The 8-12 hour layover: a quickie in Downtown Mexico City!
NOTE: If your layover is 6-8 hours you can pick two of the activities described below. Got just 5 hours, pick one. If you’re here for less than 4 hours, find a food joint in the airport and call it a day.
The Mexico City Airport Layover can be grueling, and let’s face it: an airport is no place to spend 12 hours. That’s especially true if the airport is just a few miles away from the center of one of the most vibrant cities in the world.
The plan is to get you to see as much as you can in a small radius that is less than an hour away from the airport. Here’s a guide of what to do with your (very) brief stay in the City of Palaces.
#1 GET OUT OF THE AIRPORT
There is more than one way to leave the airport, but before deciding on means of transportation, find a luggage storage facility (or, even better, check your bags for your next flight) to make your day tour easier and lighter.
#2 GET TO DOWNTOWN!
Both Mexico City Airport terminals have ground transportation options like pre paid taxis that are safe and speak English. Also, a Metrobús stop is right outside the national arrivals door in Terminal 1.
Should you take a taxi, ask them to drop you off at Bellas Artes. If you take the Metrobus, and jump off at the Juárez stop on the south route, or the Hidalgo stop on the north route.
CHECK IT OUT
You’re now in the Alameda Central, a 500 year old park and the oldest in the continent: explore fountains dedicated to Roman gods and geometric paths that lead eventually to the city’s crown jewel: the Palace of Fine Arts.
Go inside Bellas Artes and gaze upon the incredible architecture and wild interior design. Climb up stairs (or take the elevator, no judgement here) to look at the collection of murals.
Across the street from Bellas Artes, the Postal Palace is the central post office, still functioning, with a tantalizing interior: Baroque, Art Nouveau, Elizabethan gothic and Spanish Renaissance revival are only a few of the styles combined in this gold and marble building that has withstood the test of time and earthquakes.
GRAB SOMETHING TO EAT
A few steps away are great options for food: the traditional and homely Cafe de Tacuba (Tacuba #28), the quirky La Opera (5 de mayo #10), which claims to have a bullet hole made by Pancho Villa on its baroque golden crown moldings, or the modern and elegant Azul Histórico (Isabel la Católica #30).
GET A DRINK
Try the mezcal, a local beer or a glass of Mexican red wine in the bar at Downtown Mexico City (Isabella la catolica #30). Their selection of cocktails and snacks, together with a comfortable sitting area where you can put your feet up, is the perfect end to a hectic day of traveling and exploring.
DO SOME QUICK SHOPPING
How are your loved ones going to know you took an express trip to an incredible city if you don’t bring them back a bunch of equally incredible souvenirs?
Around those streets you can find the gift shop of the Museo de Artes Populares (Museum of Popular Arts, Revillagigedo #11) and the Fonart shop (AV. Juárez #89), with beautifully made handcrafts from all over the country.
If you’re looking for something more edgy and modern, the MUMEDI (Mexican Museum of Design, Madero #54) has a whimsical shop with jewelry, artoys, lamps, handbags and apparel created by Mexican designers.
BACK TO THE AIRPORT
Now you see, your Mexico City Airport Layover was a true adventure after all. You can use most of your app based taxi services in Mexico City, and during most hours it’s fine to take a cab back to the airport (See our tips for city taxis here). Leave with about two hours lead time to get there comfortably and with spare time to your next flight.