By Carole Reedy
When friends come to visit, the first tourist attraction on the agenda is a ride on the Turibus. Despite numerous journeys over the years, I still get a thrill when I step to the upper deck, take my seat among the treetops, breathe deeply, and stretch my face toward the sun, happy in the comfort of my adopted city.
Riding the open-air, double-decker Turibus–reminiscent of London—is hands-down the best way to get an overview of México City, the second largest city in the world by some measures. It’s also one of the quickest and most relaxing ways to see the city, while at the same time historically informative, comfortable, a way to meet other tourists, reasonably priced, and just plain fun.
There are two main routes for sightseeing in the city itself, as well as other Turibus sightseeing day trips to nearby cities and also new theme-based tours.
For the first-time tourist, the best route is Chapultepec/Centro Histórico, which takes you to the core of the city and surrounding historically significant neighborhoods and sites. Peek into windows of the lovely Spanish homes in Polanco, touch the treetops (but be careful of the electrical cords), feel the fresh air of Chapultepec Park, inhale the smells of the coffee and bakery goods emanating from the shops and cafes in Condesa and Roma neighborhoods, and view all of the magnificent architecture up and down Paseo de Reforma and surrounding the Zócalo.
Upon embarking, you receive a map of your adventure ahead and a set of earphones which can be set for audio in Spanish or English. Sit up top in the open-air seats and eavesdrop on the activity on the streets below while enjoying the commentary about the city, its architecture, history, and people.
The ride lasts about three hours, depending on traffic. One of the outstanding features of the Turibus is your option to get off at any stop to sightsee on foot, have a coffee, stretch your legs, use el baño, and hop back on the next bus that comes by (about 20 minutes between buses). Or, like many of us, sit back, relax, and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city for the entire round trip.
The other city route is Circuito Sur (South circuit). Take these two routes back-to-back if you have the time, for a total of five to six hours, or enjoy them individually. The south route connects with the Centro Historico route at the Fuente de la Cibeles and takes you past the world-renowned UNAM (the city’s free and prestigious university), Frida Kahlo’s house, and the charming Coyoacan neighborhood, among other landmarks, including the World Trade Center, Plaza de Toros, and the Mercado de Flores.
Look for Turibus stops (Centro Histórico, 23 stops; Circuito Sur, 15) throughout the city on major streets. Hours of operation are 9 am to 9 pm, 365 days a year. The cost is a mere 140 pesos ($11 USD) Monday through Friday for adults; 165 pesos ($13 USD) on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Children pay half.
More time in the city? Full-day trips to the nearby cities of Taxco (silver jewelry galore!), Puebla (home to talavera pottery), Cholula (the non-claustrophobic will walk the tunnel route through the Aztec temple underneath the church atop of it), and Teotihuacán (Mexico’s most famous pyramids) are chock-full of historic sites, shopping stops, and meals are included.
Turishopping bus takes you to prestigious outlets where you’ll find savings from 25 to 65 percent on your purchases. The bus leaves daily at 10 am from the Auditorio Nacional on Reforma, at 10:10 from the Angel de Independencia, 10:20 from Glorieta Colon, and 10:30 from the Zócalo.
Palaces and Cantinas are the themes of Turibus’ two new tours. Visit three cantinas every Thursday. Meet at Paseo de Reforma 222 at 7 pm. On Fridays, experience 20 of the palaces of Centro Historico. Also meet at Reforma 222 at 7 pm. Both the Cantina and Palace tours cost 225 pesos ($17 USD).
Enjoy the ride, enjoy the sights! And during your travels in Mexico, look for Turibus in other cities. You can’t miss the Big Red Bus.