Visiting Mexico City isn't complete without a tour of the major museums, parks, historical sites and centers. If your time is limited, but you still want to experience some of the great sights and places that Mexico City has to offer, The Turibus - Circuito Turistico is the best way to see it all in a day. And, you can do it without leaving your seat.
Even for Spanish students in Mexico City with extended stays, a Turibus tour is a great way to get an overview of the city. The Turibus is a doubledecker bus that takes visitors on a guided audio tour through the heart of Mexico City, including Chapultepec Park, historical colonias Condesa and Roma (where our Spanish School is located), Centro Historico and the Zócalo, as well as up and down Mexico City's major thoroughfares Reforma Avenue and Juarez.
While there are several stops along the route to buy tickets and board the Turibus, the best place to begin is the beginning, at Auditorio Nacional. Arrive in the morning, the first bus runs at 9:00 AM. Tickets are purchased at the bus itself, there is rarely a ticket booth or attendant outside of the bus. Finding the queue can be difficult, as there are no clear markers designating the Turibus. If you don't' see the large bus in the drive in front of the steps to the Auditorio, head to the east corner of the front steps (on the left side when facing the auditorio) and wait down by the drive, near the bottom of the steps. Buses come generally every 30 minutes.
On weekdays, tickets are $100 pesos for adults, and a little cheaper for children and seniors. Weekend tickets are $115. Buses don't run on major holidays, or at times when the route is blocked for marches, protests, foot races, or other things that make Mexico City wonderful.
Upon entering the bus, you will receive a wristband, a paper ticket (Do not lose either of these, they are required to re-board later), headphones and a map. Make your way upstairs and find a good seat. Check to make sure the audio port is working, some will have an out of service sign taped over them. The audio guide will be broadcast in several languages, including Spanish, English, German, French, Italian and Japanese.
When the Turibus gets going, sit back and enjoy the ride. The audio guide can be particularly interesting, and you can also take along your favorite Mexico City guide book for extra information on the sites, including Chapultepec Park, the Castillo, Torre Mayor, Reforma Ave and it's glorietas (turning circle) monuments, Bellas Artes, etc.
Take advantage of the get off/get on stops by de-boarding at Stop #8 in front of Hemiciclo Juarez (the white Benito Juarez Monument shaped like a semi-circle), as this part of the tour is best made on foot. This will put you on Avenue Juarez, right in front of Parque Alameda. Continue walking East on Juarez and the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes will come into view. You can visit the lobby for free, or for an extra $50 pesos, go upstairs to art mueseum, which includes murals by Diegro Rivera and Orozco.
If you are looking for lunch, continue East on Juarez, cross Lázaro Cardenas (Juarez changes to Francisco Madero at this point) travel one block more to Condesa, where you find the House of Tiles, which, is a large 17th Century house covered in Blue Tiles. Inside is regular Sanborn's, but the main treat is the house itself. Aside from the restaurant, there is a bar and banquet hall upstairs. Even if you're not hungry, go in for a visit.
Another interesting building not visible on the tour is the original Post Office, still in use today. Return to Lázaro Cardenas and head north one block, to the southeast corner of Cardenas and Tacuba, where you will find the Correo Mayor. Check out the ornate wood and metal work inside the lobby and up the staircases. Mail a post card if you like.
Heading to the Zócalo, you can continue East down either Tacuba or Francisco Madero. As one of the world's largest cenral plazas, the Zócalo can't be missed. The large cathedral is open to the public, being respectful of ongoing services. In the center of the large cathedral, you can find a large plum line with a chart showing the church's movement and settling since it's construction in the 1500's. To the East of the cathedral is Templo Mayor, the Aztec Temple destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadores to use the stones for constructing the cathedral.
The Turibus stop at the Zócalo is on the West side of the Cathedral (To the left when facing the entrance to the cathedral). There is generally a line forming to get back on at this stop, however, many people will be getting off the tour here as well. Buses normally run every 30 to 40 minutes.
You can continue the tour all the way to the end, where you arrive back at the Zócalo, or use the opportunity to de-board near your apartment or hotel. Check the map provided on the Turibus for a list of available stops.
What To Bring
- Sunblock, hat, sunglasses.
- Rainjacket, if needed (Umbrellas are not allowed to be used while on the turibus and seating is limited inside in the enclosed area)
- Tourbook, if desired
- Snacks, water bottle (Food and drink isn't allowed on the Turibus, so keep them in a bag when riding)