Mexico City: Getting from the airport to La Condesa by bus

In the summer of 2022, we decided we were feeling up to taking our first international trip with our family of four (and our first trip by plane since the beginning of the pandemic)! We chose to go to Mexico City, since it seemed like an easy international destination to get to from Denver with lots of interesting things to do. We’ll talk more about what we did there in later posts; the purpose of this post is to describe how we got from the Mexico City airport to our accommodations in the La Condesa neighborhood by bus, since it was not easy or well-documented.

The Different Transportation Options

If you read other resources about getting from the Mexico City airport to La Condesa, most will recommend taking a rideshare or taxi. However, we were traveling with a four year old and a one year old, and we didn’t want to bring car seats (since we planned to use Mexico City’s excellent public transportation system to get around for the rest of our trip) and didn’t want to try to ride without the car seats, so these weren’t an option for us.

The Mexico City Metro (train system) does run to the airport with a station outside of one of the terminals. However, this also wasn’t an option for us because the Metro regulations state that you are not allowed to carry large luggage onto the trains, and we were traveling with a big bag. We even saw large bollards preventing you from doing this at the airport station – although we also saw someone lift their luggage over this and do it anyway.

The option we chose was the Mexico City Metrobús, which also runs to the airport and does allow large luggage. This would require a number of different transfers to get all the way to La Condesa though.

Step Zero: Be Prepared

Make sure you are ready to look up information on your phone about transit. We sometimes used the standard Google Maps to get information. But, we got a tip to also try the Citymapper app, and found that it often had more up-to-date and helpful information about the different modes of mass transit in Mexico City.

Step One: Buy Your Ticket

Before you get on the Metrobús, you need to buy a ticket. The easiest way to do this is to buy one of the smartcards and load some value on it. The nice thing about these smartcards is that they can be used on the Metrobús, the Metro, the Trolleybus, and other systems around the city.

There is an easy to use machine where you can purchase the card in the airport terminal right by the door you will go out to catch the bus. We landed in Terminal 1, so for us this was Door (Puerta) 7. We had to break the larger bills we had gotten from the ATM in order to be able to use the machine (since you can’t load too much on the card). We just asked one of the money exchange booths nearby and they did this for us. The system is incredibly cheap so you don’t actually need to load too much onto the card (but do enough for multiple trips just to give yourself a cushion).

Step Two: Catch the Line 4 Bus

Just outside Door (Puerta) 7 was a sign indicating that this was a Metrobús stop.

The artistic MB in the red square is the Metrobús logo. The sign also indicates that we were at the right place for Line 4, which is color-coded with orange

The 4 Line bus supposedly came every five minutes, but it felt like we had to wait longer than that. You do need to be careful to catch the 4 Line Metrobús, as you will note that the inter-terminal bus also stops at this same stop (and is also a red bus).

Eventually, the Line 4 bus did come. It has a special area to put our luggage and was not too crowded. Unfortunately, after picking us up, it had to go to Terminal 2, where there was a lot of traffic, so this first part took a long time even though we didn’t get very far.

Step Three: Get Off at San Lázaro!

We weren’t very prepared for this step ourselves. Some of the documentation of Line 4 makes it seem like you can ride from the airport all the way to the end of Line 4. However, if you look at the route through a transit app, it does show that you have to transfer from one Line 4 bus to another at the San Lázaro station. We weren’t completely sure about this and were caught a bit unaware.

When the bus got to San Lázaro (the next stop after Terminal 2), it stopped briefly and everyone else got off. We didn’t move quickly enough and then panicked when the bus started turning back around! Luckily we were able to get them to stop and let us off (somewhat in the middle of the street). We scampered out with all of our items and scurried over to the bus stop. Definitely not the smoothest transition.

Step Four: Catch the Line 4 Metrobús (Again) Towards Buenavista

Since the airport version of Line 4 ended at San Lázaro, we had to catch the “regular” version of Line 4 to get where we were intending to head. We wanted to head in the direction of Buenavista. There are actually two versions of this Line 4 route: Norte (North) and Sur (South). We chose the Norte since it seemed to have less stops. The bus came within a matter of minutes.

This bus was a little bit more crowded, but one of the locals offered our four year old a seat.

Step Five: Get Off at México Tenochtitlan and Walk to Metrobus Line 1

Our next goal was to catch the Metrobús Line 1 headed south. Looking at the map, the best stop to get off on for this from Line 4 was at the México Tenochtitlan stop. Note that this stop used to be called “Puente de Alvorado” in case you are looking at old documentation.

From here, it was just a two block walk to Avenida Insurgentes, where the Revolución stop on Metrobús Line 1 is found. The stop is a large, well-signed shelter. You have to pay (using the same smartcard) to enter the stop.

Waiting at the Revolución stop. Feeling a little worn out already!

Step Six: Ride Metrobús Line 1 to Sonora

Even though the Metrobús Line 1 buses are large, articulated buses, this bus was very crowded. We ended up somewhat accidentally in the female-only section (but no one seemed mad at Eric – maybe the stroller helped), and even that was crammed standing-room only. Luckily we were all able to squeeze in with all our belongings.

We rode this bus (in its dedicated BRT lane) down to the Sonora stop, which is the closest to the Roma and La Condesa neighborhoods.

Step Seven: Walk to La Condesa

From here, we got to take a very pleasant walk to get to our accommodations in La Condesa. After all of the different transfers, stress of keeping up with our stuff, and the last crowded bus, it was very nice to get out and move again. This neighborhood is very picturesque, and our route took us through the lovely, tree-filled Parque México and the equally lovely, tree-filled Parque España (both of which we would later visit multiple times), so it was a refreshing end to our journey.

Conclusions

Taking the Metrobús from the Mexico City airport to La Condesa is possible, and not too hard. However, just make sure you allocate yourself plenty of time (and patience): overall, it took us about two hours! Eric’s mom did the same journey by Uber the next day and it took her less than 30 minutes, so if that works for you it is probably the better bet. But, if you are traveling with kids or big luggage, and you don’t mind a little extra time and work, consider the Metrobús!

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