1. About Mexico City 

Mexico City, officially known as Ciudad de México (CDMX), stands as a towering testament to both its historical roots and its modern-day prominence. Nestled within the Valley of Mexico at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 ft), this bustling metropolis encompasses 16 boroughs, known as alcaldias since 2016. With a city population of approximately 8.84 million and over 21.3 million in its greater metropolitan area, it reigns as the largest Spanish-speaking city globally and the largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in 1325 as Tenochtitlan on an island in Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs, it endured a transformative history, from near-destruction during the 1521 siege to subsequent redesign and rebuilding under Spanish colonial influence. Officially renamed Ciudad de México in 1585, it has evolved into a multifaceted hub of political, administrative, and cultural significance, shaping the course of the Spanish-speaking world.

Today, Mexico City is not only a political and economic epicenter but also a vibrant cultural mosaic. Boasting a wealth of over 150 museums, second only to London globally, it offers a rich tapestry of art, history, and innovation. The city’s culinary scene mirrors its cultural diversity, celebrating a fusion of indigenous, Spanish, and global influences. This amalgamation defines its cuisine as a cornerstone of Mexican gastronomy, renowned worldwide for its flavors and diversity. As the former Distrito Federal and now the CDMX, this metropolis continues to evolve, embodying resilience and adaptability while preserving its deep-rooted heritage as a beacon of Mexican identity and global cultural prominence.

2. Location

Mexico City, is situated in the Valley of Mexico, also called the Basin of Mexico. Geographically, it is located in the central part of Mexico, within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. The city itself is positioned at an altitude of approximately 2,240 meters (7,350 feet) above sea level, making it one of the highest major cities in the world.

The Valley of Mexico is surrounded by mountains and volcanic peaks, including the famous Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes. Historically, the city was originally built on an island in Lake Texcoco, which has since been drained due to urbanization and environmental concerns. Today, while the lake is mostly gone, the area remains prone to environmental challenges such as subsidence and water management issues.

Mexico City’s strategic location in the heart of Mexico has historically made it a crucial center for trade, culture, and politics within the country and throughout the Americas. Its centrality within Mexico contributes to its role as a major economic, cultural, and transportation hub for the region.

3. Climate

Mexico City has a subtropical highland climate characterized by mild temperatures year-round. Average temperatures range from around 12°C (54°F) in winter to 18°C (64°F) in summer. The city experiences a rainy season from June to October, with July and August being the wettest months, and a dry season from November to May. Due to its high altitude (2,240 meters or 7,350 feet), Mexico City enjoys relatively stable weather but can experience rapid changes and occasional temperature inversions affecting air quality.

4. Religion

Religion in Mexico City is predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the broader religious landscape of Mexico. Approximately 80% of the population identifies as Catholic, and the city is home to many significant Catholic sites, including the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world.

In addition to Catholicism, there is a growing presence of other Christian denominations, such as Protestant and Evangelical churches. Smaller communities of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and practitioners of indigenous religions also contribute to the city’s religious diversity. This mix of faiths highlights Mexico City’s role as a cultural and spiritual hub in the region.

5. Language

Spanish is the most widely spoken language of Mexico, but it is not legally the official language. The government recognizes 68 other languages spoken in the country. Most hotels and tourism related services offer at least some English.

6. Time

Mexico City no longer observes Daylight Saving Time as of 2022. The city now remains on Central Standard Time (CST) year-round, which is UTC-6.

7. Business Day & Banking Hours

In Mexico City, the standard business days are Monday through Friday. Typical business hours for offices and many businesses are from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Retail stores and restaurants often have longer hours, and some may also be open on weekends. Banks generally operate from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on weekdays.

8. Currency & Credit Cards

The official currency in Mexico City is the Mexican Peso (MXN). When dealing with cash, it’s common to use coins and banknotes, which come in various denominations.

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Mexico City, especially Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. These can be used at most hotels, restaurants, larger retail stores, and for many services. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller

establishments, street vendors, markets, and tips, as they may not always accept card payments. ATMs are readily available throughout the city for convenient cash withdrawals.

9. Electricity

Voltage in Mexico is 110V at 60Hz. Plugs are Type B, with flat pins, identical to those used in the USA, Canada and the Americas. We recommend you bring your own adapter, as they are not widely available outside of some large airports.

10. Tax & Tipping

In Mexico City, the Value Added Tax/VAT (IVA stands for “impuesto al valor agregado”) is 16% and is usually included in the prices of goods and services. This tax applies to most purchases, including dining, shopping, and services.

The Mexico City custom is to leave tips of about 10%. This can rise to 15% if the service was exceptional. In general, tips are presented in restaurants, bars, and cafes and to street vendors selling prepared foods. Some restaurants include gratuities in the check. It’s also customary to leave service tips for waiters, valets, gas station attendants, bellboys and similar service providers. Not tipping is often considered rude.

11. Leisure Activities

Archaeological Sites: Mexico City boasts a unique blend of ancient and modern. Explore the city’s many archaeological sites, some grand and long-studied, others recently unearthed and offering fresh insights. These remnants of powerful cultures are a source of local pride and a major draw for international visitors. Mexico City’s deep connection to its past is evident in its museums flanking major excavations, where both grand discoveries and recent finds shed light on influential cultures that continue to resonate today.

Museums: Mexico City is a haven for museum enthusiasts, boasting a vast collection covering everything from ancient Mesoamerican civilizations to modern art. Here are some of the must-visit museums:

Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum

Museo Frida Kahlo (Frida Kahlo Museum)

Museo Soumaya

Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts Museum)

Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art)

These are just a few of the many incredible museums in Mexico City. With its rich history and vibrant culture, there’s something for everyone to explore.

12. Getting Around

Navigating Mexico City, despite its size, is quite manageable thanks to its extensive transportation network and various options suited to different preferences and budgets.

Metro: The Mexico City Metro is one of the largest and busiest metro systems in the world. It consists of 12 lines that cover the city and its outskirts. Fares are inexpensive, and trains are frequent, making it a popular choice for both locals and tourists.

Metrobús: This bus rapid transit system operates on dedicated lanes along major avenues, offering a fast and efficient way to travel across the city. It’s particularly useful for reaching areas not covered by the metro.

Buses: Mexico City has an extensive network of public buses operated by several different companies. While they can be crowded during peak hours, they offer routes to virtually every corner of the city.

Taxis and Rideshares: Taxis are plentiful in Mexico City, but it’s important to use authorized taxis from official sites or apps to ensure safety. Rideshare apps like Uber and Didi are also widely used and provide a convenient alternative, especially for late-night travel.

Ecobici: Mexico City has a bike-sharing program called Ecobici, with stations located throughout the city center and in popular neighborhoods. It’s an eco-friendly and convenient way to explore the city, with dedicated bike lanes on major roads.

Bike Lanes: The city has been expanding its network of bike lanes, making cycling a safer option for both commuting and leisure.

Walking: Many neighborhoods in Mexico City are pedestrian-friendly, especially in the historic center and trendy areas like Roma and Condesa. Walking allows you to soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere and discover hidden gems along the way.

13. Visas For more information on visa issues, please CLICK HERE.

14. Security & Emergency Numbers

When calling the emergency number, please remember to state your name, the nature of the accident, address of the emergency and how serious the situation is.

If you are involved in a traffic accident, it’s important to contact the police immediately. In case of a minor incident, move your car to the side of the road, as there are fines for obstructing traffic. You cannot file an insurance claim without a police report.

Emergency contact numbers

911: The national 911 service is answered and attended to locally, and operators will automatically receive your location.

55 5658 1111: LOCATEL is Mexico City’s information and help line. Operators are prepared to address any non-emergency, and non-life-threatening situation.

5552867097 or 5552869077 ext 2104 or 2309: The Tourist Assistance Hotline may also be able to help you with issues specific to your trip, communications with your embassy, or other issues related to your visa, airport transport, or similar problems.

Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

QS Quacquarelli Symonds.

QS Higher Ed Summit: Americas 2024