How to Travel Around Mexico: A Comprehensive Guide

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By
Wesley
November 29, 2023
7 min read

Mexico is a beautiful country with a lot of amazing cities and towns to explore. To get the most out of your visit, you need to know how to travel between them. The good news is that there are several reliable and affordable modes of transportation available in Mexico, including flying, bus travel, trains, driving, and alternative modes.

Mexico's Transportation System

Mexico has a well-developed transportation system that connects its cities and towns. Major highways crisscross the country, which makes it easy to drive from one place to another.

Buses run on an extensive network of routes that cover just about every corner of the country. Additionally, there are several airports with domestic flights connecting major cities.

Trains are not as extensive as they used to be but they can still be a great way to see the country. It's important to note that certain areas may not have access to all modes of transportation so it's important to plan your route ahead of time.

How To Travel Between Cities in Mexico

Knowing how to navigate between cities is crucial if you want to make the most out of your trip. Without reliable transportation options at your disposal, you may find yourself frustrated and stuck along the way.

We wrote this guide to give you knowledge about the various modes available. Knowing how travel works In Mexico should make your trip planning easier and that’s what we’re about!

Find out why Mexico is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world by exploring our Mexico country guide.

Flying

The Convenience of Domestic Flights in Mexico

If you are looking to travel quickly and comfortably between cities in Mexico, flying is a great option to consider. And with local low cost carriers it can be budget friendly.

Mexico has a well-established domestic airline industry that offers frequent flights between major cities, making it easy to explore all the country has to offer. Major airlines such as Aeromexico, Interjet and VivaAerobus operate daily flights within Mexico.

There are several major airports in Mexico which serve as hubs for domestic flights. The busiest airport is Benito Juarez International Airport located in Mexico City, which serves as the main hub for international and domestic travel within the country.

Other major airports include Cancún International Airport, Guadalajara International Airport, and Monterrey International Airport. With so many airports across the country, it's easy to find a convenient route no matter where you're headed. You can check out more in our guide on domestic airlines in Mexico.

Tips for Booking Affordable Flights

When booking your domestic flights in Mexico, there are a few things you can do to save money on airfare. One tip is to book your flight well ahead of time or last minute when airlines release their unsold seats at discounted rates. 

Also consider flying on weekdays rather than weekends when prices tend to be higher due to increased demand from travelers.

Another way you can save money is by signing up for airline rewards programs or using credit cards that offer points or miles towards future flights. Be flexible with your travel dates and times so you can take advantage of cheaper fares if they become available.

Overall, flying is an excellent way to get around quickly and efficiently when exploring different parts of Mexico. With several major airports throughout the country and plenty of airlines offering affordable fares, traveling by air can help make your trip more enjoyable and stress-free.

Bus Travel

Popular bus companies in Mexico

If you're looking for a cost-effective and comfortable way to travel between cities in Mexico, taking a bus is a great option. There are several popular bus companies that operate throughout Mexico, including ADO, Primera Plus, and ETN to name a few.

These companies offer different levels of service depending on your budget and preferences. ADO is one of the largest bus companies in Mexico and offers affordable tickets for both short and long-distance trips.

Their buses are equipped with air conditioning, reclining seats, Wi-Fi, and an onboard restroom. Primera Plus is another popular option that operates in most major cities in Mexico.

They offer similar amenities to ADO but have more spacious seating arrangements. ETN is known for its luxury buses that feature leather seats with footrests, personal screens with entertainment options, and complimentary snacks.

Types of buses available

When it comes to taking a bus in Mexico, there are several types of buses available depending on your needs and preferences. The most common type is the standard coach bus which can range from basic to luxurious depending on the company you choose.  These buses usually have reclining seats as well as amenities like Wi-Fi and air conditioning.

Another type of bus that's becoming increasingly popular in Mexico is the executive or premium class bus which offers more spacious seating arrangements and additional amenities like personal screens with entertainment options or meal service. 

If you're looking for an even more luxurious experience when traveling between cities in Mexico, some companies offer sleeper buses which feature private compartments with beds that can recline into full beds for overnight journeys.

I would suggest looking them up online if you have preferences since not all companies are equal. 

Safety tips for bus travel

There are a couple of things you can do to ensure your safety while using bus transportation. 

First, it's important to research the bus companies you're considering using and read reviews from other travelers so that you know what you’re signing up for. 

Second, when traveling by bus in Mexico, it's best to avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive electronics.

Keep your valuables close to you at all times and if possible, store them under your seat or overhead compartment. I usually keep my backpack in my lap when sleeping or stowed under me.

Train Travel

El Chepe

There’s really only two rail lines for passengers in Mexico. They are: the Tequila Express which offers a scenic ride from Guadalajara to Tequila; and the Chepe Express which travels from Chihuahua to Los Mochis through Copper Canyon.

Advantages and disadvantages of train travel

One advantage of traveling by train in Mexico is that you get to see some stunning scenery that you might miss if you were traveling by car or bus. 

For example, if you take the Chihuahua-Pacific Railway, you'll pass through Copper Canyon which is known as "Mexico's Grand Canyon." 

Just note that train tickets can be expensive compared to other modes of transportation like buses or shared taxis. And realistically you will need to be positioned for rail travel. It’s not widely available.

Driving

Driving is another popular way to travel between cities in Mexico. Renting a car gives you more flexibility and allows you to explore at your own pace. I love this option but there are some important things to keep in mind when driving in Mexico.

Renting a car in Mexico

Renting a car in Mexico is relatively easy and affordable. There are many rental companies available, both international chains and local agencies. It's best to book your rental online ahead of time to secure the best rates and ensure availability.

When renting a car in Mexico, make sure you have all the necessary documents, including your driver's license, passport, credit card, and proof of insurance (if you are waiving the rental company’s). Be aware that some rental companies may require an additional deposit or hold on your credit card. This is especially common place with the local chains.

Rules of the road in Mexico

The rules of the road in Mexico are similar to those in the United States and Canada. However, there are some differences that you should be aware of before hitting the road. I put together a driving guide for Mexico, be sure to check it out if you plan to get behind the wheel.

Firstly, I have to say Mexican drivers tend to be more aggressive than other American drivers - especially in larger cities like Mexico City or Guadalajara - so be prepared for chaotic traffic conditions. Unless you are coming from New York, LA, or  Miami, then you’ll know the drill.

Second, speed limits are posted using kilometers per hour (km/h) rather than miles per hour (mph). Be sure to buckle up as it is required for all passengers at all times.

Safety tips for driving in Mexico

I  recommend that you avoid driving at night unless it's absolutely necessary as roads can become dangerous after dark due to poor visibility and increased crime rates. 

Stick to well-traveled routes whenever possible; major highways usually have tolls but offer better security measures such as cameras on toll booths or police checkpoints.

Additionally, always keep your doors locked and windows rolled up when driving to minimize the risk of theft or jacking.

I would also add that it's a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases in case you need help, directions, or need to read road signs.

Alternative modes of transportation

If you're looking for an alternative to buses or renting a car in Mexico, there happens to be another option to get to your destination.

Ride-sharing apps: Blablacar

Ride-sharing apps like Blablacar have become increasingly popular in Mexico over the past few years. It is a convenient and safe way to get around cities without having to hail a taxi on the street. 

It’s kind of like an Uber but between cities. Driver’s post the route they are going and riders can reserve a seat in their car at a small fee. You can read more here in our guide to Blablacar.

One thing to keep in mind when using ride-sharing apps in Mexico is that they may not be available in smaller towns or rural areas. If you plan on venturing outside of major cities, make sure you have an alternate mode of transportation lined up.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, choosing the best way to travel between cities in Mexico comes down to your personal preferences and budget. If you're looking for convenience and speed, flying is your best bet.

It's a great option if you have limited time or need to cover a long distance quickly. However, if you want to save money and don't mind spending more time on the road, taking a bus or driving might be better options.

Final Thoughts on Traveling Around Mexico

I have to say, traveling around Mexico can be an enriching and unforgettable experience. From its stunning natural scenery to its vibrant culture, the country has so much to offer. And I have discovered so many interesting cities by exploring outside the city and tourist areas.

Venturing out into lesser-known areas of Mexico Is incredibly rewarding. By exploring beyond the typical tourist spots, you'll have a chance to immerse yourself in local culture and experiences that many travelers miss out on. 

Sources:

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Written by:

Wesley
I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
Sidra
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
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