Touring on the Turibus in Mexico City

I once told an LA filmmaker asking for advice on the best way to see the capital, that she should jump on the Turibus in Mexico City.

She looked at me as if I was not only crazy but decidedly uncool too. Double-decker hop-on-hop-off buses are, it seems, not hip enough for Californian movie types.

Say what you like about city tour buses, however, I think they are a brilliant way to get a feel for a city. Even more so in a megacity like Mexico City.

This is one of the world’s largest metropolises, covering some 1,485 km2 (573 sq mi) and home to more than 20 million people. Trying to make head or tail of it on your own could leave you with a massive headache. Or just very lost.

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Turibus Mexico City
Waiting at the Turibus stop in El Zocalo

 

Here’s where Mexico City’s Turibus comes in. The company runs four different circuits around the city as well as a handful of themed routes.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]If you’re wondering what else there is to do in Mexico City, take a look at our pick of the 50 best things to do. Don’t miss the ancient canals of Xochimilco, the Castle in Chapultepec Park and La Casa Azul, the former home of Frida Kahlo. [/author_info] [/author]

 

The Turibus Mexico City Routes

Turibus Mexico City
Seeing the capital’s sights

 

The four main Turibus routes

  • Circuito Centro – A central route that includes the Centro Histórico, the historic centre.
  • Circuito Polanco Hipodromo Chapultepec – A central route that does not include the Centro Histórico. 
  • Circuito Sur – A route through the southern neighbourhoods of the city that includes the Frida Kahlo Museum.
  • Circuito Basilica – A route that takes in some of the capital’s main churches.

 

Turibus Mexico City
The Angel of Independence

 

The themed routes

    • Turibus Nocturno – A nighttime ride through the city streets that departs from the Zócalo and runs from 9pm – 1am Friday and Saturday nights.
    • Turibus Cantinas – A tour of three popular Mexican cantinas that runs on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Departures are from the office and shopping space, Reforma 222 at 7.30pm.
    • Turibus Palacios – A Wednesday evening tour of the 20 plus palaces in the historical centre. Departs Reforma 222 at 8pm.
    • Turibus Museos – Held on the last Wednesday of the month with departures at 10am and 6pm, this route takes in some of the capital’s most popular museums.
    • Turibus Sabores Mexico – A food tour of Colonia Roma held on Wednesdays with departures from Reforma 222 at 12.30pm
    • Turi Luchas – My personal favourite, this route takes guests to see the Lucha Libre, Mexico’s famous wrestling matches where fighters wear masks and go by the name of ‘Apocalypse’ or, my favourite, ‘Super Porky’.  On Tuesdays and Fridays fights are held at Arena Mexico and on Saturdays you can watch them at Arena Coliseo. Departures are from Reforma 222 at 6pm on Tuesdays and at 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

 

Turibus Mexico City
Streets in the historic downtown area

 

The Circuito Centro

Turibus Mexico City
Outside the Cathedral in the Zocalo

 

The route that I recommend to all first-time visitors to Mexico City is the Circuito Centro, a circuit that takes in some of the capital’s best neighbourhoods including the historic centre.

My parents have tried the Circuito Sur but you spend a lot of time on the roads and if traffic is bad, which it often is, you could well end up spending most of your time stuck between cars.

The themed routes come recommended, in particular the Turi Luchas, where you are joined on the top deck by a man in a mask…and maybe even a cape!

The two main stops for this route are at the Zócalo, in the Centro Histórico, and at the Auditorio Nacional, on Paseo de la Reforma (Reforma Avenue), one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

However, there are 16 stops in total and you can jump on and off wherever you like. Below, I’ve listed in order the stops that I believe are worth getting off the bus for.

 

Turibus Mexico City
A bust of Cuauthemoc, the last Aztec Emperor, in the Zocalo

 

Auditorio Nacional

There’s no real reason to get off at this stop but I’ve included it here as it’s a good place to start. Originally built in 1952 as a venue for the Central American and Caribbean Games, it was later used for the gymnastics events at the 1968 Olympics.

Today the National Auditorium used as a music and arts venue. This stop is also a good one if you want to wander into Polanco, Mexico City’s chi-chi neighbourhood.

 

Turibus Mexico City
Fuente de la Cibeles

Fuente de la Cibeles

Stop number four after the Auditorio, is Fuente de la Cibeles in Colonia (neighbourhood) Roma.

The Fountain of Cibeles is a bronze replica of the fountain located in the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid that was built during the reign of Charles III. It was installed in Mexico as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.

One of the main reasons that I recommend getting off here is to visit the restaurant Contramar, located just off the plaza on Durango.

This is one of my favourite restaurants in Mexico City and a must for anyone visiting the capital. Open only for lunch, the restaurant is nothing flash but it serves amazing seafood and the people-watching is almost as good.

 

Turibus Mexico City
Palacio de Bellas Artes

Hemiciclo A Juárez

This is stop number eight on the circuit, just before you arrive at the Zócalo.

It’s worth getting off here to visit the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Palace of the Fine Arts. This stunning building is a main culture centre in the capital where events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature have been performed. Painting, sculpture and photography exhibitions are also held here.

The exterior of the building is mainly Neoclassical in style and the interior is Art Deco. It’s best known for its murals by some of Mexico’s most famous artists including Diego Rivera. An exhibition on the top floor details how the building was constructed.

If you get the chance, join in the daily guided tour of the theatre itself to see the incredible stage “curtain”. This is not some heavy piece of red velvet however, rather a foldable panel created out of nearly a million pieces of coloured Tiffany crystal. This screen, depicting the volcanos Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, is the only one of its type anywhere in the world. It weighs in at a whopping 24 tons!

If you can’t catch the tour, the Ballet Folklorico Mexico performs on this stage every Wednesday and Sunday evening at 8.30pm. There’s also a Sunday morning performance at 9.30am.

Not far from here is one of our favourite spots for a sweet treat, Churreria El Moro, the best place to get hot chocolate and churros.

 

Turibus Mexico City
The heart of Mexico City

El Zócalo

You’re half-way around the circuit now so if you haven’t hopped off already, do so now at this, stop number eight, the Zócalo.

This is very much the heart of Mexico City and, even if you see nothing else of the capital, it’s well worth coming here. This, the “main square”, is also known by its formal name, Plaza de la Constitución and is one of the largest city squares in the world.

It has been a gathering place for Mexicans since Aztec times when it was the main ceremonial centre of the capital Tenochtitlan.

Just one block southwest of the Zócalo is the incredible Templo Mayor, the “Great Temple”, one of the main temples used by the Aztecs.

 

Turibus Mexico City
El Paraguas at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City

Museo Nacional de Antropologia

The final stop on the Circuito Centro is at the Museum of Anthropology. Located on Paseo de la Reforma, this is one of Mexico City’s best museums and definitely worth a visit.

If nothing else, you should pay your entrance ticket to see the incredible el paraguas, the single pillar that holds up the vast concrete “umbrella” ceiling. The museum houses significant archaeological and anthropological artefacts from pre-Columbian times including the Stone of the Sun, the Aztec calendar stone.

This post has more ideas on the best museums to visit in Mexico City.

 

Taking the Turibus with kids

Turibus Mexico City
Select Seven For Kids’ Audio!

 

I’ve taken the Turibus numerous times with the kids, the first time when my youngest was 2.5-years-old. When I’m with the kids we often stay on the bus for most of the circuit, stopping only to get off at the Zócalo. It’s a great child-friendly activity in Mexico City and there’s even an audio channel on the bus dedicated to children.

 

Top tips for taking the Turibus

Turibus Mexico City
The Monument of the Revolution (in the distance!)

 

The main Turibus tours run every day from 9am to 9pm

  • The easiest place to buy tickets is on the bus; you can pay in cash or with credit / debit cards
  • The Centro Histórico gets very busy at the weekend, don’t be surprised if you have to wait for several buses to come before you can hop on one again.
  • Buses are supposed to run at regular intervals but, this is Mexico City! The traffic often means that you will be waiting longer.
  • At the ‘minor’ stops (i.e. not the Auditorio or Zócalo) signs for the Turibus can be hidden, look up lamposts to check! And make sure to keep an eye out for the bus as they do not always stop.
  • Bring sunscreen, water and a hat if you plan to sit on the top deck.
  • Everyone is given headphones with their ticket purchase and you can choose an audio commentary from eight languages.
  • The best time to catch the bus is around 10am, after morning rush hour traffic.
  • More information on the Turibus can be found on the official website.

19 thoughts on “Touring on the Turibus in Mexico City”

  1. A tour bus is such a fun way to see the sights and learn a city’s history. I didn’t know there was so much to see in Mexico City! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think you’re right that a lot of people sneer at hop on/off buses, too ‘touristy’ – but they’re often a great way to get your bearings, brilliant with kids and I can imagine how useful they are in somewhere as big as Mexico City. Great overview of all the routes as well. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  3. Excellent info here about the bus routes – love the idea of the Turi Luchas.
    Bus tours are a great way to get the idea of a city – we often try a boat tour which can be ideal for certain cities.
    #citytripping

  4. I’m a huge fan of tourbuses, especially when you’re getting to know new cities. It’s a great way to help those with little legs see the most of a place! These look very good for families – I like the fact there’s an audio option for kids.

  5. Great advice!! Bus tours are brilliant for getting an overview of a city – especially ones as big as Mexico City. I’ve wondered what there is to see and do there and you’ve given a brilliant guide. I’m incredibly intrigued by the theatre curtain- sounds amazing #citytripping

    1. Mexico City has so much to see and do! It really is such a fascinating city. The theatre curtain is incredible; it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. And a lot more interesting then a red velvet curtain 🙂

  6. Great information and suggestions–thanks! This is a bit off topic, but my son is visiting me for the summer. I live in Condesa and am looking for an after school program or some organized activities, since he will arrive mid-June while kids his age (he’s about to turn 11) will still be in school.

    1. Thanks! Most summer camps won’t start until mid-July when the schools end. Most organised activities require registration (annual) and there are not many options for kids to turn up and just participate a couple of times. Have you checked out junior Club in Condesa? They might offer a summer membership. Also, have a look at Time Out Mexico which may have some suggestions.

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