Is Mexico City expensive

Is Mexico City Expensive? How Much Should I Budget?

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Are you planning your Mexico itinerary and wondering is Mexico City expensive to visit? 

As part-time Mexico City residents, we’ve compiled this guide to travel expenses in Mexico City to help you plan your perfect, on-budget trip. 

Travellers often think that, as a capital city, Mexico City must be one of the most expensive locations in Mexico. However, this is simply not true. Popular tourist hotspots such as Cancun or Tulum are more expensive to visit than Mexico City. 

Plus, compared to Europe and the U.S.A., we guarantee that you will find Mexico City a cost-effective city to visit. Accommodation is reasonable (especially during the rainy season), Mexican food is cheap, transport is super cheap, and attractions are affordable. 

There aren’t many global capital cities which offer as much value for money for travellers as Mexico City. 

Read on to find out how much is a trip to Mexico City.

How Much Should I Budget Per Day In Mexico City?

Finca Don Porfirio

Is Mexico City expensive, and how much money will I spend in one day? These are two questions we are frequently asked. 

Our standard answer is that your Mexico City daily budget depends on your travel style and your situation. Travelling as a solo traveller often incurs greater costs than travelling as a couple, and families will encounter even higher costs.

Plus, if you like high-end accommodation and eat three meals a day in a restaurant, you will spend more than a backpacker sleeping in a hostel bed who eats street food and self-caters. 

Our one-day budget for Mexico City estimates are based on accommodation, a mix of street food and restaurants per day, plus using 2 public transport or private drivers per day. It does not include attractions, night-time entertainment or tours

✅ Budget traveller – MXN 1,345 / $80 USD

✅ Mid-range traveller – MXN 2,521 / $150 USD

✅ Luxury traveller – MXN 7,060 / $420 USD

🛌🏻 Cost Of Accommodation In Mexico City

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico City, you will be pleased to know that there is accommodation to suit every Mexico City budget and travel style.

For an accurate comparison, the following price examples are based on one person staying for a Saturday night in the peak season (April) in the Centro Historico. It will give you an idea of how much you should budget for accommodation each night you spend in the city. 

Luxury ➡️ Circulo Mexicano, 5 star MXN 5,635 / $323 USD

Mid-Range ➡️ Kali Ciudadela, 4 star, MXN 1,780 / $102 USD

Budget ➡️ Viajero CDMX Centro Hostel dorm bed MXN 663 / $38 USD

As you can see, backpacking Mexico City is, without a doubt, the cheapest way to visit CDMX. However, mid-range hotels offer excellent value for money and are of a good standard. 

A 5-star is the most expensive accommodation, but we think it is still reasonable compared to 5-star hotels in other capital cities. 

🍕 How Much Does It Cost To Eat Out In Mexico City?

Once you have worked out accommodation prices, you will no doubt be asking is Mexico City expensive to eat out in and how much is food in Mexico City. 

Eating out can really add up on vacation, so unless you plan to self-cater to keep costs down, it is important to factor these costs into your overall budget. 

How Much Does A Meal Cost In Mexico City?

Where you eat and what time you eat will affect the price of what you eat. Choosing to eat outside your hotel and where the locals eat will keep costs down. Lunchtime is often a cheaper time to have your big meal of the day. 

Remember, tap water is not safe to drink in Mexico City, so you will need to buy bottled water with your meals.

✅ A basic lunchtime meal with a drink costs around MXN 260 / USD $15.50.  

✅ A sit-down two-course dinner will start around MXN 600 / USD $36 per person.

How much does street food in Mexico City cost?

how expensive is Mexico City street food.

Mexican street food is varied, yummy and cheap; we can’t get enough of it. You can pick up a hot, tasty and filling meal of tacos and quesadillas for very little money. 

Plus, you will save time eating street food as opposed to sitting in a restaurant. 

✅ An average one-course street food meal or 2 big tacos cost MXN$80 / USD $4.80.

How much is a cup of coffee in Mexico City?

how expensive is mexico city coffee

If, like us, you need a coffee to kick start the day, you’ll love CDMX as it has a growing coffee culture and a huge selection of hipster cafes and speciality coffee shops.

Since many places are super fancy, prices are not cheap; expect to pay at least 60 pesos for a standard cup of coffee and around 80 for a speciality drip coffee. Coffees with milk, such as lattes and cappuccinos, are more expensive than americanos or espressos. 

✅ A sit-down coffee in a local cafe will cost from MXN 60 / $3.60 USD. 

How much does a cocktail cost in Mexico City?

Cocktails at Balmori.
Cocktails at Balmori.

A cocktail in a club is more expensive than drinking in a local bar. Beers are cheaper than cocktails, and Mexican beers are cheaper than imported beers, so stick to local labels such as Corona, Modelo or Tecate if you want to save money. 

Both beer and cocktails will cost more if you visit one of the popular rooftop bars in the city. 

✅ A cocktail in a club will set you back around MXN 290 / $15 USD. 

✅ A beer in a local neighbourhood bar will cost around MXN 40/ $2.50 USD.

🚍 How Much Does It Cost To Get Around Mexico City?

Is Mexico City expensive in terms of its transport? We think that, compared to the rest of our global travels, Mexico City is one of the most affordable for getting around. 

If you’ve been wondering will you have enough money to use Uber or how much does it cost to ride the subway in Mexico City, the following facts are for you. 

Uber 

Blogger Robin getting into Uber car in La Condesa.

Mexico City has the second-highest Uber use in the world. It is a quick, safe method to travel around Mexico City and to further afield attractions. For the lowest Uber prices, we recommend avoiding travelling in rush hour. 

✅ To ride from Plaza de la Constitución (Zócalo) to Coyoacán costs MXN 250 / $14 USD. 

Metro 

Blogger Robinek buying a metro ticket in Mexico City.
prices of metro in Mexico City

We usually use the metro to travel around CDMX. We find the metro reliable, cheap, quick and of decent quality. 

We advise avoiding rush hour if you can or travelling alone late at night. Watch out for pickpockets on busy subway carriages. 

One thing to note if you are a night owl is that the city metro does not run between midnight and 5 am on weekdays and between midnight and 7 am on weekends.

✅ Each single journey costs just MXN 5 / $0.30 USD, and you can use your ticket to transfer onto other lines if needed. 

Bus

Metrobus Mexico City

There are two bus services in CDMX – Metrobús and local buses. Tourists will generally only need to use the faster, more direct Metrobús services. 

Mexico City has dedicated Metrobús lanes, so using the Metrobús can sometimes be quicker than travelling by car. Passengers must buy a smart card from a cash-only machine at a bus station or ticket kiosk. You then tap your card when entering the bus (you don’t need to tap off again). 

✅ Each single journey on a Metrobús costs MXN 6 / $0.35 USD. 

Tram

Trams in Mexico City are called Trolebús.

Using the Trolebús is cheap and relatively easy, but it is slower than the Metrobús.

✅ A single tram ride costs just MXN 4 / $0.20 USD.

🚘 How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Car In Mexico City?

Blogger Robin driving a rental car in Mexico City.

If you don’t want to use public transport, you may be wondering is Mexico City expensive for car rentals. 

We think that compared to other capital cities, renting a car in Mexico City is relatively cheap.

✅ For a medium-sized rental car, we usually spend around $30 to $40 USD per day (plus full insurance cover.)

However, due to the congested nature of CDMX traffic, the notoriously difficult parking and the low-cost public transport network, we don’t think renting a car in Mexico City is worth it. 

Save your car rental for when you are ready to take day trips or begin a longer Mexico road trip. 

🛶 Cost Of Activities In Mexico City

So we’ve covered is Mexico City expensive in terms of accommodation, food and local transport but what about things to do? Are things in Mexico City expensive?

A trip to Mexico City – like any other capital city – can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. If you only do self-guided free attractions, you will spend very little money. There are also fantastic free walking tours in CDMX, which will help you to save money.

On the other hand, if you want private tours to the most popular attractions, you need to be prepared to spend big. 

The following section includes our recommendations for unmissable things to do in Mexico City and how much each activity will cost you. 

Teotihuacan Tour

How much does a balloon ride in Teotihuacan cost?
Our hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan was worth every dollar spent! ❤️

Teotihuacan (‘The City of the Gods’) is an unmissable UNESCO-listed attraction 48 km northeast of Mexico City. We’ve visited UNESCO sites all over Mexico and around the world, and Teotihuacan is one of our favourites.

The site has over 2000 structures to explore, including two of the largest pyramids in the world. Its size and scale are awe-inspiring, and its monuments are incredibly well-preserved.

If you can, we highly recommend taking a tour which combines a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the ancient site. Of all our amazing travel experiences, our hot air balloon trip remains one of the best things we have ever done. 

✅ Budget tour – accompanied self-transfer by public bus to Teotihuacan with a guided tour of the site costs from MXN 1,000 / $58 USD per person

✅ A private tour with transfers, a hot air balloon ride and entrance into Teotihuacan costs from MXN 3,000 / $180 USD.

Xochimilco Tour

how much does a tour in Xochimilco cost?

The Xochimilco floating gardens are a unique UNESCO World Heritage site just 19 km from CDMX. 

Xochimilco (‘flower garden’ in the Aztec language) consists of 170 km of canals punctuated by artificial garden ‘islands’ constructed by the Aztecs to grow crops. 

Today, traditional trajinera boats journey through the canals to see native plants, the islands and the eerie Island of the Dolls. You might even spot one of the canals’ endemic species, such as the axolotl. 

The canals are popular with city residents, and in the evenings and on weekends, Mariachi bands plus floating food and drink vendors create a party atmosphere. 

We have journeyed the canals several times and love the friendly, party vibe. 

✅ Travelling by public transport to Xochimilo and taking a shared boat ride costs from MXN 600 / $35 USD. The boat cost is shared between all the passengers, so this price will decrease if you share your boat with others. 

✅ Taking a private tour with transportation and a private boat ride costs from MXN 2,500/ $151 USD. 

Note that you will need extra money (ideally pesos) for food, drink and music. 

Lucha Libre Show

Bloggers Mal and Robin at Lucha Libre show in CDMX.

We always say to visitors that if there is only one thing you can do in Mexico City, make it a Lucha Libre match

Mexico City is the home of Lucha Libre, so this entertaining freestyle form of acrobatic wrestling should be experienced here. It has a long, proud tradition in CDMX and is deeply rooted in Mexican heritage, politics and popular culture.

Lucha Libre is best known for its raucous atmosphere and the fighters’ flamboyant masks, capes and knee-high boots. 

The capital has several Lucha Libre arenas, including the largest and most modern purpose-built arena in the country,  Arena México.

✅ Travelling by public transport and buying your own ticket (either in advance online or at the Arena box office) will cost between MXN 150 – 600 / $8 – $34 USD, depending on where you choose to sit in the Arena.

✅ A tour with private transfers, your entrance ticket to Lucha Libre, plus added extras such as pulque and taco tasting, costs from MXN 1,650 / $97 USD.

Tolantongo Tour

Cost of day trips from Mexico City
Tolantongo Hot Springs is such a great destination for a day trip from CDMX. 🥰

Tolantongo (meaning ‘home where it feels warm’) is a set of stunning, natural hot springs set in the Hidalgo Valley, 188 km north of Mexico City. The site is run by a co-operative of local families. 

The thermal pools are built in the style of infinity pools into the sides of the hills overlooking the lush valley and turquoise river below. Each time we visit, we are awed by the views and beauty of the setting. You can also go hiking or visit some of the area’s caves (grutas). 

✅ The best budget option is to take a bus from Mexico City, then a taxi and buy your own ticket at the entrance to the hot springs. This combination will cost from MXN 1,100 / $66 USD. However, traveling by public transport will be complicated so we recommend hiring a car if you want to do a budget trip. 

✅ A full-day tour with private transfers, entrance to the hot springs, a guided cave tour and breakfast starts from MXN 2,400 / $142 USD.  

Mexico City Food Tour

mexico city food tour

Regular readers of our site will know that we love food; it was one of the things that drew us to live in Mexico City in the first place. 

The food in CDMX is amazing – and there isn’t a better way to discover all the city has to offer than joining a food tour. A food tour will show you the best places to shop and what to buy and will include tastings of 3+ food and drink types. 

✅ 5-hour standard tours on foot starting from around MXN 1,800 / $106 USD. Alternatively, you can do a cooking experience for around the same price. 

Day trip to Puebla

How much is a day trip to Puebla from Mexico City?

Puebla is 135 km southeast of Mexico City. It is known for its colourful colonial buildings, ornate churches and vibrant food scene. It is particularly famous for its mole – it’s the best we’ve ever tasted! 

Highlights of the city include the Cathedral of Puebla, the stunning Temple of Santo Domingo and the oldest library in North America, the Biblioteca Palafoxiana.

✅ The cheapest way to visit Puebla is on your own by public bus from the TAPO bus terminal in the eastern part of Mexico City. The ADO bus takes two hours each way and costs MXN 150 / $9 USD each way.

✅ To get the most out of a day trip to Puebla, we recommend taking a tour. A small group tour with transfers, a guided tour in Puebla, plus a stop on route at Cholula pyramid starts from MXN 1,700 / $100 USD. 

Day trip to Taxco

Taxco

Taxco De Alarcón is considered to be Mexico’s silver capital. It sits in the Guerrero state mountains 180 km south of CDMX. 

It is a charming colonial town with great architecture and character. We love wandering its winding cobblestone streets, looking for high-quality silver souvenirs

Highlights include the 18th-century Santa Prisca cathedral, the hilltop view from El Cristo and the Museum of Religious Art. 

✅ The cheapest way to get to Taxco is by public bus from the Taxqueña (Terminal de Sur) bus station in the south of Mexico City. The journey takes 2 hours 45 minutes and will cost MXN 240 / $14 per person each way. You can buy Costa Line bus tickets online in advance. 

✅ We think you will travel to Taxco more easily and see more as part of a tour. A full-day tour from Mexico City to Taxco De Alarcón starts from MXN 1,450 / $85 USD. 

🎒Tips On Doing Mexico City On A Budget

Is Mexico City expensive to visit? We would not choose to live in Mexico City unless it was possible to do so on a budget. 

Like any capital city, there are ways to save money. These are our local insider tips for visiting Mexico City on a budget. 

✅ Use public transportation 

CDMX has a diverse and comprehensive public transport system – and all of it is super cheap! We prefer to use the efficient metro to get around as it doesn’t get stuck in traffic. 

You can use the public transport system to travel all over the city and further afield to places such as Teotihuacan, which is served by a direct bus from CDMX. 

✅ Stay in a hostel. 

As already mentioned, you can stay in hostels for around $38 per person per night. If you don’t want to share a dorm, hostels also offer private rooms for a fraction of the price of a hotel. 

For example, Viajero CDMX Centro Hostel (which we quoted earlier in this article) offers private double rooms for under $50 a night. 

Plus, many hostels have communal kitchens, so you can cook basic meals to keep your travel costs low. 

✅ Eat street food

Street food is some of the cheapest food you will find in Mexico City. Even better, it is hot, tasty and filling. Mercados are great places to find a range of street food options.

✅ Cook your own meals 

Self-catering – particularly for easy meals like breakfast – is the best way to save money whilst travelling. 

Shop for groceries at the local markets, so your money will go much further than it would in a restaurant. Plus, it’s a good way to keep healthy whilst travelling. 

✅ Buy local SIM

Keep mobile charges low by purchasing a local SIM as soon as you arrive in CDMX. You will save a lot of money. 

✅ Take advantage of free or cheap things to do 

Mexico City has a good range of free or low-cost attractions.

Museums are cheap, some walking tours are low-cost tip-based tours, or you can simply wander around the diverse neighbourhoods and parks that make up Mexico City. Chapultepec Park is our personal favourite.  

💵 Cost Of Living In Mexico City

Apartment in la Condesa.
Our modest apartment in Condesa, Mexico City.

Before we moved to CDMX, we constantly questioned and researched is Mexico City expensive to live in. 

Once we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised at how far our money stretched. 

Apartment rental vs Airbnb cost

If you’re planning an extended stay in CDMX, renting an apartment is much cheaper than renting an Airbnb. However, most rentals require a 12-month contract, so unless you can commit to a year in Mexico City, Airbnb is your only option. 

Polanco offers the most expensive Airbnb’s in CDMX. We live in Condesa and have found the prices to be reasonable. 

✅ A one-month peak season rental (in April) in Condesa for a one-bedroom (modest) self-contained apartment costs, on average, MXN 29,000 / $1,700 USD. Cheaper rentals are available in different locations and at different times of the year. 

Utilities

Utilities (including electricity, gas and water) are much cheaper in CDMX than in other capital cities.  

✅ Expect to pay around MXN 1,200 / $70 USD for utilities for one month.

Internet 

Like any other destination, it is always best to shop around for the best internet provider and the best package. Unfortunately, you often get what you pay for, so if you work from home like us, you may need to spend more to get more. 

✅ For a standard package, expect to pay around MXN 500 / $30 USD per month for the internet. 

Personal beauty (spa treatment, haircut)

If you want the cheapest prices, go where the locals go. We recommend avoiding salons and spas in hotels as they will be expensive. 

✅ A gents haircut will cost around MXN 600 / $35 USD.

✅ A 1-hour deep tissue massage will cost between MXN 1,200 / $70 USD. 

Clothes 

How much you spend on clothes depends on what you buy and where you shop.

For the cheapest prices, buy locally made items (not imported, brand name clothes) and shop where the locals go. 

Unless you have deep pockets, avoid high-end designer boutiques. 

✅ A pair of brand-name jeans will cost around MXN 1,200 / $70 USD.

✅ An everyday dress from a chain store will cost around MXN 850 / $50 USD. 

Grocery 

We recommend buying locally grown, in-season fruit and vegetables if you want the cheapest prices. Avoid imported foods if you can. 

We were taken aback by the price of groceries in Mexico City after living in Asia, so we usually shopped around to secure the best prices. 

✅ A loaf of bread costs approximately 50 MXN ($2.95)

✅ 1 litre of milk costs around 108 MXN ($6.20)

✅ 1 kg of chicken costs 200 MXN ($11.80)

✅ 12 eggs 80 MXN ($4.70)

Coworking 

Coworking spaces have become increasingly popular with the rising numbers of digital nomads and stay-at-home workers. 

✅ The cheapest coworking office rates start from MXN 2,000 / $120 USD for one person for one month. 

🤔 Is Mexico City Expensive?: FAQs

Is Mexico City Expensive? Mexican Pesos

How much money do I need for a week in Mexico City?

To answer how much money should I take to Mexico City for a week, we would need to know your travel style, how you like to eat whilst travelling and whether you plan to use public transport or private drivers. 

Using our daily guide at the start of this article, our suggestions for a weekly budget per person would be – 

✅ Budget $560 USD

✅ Mid-range traveller $1050 USD

✅ Luxury traveller $2940 USD

Remember that this does not include any entrance fees or excursions, just food, accommodation and 2 transport journeys per day. 

What’s the cheapest time to go to Mexico City?

We hope this article has answered is Mexico City cheap to visit, but it is important to say that certain times of the year are cheaper than others. 

In our experience, the cheapest time to visit CDMX is in the rainy season, between June and September. 

Why are flights to Mexico City so expensive?

Firstly, Mexico is a popular year-round destination, so airlines do not need to offer low-cost flights in order to attract tourists into the country. Plus, many are still trying to recoup losses sustained during the global COVID pandemic. 

Secondly, the fees and taxes imposed on airlines by the Mexican government have not helped the situation. 

Finally, the cost of fuel has risen sharply in recent years, a cost which is being passed on to us, the consumers, by the airlines.  

Why is Mexico City cheap?

Mexico City is ‘cheap’ for a number of reasons, but it is important to remember that everything is relative – there are many more capital cities that are cheaper than Mexico City. 

CDMX doesn’t get the same number of U.S. or European tourists that sunny locations such as Cancun or Tulum receive. The majority of travellers who visit the capital are long-term travellers, retirees or backpackers – none of whom will pay premium prices. 

Plus, there is an economy in numbers. A big capital city means a large population and greater competition, so prices will be low. 

Is Mexico City Expensive?: Wrap-Up

We hope this detailed and comprehensive guide has helped answer the question is Mexico City expensive. 

After living in Asia, we found Mexico City surprisingly expensive for food and accommodation, but one quick trip back to our homes in Europe made us realize that, in reality, Mexico City is not an expensive city to visit or to live in. 

If you visit at the right time of year, eat and shop where the locals go, travel using public transport and shop around for the best tour prices, you can enjoy a cost-effective, value-for-money trip to Mexico City. 

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