Mexico City is a bustling, vibrant, and culturally interesting place to visit, but it also has a notorious driving reputation. Pollution, driving restrictions, and congestion are all part of the experience. The best advice is to plan ahead.
Mexico City Car Rental Options
There are lots of car rental companies in Mexico City including Thrifty, National, Budget, Hertz, Alamo, and Avis. Each has multiple locations, plus there are other companies operating too. Most car rental companies are either at Mexico City International Airport or close to the Paseo de la Reforma in the city center.
Everyone renting a car in Mexico City must take out Mexican personal liability insurance. This is usually paid on collection of the rental car. This charge applies even if the driver has insurance from their home country that covers driving in Mexico City. Personal liability insurance is normally $20 or more per day.
Most rental companies charge for gas if the car is not returned with the same amount that was in it when it was picked up. Also, anyone renting a car in Mexico City will need a credit card and an international driver's license.
Driving in Mexico City
There are driving bans in Mexico City on certain days of the week. This is called the Hoy No Circula program. It's a complex system that's based on a car's emissions designation and registration plate. Cars with the lowest emissions are exempt, but drivers should check to see if the restrictions apply before driving in the city.
Mexico introduced the Hoy No Circula program to combat air pollution. It has not tackled Mexico City's notorious congestion problem, however. In fact, Mexico City is regarded as the most congested city in the world, particularly during busy periods. This includes 7:30 a.m. to about 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to as late as 9 p.m. It can also get very busy between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
There are some other things drivers in Mexico City should be aware of:
- Quota roads – these are toll roads. They exist around the country, and there are some in Mexico City too, particularly roads that bypass the city center.
- Navigation – getting around Mexico City is not easy. The street system is complex, and the road signs are unreliable. It's best to use satellite navigation.
- Topes – these are speed bumps, and there are lots of them.
- Horn honking – for those not familiar with Mexico City, horn honking is unusually popular.
What to Do in Mexico City
Renting a car in Mexico City is worth it as some of the country's best places to visit are only accessible by car. There are also interesting things to see and do while in the city.
This includes taking a drive on Avenida Presidente Masaryk with its luxurious houses and stylish restaurants and cafes. Another popular location is Mexico City's Anthropological Museum. It's one of the best museums in the world with a range of exhibitions, including many focusing on Mexico's lost civilizations.
Visitors should also go to the Zócalo in Mexico City's historic center to get a glimpse of what the city was like before the Spanish arrived.
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