Mexico City on a Budget: Guide + All my Best Tips


The Ultimate Travel Guide to Saving Money in Mexico City

Dreaming of visiting Mexico City but worried that costs might get out of hand? Look no further!

In this guide, you’ll discover all my top tips for saving money in Mexico City.

From free and cheap tours and activities to finding budget-friendly public transport, eating on a budget to choosing affordable hotels, I’ve got everything you need.

Are you excited to see the inexpensive side of Mexico City? Let’s get started!

Free Museums and Activities in Mexico City

Mexico City is packed with amazing things to do that won’t break the bank, especially when it comes to exploring its museums. Lots of them are absolutely free!

You’ll find plenty of these gems right in the heart of the city, in the historic center.

But the adventure continues beyond – in places like Bosque Chapultepec, Roma, and Polanco, you’ll find plenty of spots to immerse yourself in art, history, science, and much more, all for free.

My advice
For a deep dive into all the incredible experiences the city has to offer without spending a penny, check out my guide to the Best 40 Free Things to Do in Mexico City! 
estanquillo museum mexico city
Estanquillo Museum, Mexico City

Best Low-Cost Tours in Mexico City

Mexico City has some incredible, yet inexpensive, paid tours that provide in-depth exploration of the city’s main attractions.

Here’s my top list of budget-friendly tours (just click on the name of the one you’re interested in to book):

Pyramid of the Moon Teotihuacan
View from the Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan. Photo Karla Acosta

Free Tours in Mexico City

Consider joining a Free Walking Tour. While these tours are free, tipping your guide for their insight and expertise is a welcomed (and expected) gesture.

I recommend two agencies that offer a wide selection of tours, making it easy for you to find one that not only captures your interest but also fits your schedule perfectly.

Just click on the name of the tour you’re interested in to make a booking:

Estacion Mexico


Mexico City’s Top Cheap Hotels

Accommodation often constitutes a major part of travel expenses, so for those planning a budget-friendly Mexico City trip, consider these fantastic and affordable lodging options:

My advice
For the best areas and hotels in Mexico City for all budgets, check out my complete guide: Where to stay in Mexico City?

Budget-Friendly Hotels in Condesa

  • Fungi Hostal: An adults-only, artistic hostel by Parque México, with colorful dorms from $21 USD and private rooms for added privacy. This affordable Condesa gem offers a social vibe and prime location near trendy cafes and shops. Perfect for young travelers and backpackers wanting a lively experience
  • Experience Mexico City Condesa: Offering great value at $41 USD per night, this Condesa hotel is a dream spot for digital nomads. It blends work and leisure perfectly with amenities like a kitchenette, washing machine, and a terrace offering city views. The cozy, professional vibe is ideal for anyone who loves to work while exploring, with its close proximity to local eateries and parks.
  • Cozy Condesa Apartment: Starting at just $45 USD per night, this apartment in the heart of Condesa is perfect for up to four people. With its own kitchen, it’s an ideal choice for families and friends.
  • Hostal Roma-Condesa: located just a short walk from Parque México, this hostel offers cozy rooms starting at only $45 per night. It features amenities like a common lounge and a rooftop with city views. Surrounded by a variety of restaurants and cafes, you’ll have easy access to numerous dining options in this lively neighborhood.
Mexico City Condesa Cheap Hotels
Experience Mexico City Condesa

Budget-Friendly Hotels in Roma district

  • Colmena Tonala: a great value hotel in Roma Norte providing modern, clean accommodations with comfortable mattresses, access to a fully equipped kitchen, living room and a workspace. Starting at just $38 USD per night. It’s the perfect choice for travelers seeking both quality and affordability in one of the city’s most stylish neighborhoods.
  • The 222: it is a welcoming house in Roma Sur offering a comfortable homestay experience. Priced from around $42 USD per night, each room in this cozy house is equipped with a desk, microwave, minibar, and coffee machine for your convenience. Guests can also enjoy a shared sunny terrace, perfect for relaxing.
  • Apartment in Roma District: This is a surprisingly affordable stay in Roma Sur, with a capacity of up to 5 people, starting at just $49 USD per night! With a small kitchen and living room, it offers the comforts of home in a cozy setting. Set in a peaceful residential area with easy access to local cafes and parks, it’s an excellent choice for travelers seeking a quiet, affordable retreat in the city.
Mexico City Roma Norte Cheap Hotels
Colmena Tonala Hotel (Roma Norte), Mexico City

Budget-Friendly Hotels in the Historic Center

  • Mexico City Hostel: located near the Zócalo and the Cathedral, offers dorms at $17 USD and rooms at $32 USD, making it a great budget hotel in Mexico City’s historic center. It’s not a party hostel, but a simple hotel with clean and comfortable rooms, ideal for those seeking a good quality-price ratio.
  • Hostel Mundo Joven: In my opinion, this is the best hostel in Mexico City! Located near the Catedral Metropolitana, it offers an exciting, communal atmosphere ideal for young, adventurous travelers. Its highlights include a rooftop terrace with breathtaking views, a variety of social events and tours, and a central location. Dorms start at $20 USD per night and private rooms at $50 USD, breakfast included.
  • Hostal Regina: nestled in the bustling Downtown area of Mexico City, is perfect for those looking to meet people and make friends. This hostel merges the charm of a historic building with modern comforts, offering dorms from $23 USD and private rooms at $45 USD, good breakfast included. The hostel boasts a rooftop bar, café, and restaurant, with a fun, artistic ambiance.
Mexico City Historic Center Cheap Hotels
Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral, Mexico City

Tips to Find an Affordable Accommodation

1. Central Charms vs. Budget Neighborhoods

For your first trip to Mexico City, I personally recommend staying in central areas like Roma, Condesa, or the historic center.

In my experience, Roma and Condesa are particularly wonderful for walking. With their scenic parks, unique boutiques, safe streets, and vibrant nightlife, they offer a delightful experience both day and night.

While the historic center is excellent for daytime sightseeing, especially for its major attractions and museums, keep in mind that it might not be the most ideal location for evening walks. It’s a fantastic place to soak in the city’s history during the day, but for night-time strolls, Roma and Condesa might be more suitable.

La Juarez Neighborhood is also a good pick. It’s right in the middle of everything – between La Roma, Condesa, Chapultepec, and the city center.

My advice
For more budget-friendly hotel options in Mexico City you can also look at neighborhoods like Santa Maria La Ribera, San Rafael, Escandon, Narvarte, Napoles, or Colonia del Valle. I would avoid Polanco, Anzures and Santa Fe that tend to be more expensive.

But keep in mind, these neighborhoods are farther from the main attractions and may not be ideal for tourists on a short stay in Mexico City. 

roma norte mexico city arquitecture
Roma Norte arquitecture

2. Pick Hotels with Kitchens

To save as much as possible on your trip, consider choosing a hotel or youth hostel that offers access to a kitchen or has a kitchenette.

This way, you can cook your own food instead of dining out for each meal. This can be a big money-saver, especially over several days.

And remember, some places also include breakfast in their price – definitely take advantage of that to save even more!

3. Check the Calendar for Better Rates

To get the best deal on your stay, it’s a good idea to check the prices for different dates.

One of the reasons Booking is my favorite website for hotel reservations is its great calendar feature.

When you view a hotel, just open the calendar to see the prices for each night. It’s a quick and easy way to find out when the costs are lower, making it an excellent tool for budget-friendly travel planning.

While this tip is very useful for beach destinations like Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Puerto Vallarta, where prices change a lot with the season, it can also help you find better rates in Mexico City, even though its prices don’t change as much.

This trick can be really useful for planning your trip within your budget.

Calendar hotel rates mexico city
Open the calendar to see the prices for each night

Affordable and Free Transportation in Mexico City

Exploring Mexico City is made easy thanks to its accessible transportation network. Let’s dive into the cost-effective transport options available in this bustling metropolis:

1. Uber and Didi

While not the cheapest, Uber (and its competitor Didi) can be surprisingly affordable compared to rates in places like Canada, the United States, or Europe.

It’s worth checking your app for an estimate, as you might find the prices pleasantly lower than what you’re accustomed to.

2. Public Transportation

For those strictly watching their budget, Mexico City’s public transport system is exceptional. The combination of the Metrobús (Bus Rapid Transit) and the subway covers an extensive area at a very minimal cost.

You can buy a rechargeable card that you can use on both the metro and the Metrobus. It costs 10 pesos and each trip is worth 5 or 6 pesos, depending on the type of transport used.

Coming from Montreal, I find the accessibility and affordability of Mexico City’s public transport system quite impressive!

metrobus mexico city
Metrobus Mexico City

3. Ecobici – A Budget-Friendly Bike-Sharing System

Ecobici offers short-term plans starting at 123 pesos for one day, with options for 3 days, a week, or even a year.

This service allows for unlimited 45-minute rides every day from 5 am to 12:30 am.

The app, which you can download here [AndroidiPhone], shows the number of bikes available at each station and helps locate the nearest one.

My advice
 Although there are many bike lanes in central Mexico City, it’s wise to be cautious of cars, pedestrians, and even motorbikes that sometimes use these lanes to bypass traffic.

While I’ve thankfully never had an accident, it’s important not to assume everyone will follow road safety rules.

ecobici rent bike mexico city
Ecobici in Mexico City
ecobici app mexico city
The Ecobici App displays available bikes and locates the nearest station

4. Bicigratis – Free Bikes in Mexico City

Yes, you read that right – Mexico City offers free bikes!

Bicigratis, an initiative by the city government, allows you to rent a bike for up to 3 hours at no cost.

I frequently use the station near Fuente de Cibeles in Roma Norte, but with stations in Coyoacán, Roma-Condesa, Polanco, and around Reforma, there’s likely one near you.

  • To rent a bike, you’ll need to present two original IDs (one being a passport, if you are a foreigner).
  • Bikes are available Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 1 pm and 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm, and on Sunday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.
free bikes mexico city
“Bicigratis”, Free Bikes in Mexico City

Smart Tips to Avoid Data Roaming Charges

Be sure to avoid data roaming charges while traveling; they can be surprisingly expensive!

1. Use the Free WiFi Across Mexico City

Guess what saved me more than once in Mexico City? A fantastic initiative called ‘Internet para Todos‘ (Internet for All). The city has set up a system with over 31,000 free WiFi access points!

You’ll usually find these WiFi spots marked with a sign, but your device should pick up the signal easily. It’s such a handy resource, especially when you’re out and about exploring the city!

free wifi mexico city
Free Wifi in Mexico City

2. Buy a local Sim Card

While you’ll find free public WiFi in Mexico City, having your own internet data can be incredibly useful when traveling. Personally, I prefer not to rely solely on WiFi for both convenience and safety reasons.

The most practical option is to purchase a Telcel SIM card, which you can easily find at any Oxxo store for 29 pesos.

You must initially load the SIM card with a minimum of 50 pesos to activate it, though I recommend adding 100 or 200 pesos to ensure you have enough data for a month.

  • In Mexico, to purchase a Telcel SIM card, simply asking for a “Chip Telcel” will be universally understood
  • Should you need more data, you can recharge your SIM at any Oxxo by providing your number and requesting a “recarga Telcel” or you can also top up online through the Telcel website after setting up a profile
  • You will find your telephone number on the card

My advice
You’ll also notice the “Oxxo Cel” chip being advertised as a newer option. It’s quite similar to Telcel, but I can personally vouch for Telcel, having used it problem-free since my arrival in Mexico in 2018.

Just so you know, there are two easy options available!

Mexico SIM card
The Telcel SIM Card, Mexico
oxxo mexico
oxxo mexico city

3. Download Google’s Offline Maps

Years ago, every traveler I met insisted that the app was the one essential tool I absolutely needed. I gave it a try, of course, but honestly, I wasn’t a fan. The interface just didn’t click with me, and it didn’t feel all that user-friendly.

Then, I discovered that you can download maps for offline use with Google Maps, and it was a game-changer! I was really happy about this find. If you’re not already familiar with this feature, let me quickly walk you through the process.

  1. Open the Google Maps app on your phone (be sure you are signed in, and connected to internet)
  2. Click on your profile picture (on the top right)
  3. Click on “Offline Maps”  — “Select your own map”
  4. Move the map to cover the area you wish to download — Click Download

Once you’re ready to use it, navigate back to ‘Offline Maps’ to access your downloaded map.

My advice
Just a heads-up, though: when you’re using an offline map in Mexico and need directions, it only offers the car option, not walking or other modes of transport. But still, it’s a great feature to have at your fingertips! 

Mexico City’s Best Cheap Eateries

There are three fundamental pillars to know when you want to eat well on a budget in Mexico City: street food, markets, and fondas, which are small neighborhood restaurants.

  • Remember to always have cash in pesos and in small bills!

1. Street Food in Mexico City

The vibrant street food culture is not just a local tradition of Mexico City; it’s a nationwide phenomenon.

However, the capital takes it to the next level, as it seems to be available on every corner, offering an unparalleled variety and accessibility.

Here’s my top tip: simply wander around the city and see where the locals go. You can tell which street food is the best quality by looking at the lines that form and the crowds that gather around the stalls.

Obviously, I can’t list all the best street food spots in Mexico City because there are too many and it would need a series of articles.

But, here are some great places I suggest for a first visit:

Tacos al Pastor: Definitely the iconic Mexico City bite, it should be the first stop for any traveler! Picture thin slices of pork, pineapple, onion, and cilantro wrapped in a tortilla. Love hitting up Tacos Los Paisas, Los Cocuyos, and Taqueria Arandas (they’re open 24/7!) in the historic center. In Colonia Condesa, Taqueria Las Rejas and Tacos Don Juan are my go-tos. And in Colonia Roma? Taqueria La Roma and Taqueria los Parados are must-visits.

Elotes y Esquites Los Juniors (3pm-11pm): it’s corn on the cob (elote) or in a cup (esquites), jazzed up with mayo, cotija cheese, lime, and chili powder. Personally, I’m prefer esquites — so much easier to eat and just my favorite for a late-night snack!

Tlacoyos Medellin (10am-5pm): tlacoyos are prepared with blue corn dough, stuff  with beans, and topped with cactus salad and cheese. My recommendations? Go for the chicharron tlacoyos and the huitlacoche ones.

La Esquina del Chilaquil (8am-1pm): They’re famous for the “green chilaquiles torta” — beans, fried chicken breast, chilaquiles with salsa verde, queso fresco, and cream, all stuffed into a bun. Honestly, it’s a bit much for me, but you’ve got to try a “torta de chilaquil” at least once to really get Mexico City. Just brace yourself for the line, especially on weekends.

My advice
You can also join this bike tour that offers a delicious exploration of Roma, Condesa, and Chapultepec Park, blending amazing street food with must-see sights.

Thanks to the guides, I’ve discovered some of my now favorite street food spots near home! Book it here:

street food mexico city
Delicious Street Food in Mexico City

2. Markets and tianguis in Mexico City

Besides being a great place to eat on a budget, markets are a must-visit in Mexico City.

They’re like little complex worlds where you can find everything, from fresh fruits to fish, household cleaning products, and even miracle cures to find your soulmate.

I suggest starting with the big markets in Mexico City:

-Mercado de Sonora, known for its section dedicated to the Santa Muerte, and Mercado La Merced, which is right next to it.

-Mercado de Jamaica, which has a huge flower section. After comparing different stands over the years, I finally found the best esquites I’ve ever eaten in Mexico there: the bone marrow esquites (called tuétano) at Elotes Linda. A real treat!

You can also check out Mercado San Juan (historic center), Mercado de Medellin (Colonia Roma), or Mercado Hidalgo (Colonia Doctores) where you’ll find the best “gorditas de chicharron” – corn masa pockets filled with pork.

My advice
Be sure to explore the tianguis!

Unlike the permanent mercados, tianguis are traditional open-air markets that spring up on specific days. Here, vendors set up temporary stalls on the streets, offering everything from fresh produce to delicious street food.

esquites tuetano mercado jamaica cdmx
The best esquites! Mercado de Jamaica, Mexico City

3. Fondas in Mexico City

Fondas are small traditional restaurants that offer antojitos (like gorditas, tacos, sopes, etc.) or a daily menu that includes an appetizer, a main course, a drink of the day, and sometimes a dessert.

They are one of the best places to eat affordably in Mexico City because the goal is to provide simple, very reasonably priced options so customers can come back every day. Generally, you can get a whole meal for 60-70 pesos.

Thanks to this concept, despite strong competition, they have managed to survive over time. It’s estimated there are more than 59,000 fondas in Mexico!

My advice
Be careful, some places use the word “fonda” but they are not traditional and affordable fondas, but rather normal restaurants. 

Often, fondas don’t look like much, so you might walk past without realizing it. If you see a sign that says “cocina economica” or “comida corrida,” you’re in the right place.

Here are some good fondas in Mexico City (click on the names to see their locations on a map):

Exploring Mexico City on a budget is entirely possible, and with these tips, you’re set to discover the best of the city without breaking the bank. Now, what are your top tips for saving money?

Get the Best Deals on Flight Tickets

Mexico City Airport officially named Benito-Juárez International Airport receives a lot of national and international flights. It is the most important airport in Latin America!

To save money on flight tickets, you can use our flight comparator for Mexico, in partnership with Skyscanner: it’s the guarantee to pay the best price for your international and domestic flights!

Rent a Car at the Best Price to Discover Mexico City

Renting a car is for sure the best way to explore Mexico and make the most of your stay!

While it’s not super useful to visit the city, having a car is a must to discover the rest of the country.

To rent a car, personally, I always use Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

Book your trip now and save money!

You’re traveling in Mexico? These articles will help you!

Discover all my articles about Mexico: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Mexico are listed there.

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cheap things to do Mexico City


I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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