5 Valuable Tips For Using The Mexico City Subway

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We’re back in Mexico City! After spending over a month in Guanjuato, Mexico, we decided to celebrate the New Year in Mexico City before heading to the coast. It’s been a fun few days so far in the city, and we’ve been enjoying using the Mexico City subway to get around the city.

Contrary to what you might think, Mexico City is relatively safe to travel around. Even for families. We’ve explored a few neighborhoods so far, particularly Reforma, Centro Historico, and Roma, but we’re itching to visit more.

Of course, there are the same precautions as any big city, like keeping a low profile to avoid pickpockets. And there are certain neighborhoods in Mexico City that you should avoid. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many families we see walking around the streets of Mexico City.

This blog post was updated on May 19, 2020.

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An archaeological artifact at the Mexico City subway station
Looking at an in a subway station (January 2019)

Options for transportation in Mexico

There are many options for transportation in Mexico, especially in Mexico City. When we were here last, we only had a few days to spend. So we opted to use taxis and Ubers to get around. Uber is available here in Mexico City, and you don’t have to wait too long for one. Often, they are a cheaper option than the taxis.

But if you’re planning to stay in Mexico City a bit longer, there are plenty of other options for transportation in Mexico. Mexico City has an extensive bus system. You can ride the CDMX buses, which have stops along many of the main roads, or you can experiment with the smaller buses. We have yet to try the buses in Mexico City, though. But if you’re interested, maps of the Mexico City metrobus lines are available online.

Other options for transportation in Mexico include public bicycles and scooters. A popular public bicycle company we see is EcoBici. They have bicycles placed all over the city that you can rent. We have also seen electric scooters throughout the city. And of course, one of our favorite ways to get around Mexico is by walking. Take a look at Moon’s Mexico City guide book for other options of getting around the city.

Want more tips on traveling to Mexico with kids? Read this post.

Exploring Mexico City (January 2019)

Using the Mexico City subway to get around

One transportation option we’ve recently enjoyed using is the metro in Mexico City. Mexico City’s transportation system is complex, and the subway goes all over the city. In fact, we took the Mexico City subway across town the other day to visit Kidzania with the kids, and it was so easy. We just hopped on the subway and took it to the end of the line.

If you’re planning on exploring Mexico City with your family, consider taking the metro. It’s cheaper than taxis and Ubers, and gives you a chance to experience travel like a local. For families planning on visiting Mexico City, here are my five tips for using the Mexico City subway.

Waiting for the subway to arrive (January 2019)

1. Buy your tickets at the booth

Mexico City subway tickets cost 5 pesos per person, regardless of the age of the passenger, so keep this in mind as you’re planning your Mexico travel budget. There are ticket booths where you can purchase your tickets near the entrance of each station. Subway tickets are good for a one-way ride, no matter the distance. You can transfer between stations for no additional cost, as long as you don’t leave the station.

If you’re planning on staying for an extended period of time in Mexico City, I’ve read that you can purchase a Metro card. Apparently, you can request a tarjeta at the ticket booth, although when I tried to request one recently, I was told that there were none available.

Buying tickets to the subway (January 2019)

2. Keep an eye on your belongings

The metro in Mexico City is generally safe, but it’s still wise to keep an eye on your belongings. If you’re carrying bags, hold them in front of you. And keep hold of your kids’ hands, as things can get a bit crowded at times in the subway stations and cars. If you’re a woman traveling by yourself, there are cars that are specifically dedicated to women and children only, so you can feel a little safer sitting in those sections.

A women and children only waiting area at the Mexico City subway
Heading to the women and children section (January 2019)

3. Take a photo of the Mexico City metro map

One helpful tip I do when using the subway in a big city is to take a picture of the subway map. I like to do this in case I end up at the wrong station, and have to figure out how to get where I want to go. Or if I’m taking a train and have to figure out what stop to get off at.

In Mexico City, you can take a photo of the Mexico City metro map on keep it in your phone. There are maps posted in each station. Or you can also go to the Mexico City metro website and download a copy of the Mexico City metro map image to your phone.

The Mexico City metro map (January 2019)

4. Make note of the station symbols

What I like about the metro in Mexico City is that each station has their own special symbol. For example, the symbol for the Cuauhtemoc station is an eagle head, while the symbol for the Xola station is a palm tree. I suspect it’s for Mexico City subway users who aren’t able to read.

But you can use it to your advantage too. Remembering symbols is so much easier than remembering names, especially for kids! This is a fun way to incorporate learning into your travels and help your kids build their navigational skills.

Subway line sign with symbols for each stop (January 2019)

5. Don’t be afraid to be a little pushy

During certain times of the day, the Mexico City subway can get a bit crowded. This is especially true during rush hour. We once had to wait for two train cars to pass just so we can get into one that wasn’t so full.

If you’re traveling the metro in Mexico City during rush hour, don’t hesitate to push your way in or out of the crowd. The doors close fast. And if you’re traveling with kids, you don’t want to run the risk of accidentally getting separated. In case you do get separated, be sure to have a plan of how to meet up again.

Want to learn more about Mexico? Explore the Mexican destinations we’ve visited here.

Going into a subway station (January 2019)

Riding the metro in Mexico City with kids

We are having so much fun riding the metro in Mexico City. Our kids love experiencing the city in this way. As travelers, we try and live as much like the locals as possible. And that means taking public transportation when ever possible.

Here in Mexico City, the subway is used by almost everyone, from business people to families. We like that riding it helps us understand life in Mexico better. From the vantage point of a taxi, the city passes you by. But in the subway, we experience the city more fully. And that makes travel so much richer for us.

Have you had experience riding the Mexico City subway? Let me know your story in the comments.

Five Tips For Using the Mexico City Subway | The Wandering Daughter

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15 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing with tips to travel around Mexico using the metro system. I was in Berlin lately and I completely loved using public transport, also I highly encourage using public transport because of less carbon footprint. I would like to take a MetroCard which will give easy access to travel when I will be in Mexico. Great share!

  2. I found the metro always crowded but pretty safe and easy to get around. The best part is how amazing and cheap this was to getting all around this huge city

    1. That’s the main reason why we use it. Even when we’re paying for four people, it’s still cheaper than a taxi!

  3. I have never been to Mexico City. As you noted in your opening, I had always thought of Mexico City as not being safe. Especially to travel with families. Great to know that Uber is available. Good to learn more about the subway. Interesting that the stops have symbols. .

    1. Yes, we had heard warnings about Mexico City too. But we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy and safe it has been walking around.

  4. hey Astrid.

    I also take a picture of the subway map when I am in a new city. 🙂 Actually, I write notes less and less and take photos more and more. Photos are my notes on my travels.

    So smart of Mexico City subway to mark stations with symbols instead of names! Indeed, people are more visual and tend to remember faster pictures than names.
    A good move!

  5. I’ve yet to check out Mexico City. I hearing all kinds of stories about the city but from what you guys are sharing, it doesn’t seem that bad. And with the whole family too! I love how informative your guide is, it certainly comes in handy. But, shoving and pushing is just the highlight out of any metro, no matter where you are in the world 🙂

  6. Mexico city subway sounds like a cultural experience similar to some parts of India. I like your advice of don’t worry if you have to push yourself in. Ha ha. Pretty useful suggestion of capturing the map.

  7. So I am going to be very honest and say that I had no idea that Mexico city had a subway system. I guess it never occurred to me but I am glad that it is such an easy means to getting around in the city.
    Usually when I travel I love taking public transportation as it always drops me off near sites I want to see and saves me tons of money. Of course as per your tips you have to be a wee bit aggressive and safe while travelling on subways but it can be so efficient.
    Plus I love seeing street art that is usually seen in the subway systems near the platforms!

  8. If I have time I love using public transportation when I’m in a new city. It’s so interesting to travel like a and with locals. Nice to know there are cars for women and kids. I’d use your precautions anytime and anywhere. Lucky you to live there for awhile. a

  9. Walking is also my favourite way to get around new cities, but I’d love to try the electric scooter around Mexico City 🙂 I love that the subway has a section just for women and children – that’s so important!

  10. Local transportation is the perfect way to have an authentic experience in the place you are visiting. It is often very affordable (perfect for the travel budget) and safe depending on where you are visiting of course. Thanks for sharing these tips! xo -Kam

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