Transportation in Mexico

Planes, trains and automobiles…what’s the best way to get around?

Mexico is a large country and if you would like to see more than one destination, you will have to consider your mode of transport. Fortunately, there are a number of options for getting around.

**Pick-pockets: While traveling in Mexico can be a breeze, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings. Pick-pocketing is a major occurrence, especially in larger cities. Make sure that your bag is zipped up and carried in front of you and that your wallet is tucked away safely. It is also a good idea to keep copies of your passport and essential documents in your dorm or hotel room, just in case. Keep an eye out for yourself and your friends on crowded metro trains and don’t be afraid to make a lot of noise if you see something out of place. Pick-pockets scare easily!


Taxis are common throughout Mexico. Some taxis run on a meter, and for others you should negotiate a price with the driver in advance. When arriving at the bus station or airport in Mexico City, or other major airports, you should take an authorized taxi.

“Colectivos” and “Mototaxis” are less expensive methods of travel, however they tend to be less comfortable than taxis. Colectivos  refers to a shared taxi service that runs a set route and picks up passengers who may flag down the taxi at any point along the route. The vehicle can range from a car, van or pick-up truck, and Colectivos charge per person, and the drivers will try to fit in as many people as possible, which can make for an uncomfortable ride. Mototaxis are similar to rickshaws, and are a very cheap and convenient way to get around, although not entirely safe in the event of collision. They operate in small towns and on the outskirts of big cities, and usually have a specific area in which they run and they may not be authorized to take passengers outside of their zones.

Private Car

Whether you’re contemplating driving your car into Mexico or renting a car, having a car at your disposal offers the advantage of setting your own schedule and gives you greater independence than relying on public transportation. Keep in mind that the rules of the road in Mexico are different than what you may be accustomed to, and be sure to purchase Mexican insurance.


Buses are the main form of long-distance public transportation in Mexico. There is an extensive network of buses, which range from modern luxury coaches to retired school buses. If you’re planning a long journey, travel in the highest class your budget will allow: the extra comfort is worth the cost. Luxury (“De Lujo” or “Ejecutivo”) buses, like ETN,  offer the highest level of service, including all the comforts of first class, plus some added amenities. Refreshments may be served.

First-class (“Primera Clase”) buses have air-conditioning and reclining seats, and often have a toilet and show videos on the bus. These generally provide non-stop service on federal toll highways where available. Take note: Primera Clase buses offer transportation to popular destinations and cities but generally do not offer service to small towns.

Lastly, second class (“Segunda Clase”) are the most affordable bus option, but tend to include more stops and are more crowded then their more expensive counterparts. You may be forced to stand, as there are no reserved seats, and if you are fortunate enough to grab a seat, it is possible that your seat buddy may be carrying a chicken. Second class bus service offers transportation to villages and destinations that first class buses don’t alwas cover and may be a good choice for short trips. In some cases second-class buses depart from a different bus station than first class buses.

Please note: On weekends and holidays it may be necessary to buy your ticket a few days in advance (48 hours is usually sufficient).


Mexico City has the second largest metro system in North America (after New York), and offers an excellent way to get around the city. Besides the metro, other public transportation options in Mexico’s capital include the metrobús. There are also metro systems in the cities of Guadalajara and Monterrey. See a Mexico City metro map.

Mexico- Mexico City Metro Map


Unfortunately, passenger train service has been discontinued in most of Mexico. You can still ride Mexico’s most famous train, affectionately known as “El Chepe,” on the Copper Canyon Railway. There’s also a tourist train that goes from Guadalajara to tequila country, known as the Tequila Express.

Air Travel & Flights

Air travel is the fastest and most convenient way to get from one destination to another, particularly if you’ll be covering long distances. There are a few domestic airlines in Mexico, such as Aeromexico and Interjet, which are both based out of Mexico City. Aeromexico is the largest airline, followed closely by Volaris, which is based in Toluca’s International Airport. Much like RyanAir in Europe, VivaAerobus offers low rates and some very good deals, but you have to watch out to not get stuck with extra charges, as many things are not included to keep costs low.

Boat, Ferry or Ship

Mexico is a popular cruise destination, with many beautiful and fascinating ports of call, both along the Mexican Riviera (the Pacific coast) and the Riviera Maya (the Mexican Caribbean). There are also ferries connecting islands of Mexico to the mainland, as well as a ferry running between Baja California and Mazatlan.


Although it’s becoming less and less common, in Mexico’s rural areas you may still come across someone riding a burro. This mode of transportation is neither quick nor comfortable, but is popular with tourists for short durations.

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