If you’re looking for an incredibly historical and edgy destination with world-class leisure on a value budget, Mexico City deserves a spot high on your list.
Most people’s reactions when I told them I was going to Mexico City solo after my recent Riviera Maya retreat fell somewhere between “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” and “Girl, you’re crazy”… which is exactly why I wanted to go.
After spending 7 days solo in Mexico City (AKA Distrito Federal or D.F., as I came to learn), I am proud to exclaim that I had an incredible time and would highly recommend it for solo female travelers who don’t mind carrying a little extra awareness, in exchange for a lot of awesome experiences.
Why Mexico City?
1- History, Culture + Leisure
A short flight away from the usually-celebrated Mexican shorelines, the city is packed with some of the world’s best history and culture, alongside top-notch leisure activities.
Leave your bikinis and shorts at home for this one, because days in this ancient city will be packed with museums, cathedrals, plazas, parks and Aztec pyramids, but don’t worry — you also get charming cobblestone roads, chic eateries, amazing shopping and street food and true Latin America style nightlife for your downtime.
2- High Value (i.e. El Cheapo)
If you are coming in with dollars, girlfriend Mexico City is cheap. The Peso was 17:1 when I exchanged — that’s big city ballin’ and dining at top-rated world restaurants on a newly-minted freelancer income budget cheap, my friend. Whether you’re broke or ballin’ at home, your money goes a long way here.
3- Unique Experience
I don’t know about you, but I love being at the cusp of things, so I was particularly excited to dive into a destination that no one I know really perceives as a “destination” yet! Smog and crime rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades, transportation is a breeze (hello, Uber) and the tourism industry as a whole (dining, nightlife, shopping) is booming to pump up the volume for visitors.
For travelers, Mexico City is in better shape than ever.
Here’s a fun fact: Mexico City has nearly 500 years more history and a lower crime rate than the good ‘ol south’s Memphis, TN. (Source)
As with any major city, it’s a smart idea to keep your pocket WI-FI and fancy DSLR in your purse when you’re not using them. Minor theft crimes are not unusual, so stay aware of your surroundings, avoid dark alleys at night and don’t keep important documents/anything in easy-to-snatch pockets — um, duh.
If you can deal with toning down your outfit (really, no shorts— they’re not a thing here), wearing a cross-body purse for extra measure and sticking to recommended neighborhoods, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most incredible palaces and cathedrals, delicious street food, adorable neighborhoods and people who are seriously excited you’ve come to experience their often misunderstood home!
In Mexico City, Uber has changed the game for safety and accountability in transportation for women. No chance of rigged meters, GPS tracking and even a little language barrier alleviation of if you don’t speak fluent Spanish. (Note: In the states I would always choose Lyft for ethical business reasons, but we’re on limited resources here.)
Buses are easy to navigate and cost a whopping 5 pesos (that’s $0.30 US), so they’re a solid option. Just be conscious of pick pocketing since they’re usually packed.
For transportation between “destination attractions,” the Turibus Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour is more price-effective than Ubering everywhere, and they have headphone plugins for 5 languages so you can get the details as you go.
Where to Stay
I was welcomed as a guest at Chaya BNB in Alameda Central during my stay, and can honestly say it shaped my entire visit. The BNB idea is a new concept in Mexico City, and these guys are paving the way in style.
More than their advantaged location, rooftop hammocks, design-savvy decor and delicious, authentic, family-style breakfasts, as a solo traveler I highly valued the comfort and resource of the cheery bi-lingual staff who makes themselves available to you 24/7 by WhatsApp.
Think Kinfolk style and class meets hostel community benefits, at a price somewhere in between. Read more on why I recommend Chaya here.
Other accommodations that came recommended to me include nearby Hilton Reforma, Hotel Condesa, Las Alcobas and basically anything in the Roma or Condesa areas, which is where you’ll end up at night anyway!
What to Do
Logistics out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff: what’s to do?!
and easy-to-plan from: