Your Ultimate Tijuana Travel Guide 2023
Are you planning a trip to the lively city of Tijuana? Located on the western coast of Mexico, just south of California, Tijuana is the perfect destination for a unique cultural experience. From its famous nightlife and delicious street food to its exciting tourist attractions and historical sites, this city has something for everyone. This ultimate Tijuana travel guide will give you all the information you need to plan the perfect trip. From where to stay and what to see, to the best places to eat and drink, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know before visiting Tijuana. You may also want to check out our Cabo San Lucas travel guide.
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Tijuana
- Avenida Revolución: Avenida Revolución is Tijuana’s most famous street and one of the city’s biggest attractions. It is filled with bars, clubs, and shops selling souvenirs and handmade crafts. Take a stroll down the street to soak up the energy and excitement of the city.
- The Tijuana Cultural Center: This is one of Tijuana’s most popular attractions, and for good reason. The center offers a range of exhibitions, shows, and workshops that showcase the city’s rich culture and heritage. It’s a must-visit for anyone who wants to learn more about Tijuana’s history and culture.
- The Tijuana Wax Museum: This museum is home to an impressive collection of wax figures of celebrities, politicians, and historical figures. Visitors can take photos with their favorite stars, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
- Mercado Hidalgo: This colorful market is filled with stalls selling fresh produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Visitors can browse the stalls, sample local foods, and buy unique gifts to take back home.
- Playas De Tijuana: Located just a short drive from the city center, Playas de Tijuana is a long stretch of sandy beach with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can take a dip in the ocean, relax on the beach, and enjoy the fresh sea breeze. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Where To Stay In Tijuana
- Zona Rio: This is Tijuana’s business district and is known for its modern architecture, shopping centers, and dining options. It’s a great choice if you want to be close to all the action.
- Playas De Tijuana: This beachfront neighborhood offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and is perfect for those who want a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s also home to a variety of seafood restaurants and bars.
- Centro: This is the heart of Tijuana and is home to many of the city’s cultural attractions, such as the Tijuana Cultural Center and the Mercado Hidalgo. It’s a great choice for those interested in exploring Tijuana’s history and culture.
- Colonia Cacho: This trendy neighborhood is known for its art galleries, trendy cafes, and nightlife. It’s a great choice if you want to experience Tijuana’s hip side.
- Otay Mesa: This neighborhood is located near the Tijuana International Airport and is popular with business travelers and those who need to catch an early flight. It’s also home to several shopping centers and restaurants.
Top Tijuana Hotels
- Grand Hotel Tijuana: The Grand Hotel Tijuana is a luxury hotel with modern amenities such as an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a spa. The rooms are spacious and offer stunning views of the city. The hotel also has multiple restaurants serving a variety of cuisine.
- Hotel Lucerna Tijuana: The Hotel Lucerna Tijuana is a sleek and stylish hotel located in the upscale Zona Rio neighborhood. The rooms are decorated in a contemporary style with plush bedding and amenities such as a minibar and a flat-screen TV. The hotel also has a rooftop pool and a fitness center.
- Hotel Pueblo Amigo Plaza & Casino: The Hotel Pueblo Amigo Plaza & Casino is a lively hotel with a casino and multiple dining options. The rooms are comfortable and come equipped with a minibar and a flat-screen TV. The hotel also has a pool and a fitness center.
- Marriott Tijuana Hotel: The Marriott Tijuana Hotel is a luxurious hotel with spacious rooms and top-notch amenities. The hotel has multiple dining options, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a spa. The location is also convenient for those traveling on business, as it is close to the airport and the convention center.
- Hotel Real Inn Tijuana: The Hotel Real Inn Tijuana is a contemporary hotel with comfortable rooms and a convenient location. The hotel has an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and multiple dining options. The rooms also come equipped with a minibar and a flat-screen TV.
Where To Eat In Tijuana
One of the best things about Tijuana is the food. Whether you’re in the mood for tacos, seafood, or something more adventurous, Tijuana has plenty of food options to satisfy your cravings. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Tijuana:
- Taqueria El Franc: If you’re looking for the best tacos in town, look no further than Taqueria El Franc. This small stand is known for their flavorful meats and fresh tortillas, and they’re open late into the night.
- Mariscos El Mazateño: Seafood lovers won’t want to miss Mariscos El Mazateño. This bustling seafood restaurant serves up everything from ceviche to fish tacos, and it’s always busy with locals and tourists alike.
- La Corriente Cevicheria Nais: Another great spot for seafood, La Corriente Cevicheria Nais is a must-visit for ceviche lovers. Their creative ceviche bowls are the perfect mix of flavors and textures, and the restaurant’s trendy vibe makes it a fun spot to hang out.
- Mision 19: For something more upscale, head to Mision 19. This sleek restaurant serves up modern Mexican cuisine with a focus on local ingredients, and the cocktails are just as impressive as the food.
- Tacos El Gordo: This beloved taco chain has several locations throughout Tijuana, and for good reason. The al pastor tacos are a standout, and the salsas and toppings are just as important as the meat.
No matter where you choose to eat in Tijuana, be prepared to indulge in some seriously delicious food. Just make sure to bring your appetite!
How To Get Around Tijuana
Tijuana is a bustling city that offers many modes of transportation for both tourists and locals. Here are the various methods of transportation available in Tijuana:
- Walking: If you plan to stay in the central area of Tijuana, walking is a great option. You can easily explore the city on foot and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the streets.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Tijuana and can be hailed from the street. Always make sure to agree on a fare before getting into the taxi, and it’s also a good idea to have cash on hand as most taxis don’t accept credit cards.
- Uber: Uber is also available in Tijuana and is often cheaper than taxis. It’s a safe and convenient way to get around the city, and you can also avoid language barriers as you can input your destination in the app.
- Public Buses: Tijuana has a reliable and extensive public bus system, with various routes that cover most of the city. The buses are cheap and can be identified by their distinctive yellow color.
- Metro: The Tijuana Metro is a rapid transit system that operates two lines and serves the central area of the city. It’s a cheap and efficient way to get around Tijuana.
- Rental Cars: If you plan to explore areas outside of Tijuana, renting a car might be a good option. Car rental agencies are available at the Tijuana International Airport and throughout the city.
Overall, getting around Tijuana is easy and convenient. Whether you prefer to walk, take a taxi or use public transportation, you can easily explore this vibrant city. Always remember to keep your valuables safe and use common sense when navigating the city.
Tijuana is known for its mild and pleasant climate, with temperatures that rarely reach extremes. The city has a Mediterranean-like climate, with dry, hot summers and mild, wet winters.
- Spring (March to May): Spring brings pleasant temperatures with average highs of 68°F (20°C) and lows of 52°F (11°C). This season is characterized by mostly sunny days, low humidity, and occasional spring showers. It’s a great time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions.
- Summer (June to August): Summer is the hottest and driest season, with average highs of 75°F (24°C) and lows of 62°F (17°C). The city can experience occasional heat waves, with temperatures exceeding 90°F (32°C). This is also the peak tourist season, with many visitors heading to the beaches to enjoy the sun.
- Fall (September to November): Fall is another popular time to visit Tijuana, with average highs of 72°F (22°C) and lows of 57°F (14°C). The city experiences fewer crowds and a bit of rain during this season, but the temperatures are still pleasant.
- Winter (December to February): Winter is the coolest and wettest season in Tijuana. The city experiences average highs of 65°F (18°C) and lows of 50°F (10°C). There can be occasional frost and even snowfall in the mountains, but this is a rare occurrence. Visitors should expect cooler temperatures, cloudy skies, and occasional showers.
Overall, Tijuana is a great destination to visit any time of the year. The city’s mild climate makes it a perfect destination for outdoor activities, while its proximity to the coast provides an opportunity to relax and soak up the sun. Regardless of the season, visitors should pack layers and a raincoat, just in case.
Best Time To Visit Tijuana
The best time to visit Tijuana is during the months of May and June when the weather is mild, and there are fewer crowds. July and August can be extremely hot and humid, so it’s best to avoid these months if you’re not a fan of high temperatures. If you’re looking to experience the cultural and festive atmosphere of Tijuana, plan your trip around the Day of the Dead celebrations in November or the colorful Carnival in February. Keep in mind that these events can attract large crowds, so be prepared for that.
Another thing to consider when planning your visit is the weather. Tijuana experiences a Mediterranean climate, with mild temperatures throughout the year. However, winters can be cool and rainy, so be sure to pack warm clothes if you’re planning a trip during this time. In terms of costs, the high season in Tijuana is from December to April, so expect prices to be higher during these months. If you’re looking for more affordable options, consider traveling during the shoulder season in May and June or the low season from September to November.
Overall, the best time to visit Tijuana will depend on your personal preferences and what you want to see and do during your trip. Take the weather, crowds, and costs into consideration when planning your visit, and you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in this vibrant city.
How To Stay Safe In Tijuana
Tijuana has a reputation for being a dangerous city, but as long as you take some basic safety precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Stick To Well-Lit And Busy Areas: Avoid walking alone at night or in areas that are known to be dangerous.
- Avoid Showing Off Valuables: Keep your jewelry, cameras, and other expensive items out of sight to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
- Be Careful With Your Money: Only carry what you need and keep your cash and cards in separate places. Don’t leave your bags unattended, especially in crowded areas.
- Watch Out For Scams: Some people may try to trick you into giving them money or getting involved in illegal activities. Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.
- Use Official Taxis: To avoid getting ripped off or getting into an unsafe situation, use official taxis that are registered with the city.
- Know How To Handle Emergencies: In case of an emergency, have the phone number of the police, your embassy, and your hotel’s front desk handy.
By following these tips and staying alert, you can enjoy all that Tijuana has to offer without putting yourself in danger.
Tijuana Customs and Etiquette
As with any foreign country, it’s important to be mindful of the customs and etiquette when visiting Tijuana. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Greetings: When meeting someone, it’s common to shake hands or give a light hug. Men usually wait for women to extend their hand first.
- Personal Space: Mexicans tend to stand closer together when conversing than Americans or Canadians. Don’t be surprised if someone stands closer than you’re used to.
- Politeness: Mexicans are known for being polite and hospitable. Always say please (por favor) and thank you (gracias) when making requests or receiving something.
- Tipping: In restaurants, it’s customary to leave a 10-20% tip, depending on the level of service. In hotels, leave a few dollars for the cleaning staff.
- Clothing: Dress is generally casual, but modesty is appreciated. Avoid revealing clothing or swimwear outside of the beach or pool area.
- Language: While English is widely spoken in Tijuana, it’s always appreciated when visitors attempt to speak Spanish. Learn a few basic phrases before your trip.
- Bargaining: In the markets, bargaining is expected. Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a better price, but be respectful in your negotiations.
By following these simple tips, you’ll show respect for Tijuana’s culture and customs while also having a more enjoyable trip.
Other Things To Know About Tijuana
Before heading out on your trip to Tijuana, there are a few more important things to know about the city. First and foremost, Tijuana is a city located in Mexico. As such, the currency used is the Mexican Peso. While some establishments may accept US dollars, it is always a good idea to have pesos on hand for transactions.
Spanish is the official language spoken in Tijuana, so it is important to have some basic knowledge of the language if you plan on traveling outside of tourist areas. However, many locals in Tijuana do speak some English, so language barriers are not always a concern.
In terms of time zone, Tijuana follows Pacific Standard Time (PST) which is the same as the west coast of the United States.
It is also important to note that Tijuana has a unique culture and customs. Visitors should be respectful of local customs, such as greeting people with a handshake and addressing them with the formal title “senor” or “senora”. It is also polite to wait for an invitation before using someone’s first name.
Lastly, Tijuana has a rich history and culture, so be sure to take advantage of opportunities to learn more about the city. Visit museums, take a walking tour, or try some local cuisine to fully immerse yourself in all that Tijuana has to offer.
Tijuana Travel Costs
Traveling to Tijuana can be a great way to explore Mexico on a budget. While it’s possible to spend a lot of money on your trip, there are plenty of affordable options available. The cost of your trip will depend on a variety of factors, including your accommodations, transportation, and activities. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect to spend:
- Accommodations: You can find a variety of affordable options for accommodations in Tijuana, from budget hotels to hostels. Prices can range from as low as $20 USD per night for a budget hotel to $100+ USD per night for a more upscale option.
- Transportation: Transportation in Tijuana is relatively affordable. Taxis are widely available, and a ride across town can cost around $5 USD. Public transportation is also an option, with bus fares starting at around $0.60 USD.
- Activities: There are plenty of things to do in Tijuana that won’t break the bank. Some popular options include visiting local markets, exploring museums, and checking out street art. You can also take a food tour, which typically costs around $50 USD per person.
- Food and Drink: Food and drink in Tijuana can be quite affordable. You can find delicious tacos and street food for as low as $1 USD per item. A sit-down meal at a mid-range restaurant will typically cost around $10-15 USD per person. A beer at a local bar will cost around $2 USD.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30-50 USD per day in Tijuana, while a mid-range traveler can expect to spend around $50-100 USD per day. However, it’s important to note that prices can vary widely depending on your travel style and preferences. With a little bit of planning and budgeting, you can enjoy a fantastic trip to Tijuana without breaking the bank.
Finding Affordable Flights To Tijuana
When planning a trip to Tijuana, one of the biggest expenses you will face is airfare. However, with some research and a few tips, you can find affordable flights to this vibrant city. Here are some tips to help you find cheap flights to Tijuana:
- Book Early: One of the best ways to find cheap flights to Tijuana is to book your flight early. Airlines typically release their cheapest fares six to eight weeks before departure. So, if you know when you will be traveling, book your flights as soon as possible to take advantage of lower fares.
- Use Flight Search Engines: There are several online travel agencies that allow you to search for flights from different airlines and compare prices. Sites like Kayak, Skyscanner, and Expedia can help you find the best deals on flights to Tijuana. Be sure to check these sites regularly, as prices can fluctuate frequently.
- Be Flexible: If you are flexible with your travel dates, you may be able to find cheaper flights to Tijuana. Flights during weekdays are typically less expensive than those on weekends. You can also consider traveling during off-peak seasons when prices are lower.
- Consider Alternate Airports: When searching for flights, consider alternate airports near Tijuana, such as San Diego International Airport. You may be able to find cheaper flights to these airports and then take a bus or taxi to Tijuana.
- Sign Up For Email Alerts: Many airlines and travel sites offer email alerts for price drops and flash sales. Sign up for these alerts to stay informed about deals on flights to Tijuana.
By following these tips, you can save money on your flights to Tijuana and have more to spend on your adventure in this fascinating city.
Backpacking Tijuana Suggested Budgets
If you’re planning to visit Tijuana on a budget, you’re in luck. There are plenty of affordable accommodation and dining options in the city. Here are some suggested budgets for backpackers:
Low Budget: $30-50 per day
For this budget, you can stay in a hostel or budget hotel, eat street food or at local markets, and use public transportation or walk. You can also visit some of the free attractions like the Tijuana Cultural Center, CECUT, and Avenida Revolución.
Mid-Range Budget: $50-100 per day
For this budget, you can stay in a mid-range hotel or Airbnb, eat at casual restaurants, take taxis or Ubers, and visit some of the paid attractions like the Tijuana Wax Museum, Mercado Hidalgo, and Tijuana Brewery.
Luxury Budget: $100+ per day
If you want to splurge on your trip to Tijuana, you can stay in a luxury hotel or Airbnb, eat at high-end restaurants, take private tours or hire a personal driver, and indulge in activities like wine tasting at Valle de Guadalupe or a helicopter tour of the city.
Note that prices may vary depending on the season and availability. It’s always a good idea to research and compare prices before making any reservations. No matter what your budget is, Tijuana has something to offer for every type of traveler. Don’t let your budget hold you back from experiencing the vibrant culture and attractions of this exciting city.
Tijuana Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Tijuana doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some money-saving tips to help you stick to your budget:
- Use Public Transportation: Tijuana has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and taxis, which are affordable options for getting around the city.
- Eat Like A Local: Street food vendors and local markets offer authentic Mexican cuisine at a fraction of the cost of sit-down restaurants.
- Bargain When Shopping: Tijuana is known for its markets and shopping districts where vendors are open to haggling for a better price.
- Choose Budget Accommodations: There are plenty of budget-friendly options for lodging in Tijuana, including hostels, guesthouses, and affordable hotels.
- Look For Free Activities: Many of the city’s top attractions, such as the Tijuana Cultural Center, are free to visit. Additionally, Tijuana has plenty of public parks and beaches that are also free.
By following these tips, you can experience all that Tijuana has to offer without spending a fortune.
What To Pack For Tijuana
When packing your luggage for a trip to Tijuana, it’s important to keep in mind the weather and the activities you plan to do. Here are some essential items to pack:
- Comfortable Shoes: Tijuana is a city where you’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, so it’s important to pack a pair of comfortable shoes.
- Lightweight Clothing: The weather in Tijuana is warm year-round, so pack lightweight clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable.
- Sunscreen: The sun in Tijuana can be strong, especially in the summer months. Be sure to pack sunscreen to protect your skin.
- Insect Repellent: Tijuana is a city near the coast and surrounded by mountains, which means there are mosquitoes and other insects. Bring some insect repellent to keep them away.
- Camera: Tijuana has many picturesque places, so don’t forget your camera to capture those memories.
- Mexican Pesos: While you can use US dollars in Tijuana, it’s best to have some Mexican Pesos on hand for smaller purchases.
- Passport: If you’re visiting Tijuana from the United States, you’ll need your passport to enter Mexico and to return to the US.
- Medications: If you take any medications, make sure to bring enough for your trip and keep them in their original prescription bottles.
- Daypack: A small daypack or garment bag is great for carrying essentials like water, snacks, and sunscreen when you’re out exploring Tijuana.
By packing these essentials, you’ll be well prepared for a trip to Tijuana and able to enjoy all the city has to offer.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Tijuana?
It is generally not recommended to drink tap water in Tijuana, or anywhere in Mexico for that matter. The water quality in Mexico is often poor and can contain harmful bacteria that can make you sick. As a visitor to Tijuana, it’s best to stick to bottled water for drinking, cooking, and even brushing your teeth. You can easily find bottled water for sale at any convenience store or market. Some hotels and restaurants may also have water filtration systems that make the tap water safe to drink, but it’s always best to ask before assuming. Don’t let concerns about the water quality deter you from visiting Tijuana, just remember to bring or buy plenty of bottled water to stay hydrated and healthy during your trip.
Other Things To See And Do In Tijuana
Aside from the top attractions mentioned earlier, Tijuana has a lot more to offer. Here are some additional activities and places to add to your itinerary:
- Explore The Cultural Center: The Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT) is a massive complex with several museums, a cinema, an aquarium, a planetarium, and more. It’s a great place to learn about the city’s history, art, and culture.
- Visit Playas De Tijuana: This is a popular beach destination among locals and tourists. Enjoy a swim in the ocean, take a walk along the boardwalk, or try some fresh seafood from the beachside restaurants.
- Go On A Food Tour: Tijuana is famous for its delicious cuisine, from street tacos to fine dining restaurants. Join a food tour to discover the best dishes and learn about the local ingredients and flavors.
- Take A Day Trip To Rosarito: Located about 30 minutes from Tijuana, Rosarito is a beautiful beach town with stunning views, delicious food, and fun activities like surfing and horseback riding.
- Go Shopping At The Mercado Hidalgo: This traditional market has been operating since the 1900s and offers a wide variety of products, including food, clothing, crafts, and souvenirs. Bargain with the vendors and bring home some unique treasures.
- Visit The Tijuana Brewery: If you’re a beer lover, don’t miss the chance to try some of Tijuana’s best craft beers at the local brewery. Take a tour, learn about the brewing process, and enjoy some samples.
- See The Border Wall Art: The border between Tijuana and San Diego is famously marked by a towering wall. However, local artists have transformed the wall into a beautiful canvas, with colorful murals and messages of hope and unity.
Tijuana has something for everyone, from history buffs to foodies to beachgoers. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover the hidden gems of this vibrant city.
The Bottom Line
Tijuana is a vibrant city with plenty to see and do, from delicious street food to beautiful beaches and historic sites. It’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and follow local customs to stay safe while exploring the city. While Tijuana can be budget-friendly for travelers, be sure to budget accordingly for transportation, food, and accommodations. With the right preparation, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable visit to Tijuana. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the best that this exciting city has to offer!