Outside of the resort areas, Mexico and its capital Mexico City is one of the best places for travellers on a budget. The economic food is delicious and plentiful, there is a lot to do without spending a penny and even the most luxurious accommodations are as cheap as the run-of-the-mill rooms found elsewhere in the world. So, how far can a penny pincher stretch a peso in Mexico City?
Binge on Street Food
Those rooftop restaurants and bars on Mexico City's tall skyscrapers may be tempting, but they will be expensive. For those everyday eats, visitors can get fantastic and very filling meals from the hole-in-the-wall restaurants and carts littered throughout the city. Authentic tacos, tamales and burritos are always popular with visitors, but it's the torta stands that should be sought out. Tortas are essentially just sandwiches, but the bread is usually fried and flakey, stuffed with goodies like turkey and avocado as well as a number of chilies and a healthy dose of salsa. No matter what hungry visitors decide to get, the meal will fill them up for hours and rarely cost more than five dollars.
Graze at the Markets
Heading to the markets of Mexico City is yet another way to eat cheaply and experience an aspect of rich Mexican culture at the same time. These markets are filled with all kinds of crafts, foods and oddities that most visitors will have never seen anywhere else. Walking through the market is free and many stalls give free samples of their wares, which can get filling after a while. Be sure to try the number of interesting fruits like the sapote, better known as the chocolate pudding fruit, or some Oaxacan seasoned grasshoppers, for those that want to be truly daring. They also host tamer fare like fresh tortillas, roasted peanuts or caramelized figs.
Free Walking Tours
Mexico City has a number of free walking tours. Out all the free tours of the city, there is one that stands out above all others due to its intensity. Funded by a anonymous businessman and called the "Alternative City Walking Tour," it takes visitors all over Mexico City, not just to see the sights but to experience a bit of what the city has to offer. The tour runs for about four hours, visiting a few of the historic monuments and cultural hubs of the city, but mostly focusing on the Mexico City that most visitors don't get to experience. The tour stops at street food stands and local bars called Pulquerias for food and refreshment during as well as a bit of fun in mariachi centres and salsa halls. While the tour is free, it is common courtesy to tip at the end.
Visit Free Museums
While most of the museums in Mexico City host a small admission fee, there are a few that are free to enter or at least have free admission days. The Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico has free admission and contains exhibits that chronicle Mexican history. The Museo de la Charreria offers free admission and hosts fascinating exhibits relating to charro traditions, including costumes and items used by Pancho Villa. For those in the mood for some art, the Museo Palacio Cultural Banamex is free and has a rich collection of paintings and photographs by Mexican artists. Additionally, the Museo Dolores Olmedo hosts free admission on Tuesday while the Museo Nacional de Arte has free admission on Sunday.
Admire the Churches
The people of Mexico are renowned for their stalwart faith and as such, their capital city has amassed some absolutely awe-inspiring churches. Most of the churches host some unique colonial period art and architecture that will sure to fascinate even non-church goers. Visitors touring the churches should be sure not to miss the Basilica de Guadalupe and the oldest cathedral in the Americas, the Cathedral Metropolitana.
Get Pumped Up with Lucha Libre
Watching some Lucha Libre, or "free wrestling," is one of the best ways to spend a night in Mexico City. It's not like wrestling anywhere else in the world; these bulking men in masks and tights turn the dial to eleven with the ridiculous antics and drama. The beer-fuelled crowd pays little attention to the actual wrestling, but when the wrestlers or other members of the audience start hurling insults, they are nothing short of fired up, making this quite the affair for the foreign spectator. Of course, tickets to these events aren't free and visitors will have to pay more according to how close they want to be to the action, but those who are okay sitting in the middle of the pack will only have to pay around fifteen dollars.