Blogger Robin is renting a car in Mexico City
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The Ultimate Guide To Renting A Car In Mexico City For 2024

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Renting a car in Mexico City can open up a whole new world of travel adventures. While the public transportation system and ride-hailing apps in CDMX are good, having your own car means you can get out of town to see more of the country whenever you want.

We visit CDMX every year, and when we do, we often rent a car for at least part of the time, as it makes getting to nearby picturesque towns and natural wonders a whole lot easier. As long as you plan in advance and have all the essential information at your fingertips, a Mexico City car rental can be a convenient, seamless experience.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the basic logistics, including the type of rental car you should get, any extra charges you should be aware of, and how to go about hiring a car at Mexico City Airport.

🗺️ QUICK GUIDE 🗺️

Should I Rent A Car In Mexico City?

There are several factors to consider when you are deciding whether to rent a car in Mexico City. The first is 🌟how confident you are as a driver. Obviously, if you are a newly qualified driver or someone who finds unfamiliar environments stressful, you won’t want to be at the wheel on what is meant to be a relaxing vacay.

The next factor to consider is 🌟how long you plan to be in Mexico City. If it’s just a short trip and the majority of the things you want to do are in the heart of CDMX, you might be better off relying on public transport rather than going through all the hassle of getting your own vehicle. 

A car rental can also 🌟greatly increase your overall travel spend. We’ll go into more detail on the average cost of vehicle hire further down, but considering how cheap public transport is (5 pesos on the Metro), you’ll definitely end up spending more by having a car. 

Another thing to bear in mind is 🌟Mexico City’s Hoy No Circula programme, which is designed to reduce congestion and improve air quality. When you rent a car, you should double-check with the agency whether the vehicle is compliant with the regulations so you don’t get caught out by additional fees.

Is It Safe To Hire A Car In Mexico City?

Our experience of Renting a car in Mexico City.
Robin loves driving around Mexico.

Renting a car in Mexico City is generally safe. Of course, you should take the same safety precautions as you would when travelling anywhere in the world, including locking your doors when driving and parking in well-lit, busy areas.

Bear in mind that in Mexico, wearing a seat belt is mandatory for all people in the vehicle, not just the driver and front-seat passenger. It is also illegal to drink alcohol and drive, and you can receive a prison sentence for breaking this law. 

It’s also always handy to check the travel advisory from your national government before heading to Mexico. This will contain useful, up-to-date information and warnings about any issues you should be aware of before travelling, including those related to driving around the country and any areas that may be unsafe.

In general, Mexico City is a safe place to drive, particularly on the main roads in town. However, if you venture into the suburbs and the wider State of Mexico that surrounds the capital, we’ve found that the ⚠️quality of roads can vary considerably – we’re talking potholes and/or a lack of street lighting. 

Don’t necessarily follow your GPS, as it will take you on the quickest route – not necessarily the safest. You should ⚠️avoid smaller roads in poorer neighbourhoods, just in case.

Because of the various road issues, ⚠️we’d advise against travelling at night, just to pre-empt a situation where you might damage your rental car due to a surprise pothole or even a poorly marked tope (speed bump).

Pros & Cons Of Hiring A Car In Mexico City

Renting a car in Mexico City

If you’re still wondering whether or not to rent a car, we’ve bullet-pointed the pros and cons of this travel option to make it simple for you to weigh up the positives and negatives. If you’ve already decided that you’re going to rent a car, though, you can skip ahead to the logistics section. 

Pros

✅ The biggest advantage of renting a car in Mexico City is the convenience. It’s obviously a lot easier to take a day trip to one of the country’s most famous sights, such as Teotihuacan or Puebla, if you have your own transportation.

✅ Lugging luggage isn’t a problem if you rent a car. If you’re someone who travels with extensive amounts of apparel and other accoutrements, getting a rental car in Mexico City Airport avoids the discomfort of lumbering from bus to train to bus with copious baggage in tow.

✅ If you or someone you’re travelling with has mobility issues, having your own vehicle clearly makes sense, and CDMX does have parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

Public transport can be very crowded, especially during rush hours. If you’re somebody who doesn’t enjoy getting up close and personal with strangers on the metro, a car helps you avoid a daily noseful of body odour. 

Cons

⚠️ Mexico City is notorious for its congestion. Using a car in the centre of the city may not be the best option if you’re planning to spend most of your time around the Zocalo, Roma Norte, Polanco, or any other central barrios. This is especially true during rush hour, which lasts between 6 am and 9 am and 6 pm and 9 pm.

⚠️ While hiring a car in Mexico City is not as expensive as in some places, it is still pricier than the alternatives. Considering how cheap the public transportation is, plus how reasonable the fares are on ride-hailing apps like Uber or Didi, you will be paying a premium for having your own vehicle.

⚠️ If your accommodation comes with parking – even for an additional fee – that’s great! If it doesn’t, finding parking spaces can be a problem, especially since the government is actively trying to discourage people from driving in the capital.

⚠️ Renting a car in Mexico City comes with its share of scams. If you don’t want to get caught out, make sure you go with a reputable company (we’ll talk about our recommendations in more detail in a moment). Above all, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Car Rental Mexico City: The Logistics

Blogger Mal getting into the rental car in Mexico City.

So, you’ve decided to rent a car in Mexico City. Great! Let’s run through some of the key points to be aware of.

What is the best way to rent a car in Mexico City?

We always recommend Discover Cars, which is a reliable comparison site that is our go-to option wherever we travel. They work with international car rental businesses like Hertz, Europcar, and SIXT to provide excellent deals on all kinds of vehicles. Depending on the size of your group, you can obtain everything from compact cars to transit vans.

The site is really easy to use, and you get free cancellation if your travel plans change. For the best deals, book as far as you can in advance – at least a month, especially if you have specific requirements or are travelling during peak season.

Shall I rent a car at Mexico City Airport?

safe taxis in Mexico City

If you’re going straight from your flight to a suburban location, you may as well rent a car in Mexico City Airport. It might also be a good option if you have a ton of luggage with you, as getting to your accommodation on public transport can be a bit of a hassle if it’s not on a direct route from the airport. 

On the other hand, if you are travelling relatively light and don’t plan to leave the downtown area for the first couple of days, you may as well pick up a vehicle later. As we’ve already mentioned, CDMX is afflicted by congestion, so if you can delay the moment you pick up your rental vehicle until you plan to go on a day trip or travel to a different city, that’s probably a good idea.

Car rent in Mexico City airport is best accomplished via Discover Cars, where you can check reviews before you decide to prebook your vehicle.

What type of rental car in Mexico City shall I go for?

A foreign country is not the time to go for something completely new! We would generally recommend sticking to the type of car you are already familiar with in Mexico City, whether that’s an SUV or a station wagon. Most of your travel is likely to take place on main roads, so you don’t really need to consider off-road options.

Similarly, if you’re used to driving an automatic, stick with an automatic. It will be a bit more expensive than a manual vehicle, but it’s better to pay the extra cash than risk a traffic accident or a stressful travel experience.

How much does a car rental in Mexico City cost?

We usually rent a very affordable, medium-sized car for $30 to $40 per day, but the price can vary greatly depending on how much space you need and the kind of vehicle you desire.

Don’t forget that the earlier you book, the better the deal you are likely to find. You should also take into consideration the time of year: rentals are significantly higher over winter when a lot of visitors head to the more temperate parts of Mexico to escape the cold weather in their home countries. April also tends to be popular with people getting away for Easter.

If you plan to travel from Mexico City to other parts of the country, you can pick up the car at a location in CDMX and drop it off in the city where you end up. The further away the place, the greater the expense. For instance, to Oaxaca, you can expect to spend at least $40 per day on vehicle hire, while to Cancun, it’s more than $70 per day.

Extra charges to be aware of

Renting a car in Mexico City is relatively straightforward, and any extra charges should not come as a surprise. For instance, we have already noted that there are different per diem charges if you want to 💸drop your car off at a different location from where you rented it (the cheapest prices are always for roundtrips).

As with most rental car arrangements, you will get slapped with an additional fee if you drop a vehicle off with a 💸tank of petrol that is less full than when you received it. Don’t get caught in this annoying little trap, and make sure you fill up on the way to the drop-off point. 

There is also usually a 💸fee for every additional driver signed on for the rental car. We bit the bullet on this one since neither of us wanted to be full-time chauffeurs, but if you are trying to reduce spend and one person doesn’t mind being the designated driver for the entire holiday, you can make a small saving.

What are the best car rental companies in Mexico City?

Renting a car in Mexico City

On the whole, it’s always safer to go with international rental companies simply because there is a greater degree of accountability. For example, Avis, Europcar, and National Rental Car are all reliable options that exist in CDMX. That doesn’t mean you are guaranteed excellent service – as any well-travelled person knows, that guarantee just doesn’t exist – but overall, you can feel pretty secure in your choice.

If you’re not sure about where to go, we’ve already mentioned Discover Cars as a reliable comparison site. As well as being a good place to get the best price, it prioritises car rental companies that have scored highly with previous users so that you can feel confident that you are driving on the road more travelled.

To make absolutely sure that you’re booking through a reliable company, we recommend browsing the cheapest deals first on Discover Cars and then cross-checking the chosen rental company with the Google reviews (for the specific branch in CDMX) and/or Trustpilot.

Can you rent a car with a driver in Mexico City?

Yes, you can absolutely rent a car with a driver in Mexico City. Of course, this is a lot more expensive than driving yourself. However, it does mean you don’t have to worry about competing with the sometimes-madcap antics of the local Mexico City car owners. 

If you do want to rent a car with a driver, Viator has a peer-reviewed list of chauffeur services that you can choose from that is reliable and detailed in terms of the services offered by each provider.

How are the roads in Mexico City?

The roads are… we’re trying to think of a polite euphemism and failing. Let’s just say that they are very varied. In the centre of town, they tend to be better because more money is allotted to ensuring that the roads don’t look like a series of craters on the moon.

If you want to ensure you don’t damage your rental car outside of Mexico City properly, one piece of good advice we can offer you is to take the toll roads. Yes, they cost money as opposed to the free highways, but because they cost money, they are in much better condition. 

Regardless of your feelings about the economics of the situation, you won’t have to worry as much about extra charges from your vehicle provider due to damage if you pay the tolls.

Renting A Car Mexico City: The Requirements

Blogger Robin in a Mexico City rental car.

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s get into some of the nitty-gritty of the requirements related to renting a car in Mexico City.

Can Americans rent a car in Mexico City?

Yes, Americans can rent a car in Mexico City. There are a few fairly standard things you will need in order to do so, the most obvious one being a valid driving license. 

You don’t need any special dispensation in Mexico; ✅your normal US driver’s license will do. However, if you want to be extra careful, you can apply for an International Driver’s Permit to avoid any confusion. Known as an IDP in shorthand, it’s easy to get and is accepted in many more countries than a home country driver’s license.

In fact, we’ve found it to be invaluable on trips around the world, as it encompasses a wider reach and is valid in a whole range of nations.

You will also need a ✅verifiable payment method, such as a credit card or a debit card. The accepted payment method depends on the company that you use to hire the car.

It is also ✅required for everyone to have insurance. And because of this requirement, we recommend booking through Discover Car, which offers a full insurance cover, which we always choose upon booking.

While anybody aged 21 and over can rent a car in Mexico, there are usually restrictions and additional fees associated with anybody under the age of 25, and in fact, some rental companies will not lend a vehicle to people below this age. So, if you’re a teen or somebody in their early 20s hoping to visit CDMX, bear in mind that there will be greater restrictions on your contract.

Can Europeans rent a car in Mexico City?

There aren’t really any major differences for Europeans renting a car in Mexico City compared to Americans renting a car in Mexico City. Just remember the main cardinal rules: valid driver’s license, acceptable payment method, insurance, and age.

Do you need an international driver’s license to rent a car in Mexico City?

You don’t have to have an International Driver’s Permit, but if you are somebody who regularly travels abroad and rents a car, it is a useful bit of paperwork to have on hand. In most cases, the application takes a very short amount of time – no more than 10 minutes – and costs a nominal fee. To be honest, the most aggravating part about the whole thing is how long the postage takes!

Once you have received your IDP, it’s usually valid for three years, allowing you to travel through most countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe.

Do I need insurance when I hire a car in Mexico City?

YES! Under Mexican law, it is legally required for anybody renting a car to take out Public Liability Insurance (PLI) and Third Party Liability (TPL) at a minimum.

We would recommend you go beyond that to avoid even the remotest possibility of getting stuck in protracted legal and damage fees. Discover Cars, for example, offers comprehensive full insurance that covers the majority of issues you might be exposed to while driving in Mexico, including both PLI and TPL.

You may already be covered for car rental insurance by your credit card, but make sure you check the fine print before travelling. Most policies offered by credit card companies have a very strictly defined limit on what is included, and the last thing you want is to realise after an accident that you are personally liable for damages.

Do I need a Credit Card?

Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City

In almost every case, you do need a credit card to pay for a rental car. This is due to the fact that the rental company will usually want to ‘block off’ a deposit, which is held against the possibility of damage to the car – or, in the worst-case scenario, theft. 

Even if a company does accept a debit card, we wouldn’t advise you to pay for a rental car in this way, as it means that cash will come out of your account and be held for an indefinite amount of time, even after you have returned the car in a good state. Essentially, you won’t have control over when your money is given back.

Where to park your car in Mexico City

We would suggest that if you are going to rent a car in Mexico City, you should also make sure you choose accommodation that has on-site private parking. This usually means that your car will be safe and that the parking space will be close to where you are residing so that if you return home late at night, you can feel secure knowing that your holiday home is just steps away.

Renting A Car In Mexico City Airport

Renting a car in Mexico City Airport can be very convenient. You can essentially step out of the airport and into your own private vehicle (OK, we have simplified that a little bit, but you get the idea).

Car rentals in Mexico City Airport are super easy and much more finely tuned than in other parts of the capital. Going back to an earlier point we made, however, it might not necessarily make sense for you to pick up your car at Benito Juarez if you plan to spend your first few days exploring the downtown area of CDMX. 

Not to sound like a broken record, but the best car rental in Mexico City Airport is Discover Cars. Select the airport as the hire point and see what’s available. You’ll usually get the best deals at the tips of your fingers in seconds.

Practical Tips Before You Hire A Car In Mexico City + Tips On Driving In Mexico

Blogger Robin in Pena de Bernal in a rented car in Mexico City.

Now that we’ve got the principal points out of the way let’s go over a few practical tips that we’ve learned from our time spent in Mexico.

🚗 Pick up your car when you’re ready to leave Mexico City

Hopefully, we’ve made clear by now that renting a car in Mexico City only really makes sense for trips out of the centre. Congestion is a major headache, driving alongside road-rage-addled motorists is unpleasant, and parking can be challenging in the heart of CDMX.

For those reasons, we would say that you should avoid car hire in Mexico City Airport (unless you plan to head immediately out of the centre), and instead pick up your vehicle only after you have had your fill of the Centro Historico, Condesa, and Polanco.

🚗 Avoid driving at night

Driving at night in any country can be a challenge, but driving at night in the State of Mexico has its own share of unique issues. Aside from the usual annoyances associated with the darkness, driving around CDMX and its suburbs means negotiating areas that lack streetlights, which in turn means missing traffic signs, the demarcation of the edge of the road, and pesky potholes or speed bumps.

All in all, it’s just not worth risking your health or the health of the car when the sun sets. Save yourself the stress and get to your destination before dark. 

🚗 Get a full insurance cover

We have already touched on this a little, but we really do recommend full insurance coverage. When there are so many unfortunate things that can go wrong through no intentional fault of your own or a third party, it just makes sense to be liable for as few things as possible, especially when the corollary is peace of mind during your trip.

In any case, the cost of getting full protection is very affordable, and that’s before you even take into account the potential amount you could be liable for in the case of an accident. 

A full insurance policy will cover not just damage to the rental car but, more importantly, any injuries to yourself and/or your passengers. Additionally, it will cover any health ramifications associated with injuries to the driver of the other car, their passengers, and their vehicle in the event of a collision.

Take particular care to check the small print of your insurance contract with regard to any stipulations related to driving at night, parking, and what can be placed in the boot. Some car rental companies have stringent policies that could put you in a difficult position if you don’t know about them, so don’t be shy about clarifying any points before driving away in your rental.

🚗 Record the condition of the car

Renting a car in Mexico City is just like anywhere else in the world: you need to comment upon any issues with the vehicle before you drive it off the lot. 

First, look at the paperwork and see if there are any issues noted on the official documentation. If the company has detailed dents, windscreen cracks, or any other issues, make sure you go over these areas with the rental company representative to ensure they are accurately represented on the official paperwork. 

It always helps to have visual evidence. Smartphones are a real lifesaver in this regard, as you can take as many snaps as you want before you settle yourself into the driver’s seat. Make sure you pay particular attention to fenders, lights, the windscreen – any vulnerable areas that are liable to get damaged.

🚗 Book your Mexico City rental car in advance

The closer you get to your holiday, the more expensive your rental car will become. Sure, that isn’t always the case – if you book a rental car six months in advance, you may find the price has dropped slightly when you check again three months late due to low demand. 

However, we have yet to get a cheaper price by waiting until the very last minute before we travel! The rule of thumb is that the earlier you book, the more choice you have and the better situated you are to take advantage of a bargain.

🚗 Use your Credit Card

You probably won’t be given a choice but to use a credit card, at least by the majority of reputable car rental companies. In any case, using a credit card means you can supply a deposit with a sense of security without eating into your savings. 

🚗 Stay within the speed limits

It’s entirely possible, or even probably, that you will see cars with local plates speeding down the highways outside of CDMX. Resist the urge to follow their example. The last thing anybody needs on holiday is to have an encounter with local law enforcement. To use a common idiom, just stay in your lane.

🚗 Don’t drink and drive!

We know Mexico is a party place for a lot of people. And yes, it’s a hell of a good time. Still, we really shouldn’t need to remind anybody that drinking and driving is stupid if, for no other reason than in Mexico, it can land you in a deeply unpleasant local jail. 

🚗 Be aware of the speed bumps 

Ah, Mexican speed bumps, our old nemeses. They are everywhere in Mexico, especially along the non-toll roads. When we were travelling between Merida and Cancun, for example, we encountered over 80 of these little annoyances on our journey. That’s an average of one speed bump every 4 kilometres! And yes, we’re still amazed. Is it a Guinness World Record? It should be.

You might be having a little chuckle at our outrage, but these are not the speed bumps you encounter in the US or most of Europe. These are speed bumps that are almost twice as high and very likely to cause real damage if taken at velocity. In fact, rental car agents know to check thoroughly under the cars for any scrapes so they can gleefully deduct from the deposit of any Mexico first-timers.

How do you spot these mid-road mutilators, you ask? If you are lucky, you will see a wasp-like black and yellow colour scheme adorning the hump or perhaps a sign with the word ‘topes’ or ‘reductor de velocidad’ preceding the erection.

In many cases, they are unannounced, grey concrete or metal hillocks, making them very hard to detect if your full attention isn’t on the road ahead. So much for countryside sightseeing…

🚗 Download offline Google Maps

Even if you have gone through the trouble of procuring a local SIM card, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a Telcel signal in some rural parts of Mexico outside CDMX. 

We would always advise downloading an offline map onto Google Maps or whatever equivalent app you prefer, such as Maps.Me of any region you are planning to travel to in advance of your arrival. That way, you are guaranteed to have the equivalent of an old-fashioned printed map at your fingertips when you navigate the country roads.

Renting A Car In Mexico City: FAQs

Zocalo Mexico City

What are the cheapest rental cars in Mexico City?

The cheapest rental car Mexico City has to offer will usually be found at local companies, some of which offer vehicles for less than 10 dollars a day. 

However, they aren’t always the best overall value when you factor in things like insurance and mileage, and it pays in the long run to do a thorough side-by-side analysis of the various options available using a comparison site.

Is it easy to drive in Mexico City?

Mexico City proper isn’t the easiest place to drive due to the sheer number of vehicles you will be competing with, which doesn’t make for the most cheerful or friendly driving environment. Outside CDMX, it’s a little bit calmer. Just make sure you keep an eye out for uneven roads and those pesky speed bumps.

What are the most common rental car scams in Mexico City, and how to avoid them?

If you are renting a car in Mexico City, keep an eye out for common ⚠️scams related to insurance. Either the initial rental price will be incredibly low, which usually indicates insurance is not included, and you will have to pay that as a pricey extra, or the company may try to get you to buy unnecessary additional insurance.

In both cases, using a website like Discover Cars or a reputable international dealer will ensure you can check the paperwork and understand exactly what you are getting beforehand. 

While on the road, you should be particularly vigilant around petrol stations, as these are hotbeds for scams. Take some simple precautions like checking that the station ⚠️attendant has reset the metre before starting and that they are pumping from the pump you have pulled up to, rather than a nearby one.

Always use cash to avoid the chance of ⚠️your card being cloned or skimmed, and make sure you pay attention when handing over money so that the ⚠️attendant doesn’t attempt to switch out higher-value notes for smaller ones. This happened to us on one occasion despite knowing ahead of time that this scum existed. The scammers are like magicians!

If you are stopped by ⚠️the police and given a ticket, the correct procedure is to follow the police car to a station where you can pay the fine. If the police officer asks you to pay on the spot in cash, it is probably a scam, and you should insist on paying by card so that there is a paper trail that can be investigated.

On what side of the road do they drive in Mexico?

People in Mexico drive on the right side of the road. That means that if you’re coming from the US, Canada, most of Europe, or almost all of South America, it will feel completely natural driving in Mexico.

If you come from the UK, Australia, South Asia, or some parts of Southeast Asia, however, you’ll need to make a slight adjustment!

Are there toll roads in Mexico?

Yes, there are toll roads in Mexico. They do tend to be better quality than the free roads, but they also obviously cost a wad of pesos to use. The exact amount depends on the individual toll road, though on average, you can expect to fork over at least 40 pesos ($2.20).

What is the best month to visit Mexico City?

December to February is a good time of year to visit the Mexican capital, as the weather is at its driest and the temperatures are moderate. Of course, this is also when car rental prices are highest, so you might want to opt for March instead, when the weather is still dry, the temperatures are a bit hotter, and the prices are marginally lower.

How many days is enough for Mexico City?

If you want to visit all the different areas of Mexico City at a leisurely pace, four days is a decent amount of time to spend, particularly if it’s your first trip and you want to do a little bit of reconnaissance. Add on a day or two if you plan to take some day trips to some of the wonderful tourist sites that lie just outside the capital.  

7 Best Places To Visit With A Rental Car From Mexico City

The main reason for renting a car in Mexico City is not to get around the centre but to get out of town to see the suburban attractions in the surrounding State of Mexico – and beyond. Here are a few of our favourite places to go.

📍 Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan Pyramids.

Dating back thousands of years, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the Western Hemisphere until the 1400s. Today, you can still see the impressive pyramids of the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon, which are less than an hour from CDMX.

To see the site in an exciting new light, we highly recommend a hot air balloon ride. We did it on one of our trips and it was one of the highlights of that stay!

  • Distance from CDMX – 32 miles / 50 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 1 hour

📍 Puebla

Puebla
The town of Puebla.

About two hours to the east of Mexico City, Puebla’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is filled with gorgeous colonial architecture covered with colourful azulejos (tiles), in particular the city’s cathedral, the Capilla del Rosario, and the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, which is the oldest public library in the Americas.

Make sure you try some mole poblano while you’re in town. This chocolate and chilli sauce is a local speciality and is sometimes cited as the oldest known mole in Mexico.

  • Distance from CDMX – 84 miles / 135 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 2 hours 30 minutes

📍 Cuernavaca

Cuernavaca is a great place to visit from Mexico City with a rental car

Drive an hour and a half south from CDMX, and you’ll come to Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos state. Described as the “land of eternal spring,” it has for centuries been a place of escape for well-to-do residents of the Mexican capital who wanted a bit of peace and quiet. 

While it’s no longer a tranquil sanctuary, it is still a beautiful place to explore the remnants of colonial high life.

  • Distance from CDMX – 59 miles / 95 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 1 hour 20 minutes

📍 Taxco

Taxco

For something a little smaller in size, Taxco’s old centre is made up of romantic cobblestone streets and slightly worn colonial buildings that add to the ambience of faded charm.

It’s a little further away from CDMX – around 150 minutes – but provides a much more chill vibe if you’re looking to escape the chaos of the capital.

  • Distance from CDMX – 115 miles / 185 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 2 hours 30 minutes

📍 Tepoztlán

If you rent a car in Mexico City, Tepoztlan is a must visit

If you’ve rented a car and are heading in the direction of Curnevaca, we recommend including a trip to Tepoztlán, a small town surrounded by beautiful nature. Hike up to the hilltop Pyramid of Tepozteco for enchanting views of the town and valley.

  • Distance from CDMX – 56 miles / 90 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 1 hour 20 minutes

📍 San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende

Even further away from Mexico City is the 16th-century San Miguel de Allende, which boasts the pretty-in-pink La Parroquia, a neo-gothic church that looms over the town square and the immaculately manicured Allende Garden. We visited San Miguel de Allende for my (Mal’s) birthday and had a fantastic time. This town is so picturesque, and we came back with our camera full of photos!

  • Distance from CDMX – 171 miles / 275 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 3 hours 30 minutes

📍 Grutas de Tolantongo

A perfect day trip with a rental car in Mexico City.

Tolantongo is principally famous for its ‘grutas’ (caves), which feature natural thermal springs that flow into a turquoise river as well as man-made terraced pools that jut out of the hillside. Once you’ve had a soothing soak, make time to go on a short hike and explore some of the waterfalls that cascade down the rocks.

The Grutas de Tolantongo are about three and a half to four hours by car, so make sure you budget a full day.

  • Distance from CDMX – 124 miles / 200 kilometres
  • Drive time from CDMX – 3 hours 30 minutes

How To Get Around In Mexico City Without A Car

Especially in downtown CDMX, you can get around just fine without a car. Here’s a list of your principal alternatives.

Using Uber in Mexico City

Uber is efficient and cheap in Mexico City, which is why it’s a popular option for both locals and tourists. It’s certainly much safer than taking a local taxi.

Uber isn’t the only ride-hailing game in town, though, and it’s often worth checking out rivals Didi and Cabify if you want to shop around for the best price and the best availability at any given time and/or place.

➡️ Read our complete guide about using Uber in Mexico City here: Is There Uber In Mexico City?

Public transport

Mexico City Metro
Mexico City Metro

There are two main forms of public transport you will find useful as a tourist in Mexico City:  the Metro and the Metrobus.

There are 12 Metro lines that run through Mexico City, all of which are really convenient for connecting the most popular neighbourhoods and sights. Each trip only costs 5 pesos, making it super affordable.

There are several different types of city buses that cross Mexico City, though the most useful one in our experience is the Metrobus. These vehicles have their own lanes, meaning they can avoid congestion, and cost 6 pesos per ride (30 pesos for the airport route).

➡️ Full guide on getting from Mexico City Airport yo downtown.

Is Mexico City walkable?

Mexico City is walkable to a certain extent. Providing you have a reasonable level of fitness, you can probably traverse the city from the Zocalo in the historic quarter to the Bosque de Chapultepec in the western part of the city, with plenty of stops along the way. 

To get further afield, however, such as to Coyoacan, you’ll probably want to take an Uber or public transportation.

Tours 

As an alternative to renting a car in Mexico City for day trips outside of the capital, tours can be a cost-effective, hassle-free option that allows you to abdicate responsibility for the journey and trust in the knowledge of an expert. 

The downside is that you can’t dictate your own schedule and will have to be bound by the time limits set by the tour operator as to how long you spend at a location.

Renting A Car In Mexico City: Final Thoughts

We’ve tried to be as thorough as possible in this guide to renting a car in Mexico City, drawing upon our own experience to provide complete instructions about how to go about getting the best deal while avoiding potential pitfalls and scams. Ultimately, we’re sure you’ll have a great time in Mexico – we always do!

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