Mexico City is one of the most exciting, varied, and cultured cities in the world. There’s an almost infinite number of things to see and do in this enormous city of 22 million people. However, the first thing you’ll need to figure out when you land is how to get from Mexico City airport to Downtown.
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Mexico City International Airport is one of the largest and busiest airports in Latin America, with over 100,000 passengers passing through each day. Happily, the city has excellent public transport infrastructure, and this extends to the airport, so it’s easy to get to wherever you need to go.
Mexico City Airport to City Center
When I lived in Mexico City, I typically used Uber to get around. This included whenever I needed to get from Mexico City airport to the city center.
However, there are several other options too, including taking the Metro, a local bus, or booking a private transfer. If you’re keen to explore more of the surrounding area by hiring a car, you can even drive yourself. Find the best rates on rental cars here.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting from the airport in Mexico City to the Downtown area.
1. Take The Metro
As well as being the cheapest option to get into the city, taking the Metro is one of the quickest and most efficient ways to get from Mexico City airport to Downtown.
The Mexico City Metro network consists of 12 lines and has 195 stations in total. It’s a huge system, and you’ll probably need to change at least once, depending on your final destination.
There are maps on the walls throughout the network, and it’s relatively easy and intuitive to use. From the airport’s Terminal 1, follow the signs marked “Metro”. It’s a fairly short walk, and this will take you to Terminal Aérea Station, on Line 5.
Tickets are super cheap, costing only 5 MXN ($0.20) per journey. It takes approximately 50 minutes to get from the airport to most locations in central Mexico City (Condesa, Roma, Centro Histórico, etc.).
Just bear in mind that very large luggage is (technically) not permitted on the Metro, although this isn’t always enforced. Small-to-medium-sized backpacks are fine, but if you’ve got loads of big, bulky luggage, this might not be the best option for you.
Another word of advice: be mindful of what time your flight arrives.
During rush hour (hora pico), between 6-9 am and 6-9 pm Monday to Friday, the Metro network can get extremely busy. I’d try to avoid using it during these times unless you don’t have much luggage and don’t mind large crowds underground.
The Metro runs from 5 am until midnight on weekdays, 6 am to midnight on Saturdays, and 7 am to midnight on Sundays and public holidays.
However, while the network is overall very safe during the day, from time to time there are incidents of crime, especially at night. Solo travelers may therefore wish to take a taxi or an Uber (see below) if arriving outside of daylight hours.
Overall though, taking the Metro from Mexico City airport to the city center would be a good option for budget travelers, solo travelers (during the daytime), as well as those traveling lightly.
Click here for more information about the Mexico City Metro, including several detailed maps and diagrams of the network.
2. Go By Shuttle
Another option for solo, budget-conscious travelers, especially those with bulky luggage, is to take a shared airport shuttle into the center of the city.
These take the form of minibusses or large cars that you prebook and (usually) share with other passengers. To reserve your place on one of these shuttles, head to the kiosks in the main arrivals hall, near the area for pre-booked taxis.
Tickets for a shuttle from Mexico City airport to the city center cost roughly MXN 180 ($9 USD) per person. This can be cost-effective if you’re traveling by yourself.
However, taxis and Ubers usually only cost a little bit more than this (see below), so I’d only really recommend taking a shuttle if you don’t have other people to share the cost with.
Also, because the shuttle will probably make several stops to drop off other passengers, it can take considerably longer (typically 40-60 minutes) to get to your destination as compared with taxis or Ubers.
Given that you’ll only be saving a couple of dollars, in my opinion, it’s usually not worth it. But of course, the choice is yours.
3. Take a Taxi
A taxi ride from Mexico City airport to the city center typically takes 20-30 minutes, although your journey time will depend largely on traffic. I’ve been in a car that did the journey in under 15 minutes, though during rush hour (7-9 am or 6-8 pm) it can take upwards of 45 minutes.
Overall, taking a taxi (together with Uber) is typically the fastest way to get from the airport to most places in the city. If you have lots of bulky luggage, a taxi is also one of the best and most convenient ways of getting into the center of the city.
The cost of a taxi from Mexico City airport to Downtown starts from 300 MXN ($15 USD), making this one of the pricier options. But it still works out as good value for money if you have a few other people to share the cost with.
All official airport taxis are prepaid. In the main arrivals hall of the terminal, look out for the marked prepayment kiosks where you can prepay for your ride before you head outside to find a taxi.
Most taxi drivers in Mexico City speak little-to-no English, but prepayment means that you don’t need to try and negotiate a fair price in Spanish.
Be sure to use only official, licensed taxis to ensure your journey is as safe and hassle-free as possible.
4. Take The Bus
Another option for getting from Mexico City airport to Downtown is by taking the Metrobús. You can catch these from either Terminal 1 or 2, just follow the signs from arrivals.
The Mexico City Metrobús is one of the cheapest ways of getting around the city, and a ride from the airport to the city center costs 30 MXN ($1.50 USD). Before heading outside, first, you’ll need to pick up a Metrobús Smart Card from one of the machines in the main arrivals hall.
For most destinations in central Mexico City, you’ll want to take Line 4, which runs from the airport to Colonia Buenavista, just northwest of the Centro Histórico. It takes approximately 45-60 minutes, although this largely depends on traffic and the number of people getting on and off.
Taking the Metrobús is one of the best transportation options from Mexico City airport for budget travelers.
However, as with the Metro, it’s not a good idea to try and use the Metrobús if you have lots of large items of luggage. And similarly, it can get extremely crowded during peak hours, i.e. 6-9 am and 6-9 pm, Monday to Friday.
The Metrobús runs every day from 5 am until midnight.
5. Call an Uber
Uber is, in my opinion, the best way to get around Mexico City, and you can call a car to pick you up from right outside the main airport terminal.
It does cost a bit more than many of the other options described in this post, with fares starting from around 200 MXN ($10 USD) for a ride from Mexico City airport to Roma Norte or Condesa. However, for sheer convenience and ease of use, Uber is hard to beat.
As with traditional taxis, an Uber ride from Mexico City airport to the city center usually takes 20-30 minutes, though it can be longer if you travel during peak time (i.e. 7-9 am or 6-8 pm).
Also similar to taxis, Uber is an especially good choice for people traveling in groups (as you can split the cost) and/or those with bulky luggage.
It’s also a great option for visitors who don’t speak any Spanish, as you can conduct the whole transaction via the app on your phone and don’t have to use any ticket machines, or overcome to challenge of trying to speak to somebody in a ticket booth.
Head to the main exit of the terminal and follow the signs for “Taxis”. Then order your Uber once you’re outside.
As with all transport in Mexico City, the main taxi rank outside of the terminal can be extremely crowded during peak hours, so be prepared to wait and keep a keen eye out for your car. I’ve missed several Ubers here before – they only drive past once, and they don’t wait!
6. Drive Yourself
Of course, you can also hire a car from Mexico City airport and drive yourself into town.
It goes without saying that renting a car is likely to be the most expensive method of getting from Mexico City airport to downtown. However, this might be a good option if you’re planning on doing a lot of exploring outside of central Mexico City and don’t fancy taking lots of public transport.
That being said, I definitely wouldn’t recommend hiring a car if you’re only planning to stay in the city center.
Driving in Mexico City is certainly not for the faint-hearted, and you need to be an experienced and confident driver if you want to consider this option.
The traffic is notoriously busy, it can be very difficult to find parking, and you’ll have to navigate your way out of the airport and into the city on congested roads, which can be daunting, to say the least.
If you do decide to drive, it’s best to avoid the worst of rush hour (7-9 am and 6-8 pm, Monday to Friday), if at all possible. However, you’ll still need to be prepared for heavy traffic at other times.
It’s easy enough to pick up a hire car at the airport. All of the major rental companies have offices here, just follow the signs for “Car Rental” once you arrive. However, a better option is to book your rental ahead of time, check out Discover Cars for the best rates.
The cost of hiring a car at Mexico City airport tends to fluctuate. In my experience, Mexican car rental is usually fairly affordable, although you should check all of the fine print carefully to see what is and isn’t included and covered.
As with car hire everywhere, you need to ensure you have adequate insurance before getting behind the wheel of a car in Mexico. I have an annual worldwide excess waiver insurance policy, as I don’t like overpaying for this at the rental desk.
However, most (if not all) Mexican car rental companies also require you to pay an additional fee for mandatory liability insurance, which does add to the rental cost.
Of course, make sure you check the car very carefully before signing anything and take pictures or a video of any existing scratches and dents if there are any.
7. Book a Private Transfer
If you want to avoid the hassle and potential stress of public transport or driving yourself, another option is to book a private transfer from Mexico City airport to your hotel or apartment.
You can expect to pay upwards of MXN 300-400 ($15-20 USD) for a one-way journey from Mexico City airport to downtown. The cost depends largely on the company, and the class of vehicle you select. For an executive car (e.g. a Mercedes or BMW), the price is naturally higher than for a standard Sedan.
Personally, I would save the money and just order an Uber. However, booking a private transfer could be a good option for groups and people who are prepared to pay a bit more to avoid having to stand in line for a taxi or having to order and track down an Uber after a long flight.
Booking a private transfer also means that your driver will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall, no matter what time you get there.
Getting from the Airport to Downtown: FAQs
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the different transportation options from Mexico City airport.
There are a number of different transport options available, as described in this post. The cheapest way is to take the Metro, but the fastest and most convenient way is usually to take an Uber.
Some hotels are also able to organize private airport transfers. If this is something you’d be interested in, ask the hotel concierge or reception team in advance.
Prices start from around 300 MXN ($15 USD).
The distance from Mexico City airport to downtown is about 10 miles (16 kilometers), and the journey typically takes 20-60 minutes, depending on your chosen method of transport and the traffic at your time of travel.
I think Uber is the best way, for its relative affordability, convenience, and ease of use.
Official airport taxis, Ubers, and private transfers are the safest options.
If taking a taxi, you should only ever use official, licensed ones. There are a lot of unlicensed drivers operating in the city, and using these increases your chances of encountering issues.
With Uber, be sure to double-check your driver’s details and license plate before getting into the car.
Taking the Metro. Tickets only cost 5 MXN ($0.20) per journey.
Now you know all about the various options for getting from Mexico City airport to Downtown (or anywhere else in the city).
In summary, the best option for getting from Mexico City airport to your hotel or apartment is often going to be an Uber, especially if you’re traveling with others. It’s fast, convenient, and relatively inexpensive.
A good option for solo and/or budget travelers is to take the Metro, during the daytime. This is extremely cheap but a little more complicated, especially if you have luggage.
Whatever option you choose, organizing transport from Mexico City airport to Downtown is usually fairly straightforward, so there’s really no need to worry.