just 140 pesos per day, about $8.
Food and Drink
If you don’t want to spend a great chunk of change on food and drink while in Mexico City, you can save by having your meals at the big markets and street vendors around town. You can not only get a real taste of local culture but also sample authentic local specialties and meals without spending an arm and a leg. Mercado de San Juan is a favorite for foodies for its rare meats, seafood, and fresh produce while Mercado de Medellín is known for its Central and South American specialties. Other markets to try for cheap eats include Mercado de San-Cosme and Mercado de Coyoacán. You’ll only fork over a couple of pesos for a meal and your stomach will leave happy. If you prefer to dine out restaurant style, things are still affordable, with standard restaurants offering meals for under $20.
You can easily see some of Mexico City’s major attractions without ever pulling out your wallet. You can start with the Zócalo, the free public plaza that sits in the heart of the capital. It surrounds some of the city’s most important buildings and identifies as the largest plaza in all of Latin America. Aside from being a great people-watching spot, the Zócalo is also home to the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, one of the oldest and largest cathedrals in the Western Hemisphere (which is also free to enter!). The Zócalo also houses the Palacio Nacional. Free and open to the public, the building’s main highlight are its Diego Rivera murals.
The city is also home to over 150 museums, many of which are either free outright or free on certain days. The Museo Soumaya is one of the standouts that won’t cost you a peso. Free all year round, the museum boasts six floors of Impressionists, Old Masters, Mexican muralists, and much more. Other freebie museums in the city include the Museo de Estanquillo and the Museo de la Charrería.
When you need to get away from the crowds and catch your breath in a peaceful green space in Mexico City, then head to the free Chapultepec Park. The 1,500-acre city park is not just the green lung of the city but it’s also home to the Chapultepec Zoo. Also free to visit, the zoo is the second-largest zoo in Mexico and has a giant panda breeding program.
Want to get your fill of carnitas and culturally rich experiences without draining your wallet? Start planning your trip to Mexico City!